The Right Time to Do What’s Important

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The Right Time to Do What’s Important

Varshit, a colleague in one of my previous organizations, was good at his work. He would finish the day’s work in under two hours, and spend the rest of his time browsing the internet, listening to music, and chilling at the water cooler.

When Varshit’s work began reducing further, he spent more time in the office cafeteria.

Until one day, his division shut down. And since no other department needed his skills, he got laid off.

Varshit earned enough to manage his family’s expenses. When he began applying for other jobs, he asked for a 25 percent hike. But everywhere he went, he heard a common answer: “You’re overqualified.”

After seven months of futile searching, he began asking for less pay than what he previously drew. Yet, he heard the same answer: “You’re overqualified.”[1]What recruiters really mean when they call you overqualified is that you’re less skilled and more expensive than the current workforce. Basically, you’re as useful as a CD ROM in the Spotify era.

How did this happen?

Varshit’s business vertical may have shut down overnight, but the writing was on the wall long enough for everyone to memorize, not just read. Work had dropped drastically, the division had made losses for three years on the trot, it resisted new technology that was shaping the sector.

But Varshit was too busy having “fun” to notice. Each time we highlighted the division’s troubles and asked his future plans, he swatted the topic aside saying, “I’m working on it.”

When he finally understood the importance of learning new skills, he was in the midst of a crisis—no job for almost a year. He took up a few courses, but his approach was haphazard and the results were messed up.

Last I heard, Varshit was working in a job he hated and had become extremely cynical.

Had he started working on his career when he didn’t need to, things could’ve been different.

When To Do What’s Important?

It’s true that there’s a time for everything. But many people have a misplaced understanding of it. They keep pushing important things away by saying, “I’ll take care of it when the time comes.” When they finally wake up, it’s too late. An even a complete overhaul doesn’t work.

People neglect their health for years until doctors warn them that they won’t survive unless they change their lifestyle immediately. That’s when they go for a 180-degree shift.

But such a massive change is rarely sustainable. Eventually, they either revert to old habits or are forced to live with strict controls that prohibit them from eating anything they like.

People take their relationships for granted until their partner threatens them to walk out. That’s when they try to spend quality time with their partner.

But they don’t know their partner’s likes and dislikes anymore. As a result, quality time only leads to more quarrels until the relationship finally ends bitterly.

People keep attending meetings, sending emails, and scrolling social media at work, until a situation like Varshit’s plays out for them. That’s when they desperately try to learn every skill, update their resumes, and apply to hundreds of companies. But they rarely witness positive results.

We cannot change overnight or thrive when we’re flung far outside our comfort zone. We have to step outside it, experience situations, and return to our comfort zone to process those experiences.

That’s when we really learn. That’s when we can do what’s important instead of always going after what’s easy. And that’s how we become better versions of ourselves.

Do what you should do before you need to do it. Before tiny flames turn into forest fires that singe you when try to douse them.

Take care of your health before it deteriorates. Spend quality time with your partner before your relationship turns sour. Improve your performance at work and search for new opportunities before things go sideways.

This doesn’t just apply to large events. It’s just as valid for tiny but important aspects of our daily lives.

For instance, in 2019, I felt a niggling pain in my left forearm while lifting weights. I ignored the pain for months, hoping it would go away. But it didn’t. Instead, it got so bad that I couldn’t lift a bottle.

No IFT or Ultrasound treatment worked. I was afraid I needed surgery. Thankfully, I found an amazing physiotherapist who identified the real problem as a spasm in my right shoulder. Turns out, it was because I was following the wrong form while lifting weights.

She treated the spasm without medicine and told me to keep applying ice. In one month, I was back to normal.

Now, I ice my shoulders and arms regularly. I also hired a trainer to teach me the right form so I avoid repeating the injury.

Summing Up

You don’t have to put what’s important on hold until it turns into a full-blown crisis. At the same time, you don’t have to revamp your life to focus on what’s important.

Just take tiny steps regularly. Such steps will yield tiny results in the beginning, but compound into massive ones with time.


1 What recruiters really mean when they call you overqualified is that you’re less skilled and more expensive than the current workforce. Basically, you’re as useful as a CD ROM in the Spotify era.

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