Many of us keep making compromises on a continuous, ongoing basis without realizing the impact those compromises of “adjustments” have on ourselves. While adjusting to others’ whims, fancies and demands is fine, there is a choice to be made when it comes to deciding what is best for you and the best effective usage of your time and skills. And, many of us do not face the choice by avoiding the decision, or make the decision which favours others.
Let me clarify a bit more – as we navigate the course of our lives through its ups and downs, we end up catering to other peoples’ wishes and ignore our own goals and priorities in life. This happens when we are fixated on others (and that include your own immediate family members), worried that if we do not help out instantaneously, they will not make it. Others also would include friends, extended family, office colleagues, acquaintances, etc., It is important to understand what others want, analyze whether you can be of assistance in a particular situation, extend the necessary help (financial, moral, physical support) as needed, and do all this without any expectation of any kind of return for oneself.
However, if we continue doing this “assistance” to others on a running basis, it is possible that we will miss focusing on our own needs and priorities. One thing I always tell my friends is that there is an acute need to invest in ourselves, and I have seen less than 2% of my circle of friends investing in themselves. This is not any selfish motive playing out in our life – it is establishing your own goals and priorities clearly by writing these down (these goals and priorities undergo changes almost every year), and identifying methods to achieve the same. If these can be achieved while also helping every individual who needs your assistance, then that is fantastic – but that is never the case in reality.
So, here comes the challenge – how do you turn down simple requests for help from your son or daughter, or from your uncle or aunt, or even from your wife or mother? Not every one, even in your own household, understand your goals and priorities (though that is probably because you have not taken the trouble of communicating to them for whatever personal reasons). That would mean a simple thing – they look at you, see you relatively “free”, and ask you to do something. In all probability, you would help as that is most peoples’ nature. A similar kind of thing plays out when you are asked to help out an office colleague, or when an old friend seeks your help from out of the blue.
I was personally “driven” by myself for most of my life, but I also offered to help where I can. However, I do not wish to be “driven” by others to the detriment of not achieving what I have set out to do on a particular day, week or month, in pursuit of my goals and priorities. It took me a long while in life to say “NO” to others, simply because I wanted to help. I always tried to say “YES”, and sometimes I messed up in the execution of the committed activity, due mostly to conflicting priorities. Others who seek your support do not understand what you want to do. They probably think you have a lot of time, or a variety of skills, or significant resources to help solve their problems.
I am not running away from making a commitment, but I am very clear now that the FIRST priority in life is my own priorities and their achievement in the timeframe I had set out for the same. Clarity in mind helps, and eventually translates to clarity in action. This is not selfish behaviour. Everyone should have a written down list of key goals and priorities in their respective lives, and should stand up to execute the same as personally committed to oneself.
Is there anything wrong with that approach?
No, none to my mind.
One should have the personal conviction to carry out one’s responsibilities and achieve his/her goals and priorities. The priorities could include an ordered sequence of things or actions that could apply to others in your life, so that is all good. I see “conviction” lacking in most people I come across, and also I see lack of “investment” in oneself – this is not wearing high end suits or watches or shoes, but to constantly upskill oneself in the pursuit that one wants to pursue. It might require training, networking, attending workshops, online programs, and what not. But in this case, you are not working on a deal or anyone else, you are working on yourself which is very challenging, given that most of us have a rather high opinion of ourselves.
So, in a nutshell, I would summarize as follows:
- draw up a list of goals and priorities for 2018, and revise it atleast every quarter
- identify which goal will be the most important to achieve – the one that would please you the most
- take actions to achieve the prioritized goal in the timeframe which you have envisaged
- track your progress every week
- “invest” on yourself
- explain the above to your spouse as there should be no misunderstanding when you say a “NO” to a request for help
- check always to see if you can assist others when they seek help, but keep in mind that your first commitment is to your priorities in life
I have tried to capture what I have been thinking for a while. Hope this helps my audience in some way. I would encourage you all to think for yourself before putting any plan into action – it is critical to understand fully the challenges and implications for yourself. “Success” is accomplished when you achieve your set goals in the timeframe you have decided. All the Best,
16th December 2017