We all go through daily evolution of ourselves and each other. It is what guides us to do the best we can do, especially when it really matters. However, it can also derail us from meeting our ultimate potential and goals when we try to do too much with such little time. When this happens, it deflates our self-worth and erodes our confidence in ourselves. And if we are not focused, we are not meeting our greatest potential.

Case in point: I recently read of Warren Buffet’s 5/25 rule. While this is not a new concept, it recently clicked with me as I thought about the things that really matter in my life and how I can impact others. I went through the three steps of Buffet’s plan, listing the 25 things I would love to do in my lifetime and then whittling it down to the five that matter. Surprisingly, it did not take much time — and even more surprisingly, a huge weight has lifted from me, where now I only focus on the things that matter. This article will outline the importance of this simple exercise and how it can help you holistically in your life and career.

The first thing that happened once I reviewed my top five list was letting go of all the anger, all the failures and all the disappointments of the past. Why? Because they were not on my list, and in order to help me and others succeed, they could not suck up any more time or energy from me. Within minutes, I released pain from the past to focus on all the opportunity of the future. I recommend taking a look at your day-to-day and how much time you are dedicating to past failures and how much time you are dedicating to future opportunities.

In summary, we need to let go in order to get ahead. Right now we are at a pinnacle time in politics, the climate and business worth with everything being fluff and not focus. By outlining your top five, you eliminate the noise and focus on the opportunity ahead of you. We drop the rocks and gather the strength to now carry others to help one another get to where we all want to be.

Second, once anger is relinquished and clarity has set in for your short list of goals, you will see the potential of what this short list can really build for you long-term — which is what matters.

Years ago, I read a great book, Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time, which is a pragmatic approach to having action-based conversation that leads to high output. In reading this book, there was the analogy of the tree in having fierce conversations. In essence, the most important parts of the tree are the roots and the trunk, and this is where all conversations should focus, as they provide long-term, sustainable and learning conversations. Branches and leaves will always fall and renew if the roots and the trunk are healthy. When you look at the conversations you are having with others on goals, roles and outputs, focus on the long-term strength and not the short-term stint.

This so important, now more than ever in business. We need to put the long-term focus on each other and not on a bottom line or a fruitless initial public offering. Focusing on the short-term is a mistake, and your conversations will be all leaves and no trunk. If you do not have a strong trunk or roots, you will topple over. In other words, focus on the long-term and not the short-term wins.

Another major aha moment for me in finding simplicity in goals has been in the areas of health and wellness. Why? Because they are on the list of the top five things that matter. Going to doctor appointments has become easier, as has grocery shopping and exercise, because I am focusing on this and not the noise of nothingness.

One of my all-time favorite movies as a child, “The NeverEnding Story,” clearly depicts what happens when you let go of the noise of the outside and focus on your inner self. You become happier and whole because you are taking care of yourself — and when you are taking care of yourself, you can eventually take care of others. Focusing on our own health also aids in the goals that others have for us — as within our top five there are always others, friends and family, who we want to enjoy. We can depend on each other when we independently focus on our own well-being. We alleviate the stress of worry that others have when we are not our best selves.

Last, and most important, is the happiness factor. Once I let go of the past and focused on my short list of long-term goals and got clarity, many of the weights and burdens I have carried over the years disappeared to let in happiness. Happiness and self-worth lead to opportunities and education of the unknown, where we all have the ability to gain more when we are our best selves. It is hard to learn and continue to learn when our goals and judgment are clouded. We lose perspective and let bias and injustice in for short-term satisfaction, not knowing that it erodes our long-term potential.

“Right now we are at a pinnacle time in politics, the climate and business worth with everything being fluff and not focus. By outlining your top five, you eliminate the noise and focus on the opportunity ahead of you.”

We are in a time where everyone needs to learn more to stay current and ahead in life and at work. In order to build our own personal learning centers, we have to be happy to engage in the complexity of the unknown in order to create and to limit ourselves from superficial bias and perception. This opens the door to diversity within ourselves, which will open the door to diversity of others — because we will be more accepting and understanding when we are learning and not judging.

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