Opportunity is often hidden among the details, treasure that can be found when you “Sweat the Small Stuff”.
“Be faithful in small things,” wrote Mother Teresa, “because it is in them that your strength lies.”
Remember the book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff“? Richard Carlson‘s one-time best seller reminds us that our in-box will never be empty. It’s easy to get caught up in minutia that distracts from the things that most contribute to our pursuit of purpose.
“The purpose of life isn’t to get it all done, but to enjoy each step on the journey.” Carlson writes. I would modify that quote this way: “The purpose of life isn’t to get it all done, but to figure out what’s important and sweat the small stuff.”
Who and what are important?
Body, Mind and Spirit: Keep these in balance and you’ll have the energy for everything else. How is your fitness plan going? How are you fueling your marvelous machine? What activities are you prioritizing to continue to stretch your mind? What practices help you keep that mind under control?
Be honest with yourself about how you answer these questions. Sweating the “small stuff”, like a daily exercise routine, planning your food intake, and being purposeful about continuous learning, meditation and mindfulness can give you the rocket fuel to move you ahead in every other dimension of your life.
Your inner circle should always get priority. This is your soul mate, your kids, your closest friends and those few individuals who can help you continue to grow and prosper. Build your inner circle with care. Who is on that list? When was the last time you connected with them?
Carve out quality time every week to nurture these relationships. Send supportive texts, handwritten notes, brief, encouraging email messages. Build an IRL (In Real Life) calendar where you can grab lunch or a beverage in 0ne on one situations with your inner circle. And don’t forget date night with your partner. It’s been a weekly priority for Colleen and me for over 4 decades and it never grows old.
The projects that bring your closer to your goals come next. Here’s where it’s easy to get distracted. Getting lost in the email vortex, being seduced by social media, binging on Netflix. These activities have a place in your daily routine. But prioritize them behind what moves your goals forward.
Find a system to get your to-do list out of your head. To develop a good problem solving brain, don’t put too much data into it at once. Trying to keep track of too many things clutters your ability to think, let alone enjoy. Try Evernote.
Leave a little time for play. All that stuff I said before about email, social media and Netflix? It’s OK to consume them in moderation. Think about experiences that can change your perspective.
Travel and community service can enrich your mind, body and spirit. The key is to think about how experiences integrate into your broader mission. If they are in sync, they can be powerful opportunities to grow and become a better person.
Whatever you do, be present and focus. Close distracting applications and windows on your computer screen when you are working. Mute the cell phone when you are in face to face conversation. Participate actively and try to give your complete attention to the person or subject at hand. Avoid a long winded info dump about your world and genuinely seek to understand theirs.
The highest compliment you can receive from someone else is, “I like me best when I’m with you.” Or as Maya Angelou so beautifully put it. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Put your worries in the proper perspective. “If you want to test your memory,” says philosopher E. Joseph Crossman, “try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.” Some little things often trigger anxiety and all that comes with it. How important is that worry in the bigger scheme of things? If you can’t get a problem to stop eating you, take a bite out of it. The best elixer is action. Take some.
Our lives will always be filled with potential distractions that seem really important when they’re not. Those distractions often live among the little things that combine to fill our days, for better or worse. Sweat the small stuff. But make sure it’s the right stuff.