You’ve determined that you want to live your life well – for the things that count.
Perhaps you have a vague idea of what your life mission is. Maybe you even set aside some time to think deeply and went so far as to write down a life purpose or even 10- and 5-year plans.
But your strategy may fall flat on its face. And your life may still be wasted.
Your Real Strategy
Your strategy is not what you’ve written down, the resolutions you’ve made, or the great intentions of your heart.
Your strategy is how you spend your time, money, energy, and talent.
In How Will You Measure Your Life?, researcher Clayton Christensen states:
Real strategy— in companies and in our lives— is created through hundreds of everyday decisions about where we spend our resources. As you’re living your life from day to day, how do you make sure you’re heading in the right direction? Watch where your resources flow. If they’re not supporting the strategy you’ve decided upon, then you’re not implementing that strategy at all.
In particular, Christensen notes that strategies are driven off course by what he has termed “The Innovator’s Dilemma” – the tendency for companies and individuals to pursue short-term gain over long-term success.
It makes sense. You’ve got current needs, be they bills to pay or investors hoping to see a positive uptick this quarter. And all the incentives you face are geared towards getting that immediate and quick win.
A future-mindedness requires you to sacrifice those immediate short-term gains – a decision which makes sense in theoretical discussions but is difficult to make in practice.
Small Decisions Add Up
The danger for high-achieving people is that they’ll unconsciously allocate their resources to activities that yield the most immediate, tangible accomplishments.
Few people set out to do this. The decisions that cause it to happen often seem tactical—just small decisions that they think won’t have any larger impact. But as they keep allocating resources in this way— and although they often won’t realize it— they’re implementing a strategy vastly different from what they intend.
So you focus on the here and now. Not because you’ve made a deliberate decision but because it’s so easy to do. You tell yourself you’ll get to the important stuff… later.
Where Your Heart Is
Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Jesus didn’t say “Where your intentions are, there your heart will be also.” It’s interesting to note that Christ used resource allocation as his measurement of what mattered here.
This verse comes in the context of Jesus instructing us to lay up our treasures in heaven – in other words, to have a long-range mindset. To focus on future gain with a short-term sacrifice.
And why are we tempted to not do that? Because we focus on the present. We run into the innovator’s dilemma. We unintentionally spend our time on the things that give us the short-term benefits.
So what’s the solution?
Diagnosing the problem is half the battle. At this point, the solutions become apparent.
1. Make sure that you’re trusting the promises of God.
Right after Jesus says to lay up our treasures in heaven, he tells us not to be anxious because God will take care of us. Using our time or money generously in the present is only possible if we’re trusting God to provide for our short-term needs.
2. Dwell on a future mindset.
Meditate on eternity. Think daily – or even more often than that – about your life’s end.
3. Soak in the beauty and blessings of God.
As you keep eternity before you, remember the fate you deserve due to your sin. Fall in love over and over again with Christ and his grace.
4. Review resource allocation.
Don’t just put your head down and run forward. Take a step back and see if your actions are really in line with your intended strategy.
Take a look at your resource allocation – what is your real strategy?
Photo Credit: Ken Teegardin (Creative Commons)
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