Focus On What Matters Most to You

My headline is blindingly obvious advice, right? But are you doing it?


A friend of mine once told me, "I don't know anyone who has coherent intention." He meant that none of his network - zero - kept their actions 100% in alignment with their goals.


I started to debate, but quickly went silent when it was time to think of examples within my own network. Sure, there are plenty of people who are goal-driven and disciplined... but pretty much everyone does some things that are, well, incoherent in the face of what they say matters most to them.


Imagine if you always asked yourself the same three questions before doing anything:


1. Is this in my self-interest, and...


2. Will it bring me more pleasure, and...


3. Will it help me avoid pain?


The "ands" are the killers. Ask any one of these questions on their own, and you will soon be on a hedonistic journey filled with luscious desserts and extra-long vacations.


But when you ask all three simultaneously, you get a vastly different result.


For example, many of the things that bring you short-term pleasure are neither in your long-term self-interest nor will they help you avoid pain. But on the other hand, getting up early and exercising every day will accomplish all three (once you get used to waking up early).


Avoiding a difficult discussion at work won't help you avoid pain; it will prolong your pain.


Binge-watching a mindless TV series might help you chill out, but it will probably bring you a trivial amount of pleasure compared to the results you could achieve if you used that time to write a new proposal and close a big deal.


Coherent intention is when you know what matters most to you - these plug into question #1 - and when every action you take allows you to answer "yes" to all three questions.


This, by the way, is really hard. Bear in mind that my friend included me in his assessment of whether anyone he knew met this standard.


But what if you aspired to establish a positive trend in this direction? What if with every passing month, you could answer "yes" more often to all three questions?


So if you want to make a lasting impact on your community, invest time every month on improving your community.


If you want to be healthy and strong, skip dessert but never skip exercise and stretching.


If you want to maintain strong relationships, help others much more than you ask for help.


Will you or I be perfect? Nope.


Can we do better? Yep.


Will you try if I do? (You can answer that below.)

(This blog was first published on LinkedIn. It has been re-posted here with prior permission from Bruce Kasanoff.)

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Categories: Leadership

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Bruce Kasanoff

Bruce Kasanoff helps companies empower and inspire their employees. He brings relentlessly positive messages of personal empowerment, flexibility and clarity. ...

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