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Take Three Steps Toward Realizing Your Potential

Prioritize, organize, and simplify.

Allyson Lewis, 08/26/2010

As a business writer and speaker on time management and productivity, I am constantly encouraging my readers to ask themselves what I call "big life questions," like:
* What was your life like yesterday?
* How did you feel when you woke up this morning?
* Do you have a deep understanding of your purpose in life?
* What drives you?
* Who will you be 90 days from now?
* Why are you willing to work so hard?
* Are you happy?

Then, as a thought exercise, I asked myself one question:
* How can the books and articles I write help my readers practically, tactically, and strategically reach their full potential in life?

This month I will offer three ideas to help you reach your full potential by prioritizing, organizing, and simplifying your daily work habits.

The prioritize, organize, and simplify process begins with prioritizing your most important values. You must clarify and frame your foundational values. These values are what you believe to be true in life. And while people value different things in life, we see many common themes: Love, faith, family, health, meaningful work, making a difference, leaving a legacy, laughter, integrity, serving, community, growth, and freedom are often felt at the very core of our being.

These values act as inexhaustible fuel for our souls. When tired, when stressed, when our work is hard--we need to be reminded of the WHY in life. We are often willing to persevere because of what we believe to be true. Our priorities help us develop a proper mindset, and when we have created this new mindset we can then develop the crucial skill sets to achieve our full potential. Unfortunately, we are so busy we find it difficult to remain aware of these unshakeable values.

Practical Step One:
Take out a sheet of paper and create a list of everything you value in life. Then, list your top 10 values in order of importance. Finally, let this list percolate in your mind and ask if your time and your actions are in alignment with what you have stated to be most important in your life.

Tactical Time-Management Tip One:
Review your calendar. Look at how you spent your time last week and how you are scheduled to spend your time this week. Are there adjustments you can make to find time to focus on your values? If you want to regain your sense of drive and motivation, it can usually be found by renewing your awareness of what you love most in life and spending time to create more balance in your life.

Business executives across the country are well aware that disorganization, distraction and constant interruption are huge productivity problems. Disorganization stands as a barrier to success. Clutter, procrastination, unfinished projects, poorly organized workflow, and an outright overflow of paper are some of the common problems that financial advisors share. Creating a clean, organized work space is the point of physically organizing your surroundings.

Practical Step Two:
 Host a "clean-sweep week." The following checklist should merely serve as a starting point for simplifying and improving your daily work environment. Click here to download a copy of our clean sweep checklist.

Tactical Time-Management Tip Two:
Focus your full attention on starting and fully completing a few high-value activities every day. The most critical part of organizing your day to increase your personal productivity is to have a daily written action plan. What are five high-value activities you will place on your written action plan for tomorrow? Organize your time around these high-value activities.

The simplest question we ask is "Who do you want to be 90 days from now?" The simplest way to become that person is to create written 90-day goals. Once you have clearly defined your priorities in life and organized your physical surroundings--the third concept is simplifying who you want to become into clearly articulated written goals. When write down a goal, you are creating an emotional commitment between yourself and that goal. After you put your goals into writing, next you will need to translate each goal into three or four specific steps to help you reach that goal.

Practical Step Three:
Creating 90 day goals requires you to clarify who you want to be and what you want your life to become on a short term basis. To complete this step, download the 90-day goal worksheet. You must be able to clearly see the person you want to become over the next 90 days and use the written action steps to begin to take tiny daily steps toward your goals.

Tactical Time-Management Tip Three:
Goals that challenge you to reach for your full potential are deep internal motivation. We all want to believe that we can be different tomorrow from how we are today. Goals pull us forward. Once you have put your 90-day goals into writing, the final step is to review each goal every day. Most important, take one or two of the action steps and place them on your daily calendar. It is only when you commit to completing these daily action steps in a timely manner that you will begin to attain your 90-day goals.

This article began with several valid "big life questions" and I have attempted to address three of them. I believe that personal values drive and motivate us. I believe that better organization skills will reduce stress and make you feel better. And, I believe that you can simplify who will become into written-out 90-day goals.

However, to reach your full potential, you cannot merely know your values, organize your life, and write down your goals. To reach your full potential you must "do." Most of us "know" what we need to do. Few of us "do" it on a daily basis. The "7 Minute Life" encourages you to take tiny steps forward every day. Reaching your full potential is as simple as "doing" on a daily basis what you have "known" you want to do all along.

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