Don’t wait for a new beginning. Create a new beginning. Forget that the first of the week, month, or year exist. Make today the day that you start making moves on that new project. Right now, as you read this, write out a vision for your business. Set a date to take that grad school entrance exam. Outline your first (or second) book. Put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and make the commitment. Get a head start on next year. Imagine what a head start on this year could have meant for your 2018 goals.
Stop subscribing to the man-made schedules of when your success should begin and end. You’re capable of so much more than the world gives you credit for. Be more than capable, though. Take ownership over the time that you’ve been given. Your bosses don’t give you your time. Your clients don’t give you your time. Your professors don’t give you your time. It is a gift from the Most High. Take ownership of it and use your time as a tool on your journey toward your purpose.
Oh… And don’t just start. Finish.
Make starting now a priority.
Last night, as I was in bed watching an Amazon Prime original on my computer and scrolling on Instagram simultaneously, I was determined to do two things: spend less time on the screen and more time sleeping at night. So, what did I do? I took advantage of the features of this expensive @** iPhone, which I’m sure I don’t get my money’s worth from. There is a bedtime feature in the clock application that allows you to set how much sleep you get. How does it know you’re sleep? It probably doesn’t but it reminds you when to go to bed and when to wake up. So, I said I wanted to get 6.5 hours of sleep per night, Monday through Friday (I probably should’ve set it Sunday through Thursday so I’ll adjust that before Friday night comes knocking). At 10:45, it reminded me that I have 15 minutes until it’s time for bed.
After I did that, I restricted screen time with the usual suspects. Actually, I restricted screen time almost all together. Between the hours of 11PM and 7AM, I will only have access to certain apps, such as the Bible application and the Harvard Business Tip, which I read first thing in the morning. That means no e-mails, no calls and text messages*, no Instagram. I also retain access to my fitness applications because I should be using them first thing in the morning.
Finally, the asterisk above is because I can be reached during these times via call and text by a select few people who, in the event of an emergency, I would be expected to respond.
My first night on this was fairly successful. At 10:52, I realized I needed to post to my photography Instagram page, so I was a few minutes late for bed (I am able to override the suggestion to put the addictive device down), but, all in all, I am pretty happy with this new commitment to a healthier schedule.
Oh, and if you don’t have an iPhone but do have a smartphone, search Google Play (or whatever other app stores are called) for iHome. I was using that for sleep regulation before iPhone developed these features.
Make taking care of yourself a priority.
Over the past 26ish years, the way I move on Saturday mornings has shifted tremendously. Some of my earliest memories are of watching the MC Hammer or New Kids On The Block cartoons while eating cereal. At the time, I was probably hanging out in my favorite Knicks shirt and some UNC shorts. It was pretty cool after a hard week of doing whatever it is that three-year-olds do.
Looking back now, those were some great times. How I operate on Saturdays now, relaxed as it may be, is still about growth as much as my Mondays through Fridays are. Most Saturdays, I wake up to pull out my yoga mat and stretch (tip to my near/post-30 year olds: STRETCH!), after which I go into the kitchen and pour a cup of coffee, spread some cream cheese on a bagel (unless I feel like cooking), and head over to the NY Times website to see what’s going on in the world. Then it’s time to shower, shave, get to running a few errands, after which I can get to my crossword puzzles. I used to exercise on Saturdays but that’s been moved to my Sunday morning regimen.
Saturdays have changed and, as a kid, I would think of my current life as boring but this is fun. I’m learning, I’m growing, and I’m keeping myself sharp.
Construct a Saturday morning routine. Make it cathartic and enjoyable. And let it work for you.
Make professional development a priority.
Ever have that friend who shows up right on time to hang out but you really weren’t expecting them to be there when they were supposed to be?
This year, that friend is August. I’m sitting here looking at my calendar and August is HERE. Here here. As in here right this moment. I’m looking at all I’ve accomplished and, while I am pretty proud with some of my forward steps, I’m behind the 8-ball on a couple things.
So, now that we’ve realized our awesome buddy Auggie is here to crash on my couch for the next 31 days (only to be followed by his sweet sister September), I’ve got some tips for both myself and you all that will help us fast-track our way to reaching our 2018 goals before the ball drops.
- Maximize your time. We all need rest (not just sleep but truly restful periods) to be healthy, happy, and productive people. That being said, some of us have been resting a lot during these first seven months. Shoot, I just took a whole two months away from the United States (but I was working on some major projects while I was gone, so don’t get it twisted). Use your lunch breaks to knock out some smaller tasks or to get a larger task done over the course of a few lunches. If you need to, pick a day out of the weekend to truly wind down but, if you’ve got goals and you’re far behind, you have to make up for time wasted by grinding on that other day.
- Pick an accountability partner. Yesterday, I had lunch with two of my closest friends. We had a running challenge while I was out of the country. I lost badly. They picked on me. The challenge required that the losers buy the winner lunch and the winner certainly didn’t let us off the hook. If you have a goal but you’re having a hard time reaching it, get someone who is going to be honest with you and set some consequences for yourself if you don’t reach it.
- Cut out the unnecessaries. Do you need that burger? How about that beer? You say you want to save money but you’re going out again this Friday? Netflix is cheap (or free for some of us whose families are generous). You set a financial goal at the beginning of the year. What will you need to sacrifice to get there before the end? If you need some help, click this link and check out what George Acheampong can do to help you get on the right track.
- Nike said it best: Just Do It! Apply for that job. Start reading some books. Fill out those incorporation papers. Enter an art competition. You have time and you said that, at the end of 2018, you won’t be in the same place you were at the beginning, but, many times, what stops us from reaching our goals is that we over plan. It would be nice if the stars all aligned and everything was perfect but, to be realistic, that will not be the case very often. Sometimes, you just have to look at the plan you have, say “Shoot, this’ll get me 75% of the way,” and figure the other 25% while you’re on the journey.
We have five more months. That’s almost half a year. You can do this. Put in 2.2x the work and you’ll hit the mark. I know we can do this.
Make achieving your goals a priority.
On Tuesday night, I was having a talk with one of my good friends while I was driving back from Greensboro. We talked about developing good habits and changing destructive ones. It made me think back to the beginning of the year when I committed to living a healthier lifestyle during 2018. And I did for the first quarter. I was eating better, drinking less, and exercising at least five times a week. I even started off the second quarter like that. But, throughout this quarter, I’ve seen my resolve wane, and, this past week and a half, it has come to a complete standstill.
Because life happens. Over the past few weeks, work has been hectic, family has been demanding, and side hustles have been taking up my weekends. I just feel like I don’t have the time. But really, I haven’t had the drive to get it done. There are twenty-four hours in every single day and, where I started the year off using the first two waking hours of those twenty-four to focus on my spiritual, mental, and physical health, lately I’ve felt too drained to do that at all. But we’ll always have some excuse to say we’re drained, be it work or family or funds. But that’s no excuse. Realizing that, I have to work twice as hard to make up for the two weeks of quality work I haven’t put in at the gym or in the kitchen.
Don’t let your 180° change turn to a 360°. Good intentions will have you change for a short period of time. It takes true discipline to ingrain that change into your life. That’s not to say that you won’t hit slumps where you fall off the wagon but staying off is a choice. Choose to get back up and back on today.
Make developing a stronger resolve a priority.
Yesterday, I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off and I didn’t make time to write. Today will be the same but I decided to start my day off creatively.
On this day in particular, I want to say enjoy the weekend. Being an adult is hard and it can rob us of our joy if we let it. Pay attention to the underlined words. We have a choice in this thing we call life. Some may have fewer things to restrict them than others but we all have a choice. I don’t have kids so I may have more freedom than some folks with kids but someone has no wife so they can make decisions at the drop of a hat without consulting anyone else. Still, there are people with kids who have amassed such wealth that they can conceivably get up and leave work today and be no worse off. No matter what, we cannot live our lives buying into society’s narrative that, to be an adult is to be unhappy. I just won’t believe that. I like to believe I will always look for that opportunity to relive moments of youthful joy. I still know my dreams of making an indelible impact on humanity is possible. Shoot, I still love picking up books and reading for fun.
Life is too short to be unhappy, undervalued, unloved, or unloving. Today, I challenge you to ask yourself if you are happy. Do you feel valued and loved? Are you loving those things and people God placed in your life? If the answer to any of these is “No,” and you are just going through the motions, take time to figure out how to say yes to them all. And then take a step to do that. If it’s discussing a (deserved) raise at work so you feel valued, have that talk. If you and your significant other need to find a book so that love is flowing more abundantly on both ends, head to Barnes and Noble ASAP. Maybe finally starting that business you’ve been wanting to start will add to your happiness and I’m sure you can find some time today to do some research on first steps. Whatever you do, know that your time here is limited and, when it’s all said and done and you’re in heaven or hell or some box six feet deep thinking “I wish I had…” you want that list to be as short as possible.
Make having fewer regrets a priority.
Last week, I didn’t post to The Reader. I needed some time away so that I could marinate in my creative juices. And this blog wasn’t the only job I stepped away from.
When I’m gone (and I mean really gone) from work, I do my best to disconnect. I don’t check work e-mail more than twice a week (at which point I respond to whatever is truly time sensitive). I may choose to respond to an urgent work-related text but my responses are very quick and direct. In short, I make a true effort to protect the time I’ve carved out for myself, my family, and my friends.
Everyone doesn’t agree with my school of thought. Some people believe that endless work equates to a solid work ethic (whereas I equate that, in a salary role, to either poor time management skills, a lack of a personal life, a thirst for money and/or attention, or some combination of all these). When you work, work hard. When you play, play hard. Try to keep the two separate, if at all possible.
Living selflessly is great but you’ll never know how happy you can help someone else be until you explore and nourish that which truly fills your own spirit with joy. Like I said yesterday, time is a nonrenewable resource. Make sure you set some aside for yourself from time to time. That’s what adds color to a life that would otherwise be nothing but a monochromatic period of time.
Make protecting your joy a priority.