by Brian Mitchell, Managing Partner & CEO
Perhaps Socrates was correct when he said “the unexamined life isn’t worth living”. It’s been interpreted that Socrates was indicating that only in striving to come to know ourselves and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning or value. Ok, a little heavy, and maybe Socrates should’ve relaxed a little, but certainly a little bit of personal and professional introspection should be a positive.
Like a lot of people, every December I review the previous 11+ months and deliberate on what I’ve accomplished and where I might have fallen short. I compare my goals to my results, and I evaluate if I stuck with my strategies to achieve those goals. I contemplate if my goals were realistic and/or if I truly had the discipline and commitment to see them through. Invariably, I establish new (and sometimes not so new) goals along with new or revised strategies to accomplish those objectives. I find this to be an incredibly worthy and cathartic exercise, looking back at 2018 as well as forward in 2019 and beyond. For me, I’m answering “what is your WHY?”. Why am I doing what I’m doing? Why is it important (or maybe it isn’t)? Documenting my objectives along with practical plans to get to the finish line in print is a critical component. I prefer using time-tested analysis methods like SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to discern what I have to work with, what I need to build, and what I need to guard. We all know about SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timeline) goals, but many of us don’t put them into practice so after a year passes, we can’t properly compare if we did or didn’t achieve our supposed goals. “I want to lose weight”, “I want to earn more money”, “I want to start my own business”, etc. lack specifics. The only way to be effectively evaluative in the future is to really strive to remove rear-view subjectivity so one can clearly answer if s/he did or did not accomplish a goal. Keeping objectives simple leveraging the proven SMART methodology works – no need to revise it. I prefer simple and salient.
That said, one of my key goals for 2019 is to improve efficiency in 2019 and I quickly realized that’s an idea and not a specified goal. So I broke it down into production whereas if I can increase my production in revenue by 20% without adding more hours to my already long days, that will be my benchmark. To get there though, I need to eliminate inefficient behaviors or practices and emphasize accentuating behaviors and practices. I started going through a day in review to understand how I can put these concepts into discernable bites for me to constitute on a forward basis. I found out that many of the actions I need to take are less about “shoulds” and actually things I shouldn’t do. A few:
Now you can find me on my watch?!?! Ugh. Instant messenger, email, text, phone, social networks – they are great and can make us more efficient, however they’re also incredibly distracting and can strip efficiencies just as easily. Unless we have a meeting in Antarctica, we are pretty much accessible at any time and given frenetic schedules and commitments, being notified about something isn’t necessarily a good thing unless it’s germaine to the immediate OR it’s both urgent AND important. Build blocks in your day to be accessible and build blocks in your day where you turn off your cell (I know, sounds painful, right?), close your email, turn off IM, and whatever else will deviate you from a 60 minute or half-day task. Note: it’s not about not checking your notifications, it’s about shutting them off so you don’t know a new beep, ring, light or vibration has taken place. It might sound like cutting off an appendage, but multitasking is a falsehood and discipline to “turn off” ironically creates time.
I feel inundated by a deluge of email inquiries disguised as advantageous opportunities. It’s a massive time suck and adds stress to know there is someone/something additional clamoring for your time and attention. Would-be partners and vendors, irrelevant requests, people or situations I can’t help. I want to be courteous to EVERYONE, but not at my own expense. A CEO I know well told me she deletes any email she gets that doesn’t impact her goals and it’s “freeing”. It sounded rude and possibly callous to me at the time, but I’m going to do the same through 1Q and give it a preliminary review in early April.
“If it’s not important to you, it’s not important to me.” I’m in a professional service business so providing quality service is literally what we are obligated to ethically perform. I take that very seriously and love coming through for my client partners and candidates. That said, any service is also dependent upon symbiosis and a reciprocating partnership between ‘people’, not companies. If people are repeatedly uncooperative or unresponsive after the explained importance of communication (to their interests), they simply don’t value the other person’s time. If someone is too busy for a reasonable communication path, time to cut them loose. This goes for internal team members as well.
The word “no” is effective. “No” is also respectful as it lets the other person know that you can’t prioritize their request which could possibly lead to an uninspired deliverable. “No” removes distraction and enables focus to when we should say “yes”. In theme with the last two initiatives, I’m going to use “no” more often.
Uninterrupted time devoted to exercise, meditation, digesting motivational material, walking your dog, etc. are necessary sanity keepers. Taking 30 to 60 minutes AWAY and dedicated to endorphin releasing fitness or mind calming clarity will propel personal production. That “me time” builds inspiration and focus for the other 10-12+ hours where we all need to execute both personally and professionally. Like the rare cat-nap, that time off actually enables more productivity time. The “me time” restores energy, motivation, and resilience. Put it on your calendar DAILY, make it as habitual and non-negotiable as brushing your teeth, and it will have massive ripple effects on everything else you do.
What are some of the things you will and won’t do to reach your 2019 goals?