Without a good question, a good answer has no places to go –Clayton Christensen
Last Week’s Blog
Last week I received feedback regarding the four questions I asked in reference to preparing for the new year. In response, today’s blog features a detailed look at each question and how it relates to preparing for the coming year. The older I get, the more I learn that quality decisions are found on the other side of better questions. Questions are often the basis for effective learning and discoveries in life. While most people focus on gathering more information, I believe long-lasting growth is less attributed to information gathering and more to asking good questions. Michael Hyatt said it best, “asking questions is the best way to grow as a human being.”
To recap, the four questions are:
- Do you see today as a bridge to your future?
- How often do you procrastinate on a task?
- What did you do today to invest in your future?
- Are you proactive or reactive?
Let’s explore each one.
Do You See Today As a Bridge To Your Future?
View determines value. How you see today plays a role in how you apply yourself to anything you do. Most people who see a connection between what they do today and the results they reap tomorrow are more intentional about the use of their time. They are decisive about their actions and never lose sight of this one fact; tomorrow is coming. Viewing today as a bridge rather than a barrier towards your future plants a resolve in you never waste a day. How do we waste our today? First, by stewing over the past we cannot change. This time waster not only eats up the clock but also rents unnecessary space in our minds. Second, we waste time on social media. According to studies, the average person spends 2-3 hours on social media daily, while the average person in America spends 4 hours a day watching TV or streaming content. This averages out to two months a year. These time-filling but mindless activities suck up valuable time. What would you do with two extra months every year? Often the time we spend on social media and TV reflects our procrastination or avoidance of important tasks.
How Often Do You Procrastinate (or put off) a Task?
I discovered a rut I was falling into because of a statement I adopted. “I will do it tomorrow.” This was my go-to phrase when the feeling of doing something, no matter its importance, wasn’t there. My feelings were ruling my thinking. Unfortunately, you can only pile so much into tomorrow before chaos ensues. My procrastination dug a hole of promises that overloaded and overwhelmed me. Why do I keep pushing things to tomorrow? Is it a lack of time? A lack of desire? I pinpointed it to a lack of desire. My procrastination was tied to avoiding hard things. The unintended consequence of sidestepping the hard things and defaulting to the easy was the low expectations I placed on myself.
I turned the corner upon remembering John F. Kennedy’s quote, “We choose to go to the moon and do the other things not because they are easy but because they are hard.” Doing the difficult, challenging tasks is where our growth and development surge. Choosing a life of lesser procrastination positions you to use today to invest in your future no matter how challenging the present task.
What Did You Do Today To Invest in Your Future?
Think of your time today in terms of money. How did you spend your day? Did all your time go to expenses or activities relating to your past? Or, did you invest some or most of your time on things for your future? Why is time more precious than money? Because you don’t get it back. With such a value placed on time, how much of yours is an investment? It takes longer to see the fruit of an investment than it does to see the product of debt. Similar to money, we are looking for short-term gains with our time. Consumerism is the result of this short-term appetite. When consumerism, be it with our time or money, becomes the norm, we cripple our future.
By consistently asking, “What did I do today to invest in my future?” you free your time from the lull of instant gratification and find ways to invest it by reading a book, taking a course, learning a new skill, or cultivating transformative relationships. The wealth that awaits in the future is unearthed by those who invest their resources of time, talent, and treasure wisely today. Without this shift in thinking, we are relegated to being reactive instead of proactive.
Are You Proactive Or Reactive?
According to Steven R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “proactive people focus their efforts on their Circle of Influence. They work on things they can do something about. Reactive people focus their attention on their Circle of Concern. Things they have little or no control over. Gaining an awareness of the areas in which we expend our energies is a giant step in becoming proactive.”
Proactive people accelerate their progress to a desirable future because they take positive action as soon as they can, and for as long as they can. They don’t wait for inspiration to strike first, they strike until the inspiration comes. They are not only thinkers and doers, but they remain flexible and ready to adapt as long as it does not violate their values. They are ready to step into the unknown, willing to persevere and bring their best to every endeavor. Do you want to be proactive or reactive?
Final Thought: Questions to prepare for the new year are not for self-criticism but self-reflection in the name of improving our quality of life. These four questions should be a precursor to setting goals and making new year resolutions. They will uncover areas where growth is necessary to accomplish the goals we desire. Remember, honesty is the only policy to answer these questions accurately.
Keep on keeping on!
Point of Gratitude
Bringing you regular content to help raise your quality of life is an honor I don’t take for granted. Thank you for reading and giving positive feedback.
Happy New Year!