One Alternative Way to Rethink, Reset, & Reach Your Goals for 2017

Introduction

Today, February 16th, marks the 46th day of the year 2017. So far we have spent 1,104 hours living this year. How have you spent those 1,104 hours?

Each January 1st we are presented with an opportunity to look at time from a new perspective, and as a result look at oneself from a new perspective. With an opportunity to pursue that which we are “passionate” about, and/or escape that which we hate or are addicted to, we set New year resolutions. Hence, each New Year, the things we resolve to do or stop doing are many and difficult. And reality has shown us that these resolutions don’t always materialize.

By today, 80% of people who set New Year resolutions have failed to live up to them (1). Some research publications put that number around 50%. The exact number does not matter as much as the fact that as time passes, more people abandon their commitments and resolutions — whether it’s January 1st, or any other time of the year.

One of the reasons people fail at the pursuit of goals is due to the plurality, complexity, and difficulty of the goals. In other words, the goals are many and hard. I believe this is because the goals are not simplified — they are not broken down with simplicity, actionability, and measurability in mind. The goals become hard to sustain for a month, a year, or a lifetime.

In this post, I am sharing a letter I wrote to myself on January 1st, 2017. I am sharing it because it’s been a great reflective artifact that I keep going back to each week this year. It’s etched in my mind, and in my conscience. It simplifies many goals, both small and great into a simpler approach.

Forget New Year resolutions or an ever-growing list of goals. Start thinking about time. And then start investing the minutes of your life into meaningful pursuits that you otherwise call goals.

Time is Greater Than Money

You have most likely heard of the famous saying “time is money”. But if you think about it, time is greater and stronger than money because it is not subject to the ever-changing economic and social pressures that shape the value and usage of money. Also, without time, there is no money; but without money, time still is.

Time is a great equalizer — no one alive is deficient of time available to them. In this letter to myself, I try to remind the everyday me of the core meaning and value of time, and to understand and to look at goals, and ultimately all things, through the lens of time. Doing this, I believe, is pursuing simplicity in goal setting. If each minute, hour, or day is accounted for, then I am accountable to ask myself, and to be asked by others: “Today, this hour, this week, where have you invested your most precious commodity of time, and of life? What matters so much to you that you deliberately put time into it, and can recall it and be proud and satisfied of that investment?”

Whatever that time investment is for you, wherever you have spent that time doing, there you have spent your very own life, and ultimately that is your true goal, if you like it or not. Forget New Year resolutions or an ever-growing list of goals. Start thinking about time. And then start investing the minutes of your life into meaningful pursuits that you otherwise call goals.

I find this time-centric view of goals to be refreshing in simplicity, focus, purpose, and accountability. Hope you do too.


Letter to Myself

Dear Pascal,

Today is Sunday January 1, 2017. This is your first day of living in 2017. Also, this year will be the 29th year of your life on earth. With that said, let’s look at a few other numbers.

  1. You have a projected 8,760 hours that you will potentially be alive this year. This is your investment budget, your capacity for living life this year. This number is equal for every single person on the planet right now. Some will invest those 8,760 hours better than others. The point of this letter is to help you think about the value of time, and help you maximize your time investments.
  2. You are projected to invest about 2,500 hours (28.5%) working for your employer.
  3. You are projected to spend about 2,555 hours (29.2%) sleeping. Please sleep.
  4. You are left with 3,705 hours (42.3%) left in your year to invest however you would like.

Again, this is being written to aid you in thinking about what your goals, vision, commitments, and passion for this year actually are and how you can best invest in those things. Remember, you have been given the exact same amount of investment potential for your time as anyone else alive right now. And although you might not have the exact same resources for maximizing this time as others might (e.g. personal assistant, etc.), this time is still of equal value between all men and women. This time has capability to produce results and impact in your very own life. Yes, the measure of the results are relative in comparison to others, but this is exactly the point I need to make to you. This is about you, and your personal responsibility to be the best that you can be without blaming, complaining, comparing, and slacking. No you don’t have a personal assistant, millions of dollars to work for you, or whatever else. But that’s no excuse because you have time, technology, intellect, and passion. So put time to work for you. After all, this is key for any success in anything. Moving on…

Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? How do you want to do what you need to do? What do you need to do it?

Those are questions you need to think about, and act upon this year. The remaining 3,705 hours you have left in the year (after you have slept, and gone to work) are crucial to who you are going to be at the end of this year. What is your plan to invest those hours wisely? What do you care about enough to dedicate those hours to?

Think about this. You are paid about $x/hour (about $x/hour after taxes and deductions). For that same value placed on your time, you would make about $x with the 3,705 hours available to you in the year (after you have slept and gone to work). Now think about this. Although you won’t get that same amount in dollar assets, you can get that much value, if not more by how and in what you invest your time. For example, the time you spend with your wife and son, the return of those investments is way beyond what monetary values can define.

So the challenge for you this year is to properly allocate your most valuable commodity — time. How will you spend the remaining 3,705 hours of this year? Below are the top 5 things you seem to care a lot about. Budget and invest your time accordingly across these and then let’s make it tactical by breaking it down on a daily or weekly scale so that it’s more measurable.

Personal hobbies & side projects: music, photography, coding, business ideas, etc.

  • 35% time investment of 3,705 hours = 1,296 hours in 2017, 108 hours per month, 27 hours per week, 3 hours 51 minutes per day

Relational health: family, friends, and community

  • 35% time investment of 3,705 hours = 1,296 hours in 2017, 108 hours per month, 27 hours per week, 3 hours 51 minutes per day

Spiritual health

  • 20% time investment of 3,705 hours = 741 hours in 2017, 61 hours 48 minutes per month, 15 hours 24 minutes per week, 2 hours 12 minutes per day

Physical health

  • 7% time investment of 3,705 hours = 259 hours 21 minutes in 2017, 21 hours 36 minutes per month, 5 hours 24 minutes per week, 46 mins per day

Miscellaneous: everything else like entertainment, social media, etc.

  • 3% time investment = 111 hours 9 minutes in 2017, 9 hours 18 minutes per month, 2 hours 18 minutes per week, 33 mins/day

I know, this is getting ridiculous. How can I expect you to live by such a stringent time budget? Well, here are few things to keep in mind as you live your life this year:

  1. Use the list above to make decisions as to what you will do next? Meaning as you see yourself getting busy with things, or getting freed up from things, ask yourself, how is my time budget? Then invest your money, I mean time, in the right thing.
  2. Remember that there are tradeoffs. Each minute or hour invested somewhere is time deducted from something else.
  3. Measuring your time consumption and usage is a tough one. I hope you or someone can make that simpler for future of humans. But for now, don’t focus so much on measuring your time. Instead, think about your time on a daily basis. As you put together a schedule or task list for the day, keep your priorities as listed above in your mind so that you are spending time on the right things for the right reasons, and for the right duration of time.
  4. Lastly, be flexible. Add or take away from the priority list. Try to keep the list to a maximum of 10 total items so that it’s easier for you to actually focus on the things in the list. The more things you set to do, the more likely some will not get done. So focus your goals, and realign them as needed. Even better, realign yourself to the goals often. If you are slacking off in an area, focus on that area even more. For example, if you are spending more than 30 mins a day in entertainment or social media, then I hope your conscious lets you know that you are veering from your time budget and something is suffering as a result. So if it means you no longer have a time budget left for social media or entertainment for the month, then so be it.

At the end of the day, at the end of the year, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and be confident you have invested your greatest asset — time — the best way possible. You have to feel a sense of peace and satisfaction in what you could control, which is how you invest the time you had for that day, week, month, and ultimately year. The results will follow, just make your investments. And remember that it’s the small steps that counts. It’s the seconds that make minutes, and it’s the minutes that make a year, and it’s the years that make a lifetime. And it’s a lifetime that makes impact for now, and for generations to come. So whatever your allotted time for life, maximize that time, to maximize your life. Save yourself from mediocrity and poverty. Save yourself and your circle of influence from the mediocrity and poverty that results from squandered time investments. This mediocrity and poverty can be economical, but it is much greater than economical — it is also intellectual, relational, emotional, psychological, spiritual, physical, and all types of mediocrities and poverties.

Happy 2017.

— Future You