A friend of ours invited us over to his house for a 4th of July barbecue and the neighborhood’s fireworks show, which we’d be able to see from the comfort and privacy of his backyard. He’s a terrific griller, and he also has some of the most comfortable patio furniture I’ve ever plopped down on, so that sounded like an enjoyable evening to us. We gladly accepted the invitation.
When we arrived with our lime chips and homemade tomatillo sauce in tow, he said that he needed to prepare us for how the fireworks show would work. “There’s not an official show. My neighborhood is full of testosterone. Military guys. Blue collar guys. White collar guys. They turn this neighborhood into Little Beirut by trying to one-up the next guy’s fireworks display.
As long as no one went crazy with dangerous pyrotechnics, this sounded like a great deal for us. His neighbors would burn up their hard earned cash in their bid for top dog in the neighborhood while we relaxed with our drinks and soaked up the visual displays.
We positioned ourselves on the furniture so that we had a clear view of the sky over his seven-foot privacy fence and beyond the two-story houses behind him. We were ready. Once the first shot was fired, the frenzy started.
We realized that the fireworks were all around us, and we didn’t want to miss anything, so we stood up in order to get a 360-degree view. As soon as we heard a sound, we’d spin around and look for the fireworks that made that noise. Before long, we were getting dizzy in our haste to try to catch every single visual display. This was no longer fun.
Eventually, we realized that we needed to look for patterns and focus on the fireworks that we wanted to see the most – the big “flowers” in the sky. The cap gun-type pops meant a small flower. The whiz-buzz sound meant a curlicue tail that lasted two seconds. The thud that sounded like a potato launcher expelling a fine spud meant a large visual display. We learned to listen for the thuds and focus on the biggest, prettiest displays instead of trying to see anything and everything.
As I stood there, finally enjoying the fireworks competition, I realized that the whole spinning around dizzily experience is what my clients feel like when they’re not stopping to plan and make commitments that are based on their priorities. They just take whatever is thrown at them and go chasing after whatever comes their way. That’s why they’re tired and frazzled at the end of the day from constantly moving and go-go-going, yet they feel like they never got anything done.
If you experience this spinning around feeling multiple times per week, pause for a moment to define your priorities:
What’s most important to you?
Who is most important to you?
What tasks or actions will support these priorities?
What tasks or actions will not support these priorities?
When you define what your priorities are, you’ll be able to better focus on them. When you choose to spend more time on your priorities, you’ll never end your day saying, “I got nothing done today.”