I’ve been reading a fairly large stack of books on career advice and coaching best practices, and it’s occurred to me how differently I’ve been applying common principles in my professional and personal life. This seems like a lost opportunity, as the best ideas I’ve been reading about apply just as well to either area. I’m writing on New Year’s Eve, and in that spirit, I have a few resolutions for my time outside of work this year.
As consultants, we recognize that our time is our most valuable asset, so we allocate and track it very carefully. We make sure to spend our time in alignment with our team goals, and we give time to various efforts based on their relative priorities.
My private life rarely works out this way—I’ll spend a day watching the latest Netflix series, and then very little time hanging out with my seven-week-old son. This is an inversion of priorities and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. This year, I want to be very careful about thinking about my values, and then allocate my time based on those priorities so that I can be proud of how I’ve spent my year. So as much as I love baseball, I’m probably not going to be watching a whole lot of games this year.
A second realization I’ve come to this year is that it makes very little sense to regularly spend time on activities that drain your energy. If you, for example, find some part of your professional role to be tiring, stressful, or unpleasant, it’s best to hand that work to someone who’ll find it more rewarding.
This is very much a thing for me in my personal life—I have some relationships that are more draining than energizing, and some habits that really rob me of energy. So, sorry politico.com, you’ve lost a reader this year. I’m focusing on subjects that build my curiosity and engagement, and I’m cutting out activities that leave me feeling upset and disappointed.
Putting a Little Elbow Grease into It
I like tackling new problems at work—it keeps me engaged, learning, and feeling a sense of accomplishment. This year, I’d like to do more of that in my personal life. Why go to the same old restaurants again and again when there are new recipes to be tried? Why sit around reading Facebook when I could invite friends over? I often put very little work into organizing exciting events in my personal time, and the result is unsurprising—I’m not always terribly impressed with how I’ve spent that time. We all certainly need to relax and unwind, but even that deserves to be done well.
My last thought is that in most areas, the best goals can address many aspects of your life. If I can find a way to burn off a week’s stress that also involves spending time with my family, so much the better. If I can get involved helping my community while also building my professional network, everybody wins. I’m looking for more of these sorts of opportunities this year.
Happy new year, and I wish you a wonderful and energizing 2016!