Are You Majoring In Minor Things? If you are doing everything, then chances are you are not focused on the big picture. Many people become nobody and achieve nothing significant in life simply because they major in minor things. They have time to gossip, visit friends, celebrate with others, read celebrity stories, comment on all online breaking news, vilify others, yet they have no focus on significant things about their personal lives. Read this article and learn about the warning signs and how to major on important things about your life.
What does that mean?
This is so true. I know so many people that fit in this category in at least one portion of their life. Sometimes, although not as much now as in the past, I am this person. Sad but true.
Do you know anyone who absolutely has to be everywhere on time? Even if it means they don’t have enough time to be properly prepared? They rush a project, and get crappy results, but they get to hand it in on time. To me, that’s what the quote is about. They made a minor thing (the schedule) so important that they ruined the major thing (the project).
What about people who have trouble dealing with other people, who always have to have either the last word, or always be right (even when they aren’t)? They are putting their need to be significant above the other person’s significance, and above any possible relationship. But which is truly more important? Which is the minor thing?
11 Warnings That You Are Majoring in Minor Things
The allure of the minor things in life can be difficult to resist.
“We have no idea where we’re going, but we’re making great time.”
The trivial, the mundane, the distractions, the shiny object, the squirrel flitting from branch to branch.
These are almost like a drug, reaching out to you, interrupting, engrossing, diverting, interfering, confusing and preoccupying your thinking and focus.
Distractions keep you from your real mission. Prevent you from concentrating on and accomplishing the truly important things in your life.
Often times during difficult periods in your life as you confront challenges, trials and tribulations, distractions offer a false sense of peace, a respite from the hard reality you are facing.
I believe this is your mind’s way of helping you cope and survive during these periods.
In my case, during a set of events culminating in a disastrous finale, a number of things kept me busy and preoccupied. Some real examples:
- Incessant “refreshing” of my company’s stock quote to see how it was doing
- Preoccupation with an idea for a book on the life of Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Researching Single Malt Scotch
- Bidding on vintage guitars
- Shopping on Ebay…
Sound trivial? Minor? Of course…
Who knows what I could have done to alter my fate if only I’d focused on the real issues and problems and not allowed the minor things to get in the way.
How can you tell if you are Majoring in Minor Things?
Here is what to look out for.
11 Warning Signs
- Too many hobbies, and not particularly good at any of them
- Avoiding meetings — just not showing up
- Subscribing to dozens of magazines, mailing lists, blogs, newsletters
- Addiction a maniacal working on an overflowing mailbox
- Climbing down an Internet rabbit hole, expanding searches, going deeper and deeper as the path twists and turns
- Having dozens of pages open in your browser
- An insanely long To Do list full of trivial items — and a false sense of accomplishments from completing many each day
- Constant Procrastination
- A cluttered desk with half started tasks and assignments
- A series of home projects in progress, gathering dust
- Excessive TV watching, especially news programs
You cannot be successful in the long run if you are 10 miles wide and an inch deep. There are a handful of things that are important enough to account for the greatest impact.
This is what Jim Rohn mean by Majoring in Minor Things, his own 80/20 rule.
Steve Jobs once said “Focusing is about saying No”, his inimitable way of underscoring how important it was to avoid distractions.
It’s important to hitch your vision and strategy to the truly impacting things and execute those to the best of your ability.
Why is focusing on what is important important?
That sounds funny, so try putting a pause between the two ‘important’ words, and see if that helps make more sense. Staying focused on what is important is what helps you keep your eye on the ball. It helps you keep the major things front and center. It keeps you from spending too much time focused on that which is minor.
Think about that for a moment. Life is full of details, but how many of the big things would you get done, if all you focused on were the small thing? As an example, if you had a project to build a house, but spent most of your time making the interior trim absolutely beautiful, while not doing anything about the floors, plumbing or electricity, you would fail as a builder.
You’d have the prettiest trim for miles around, but it wouldn’t be much of a house, would it? Now if you aren’t a home builder, this might not be a particularly interesting example. But I would imagine each of us, at some point in our lives, have gotten so involved in the details that we blew it when it came to the bigger picture.
Where can I apply this in my life?
In my opinion, the thing we need to always do is to remember the big picture. What is the final goal? If you need money, do you borrow it, or do you delay purchasing something else until you can make the money you need? The major thing is fiscal solvency. The minor thing is what you need now.
As an example, say you’re unemployed, but you save up enough money for a flashy cell phone. That money could have been put towards a nice shirt and slacks, and paying for a professional resume service. Yes, you wouldn’t have a flashy phone right now, but if you could land a job, you could buy the phone next month, right?
What in your life might be suffering from this inversion? Where in your life are you finding yourself buried in the details? Grab some paper and write these down, along with the bigger picture. Are you spending a lot of time trying to figure out what color you want to paint your car when you haven’t even finished repairing the dents?
Did you find any surprises when you were making your list? I know I did. There were things that I hadn’t recognized as minor that were preventing me from making progress on the big things. Take a moment to look at the pattern of the little things, and then repeat the exercise, looking for anything else in your life that follows that pattern.
Did you find any other minor things that were holding you up? I did, and that’s why I recommended you try it as well. What other things are you stuck on? What else is being held up while you deal with that detail? Is it really that important, or is it a minor thing which is holding up a major thing?
We have talked mostly about projects in your life up to this point. If you’ve already widened your search to include personal growth issues, congratulations, you’re ahead of the game! Where in your life are you working on, or worrying about, minor things? What major things in your life are on hold because of this?
In the end, it’s up to you to decide what is or isn’t major in your life. Keep looking around, keep trying to see the bigger picture or the longer view of things. Try to keep things in perspective. It can make a huge difference in your life, and the quality of it.
Do not keep this article to yourself. Share with others.