This year isn’t about knowing you can. Those of us in developed countries with the foresight required to be reading professional development material all know that we can do anything we set our minds to. The question is “Will you do what you can do?”
I’m tired of seeing people who are less skilled, less competent, and less passionate than I doing better than me in the things I know I should be doing. So, this year, I’m knocking down doors to get where I need to be AND to get paid a fair amount in those spaces. Why? Not because I can but because I will. Will you?
And this isn’t just about your professional or entrepreneurial goals. In October, though I never had, I knew I could run 60+ miles but I didn’t know I would until I had 10 days remaining to run the last 35 miles. In college, though I never had, I knew I could graduate but it wasn’t until that fifth year that I knew I would. Make this stuff happen. This is your life. Put in the time. Ask for constructive criticism. God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. He called you by putting a fire in you to make something happen. That’s your calling. Step up to the plate. Now is the time. What are you going to do this year that you’ve never done?
Make knowing you will a priority.
This weekend, I got up and I knew it was time to begin writing here again. After nearly six years running, I had to take a step back and regroup because the quality of my content was deteriorating and I was running out of fresh ideas. I needed to remove myself from the blog in order to come back stronger.
What areas in your life are so overcome with monotony that you feel like you’re putting staleness into once fresh spaces? Have you taken a break from them lately? If not, this may be the time. If it means taking a mental health day at work so you can drive 3 hours away to your favorite restaurant for lunch, do that. If it means escaping for a weekend to hang with your boys or girls from college because your relationship is consuming, so be it. And, if it means taking months away from your daily blog, I will not object.
If you see that you need a brief change, chances are others see it as well. Make sure you make the change before they think the shift would be better if it were permanent.
Make being honest about what you need a priority.
When is the last time you read a book about your craft? An article? How about a Pinterest infographic? Are you educating yourself on best practices? Going to conferences? Do you step into the room early to introduce yourself to presenters? Are you networking with others in your field? No one gets better by osmosis. We have to put in the effort. We have to seek out opportunities that will benefit both ourselves and the institutions we serve.
I’m in Denver at this CASE Senior Annual Giving Professionals Institute considering ways it can put me on a track to where I’d like to be professionally in ten years, assuming I stay in the field of development. I’m making connections with folks who may be interviewing me one day or who I may be interviewing (or, ideally, who I will be consulting for). I’m asking folks what books they’re reading and what newsletters they’re subscribed to. What I am not doing is sitting on my hind parts doing nothing.
A good number of my readers have been at home for the past two work days. In that time, what have you done to get closer to where you want to be, either professionally, financially, spiritually, or physically? The time is there. More often than not, we’re just not using it properly. I know I wasn’t for a long time. Now, I know there isn’t a second to waste.
Make professional development a priority.
“If you desire to be financially wealthy but don’t know how to invest time, then you are just dreaming.” ― Sunday Adelaja
This past weekend, Desirée and I moved into a smaller apartment to hit some financial goals we have for this year. When I told her that I didn’t care about the place but just the price, I had no clue she would choose somewhere with such a limited square footage. Being that I’m used to having my own space, I was a bit concerned.
Then I realized that this is a blessing in disguise. With fewer bells and whistles, I’m forced to work harder on my goals. In this new location, because we reduced our space, we also reduced our TVs and, being that kitchen space has decreased, we have less room for junk foods. Additionally, there is less room for all my clothes. In all, there is a lot less. Which leaves room for me to do a lot more… A lot more reading, a lot more writing, a lot more working out, and a lot more meditating on what next steps are to come.
I intend to spend this time here making my way through books, writing more great content, honing my visual artistry, and, when I need a break from the close quarters, as we all do from time to time, improving my physical fitness. Will there be time for Netflix? Certainly. But its frequency will decrease simply because I am excited about where my life is heading and Netflix (in excess) won’t help me get there.
Sometimes, less is more. Investing your time less in garbage and more in gifts can yield great returns.
Make time management a priority.
Last week was intense and draining. From the act of terrorism in Charlottesville on Saturday to marching with protesters down the streets of Durham, I was both physically and emotionally exhausted. The fact that school is starting and I was forced to interact without having time to process how the community I serve sees me didn’t help and I nearly shut down. I wrote two pieces for Blavity in which I exposed myself in both a very dangerous and very genuine way, in addition to my four pieces for my own blog (sorry about Friday but my mind was exhausted).
See the two pieces Blavity published below:
So, this past weekend, I fell off, but in a healthy way. I forgot about my goals, I hung out with my friends, I went to Black August in the Park to remind myself of why I do what I do and, most importantly, I didn’t do any real work. I had a few mental health days. We all need them. But today is Monday. Bills don’t pay themselves and hard work won’t save my soul. So, today, I’ve committed to getting back to working toward my purpose. Life is too short to either get complacent or bogged down in circumstances that are outside of your control.
Have an amazing Monday. Step into every room with the goal of making a brighter future for everyone in the world. It’s not just about you or your family or the people who you feel you can relate best to. You’re at this point in your life at this time in history for a reason. Take a step back and see what you can learn from it, both on a micro and macro level. More hasn’t been placed on you than you can handle. The problem is in the underestimating of yourself.
Make personal reflection and purpose priorities.
It is a new year (you can pretty much say that for the first month-ish of a year, right?). 2017 (Crazy that I was born 30 years ago). And, to me, that just means that this is a new day. But to some, that means resolutions. What resolutions have you made? What are you going to do differently today that you didn’t do three days ago? My good friend Greg E. Hill always says, every day’s goal should be to be 0.1% better. That should be your goal today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life. Improve yourself bit by bit, day by day. Every day, I want to be a better disciple of Christ. A better husband. A better uncle (and one day, father). A better blogger. A better friend. A better family member. A better professional. A better steward of my body. And, if 1/1/2017 is the day that you date the beginning of that daily change, go for it.
But, to be better, you need benchmarks and a plan. So, whereas, I don’t do resolutions, I do believe that, whenever you decide to change, there must be defined steps. What steps will you take this week that you will thank yourself for next year? Though I don’t want to tell you what goals to set, I believe that, in this day and age, to be the best relies heavily on your base of knowledge so I’d strongly suggest that you find a book that will make you better at what you do. Make reading more one of your steps toward greatness.
It’s not about your resolutions, but your resolve.
Make professional development a priority.
There is a fundamental difference in the words “difficult” and “uncomfortable.” Many people say that reaching a level of success is difficult and I won’t say it’s not. But the reason most people won’t be successful is not because of the level of difficulty; it is because of the level of discomfort they feel as they stretch toward their goals. Think about working out. You know that discomfort you feel the day after? That’s growth. Well the same kind of discomfort is felt when you’re focused on strengthening your skill set. One saying that’s often spoken in the wrong context is “It’s not rocket science.” The saying implies one must be a genius to become a rocket scientist. And, though you must have some semblence of intellect to hold that position, what truly sets many rocket scientists (and other generally successful people) apart is their ability to see past the discomfort and keep pressing toward their goals. A runner with allergies isn’t going to stop running because he sees pollen on the ground. He’s going to stay focused and push for as long as he can. Why? Because he knows the difference between “difficult” and “uncomfortable.” And now, so do you.