What Matters Most in 2023?

Choices, memo in hand

For many, a new year is a time of renewal. A fresh start, a psychological new beginning. If you are like most Americans, you have probably made new year resolutions to change or improve something in your life. Typically, we start out strong but within the first month or two, the resolve is gone, and we are on to something else.

The truth is we cannot do it all, have it all, and succeed at all we do. Every time we make a choice to do one thing, it is at the expense of another. When we decide to do one thing, we also decide not to do something else. For example, we cannot go to a movie and play golf at the same time. We can’t attend a daytime school function with our kids and participate in a board meeting at the same time.

“Everybody is striving for what is not worth having.” William Thackery, Vanity Fair, 1848

In my business, I help clients make choices to support their business. Some are prepared to make the tough decisions, while other languish in indecision. Some have a fear of missing out. They can’t say no to a bid opportunity because of an irrational fear that there might not be another one. They can’t demand performance improvements from a manager because they might not be able to find a suitable replacement.

What they universally want to avoid is failure. But the truth is failure is a part of life. We all fail at something, and most of us fail at something every day. The key is to intentionally fail at those things that don’t matter. To do that, we must know what is important. What really matters?

Imagine what 2023 would be like if you intentionally choose the things that matter most in your business and in your life. Choose three things that really matter.

By making this choice, you are also choosing what you will intentionally neglect. This is where most of us get stuck. We have unlimited options and want to name more things. But if everything is important, then nothing really is important. Kind of like that list of 10 strategic priorities for your business… If you think that you can’t possibly limit the list to three, do it any way.

Resist the temptation to add to your list. At the very least, promise yourself that if you add something to list, you will remove something else. This discipline will benefit your business and your life.

If you are not good at holding people accountable, delegate responsibility for those business issues that you choose to intentionally neglect to others on your team. Encourage employees to choose the three things that matter most in accomplishing their job. Share these within the team and revisit them often.

When thinking about what matters most, I encourage my clients to ask themselves, “Is this the highest and best use of my time?” Carefully considering this question and answering truthfully often reveals self-imposed stress created by taking on duties that they pay others to perform; or by micromanaging their teams.

In 2023, resolve to free yourself from “The Tyranny of the Shoulds” a phrase psychoanalyst Karen Horney coined in the 1950s. We get caught up choosing between what we are and what we believe we should be. Shoulds are not empowering.  In our goal-oriented, achievement obsessed society, we celebrate those that have it all and do it all. Social media is filled with “influencers” telling us how to be the best we can be.

We “should” all over ourselves when we don’t life up to someone else’s definition of what ideal looks like. We lose sight of who we really are, and as a result, what really matters most.

Imagine what it would be like if 2023 is the year that we are completely honest with ourselves. What are we doing out of duty or obligation? Are we trying to please someone or fit into someone else’s definition of who we are and how we should behave?

Now we have a decision to make. What do you really want and what are you willing to do to get it? Clarity is everything in making these decisions. What do you choose to continue doing and what do you choose to stop or change? That decision is yours and yours alone.

Deciding what matters most to you and your business can be a gut-wrenching process. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you need some help choosing what matters most, let’s talk.

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