Thursday, January 2, 2014

About 5 Hours

“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.”

“To enjoy life, you don't need fancy nonsense, but you do need to control your time and realize that most things just aren't as serious as you make them out to be.”

“The question you should be asking isn't, "What do I want?" or "What are my goals?" but "What would excite me?”

Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek

It is 7:02 a.m.  I need to leave by 11:45 so that I can pick up my girls and take them to visit their grandparents.  That gives me a little fewer than five hours to do the following:
·      Write at least one blog.
·      Do a radio show.
·      Read the Bible.
·      Read a chapter on financial growth.
·      Read a chapter on writing.
·      Read a chapter on the Brothers Karamazov.
·      Sell some things on eBay.
·      Make my bed.
·      Clean my place.
·      Shower and shave

I have some flexibility with some of those things, but once I leave, I won’t be able to do any work until I get back, which won’t be until at least 4:00 or 5:00.  So here’s my conflict:  Can I stay focused?  Can I get these things done?  Most important – Can I manage my time well?
Timothy Ferris said in his book The 4-Hour Work Week that time management is not the key to success.  Instead, it is more important to focus on goals and plan all activities around those goals.  Invoking the Pareto Principle, Ferris says 80% of our results come from only 20% of what we do.  It took me a long time to realize what this means:
About 80% of what I do is useless!

I’m not trying to be negative, but if the Pareto Principle is correct then I’m wasting 80% of my time on things that I don’t want to be doing or shouldn’t be doing.   That amazes, terrifies and inspires me all at the same time.  It also raises some questions.
·      What do I want out from life?
·      What does life want from me?
·      How can I make an impact in this world?
·      What do I want?  I mean, really, really want?  Not what do I think I should want?  Not what should I say I want so that I look like a good guy?  What do I really, really want?

In answer to the last question first, I want the following:
·      Money
·      A healthy relationship with God
·      Inner peace
·      Time to study
·      Time to help and inspire people through my writing, speaking, teaching and mentoring

I want money so that I can focus on the other four wants.  I want money so that I don’t have to worry about money.  I’ve said it before; I want enough money to provide for my children and my grandchildren.  Most of all, I want a house near the beach.  I’ll be honest:  whenever I make money, I feel good. I feel happy.  Money itself does not make me happy.  What makes me happy is that I now have something that will give me time to do something meaningful. 
I guarantee this.  If someone handed me a million dollars right now, I would not be drinking Margaritas in the Bahamas tomorrow.  I’d be sitting here writing.  But by this time tomorrow, I would have also bought my house on the beach and I would have handed my oldest daughter a check to finance her college education.  I would have put away enough money to finance my other daughters’ education when the time comes and help others as well.  That’s what excites me.
That’s why time is short and precious.  Here are some more questions to ask:
·      Is what I’m doing at this very moment moving me closer to my goals?
·      If not, can I eliminate it?
·      If I cannot eliminate it, can I enjoy it?
·      If what I’m doing is moving me closer to my goals, can I do it more effectively?
·      Can I enjoy life and be grateful no matter what is happening?

Those are some good guiding questions to make my day more enjoyable and fun.   There will always be, I think, that necessary tension between being goal-oriented and being in the moment.  In the natural world, life forms that seem inert or even lacking in human intelligence, like trees or pigs, grow or die.  At the same time, nothing in the plant of animal kingdoms carries or creates anxiety unless it is in danger or in an artificial environment.  So I’m growing and I’m enjoying the moment at the same time.  I'm enjoying the moment because I'm growing and I'm growing because I'm enjoying the moment.
Here’s one more piece of good news.  I just saw an article entitled The 9 Best Books for Meaningful Change.  I’ve read or am reading six of those books.  I’ve already used some of my time effectively.  Now I want to continue.  I want to Get Started and Keep Going…and I’ve still got about four hours to do it.