Let’s start today with a though experiment. If you were a dog, would you always chase a stick when thrown? There are two types of dogs in this world. One has to chase the stick. The other, looks at the stick, analyzes if it is worth the time, how much energy is expended, if a treat exists for doing so, and then maybe chases the stick.
Some people see a problem and want to tackle it immediately. Others, see a problem and want to maybe one day give it a hug. Both types are okay. Both types are necessary. They are a yin and a yang. One focuses on action and the other critical thinking.
One wants to slow down, believing not everything needs to be done right this second. This non-urgent person critically thinks through a task, and sets deadlines that don’t require said person to explode from work overload. Working under realistic boundaries and goals, this personality type will gladly put something off until tomorrow if no hard and fast deadline exists.
Telling an urgent person to slow down is like telling a dog not to chase a stick. It’s there. I can do it. So I will.
The second type of person attacks everything with urgency, treating every task as a life or death situation. Yes, you could complete that tomorrow, OR you could just do that thing today even though you already have a full list of other things to do today. When you live with urgency you think everything is more important than breathing, eating, sleeping, and anything else that other humans do.
While both of these personalities have their place, I’m going to talk about why urgency matters, and how to harness that power when you want to act with a sense of immediacy.
I have never known someone to say “she works too hard,” or “he gets shit done and I hate that.” People love people who work hard. Living with urgency is all about doing right now what you could do later. In a world where people consider doing their job as just showing up, acting in any way that goes above and beyond the bar of mediocrity makes you shine. Rising yourself above this bar of lowest performance is easier with the right mentality, one that acts now, not later.
Put simply, in an odd law of reality, if you are too dumb to give a thing proper consideration before embarking you are more inclined to find success.
Acting with immediacy also does not allow you enough time to question things, which is helpful in certain circumstances. One such circumstance would be when you are trying to do something new. Put simply, in an odd law of reality, if you are too dumb to give a thing proper consideration before embarking you are more inclined to find success.
There are many instances of this in our society. We have the man who willingly cliff jumps 60 feet for the first time because he just walks up to the edge and jumps off without even looking down. Or, we have the man who is too dumb to realize a woman is out of his league so he wins her over unknowingly with his persistence, passion, and perseverance. Self doubt and fear do not have time to cross your mind because they have no time to register in your mind.
That sort of attitude can be great for entrepreneurs, creatives, high-powered business people, and anyone that bites off a lot of things and needs to constantly accomplish ventures and projects. This mentality is not good in other areas of life, such as when dealing with people, networking or schmoozing a client, trying to teach your child to swim, or dating. In all of these situations applying pressure and turning a situation in to a life or death scenario has not worked out well.
How to Live with Immediacy
There are clearly times when living with urgency is beneficial, and times when doing so is harmful. So, how do you tell the difference and how can you just flip immediacy on and off like a light switch?
Urgency is helpful when you find yourself in a situation where accomplishing something right now, instead of tomorrow, relieves a worry, concern, solves a problem, or makes life better. But, deeper than this, the distinction comes down to whether or not the situation is a social scenario. If the task at hand requires you to work with, sell to, or gain the approval from other people than urgency is generally not the best course of action. If the task requires you personally, or someone you delegate and pay creates, designs, or fulfills something then urgency helps.
Acting with urgency can be accomplished by anyone for a limited amount of time. Being an urgent person does seem partially ingrained in people. You might have heard people like this described as “having a fire in their belly,” “moving like an energizer bunny,” or “unable to sit still.” These sort of people live with a great passion or desire that drives them forward. They experience reality, letting it happen for them, instead of critically analyzing everything that happens and needs to be done.
Start today focusing on accomplishing small things and work on acting instead of thinking. Here is a list of other ideas that can be embraced to develop a sense of urgency:
- Start small and do tasks that take just a few minutes of your time to get the ball rolling
- Project success by setting, and reading daily, your top 3 or 4 lifetime goals
- Make a “to-do” list of things you can realistically accomplish in a day or week. Cross things off when you do them.
- Do the task, do not critically think about how much work or where to start with the task
- Wake in the morning and think about the things you want to do that day
- Set deadlines for things and reward yourself when you meet them. (Take yourself out to dinner, buy yourself chocolate, etc)
- Act in the present- When something small happens today that requires only a couple of minutes to do, do it instead of putting it off
- Change your thinking by using words to describe completing tasks that evoke a sense of immediacy. Words like now, instant, fast, deadline, hurry, close, or immediately
- Find work, or one component in the work you do now, that excites you. Try to incorporate that thing in all the work you do
- Urgency is a habit, something you can start showing in small ways and grow to larger tasks from there
So, how are you harnessing the power of immediacy to accomplish tasks? Are you able to push down that rising feeling of doubt and “where do I begin?” feeling in order to move your life forward? Urgency has a place in our lives, just like non-urgency. If you learn to utilize both, and understand when both are needed, then you’ll find yourself accomplishing more than you ever thought possible.