Negotiating Ah Ha’s
February 2, 2022
Negotiating Ah Ha’s
February 2, 2022
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Determining Your Ruthless Priorities

“And now let us welcome the new year — full of things that have never been.” 

With COVID not quite in our rearview mirror, we may not be as enthusiastic about the future as Rainer Maria Rilke was when he wrote those lines but most of us look forward to the blank slate of a new year. It is a great time to hit the reset button and make changes in our home and work life.

Perhaps because of the challenges (and opportunities) in the last two years, you are seriously rethinking your life choices but aren’t sure how to make changes. In the last month, I have zeroed in on two books that address the issue of what’s important from entirely different standpoints. 

The first is a book I’ve mentioned before by local author, Patty Azzarello, “RISE: 3 practical steps for advancing your career, standing out as leader, and liking your life.” Her chapter on ruthless priorities is pivotal for those wanting to move into a leadership position. According to Azzarello, there is too much work, so achieve where it counts. Hence the importance of defining and living by your ruthless priorities. The book is a quick read and jam packed with actionable ideas.I came upon “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals” by Oliver Burkeman just last month. Whereas Azzarello’s book focuses on work, Burkeman takes a wider view, as his title “Four Thousand Weeks” (approximately 80 years) suggests. Rather than another productivity book intent on helping you squeeze more into your already tight schedule, he agrees there is too much to do. 

And according to Burkeman, it’s not about separating the important from the unimportant. It is about making difficult choices between a multitude of competing priorities, all of which are important. Forget the B’s and C’s on your list, you aren’t even going to get through the A’s. If all this sounds hopeless let me assure you it is not. It is incredibly freeing. 

Burkeman asserts that one of the obstacles to setting priorities is overcoming our tendency to become immobilized by the sheer volume of things on our plate. I am no stranger to the “I have so much to do that I don’t know where to start” syndrome. Heaven knows how much time I’ve let flow under the bridge flitting from task to task rather than settling on a priority and moving forward! Getting clear on our ruthless priorities, those things we want to accomplish in our four thousand weeks, is the antidote for inertia. 

“Four Thousand Weeks” highlights our penchant for distraction, think Facebook, Twitter, politics, as another stumbling block to managing our limited time. We fall down rabbit holes, get caught up in vitriol on the internet and spend time on non-priorities because it is easier than narrowing our focus to the important things that matter. In doing so we waste valuable time and fail in our effort make the most of our finitude. 

Burkeman includes stories and examples throughout his book and in the appendix, offers ten tools for accomplishing more of what matters.  As you contemplate your goals for 2022, I guarantee these books will help you reframe what matters. 

©2022 Mary Jeanne Vincent.  All rights reserved.