Focus on the Essential

Focus on the essential to make smarter choices in life.

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.

Because life is a trade-off in itself, meaning you can have anything but not everything. That’s why having a matrix to categorize our choices can be useful.

The Action Matrix

focus on the essential action matrix

Now, it would really be nice to have a life with only actions in the Star quadrant.

We would all be rich and happy if we could choose for such actions – the ones with a high value or impact and a low level of risk and effort.

Conversely, we would avoid actions in the Moon Quadrant where the action we take is unfavorable in terms of the risk / reward ratio where it isn’t worth the time or effort.

Unfortunately life cannot be chosen and we can end up having to play the hand we get dealt.

Choosing Risk or Safety?

It’s the well-known dilemma of choosing risk over safety. Even though we obtain some value for actions in the Checkmark quadrant, we never maximize value this way.

Focus on the essential choice that you have

A big part of our life isn’t up for choice. So all that matters is focusing on the small percentage of actions that are in your control. By choosing High Risk / High Value actions instead of Low Risk / Low Reward actions.

Plotting your Actions on the matrix.

plotting actions

The essence of the action matrix is to let you think critically about your own actions and evaluations of your actions. Are you focused on creating a safe zone for yourself, only taking a moderate amount of value because you are afraid of taking risks? Or are you brave enough to take risks – maybe fail a few times – but still chasing the valuable things?

Look, if life would always give us Star actions we would take them. But if that is not possible, are you sacrificing value for safety?

It all really depends on your appetite of risk and how you approach your own life decisions in any given situation.

What do you value in life?

I think we would all choose to be able to risk more in life. To be able to face our fears and make the most of it.

So the real question in this matrix is actually if the risk you take is a real risk, or is it just made up? In other words, is the risk cheap or expensive?

When we answer this question to our honest selves, we will realize that in most cases, the risk we see in  any situation is made up, fake, or not even there.

With this realization, we can focus on the essential choice we have to make. When failure is cheap, we have to act quickly because the risks do not harm us. But when failure is expensive, only then is the time to plan carefully.

So from this perspective. Ask yourself again; Am I making the best decisions and am I executing the right actions towards whatever it is that I value?

A second big thing that matters in a situation is the probability of the opportunity that arises. The more often it arises, the better your chances are of eventually capitalizing on it.

The Opportunity Matrix

focus on the essential opportunities

The essence of the Opportunity Matrix is to demonstrate that some of life’s opportunities are common, but other opportunities are rare. When you face a high level opportunity but with a low probability you have to have the courage take it.

Because this is where life is played at – at the edge of your comfort zone. Besides the Star Actions, what type of Action do you choose?

In the end it is up to you to focus on the essential.

Which choice are you going to take?

Will you think right. Act right. Choose right. And live your happiest life?

Boris is a Dutch consultant, Lifestyle Coach and Sports fanatic. He enjoys helping others with personal development by creating a change in attitude and behaviour.