In a previous posting I talked about how knowing our beliefs, values and goals (what we call the 3 Gaps) is essential to making informed and productive decisions about whether we should choose, in the moment, a planned or unexpected event. What I didn’t explore in the guidance on how to make that choice is what to do with the option you “don’t choose”.
Whether I choose the planned or unexpected option, in the moment, there remains the unchosen option still on life’s “table” waiting for something to happen to it. Too often our ability to make the better choice (the one consistent with our values, beliefs and goals) gets lost in making the most pressing or urgent choice. I would highly recommend you read Stephen R. Covey’s great book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, for some in-depth insight in this area. Too often the urgent is causing us to put aside the important. It’s as if our emotional/right brain is constantly stomping on our rational/left brain and saying, “don’t think about this, just DO something.”
Over the years I have created and shared my approach to guiding the planned/unexpected choice that works hand in glove with the idea of the best choice being the one that is in concert with my values, beliefs and goals – the choice that closes the gaps.
The tool is a mental checklist. You run it, in concert with your 3 Gaps list, when you are trying to find the important in the midst of the urgent. The list goes like this.
Me Now – I will do this personally (me) right now
Me Later – I’m going to do this, but later
Someone Else – I can delegate, share, or ask someone else (even a peer or boss) to help me
Let It Burn – this is something that, like a small fire in a non-essential area, will burn itself out, if left alone, doing little appreciable damage.
No – I am not doing this. There may be consequences but I’m prepared to assume them.
If I choose “me now” for an event, then obviously the competing option will have to be managed as one of – me later (delay), someone else (delegate), let it burn (dump it), or no (deny)
This is how I go through the day – with a “macro” guide and a “micro” option list. What is the best option? The one that closes the gaps. What happens to the other option that I choose not to do – it will have to be managed by my “me now” options list. I might, for example, decide that the unexpected is the “me now” and that the plan has become a “someone else” experience.
Using these two tools, in concert, to guide my thinking (rather than reacting) gets me far closer to “inner peace” based outcomes than chaos driven ones.
- Which option will best close one or more of the 3 Gaps (is in concert with my values, goals and beliefs)
- What do I do with the other option (is it, by consequence of how I’ve chosen to manage the chosen option now a “me now, me later, someone else, let it burn, no”?)
Try it, it works. You may have tripped to this already but once you’ve chosen one option from the planned/unexpected crunch you’re applying a “D” approach to the other option – Do (me now), Delay (me later), Delegate (someone else), Dump (let it burn), Deny (no).
It is amazing to me what happens when we start organizing our thinking – applying to our interaction with a world of outer chaos a structure designed to one end – to replace the stressful and overwhelming experience of chaos with the deliberately chosen world of inner peace.