Catalyst

Learning from Life and Leadership

Must, Should, Could and Do: 4 Words to Sort Your Life

Life’s phone keeps ringing, like the telemarketer at dinner time. Many opportunities, requests, and demands come to your life. PTA meeting notices come home in backpacks. Dinner invitations arrive in the mail. Friends say, “can you help me out with this small thing?” Most of what arrives on our plate is a matter of volume, not importance. A few “little things” snowball into an avalanche that sweeps you away.

Some believe they are Superman, able to vault any challenge and give unlimited time. It does not take long before you realize there is more to do than there is “you” to do it. Others let things fall through the cracks. People get disappointed or angry when you don’t respond after saying yes.

Before you say “yes” or “no,” ask three questions.

What do I need to do? Some demands in life are uniquely yours. No one can take them off your shoulders. You are responsible for your child. You are the one married to your spouse. You may find yourself in the position of needing to care for an aging parent, and no one else is around. Some responsibilities in life belong to you. What individual responsibilities do you have that you will answer to God for one day?

Could I do it? Many things we could do, but it would not propel us toward our goals. A group asks you to serve (or chair) a committee. Your child’s teacher calls and needs someone to coordinate school parties this year? Can you do it? You get an invitation to a gathering your “need” to attend. Do you go? Because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Does it take you away from something more important? Remember that every yes is in someway a no to something else. Will it take more time than you have? Does it help you become what you want to be in life? The lists of “could’s” is lengthy.

Should I do it? This question is the sticking point with many. Are you the right person to do this? Can someone else do this as well? If I did it, what would the tradeoff be? I have learned I am not a mechanic. (Every time I fix something I cut a part of my body.) I am not an accountant. I don’t know much about investments. I could learn, or I can let those who are better help me. While there are many things you could do, there are many fewer things you should do.

Will I do it? I have my share of orphaned projects. I look at them every week on my projects list. I look and do nothing. I tell myself “one day” but one day never comes. For many things, I came to a simple conclusion. It was either not worth doing, or someone else could do it better. In fact, sometimes letting someone help me gave them an opportunity to grow.

Your list of things to do never goes away. In fact, it tends to grow. There is always more to do than time to do it. Decide if you will. If it fits your skill set and will make a difference to you, then what are you waiting for?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: