Do you lead your life or is life leading you?
As an executive coach, I daily remind leaders to “lead your life.” That they do not have to stay victims to schedules and demands and priorities. That rather than serving their schedule, their schedule can actually serve them.
This morning, I needed to take my own advice. (I’m glad my wife pointed that out to me!)
Here’s how I spent my two hours. I hope it helps you lead your life too.
Quadrant 2 Planning to Lead Your Life
Where will you plan?
Figuring out where you’ll do your planning is important. I could do this non-urgent but important planning (Q2 or Quadrant 2 planning) in my office. But past experience shows me the urgencies will distract me. The mail on my desk. The calendar pop-ups. The ever present email inbox. And the social media updates too.
So I went to a local bagel shop. It was close but I am not known there so I was able to be focused without appearing antisocial. (As an extrovert, I find it easier to focus in a place with people. You’ll have to find a place that works for you.)
Getting in the right mindset
I have a normal exercise, reading, and planning routine from 5 to 8 in the morning. So I was pretty much in a good mental place to do a Q2 planning session. But I chose to leave out checking the news. I normally skim three different news emails, get the NPR headlines, and listen to The Daily, the New York Times podcast.
Today, I decided to get the news after my Q2 planning. This helped me stay focus on my personal and organizational goals.
A process for the planning session
When I got down to work, I pulled out my Moleskin journal. You can see the results (with the words blurred out) above.
- First, I outlined my process. (You can see this in the box numbered 1 in the image.) Even if I went down a rabbit trail or tow would help me remember what I wanted to do!
- I would review my personal mission statement and the document of what I offer people.
- Then I would review the organizational notes for the Concord Leadership Group, both our mission and our latest strategic planning notes.
- Finally I would plot out the next year and a half of activity and revenue with a much more detailed focus on the rest of the calendar year.
I keep all of the strategy and mission statement documents in Evernote and Google Drive so reviewing those were easy.
- Next, I looked at my character goals and my revenue goals versus what was actually present on the calendar. Most of that is in the section marked 2 in the image. I broke down corporate activities by revenue goals and than used a couple different ways to anticipate make those goals happen. The months in boxes was also particularly helpful for seeing where I had capacity to take on more work or work on projects I’d been putting off.
- The section labeled 3 on the image? That was the list of seemingly urgent ideas that popped into my head. Writing them down helped me focus and keep them from becoming a distraction.
These two hours helped focus my work the rest of the day. And I ended the day with the great feeling of being “on purpose” as opposed to hassled and pushed around by competing demands.
Lead your life
As leaders, it’s really easy to forget to lead your life. We care so much about the people around us, we reactively focus on putting out fires and dealing with whatever comes our way.
But a simple 1 or 2 hour planning process – even only every few months – can help us lead our own life. Otherwise, we’ll be led by any old urgency that comes our way.