The new year is well under way and I’ve decided to become more effective. I want to affect change in myself. That there was just a quick little bit trying to show the difference between affect and effect.
Anyway, last year was a poor year for the goals I had set for myself because I got bummed out about a bunch of things and purposefully decided to take a sabbatical. But once you’ve been knocked down, and you lie down recovering from the hit you eventually have to get back up.
I’ve decided to get back up this year and so far things are going well. I’ve figured out a way to start getting the important things done. It is easier than it sounds. And I’m not gonna lie, it’s also filled with a lot of common sense approaches that you probably know. But sometimes we just need gentle reminders. So if anything, I’m writing this post almost as a future gift for myself. Help it hopes you too.
Realize that time is a finite resource.
It’s true and we don’t realize it half the time. We need to be constantly reminded of the fragility of time. It’s rarer than fairy dust. Visualize this, take one of those old fashioned timers with the sand in them. Now turn it upside down. Those grains of sand/salt or whatever pouring through the middle to come crushing down on the bottom? Those friends, are literally the seconds of your life.
They pour one way and then they stop… That is, you die. We squander our life as if it has no value. We check emails, surf the net, watch television, eat potato chips as if we were living an abundance of time. We’re not. It’s time to get stingy. Stingy with your life. If you want to start focusing on the important things.
The average man in the US lives 77 years. The average woman 82 years. That’s basically 2.4 billion and 2.5 billion. That’s seconds. It might as well be heartbeats. Think about it, you only have finite heart beats. If you’re 38 to 40 you’ve roughly only got half of them left.
Yeah, yeah, that’s a big number, no big deal right. Well, I don’t have to tell you that life is flitting, and those aren’t guarantees. All we have is this moment right now. This heartbeat. Maybe these next ten thousand or so. 10,800, that’s only 3 hours friends. So what are you going to do with these next 31.5 million heartbeats. That’s 1 year. What are you gonna do with those heartbeats? Squander them like the sands in that hourglass? Toss them like torn petals from the tree of life to be trampled underfoot by any Tom, Dick and riffraff? I sincerely hope not.
You cannot do everything right now.
In fact, you can only really focus on three things at a time. I’m not saying that’s empirical, but I read it somewhere that if you can achieve 3 tasks each day you’ve done well. I know this from first hand. I’m not gonna look up the references for you and waste my precious heartbeats. Do that yourself, or just believe me or figure it out for yourself.
I’m finding it’s a pretty solid idea. I can generally only complete 3 tasks each day. Now it depends how involved and time consuming your tasks are, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. That’s the next idea, cutting to the essentials.
So don’t try to run a marathon, lose weight, build muscle and paint portraits everyday. It won’t work and you’ll set yourself up for failure and then go on a binge of doing horrible things for yourself, maybe even subtracting some heartbeats from your life.
Focus on the essentials or important tasks.
Once you’ve figured out that life is precious, that your heart is literally drumming the beat of your deathly dirge, and that you can’t circumnavigate the globe, plumb the ocean depths and climb the tallest mountains all at once, it’s time to cut to the chase. What are the essential or important tasks?
Well friend, that’s something you’ve gotta figure out. Here’s how I focused on the essential tasks for me. I asked myself what I really wanted to do? I also asked what I was passionate about? And I wanted to do what would help move me forward in my life. For me that meant I wanted to follow my passion and leave a legacy while at the same time hopefully earning more money.
So I’ve built my list of 3 tasks from exploring these questions for myself. I write everyday, I practice guitar every day and I make a video every day. Those are my 3 tasks. Anything else is not my priority.
You have to decide for yourself what you’re going to use your heartbeats for. Is it to find love, to learn to knit, to spend more time with your partner or to earn more money? I promise you, if you take some quiet time just for yourself and really probe into your heart, and ask the exploring questions, you’ll come up with this short list. Do it.
Look, do, monitor, repeat.
There is no try, there is only do or do not. Or something like that, sayeth the wise philosopher Yoda. And unfortunately you really just have to do it. But let me offer some help.
Right down your 3 most valuable goals. Put them down somewhere were you can see them. You need to have them close at hand to remind you of what your daily mission is. I just put mine on a spreadsheet that I open automatically every morning when I start up my computer. Another good place for your MVGs (most valuable goals) is a sticky note that you put on the mirror in the bathroom so you’ll see it every day. That’s the LOOKING.
Now we get to the brass tacks. The DOING. You’ve just gotta do it. Start off small by creating small tasks. For me, I wanted to write daily. So that was my goal, no pressure, no time commitment, no word count. Hell, if I only did one word that was okay. But something beautiful happened, I just started to do more.
And that’s the key. If one of your MVGs is to lose weight, start by doing small things. If pop is your weakness and you drink a gallon a day, then for the first week limit yourself to nine tenths of a gallon. And on you go. If you want to earn more money, just send out one resume a week. Then two a week.
Creating habits is a slow and laborious task but do it slowly and laboriously. You can’t go from unemployed to CEO in just a few months. And if you set yourself the goal to send out twenty resumes a day, you’re setting yourself up for a kick in the teeth because it’s very hard to maintain that. Build up slowly, but steadily to what is a comfortable pace for you.
Every day after you’ve done your MVGs, MONITOR them. Take a moment to reflect on what you want to do the next day. It’ll be the same, unless you have revolving MVGs which is okay but not common. Taking a moment to reflect is also wise as it allows you to take a moment of pride in seeing just exactly what you’ve achieved. If you fritter away all your heartbeats of the day by surfing, procrastinating or watching TV, you’ll be sad and upset and nobody wants that. So MONITOR and pat yourself on the back.
REPEAT, or adjust as necessary. Self kindness and compassion is important here. We’re fallible as humans, it is likely that we’ll slip up. Let it happen, MONITOR what happened and get back to it the next day. Carry on everyday and you’ll soon have built up huge momentum. It ain’t easy to start but like a large train once it gathers steam, it gets hard to stop the locomotive.
In summary. Take stock that life is short. What is behind us is done. But we can start anew, this very moment. Be stingy with your time. Focus it on the important or essential things as you’ve defined them. Try at first to limit tasks to just 3 a day. It’s manageable and you’ll be able to see progress from week to week. Monitor and adjust as needed, but keep at it. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
If you can lose just 2 ounces a day, that’s the weight of 9 quarters, you’ll have lost over 40 pounds in the course of a year. From the little repeated often, giant goals can be achieved.