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Why and How to Be On Time

For about a year now, I've been very punctual. Before making a concerted effort to be on time to everything, I was like any other average person-- sometimes on time, often a few minutes late, occasionally very late. When I identify something I'm bad at, especially something with a prescription that requires little more than willpower, I get very excited about it. That isn't to say that there are so few of these things that they're hard to find, just that introspection can be difficult, making identifying personal weaknesses tricky.

My initial impetus to become punctual was partly that it was an easily correctable deficiency, and partly that it seemed like a trait of a champion. Would most people I admire show up on time to things? Yes, they would.

As I thought more about it, especially during the early phases where being on time was a bit of a challenge, I realized that punctuality is more than just being on time. It's an extension of your honesty.

It is very important to me to never lie. I'm not perfect, of course, but because this is such an important thing to me, I do a good job of it most of the time. When I thought about it, though, if I say that I'm going to be somewhere at ten thirty, and I show up at ten thirty-four, that's a lie. It's a small lie, but it's a lie nonetheless. Even small lies have an effect, both on others and myself.

Treading Water Doesn't Get You to the Shore

If there's one long-term state that I won't tolerate for myself, it's treading water, putting out effort just to stay where I am. I want to either expend effort to move something ahead, or triage it and let it sink. If it's important enough to me to do, I'll put everything into it and do it right, otherwise I'll make the hard decision and reserve that energy for something else.

All forward momentum requires your effort and attention. Want your business to grow? You'd better be dedicating a huge chunk of your time to making sure that happens. Want to get healthy and in shape? Then you've got to be in the gym moving metal. Want your relationship to be more satisfying for both of you? Then you have to actively think about how to make it better and put that into action.

Autopilot is awesome on airplanes, terrible on humans. We each have a limited well of time, attention, focus, money, and other resources. When we go on autopilot, we tend to expend resources just to keep the status quo. We put enough thought and effort into our relationships not to get dumped, we earn and save just enough money to pay our bills, and we watch our diet just enough that we only get a little bit fatter every year.

That's what autopilot gets you. Scared to lose anything we have, regardless of how important it may or may not be to us, we spread out resources so thinly that we never have time to really surge forward in any way. When something great comes our way, we don't have enough in reserve to take advantage of the opportunity.

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