Success isn’t a game won by whoever does the most!

4
by Jo Wood
Published: Monday, 18 September, 2023

In this fast-paced world, the pressure to juggle all our responsibilities can feel overwhelming.

We hear this pretty much every day from our Crossing Thresholds participants. From managing careers to family, friendships, and personal aspirations, it's easy to fall into the trap of believing that success is achieved by constantly doing more. However, in this pursuit of productivity, we often find ourselves buried under a mountain of tasks that may not align with our true priorities. At Thresholds, we believe it’s time to shift your focus from quantity to quality and discover the power of being intentional about what you want. 

But with so many things to do, how do you decide what’s really important? Here are our three top tips:

1. The power of clear priorities

In the whirlwind of daily life, do you have a clear sense of your priorities? Or does everything feel important? Well, if everything is considered a priority, then nothing truly is. Prioritisation is a skill, and it involves some critical thinking to identify and focus on the most significant tasks. It requires making thoughtful and difficult decisions about where to invest time, energy, and resources for maximum impact and fulfilment. If you find yourself overwhelmed or struggling to distinguish between priorities, pause for a moment and ask yourself: What truly matters to me? What do I want to achieve in my career, relationships, and personal growth? Take the time to introspect and identify your core values and aspirations. Then allow your priorities to drive your decisions. When faced with a task, a new opportunity or simply when you’re choosing how to spend your time (and yes despite what you may think you are always making choices – even doing nothing is a choice!) then consider what aligns best with your goals. Learning to say "no" to the non-essential is a powerful step towards living a purpose-driven life.

2. Unmasking the illusion of busyness

Most of us have experienced the anxiety of an overflowing inbox, filled with seemingly urgent emails clamouring for our attention. But are they truly priorities? Most inboxes are overflowing with stuff that’s important to other people and we fall into the trap of playing inbox zero – but ending the day or week with a clear inbox has nothing to do with success. Your inbox contains everything and in return trying to deal with it all takes you everywhere! The trick is to distinguish between YOUR true priorities and those distractions masquerading as important tasks. Take a moment to assess the emails flooding your inbox and identify the messages that genuinely contribute to your long-term goals. Focus on addressing those tasks first, and don't let the non-urgent ones dictate your day. Get comfortable with having unactioned emails in your inbox, start to delete chain emails without adding to the conversation unless it's very important to you to do so. Pause for long enough to decide what matters and then allow what matters to drive your day, not your inbox.

3. The myth of the super to-do list

To-do lists can be a valuable tool for organising your tasks and thoughts, but they can also become a source of unnecessary pressure. Often, we cram our lists with every minor obligation or desire, then feel obligated to tackle everything listed. If you’re focused on quantity rather than quality or significance, you might even find yourself completing numerous small and insignificant tasks while neglecting more essential or impactful ones. Add to this the dopamine hit you get every time you check something off and your to-do list can really start to lead you astray! A lengthy to-do list can lead to task overload, where you actually get less done because you feel burdened by the sheer volume of tasks. So, time to be honest (and ruthless) – go back through your list and delete everything you’re not going to do. Are you ever going to read that report/those minutes/that interesting article that’s been in your inbox for 3 weeks already? If it was that important, you’d have done it already. The harsh reality is that despite our good intentions most of us don’t have time to complete ‘nice to do’ tasks these days. So, why not accept that and move it to the bin! That doesn’t mean everything you do has to be challenging or complex, activities that energise you should get a spot on the list too! But when we have too many tasks and they remain incomplete or undone, we can start to experience feelings of guilt or anxiety. Procrastination can be a natural response to an extensive to-do list, as the sheer number of tasks can feel overwhelming. But what truly matters, is aligning how you spend your time with your values and long-term goals. By filtering out the non-essential, you can reduce stress and generate a sense of accomplishment by completing tasks that genuinely propel you forward.

Embrace intentional living

We’re not saying this is easy, but trying to do everything isn’t easy either and ultimately leads to burnout and exhaustion. Success isn't achieved by stretching yourself too thin, but by focusing on what matters most and excelling in those areas. Take a moment today to assess your inbox, your to-do list, and your priorities. What can you eliminate or delegate to create more space for the things that matter most? Success isn't a race to do the most, but a purposeful journey towards achieving what truly matters to you. So why not embrace the concept of being intentional rather than being busy and be deliberate in your choices and actions. Let us know how it goes!

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