THE FAMOUS shoe advertising line “Just do it” is not good advice. Because really, the line should read, “Just do it now!” Doesn’t seem catchy? Well what about its Latin counterpart, made famous by the movie Dead Poets Society: Carpe diem or “seize the day!” But it doesn’t matter how you say it. What matters (you guessed it!) is what you do after you hear it! Life’s too precious not to go after your dreams. Yes, go after. That’s a verb. Dreams on their own are not enough to change the world. Dreams acted on–that’s what’s real.
How can working moms do this? Each day, we get trapped in the numerous little things that need our attention. Memos, meetings, dentist appointments, PTA conferences, family reunions, long lines at the bank, traffic… We barely find time to sleep, much less chase after a dream. So we keep putting it off, and the years pass, and finally, we’re 90 years old, bedridden, and talking to anyone who’ll listen about all of the could’ve beens.
Is that what you want to be? An old woman full of regrets? If not, then make time for your dream. If you can find time to watch a stupid television show, or complain to your friend about the 10 pounds you gained, surely you can find time to start your dream. How?
Place the big rocks in first
There’s this exercise that we do in our training programs as part of our goal-setting module. An empty fish bowl, a pile of big rocks and a pail of small rocks are placed on a table. You are challenged to fit all rocks in the fish bowl, which at first glance seem too many to fit in. You may be tempted to put in the small rocks first and then the big ones. But you’ll find out that many pieces can’t be placed in the bowl. Then, when you place the big rocks first and then the small ones, you’ll discover that everything just fits in smugly.
So what’s the lesson here? If you do the numerous small tasks first, you may find out that you may not have “space” or time for the big tasks needed to achieve your dreams. However, once you do your big tasks first, you’ll find time to fit in all the little tasks you need to do in your life.
Do the important, not urgent matters first
Another method is Stephen Covey’s time management quadrant. On one side of the quadrant are the important things you have to do—these are the things you need to do to achieve your dreams. On the lower side of the quadrant are the urgent things you have to do. Combining the important and the urgent, you get four categories: the important and not urgent; the important and urgent; the unimportant and urgent; and the unimportant and not urgent.
Obviously, the last category (unimportant and not urgent) are the tasks that you should not waste time on. However, you are torn between the second and third categories, which are urgent in nature.
Between the two, you must give priority to the second—the important and the urgent, since they relate to your Big Dream. Just because they aren’t due by the end of the week doesn’t mean they’re not worth setting aside time for. Those weeks add up, and whatever happens, remember that your dream is due at the end of your life (and death is one deadline you can’t put off).
Author: Regina Galang Reyes. However, credit must be given to the editor who revised the better part of the beginning and end of this column. Published in Metro Working Mom May 2003.
Photo credit: www.sxc.hu