PSEM 101 

Issue 1

PSEM 101 

Issue 1: Priorities and Opportunities

Must Do, Should Do, Could Do

It is that time of year – time for reflection and preparation for The New Year! It is a great time to kick off a new series for the business professional – PSEM 101: Problem Solving and Entrepreneurial Mindset. An entrepreneurial mindset isn’t just for executives and new business ventures. It is a way of looking at the world and seeing opportunities for growth and learning where others see barriers and setbacks. Reframing and problem solving is a skill that can be learned and developed; it brings with it the joy and satisfaction of a job well done.  Where would you like to experience more joy and satisfaction in life? What a terrific opportunity to apply problem solving skills and entrepreneurial mindset!

Let’s begin by asking the following: am I solving the ‘right problems,’ ‘setting the right priorities,’ and ‘focusing on the right things’? How will I know unless I assess and review?

First, reflect on the past year. What are you most proud of, or what is most memorable for the following areas of your life: 

·       spiritual,

·       relationships (personal, community, professional),

·       tangible achievements (personal, community, professional),

·       financial and physical health,

·       play, exploration, or learning.

Where did you grow or learn the most? What did you enjoy the most, or what excites you the most? What was most difficult, and what was most rewarding? Are there any gaps? Are there areas of imbalance? Any surprises? I tend to get very focused on tangible achievements, particularly from a work perspective. Still, the most rewarding and the most significant areas of personal growth tend to come from the relationship aspect. Interestingly, when I pay attention to my spiritual life, my relationships also improve! A recent summary of scientific studies revealed that religiosity, particularly regular service attendance, increased coping, a sense of well-being, and recovery from medical and mental illnesses. Koenig, Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health, Duke University

Second, after reflecting on the last year, what should you stop doing, continue doing or start doing? Why? How would the reflection be different next year if you made those changes? Is there something you feel uniquely called or qualified to improve or make better for yourself or others? Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? It is hard enough to do this for work, but throwing the personal and community aspects into it as well is very daunting! It is helpful to remember, "Man does not live by bread alone…” (Mathew 4:4).

Third, now it is time to prioritize and categorize opportunities into Must Do, Should Do, and Could Do (MDSDCD)! I always think of a good friend and colleague who developed and honed this technique for working on a multitude of supply chain problems – John Woodward at KnewMethod. It is a simple but powerful method for separating and prioritizing goals and tasks. There is something comforting in not forgetting about items on your list but putting them into a suitable bucket to be worked on at the right time and in the right way.

Is your Must Do list still too long and disorganized to be actionable? Try the following approaches to organize and prioritize within it. Are there any dependencies in your list – items to complete before starting another one? Put those at the top of your list! Are there any low-hanging fruit items that are easy to accomplish? Sprinkle those evenly throughout your list for a quick confidence and energy boost when needed! Are there items you dread, are hard to do, or you tend to procrastinate doing? Sprinkle them into your list for the first half of the year. Have you prioritized in your Must Do list those items you are uniquely called or qualified for and those that will make the most significant impact on next year's reflection? It is good to have stretch goals, but do you own, and can you personally execute all the Must Do items? If not, can you rewrite them as actions you can take? This is your Must Do list, not your spouse’s or friend’s!

Finally, talk to God about your list. Does He have any thoughts or insights for you? Review your list, make your final tweaks, and then put it where you can easily see and revise it. Most importantly, put it where you can readily mark items as completed! To ensure success, create an action plan for the first three Must Do items on your list.

What if this detailed reflection and planning just isn't your style? Or what if you make a strong start but get lost along the way? Just remember the three key takeaways that are useful for many situations: 1) What am I uniquely called to do? 2) What are my Must Do, Should Do, and Could Do (MDSDCD) actions?  3) Enjoy the journey! 

“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  (James 1:2-4)

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).