Life for the Last Five Years
Let’s be honest; I’m an immature “novice” when it comes to life. I’m only 23 in my first job, and of course I don’t have a clear 5-, 10-, 20-, 40-year plan. I think it’s fair that I don’t because I respect the uncertainties of life and I’m not exactly worried about the uncertainty, but at the same time I want to make sure I maintain some perspective.
If you asked me five or even ten years ago what I wanted to do with my life, I would tell you the same thing: I want to help people. When I was a kid I wanted to be a nurse. By middle school I wanted to be a baller lawyer, and by the time I hit high school I decided I would do anything that would give me the influence to help bring change. (I knew one thing–I never had any drive to be a politician).
More honesty time–I’ve lost some perspective. In college I started a club based on my core ideas that business should bring positive social impact, and worked with some friends on a non-profit launch. One of them said, “now’s our time to shine, Andrea…stay in entrepreneurship and take the risk with me”. As tempting as it was, I still hadn’t lost my perspective and wasn’t willing to take the risk. From my perspective (which of course could be, and likely is completely wrong), the risk in entrepreneurship is if you succeed it can be exponentially wonderful, but if you don’t…you just dont (with the yada-yada-yada-yada on how much you learned and will take to your next business. That’s brings the whole different question of whether or not you could have learned that elsewhere while still succeeding).
Anyway–that’s how I lost my ties to the non-profit, I sold my soul and life willingly to corporate America. I still stick to my decision that it was a smart and fulfilling choice. I love my job and feel like I learn so much everyday.
However, one this is missing: my inner childhood dream of helping people. Sure, if my ultimate goal was to become a philanthropist I am on track to do it in my lifetime, but why not help people now?
A few opportunities have presented themselves to me lately, which is also just a thing of fate–it seems whenever I’m in this inspired mood, an opportunity arrises.
Re-Organizing My Life
OK-great, now that I’ve established that I’ve completely lost touch with being a good person, what do I do? By another chance of fate, my manager recommended the Time Management class at the office. I thought–sure why not, another class under my belt, maybe I’ll learn something.
IT WAS MIND BLOWING.
I hadn’t really thought about my life at large in a long time. Everything from pre-school to college was pretty defined. At age 5 I would be in kindergarten, at age 17 I’d be applying for college and would get in somewhere, and in the fall of my senior year of college I would recruit for my first job to start in the following summer. Black and white, easy peasy.
Once I entered the rat race bigger questions came up. From my split personality:
Drama Queen: Have I come here with the expectation of dying here? If my life going to be like this forever?
NYU Socialite: What happened to all my friends? And of course–no more free lunches at Stern! (I kid, I kid–mostly because I would never eat that, bleh bleh bleh).
And of course the worst, predominant, most important theme in the back of my mind is:
Hard-On-Myself Asian: What if I’m not successful and don’t perform? How do I perform even more efficiently and effectively and than I do now?
But ten months into the daily grind there was this class…5 Steps to Extraordinary Productivity by Franklin Covey (as in Stephen Covey). If they offer it at your company…you should absolutely take it. I think even if you understand the principles, you will probably still benefit from sitting in the class and going through your day/week/life. I started to think about a lot more fundamental things.
They had us do a chart–I won’t go into specifics, but I’ve modified the idea below and took my own spin on it.
So here’s a chart on the 6 key parts of my life, including two pieces that I aspire to be–a volunteer and blogger. Going back to what I was saying before, I’ve lost touch with being a volunteer. Another module of the class was to revive/relax and the importance of it. I took it as a message that we all need some balance to reboot. It took a few days to really capture what I was going to do in my spare time to enjoy myself for that reboot and I finally came to blogging (ideally food blogging).
So here it is:
The inner circle is where I feel I am, and the outer circle is my goal. I think a pie chart is great if you want to include the variable of time and percentage of how important it is to you compared to everything else, but I’ve simplified it here to only reflect whether or not I am performing 10 out of 10 on each role, so if you are following my logic, the outside pie is where I am 10 out of 10 on everything.
Granted, this won’t really show you in a weighted way whether or not you are performing well at the things that are more important to you, but it definitely flags the roles you are not doing as well as others.
So BAM, look at that–I am a terribly blogger, volunteer, and a mediocre daughter. Wow–how depressing is that?
Thirty minutes after the class I decided to call my Mom to talk to her about it, and basically made a vow to integrate my life better. Hey–I’m an excellent girlfriend (haha, my boyfriend disagrees), so why can’t I spend time with both my boyfriend, and friends, and family? That’s my ultimate goal, but of course there are subtle lines between them.
Anyway–NOW’S MY TIME TO SHINE! Time to recognize the gaps and fix! :-).
Other Cool Tools
A really interesting piece of the class that wasn’t completely new to me was the big rock-small pebble concept that all the important things in your life are your big rocks and all the other things should be your small pebbles. They do a great visual on how your life is a bowl and we often fill our lives with the small pebbles and try to fit the big rocks in, but how we are do it vice-versa.
If you haven’t seen it, I think it’s well worth watching. Even if you aren’t as excited about it, at least now you’ll know what all your directors are talking about:
OK–one more. Another really interesting piece is the quadrants of your tasks. This is a great tool if you are interested in better time management at a detailed task level. Basically, how you organize your tasks will determine how productive you are. If you are in quadrant 1, you never really get to focus on Q2 which will prevent your Q1 things to do. When you are stuck in Q1 you get shifted to Q4 all the time and you lose your real momentum to be in Q2. If you spent too much time in Q3, it’ll cause your Q2 stuff to go into Q1…end of the day you just want to be in Q2 as much as possible!