Where’s the Hot Water?

I was rinsing out the coffee pot and getting frustrated that the water wouldn’t seem to get hot. Irritated, I started lamenting to myself that we needed a new water heater – and why did we buy a house that needed so much fixing up? Long after the water should have been hot, I checked the faucet. You’ll never get hot water out of the cold water faucet. Oops.

How often do we do that in life? We try to get results without putting in the proper inputs. We focus our energy on the wrong things and then blame our circumstances, other people, or our luck when we don’t get the results. Here are some questions to ask about your daily activities:

What activities are necessary to achieve this goal? It’s an obvious first step: whenever you have a vision or goal, you should take time to understand what steps are required to achieve it. Since a vision is a longer-term perspective, you might break that down into some high-level milestones. Those milestones, then, can be broken down into measurable steps. Are you executing those measurable steps?

Does this activity move me closer or further from my goal? Everything you do brings you closer or takes you further away from your goal. Everything you do. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “But I can’t spend all my time working on my goals, I have to sleep and eat!” And I would say, sleeping and eating get you closer to your goals because it keeps you healthy! Exercise provides a way to relieve stress and come back to your work more creatively! Spending time with friends helps you decompress so you feel refreshed. But there is a counter-side to all of that. You have to put the right amount of time into the right activities. Lounging around in front of the TV for ten hours a week is taking precious time from achieving your dreams. Make sure you are asking yourself if what you spend your time doing is helping you live your dream.

How am I prioritizing what I do? I used to sell Mary Kay; or maybe more accurately, I used to buy Mary Kay products that sat on my shelf while I created marketing materials, wrote a schedule, and planned to sell. Everything I was doing was important to a Mary Kay business, but I wasn’t prioritizing my activities. I wasn’t out there making connections and sharing the product! Ensure that you are assigning the right amount of time to the right tasks. A disproportionate amount of time on a task that doesn’t make a significant impact will lessen your success.

Am I taking time to review my routine regularly? You may figure out what the right things to do are, and you are spending the right amount of time on them, but then things change. As you move towards your goals, the needs shift. It’s important to take time out to review what you are spending your time on and verify that your focus is where it needs to be still.

Do I have a schedule, and do I stick to it? You Type As love me for this; the rest of you are asking what a schedule is. Your schedule holds you accountable and allows you to see where your time is going. I color-code my schedule. It helps me get perspective on where my time goes. Is there a whole bunch of green (work) and very little blue (family)? Maybe I need to reevaluate where my time is spent. Also, I recently started using an app to track where I spend my time. From social media to RFPs to eating dinner, I want to know where my time is going. Check out ATracker if you are interested!

If you want hot water, make sure you have turned the hot water faucet on! Tie your activities to your goals and make sure what you are doing is moving you toward the result you want to see. Everything else is just a distraction.

Jana Axline is president and leadership coach at Axline Solutions and author of Becoming You. Through her leadership musings she inspires audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Axline Solutions.

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