September 7, 2011
When the heat of summer lifts and the crispness of fall arrives, it's invigorating. We feel refreshed and renewed. (Particularly here in Texas!) A perfect time to re-evaluate the slate of obligations and perhaps mix it up a bit to capture new opportunities.
Our world is intense and fast-changing. The perfect mix of work/life balance may be elusive. Thus, it may be more pragmatic to focus on synergy -- getting multiple benefits from a single effort. And very important to get rid of things that are harmful to your HQ -- Happiness Quotient.
Here's a process to consider. Make three columns on a piece of paper and start making lists.
The Prize: Is there something missing in your life that you want? Make this a header at the top of the page. This could be a major business goal or an important personal desire. Or...it could be a sliver of time that you want to devote to something you enjoy. Go for it. You deserve it!
Column 1: How are you spending your time currently? Make a list of all work/home activities. Include habits, hobbies and even time-wasters. Evaluate recurring commitments. Put a checkmark beside the activities you enjoy. Put an "X" beside the items you loathe. Circle the items that might be impediments to attaining The Prize.
Column 2: What do you talk about in the various circles that you inhabit? Make a list of your typical topics. Do they help or hinder your path to the goal? Remember, we get to control what we broadcast to others. Thus, it might be important to edit and segment your messages. Keep in mind that social media amplifies the perceptions being collected. The dashing Mad Men ad man Don Draper says it best. If you want a different outcome, "....change the conversation."
Column 3: What new activities might you pursue to achieve your target? Where is the audience that might lead you to the goal? Is it a class, an organization, a change of scenery? Or is it simply an allocation of time to deliver an important dose of happiness?
Take a hard look at your list from Column 1. You will be subtracting at least one activity from this group. Are you focused or fragmented? Everyone needs a tribe, so it's important to be part of a group that delivers conviviality, solace, learning, advancement of purpose. Are you still involved in organizations that no longer fit your new goals? Are you still chairing a committee that you're just plain sick of? Are there things you can outsource -- at home or the office?
It could also be that something has already been taken away from you. A job....a relationship....a family member or loved one. If you've sustained a loss, be nurturing and good to yourself in the process of restoring and re-building.
Evaluate what your are saying in your various venues. Be mindful of the perceptions you are creating. Capitalize on your relationships and time spent with others. Craft a message that engages friends and colleagues in your pursuit of The Prize. Delete some "tapes" in your conversations. Edit and revise.
Be purposeful and strategic in adding new activities in place of the old ones you've purged. Do you want a gractful migration or a full-tilt plunge? Or do you just want a few months of breathing space. Devote the time to what is important to you and savor the enjoyment! You'll never look back, I promise.
Here is a dating diagnostic version of a Change-o-Meter™ (Click on it to enlarge). It is a simple but powerful game-changer.
Example: Column 1 -- Stop smoking and you will double the number of potential partner prospects. Column 2 -- A date is not a therapy session, parent/teacher conference or business meeting. It should be a respite from the pressures of daily life! Column 3 -- Taking up golf is a matter of location...location...location. It's where the men are.