There are specific life management patterns practiced by leaders who enjoy sustainable success. Over the years, I've gained tremendous insight from leaders, mentors, and coaches who understand personal and professional growth. Improvement never happens in a void, and for this reason I partner with others as a leadership coach. Doing life together provides accountability and growth!
Life management at its core is taking a proactive approach to life versus a reactive one.
The difference is simple: a proactive individual takes responsibility and personal initiative to plan out work days and periods of rest, while a reactive individual succumbs to the circumstances around them.
There is no forethought or planning in a reactive lifestyle, resulting in chaos, distractions, and wasted time.
All the life-giving energy a better schedule provides is within reach using a few key life management skills. To assess the state of your priorities, start by asking yourself and others who know you these three questions:
1. "What does my behavior say about the priorities in my life?"
What or who is getting the short end of the stick? Is it your team, children, your spouse, your physical health, your church? Spend some time to get honest and assess where you are right now. There’s no better time to gain constructive feedback from those who love you. In fact, just by seeking constructive criticism, you may be mending relationships you believed were beyond help.
2. "What established priorities and habits are already serving me well?"
Evaluate what you're doing right and keep at it! It's easy to forget or lose sight of all the things that go right in a day. Pause to consider the areas where your life management is productive. Notice your wins and not always your losses. Start with the priorities you're most confident in achieving. Practice them first, and let yourself win with them. Then slowly begin to incorporate other priorities as you're able to focus on them. Take time to express gratitude for what you are doing right. It will do wonders for your mood and the morale of your team.
3. "How do I plan for the future the most effectively?"
Planning priorities needs to be very simple, or we will abandon it. Do what works best for you, which for me is drawing up a simple list of my personal and professional priorities and entering them into my calendar.
This includes scheduled blocks of time for family events and vacations. Be careful to schedule these events into your calendar with as much importance as you reserve for meetings. I’ve learned that if these periods of rest and renewal are not also taking up physical space on my calendar, I’m much more likely to treat them like suggestions rather than commitments.
If you need to, take a retreat or getaway trip in solitude to plan your year. This will give you the time and the space necessary to see priorities and nonessentials clearly, and to plot out a course for your big goals.
4. Ensure your big goals are broken down into actionable and realistic steps.
This is an important one, mostly due to our overzealous nature as leaders to take on projects we really don’t have time for. Ensure this does not happen by being realistic with yourself about how much time, and how many people you need to make a project successful.
As leaders, we can be especially good at casting vision for what we want to see in the future, but impractical when it comes to breaking down all the steps that will get us there. Sit in the pieces, or find someone who is willing to help you flesh out those details. This is so essential to ensuring that big goals are met through their hundreds of moving parts.
5. Don’t be tempted by the short game. Leadership is a marathon sport.
Remember: effective life management takes time and A LOT of patience. Some years, you won’t see tremendous results. It will take years to build mastery in this area, and patience will become a virtue in the process. When you fail, fail forward and begin again the next day. Failure is necessary for future growth. You will be faced with the choice to turn your failure into fuel to move onto the next level of growth—-or to let it win. I know you can master the art of life management!
To your excellence,