Do What You Need to Do

A fun an inspiring story made the rounds in the media about a month ago when 100-year-old Ida Keeling broke the 100 meter record for her age. To celebrate, Ida did a few pushups and leg lifts on the sidelines!

As impressive as Ida’s story is, it was the advice she shared that has stayed with me since I heard about the story. In addition to recommending to others to “eat for nutrition, not taste” and exercising at least once a day, Ida said, “Do what you need to do, not what you want to do.”

That simplistic statement has a lot of significance. How often do we face that need to do vs. want to do crossroads at work, and we choose the latter?

  • I need to respond to my team’s emails, but I want to wrap up this project first.
  • I need to be available to my teammates, but I want to close my door and get my work done without interruption.
  • I need to work on the project I keep putting off, but I want to work on another project that’s more interesting.
  • I need to follow up with my customer today, but I want to head home as soon as it’s 5:00.
  • I need to take ownership of dropping the ball, but I want to look good in front of my boss.
  • I need to take the high road, but I want give that colleague a piece of my mind.

And don’t even get me started on choosing needs over wants in our personal lives!

  • I need to eat less sugar, but I really want that second slice of cake.
  • I need to do the laundry, but I really want to lay on the couch.
  • I need to get up and exercise, but I really want to go back to sleep.

Sure, we can make excuses for our choices, but many times when we mess up or let others down it’s because we’re doing what we want to do, not what we need to do. When we do what needs to be done:

  • We put others’ needs ahead of our own.
  • We do what’s right, even when we don’t feel like it.
  • We’re disciplined.
  • We’re more focused and productive.
  • We create good habits.
  • We perform more consistently.

In what areas do you struggle with doing what you need to do? What do you need to change?


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