“What I have figured out, though, is that I’m not terribly high-functioning if left to my own devices.”
Over the years, people have asked me for advice using phrases like “you seem to have your shit together.”
The funny thing to me is that it never feels like I have it all figured out. Instead, I’m constantly tinkering, trying to figure out a way to be better at work, eat healthier, exercise more, have better relationships, etc. Most people I know are working on these same things.
What I have figured out, though, is that I’m not terribly high-functioning if left to my own devices. Without random diet rules, I’d gain about 10 pounds a month. Without a to-do list, I’d lose track of a lot of important things. Without time for reflection, I’d get lost in the weeds.
And that’s the reason I’ve implemented the system and tools that others think are effective. I wouldn’t be successful at anything if I were not intentional.
I have translated what I care about and want to achieve into practical steps to take today. And in general, I’m good at turning intentions into action. That is, where many people say things like, “I want to be healthy,” I have specific metrics to do so. Where many people might say, “we should hang out sometime,” I respond by putting time on the calendar.
There are loads of research papers, books, and articles that talk about how to focus on what really matters. For example, the Eisenhower Decision Matrix popularized in Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is all about distinguishing between what’s urgent and what’s important, and enabling focus on the latter. And if you read the New York Times’ “Corner Office” series in which Adam Bryant interviews executives from a wide range of organizations, you would see a common preoccupation with focusing on the right strategies and activities.
My aim in writing this series of posts is not to break new ground relative to what others have covered. Rather, after setting some context, it is to share a set of practical tools you can use when figuring out your own system.
The Big Caveat
Everything I do comes down to two ideas:
- Being happy in life is my ultimate goal; and,
- There are lots of internal and external forces that can push me off track — away from the happiness goal — if I am not vigilant.
Hence, my operating system is a means to aimed to do #1 while combating #2. In particular, my aim is to:
- Create reflection time that enables truing back to my happiness path; and,
- Implement practices that increase time, attention, and money invested in the core drivers of happiness and decrease time, attention, and money invested in whatever falls outside of it.
That the system is a means to a specific end is an important distinction. Mine is optimized (and continually refined) to achieve my goals. It may not be right to achieve yours. What I hope it can do, however, is to enable reflection about what truly matters to you and how you can achieve what you most desire.
If you’re interested in reading more…
You can read through these in a few ways. If you want to read like a book, check out the next post!
OR, skip into the various sections:
Finally, please leave comments, suggestions, and angry notes. I’d love to hear how you approach these same challenges and have a two-way conversation!