It is easy to spread ourselves thin in life. To say YES to every opportunity presented, fill our calendars with appointments and what not – all in the name’s sake of being busy and active in chasing our dreams. But what if all of that busyness is really just causing your wheels to spin and for you to get stuck – stuck without winning?
The author Greg McKeown writes about winning in his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. He writes, “The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter. By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy.”
Sounds great, right? But I’m all about the HOW when it comes to putting a strategy into practice.
In the book, McKeown references Notre Dame coaching legend Lou Holtz’ philosophy on winning. Essentially, Holtz’ strategy for producing one of the most successful coaching careers of all time comes down to this: W.I.N.
The W.I.N. acronym stands for What’s Important Now. Holtz would urge his players to constantly ask themselves this question at practice and throughout the duration of a game. Instead of getting caught up in a bad play, he wants them to direct their focus to the current one. Instead of worrying about the dwindling time or missed field goals, pay attention to making this play count right now. And instead of letting mind games and pressure and what you can’t control cloud your mind, concentrate on what you can control and do at this moment to be victorious.
In pageants, it is easy to get bogged down. “I need to buy a dress and shoes and swimsuit and pick a talent and practice interview and volunteer for a thousand different things and Suzi did this last week so I need to now too and paperwork is due soon but my hair appointment isn’t scheduled…”
Slow Down. Breath! And focus on W.I.N.
Asking What’s Important Now allows you to do a few things:
- It gives you a clear and defined starting point – sometimes that is the hardest part!
- It allows you to peel away the unimportant or less-timely tasks.
- It ensures you are using your time well by tackling the most time-sensitive items first.
- It takes a huge, messy, overwhelming list of tasks and boils it down to what the most important needs are right now through the development of self-discipline.
- It keeps you from getting distracted in the middle of an important task by something unrelated or less important.
- It gives you permission to say NO – even if it is a great cause or fun activity – because it isn’t what is most important NOW to achieving your ultimate goal.
I am an easily-distracted, YES person. I start something, and before completion, move on to something else. I want to do it all and please everyone – so I tend to say YES to all opportunities that come my way.
But then I’m too tired or overwhelmed to be effective. My best work is left unfinished. So for me, W.I.N. allows me to get into completion mode – keeping in mind that my first commitment at MYM is to my clients, then to the website and community building, and third to growing resources available online. All else is unnecessary at this point.
What might this look like for you? Well, is it more important now to gown or swimsuit shop, or work on your paperwork that is due soon? Should you practice interview skills before hitting the gym, or is physical fitness a priority that you struggle with? Identify where your greatest weaknesses are and develop a plan for starting with the items that will take the most time to correct and strengthen. Don’t panic about time running out for shopping or accessories – focus on What’s Important Now and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by what others are or aren’t doing.
At MYM we can help you prioritize and determine what the most important thing is NOW through a realistic list of your goals – then we help you get there. That’s why at MYM, we W.I.N. 🙂