Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Vanda-lizards and eating frogs

There is an aunt on my husband's side of the family, who never fails to amuse me with her southern country speech. One day while talking to her about walking in a local park, she began complaining about the damage done by vandals in the area. "You just can't have anything nice anymore," she said, "without the vanda-lizards destroying it." Vanda-whats? Lizards?

While I am dismayed by the destruction of vanda-lizards in our community, I am equally concerned about internal vanda-lizards that sabotage our best laid plans. Most of these are subtle and disguised. Probably one of the worst vanda-lizards is a lack of clear goals. I must admit this has been a vanda-lizard that I misunderstood until recently. Since, I was quite productive and was checking things off my to-do-list regularly, I felt confident I was moving forward. Accomplishments however,in and of themselves, are not always the desired end result. Although, I seemed to be making progress, I was drowning in the small details of my list, instead of setting priorities and focusing on the bigger picture. It is easy to feel accomplished when you are checking off laundry and grocery shopping all the while bigger and more significant goals like spending time with my family, writing regularly, even daily prayer go unmet. It is possible to be highly organized and focused, energetic and productive but all in the wrong direction, much like someone who heads toward California by way of Florida. You can check off a lot of landmarks along the way but you may never arrive at your destination.

I recently read a quote from a first time author who said, "Every year I would set the goal of publishing my work, but life kept getting in the way." I could have said that myself, except that if I were being honest, I would say that the vanda-lizard of insufficient priority setting got in the way. One of my greatest struggles has been making sure that my focus and energy is directed toward the top 20% of my to-do-list while letting go of the 80% of the list which may be easy to accomplish but not truly significant. Mark Twain once said, "If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, the rest of your day will be wonderful." In other words, first complete the most difficult and most significant task of your day, and the remainder of your day will follow in the right direction. This of course is easier said than done. So what about you? Are you making progress on your major goals? Have you set priorities? Are you eating frogs, or letting the vanda-lizards sabotage your priority setting?

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