Your own "gotta do's"

  • Published
  • By Maj. Olga Acosta
  • Commander, 97th Comptroller Squadron
Balancing work, family, time, and money are challenges we all face, no matter what we do. I read the book "Life Matters" by Stephen Covey and he lays out three "gotta do's" to help you find the right balance to fit your situation. The "gotta do's" are to validate expectations, optimize effort, and develop "navigational intelligence". I will share, in my terms, what they mean to me.

First, to validate expectations simply means to accept the way things really are in our lives and then make decisions based on reality. Sure, we would like to think we can do anything we set out to do in life, but some things are just not realistic. With well planned and attainable expectations, we set ourselves up for future success in the different areas of our life. With success comes the feeling of happiness. Who doesn't enjoy that?
Second, optimizing effort refers to focusing your actions toward meeting your established expectations. The things you choose to do on any particular day should be driven by one of your expectations. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to take care of all our responsibilities. With our expectations in mind, we can figure out how to best spend each moment of our day or week in order to reach those expectations.

Finally developing "navigational intelligence" is probably the most difficult to do because every day in life can be so unpredictable. This "gotta do" refers to having the flexibility to adjust to the unexpected and still manage to focus our efforts towards our expectations. The unforeseen can be something as simple as a last-minute request to eat out with friends when you are in the middle of completing a not-so exciting project for home or work. It is easy to get side-tracked by the little things in life, but if we have what Stephen Covey refers to as "the gift of discernment," we will know how to make the right choice for this situation as well as larger more important issues. This is a skill that starts with small things and must be practiced and developed in order to make it second nature for all things.

If you take each of the "gotta do's" and ask yourself, "Is what I'm doing contributing to my life balance goal?" you will be much more successful at achieving your focused goals. No doubt you are already juggling all these things and making them work for you and your family, but ask yourself, "Can I do anything, something, or everything better?" I recommend reading this book for some helpful hints that are easy to apply.

In the book there is a quote by Lin Yutang which sums all this up: "Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials."