Time is a rare and precious thing, a resource that we must never squander but instead must spend with care, planning, and intention, just as we spend the money in our bank account.”~Carson Tate
It’s 4 a.m. and I’m up. Not because I have to get ready for work or because there’s some pressing project deadline looming that I wanted to get an early start on. I’m simply wide awake. Unable to slip back into a restful slumber, I absentmindedly picked up my phone and started browsing through my email inbox, then Instagram, then Facebook, then YouTube. And then suddenly, I started to feel this pang of guilt. Since I’m up early, shouldn’t I be doing some productive?
After all, you read these blogs, memes, and productivity books that tell you that getting up early is king. It’s what the real hustlers, movers and shakers do to stay on top. You know, the “while you were sleeping I was out here going for mine,” type of mantra.
So I began going through the laundry list of projects that I am working on or have yet to start. Should I start going through my email inbox and start answering some of the emails that came in over the holiday weekend? May as well get that out of the way before I get slammed when I get back into the office, right? Or what about that proposal that I said that I would begin outlining? Is now a good time to start running those reports of applicant numbers so that I can determine my goals for the week? Quite frankly, after I went through the list I started to feel tired again. Perhaps this is the moment I should have seized to burrow back under my blanket and catch a few more hours of sleep before the rest of the world starts to wake up. But instead, I read. And in the last few quiet hours of the morning, I decided that this was the absolute best thing that I should be doing with my time.
For the past week I’ve been re-reading a book by Carson Tate called Work Simply: Embracing The Power of Your Personal Productivity Style. A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of hearing her speak in person at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women held in Philadelphia annually. In her session, she talked about how we really don’t need to use the hours in our day to see how many tasks we can milk out, just to say that we feel accomplished. She challenged us to ask ourselves what we are really striving to accomplish these tasks for. Is it because they are truly helping us get to where we want to be in life, or are they just things to check off of our never-ending list of things to do?
So in my reading, I read the above-quoted statement. “Time is a rare and precious thing, a resource that we must never squander but instead must spend with care, planning, and intention, just as we spend the money in our bank account.” And in that very moment, it struck me that there are more important things in life than being productive. There’s being purposeful.
So as I move toward that halfway mark in 2017 and begin to forge onward to goal-setting for 2018, I want to be more intentional about the way that I spend this second half of the year, especially keeping in mind preparation for my 2nd child and taking on a new role at work with greater responsibility.
In today’s post, I’m sharing a few of my goals for the rest of 2017 that will help me to live my life in a more purposeful and meaningful way.
Investing in myself
When people say, “Hey, you should really read this book,” I’m going to buy the book….and actually read it. At the beginning of the year, I was intentional about setting a goal to read 20 books by December 31, particularly since I set a goal last year for half that amount and successfully accomplished that ahead of schedule. Reading is something that has always given me pleasure and it inspires and makes me think differently about the world. Reading also forces me to be reflective and examine and re-examine my own values and thought process. I believe that it’s made me a stronger leader and a more valuable thought partner and team mate.
Being honest with myself
I’m going to stop saying the words, “I don’t have time.” Instead I will acknowledge it for what it really is. I’m not willing to make the time right now, and in some cases that’s OK, and maybe even necessary. The reality is that we all have 24 hours in a day, no more, no less. I can’t prioritize everything, so inevitably, there will be things that I have to say no to because some things just won’t be as important to accomplish right now. I’ve got to be honest and not make myself feel guilty for valuing my time differently than others.
A couple of months ago I attended a phenomenal workshop called Owning the Work at The Management Center here in New York. It was so eye opening because one of the things it made me realize is that I don’t take enough time during my week to reflect on the work that I’m doing and the impact that that work truly has on the goals that both I and my manager have set for me. The reality is that every day, every week, I’m doing a tremendous amount of work, but what does it all mean? For me, without the reflective piece, I find that I’m more easily burnt out and less happy with my work when I start to get that feeling of running endlessly on a hamster wheel. I want to feel like I’m accomplishing more than just the tasks that need to get done for that week. What’s the bigger picture? The only way for me to look at my work through a fresher lens was to schedule that time. So I’m beginning to take more time in the mornings or at the end of the day to think about the meetings that I’ve attended, the work that I’ve accomplished, and the overall goals that I need to achieve, so that I can set realistic expectations for a workload that will actually get me closer to more meaningful, impacting, and fulfilling results.
So what about you? Tell me what your goals are for the next month or even the next 6 months that are going to help you lead a more meaningful and intentional life either at home or work.