5 Minutes: Conquer Any Tough Decision

Tools: Pen/Paper or Whiteboard/Marker, Watch or Watch App

Goal: To put your tough decision in the proper perspective,
seeing it through the best lens for you.

Background: I developed this exercise as the fastest way to focus people on what truly matters. It’s based on my book, What Is Your Life’s Work? and is a fast hack to writing a legacy letter.

Memory Police Exercise: Begin
“Quick! The Evil Memory Police from the dark side of the future are about to bust in the door! I don’t have time to explain, but they’ve developed a new technology. It will wipe clean all your memories! You’ll only remember what you write down. I’m sorry, but you’ve got only four minutes. That’s how soon they’ll be here. So start writing now!
Go! Hurry! Now!

(During the four minutes…) Facilitator: “Be sure to be specific. If you only write a name or a place, you may need context to remember what that means. Write down anything or anyone or anywhere that is most crucial for you to remember! Don’t forget the password to your Swiss Bank Account.”

“OK… Pens down.”

(Limiting list-making to four minutes focuses the heart and mind on what truly matters. Some fast-thinkers are able to list 20 or more items. Most list around 1o items or less.)

Memory Police Exercise: Debrief
to the group: “OK, how many of you had absolutely nothing on that list that related to work?” (Usually about 70% or more!)

“So…What is on your list?” (The order changes with each individual, but the top five usually includes: 1. Family 2. Friends 3. Health 4. Religion / Spirituality or Cause 5. Fun)

“So…What does that tell you about whatever you were struggling with?”

Conquering That Tough Decision
Of course, your problem wasn’t solved in those five minutes! But in just
300 seconds you got your head and heart out of where they were stuck,
and you are able to put that tough, tough challenge in perspective.

Run it through the filter of whatever you wrote down during this exercise and you’ll find that whatever truly matters becomes clear and that many of the competing priorities drop further down the list.

Being Disciplined
Of course, the challenge is sticking with whatever you decided once everyone starts pushing those relentless competing priorities at you.
In those moments, remember this: Most likely, there is someone very important to you at the top of your list. Every minute you give to those competing priorities is a minute stolen from that person.

At the end of your life, who or what do you want to have gotten
more of your minutes?

Do that… Give them those minutes… Before it’s too late.

— Everything Bill Jensen does professionally and personally is based on how his mom passed away. Every day, he tries to be true to Mom’s legacy.
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