GREAT advice from Master Coordinator, Rick Seymour

There are many people that spend most of their lives feeling guilty – mostly feeling guilty about whatever it is that they are NOT doing. If they are involved in some church activity, they are feeling guilty that they are not spending time with their kids. If they are spending time with the kids, they are feeling guilty that they are not finishing up that big project at work or in their in-home business. If they are spending time on their business, they are feeling guilty that they aren’t at the committee meeting for the non-profit they are involved in. And if they are working with the non-profit they are feeling guilty that they aren’t at the church. No matter what they are doing, they feel guilty about whatever it is they are not doing.

In general, I think women are much more plagued by this vicious cycle of guilt than are men. Most men, if they have a “TO DO” list for the day that has 5 items on it and they get three finished, they are really proud of themselves. If a woman has a “TO DO” list of 87 items and she gets 86 done, she will feel guilty about the one she didn’t finish, instead of feeling good about the 86 that she did finish!

Too many people never figure out if they can actually fit everything they want to accomplish into their schedule, and as a result they are setting themselves up for failure and disappointment. There are very few people that can “do it all” – given the time constraints and responsibilities they have in their lives. It is essential to make a couple of distinctions that help you decide where and how to spend your time.

There is a significant difference between a priority and what we will call a payoff . A PRIORITY is anything that we dedicate time to. A PAYOFF is any activity that moves us toward a valued goal. I doubt that anyone would ever admit that watching TV is a priority in their life. And yet, if they spend time watching TV, then by definition, watching TV is a priority in their life. Remember, a priority is ANYTHING we spend time on.

When we evaluate how to spend our time (and our life) it is important to make a
Distinction between PRIORITIES and PAYOFFS. There are many things that we might categorize as high priority that are low payoff. (Many people refer to this as the “tyranny of the urgent”) The key to a “successful” life is to learn to spend the majority of our time on high payoff, high priority activities. If we don’t consistently commit time to high payoff activities that will help us achieve our goals and support our values we may check back next year or in five years and discover that our life hasn’t changed. Just by virtue of the fact that you are reading this article tells me that you wouldn’t want that to happen. It is time to focus your efforts on High Payoff activities.

Knowing and focusing on priorities and payoffs, scheduling them and sticking to them helps begin to solve the guilt problem that so many people have. When we are doing what we know we are “supposed to be doing,” we don’t have to feel guilty while we are doing it, because we know that the other important things are also on the calendar and will get their due at the appropriate time.

When I went full-time into my own business and I first had all the newfound freedom of not having to punch someone else’s time clock, I thought that it would be great not to have a set schedule and I could live “spontaneously.” Much to my dismay, I accomplished very little and had no free time to do the recreational things I most enjoyed. It wasn’t until I learned to schedule my time and stick to the appropriate priorities and payoffs that I had any free time for recreation, etc. And now, since I’ve learned to schedule my recreation, I can go and enjoy those activities without guilt, knowing the high payoff activities are also on the calendar and will be accomplished at the appropriate time.


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