Whenever I’m not sure what to do, the question I always ask myself is “In this situation, what is the most important and why?”
What is really important? This question cuts right to the core of the issue. Why are you doing this task or project in the first place? By focusing on what is truly important in any situation, then you can often remove a lot of excess that really won’t contribute.
A good example is this blog. I do not currently know a lot about setting up blogs and website design. I felt a bit overwhelmed with the prospect of setting up this blog and making it look professional. So I simply asked myself that question.
The reply I got was that getting content on the blog was most important. I discovered that a custom theme, homepage and fancy SEO techniques were important, but not nearly as important as the content. With content and a rather unoriginal theme, I at least have a blog. With a great custom theme and homepage without content, I have nothing.
I find that a lot of the process of discovering how to do something better, is to ask yourself what is most important. You might find you were simply doing things just because that is how you were taught, rather than because it was actually important.
The next step when asking what is important, is to extend it even more. Why is it important?
This question checks the validity of the importance right there. Why is it important at all? Answering this question can often get you to think about problems in completely new ways and, therefore, yield completely original solutions. If you are setting a new goal, asking yourself that question will reinforce your decision to achieve it, or eliminate the need to set the goal in the first place.
It is very easy to get caught up in doing things a certain way, without thinking about how we can do things better. The best way to figure out how to do something better is to simply ask those two questions. Often just by examining why you are doing the task in the first place, and what is most important, you may realize the task isn’t that important after all.
You can do this in the overall scheme of your life. What is really important in your life, and why is it important?
Whenever I’ve had difficult problems, asking the question of what was truly important in that situation would tell me what I really should be focusing on.
Once you have discovered what is truly important in any task or project, do that first. Do what is important first. If you spend time working on unimportant parts of a project first, then you may not have sufficient time to work on what really is important.
Let’s take watching television as an example. What is most important about watching television? Depending on what you are watching it might be to be entertained or informed. Is this the best way to be entertained or informed? Why is being entertained or informed important?
You might discover that watching a television show really isn’t as entertaining as another task you could do. You might also discover that you don’t really need to watch this much television to get the entertainment or information you desire.
Another situation that could results from this internal dialog is, if watching television is for entertainment, why watch commercials? If you have a recording device (VCR, DVD, TiVo) why not use it to record your favorite programs and watch them without the commercials?
What is most important about going to the Gym? The answer should be obvious there, to improve your physical fitness and health. So focus on those parts of going to the Gym that improve your fitness.
Maybe you realized that driving to the Gym doesn’t contribute to your fitness level. So now you can walk or jog there instead of using the treadmill.
If you don’t know what your reason for doing something is, you cannot improve it. Therefore, all personal development comes from asking a form of these two questions. What I want you to do now, is begin consciously asking these questions in every area of your life. By defining what is most important and why, you can easily see what areas need work.
What is most important?