Long Term

 

Last week I started talking about goals, this is a continuation.

What are your goals? What do you hope to achieve in the next year, five, ten, or even twenty years? Do you have plans to reach them? Are you focused on these goals? What are you doing each day to get there? It is too easy to get sidetracked. Yes, even us creative folks need to be practical sometimes and take care of business, too.

Sometimes I feel like I am conspired against, bombarded with distractions. And distractions aren’t bad things. Sometimes they are good and important things too, and necessary, like family. But, there are simple steps you can take on a daily and weekly basis to steadily make your way to achieving your goals.

Pareto’s 80/20 rule has changed my life. I know it sounds boring, but basically it works like this:

By the numbers it means that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs. As Pareto demonstrated with his research, this “rule” holds true, in a very rough sense, to an 80/20 ratio, however in many cases the ratio can be a lot higher – 99/1 may be closer to reality.
It really doesn’t matter what numbers you apply, the important thing to understand is that in your life there are certain activities you do (your 20 percent) that account for the majority (your 80 percent) of your happiness and outputs.

When you start to analyze and breakdown your life into elements it’s very easy to see 80/20 ratios all over the place. The trick, once your key happiness determinants have been identified, is to make everything work in harmony and avoid wasting time on those 80 percent activities that produce little satisfaction for you.
The message is simple enough – focus on activities that produce the best outcomes for you. This applies to both your business/working life and your “other” life (I think they are all part of your “life” but people often prefer to distinguish them). The problem for most people is how to make a living from what you really enjoy, so lets focus on that…

The first thing you must decide, and this is often the hardest step, is to determine what it is exactly you have passion for. Some people can answer this question easily – “I want to be a famous pianists/singer/poet/author”, “I’d like to run my own real estate agency/coffee shop/advertising company” etc. Others may have a general idea “I don’t want a day job” or “I want to run a business” but the specifics are not sorted yet. If you are not sure what your passions are all I can suggest is test yourself. It’s usually easy to determine what you DON’T like so keep doing that until you find what it is you DO like.

For example, I love to write and act, but it isn’t what puts food on my table, so it takes a much smaller piece of my 20% focus than my accounting job and school do. Working out is important to me, but not as much as my family, so some days it isn’t in my 20% at all, but because it does yield results that are totally in the 80% of my happiness realm, on other days it gets pushed into my top priority spot. Does that make sense? I want a promotion at work when I graduate, so a large portion of my time at work is spent on earning that promotion and getting the attention of the right people.

Once you determine what it is you want to do, then it’s a matter of prioritizing and adjusting other things in your life to accommodate your main goals. If it isn’t important, if it doesn’t contribute to your goal, then let it go.

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