“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish’d.”
(From Hamlet – Spoken by Hamlet – William Shakespeare)
I am sure all of us have experienced the ambivalence of Hamlet in one form or another. Ambivalence is that internal conflict that arises when we have a divided mind about a decision. The tension intensifies when the benefits on both sides of the decision are of equal value. The uncertainty of an outcome can amplify our indecisiveness and leave us paralysed. This dyssynergy can be beneficial if we will objectively look at our decision-making process. The late Zig Ziglar challenges us to ask this question:
“Will what I am about to do bring me closer to or take me farther away from my goals?”
Zig Ziglar’s question raises a further question: “What are my goals?” They can be as simple as, “I just want to make to the end of my shift,” or as lofty as “I want to be the CEO of a large company.”
First, let’s look at three common goals or perhaps I could call them hidden ambitions.
- The quest for pleasure. “Are we having fun?” Unfortunately, there are many people who spend 40 hours of their week “putting in time.” Days off are opportunities to satisfy their lust for pleasure. The question remains, “What are you doing to enhance that goal of pleasure?”
- The quest for power. This is the desire to “be the boss; “be in control;” “run the show.” We need leaders who can take charge, bring vision, inspire people, and help people invest in something bigger than themselves. If that aspiration stirs within you then take steps to acquire the skills necessary for the task.
- The quest for prosperity. This is really the desire to be self-sufficient. Everyday thousands of people buy their lottery ticket with the dream of cashing in on the big one and being released to live their dream. Prosperity that is rooted in self-sufficiency is a recipe for grief. When it is tied to a goal that takes you outside yourself, it is worth pursuing.
Second, let’s look at three filters that help us avoid distraction and disappointment.
- The value filter. Will what I am doing leave where I am in a better place than when I came? This shifts the focus from what I get to what I have to give. Our need tank is always crying out for more. A focus on need leaves us in a state of low-level discontent. It diminishes our sense of value and worth. Knowing that I have something to contribute that brings value underlines my value and worth.
- The responsibility filter. This filter helps me define to whom I am responsible for what? When I commit myself to a task, I am also accepting accountability to the one who has assigned the job. That means I need to know the expectation that is inherent in the assignment.
- The reality filter. This is a critical point of examination. Do I have the time, talent, and financial resource that is necessary? What activities in my present schedule would have to be adjusted to enable me to buy time for my new goal? Will this activity (goal) impact my current financial commitments? Does my skill portfolio match what the new goal would require? Will this have any impact on my current network of relationships?
Let’s come back to Zig Ziglar’s question: “Will what I am about to do bring me closer to or take me farther away from my goals?” The decisions I make today will influence the goals that I reach tomorrow. Remember, your future begins today. Make your decisions today count for tomorrow and I will see you at the top.