I ran through a list of questions in my mind to help me decide on what to focus in 2012:
- Is it pleasurable? Things you spend time on should, if possible, be pleasurable. Yes, there are certain tasks and responsibilities that you can’t get away from, but I bet you would be surprised how flexible some of them can be (I like the book Go, Put Your Strengths to Work for this). And, if they aren’t pleasurable, maybe you can systematize them in such a way as to minimize the time you spend on them.
- It is productive? Some things are simply frivolous. Certain things that I read or watch on TV ultimately have no value, so there’s no real reason to continue such things (don’t forget, my first question is about pleasure, so it’s not like I’m advocating asceticism here). “Productive” has different meanings in different areas of life, for example:
- Personal: Does in bring your closer to other people? Does it help you to order your life? Does it build you up?
- Ministry: Does it help in discipling others?
- Professional: Does it enhance a critical skill? Is it billable time? Does it expand your business?
- Does it use your strongest gifts? I’m a big fan of maximizing your strengths, because the research is so compelling. You are more productive trying to build up your strengths than your weaknesses. The best tool I have found for defining your strengths is the StrengthsFinder 2.0.
- Does it help you accomplish a goal for your life? I’m twenty-eight, and while that is by no means old, I’m closer to thirty than twenty (and closer to forty than fifteen!). I really don’t want to wake up at fifty and ask “what have I done with my life?” There are things I would like to do, and unless I am moving towards them day-by-day, they will never be achieved.
If yes, then:
- Is it addictive? Things that are potentially addictive are dangerous, so I try to stay away from them.
- Is it expensive? All things being equal, I’m going to choose things that are less expensive.
If no, then:
- Is it something I can do with my wife? When it comes down do it, I have lots of interests, and so does my wife. Some of them overlap. When possible, I want to maximize the time I spend with her doing things we both enjoy.
Are there other questions you use to help you focus?
Tomorrow, I’ll reveal what asking these questions has shown me and on what I am focusing my energy in 2012.