A week ago, I was overwhelmed. My mind felt like it was a garage that hadn’t been cleaned out for months. I was dedicating myself to so many tasks and felt really guilty if I never did one or the other. I was a mouse burying itself in a maze, getting more lost than ever. I couldn’t establish any priorities and randomly took on more work without any clear direction.
I decided I needed to take some time off from the hectic flow of things and really get clarity on what I really want.
Clarity. The word speaks volumes. It isn’t just merely knowing what you want but knowing how and why you need to get there. Narrowing it down to one specific measurable goal.
Without this, you’re a ship wandering wherever you want in a big ocean. You’ll never get to your destination because in the first place you don’t know where you want to go. You might waste years climbing the corporate ladder and only when reaching the top you feel unfulfilled, realizing that this wasn’t what you wanted. Don’t get in that situation! Do something about it now before you can regret it for the rest of your life.
Know your purpose
This is your foundation. The steady rock that holds everything you must build your goals upon. What do you think you were born in this world for? What’s the purpose of your existence? A great resource on finding your purpose is Steve Pavlina’s How To Discover Your Life Purpose In About 20 minutes. This article has helped me shape my purpose which is to listen and share stories to the world and inspire people to fly.
Know what you want to do
Now that you’ve got your purpose ask yourself the question, “What do I really want to do that makes me happy?”. Go with the first answer that pops into your mind. In my case every time I’ve asked myself this question, it was always writing and nothing else. I’ve been boringly consistent all these years since 2nd grade.
Hit that target! Choosing one thing to focus on
My dream is to become a writer specifically a novelist but there are many ways to get there. I figured I should start now and build my way up. I’m not afraid of dedicating 10 or 20 years of my life pursuing this. Do you remember the parable about the talents in the Bible? Well, your dream is like that. Imagine investing your time and effort on your talent. No matter what, you’d still grow.
I’ve decided at the present moment to concentrate solely on building my blog. Practicing my craft and building up a name for myself. I’ve managed to combine my love for fiction and writing articles under this paradigm. From now on everything that I do would be for the blog. Submitting my work and what-nots would come second place for now. That way I would still fulfill my purpose and contribute for the people.
To really strip down and make it simpler, I chose to focus on one thing and one thing only. I’ve decided to set a goal for myself to reach 20,000 stats at the end of this month and 24,000 at the end of this year. Crystal clear clarity. That means attracting at least 80 readers per day. When I got back to blogging earlier this year, I only had 10-15 readers. Then it gradually climbed to 20. Then 30. Currently, I’m oscillating between 40-70. Last month has been my highest climb in readers so far starting with the Being Grateful post. I’m looking forward to the challenge of increasing it. : )
4,335 to go.
Apply the 80/20 rule and zero based thinking
Now that you know exactly what you want, it’s time to apply these two principles to get rid of those unnecessary tasks that waste your time, stop you from being overwhelmed and double your productivity.
Do less to do more.
Taken from Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Work Week ask yourself these questions, “Which 20% causes 80% of my happiness?” and “Which 20% causes 80% of my unhappiness?”. List them down. What you want to do is focus on the 20% that gives you the most happiness and trash the 80% that don’t.
I will admit I suck at applying the 80/20 rule or Pareto’s Law because I’m such a perfectionist. In this rule, 80% of the value lies in the 20% of the task and vice versa. Don’t spend hours looking for the perfect picture to accompany your blog post just because it would look smashing. Write the entry! After all, the main reason why the reader visited your site is to read it and not look at the picture.
But this is so hard when you apply this to teaching. Does lesson planning belong to the 20% or 80% of the value? Making it and your materials take 80% of your time and 20% of the value at the end of the semester. But if your lessons suck and are boring, you’d have a crappy student evaluation which takes a mere 20% but encompasses 80% of the school’s decision to hire you again or not.On the other hand, calculating their grades takes 20% of the time but accounts for 80% of importance. If you have an answer to this, let me know. Update: I did get an answer after a few years. Check out my latest entry on 80/20 rule, an update on how I finally implemented that into my daily life and pursuing your happiness in this post.
I usually get an aching feeling in my chest whenever I move or delete any task. I feel if I don’t do it now, I’d be losing an opportunity. For example, I’d like to create and submit my articles to Ehow, Ezine and Squidoo and circulate more of my fiction stories to magazines. But my present primary focus is building my blog and I cannot simply do that and all those things and still do well in my day job. They would have to wait and so I cross them off the list with an aching heart.
Only when you identify the crucial tasks and get clarity will you be free from stress and being bogged down with so much to do.
I hear a lot about zero based thinking from Brian Tracy. You often ask yourself, “Would I start this all over again knowing what I now know?” Last year, I gave a lot of quizzes and homework to my students –your typical idealistic teacher and all that. The result was I got buried in piles of paperwork which translated to a huge backlog. I ended up overly stressed and not marking some of them anyway just to catch up with the deadline of submitting the grades. I wasted a lot of my time researching and creating the tests. I applied zero based thinking for this semester and now gave them homework every 2 weeks and they usually mark their own exercises. Less work for me and I can still catch up with my marking. Which area of your life can benefit from applying zero based thinking?
This week my mind has never felt so much clarity and all my systems are raring to GO! GO! GO!. It was only by applying these methods that I was able to do that. By sharing these with you, I hope you can also get to enjoy from what I’m experiencing and start focusing on where you want to go with your life.
Upcoming juicy bit: My next post will be about a kung-fu master I’ve recently interviewed so that should be fun and interesting complete with anecdotes about chi, yin and yang and other powerful kung-fu masters and what happened to them during the Cultural Revolution. Stay tuned!
- How To Focus on What Makes You Happy and Get You Closer to Your Goals
- What’s the Rush?–Why People Are Missing Out on the Important Things in Life
- Strip Down- Getting Rid of the Non-essential Things in Life
- How to Cope with Rejection and Boost your Self-Esteem
- How To Talk To Your Subconscious