There is a huge push to be accountable for every minute of our working lives, to make sure we get the absolute most out of every day.
Work piles up, interruptions creep in, and before you know it you spend an entire working week rushing around putting out fires. This panic-stricken approach to the workplace is not only creating stress, it is also taking you away from the bigger picture.
The big picture is about pursuing what you really want in life. It doesn’t happen by accident, it takes a certain focus and dedication.
1. What do you want?
It’s easy to forget that we even have a choice in what we want.
It can be difficult to find a new job and the sacrifices in forging a new career path can be quite discouraging. It appears to be quite easy for people to form a list of things they don’t want – but this isn’t the best approach.
Think about what excites you, what works for you and what makes you more effective and more productive. These are the things that require and deserve your attention for the long term.
There may be skills that you want to develop, time you want to dedicate to family or a hobby, or simply find some time to think.
2. How much time are you willing to dedicate?
There will always be urgent tasks to attend to. Tight deadlines and a changing environment are things we have come to expect, but it can’t be at the complete expense of a long term, big picture approach.
Set aside some time each week. It might be half an hour on a Sunday evening, or larger chunks of time for big-picture work-related activities.
3. Setting up and sharing a plan
Having goals is a difficult and important first step, but putting it into action is essential for getting the results you want.
Write out a plan that includes the allocated time you are willing to commit to the big picture.
A plan makes you accountable – so set time frames and targets. It also helps to find someone you respect to talk to and keep up to date with your plan.
An outside perspective is a valuable thing as there are always things that you may not have considered.
4. What would make you change plans?
Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, so it is important to make sure you know what your exit point is.
Consider the things that would make you change your plans. Consider that as you move through different ages and stages of life that your wants and needs might change significantly.
Tragedy or unexpected opportunity will usually force a change of plans. You can’t predict the future, but you should definitely keep in mind that your big picture is subject to change. It may even be a simple mention of a project, course, country, company or research, that gets you thinking and realizing that you have special interests and needs that might be the start of a change.
Every two or three months it is time to check in and make sure that you’re still on track and paying respect to the things you really want out of life.
The world will continually push tasks at you that are urgent and require your highest priority – it is necessary to push back so that you can rise above the stress.
We need to look after our interests in the long term. Life can be short and there are marvellous opportunities and directions that we can take.
It is never too late to start, and hopefully you are already starting to think of ways to contribute to your big picture.