Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obtaining Wisdom in a Chaotic World (Continued)....

In a previous post we began the discussion of wisdom - what is it and how to obtain it. We are going to continue this discussion as we add some more steps to the process...

In the previous post we defined wisdom as the ability to see the big picture. (As we will see it goes far beyond simply seeing the big picture, although that is the foundation.) Then we began discussing the first two steps to obtain it: 1. Defining your values and ordering them and 2. Setting goals and ordering them.

Step 3. in obtaining wisdom is to now take your list of priorities and goals and take a look at them EVERY morning BEFORE you begin your day. This constantly reminds you to see things in perspective.
  • 3a. It's always a good idea to evaluate your priorities (see previous post) and goals lists and ask yourself, "Are these the noblest of priorities and goals that I could possibly have? Are these really what is important? In the whole scheme of things, are these the really important things?" Make sure everything has congruity and that it will bring you the most satisfaction. If you need to change anything then do it at this time. If you are satisfied with your lists as it is, then...

  • 3b. If you haven't already, break your long term goals down into more specific attainable intermediate goals by asking yourself how and when you will obtain them. Write them down.

  • 3c. Begin dwelling on these list and lay out your day according to them. Make out your "to do" list according to the priorities and goals lists and what you want to accomplish in your life.
Now, you will begin to see things from a larger perspective. When something comes along that could distract your attention, somehow it doesn't seem so distracting anymore, because you have a bigger picture. Life all the sudden makes sense.

Step 4
in obtaining wisdom is to raise your level of consciousness. Become conscious of everything you do. In laying out your priorities and goals you are already well on your way with this step. Become conscious of everything you are doing. When something distracting comes along ask yourself, "How does this affect the big picture? How does this fit into my values and priorities?" If it has no relation to them, then you can just dismiss and continue on with the direction you want things to go. " Will this matter next week, next month, year or next decade?" is another good question to ask. With these questions you will easily be able to see what is important or what is simply urgent, but has no real importance.

Step 5
in obtaining wisdom is to focus on value. Before doing something, ask yourself, "Does this provide value?" "Does it provide value to those I love, the world or to me?" Will it make a real long term difference?" Really, if you have laid out your priorities well, this one has already been answered for you ahead of time. But, if a situation arises and you are wondering what to do, this is another great question to ask.

Step 6 is to train your mind to think about consequences - good or bad. When trying to decide whether or not to do something ask yourself, "How will this action affect that or what will it lead to? If I choose to do that, what will be the outcome? What will be the consequences of this action?" Will it produce good results or consequences or will it produce negative consequences that you will have to live with for the rest of your life? In other words, look at it from every angle and determine what the outcome will be.

For more information:
Refer to Jonathon Meade's post on urgent verses important matters at Pick the Brain and/or read Time Power: The Revolutionary Time Management System That Can Change Your Professional and Personal.

As someone who used to be the most indecisive person in the whole world, I enjoy learning new questions to ask myself....What questions do you ask yourself to help make wise decisions?


shilpan said...


First, No matter how busy I am, I will always have time for one of my best friends.

This is a great post. This is so true that everything we do on a daily basis has to fulfill in some capacity the long term goal. You write so effectively.

I am going to recommend your name to Barbara for her next Tuesday blog article.

Take care,


Jennifer said...

Taking time for the most important people in our lives, like you do for your friend is so crucial. That is very wise to choose him above other things. That is something that matters now and will matter into the future and adds value both to his life and yours.

Thank you for your kind words and for your recommendation. That would be wonderful. Barbara seems like an incredible woman from what I have seen of her so far! I guess that gives me lots of motivation to get the new blog ready!!

Cath Lawson said...

Jennifer - this is excellent info. A few years ago - I struggled with goals, because I didn't break them down. But setting and achieving mini-goals is far more rewarding, because it prevents you from losing heart.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting Cath. It's so great to have you join us.

Yes, I used to also have a lot of trouble with goals. Breaking them down into achievable steps is the only way to make them measurable and attaniable and to feel a sense of accomplishment. I really like breaking it down into something I can acheive TODAY.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer
Fascinating post. I came by from Shilpan's recommendation.

For me, wisdom is a synthesis of knowledge and experience. Goals thus don't lead to wisdom nessesarily, wisdom instead arises from our observation of what occurs as a result of goals. So your post is about wise action, arising from and contributing to wisdom. But perhaps this is just semantics. (laughs)

I think i would also place step 4 as step one. Consciousness is the container of everything else, so the bigger the awareness, the bigger the picture (contents). Then the other steps flow in a process that loops back on itself. This self-referent cyclic process reflects the way of the world so will be very successful. Well done.

And finally, a critical point that always deserves to be mentioned in goal setting. The art of allowing. Get specific, get focused, then let it go. That last step is how it becomes. If we never release, we practice what they call in the east attachment. We thus hold the goal in the future rather than letting it flow into the present. It can be a subtle thing, but it is the difference between success and failure. Indeed, the difference between happiness and suffering. It is what Tolle has been speaking about on Oprah.

Thank you for sharing and being the catalyst for ideas.

Jennifer said...

@ Davidya,
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insight. I like your definition of wisdom being a synthesis of knowledge and experience. That is a very good description. I think where I'm at know, I just long for wisdom so much that I'm trying to figure out how to obtain it without before going through tons of things I wish I had done different - before i get to age 80 and say, "Ah, I get it now."

I agree with you about step 4 being step one. I was actually thinking that as I wrote out step 4, but alas step one had already been posted!

Very insightful comment on goal setting. That makes me ponder.... Yes, goals have to be a reality of now.

Thanks again for stopping by.