What Is In Your Short List

February 13, 2009

I’ve heard people say, “Having too much of anything is not good for you.”

And then some people would say. “Not having enough is bad so you must have a little extra on the side.”

So which one is which? Here is the key.

You can have just about anything you want in life, but one of the most difficult things to achieve is balance.

I see this happening all the time. There are clients who tell me business is good, but they’re not taking care of their health. Or, another example–they’re making money, but their personal finances are a mess. Or, how about those people with a wonderful home and family, but no time to enjoy them?

In my leadership seminars I ask my audience for a show of hands as I ask them how many among them are stressed?

Practically 90% of all the hands go up all the time.

I suspect life has always been busy.

In 1840, the French writer, Alexis de Tocqueville, described Americans as having a “feverish ardor” for squeezing as much into life as they could. We’ve never had more invitations and options, and we hate saying no to any of them!

Tocqueville should not have limited his observation to only one nationality, the 24/7 – 365 life is upon everyone especially in this country.

I stayed in a very beautiful hotel in London and I was surprised to know that their fitness  gym opens at 7AM and closes at 11PM. My immediate response was, “What good would that do?” And then I realized my life has been a chronic rush all day long.

As a result, many of us are chronically sleep deprived.

We eat on the run. We cannot slow down. Most people I know are over-weight and as far as their emotional and spiritual conditions are concerned, grossly under-nourished.

One of the keys to achieving anything in life is to define it and develop clear, specific plans to go after it. It’s no different for finding balance in your life. In other words, to create a short list and be committed to it. We need to do some critical self-evaluation as to the things that are going on in our life and here are a few suggestions.

The first thing you have to do is to make a list of the things you want to include in your ideal life. The list should not be too long. The list should make you answer the question: “What are the things I should do that would add value to what I want to achieve in life?” Let me give you some examples:

  1. Personal growth and development. (mental, emotional and spiritual)
  2. Family and personal relationships.
  3. Health and Fitness.
  4. Business and Career Development.
  5. Personal Finance and Investments.
  6. Increase sphere of influence and positively affect more lives.
  7. Leisure and adventure.

The second thing you need to do is to plan for these things. You have heard this age old conventional warning that those who fail to plan really plan to fail. Be serious. Each Sunday, I begin my week by taking an overall look at the week that is ahead of me. The plan should be realistic allowing the schedule to make time for each of the activities. When do I go to the gym? What books should I read? What activities this week are dedicated to the family? Are there key people I need to talk to this week? What about my investments or finances, is there anything I need to work on?

With these measures in place, we need to review and re-commit to these things everyday. Do not get caught up with the daily grind such that we let the urgent take over the important. Each morning, I look over my “to-do” list and make sure that I am committed to them.

I am pretty sure your list will be different but here is the core of the matter. Make sure that you are committed to activities that will add value to what you want to achieve in life. The rest are just distractions.

Every now and then the list may change but the principle remains the same.

Annie Dillard says: “How we live our days is how we live our lives.”

For after all, at the end of the day, our life is simply a summary of the choices we make from day to day.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Homer Villa

    This is great information! We probably spend an hour daily to fix our hair, fix our looks—why can’t we spend at least 15 minutes a day to fix our lives.

  2. Madz

    Hi, Francis! This is another helpful piece from you. You again delivered in your recent talk in Cebu last week at Marriott. These are manifestations of your deliberate moves to achieve your own short list. Keep the inspiration coming! You are helping lives. Best regards.

  3. Kenneth

    Hello Sir Francis,

    I just read a beautiful article about “The Ant and the contact Lens” shared wihtin my e-community. I hope to share with you and your readers, here goes:

    The Ant and the Contact Lense: a true story
    Brenda was almost halfway to the top of the tremendous granite cliff. She was standing on a ledge where she was taking a breather during this, her first rock climb. As she rested there, the safety rope snapped against her eye and knocked out her contact lens . ‘Great’, she thought. ‘Here I am on a rock ledge, hundreds of feet from the bottom and hundreds of feet to the top of this cliff, and now my sight is blurry.’
    She looked and looked, hoping that somehow it had landed on the ledge. But it just wasn’t there.

    She felt the panic rising in her, so she began praying. She prayed for calm, and she prayed that she may find her contact lens.

    When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but it was not to be found. Although she was calm now that she was at the top, she was saddened because she could not clearly see across the range of mountains. She thought of the bible verse ‘The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth.’

    She thought, ‘Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me.’

    Later, when they had hiked down the trail to the bottom of the cliff they met another party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted out, ‘Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?’

    Well, that would be startling enough, but you know why the climber saw it? An ant was moving slowly across a twig on the face of the rock, carrying it!
    The story doesn’t end there. Brenda’s father is a cartoonist. When she told him the incredible story of the ant, the prayer, and the contact lens, he drew a cartoon of an ant lugging that contact lens with the caption, ‘Lord, I don’t know why You want me to carry this thing. I can’t eat it, and it’s awfully heavy. But if this is what You want me to do, I’ll carry it for You.’

    I think it would do all of us some good to say, ‘God, I don’t know why You want me to carry this load. I can see no good in it and it’s awfully heavy. But, if You want me to carry it, I will.’
    God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

    Yes, I do love GOD. He is my source of existence and my Savior. He keeps me functioning each and every day Without Him, I am nothing, but with Him….I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)
    This is a simple test. If you love GOD and are not ashamed of all the marvelous things He has done for you, send this to ten people and the person who sent it to you.

    Thanks for sharing your talent with us and God bless.


  4. brianil prado

    hello sir francis… its been a while since you had delivered your inspiring talk to us at the University of Batangas… you had make me realized so many things. but to be honest i really have a hard time discplining myself to have a focus in my studies… A very big THANKS you… have a good health always……

  5. brianil prado

    hello sir francis… its been a while since you had delivered your inspiring talk to us at the University of Batangas… you had make me realized so many things.

    … A very big THANKS you… have a good health always……

  6. donald ian

    hi sir Francis! is there do you have inspirational books that are available in the market?

    1. Francis Kong

      Yes. My books are available in National Bookstores and Power Books as well. Thank you for your inquiry.

  7. donald ian

    thank you sir Francis, you made me realize things which i do not value and seems to be unnecessary
    … but useful in life…

Leave a Reply