Your 2011: Slacker or achiever?
By now, I’m guessing your life has returned to normal following the relaxing, eating and partying of the Holidays – which probably kept you from reviewing what you achieved in 2010. Do so now, and behold as 2011 transforms before your very eyes.
The pre-vacation productivity sprint
I’ve always found one of the most interesting things about holidays and vacations – except from what occurs within them – to be the tendency people have to get their professional matters sorted before packing their bags. These proverbial stakes in the ground appear to offer sufficient – although short-lived – motivation to stop procrastinating and start prioritizing, with utterly astonishing results (oh good, you spotted the irony) of being able to remove a few heavyweights from one’s task list.
That, and the sinking feeling that there’s something you should have finished before you left which will loom ominously over your head until you return to handle matters with proper care.
Everybody’s doing it (mostly wrong)
Let’s say you could choose to be in a state such as described above only for the Holidays and vacations, or all the time. That’s a rather stupid remark, you think, before suddenly discovering that the question is a trap preceding a subsequent question: to which of these groups do you belong? Be honest now – there’s noone listening in, after all.
Now, regardless of your answer, lift your eyes from the screen and look around the office (or feel free to pretend to, if you’re elsewhere): how many people do you know that appear to be in this state continuously?
Odd as it may seem, the majority of us plod along as unwilling members of the just-before-the-Holidays group even though we secretly yearn to be ahead of the game. It’s only human, after all, and it takes willingness to learn, patience, and a tolerance for failure before we can apply for permanent transfer to the second group.
The most amusing part? Well, that’s the simplicity of it all: when presented with a deadline which holds sufficient value for us, we almost always find a way to achieve this state in order for us to enjoy our vacation guilt-free. The less amusing part? Apparently, our own stated goals (or lack thereof) apparently do not align very well with what holds true value for us, as we would then be able to maintain such a state continuously.
That, dear Reader, means it’s time to put on the thinking cap.
How what you didn’t like in 2010 can be used to your advantage in 2011
Here’s a little challenge for you: grab something to write on and with, and get out of here for 2 minutes. When you come back, I’d like you to stick the list to your monitor. On it will be a list of your top 5 achievements for 2010 – in prioritized order.
If you cannot do this, there are two lessons to be learned, which I will return to shortly. If you can do so, I would like to extend my congratulations: you are officially admitted as a honorary member of the anally retentive overachievers’ club by every single person you know. Oh, and you get the satisfaction of knowing that you – most likely – have been doing exactly what you have been wanting to do for a whole year. You should be immensely satisfied with yourself.
The two lessons to be learned if you are unable to honestly draw up such a list are as follows: 1) You need to contemplate the difference between work and passion rigorously, since the former creates momentum akin to a 2-ton boulder firmly affixed in a crevice. 2) You do not want to waste another year of your life – it’s too short for that.
Now, you might feel some concern regarding planning your life in such a detailed manner. That’s common, as most people assume that the contents of these precocious lists of goals that everybody keep blathering about should relate only to professional achievements. Mine literally contains “schedule fun” (why not; I schedule other important things).
Your list may contain whatever you wish it to as long as it holds true value to you – in other words, the things that make you smile when you wake up in the morning in anticipation of yet another great day.
So, go ahead – use 2010 to get perspective, and then start chipping away at 2011 as if your life depends on it. Which, come to think of it, it does.
The simple summary
[box]Look at 2010. Now look at yourself. Now look back at 2010. Now look at me. 2011 is your chance to do what you did not do in 2010, and there’s only one question to be asked: will you be a slacker or will you be an achiever this year? Focus on what holds true value to you and either start or keep exploiting opportunities which brings more of what you want onto your platter. Set balanced goals for play and work, and remember the value of increments.[/box]