Wow! This Might Surprise You About Striving

Striving defines striving this way:

  1. the act or practice of trying hard to do, reach, or achieve something; vigorous effort
  2. the act of fighting or struggling against someone or something; competition, opposition, or battle

There’s something very good about giving something your full effort – holding nothing back when it comes to doing a job or pursuing a goal. A lack of trying only yields lackluster results.

However, excessive efforts or trying harder than is sustainable also puts a damper on your results.

Finding the happy middle where you thrive AND you get the best results is often tricky place to find!

Another Way To Look At Striving

Too often, being in motion, keeping a full calendar, and working long hours gives the illusion that you are dutifully doing your thing! In reality, you may just be working in vain. Unless your activity is invested in what will lead to great results, your efforts are wasted. It’s a little like working out on a treadmill.

Last week, my husband and I had the chance to take some delightfully long walks on Hilton Head Island. It was a fun way to get some exercise and explore the sights simultaneously. In fact, we were able to see sites we would not have been able to see otherwise. That’s the kind of walking that leads to something valuable.

Walking on a treadmill on the other hand, burns calories and gets the heart pumping, yet, even if you crank up the pace, you’ll still find yourself in the same spot. That’s how it is when you are striving – a whole lot of effort and you don’t get very far!

In working with leaders, I often find that they are expending a great deal of energy. They barely have a minute to spare, and yet the results they are after aren’t there because they are on the leadership treadmill. That’s striving!  It’s another way of being stuck!

A leader’s job is to guide from point A to point B in order to successfully reach specific goals. Striving gives you the illusion of dutifully working hard like running on a treadmill does – you just don’t get anywhere.

Wondering if you are striving? Here are some questions to consider:

Are You Perpetually in Motion?

If regularly taking breaks, vacations, or resting on the Sabbath are foreign concepts to you, you might be striving!

Have you forgotten how to relax or how to spend your time when you aren’t working? Then you are probably striving!

Does the idea of slowing down evoke a little panic in you? Perhaps it’s time to stop striving!

Do you find yourself frantically putting out fires and being consumed with the urgent? Believe it or not that’s striving too!

To operate at your best, you need a rhythm of pouring out and filling up. You need time to think, reflect, plan, and strategize – that’s what leading is all about!

Remember, effort and activity don’t necessarily translate into results! It’s strategic efforts and the right activity that ultimately yield the results you’re after.

Are You Comfortable?

Are you a fan of the familiar? Do you prefer to engage in the tasks that you’ve always done rather than seeking out innovative approaches that would yield more significant results with less energy?

In order to get the best results, you are going to have to take some risks and venture into unknown territory. The journey will entail trying new methods, failing, and trying again! That’s uncomfortable.

Lingering in your comfort zone and continuing to do what’s familiar and easy won’t lead to your desired results.

Are You Focusing on the Wrong Activities?

Are your actions leading to the outcomes you need? Do you feel frazzled and frustrated because in spite of all your efforts the rewards are few? Odds are you are putting your energies and focus into the wrong tasks.

Zeroing in on the strategic action steps that will enable you maximize your efforts won’t just happen. It necessitates that you pause, reflect, and evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Then you can come up with an improved and more focused plan, which is a perfect reason to work with a coach. Not only will a coach help you to consider perspectives a you ordinarily wouldn’t and implement more focused and effective action steps, they will also assist you in speeding up the process up as well!

Are You Helping God Out?

Neatly tucked underneath all the striving is the belief that reaching your goals is utterly dependent on you and what you do. That’s a lie! God will allow you to work yourself into the ground trying and He will also be there waiting with open arms when you are too frazzled to keep going. He longs to work on your behalf – not as your genie, but as a loving Father who enjoys delighting His children. So, stop striving!

Instead, be diligent and faithful. Do your part, let Him do His.

Here are some other ways to be a more diligent leader:

1. Setting Clear Goals

If you don’t know where you are trying to go you’ll never get there. Make your goals SMARTER:

      • Specific – Who? What How? Why? Where?
      • Measurable – How will you know you’ve achieved your goal?
      • Actions – What daily actions will get you where you want to be?
      • Risky/Relevant – Is it a stretch? Is it where you really want to go?
      • Time-Bound – Deadline!
      • Evaluate – Regularly checking in to be sure you are on track – milestones.
      • Re-adjust – What changes would improve your efforts?

2. Planning

Your daily to-do list is just one aspect of planning. Create lists for what you want to accomplish in the future – long term – 5 years out, this year, this quarter, this month, and this week. There’s a rhythm to planning. Your daily to-do list works best when it reflects your long-term goals.

3. Identifying Your Top 3

Your “Top 3” are the three tasks that you will prioritize today. Choose the tasks that will have the greatest impact in moving you closer to your goals.

Sometimes what’s most important is the very chore you’ve been avoiding.

Did you know that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts? Investing your time in what’s most important – that’s what contributes most to your success.

3. Being Flexible

What’s most important often changes. Part of being a great leader is being able to quickly re-prioritize when surprises pop up and don’t go according to your plan. Being flexible also means making space for God to alter the direction of your steps if He sees fit.

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

4. Keeping Your Eyes Open

When striving, opportunities are often a blur. As you find ways to do less and accomplish more, you’ll be notice opportunities that you were too consumed to see before.

5. Trusting God Even More

Yep! Doing your part and then leaving the rest up to Him. Even in those waiting moments when it seems like nothing is happening, trust Him. No forcing or helping, but tuning over Him and trusting.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, Colossians 3:23.

Stop striving! Step off of the treadmill and start diligently taking the strategic baby steps that will get you results and allow you to reach your goals!

Where have you been wearing yourself out with significant effort, but not getting the results you desire?

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

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