What do I want in life is a question I asked myself several times - especially in the recent past. It is an interesting question from the fact that the answers keep changing at different points in time in life. This question kept/keeps me going since childhood, I should say. However, there seems to be a slight (should I say huge?!?) difference; earlier it used to be what do I want next and now it is what do I want in life!
What do I want next was an easier question to answer. Based on what I wanted, I had to choose one option out of the available options or I had to create an option. But when the timescale increases to life, the question gets overwhelming! At least, it feels like it to me :-)
I sat down to list the non-negotiable big ticket items. Hmm… the moment we add the adjective "non-negotiable" and increase the timespan, the mind set changes. Ideally it should reduce the number of items in that category; but the opposite happens. Wow! Just with a small twist in the question, response can change completely. I wrote two pages of items and the list may probably continue for two more -maybe many more :-) Interestingly, with my coaching hat on, nonchalantly, I ask the teams to choose a few items they really want to focus on. Here I am, like a little girl on the seashore, trying to collect as many as sea shells that my palms can hold! My palms are full, my pockets are full, my baskets are full but there are still more attractive sea shells on the sea shore , it felt like :-)
I threw the two pager out! I emptied my baskets, pockets and palms tried to observe which one of these shells makes more sense to me! I realised, hmm…. hang on… I don’t even like my baskets in first place and the way my baskets are placed is not that very convenient for me! Okay, let me look at my truck that holds my baskets! I threw all my baskets out of my truck! Then it became a lot easier. I knew the size and shape of my truck; I knew how much space I want to leave for taking on new baskets on the way; I chose only a few baskets to be in my truck. Now, I am in the process of collecting the shells I like! At the end of this exercise, I felt, I may not know my north star yet, but I have a compass and I know my north!
The key lesson from this exercise is, limiting "Work In Progress" (WIP) makes sense only when there is time context. If time is left open, the term limit has no relevance and it can result in endless list unless we are careful about prioritization! Mismanaged WIP at the life level will seriously influence the decisions we make daily, weekly, monthly and yearly! Some people may find it easier to create near-endless list and then consolidate them into categories and others find it easier to look at it top down. Either way, if you have pages and pages of items, or truck full of shells, it is going to be too tough; it is better for you to limit them. You cant have too many balls in the air in the juggling business after all!
Business world calls it Lean! psychologists call it personal effectiveness! Common man calls it life balance! Whatever you call it, the key is to limit the WIP at all levels!