You’re tooling along, writing your book or making your art. The next thing you know, you’re a victim of OPA – Other People’s Agenda.
OPA shows up in the following ways:
- social media links
- phone calls
- brainstorming that has nothing to do with your focus
- friends and family’s ideas of who, how and what you should be
Often, OPA is disguised as opportunities. Offers for you, invitations to speak or write for others. Sounds great, right?
But these opportunities can pull us away from our own agenda. Away from the things we write, the programs we develop, the art we make. Remember, not every opportunity is your opportunity.
OPA can seem harmless enough. But as our attention gets more dissipated, our time becomes more valuable. Our ability to focus is one of the main factors that contributes to our success. I work on this all the time with my clients – how to stay focused on their agenda over the long haul.
How to fend off OPA
I’m not advising you to shut yourself in a cave and ignore the world. OPA can be incredibly enriching. Unexpected possibilities, new insights, new friends and colleagues all come from OPA.
Living at the mercy of OPA dissipates our already-scattered focus. It prevents us from doing our best work.
This is a complex issue. We don’t want to create rigid rules that shut us away from the world. We do want to maintain our focus and stay in relationship with the world.
My focus became much easier to hold when I drafted some policies around requests. These policies clarified my focus and reduced the amount of time I spent responding to OPA.
I recommend developing some boundaries so OPA doesn’t override your agenda. Some include:
- Clear agenda for the year, quarter, month, day
- Timed social media and online wandering sessions
- Focused, offline creating sessions
- Written policies to easily respond to requests
Take stock of the kinds of OPA that regularly show up in your life. For each kind of OPA, write a strategy for managing it.
What helps you avoid being a victim of OPA? Please share your thoughts below. This is a topic I think we all need help with, so your input is appreciated.