Bennis Inc. | How to Develop a Sense of Urgency in Your Life
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How to Develop a Sense of Urgency in Your Life

How to Develop a Sense of Urgency in Your LifeWe have all felt the stagnant waters of complacency. For some, it’s business-related. We spend years of our life doing a job we don’t love without any opportunity for growth or advancement. For others, complacency is more personal. We have cluttered closets we can’t find the motivation to clean up or we have friends we should see but can’t find the energy to change our routine. Complacency can hide in all corners and creep in so gradually it’s hardly noticed. But this is no excuse to give it a place in our lives for it’s our goals and happiness that ultimately suffer. The only way to rid ourselves of complacency is to rekindle that fire in your belly. A quote by Les Brown says it the best…

You must take action now that will move you towards your goals. Develop a sense of urgency in your life.

I like this quote because it applies to goals both big and small. Yes, you need urgency to compel you to change your career, your living situation or to get out of debt, but don’t forget the everyday things. Urgency can also fuel you to tackle that home renovation project you’ve been putting off or to repair a neglected friendship. So how do we develop this sense of urgency? Here are three starting steps to spark that fire and get you burning again…

Make (and keep) deadlines

Deadlines need not apply only to business-related tasks or school work. You can and should set deadlines for anything you wish to accomplish. For example, you’ve been meaning to organize a yard sale to clear out the clutter, but everything else seems to take priority. Give yourself a deadline for when you’ll sort what you’re going to sell, mark the items with prices and begin advertising the event. Each deadline breaks the task into more manageable parts and provides accountability for when they must be completed to keep the ball rolling. Don’t look at them as “arbitrary” deadlines either. Develop a sense of urgency for completing these tasks and respect the deadline as you would a deadline given to you by your boss.

Develop a “Do it now!” mentality

Some tasks don’t require deadlines—because they can be done right now. If you see something that can be done, do it while you have the time. Don’t put it on a fictitious to-do list you’ll never look at anyways. It’s a mind game, but when you continue to put off a difficult or undesirable task, it only continues to grow bigger and bigger until it seems impossible to complete. Don’t give yourself the time to turn a molehill into a mountain. Develop a sense of urgency and conquer tasks as soon as they come in, whenever possible. The “high” you’ll get from getting things accomplished will energize you to continue knocking more tasks off your list and soon you’re snowballing in the right direction!

Make the repercussions real

The final step for developing a sense of urgency is to accept that there are repercussions for not sticking to your deadlines. It’s easy to fall into the mindset of “Oh, nothing bad will happen if I don’t do it today.” While technically this may be true, nothing good will happen either. You will merely continue to live a life of complacency. And truly this is the ultimate repercussion. You can put off organizing your closet until next month, but that’s one more month you have to live with the clutter and disarray. You can continue to find reasons not to follow your dream career, but you’re sentencing yourself to a life of regret. The repercussions for not taking on tasks with urgency are real and should be treated as such.

So often we wait until we have no choice but to take action. It shouldn’t require a terminal illness, financial ruins or extreme unhappiness to inspire us to make positive changes in our lives. Find your fire and develop a sense of urgency right now. How will you begin?

Stephanie Shirley

stephanie@bennisinc.com