Using Your Potential to Be Productive

Successful people set goals, and they make certain all their actions and activities contribute to the achievement of their goals. They take action in a logical, reasonable, and organized manner to attain the results they have identified as important to them. Successful people increase their productivity through controlling their priorities.

Setting Priorities in All Areas of Life

You are a complex, unique individual. Part of your complexity stems from the fact that you fill many roles in life and possess numerous needs and desires that grow out of your unique potential. Your needs and desires are best fulfilled by using your potential to be as productive as possible in your business pursuits. However, you will be more productive over a long period of time and find greater satisfaction in your accomplishments when you establish priorities in all six areas of life: financial and career, physical and health, family and home, mental and educational, spiritual and ethical, and social and cultural.

  • Enhance your productivity and your enjoyment of life by keeping all areas of your personal and business life in proper perspective and by setting priorities in each one:Financial and Career. Exercise the same careful watch over your personal financial affairs as you demand in your business. Consider the effect of finances on your ultimate career goals and priorities.
  • Physical and Health. Successful people take care of themselves physically; they know a healthy body supports an active and creative mind and turns stress into a motivating force for achievement. Set a high priority on eating nutritious meals, exercising, and getting enough rest to be as productive as possible.
  • Family and Home. Make your family and home life more rewarding by giving to it some of the energy you save through better organization at work. Spend quality time to maintain meaningful relationships with all members of the family. Exhibit the same caring for them that you do for the members of your team at work.
  • Mental and Educational. Continue to grow in knowledge of your career field and knowledge of the world in general. Read something every day that stimulates you to think about important ideas.
  • Spiritual and Ethical. Give attention to becoming the kind of person you want to be and to the values you want to demonstrate in your life. Give back to others some of the rewards and blessings of life that have been yours. Find some cause greater than yourself and support it with your time, money, and influence.
  • Social and Cultural. Your relationships with people make life worthwhile. Develop a broad circle of friends with whom you have mutual interests. Remember also that the most successful people know how to get along well with others. In addition, they enrich their own lives and the lives of others by participating in cultural activities.

Your God-given potential gives you the right and responsibility to choose goals and set priorities in all areas of your life. No one else knows which goals are most appropriate for you, and no one else should dictate your priorities. The influence of your actions on other people should, of course, be considered when you set goals. But you alone are personally responsible for your life and what you do with it. You lose control over what happens to you if you allow decisions to be made for you by someone else. Make a commitment now to yourself and your future to take charge of your life and to establish priorities that will enrich your life and the lives of those around you.

Establishing priorities saves time, trouble, and effort. Life is a constant process of decision making. In the course of picking and choosing among options, you may have to select from several positive alternatives. At times, you may be forced to choose between two circumstances, both of which are less satisfactory than you desire. At other times, a choice may involve setting a timetable or allotting a reasonable portion of your time to each of several goals. In other words, priorities involve more than merely “doing first things first.” You may find in some situations it is impossible to take the most important action first because intermediate steps must be accomplished before the most important objectives can become reality. You may, for example, aspire to a certain position in your current organization. Before you can reach that goal, you must acquire certain skills, knowledge, and experience. These lesser steps must assume a high priority that leads to your ultimate goal.

Sometimes there is simply no easy choice. But identifying goals and establishing priorities enable you to make the best choice possible in every situation. A well-thought-out list of priorities helps you to overcome conflicts in advance. Priorities give you a sense of direction when it is time to determine where you want to go next. When a decision making situation arises, you know more quickly and more clearly what the decision must be because you already know which of the alternatives has the highest priority.

Another important principle applicable to priorities is that they must reflect your goals. Never establish priorities to reflect what you think others want to see. Priorities must be your priorities; otherwise, they will not be “priorities” at all. When you set goals and establish priorities, you maximize your strengths and bring out the best within you. You avoid allowing what others think or do to influence you inappropriately. Comparing your achievements with those of others is, after all, irrelevant. The public notice of accomplishments says nothing about their value. What others think about your accomplishments does not count. The real question is whether you have achieved what you want to achieve – whether you have used a worthy portion of the full potential within you.

Achieving many of your personal goals depends upon your success in achieving challenging goals in your career and business life. Reaching many of your personal goals requires money, and success in your career enables you to earn that money. The satisfaction of your personal needs, in many instances, bears a direct relationship to excellence in your career. Because you spend more of your waking hours on the job than in any other activity, it is natural to expect to satisfy many of your basic needs in that setting. Your personal needs and your business goals are inseparably related.

Even though some of your business goals involve your personal activity and productivity, many of them will be goals of the overall organizational team – goals that are meaningful to you and the entire organization. To enjoy the desired sense of accomplishment in your job, you must identify ways to contribute to the organization’s goals that also meet your need for achievement and success.

Once priorities are determined, you will be able to picture the desired results so vividly that you know how it will feel when they are achieved. With such clear pictures, the result is comparable to that obtained with a camera or with a telescope that is precisely in focus. When you have a clear-cut mental picture of the results you desire, you are able to move confidently toward them. As a result, you enjoy the rewards of a balanced and productive life.

Leadership Management® Institute
Reprinted with permission
Strategic Essentials is a Managing Partner for Leadership Management® International, Inc.

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