My Life as a Garden Hose
I coach so many people who complain about being “pulled in a thousand different directions”, people whose own goals have consistently been put on the back burner as they run around serving everyone else, saying yes to everything EXCEPT what they really wanted to say yes to. Men and women whose careers and businesses are not where they should be, even though they are “doing all they can do”. People whose children, marriages, health, and friendships suffer because they are spread so thin. I coach them well because I am not only their coach, I am also a member of their club.
You see, my own life was once without direction, focus, and true impact. I was pulled in a million directions, spread so thin I was nearly transparent. Even if I did take the time to carefully plan my day, “things” would happen that would consume my time, leaving my own plans unfulfilled. Pretty soon, I stopped planning all together. I felt that it was a “futile” activity. “Why plan at all?” I would think. I mean, I “knew” that one of the kids would need to go to the doctor, or my husband would forget his keys, or my Grandad would call with a problem with his prescriptions, or another family member or friend would need “a shoulder” for whatever was going on with them. I was a victim of my own days… my own circumstances. Things that simply would not change… Or so I thought.
When my life was in this chaos, I was living my life not as a person, but as a garden hose. Rather than living as if I had been created with a biological computer capable of creating the results I desired (which I was), I was living as a garden hose with the nozzle turned to mist. I literally “sprayed” my thoughts, my actions, and my effort everywhere, but with little or no power or direction behind any of them. Life flowed out of me, but in an aimless, pitiful “drizzle”. I gave a little of myself to everything and all of myself to nothing, doing so much that I did nothing well.
My essential problem is that I was living as a “victim” of circumstance. I took no true ownership of my days, my plans or my life. Sure, I said that I was committed to this, that and the other. But when it came down to it, I wasn’t. If I had truly been committed, I would have insured that my day was structured and protected in a way that guaranteed the success of my commitment. We say that we want to spend more time with our kids, but instead, we take on another project at work or agree to one more business trip a month or take a promotion that requires even more time away from home. We may say that we are committed to our business success, but we keep “forgetting” to follow up with our clients or can’t find the time to make sales calls. We say that we are committed to our health, but never seem to make it to the gym. We “commit” to going to church, but oversleep every Sunday.
The truth is this: true commitment to succeed in any area of your life is evidenced by a structure to guarantee your success. If you are committed to losing weight, you create a structure that supports and ensures the success of your commitment. You don’t buy junk food, sugared drinks, and other “diet killers”. If you are not doing these things, you are not truly committed to losing weight. The truth is, your not lacking “will power”… you are lacking commitment.
Let’s think about our time for a moment. How many times have you blamed your “rushed” lifestyle on your inability to say NO? Yet, don’t you, like me, find yourself saying NO all the time? No, sweetie I can’t take off of work to go on your fieldtrip. No, honey I can’t meet you for lunch. No, I can’t meet you at the gym to work out. No, no, no. Ironically, the things we say NO to most often are the things we SAY are the most important to us.
So, let’s be real for just a moment, because that is the only way we can turn our “misting” garden hose pattern into a forceful “stream”. The fact is, our ACTIONS (our schedules) will tell us what we are truly committed to, if we will take an honest look. If you are living as a victim of your circumstances, you are still commiting, you just choose to commit by default. You have committed to allow the rest of the world to dictate your schedule. Your day is open to other people’s needs, wants, and pressures. Your schedule is guided by your emotions and your circumstances. As long as you view yourself as a “victim” of your circumstances, you will not experience victory over them. Fortunately, there is another way. I call my little “system” KAD.
KNOW YOUR GOALS AND PRIORITIES. What are you truly committed to? What are you sacrificially committed to? What are your top five priorities in life? Write them down and look at them. If you say YES to these things, people, or goals, it will require you to say NO to other “stuff”. Are you willing to do that? If not, scratch that item off of your list of top priorities. You only want to write down the commitments that you are truly willing to pursue.
ACTION PLAN. Create an action plan to meet your goals and keep your commitments. This simple (and FUN) step takes you out of “wishing” mode (I wish I could…) which is a futile indulgence and puts you into planning mode, which is the skeleton for CHANGE. A goal without a plan is just a wish!
So, what do you need to DO? What action steps do you need to take to make that goal a reality? If you were fully committed to the goal, what would that look like for you? What will you DO? What will you say NO to? This step involves creating a framework for your success. If you need accountability, get some. If you need more time to work, create it. If you need to get to the gym, schedule it (and have someone meet you there.) If you need more time at home, do what it takes to create that “free” time. When you are “planning” your days, look at your current time and energy commitments.
Ask if each activity will get you closer to one of your core goals. If it will, schedule it in. Commit to it. If it will not, it is a “time vampire” and must be slain. So, scratch it off your list of “to dos”, apologize if necessary and move on. This is your path to success.
DO THE THING. Once you create your list of goals and an action plan to meet those goals, all that is left is to “Do the Thing.” That’s it. See, true commitment will always result in ACTION. The best laid plans are useless without action. So, keep that list of goals and priorities. Look at it often. Recommit to it daily. Walk it out in ACTION every day. DO the thing.
This may seem “oversimplified”, but the best things in life usually are. If your life is NOT being lived according to your own goals, values and priorities, don’t stay stuck in guilt, frustration and disappointment. Make a change instead.
You see, if you want to use your garden hose to move a pile of dirt off of your sidewalk, you can put it on “STREAM” and push that obstacle right out of your way. But, if you put the nozzle on “MIST”, you will just weigh down the dirt making it harder to move later. Follow my KAD system and life the life you were meant to live!!