Do the things that matter most

A hiatus and a long one indeed in connecting with you. These last few months have been a great learning experience for me personally. It highlighted the need for retooling myself regularly on my own discipline. A couple of events is all it took to get off-track in my plans I had set for the remainder of the year.

My heart was yearning to get back to track, but it was on the diametrically opposite side of my actions. Others were controlling my choices, when I knew I owned the response and actions.

To get back to my rhythm, I resorted to the trusted method which I have used in the past – set aside a few hours of quiet time and go into a state of reflection. Not analyze what went wrong, but reflect on what I should be doing differently. And, then I came to the realization – Do the things that matter most.

When you do the things that matter most, everything else will fall in place. Your priorities are set. You fill the space with the larger stones. The smaller ones can be fillers in the space between the large stones.

Here is how I am getting back on track:

Define the things that matter most In other words, define what “track” means. This definition is different for each one of us. For me, it started with pruning my wish list to a smaller and manageable number. I put in priorities which matter most; the ones which give me the highest satisfaction and help me continue on my quest to be a better person spiritually and professionally.

R L Stevenson said “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.” We need to define what we are capable of becoming through the things that matter most.

Decide what you should stop doing – This has been the hardest part for me. Between work, indoor and outdoor activities, and the time I spend in the community and the multitude of requests I get for help, the limited hours of my day were being eaten up. Time has become a real scare entity on weekdays and weekends. My holidays and so called vacations were only an extension of full 12 hour work days.

Now, I have revamped my list and taken out the activities, events and anything else which do not matter the most. Out of the multitude of requests I get for help and community involvement, I pick the ones which I feel the person deserves the most and go out of my way to help.

Cut the time I spend online and/or mobile devices – In my talks and interactions I have always stressed the need to me mindful. In the last few weeks, I noticed the drift. The time I spent online had increased dramatically. Browsing aimlessly, clicking link after link was chewing up my time. With the multiple ways of instant messaging (particularly What’s app), I was part of groups which were absolutely adding no value. I took myself out of such groups. Changed my status to indicate that anyone sending me a message can expect a delay a response. Now, I check my messages at my convenience. Individuals who I value and close family and friends know how to reach me and to them I am always there.

Never underestimate the time it takes My colossal mistake was to underestimate the amount of time it takes for even the smallest thing. My underestimation would leave me with an unfinished list, a lack of complete satisfaction and sometimes even a bit of sadness.

I’m working on the manuscript of my next book and completely underestimated the time it takes. I realize that between the time needed to rewrite some of the chapters, rearrange the chapters to firm up a flow and additional research, my estimates have doubled.

To get better at the aspect of estimating time, I brought some of the practices I use in my professional life to my personal life. I workout the potential risks and issues and if an activity takes 30 minutes, unless I know for a fact, I allocate atleast twice as much.

Be kind to yourself – If you are a goal oriented and focused person like me, you can be hard and beat yourself up on every mistake or miss. When you do not love yourself, you cannot love others. As I was coming back on track and on those occasions where I was beating up myself, I took a pause to reflect, be thankful of the progress, this life and pick up from where I left. Feeling safe like a baby cuddled in arms of a mother and feeling the love and care  put the kindness and compassion spark back in me.

Do you have any comments or thoughts about this article? Please do share in the comments below.

4 replies on “Do the things that matter most”

Very nicely written addressing the practical problems. Many times I get this feeling that I should move to a new planet to get more than 24 hrs in a day. Very true that priorities and gadget time needs to be managed well.

Kamala Raghunathsays:

Exactly what I have been feeling lately! Thank you for sharing your own experience and spelling it out in black and white. Hopefully, managing time will become my number one priority going forward – in fact starting today.

Thanks Aravind. We let ourselves become victims when reality is we all have 24 hours a day.

Thanks Kamala. Yes, there is no moment better than the current one.

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