Do the most important and most urgent. The rest can wait.
This, along with a few other things I learnt after turning 30.
You know what is ok? It’s ok to not to be successful by the time you turn 30. It’s ok not to own the house you live in, not have any kids and not be married by 30. (Although I strongly suggest you get moving on the kids thing, but that’s for another article.) It’s ok to only start figuring out how to actually run your own business after turning 30. It’s ok to aim to be truly successful by the time you’re 40, heck, 50 even. These are the things that I’ve come to realise only after turning 30.
I’m surrounded by a few guys that are roughly my age and have killed it already. They are dollar millionaires. They have money they probably don’t know how to spend. They have businesses 50 times more successful and profitable than mine. What sucks about personally knowing guys like this is in the past I’ve found myself asking what the hell have I done wrong that I’m not crushing it like these guys? I’m almost 30, I’ve been slogging it out running my own business for more than 5 years and I’m literally nowhere compared to these guys.
You know what changed? I turned 30. 30 is the magical age that separates you from your misspent youth and being a responsible adult with bills, kids, and shit. Turning 30 seems to have brought me clarity of mind. It took a few months of being 30 mind you, but things eventually fell into place.
It’s ok that I’m 30 and relatively nowhere.
You know why? I’ve now learnt after speaking to a bunch of highly successful (read older) business owners that it takes more than 10 years to make a business successful. And I’m ok with that.
With that said, the start of 2015 has been very different compared to other years. I was so close to changing direction completely and giving up on the business I’d built over the past 5 years until I had a great chat to a close mate of mine. The difficult questions were asked. The frustration of years of slogging it out were shared. But what came out of this chat were questions I already knew the answers to that I wasn’t following and actionable next steps I now needed to take.
The start of 2015 has definitely marked a significant move towards me focusing on my business becoming highly profitable and sustainable for years to come.
I started by writing down 6 month, 1 year, 3 year and 5 year goals for the company. Then, I started to write down tangible day to day tasks and things we need to do to get us to the those goals.
I now have a laser focus on 2 things. Most important and most urgent.
Most important are those tasks that get us to our 6 month goals and most urgent are the things that have the possibility of stopping us from getting to those goals. Here’s an example:
Most important: Write the copy for the Firing Squad website because getting this site live is one of our 6 month goals.
Most urgent: We have a crazy deadline for a client’s website that has to go live by the end of January. I need to update our client on progress while my project manager is still on leave that we are on track and that their deadline to deliver final content is end of this week.
The rest can wait. The telephone account can wait. The email from the recruiter can wait. The client wanting a new email address on his hosting account can wait. Booking a rental car for my business trip the following week can wait. None of these things are directly going to get us closer to the 6 month goals, so I’ll either delegate these tasks, or get to these things later in the day once I’ve made real progress with most important. Yes, running a small business means I still have to do all the in-between stuff — however, before when I’d answer emails in minutes, they can now wait a few hours. If one of these is really urgent (by means of the phone actually ringing) then it becomes most urgent and gets tackled immediately.
So if you are feeling despondent about things in either your business or personal life, talk to someone about them, set measurable goals and have a laser focus on the most important and most urgent. The rest can wait.
P.S. If you just turned 30 and think you’re nowhere like me, read the answers on this thread on Quora. It’s fantastic.