We all identify ourselves with nouns. Like me, for instance. I’m a writer, an artist, and a web designer. I say this quite often, and type it into all my social media bio pages. Everyone knows me by these nouns.
Nouns are great. But I need to remind myself of verbs. Being a web designer doesn’t mean anything unless I design web pages. Saying I’m a writer is meaningless unless I put words on a page. I am those nouns, so one would think that performing the verbs that go with them is second nature to me. It is…when I let it be. But more often than I care to admit, I let myself forget.
Sometimes I fall prey to thinking that the verbs that are most important in my day are the demanding ones. Answer that message. Work on that project. Clean that room. They need to be done by a certain time, so they must be high priority, right? But that’s not always the case. There will always be tasks and “to-do’s” that are deadline-intensive, in the short term. Be assured, there will always be a steady stream of them. When one is dealt with, another will arise to take its place.
On the other hand, the long-term goals—the ones that are really most important—will be there consistently, not moving, not going anywhere. It’s tempting to let them slide down the priority list, simply because they’re always there. But the truth is that they’ll always be there because I’m not doing any verbs toward finishing them.
Long-term goals are kinder and gentler than short-term requirements. Quieter, not so demanding. They sit meekly in the background and await one’s attention. Making them very easy to neglect—there’s no knee-jerk reaction to deal with them, as there is when a short-term shouts at you. And neglect can become a habit. If there’s no unpleasant reaction, no shouting, no chastisement for being neglectful, chances are good one will put off remedying it. You can get used to leaving the quiet things for later…even when they’re really the most important. But they’re usually the most faithful. They’ll wait for your attention.
I know I do this. I get a lot of things “done.” But I don’t do enough towards what’s important. So I need to take a step back every so often. Reorganize my goals. Trim the short-term off the top of the to-do list, remember that taking care of them will not get rid of short-term tasks. Others will take their place, and I will be trapped in an endless cycle of crisis management. While the goals that are most meaningful to me and my future waste away in the background—and may never be achieved.
I don’t want that to happen. So I’ll remind myself to actually perform the verb that comes with my noun.
Writers write. Artists paint. Lovers love.
What verb should you be doing?