Dean Kamen, inventor of the AutoSyringe and Segway and a member of the Inventor’s Hall of Fame discussed focusing on important things when he said, I do not want to waste any time. And if you are not working on important things, you are wasting time.” And if you want to know what things are important, Kamen goes on to say, “I don’t work on a project unless I believe that it will dramatically improve life for a bunch of people.”
Focusing on what’s important is a full-time job. For this to work you don’t get to do this once and expect everything to work out. Success will come from the many choices you make each day that lead to accomplishing the important things.
Listed below are the three important choices you’ll face each day:
Eliminate what’s not important. You can’t do everything in one day. Be realistic and make your to do list only that which is a must do – then stop thinking about the rest for the day. Keeping things that you hope to get to on your list will only lead to frustration. You’ll have another chance tomorrow to consider what didn’t make today’s list, but that’s tomorrow. Author Seth Godin correctly points out that, “Until you remove the noise, you’re going to miss a lot of signals.” When you have too many things on your mind you can’t pay attention to all that is important.
Elevate what’s important. Now that you have only important things on your to do list, you should prioritize that which is most important. The first things on your priority list must be those items that support and strengthen your ability to accomplish the rest. By that I mean Exercise: walking, jogging, yoga…the format that gets you going. Education: reading, listening, experiencing new information…the format that keeps you growing. Evaluation: thinking, writing, recording your thoughts…the format that keeps you knowing. Jim Rohn summarized it in this way, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Make sure you’re ready to take care of the important things.
Celebrate achieving what’s important. With your to do list focused and prioritized to the most important things, you are bound to succeed – in the end. Recognize that everything we do, even if it is important things, won’t always work the first time, or second time for that matter. With diligent effort, you will succeed if you keep focusing on the important things. It’s not a matter of what you are trying to accomplish, it’s only how, and you’re always one decision away from a totally different life. Successful inventor Dean Kamen says, “Most of the time you will fail, but you will also occasionally succeed. Those occasional successes make all the hard work and sacrifice worthwhile.”