It is a productivity/personal development cliche by now to talk about focusing on the things that matter most and not to get caught up in the busyness of life. This does not make it any less important or needed though. It is rare to not meet someone and have them lament how crazy busy they are. It is even expected these days; like being part of a stressed out club. People are looking for relief…while frantically running on their hamster wheel.
Seth Godin was really on point when he said that it is not about “making time” for things that matter; we need to make the things we want to do not optional and put them on the inside of the circle of our time and life. “Inside of the circle” is such a great way to put it. Viktor Frankl once said that it is not the size of the circle of our life that matters, but how well we fill it in. Both are pretty much saying the same thing: fill your day/life with what matters most.
Like practicing meditation, this may be a simple concept, but not necessarily easy to keep up. It is really just about making a choice when faced with our daily options. Seth noted that we only have to choose once. Only need to decide once that Thursdays at 1 pm is time for lunch with our friend (instead of sitting at our desk) or Mondays at 6 pm is the time to walk (instead of just going home to “do what I always do”). Once this is scheduled, treat it as sacredly as you would a doctor’s appointment or a staff meeting. Inform the people that matter in your life that you are doing it (and possibly to leave you alone while you do “your thing”) and it gets easier after that.
Living this way is not only less stressful, it is also far more meaningful. It is less stressful, because when the important things are taken care of, the other stuff just seems to matter less. It is more meaningful, because, just like happiness, meaning is a by product of doing the things that matter most to us.
All sorts of good things happen when we live in ways that create more meaning for ourselves. Research points to things like improved physical and mental health, but because we are focusing on the “big rocks” we will find we move forward in our life more quickly. The point of this is not about “getting ahead” (that route is climbing back on the hamster wheel), it is that when we really focus in on doing what matters to us most – and adding it to inside of the circle of our attention and scheduled life – we become more of who we want to be.
Think about that the next time you find yourself 30 min deep in scrolling Facebook posts or deciding to watch the next Netflix episode or not….