Happy New Year.
Just as I’m sure many of you are, I’m spending the last day of 2015 reflecting on where I am now, and where I want to go. From the discussions that I’ve had in the past few weeks, that’s what many of my clients have been doing as well: reviewing progress (or lack of progress) and trying to determine where they, and their companies, should be headed next.
As I help guide my clients through their year-end reflections and planning for the coming year, I’ve noticed a common theme: There are so many things we could be doing…but only so many hours in a day. How do we choose which are most important? How do we prioritize what to do first?
In my opinion, the answer is easy. And it ties back to my previous post on passion and purpose. When you have a purpose that you are truly passionate about, a purpose that goes beyond short-term financial results only, prioritizing where and what to spend your time on, both personally and professionally becomes easy. For me, my purpose is very simple: Help people. Improve the world. That short, uncomplicated, five-word purpose statement is the compass by which I set – and stick to – my course. It guides my goal setting, the work and projects that I spend my time and energy on, and is a constant reminder of my most important priorities. It is the yardstick by which I measure all my decisions, from the largest to the smallest. Does it help people? Will it improve the world somehow? It the answer is yes, I do it. If the answer is no, I don’t.
Many of the clients that I work with use some type of four-box matrix as the first step of their prioritization process. Company-wide initiatives, possible projects, improvements, etc. are sorted into a matrix with one axis showing the projected amount of effort it would take to complete the project, and the other axis showing the potential impact. Projects that fall into the “low effort, high impact” box are usually the ones pursued. Problem with this, however, is that without an initial purpose-based sort, there’s nothing to determine what shouldn’t end up on the matrix at all. And in my experience, without that first purpose-based sort, projects chosen are often internally focused on short-term results only, and not those that will advance the company towards fulfilling it’s greater purpose for their customers and the world.
So, if you, or your company, are struggling with prioritization – deciding which are the most important things, and which are the things to do first – at this time of the year, or at any other, my suggestion is that you start by reviewing your purpose. What are you passionate about? What are your customers passionate about? How will you and your company make a difference in the lives of your customers and make the world a better place?
What will be the yardstick that you hold up for you and your company as you prioritize this year?
If you’d like help creating – or re-creating – your purpose, or with purpose-driven prioritization, give me a call at 773-257-8357 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to help!