One of my mentors often reminds me that when you are going into a meeting, ask yourself –
What is the objective of this meeting?
What is it that we want to get out of this meeting?
If we go into that meeting with a clear objective, our actions will be that much more directed – and the likelihood that we will come out of that meeting having met that objective will be greater.
This is true not just for meetings, but also in our lives.
Let us ask ourselves the question:
What is it that we want out of this life?
Often when we are asked this question, our thoughts may go toward: a good education, a rewarding career, a loving family, a comfortable home, financial security, and so forth.
But is that our life's objective?
Let's ask the question in a slightly different way –
What do we want to walk away with at the end of this life?
Those things we often identify as our objectives, those things toward which we direct our efforts – are those things going to go with us? Or are they just things that we need as we go through this life?
Let’s consider the question with an analogy of taking a flight.
Not a flight up and down one coast of the US, or even a flight from one coast to the other. Let’s say we want to go from the US to Australia.
This is probably an 18 hour flight.
Now, as much as we may enjoy traveling, I don’t think any of us particularly relishes the idea of sitting in an airplane for 18 hours!
But we do it! We get on that plane and we sit in it for those 18 hours!
Because we want to go to Australia.
That is our objective when we get on that airplane.
Now, when we get on that flight, there are several things we are probably going to do over those 18 hours.
We’ll probably eat a number of meals. We may watch a movie, perhaps some shows or documentaries. We’ll likely have to use the bathroom. It’s an 18 hour flight, so we’ll try to get some sleep.
What was the purpose of getting on that airplane?
Was it to eat airplane food?
Was it to watch movies on a little screen at our seat?
Was it to use the cramped airplane bathrooms?
Was it to sleep in a tiny seat?
Even if we’re flying business class or first class, the meals we prepare and enjoy at home taste far better. We likely have a larger TV at home than the one at our airplane seat. Our bathrooms in our homes are far more spacious. Our beds at home are far more comfortable.
Why did we get on that airplane?
We got on that airplane so that we could get to Australia.
That was our objective when we got on that airplane – to get ourselves to Australia.
Yes, we did all of those other things while we were on that airplane. But those other things were not our purpose. They were necessary so that we could get through those 18 hours. But they were not our purpose.
Our purpose in getting on that airplane was so that we could get to Australia.
Imagine, now, that after being on that airplane for 18 hours, we come out to find that we’re not in Australia.
We are not at our intended destination.
We are right where we started – in the US.
In fact, we never even leave the gate.
We just sat right there, at that gate, for 18 hours.
How would we feel?
Would we think that was 18 hours well spent, that we really enjoyed the airplane food and got some good sleep? Let's do this again tomorrow!
Or would we think – good Lord! I just wasted all that time with nothing to show for it! And I still need to get to Australia!!
So let us ask ourselves – first, what is our purpose in life? What do I want to walk away with at the end of this life? What is actually going to go with me?
All of these things we often spend most of our lives focused on – our education, our career, our families, our homes, our possessions – are they going to go with us in the end? Or are they things we need for our journey of life, like the airplane food and the in-flight entertainment and the bathroom on the airplane?
So what will go with us?
Let us first understand that.
Having established that objective, let us ask ourselves, on a daily basis –
Is my airplane pulling away from the gate? Is it going down the runway? Is it taking off? And is it flying toward my destination?
Are my thoughts, my words, my actions taking me toward my objective? Or am I just sitting at the gate? Or worse – am I moving away from my objective?
We can apply this test to every situation throughout our day. Is the choice I am making taking me toward my objective or away from it?
At the end of each day, we can reflect on the day's events and consider – did I move toward my objective or away from it?
If I moved toward my objective, how can I make sure I continue to do that tomorrow? If I moved away from my objective, what should I do differently tomorrow?
So, what is our objective?
And are we moving toward our objective or away from it?
I hope your day takes you toward your objective!