What Aren’t You Doing?

Look in the mirror

You’re busier than ever, and almost every day you’re asked to do more. And usually it’s more with less – must improve efficiency so you can do more of what you already do.  We want you to take this on, but don’t drop anything.

Improving your efficiency is good, and it’s healthy to challenge yourself to do more, but there’s a whole other side to things – a non-efficiency-based approach, where instead of asking how can you do more things, it’s about how you can do things that matter more.

And from this non-efficiency-based framework, the question “What aren’t you doing?” opens a worm hole to a new universe, and in this universe meaning matters.  In this universe “What aren’t you doing?” is really “What aren’t you doing that is truly meaningful to you?”

[But before I’m accused of piling on the work, even if it’s meaningful work, I’ll give you an idea to free up time do more things that matter. First, change your email settings to off-line mode so no new messages pop on your screen and interrupt you. In the morning manually send and receive your email and answer email for 30 minutes; do the same in the afternoon. This will force you to triage your email and force you to limit your time. This will probably free up at least an hour a day.]

Now we’ll step through a process to figure out the most important thing you’re not doing.

Here is a link to a template to help you with the process —  Template – What Aren’t You Doing.

The first step is to acknowledge there are important things you’re not doing and make a list. They can be anything – a crazy project, a deeper relationship, personal development, an adventure, or something else.

To make the list, ask these questions:

I always wanted to ____________.

I always wished I could __________.

Write down your answers.  Now run the acid test to make sure these things are actually meaningful. Ask yourself:

When I think of doing this thing, do I feel uncomfortable or or a little scared?

If they don’t make you a little uncomfortable, they’re not meaningful.  Go back to the top and start over.  For the ones that make you uncomfortable, choose the most important, enter it in the template, and move to the next step.

In the second step you acknowledge there’s something in the way. Ask yourself:

I can’t do my most meaningful thing because _______________.

Usually it’s about time, money, lack of company support, goes against the norm, or it’s too crazy. On the template write down your top two or three answers.

In the third step you transform from an external focus to an internal one, and acknowledge what’s in the way is you. (For the next questions you must temporarily suspend reality and your very real day-to-day constraints and responsibilities.) Ask yourself:

If I started my most meaningful thing tomorrow I would feel uncomfortable that ____________.

Write down a couple answers, then ask:

The reason I would feel uncomfortable about my most  meaningful thing is because I __________. (Must be something about you.) 

Write down one or two. Some example reasons: you think your past experiences predict the future; you’re afraid to succeed; you don’t like what people will think about you; or the meaningful stuff contradicts your sense of self.

Spend an hour a week on this exercise until you understand the reasons you’re not doing your most meaningful thing. Then, spend an hour a week figuring out how to overcome your reasons for not doing. Then, spend an hour a week, or more, doing your most meaningful thing.

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Mike Shipulski Mike Shipulski
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