It doesn’t matter what others are doing. It matters what YOU are doing.
I saw this poster a while back, and it hit me as such an obvious comment, that I almost laughed out loud at the simple message. Then, as life would have it, I did a double take and had to admit that I waste plenty of time wondering, questioning and thinking about what others are doing with their time and talent when I need to focus on what I should be doing.
It’s not like our work is going to get done magically without us. No, we have to make it happen whether we feel like it or not.
I am sure my parents told me a version of this quote when I was young and was bellyaching about all the things they allowed my brothers to do that I was not allowed to do. And I vaguely remember being told to mind my own business, to get my own work done and not to worry about what the boys got to do.
And they got to do a lot of cool things like stay up late, drive fast cars, go to ballgames, drive cars fast, go to the beach, drive fast motorcycles, hang with friends and do stupid stuff. And I was not allowed to join them because occasionally they did stupid stuff, and my parents didn’t want me to be killed. Now they didn’t want my brothers to be killed either, but boys will be boys, and they seemed to bounce back fine after each accident.
Although it didn’t seem fair at the time, in the grand scheme of the universe it really didn’t matter what they were doing as long as they were safe, but it did matter what I was doing because I had to answer for my actions.
How about you? Are you wasting time wondering about what others are doing, where they are going or who they are going with? If so, my friends, chill, because it really doesn’t matter what others are doing. All that really matters in this world is what YOU are doing.
So, what are you doing? I hope you’re keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions. Remember the promise to eat right, exercise more and get enough rest? Oh, you forget about that didn’t you? Yes, those pesky resolutions are hard to keep.
Do you remember that you were going to save a little bit of money for your rainy day fund? And this year you were going to actually schedule a vacation on the calendar with your friends or family… and don’t you remember the promise you made to yourself to live life more abundantly and have fun? Or how about the commitment to attend worship services more regularly or your kid’s ball games or dance recitals? And remember the idea you had to invite friends to dinner once in a while or the promise to help your parents with a project at the house they are too elderly to do?
Yup, it’s hard to keep promises to ourselves as well as others. Especially when you waste all your time thinking about what others are doing instead of what you committed to doing.
I don’t want this week’s message to be a downer, but I do want to remind you of a humble yet powerful truth that has the power to change your life, and that is, “It doesn’t matter what others are doing. It matters what YOU are doing.
And the reason it matters is that when you make a promise to yourself and do not keep it, you tear a bit of the fabric of your life. And then one day the tear becomes a rip or a hole, and then, if you are not careful, the hole allows everything to fall through leaving nothing behind.
I’m not trying to be dramatic, but the truth is that once you allow yourself to lie to yourself, you begin to lie about yourself and that causes damage not only for you but also for everyone who is in your circle.
We many times look at others with a bit of jealousy. From the outside, it seems that a lot of our friends (even those we don’t like) have the life we’d like to have. Jealously, I have written about before, and frankly, it is an unpleasant topic that has no redemptive value except to remind you to stop looking and wishing at what others have and are doing. It is not your life or your life’s calling, so stop coveting what others have.
Remember, you wasting time being jealous of what others have has no bearing on them at all. They most likely don’t know, and they don’t care that you are watching and wishing as they go about their lives doing the things they want to do, and all you’re doing is wasting valuable time by not doing the things you’re supposed to be doing.
I have been reading a few books by Pastor Mark Batterson (highly recommend him). One of the books I read was a reminder that if I want to survive and thrive, then I need to be prepared when opportunity roars, and I need to stop wasting time watching what everyone else is doing and get to work on what I have set out to do. My dreams, my ability and ambitions need to be dusted off, polished up and put out there to shine.
The plans I have written, the lists I’ve made, the business cards I have pulled out to make calls, the magazine specs for the ads I want to run, the travel plans that I am working towards and everything else that is on my list, if I want to do any of those, then I need to get going and stop wasting time reading the comments of political arguments on Facebook and scrolling through my Twitter feed.
But, alas, I am as guilty as the next person of wasting time watching and wondering what others are doing and then not getting my own work done.
It is not rocket science for me to know that it is up to me to work the plans, to make the calls, to create the copy and to map out my trip, but it is so much easier to think, think, think about it than to get it done. Whether it is avoidance or forestalling, the end is the same. Nothing gets done until I get to work. And the simple truth is it doesn’t matter what others are doing it matters what I am doing.
A lot of the books on life and encouragement and success that we all read say the same thing about working the plans we have made. And it is easy to read a book or listen to a podcast and think about the next steps, until we look at a blank computer screen and think, What now?
For me, my What now? is to do the work I have committed to doing with the 26 letters of the English alphabet, whether I feel like it or not. Whether it is writing a new speech on public speaking skills, or creating a media plan, or simply writing a sales training program to help my client’s team win in the marketplace, my work is cut out for me…if I’ll just do it.
And the same is true for you. Whatever skill you bring to the table, you need to kick it into gear so you can achieve all the things you’ve been dreaming about, talking about and planning for. That is not going to happen until you stop wasting time watching what others are doing and get to work on what you need to do to win in the marketplace.
I know that in business we all need a break sometime to refresh our creative spirit, but don’t allow that time of revitalization to be wasted by trolling your friends and enemies online. Stop going to networking events where no one who needs your skills or services is in attendance, and for goodness sake, stop wasting your time with your busyness doing nothing of value. Get to work! Your greatest discontent will be watching others climb the ladder of success, because they did the work while you played solitaire online, went to events that wasted time and re-filed your filing drawer.
Now is the time to make your life happen. Now is the time to put yourself out there to take the plunge for the success you’ve been talking about for years. Now is the time to make something of yourself that you will be proud of. And here is the truth, even if it doesn’t work out, at least you made the try, and now you know what not to do next time. Failure is just a word in most cases. Don’t let one stone in the road throw you off track. Remember, you can rebuild anything if your dream is big enough.
And the simple formula for your success is a radical realization that, in the end, It doesn’t matter what others are doing. It matters what YOU are doing.
So seriously think about what you are doing, and if it is not what you want to do, then figure out how to get to where you want to go. Bikram Choudhury said you are “…never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.” And I love the quote from John Eliot who said, “As soon as anyone starts telling you to be “realistic,” cross that person off your invitation list.”
This is not the time to be “realistic,” this is the time to make something happen, and it will only happen when you finally realize that, “It doesn’t matter what others are doing. It matters what YOU are doing.”
So, go do something GREAT!