This is my November column for the Kitsap Business Journal. Read it online here
Fiercely Guarding Your Most Valuable Asset – Your Time
By Dan Weedin
You protect what you most value. This isn’t a startling statement. You would certainly agree that we would vigorously defend our family, our home, our faith, and our country. We all have prized possessions that we would safeguard. And, as many a wealth management expert will encourage you to do, you staunchly guard your money.
Why is it then that we do such a crummy job of guarding what might be one of our most valuable possessions; something that can never be recaptured or insured; and something that we all too often complain we don’t have enough of? That “possession” is time. I submit to you that if you make fiercely guarding your time an early New Year’s Resolution, that all your goals, objectives, and dreams will come true in 2015. The good news is that I’m about to tell you how to do it. You just have to have courage, conviction, and discipline.
Last month, I resigned from the school board that I had been elected to in 2009. I held the office of president since 2012, and had 1 year left in my term. I already decided against re-election. My decision to resign early came after a self-assessment of the current situation. My discretionary time is precious, and over the past year, the negativity emanating from a small vocal group of community members was distracting to a point of encroaching negativity into my personal and professional life. I dreaded everything about the job, from opening emails to board meetings. When I realized I was eagerly waiting for December 2015 as the end of my term, and it wasn’t even December 2014 yet, I knew there was a problem. Life is too short and I wasn’t about to wish my life away. It was time to allegorically throw baggage off the train!
In order to reach all of my goals for the rest of the year and beyond – both professional and personal – I needed to free up space. We can’t grow if we don’t occasionally unload that baggage that holds us back, or is even a roadblock. We need to create metrics for the activities in our lives and determine whether their expiration date is up, so we can bring in new, fresher ones. I didn’t just toss this baggage; I flung it with both hands!
Your turn for self-assessment – What are you doing today that causes you stress or anxiety? What is wasting your valuable time with little return on that investment? Are you allocating that time to things that won’t advance your personal or professional goals? This is the time of year for self-assessment. Instead of thinking about resolutions to add things to your life, perhaps you should resolve to dump your own baggage. Here’s your simple, 3-sectioned assessment tool. The only rule is that you be candid with yourself…
- Career/Job – Are you surrounding yourself with positive people? Do you love what you do? Do you gain personal satisfaction from your efforts? Do you wake up everyday excited about new challenges and opportunities?
Believe me, I understand there are tough days, and even periods of time. However, if you’ve been dealing with negative energy (people, processes, mission), then you might need to look at a change. Life is too short to spend nearly 40% of your life doing something you dislike just for a paycheck.
Change can be scary. I left a good paying job over 9 years ago to start a consulting practice, so I get it. The price you pay for unhappiness though is too steep. You have the choice to change your attitude or the situation.
- Social Media – How many “friends” do you have on Facebook? Probably significantly more than you would really count as true friends. The problem is that you’ve perhaps allowed people to insinuate themselves into your stream of conscience with negativity. You see it all the time. You don’t have to acquiesce to constant complaining, use of bad language, or editorial rants about politics, or religion just because it shows up on your timeline. I’ve started either “hiding” or “unfriending” people on social media. You might just find that dumping some of that baggage is refreshing!
- Volunteer – Volunteering is an investment of your discretionary time. There are scads of great causes out there, yet you don’t need to be involved in all of them, even if you’re asked. Choose one that you have a great passion for and get deeply involved. If there are several, you can allocate different levels of time and financial donations. The point is you can’t possibly lead them all, be on boards for all of them, or manage the upcoming auctions. Volunteering is the finest form of generosity. However, overdoing it can drag you down to a point where it’s bad for you and for the organization.
Bottom line – we humans must consistently grow and develop mentally and physically to enjoy a healthy and happy life. In order to do that, we must fiercely guard our time against forces that try to steal it. Many of these forces are actually good causes and well-intentioned people. The time may just not be right for you. This is where you learn to just say NO! There are other “time thieves” that are more invidious because they are often stealth and masquerade as essentials. You have more control than you think. Choose to spend your time focusing on people and activities that make you better. You can always make another dollar, but you can’t make another minute. Be fierce in guarding it.
Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps business leaders and executives to become stronger leaders, grow their businesses, and enrich their lives. He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. You can reach Dan at 360-697-1058; e-mail at email@example.com or visit his web site at www.DanWeedin.com.