4 Steps To Keeping Your Eyes On The Main Thing

main-thingAs a runner I have become an expert at j walking. Part of the reason I run so early in the morning is so that I don’t have to wait at a bunch of cross walks. At one particular intersection this morning, there was a truck in the left turn lane. As I observed the situation, I saw that he had a green light and yet continued to sit there. After an abnormal amount of the time, the light turned red and he was still sitting there. He missed his opportunity.

What was he doing? All I know is that he was looking down and not paying attention. In this day and age, I’m going to assume he was staring at his phone instead of paying attention to what was going on in front of him. It really could have been a myriad of other things that are beside the point of this post.

That got me thinking about my recent vacation that I wrote about on Monday. One of the greatest benefits of good vacation is the opportunity to connect and reconnect with the people who are most important to you and spend a little time taking inventory of your life. What’s working? What isn’t working? What areas of my life are out of balance? Where can I improve?

As I observed the guy staring at his phone and missing his opportunity to go, it was as if I was looking in the mirror at what I so frequently do. Perhaps you’re like me and you need to work a bit on your alignment or you simply need to get your wheels rolling in the right direction. Join me for a moment in my thought process:

Step 1- What Are The Main Things

Take a moment to list out the most important things, goals and relationships in your life. If you’re like me you probably have things like family, marriage, career, God, health, friends, and life long learning at or near the top of that list. You can easily set goals around these to help you do them well and hopefully with a good deal of balance.

Step 2- What Are You Actually Doing

Now list the things you spend the bulk of your time doing. Again, if you’re like me, your list might look something like working, exercising, watching TV, browsing social media and eating ice cream. Before we go any further, most of these are not bad things– if you do them right. Let’s move to step three and I’ll tell you why.

Step 3- Check Your Goals

Now take a moment to look at your list in step two through the lens of your goals in step one. Are these activities, enhancing or diverting your focus from those goals? Let me pick a couple of my favorites and show you what I mean:

Social Media

Social media is incredibly powerful. If offers the power to learn, connect with family and friends, share an important message, and grow your network like never seen before. On the other side, however, it can be a time suck of spouting forth and consuming content that is meaningless. Is social media enhancing your main things or distracting you from your main things?

Eating Ice Cream

Of course I had to talk about ice cream. There are few things I love more. Are you eating and enjoying this wonderful delicacy, possibly over a conversation with the people that matter most in your life? Or are you consuming mass quantities of it to cover up feelings you should probably deal with or choosing that over a healthy activity?

Watching TV

I’m inspired by my friend Doug Sandler who has sworn off TV—but do we really have to swear it off? Are you routinely binge-watching television (my vice is Friends reruns) or is it something you use for the occasional mental break or learning opportunity?

Step 4- Strike A Balance

In the world of ones and zeros why do we always feel like things need to be on or off? While you may truly discover that you need to cut out some of the things you listed in step two, what if you took the time to try to bring them into balance? How can you do these activities in such a way that they enhance your main things? Before you beat yourself up for being out of balance, remember that this is an exercise in continuous improvement.

So here’s the million-dollar question for me today.

Are the things that I’m doing on a daily basis helping me achieve my main things, or am I stopped at a green light too busy staring at my phone?


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