Win the Rat Race: Taking 6 Steps Back

The Rat Race

Remembering that “everyone running the rat race is still a rat,” I have lately been watching some beautiful 1950’s black and white films to hearken back to a slower time. I’m particularly drawn to their lavish sets, dramatic dialogue and most desirably, the simplicity of life. 

It was a time of a slower pace and more peaceful rhythm to life:

  • A time when “9 to 5” was actually 9am-5pm!
  • And people had balance…
  • And the word ‘stress’ could not be found in any dictionary…

Ahhhhh….Those were the days!!

Back to the Present

Well, as my life goes on in the present, things are moving quickly and I am getting a lot of stuff done.

Life at work is wonderful at the moment:

  • We continue to love our clients
  • Our clients are achieving their goals
  • We have achieved 100% growth this year (which is pretty staggering)
  • We have an amazingly talented team!

Caught in the Rat Race: Run Forest Run

But that sort of growth comes with a cost. Enduring hours and exhaustion are normally the first signs.  After a while you tend to notice relationships can become officious, mistakes and cracks begin to appear, work in places ceases to be fun, and then your body retires you through illness.

In September I spent only three nights during the working week in my own bed.

The rest of the nights was spent in various hotels working with my team and our clients.  Little to my surprise, I feel ill during October.  It was something I was expecting because of the pace at which I was working. At the time, I simply put it down to ‘self-premeditated collateral damage’ – I brought it on all by myself as I knew I would!

Finding a Cure

Being ill gives one time to think. And think I did! I thought about how I had been trying to get stuff done at a such a frantic pace that I didn’t even realize that I had become a scampering rat trying to win the race. Although I did get most everything done, it had come at a big price.

I realised I had developed fantastic time management skills – I can do more with less – But had forgotten how to lead my time.

Back to the 50’s in 6 Steps

I wonder how many of us get caught up on the ‘busyness treadmill’ and do not even realize it? I am not really sure, but I can imagine it is a large percentage of working people who do.

I also am determined not to end up on the treadmill again!

So to make sure I could take off my rat suit for good, I took the time necessary to revisit the wonderful work pioneered by Roger Merrill (author of Connections and First Things First – Co-authored with Dr Stephen Covey) by applying his 6 Steps to Life Leadership:

  1. Connect to what matters most
  2. Review your roles
  3. Set goals
  4. Plan weekly
  5. Implement daily
  6. Evaluate every week

Connect to What Matters Most

Get clarity on what matters most to you.  Your purpose is something you detect, something you must spend time thinking about.  Once you decide upon what truly matters to you it becomes very easy to say no to the unimportant!

Review Your Roles

THIS IS THE MOST NEGLECTED AREA OF TIME MANAGEMENT.  Spend time identifying what roles you have.  When I did this earlier this month I did it in the context of my business role and found it simple – Business Director, Business Innovator, Coach, and Account Delivery Director.

Once you outline your key roles you can consider who the key relationships are with and what your key responsibilities are.  This in itself is pretty illuminating – for a lot of us, we may find there are some key responsibilities and relationships we are neglecting!

The other major benefit of doing this is it gives you a good understanding of how ‘balanced’ you are across your roles.    Note for my team who’s reading this:  Sorry about neglecting my coaching role – I’ve got a new plan and focus!

Set Goals Based on Your Roles

After you do this you may find there is a lot you need to do!  Don’t worry, prioritise what matters most.  Keep your goals simple, practical and motivating otherwise you won’t engage in them.  That way, it’s easy to make your goals wildly important.

Plan Weekly

Now’s it’s time to translate the goals into clear action plans.  You can do this by simply asking, “What is the one thing I do this weekly to take me closer to achieving my goal?”  Then schedule it.

Implement Daily

Do it.  ‘Nuff said?

Evaluate Weekly

Hold yourself accountable by reviewing your week.  Review how you did and reset for next week’s goals.

I know this could sound like a chore but it’s not.  It is paradoxically the opposite – because it enables you to prioritize the things that matter most in a structure that brings more leadership into your life rather than another list of actions that may or may not be important.

So, how caught up are you in your own personal rat race? What are you doing that is impeding your true level of influence that can be changed for the better? How can you get off the treadmill and properly reflect on your next steps so that you can get your head on straight? Can you take the 6 steps toward a more reasonable and reasoned future?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Brad Waldron is Director at Intelligent Inspiration Ltd
He serves his clients with results-driven productivity training & development
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One response to “Win the Rat Race: Taking 6 Steps Back

  1. I tend to be the kind that commits to maximum capacity. This leaves me busy, and a bit over-committed if just one thing goes wrong. You really helped me when you wrote, “Once you decide upon what truly matters to you it becomes very easy to say no to the unimportant!” I definitely. Great reminders!


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