Pursue What Matters
Episode 1: Pursue What Matters in Love and Work
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Hello, and welcome to my first ever episode of The Pursue What Matters podcast. I’m so excited to be here and to share some ideas that will hopefully benefit your life. Today we’re going to dive into the concept behind the title of the podcast pursue what matters. When you’re pulled in 1000 directions with no ability, time or energy to complete everything. How do you get anything done? So the short answer is to pursue what really matters. Today, we’re going to dive in and talk about how you actually do that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:37
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Today, we’re going to talk about pursuing what actually matters in your life. And I’m going to share with you the process that I’ve implemented in my own life, to do just that. So we’re going to talk about, you know, pursuing what matters relative to purpose, but also getting down to the details of daily living with a to do list. And, you know, identifying the goals that actually matter, that before we do that, I want to talk just a little bit about my commitment to you with this podcast.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:43
So I know your time is really valuable. And I really appreciate you giving me some of your valuable time. So my commitment to you with this podcast is that I will bring you great information related to love and work and helping you to really pursue what matters in your own life. So I commit to showing up with authenticity. We’ve got enough BS in the world. And so I commit to keeping the BS to a minimum. I also commit to showing up with curiosity. And I invite you to show up with curiosity as well. I think curiosity is one of our best paths to self awareness, and also to connection in relationships. And I think it is really the path to growth, and to creativity.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:37
So you know, with the podcast, hopefully you will hear some ideas that challenge your thinking, hopefully, you will have some questions that provoke you to think deeply about your life and to, you know, that stir emotions for you, and to help you to consider deeply your most important relationships. And I really hope that for each of you, I also just want to say a quick word about kind of my philosophy of change. So just a tiny little bit of psychobabble. And I also commit to keeping that hopefully to a minimum, but I’m a scientist practitioner, which basically means that I really believe strongly that research should inform best practices. But that also it’s a feedback loop that are our best practices and our lived experience should also inform research. And so with that I make a commitment to bringing you the most updated research in terms of leadership and relationships and what it means to really pursue what matters. And also, you know, the the lived experience on the front lines, as an executive coach and as a psychologist, I work with individuals every single day, who are implementing some of the research results in their lives. And, and so the lived experience of individuals is really where the rubber hits the road. And so we want to also incorporate those lessons and that our ability to do that and to really strike that balance between the science and the practice really helps us to, to live more effectively and to more effectively pursue what matters. And so I I also make a commitment to to striking that balance. And so just welcome your contribution and, you know, with social media, I will be you know, doing some Q and A’s every week and so we’re just welcome
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:01
Your thoughts and your questions and your suggestions as we move forward with the podcast. So let’s go ahead and jump in to our topic today. So, you know, of course, it’s really important to clarify your vision for yourself, otherwise you don’t know where you’re going, how to get there, or what you’ll need to be successful. So it’s really easy to flounder in life without a clear vision for yourself, your career, or your relationships. And, you know, unfortunately for many of us, we we tend to kind of move forward in our lives kind of complacently if we’re not careful. And so what I want to introduce to you today is what I call the pursue what matters process. So, you know, there’s some alliteration for you that the, the pursue what matters process includes four parts, and they all start with P conveniently enough. So we’re going to break those down and talk about each one. So I will just I’ll identify the four parts, and then we’ll go through in detail and talk about each one. So the first part of that process is purpose. The second one is potential. Third, is path. And fourth, is pursuits. Okay? So let’s talk about the first part of that process, which is purpose. So purpose is all about the big questions in life. So it really deals with the question of who am I? Why am I here? purpose is all about, you know, the existential questions and finding meaning. And it is the idea that there is a purpose and a point to life, and the things that we do, and the experiences that we have, without a sense of purpose, it is easy to feel as though you are wandering aimlessly, or to have a sense of disillusionment about life, work, and even relationships. So as we consider purpose, it’s really important to ask the question of what informs purpose. And two of the most important aspects that inform purpose include passion and creativity. So what is it that excites you? What challenges you what is uniquely compelling to you? Right, so what calls to you? And these are, these are really valuable self reflection questions for you as you consider purpose. And when we think about purpose, it’s essential to have clarity, about purpose. And so this is this is some of that deep work in terms of who am I? Why am I here? And, and, you know, what am I passionate about? What calls to me what do I feel like I’m, I’m called to do the second part of the pursue what matters process is potential potential asks the question, What am I here to do? So, purpose asks, Who am I? And why am I here? potential asks, What am I here to do? And what can I become? It also asks, How can I uniquely contribute? So potential is all about choice. So if we think about purpose, being all about clarity, potential is all about choice and really hinges on your willingness to make the choice to face fears, to cope with uncertainty, and to overcome failure so that you can reach your full potential and ultimately pursue your larger purpose. And so really, the key with potential is choice. And, you know, are you going to make the choice to develop your potential so that you can pursue your larger purpose? Okay, the third
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:34
aspect of the pursue what matters process is path. And this deals with the question of how it asks the question, How can I reach my potential? How can I fulfill my purpose? So the path is all about the process of growth, evolution, reaching potential and fulfilling purpose. It can often feel like a very winding path. Okay? So if purpose is all about clarity, potential is all about choice. The path is all about the process. So when we think about the path, it’s really essential that you have flexibility about the path, because this is one thing I can promise you, I make very few guarantees. This is one, that the path will not take you from point A to point B, I wish it were that way, because life would be so much simpler. What’s much more likely is that you will go from point A to point t and then point Q, and then back to B. And if you’re lucky, eventually you will get to point z. This is why clarity around purpose is so essential, because when you’re on the path, and that path is winding, and you’re feeling confused, and you’re feeling uncertain, it is so easy to feel very disheartened, because you’re getting turned about on the path. And it’s very easy to question if you are on the correct path, being able to do a gut check, and really recenter yourself as to purpose is really essential while you’re on the path. And you know, when I think about my own career path, it it really is a very winding path, you know, I kind of look back, and first of all, I definitely feel like my career still unfolding and evolving as we speak. And I still feel a lot of uncertainty about that path. But you know, as I, as I reflect on kind of where I am now, on that path, there’s no way that I could have predicted, you know, the end from the beginning. And at this point, you know, I’ve I’ve had enough experience to feel very grateful that, you know, my plans for my career path did not work out, according to the way that I had planned. Because, you know, there were opportunities and mentors and experiences that I could never have anticipated or planned for, but were exactly what I needed. And you know, were incredibly beneficial to me. And so I think, you know, as we consider the path, there’s, there’s nothing, typically very clear about it. And I think it does require a lot of faith and does require a lot of trust in that process. And that is, again, why it’s essential to have clarity, about your purpose. Because if you can have some clarity that like, Okay, I see this vision or this purpose on the horizon. And I don’t know exactly what that trail looks like. But I can kind of keep my eye on that North Star, then that provides a sense of reassurance and a sense of, you know, trust and faith in that process. So I recently came across a quote from Joseph Campbell. And I think it really sums up the idea of the path nicely. So he wrote, If you can see your path laid out in front of you, step by step, you know, it’s not your path. I love this quote. So he continues your own path you make with every step you take, that’s why it’s your path. You know, I’m a planner, I’m also a recovering perfectionist, and a recovering people pleaser. And so I like certainty, I like having a path laid out for me to plan and write, I recognize that that’s not realistic. And that’s not how life works. And so you would think when I read this quote that, you know, I wouldn’t like this quote. But I’ve got to tell you, when I came across this, it was actually a huge relief to me. And you know that that might seem a little paradoxical because
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:29
Campbell is actually teaching us that the path is uncertain and unpredictable. But you know, to those of us who are trying to overcome people pleasing and perfectionism, and still, you know, tend to look over our shoulders and wonder if we are doing things correctly. The permission that he gives us to forge our own path can be liberating. And that’s really what I felt when I read this quote, I kind of felt this sense of relief of like, okay, maybe I have the freedom to figure this path out on my own. And that was, that was a pretty cool feeling for me. You know, as we forge our own path, right, step by step, it really requires an ability to tolerate uncertainty. And this for many of us might be the more challenging part. I know, that’s definitely the most challenging part for me, I really do not like uncertainty, it kicks up anxiety, kicks up all sorts of distress. And so this is where the words of Eckhart totally, really sustained me. And what he said is that when you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life. And I think, you know, there’s some real profound wisdom in in those words. So now let’s talk about the fourth component of the pursue what matters process and that is pursuits. Okay, so this really asks the question, what, what must I do to be successful? So pursuits are the daily and weekly goals that help you progress on the path toward your destination, right, so toward potential toward purpose. So with each choice to pursue a goal, you realize potential and align yourself with purpose increasingly, so pursuits or goals are really the signposts along the path, that help you mark progress, as you realize potential, and grow in alignment with your purpose. And so you can really think about pursuits the same way you would think about goals. So they’re kind of the daily and the weekly, and the monthly, and even, you know, the yearly goals that really help you to progress along your path. And so, just in summary of this process, if we think about purpose, it is concerned with the questions, who am I? And why am I here? Right? And purpose is all about clarity. Okay, so it’s important to have clarity about purpose, potential, asks the questions, what am I here to do? And what can I become? and potential is all about choice and really hinges on your willingness to make the choice to fulfill potential path, ask the questions, how can I reach my potential? How can I fulfill my purpose? Right? The path is all about the process of growth, right? And it’s essential to have flexibility along the path. And then finally, pursuits, ask the question, What must I do to be successful. And so these are really the daily and weekly goals. And they serve as the signposts along the path. And so developing this process can really help you clarify what’s most important to you, so that you can consistently pursue what matters and keep yourself in alignment on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:55
So one of the things that I found is that it can be really easy to be run by your day and by your obligations so that, you know, you get to the end of the day, and it’s all a blur. And I don’t know if you’re like me, but I do get to the end of some of my days, and I don’t even know my own name, let alone my most important values. It is a real problem. So, you know, the problem for many of us is that we’re being directed by our schedule and the demands on our time, rather than by our values and our most important goals. And so, you know, we really want to flip that around. You know, several years ago, I was sitting in a work meeting where we spent two hours discussing best practices related to a specific issue. And it was a really great discussion and everyone was inspired. But I found myself after the initial excitement, feeling really deflated and then frustrated, and then even angry. So as any good psychologist would do, I got curious about what was happening for myself during that meeting. This is what I figured out.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:02
As an organization, we talked a really good talk. We believe deeply in these best practices that we had just spent a considerable amount of time discussing. And yet there was such a disconnect between those values and our actual day to day behaviors throughout the organization. And this is what I found. So disheartening, as I got curious about my experience in that meeting that day. It’s not that we didn’t want to live our organizational values, we really did want to I mean, people really had good intent. This is, this is what I realized the problem was, it’s that we did not believe we could afford to live those values, we did not believe we have the time to do things differently. And we never took the time to create the changes that we believed needed to happen. So there was no ill intent, we were just all too darn busy running from one meeting, to the next to really take the time to slow down. And consider whether there was alignment between our daily actions and our values. So we were all really busy doing a lot of things. But I don’t know that we were busy doing the most important things that really serve the organization well, and moved it forward on its purpose. And, you know, the problem with this is, you know, first of all it creates, it creates a lot of disillusionment, and disinherit, disinherit, and employees such as myself. But right, this lack of alignment between daily actions and purpose leads to an erosion of values, pessimism, and eventually a sense of hopelessness.
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:01
So if you don’t have clarity about purpose, it can also lead to confusion, frustration, and a lack of progress. So, you know, another I think, kind of harsh reality is that if you don’t have goals for yourself, you end up serving others goals. And, honestly, you run the risk of failing to reach your potential, which I think is probably one of the most heartbreaking components of that. So we, you know, when we don’t have clarity about this, and really take the time to be intentional about pursuing what matters, we fail to develop the skills, the strength and the talents in order to grow and learn and progress. And we tend to worry more about what we’re supposed to do, instead of what we would like to do and what we feel called to do. And I think sometimes we even, you know, we even get anxious about letting ourselves explore this idea around calling and purpose. And I think sometimes that even feels too vulnerable to do for many of us. So now that we’ve, we’ve talked about this process, and we’ve talked about, you know, why?
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:22
Why it is problematic, and how it shows up in our life. I’ve got some excellent solutions for you. So I’ve got, I’ve got five excellent solutions to help you pursue what matters. So the first solution is I want, I really want you to outline your pursue what matters process, right, so the one that I just outlined for you, and I’ve got a tool to help you with this. So I have a freebie for you. And I will give you the information at the end of the podcast to help you to give you some direction in terms of how to download that. And it, it really outlines everything that you need to go through this process. But I really want you to take some time and clarify what matters most to you. And as you go through this process, it really forces you to make some choices about how you spend your time. So you might not enjoy this process. You know, you might you might be grumbling about it, you might even you know, not like me very much while you’re doing this process. But it’s really important to take this time. So right you recognize that you can’t do everything and you have to make some sacrifices. And so this may be challenging, but it is really good to clarify what it is that matters most. So that you can focus on those things that are most important to you. I think it’s also just a really good reality check to take a look look at everything you’re trying to do. And it’s like, No wonder you’re exhausted or no wonder, you know, you’re not able to be successful on your goals because you’re trying to do too much.
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:39
So then the second solution I have for you is to, you know, once you’ve, once you’ve completed that process, a second solution is to identify your annual pursuit circles, and then just choose two to three to focus on by quarter. So we really want you to be able to hone your focus, because one of the biggest mistakes people make is they try to do it all, they try to take on too much. So as you complete the pursue what matters process, you’ll have more of your big picture identified. But you may still be fuzzy about the path. And that’s okay. As we’ve talked about, our path really unfolds over time. And it’s essential to manage frustration and the uncertainty of not knowing what may be coming around the bend. And of course, if you’re anything like me, you love certainty, and it makes you anxious to not know what the game plan is. So this is an excellent opportunity to relinquish control, which, of course, is just an illusion anyway. So what we want you to do as you consider your annual pursuits or goals is to pay attention to a, what you need to do, be what you’d like to do, and see what you’ve already committed to do, as you identify your annual goals, right. So if you’ve already made some commitments, those should be on your list. If you think about something you need to do that should be on your list. If you think about something you’d like to do find a way to add that to your list. So I’ll give you an example of one of my and one of my goals for this year, or something that I would like to do is take golf lessons, I completed a degree last year. And so one of my goals for this year post graduation was to have more fun. And so I’ve been I’ve been working on that. So I’ve been having some of those fun goals for myself. And one of those goals was I want to pick up golf again. And so golf lessons is one of those goals that fits in the category of something I would like to do. So the next thing about these annual pursuits or goals is to limit your focus to just two or three by quarter so you minimize the overwhelm, and really increase your likelihood of accomplishing these goals.
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:54
Okay. So now let’s talk about solution number three. And this is to limit your focus to just three pursuits or goals each week. And each day. And, you know, you can talk about these as like the big three for your week or for your day. So this idea comes from Michael Hyatt, who has an excellent planner system, the full focus planner, which I love and use every single day. So you can check out the show notes for more information on this excellent resource. So what I want you to do is at the beginning of each week, outline your top three priorities in terms of pursuits or goals for the week. So think in terms of what are the top three things that I need to accomplish this week to get me closer to my big goals. And then you do the same thing for each day. So you have your top three weekly pursuits or goals. And you have your top three daily pursuits or goals. Of course, your top three daily goals are those things that will move you closer to the accomplishment of your top three weekly pursuits. So the idea behind limiting yourself to three pursuits or goals each day and week is that it really helps you prioritize your focus. So rather than trying to navigate through eight or 10, or 15 priorities, you know very clearly what your priorities are. And so you can focus your energy on accomplishing those goals rather than trying to decide what’s most important, when you’ll fit it in, etc. So we really are eliminating these competing demands. And so it’s a great way to manage overwhelm. It’s a great way to help you have some wins when it comes to your goals. Also, it doesn’t mean that you’re only accomplishing these three things, right? Because sometimes what happens is, as you accomplish these three things, it really helps you to build momentum and energy towards the accomplishment. Have some other goals. And so you’re certainly freed up to tackle other goals that you might have. But we’re really going to prioritize your focus. And you I think you’ll be amazed at how, how much more effective you, you’ll be. And you’ll just have more clarity as you move through your days and your weeks.
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:23
Okay, solution number four, is to purge your to do list. Gosh, I’ve been waiting for this solution my whole life, it is an answer to prayer. So most people try and do too much. And consequently, they get less accomplished. So this is one of those paradoxes of productivity that we often see. So we like to add a lot of things to, to our to do list so that we can check a lot of things off, because it helps us to feel accomplished. And there tends to be an endorphin rush that comes from checking items off of our to do list. But if you’re not careful, you end up manufacturing meaningless items on your to do list just to give yourself something to feel accomplished about. When in reality, like it’s not really a meaningful accomplishment. So as much as possible, we want to help you avoid this pattern, because it’s really a very ineffective pattern. Plus, you have all of these extra items on your to do list, which adds to your, it adds to your emotional energy, your your stress burden. And so it’s really not an effective pattern. So rather than needing to manufacture a sense of accomplishment, let’s really help you focus on accomplishing the most important tasks that will move you forward on your path. And now that you just have three top priorities each week, and each day, it should be easier to pare down your to do list. So as I’ve integrated this process, I’ve really been amazed how it simplified my days and weeks. And I’m telling you, I have been a to do list girl My whole life and like pages and pages of to do list. So I was like the worst offender of this, you know, manufacturing accomplishment with the to do list. But what I have found is that I I’m much more focused, and I have much more clarity about what really matters and what really needs to get done. And this is this is the real key. And why? Why does it need to get done? Why is it important? So I feel much more grounded as I move through my days and my weeks, and really feel like I’m steering my ship, more than being driven by my to do list or by my calendar. And I’ve also realized that there were a lot of things that I was doing that I really just didn’t need to be doing. And that has been liberating. And so I think as you know, as you purge your to do list, it’s a really good opportunity to really look at what you’re doing and examining whether you need to be doing these things and kind of asking, asking these why questions of like, Why is this here and, you know, kind of challenging some of your assumptions, let’s talk about the this solution that I have for you today.
Dr. Melissa Smith 33:31
And that is daily and weekly accountability and accountability is, that’s a big theme. And that’s a theme that you will notice throughout the podcast as we move forward. But in order to consistently pursue what matters, you must maintain alignment between your daily actions, and your purpose, potential path and pursuits. And the best way to ensure this consistent alignment is through daily and weekly accountability, where you are really honest with yourself, and perhaps someone else about three things. So this is we want you to have accountability about three things. So the first one is progress. So how did I do this week? Was I successful in accomplishing my pursuits? How far did I get? Second, we want you to be accountable about your blocks. So what got in the way of accomplishing my pursuits? How did I justify my actions? How did excuses creep in this week? So this is where you really need to be honest with yourself. And then the third area where we want you to be accountable with yourself or possibly with someone else is lessons. So what were what didn’t work and why. So and then from there to ask yourself what needs to change right. So with each review of the week, we really want you to Do an honest assessment and accountability, and then learn the lessons so that you can implement them moving forward.
Dr. Melissa Smith 35:11
So there you go, there are five solutions for you as you implement the Pursue What Matters process. So thank you so much for joining me today on our first podcast as we pursue what matters so that we can thrive in love and work. And that is really what I am passionate about. I’m so passionate about helping you pursue what matters. And I really hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s show, and that it has been valuable for you and that you will join me every week. So I will be coming to you every week. And I really look forward to talking with you about all sorts of exciting and compelling and difficult topics as they relate to pursuing what matters. So make sure you head to our website, to check out the show notes with all of the great resources that I mentioned in this episode, and also to download your freebie of the Pursue What Matters process so that you can begin outlining what matters most to you, you can access that at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-1. And one more time, that is www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-1 and that is just the number one as in podcast episode number one. And lastly, if you could take the time to review us on iTunes, I would be so grateful. So I’m so happy to be here and I hope you guys are too. And review on iTunes helps other people to also find us and make this a great community. So thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
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