After establishing that this moment matters — or after recalling that mantra to bring our awareness to this moment — I often say that the next step is asking ourselves, “What matters in this moment?” (Because what really matters in this moment is often not the thing that immediately grabs our attention.)
That’s exactly what Bob Pozen, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, is getting at in this excerpt from his book, Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours:
Many executives are whirlwinds of activity, racing from meeting to meeting or crisis to crisis without giving much thought to the rationale for their hectic schedules. Many of those professionals like the feeling of doing something; they are not comfortable reflecting on their priorities. Their typical approach can be described as “Ready, fire, aim!” Others get bogged down in a schedule dictated by their company or spend most of their time responding to “urgent” requests from others.
As a result, those energetic, ambitious people end up spending too little time on activities that support their highest goals. Despite their talent, they often report a serious mismatch between their work priorities and time allocations.
No matter what your career aspirations are, you should begin by thinking carefully about why you are engaging in any activity and what you expect to get out of it.
I think many of us are like the executives Bob describes, in that we all “like the feeling of doing something.” As long as we’re doing something, then when 5:00 (or 10:00) rolls around, we can call it a day and feel good that we “accomplished something” today. But did we do what really matters to us — and even to those around us?
A big part of living as if this moment matters is living with intention — really knowing what we’re doing as often as possible, and engaging in life in a way that is consistent with what matters most to us. Otherwise, if we just go through life doing something, we’re at risk of one day “waking up” and realizing that yes, we did something with our life… but it wasn’t what we wanted or intended to do.
Let’s follow Bob’s advice and step out of the whirlwind of activity to think carefully about why we’re engaging in any activity and what we expect to get out of it. If you find yourself doing something that really isn’t aligned with your highest goals, then do what needs to be done and get out of that activity as quickly as possible so you can move on to doing something that is aligned with your highest goals. Not only will you be more productive, but you’ll find happiness and meaning in the process.