Recently, I had the opportunity to speak on this subject, and it continues to spin around in my head.
This past week, I was driving to get my haircut, and while driving my 2001 Ford up a steep road, my “check engine light” flashed on, causing me to pull over immediately to see what was going on. I’ve learned that when that light flashes, I need to figure out why. Long story short, but I must have gotten some dirty fuel, so some injector cleaner and some better gas took care of the issue. The light signaled that something was wrong and the truck was not running the way it was designed to run. The warning light worked!
The connection is simply to ask you this question: “In your personal life, in your work life, in your family life, are there warning lights going off? If so, what are you doing about it?”
The purpose of a dashboard is to get a glimpse at vital signs that are important to you, and by looking at them, you’re able to determine if things are all running smoothly or if things need some attention.
We tend to pay more attention to the dashboard in our vehicle then we do to the dashboard for our life.
We’ve learned that we can continue to put things off, continue to run when things are unhealthy, even continue to go a little further while the red light is flashing and sounding.
Here are some ideas for ways to manage your personal dashboard. I’ve writing not as someone who is an expert at this, but someone who is continually working on taking care of the things that are most important to me.
#1) Determine What’s Important
We can’t measure anything until we figure out what is important in our life. Recently, I went through an experience that measured 5 areas of my life: My Personal Life, My Family, My Vocation (job), My Church, and My Community.
This summed up 5 critical areas of my life, and by identifying these, I was able to break them down and find some things to measure.
#2) Determine What Replenishes You
When I was asked this question, it really challenged me. The idea is that we can’t address all the things that are important unless we’re in some state of health personally. Life is hard, and we continually need to be restored, refreshed and replenished. Figure out what fills you up, because as you identify things you are going to work on, you’re going to need to be at your best.
This doesn’t mean you don’t start working on these things until we’re healthy. Healthiness is a constant pursuit.
Here’s an example: I realize that my physical health has the potential to limit the things I do in all 5 areas. I have to address that. This doesn’t mean that I wait to address these issues until I’m healthy. It means that I need to continually be working on my health, and that will make me more effective in all things.
#3) Determine Who Will Help You
We often think that our dashboard should be private. We’re afraid of what other people will think, and what they’ll see when they “look under the hood”.
The reality is that you need someone or some people to help you. Show them your dashboard, ask their opinion, invite them to help you. They will see things that you don’t see or that you’re missing.
This is something you don’t need to do alone.
#4) Determine What’s Realistic
My old truck has some issues. In fact there are some things that need to be fixed, but I can’t afford to fix them all today, so I’m monitoring it. I’m addressing the things that are most important, I’m waiting to do some things until I’ve got more resources and time, and some things I’m going to ignore because they aren’t critical.
Our lives are the same way. You don’t have to fix everything today. Take a step forward. Set some goals. Address the things that are most critical, then monitor your dashboard. When that light starts flashing again, stop and pay attention to it.
Monitoring your dashboard is a lifetime pursuit.