Keep Your Eye on the Prize

If you've read any personal development or productivity book, chances are you've been directed to plan ahead and perhaps even move your to-do list to your calendar. And while planning ahead is definitely necessary, life and business will quickly teach you that calendars need to be flexible.

I've actually gone back and forth between various "systems" of time blocking and/or just adding things to my calendar. I love knowing what's coming up and what I should do when, but life and business are rarely that orderly.

For example, I started the new year all revved up with my word "optimize" and ready to start healthy habits, but then I sprained my left ankle. As my ankle healed, my right neck and shoulder started acting up (in part due to sleeping badly and in part probably due to compensating for the left ankle's pain), which means I not only wasn't able to do the 30-day Body Groove Challenge, but also missed going to the gym. 

I won't pretend that I wasn't disappointed and more than a bit bummed, but I'm not giving up. Once upon a time I would have—since I couldn't stick with the original plan—but I've learned to go with the flow and adjust. After all, the "prize" is a healthier me, so even if it's not on the original schedule, I still want that outcome.

Same with business. It's good to know what you need to get done every day, and even what your priority is for the day, but if you have to put out a fire, don't let that derail you for too long: keep your eye on the prize. You have a business to run (and perhaps a team to manage) regardless if it's as per plan or not.

I know someone who unfortunately sabotages himself often because to him it's more important to do things on schedule than to do them. He'll start a fitness plan and force himself to do it every morning regardless, rain or shine, until he has to stop because he's hurt or too tired. And once he's missed a day, he gives up. He won't even consider doing it later in the day or adjusting his routine.

Schedules and plans are important, because how else would you know what to focus on daily, but they are a means to an end, not the end. So don't confuse the two and don't lose track of the end you're working towards.

Takeaway: Plans and schedules are useful tools, but when life or business gets in the way, don't forget that they are only a means to an end and not the end (or "prize") you're after.

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