Are you stressed out with the amount of work you need to get done and at the same time wanting to rediscover what really motivates you in order to be reenergized - whether at work or home?

I've had the discussion at least a dozen times in the past month with friends and colleagues, and it finally bothered me enough to put my management consulting hat back on. I started with a framework to at least compartmentalize an analytical view of an emotional problem.

The simple 2x2 framework breaks down like this (see pic in headline):

  • There's stuff in our lives we can control, and stuff we can't control, just like there are events that have positive effects and negative effects
  • Stuff we can control can either be positive and motivating (I call these Exciters) or they can be negative and seemingly overwhelming (I call these Stressors)
  • Similarly, stuff we can't control can either be positive (I call these Delighters) or they can be negative (I call these Depressors)

Okay, so what?! Well, let's put prioritization to task using the matrix - and we'll officially call it (drum roll please)... the Emotional Prioritization Matrix (if it's going to be a management consulting thing, it has to have a professional sounding title):

Emotional Prioritization Matrix

Once Stressors, Depressors, Exciters and Delighters have been categorized, here's an "emotional prioritization" suggestion on how to approach each:

1) Remove Stressors early (think first thing in the morning, when you start your weekend at home, whatever) so that you can focus on what really motivates you.

2) Pray about Depressors and let them go - you can't control them, so control what you can that affect you negatively and just move on!

3) Focus / prioritize most of your day around Exciters - things you have control over that you know have a positive effect (again, whether at work, home or personally)

4) Celebrate - really celebrate Delighters - talk and think about the stuff that you can't control that when it happens you love life - appreciate what other people do and tell them about it; talk about the great stuff that happened at work when you're at home; etc.

One of the best management / leadership quips I've ever read comes from One Minute Manager, where the encouragement is to habitually catch someone doing something right and commending them, rather then habitually looking for the wrong and chastising. Put in terms of the Emotional Prioritization Matrix, as a leader, I strive to focus on the Delighters of the team I manage, not the Depressors. If someone isn't doing their job well, yes, that needs to be addressed, but the focus is on the positive. The same applies to my responsibility at home as a father as well!

When is the last time you took inventory of your emotional priorities to make sure you're able to focus on what really matters?