React? Respond? Or Create?

At the edge of a deciduous forest, six square boards on 2 by 4 stakes, spell out the word CREATE. Each board looks hand painted by kids. In the foreground a flower filled meadow.

“Experience is not what happens to you. 
Experience is what you do with what happens to you.”

— Aldous Huxley

What Is Your Go-To Habit?

When we encounter difficulties and/or adversity, some of us react.

We take action determined by the external stimulus, and the emotions it evokes. Often, that leads to merely getting rid of, or relief from the stressful stimulus.

Others respond. We acknowledge the stimulus and the immediate emotions as part of current reality. Then we choose to act based on a clear sense of the result we want to create.

The first approach can be very stressful. The second, not so much, but often still stressful.

Stress doesn’t come so much from what happens, but from the way we respond or react to what happens. Again, often both tactics are designed to get rid of, or relief from, the painful emotions that can accompany stress.

But, when we let stressful emotions drive our actions, we tend to focus on what we don’t like and don’t want, and take action to relive or rid ourselves of those things

Another option is to choose actions based on a vision of result(s) we do want, results we want to bring into being in our lives and work.

Vision driven actions produce more effective results. 

Bonus: we generate far less stress!

Woman in chair has her feet up on a metal balcony, a tropical drink in a coconut is beside her on a small round table. She's gazing out a blurred jungle, relaxing.
Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Make Creating What Matters Your Go-To Practice

Try using the “Eisenhower Matrix” to determine how you want to deal with what happens.

The matrix is a simple time and priority management tool. Former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower used it to determine what actions were important, rather than merely urgent.

Say, for example, you’re going through your day and something happens. A job or task lands on your desk, or crops up in your home.

Before you let your emotions drive you to react, stop and think.

Use the matrix to determine the importance and urgency of the task (or lack thereof).

Then choose how to proceed. 

The Eisenhower Matrix

If we focus on the “urgent but not important” field, we take actions that are mostly busy work. Checking a text. Answering our phone. Excessive dusting. All procrastination.

Focusing on such things prevents us from doing both “urgent and important” tasks, and the “important, but not urgent” stuff—the rich, juicy stuff we want to do but don’t, because we’re too busy reacting to urgent but not important stuff.

So, before taking action on a task, or external stimulus, ask yourself these questions: 

  • How will I stop wasting time on urgent but unimportant tasks?
  • How will I deal with things that are important andurgent?
  • How will I deal with te things that are important, but not urgent?
  • How will I take the time to deal with important tasks before they become urgent? 

Decide when to do important things — then do them, or schedule time to do them.

Doing so will turbocharge your effectiveness. And lower your stress levels. Win-win.

Bruce Elkin

Life Design Coach. Personal Life Coach. 25 years experience. Clients on 6 continents. Author of 5 books and ebooks. Cares about the Earth and living in harmony with its natural systems.