I continue to see the concepts (said in many different ways) in my life and in what I’m reading and listening, so I thought I’d reflect on them in front of the internet:
- Objectives – Define what’s actually important (goals, passions, values, etc.)
- Simplify – Remove things that aren’t important
- Automate – Setup recurring things to happen automatically through automation or delegation when you can
- Focus – Spend your energy on what’s important/critical/unique
- Adapt – Expect and embrace change
It’s amazing to me how these concepts, said so many different ways, are so valuable to everything we do, talked about so often, and consistently challenging to so many people. Here are some examples:
- Objectives – In careers, if you don’t define what’s important to you; you’ll end up bouncing around the professional world like a pinball from opportunity to opportunity without any passion (A great http://www.familylife.com event recently talked about how “Passion follows purpose” meaning that it’s hard to get excited for something if you haven’t figured out what you actually want first). Books like What Color is your Parachute are great for trying to figure this out.
- Simplify – It’s amazing how pervasive the concept is that people want to be well-rounded (it shows up in great work-life balance discussions, being well read across every topic, keeping our options open all the time) and yet no one seems to try to reconcile this with the fact that our culture doesn’t revere the most well-rounded people. Quite the opposite — we don’t talk about Michael Jordan because he was a great all-around guy. Or actors, or executives, or politicians. (see Seth Godin’s great point on this) Someone we cram our lives with more and more things to be well-rounded, making ourselves increasingly stressed all while we get farther away from being an expert at anything.
- Automate – Personal finance can be stressful and exhausting if you’re checking your balances every month and constantly spending energy making decisions. It can also be much simpler if you build a system that runs itself (see Ramit’s great post on this at http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/automate-your-personal-finances/). This automation sounds tough, but like so many great things; investing a little initially makes a huge difference long-term. (And it’s certainly not limited to finances — try to automate everything you can, see http://ifttt.com)
- Focus – It’s so easy to get distracted by things that aren’t important. Think about the time management metaphor of the rocks, pebbles, and sand. Or how everyone complains about responding (reacting) to email instead of “actually doing their job.” Or the quadrant of important vs. non-important and urgent vs. not urgent. All of these relate to the concept that we should spend energy on what’s actually important to us (see #1); though it’s entirely too easy to just react instead of lead our own life’s focus. Be intentional on what you spend your time on, like Jim Collins allocating his time on his whiteboard.
- Adapt – The technology industry likes to talk about Agile all the time these days — the desire to be nimble and flexible. We’re even talking about in the context of raising a family (see this WSJ article). This sounds like a new concept, but the idea of adaptability isn’t new; but it’s certainly hard. Make time in your schedule to reflect (think Agile retrospectives) and make changes (tune your life).
You should be wrestling with some of these all the time.