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Discipline vs. Priorities

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Are you on lock-down at home, spending more time in bed than usual perhaps (I mean some of us actually do have Easter holidays now), eating more pizza than usually “to support the local restaurant” and watching Netflix, because you can…?

Warning, this post may be slightly provocative to some. If you choose to read ahead, please 1) know that I fully respect everyone’s opinion and 2) read all the way to the end. The end is where I hope you either feel some appreciation for this article, or increase your acceptance of how different we are, especially in times of adversity.

Leadership guru and my mentor John Maxwell says that you can only ever get to know a person’s attitude during times of adversity. When times are good, and no challenges arise, we ALL have a great attitude! Or at least our poor attitude doesn’t really show, because we’re in a generally positive and “easy” flow. Then, when something dramatic happens, like Covid-19 and social isolation, all of a sudden we see that people have VERY different attitudes, values, and opinions.

I’m sure you’ve seen these two memes circulating on social media, clearly pointing on some massive differences in attitude and mindset. One saying “if you don’t come out of this quarantine with: a new skill, your side hustle started and more knowledge, you never lacked time, you lacked discipline”. The second I saw that on my friend Reven Bennie’s Instagram I left a comment saying “Love love love this. I said similar words to a client yesterday #discipline”. Then just moments later I saw on one of my clients’ Facebook the version where “you never lacked time, you lacked discipline” is crossed out, saying that in times of crisis it’s normal to be overwhelmed and stuck in the grip of fear, expressed in other words.

This has had me think a LOT. Personally, my opinion is that when all of a sudden life changes so drastically and, whether it feels like it or not, you have more time – cause you don’t drive anywhere, don’t pick up and drop off, don’t go to meetings and move from point A to get to point B, well, I believe that is an EXCELLENT opportunity to profit from. What will you do with that time? What is it you need? For some it may be REST. Slow down and rest, and that “activity” may actually be a real lifesaver because you were living at 180 km/h all the time, closing up on a terminating heart attack.

This may be provocative and a bit hard core, but my first thought was “those who don’t see the opportunity to benefit from this and sort out their life and get ahead are weak”. I warned you in the beginning! But please keep reading, please. If you feel like this period is just overwhelming and chaotic, you are living in a re-active mode. In other words, you are a victim of the things that happen around you. Thay may not sound very uplifting, but it’s the truth. But does that make you weak? NO!

Here comes the positive and constructive news: the big difference between those who step up their game during this period, become creative and inventive and seem to almost enjoy this period (and yes, I feel slightly ashamed to admit “I am one of them”), is that they have DISCIPLINE for sure. But what makes an even greater difference is CLARITY ON WHAT THEY WANT in life. They know their PRIORITIES.

If you don’t really have a detailed life- or business-plan and mainly operate on a day-by-day basis, taking what life serves you, of course, this period is going to be extremely tough on you. What would happen if you took some time to sit down to reflect?

Here are ten questions to help you shift from living in a reactive mode, to a pro-active mode:

  • If you were asked a year ago “what would you do with your extra time if you had to stay at home for X months”, what would you answer?
  • Now that you are home, are you doing that?
  • What is your focus? Tip: try answering this: where do you waste most of your energy/time right now?
  • What are your top three priorities: business and personal?
  • What are your top three areas of commitment right now?
  • Is there alignment between your priorities and your commitment?
  • What does your daily schedule look like?
  • If, all of a sudden, this quarantine period is over, looking back, what do you hope you will have gained from this very unusual way of living?
  • Are your daily activities supporting the answers to the above questions?
  • If not; what can you start doing differently that will make you feel better?

In conclusion; I believe that the biggest difference between those who identify with the statement in the left column, the more driven and results-oriented, and those who identify with the statement in the right column, that explains why it is normal that you can’t get very much done now, is the level of CLARITY on what they want out of their life, what their GOALS and areas of FOCUS are, and last but not least, the will-power to choose their thoughts and not be dragged down by news, fear and hours wasted on social media.

I hope that this article inspires you to shift your perspective so you can feel a bit more in control of your situation.

You’ve got this!

Photo credit: Marvin Meyer, Unsplash

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