Some of our greatest accomplishments in life are when we have a sense of urgency. Equally, our greatest stresses typically come when we feel overwhelmed by the busyness of life.
John Wooden sums it up nicely, “Be quick, but not in a hurry”.
As our days seem to get busier all the time, it can feel that the important things in our work and personal life don’t actually become important until they are absolutely urgent.
It’s something I have experienced at work, the deadline for the project I need to finish get’s pushed to the back of the list until it’s due in two days – then, and only then, does it become critically important.
There are generally two types of people when it comes to urgencies: One group becomes the victim of urgency and the other becomes the victor in urgency.
The first group never creates an inner sense of urgency. They will just wait for life to suddenly become urgent and then scramble around, reacting to it the best they can (much like my example with the work project above).
This type of urgency only brings with it added stress, self-pity, and anxiety. If you are in this group it’s more likely you won’t achieve your goals, if there were any in the first place.
The second group never waits for the urgent. They create urgency in themselves and it’s typically fuelled by motivation rather than blind panic. This group will go through life being proactive, rather than reactive.
Luckily, I have worked on moving myself into the second group. I now hit more of my goals, feel stressed, and go through life on my own terms.
But how do we flip this around? Let’s take a look at nine key ways you can, just like I did.
Create a Sense of Urgency in Yourself
Wake up each day with a clear sense of emergency in yourself. This will create an urgency to want to go out and achieve all of your goals.
It’s the type of urgency that is totally fuelled by the motivation and inspiration to want to do better every day. This type of urgency is fun to have. You will feel like you are achieving something every day.
Don’t Mix Up Activity With Achievement
Ever ask someone how they are today and they just reply, “busy”? I’m sure you have, we all have.
These are the type of people consumed in the first group of urgency. They are just reacting to what has suddenly come up as urgent on any given day.
A better answer to the question would “productive”. This can also mean you are busy but it implies you are busy in a structured way.
You can bet that the person that answers ‘productive’ will have a clear plan on what it is they need to achieve that day and how they will go about achieving it. Their deadline won’t be 5 pm this evening either, they will be ahead of the game.
Don’t Let Emergencies Derail You
No matter how organized and structured your day might be, an inevitable emergency will always crop up. It’s how we react to this situation that matters.
Those in control won’t let it derail them, they will handle the emergency the best they can and then get back to what they were initially doing.
It’s easy to let something interrupt your day and then use that as an excuse as to why you haven’t got something done. Those in control of their lives will not let this happen.
Know What’s Important
When you know what’s important, it gives you clarity which helps to reduce stress and puts you in a position of control.
If you don’t know what’s important each day you will be pulled around in all sorts of directions as you won’t have a grasp on what you actually should be doing.
Write a list each day of what you need to do, then order it by priority. Only once you have completed the list should you then give your attention to others. Be extremely intentional with your time.
Listen to The Right People
Often the voices you need to worry about the most are those in your head. They love to create a sense of panic when something is urgent. Self-criticism and insecurity creep in.
The best way to block them out is to be on the front foot. Create your own urgency and you will take back control of your life.
It’s amazing how when you feel organized and productive those voices in your head ‘magically’ disappear. Well, it’s not magic, it’s just you being intentional about what you do which means there is no need for them to be in your head.
Be Disciplined with Your me-time
Our working lives can take over during the week without much thought for ourselves. However, it’s important to schedule some ‘me time’ so we have some time to rest and recuperate and do something that we enjoy.
This could be taking an evening during the week to do something you absolutely love doing. It could be going for a run, trying out a new recipe, or seeing some friends.
Or at the weekend you could plan to spend the night at a spa hotel or go on a country walk.
The key is to block out some time in your diary and commit to doing it. If it’s in the diary it’s more likely to get done.
Treat Yourself as Well as a Guest
If you have guests coming over to stay I can be you will make the house especially nice. You will put the beautiful flowers out, fluff up the cushions, and put fresh bedding on.
It feels great too – the house is all nice, clean, and fresh.
Although it can be difficult to keep your house looking immaculate when you are going about your daily life, you can try to make a little bit of extra effort every now and again.
Make sure your bed is made every morning or put out some beautiful flowers once a week. Do something that makes you feel proud about where you are living.
Make a Habit of Trying New Things
Life can inevitably get boring from time to time, especially the daily grind of work. We fall into a pattern that we follow every day. Get up, go to work, come home, make dinner, go to bed. Sometimes it’s not particularly exciting.
This is where you need to take control and mix things up a bit and start to try new things. We are not talking about going out and running a marathon after work, it can be something simple like joining a book club or learning a new skill.
Once you get into the habit of trying something new all the time it gets addictive. You will always be looking for something new that you can be doing. Try to make it a rule that you will try something new each week.
Starting a journal can be a great way to take back control of your life. Journaling can take so many forms and it’s totally up to you which way you want to take it.
Some people like to journal about their day. What was good? What was bad? How can I improve? They are a few questions you can be asking yourself.
Others like to journal about the goals and aspirations for the future. This can be a great way to keep your goals in front of mind every day. By keeping your goals front of mind you are much more likely to achieve them.
Gratitude is also a great form of journaling. This is where you can write down three things that you are grateful for about a specific person in your life. It could be your partner, children, or parents.
When it comes to journaling you can be as creative as possible and write about absolutely anything. This is what is empowering and creates a feeling of self-control.
Also, some of the most famous people to of lived have been journalers, they include Benjamin Franklin and Oprah Winfrey among many others. If it’s good enough for them it should be good enough for us.
Taking control of your life almost always comes down to which group of urgency you sit in. The first group invited urgency, whereas the second group thrives on urgency.
By being conscious about the five key areas I mentioned above it will be relatively easy to take back control.
Practice them consistently and you will soon be in the second group of urgency and have control of your life.
Adam Jones writes for The Growth Reactor which is a blog that will help you upgrade your life at start-up speed. The Growth Reactor provides all the latest actionable insights and tips on the most popular self-development trends to help you build the right habits to achieve all of your biggest goals in life.