How Often Do You Have a “Mrs. Furbie Attack?”
One serious problem of not knowing what our goals, priorities and payoffs are is the “Mrs. Furbie syndrome. ” Mrs. Furbie gets up in the morning and heads downstairs to make the kids’ lunches for school before her husband gets up. On the way down the stairs she trips over the cat and realizes that she hadn’t fed the cat last night, so she heads for the cupboard to get the cat food. As she reaches for the food, she sees the broom and it registers on her that she hasn’t swept the kitchen for a couple of days. She grabs the broom and starts sweeping the kitchen when she hears her husband running the water upstairs and decides she had better get the coffee made. She puts the broom aside and starts making the coffee, but as she starts to get the water for the pot, her first child bounds down the stairs and says, “Good morning Mom. What’s for lunch today. ” Mrs. Furbie realizes that she still hasn’t made the lunches, so leaving the coffee half made, she heads for the refrigerator and when she looks inside she sees the leftovers from a week ago that now look like her teenager’s science project. She grabs the leftovers and heads for the trash can in the garage to get rid of it and steps on the cat on the way out, realizing she hasn’t fed the cat, she heads back to the cupboard to get the cat food…………
Twenty minutes have passed and she hasn’t made the lunches, made the coffee, swept the kitchen, fed the cat or accomplished anything else of ‘importance’. Can you relate? What is Mrs. Furbie's problem? She has no sense of priorities or payoffs.
Priorities or Payoffs?
Too many people never figure out if they can actually fit everything they want to accomplish into their schedule, and as a result they are setting themselves up for failure and disappointment. There are very few people that can ‘do it all’ - given the time constraints and responsibilities they have in their lives. It is essential to make a couple of distinctions that help you decide where and how to spend your time.
There is a significant difference between a priority and what we will call a ‘payoff’. A PRIORITY is anything that we dedicate time to. A PAYOFF is any activity that moves us toward a valued goal. I doubt that anyone would ever admit that watching TV is a priority in their life. And yet, if they spend time watching TV, then by definition, watching TV is a priority in their life. Remember, a priority is ANYTHING we spend time on.
When we evaluate how to spend our time (and our life) it is important to make a distinction between PRIORITIES and PAYOFFS. There are many things that we might categorize as high priority that are low payoff. (Many people refer to this as the ‘tyranny of the urgent’) The key to a ‘successful’ life is to learn to spend the majority of our time on high payoff, high priority activities. If we don’t consistently commit time to high payoff activities – activities that will help us achieve our goals – we may check back next year or in five years and discover that our life hasn’t changed. Just by virtue of the fact that you are reading this article tells me that you wouldn’t want that to happen. It is time to focus your efforts on High Payoff activities.
The Problem With “YES”
One of the challenges that many people have sticking to high-payoff activities is that they are missing a very crucial word in their vocabulary. That word is “NO. ” If you care about everyone else so much that whatever they request of you, your automatic response is “Yes”, you will get so over committed and overwhelmed that you won’t do a very good job at any of them, and certainly be distracted from those high-payoff activities that would move you toward your valued goals. Too often “Yes” comes out before we have taken the time to evaluate whether or not we really have time to accomplish the request or if it even makes sense in the context of trying to achieve our goals.
It would be better to form the habit of saying, “No, I am afraid I can’t fit that into my life right now. ” If after evaluating the request, you decide that it is something that fits with your goals and schedule, that you can do it and want to do it, you can always go back to them and volunteer. They will be thrilled that you went out of your way to make it happen for them.
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