During a work session helping someone sort out their priorities, our conversation evolved from what is important to what may have impact. Impact’s web definition reads “The striking of one body against another; collision. synonym: collision. n.The force transmitted by a collision.” Certainly we don’t want our lives filled with collisions.
Implied in the definition of impact, is a strength when applied whose result is noticeable. The imagery of force with its result precludes it from being imaginary. You always notice impact when it occurs.
Contrast this with importance. Things become more muddled. By whose definition is something important? Many things fill our lives that we deem important with little notice of any impact or change when completed.
This transition from importance to impact is not an easy one. For our to do lists are so long. We have little time to think through what on the list might actually have a noticeable impact on what we are striving to achieve. Further complicating this is how often we do things without ever thinking about what we would like to achieve.
Some pushback identified goals as possibly being a better alternative than impact in creating priorities. Goals are a good way to describe an endpoint. Giving you the opportunity to then work backwards identifying the steps needed to achieve one. Setting goals can feel important. The question remains – will the achievement of a goal be noticeable? Will reaching the goal materially change your situation?
Impact can only be discerned from the context of the situation around you. It is never inherent in the steps you are about to take. Rather impact confirms your understanding of where you can leverage your efforts to make a difference.
Few things on your to do list will have impact. Finding them affirms you are thinking more clearly. This takes practice in the form of trial and error. Watching for the result to then judge the degree of impact.
Focusing first on the few impactful items on your list, will give you a much needed head start on realizing your dreams as well as making everything around you better. Making your priorities both simpler and explicit as you struggle to decide what to do next.