What’s Really Important

The three most important things in my life are God, love, and peace. Is money nice? Sure. But I’ve had (what I saw as) obscene amounts and I’ve had none. Funny thing is, I was least happy in my life when my checking account balance was the largest it ever was as a single man. And, one of my favorite memories came at a time when I had no job, no money and my dad gave me what he had because he knew I needed it.

Love and peace are key because you cannot buy either. No matter how much money you have, you cannot purchase peace. You have to practice tranquility so that, when life does happen, as it always does, you can maintain a level of calm.

Simultaneously, love cannot be bought. Eventually, the money and the stardom dissipate. That is the ebb and flow of things. Kanye West won’t always be on the front page of The Inquirer. Joe Blow won’t always be in the unemployment line. Love has to be built on more than the right here and now.

Now, can a bunch of other subcategories be placed in those three? Certainly. I, personally, cannot have peace without health so I have to continue eating better and working out. I’m investing now in my future peace by going through a controlled level of struggle in the gym day by day. And, even though money isn’t everything, do I need to be saving so that I can enjoy retirement? Yes. Once again, it is an investment in my peace and the peace of my family.

Figure out what three things are important to you and how those three can connect to the rest of your life. Let that push you day by day.

 

Make figuring out what’s important a priority.

The Sword With Two Edges

Technology is great, right? It allows us to connect with anyone anywhere at any time of the day. Think about what it must’ve been like 200 years ago when you wanted to reach out to your parents while you were away at college or had just moved up to New York to chase your big break. You had to mail them a letter that took 1-2 weeks to reach them, then wait another 1-2 weeks to receive their response (and that’s depending on where in the country you were and how often mail was carried there). So, a four response conversation between, let’s say New Orleans and New York, could conceivably take six months in 1817. Now, I can pick up my phone while I’m in LA call my mom, if she doesn’t pick up, I can text her, and if she doesn’t answer the text, I can shoot her an e-mail. There are so many different ways to communicate these days and it’s great…

Until it’s not. Technology can be a great tool for business but limits have to be set. None of the baby boomers who expect us to be on call at all times were on call at all times during their 20s and 30s. The tech wasn’t there for them to be. So the expectation for someone to respond to a text message on a Friday night at 9PM after a 48 hour work week is both unfair and unreasonable. Just because we have the ability to do something does not mean that it should be done. Disconnecting sometimes is a must

As a company, use tech but don’t abuse it. Be responsible. You don’t want to take advantage of your most valuable resource: your people.

 

Make professional development a priority.

Know What You’re Ready For

I know myself. I know where I am in life. I know what I want right now. And I know how much time I want to invest in my career. Right now, I don’t want to invest 60+ hours a week in my job. So I wouldn’t apply for a position that requires that, no matter how much it paid (unless my family needed me to). There are some people who don’t have anything that requires them to be home every night and, if that’s the case, now is the time to take that position that will allow you to make a ton of money and work super hard all the time.

Honestly, my goal is to eventually leave the traditional office setting, consult and write full time, and speak on the side. So I would never get too deep into my current field because it’s hard to walk away from a six-figure salary once you get it just to hop into a field where you’ll have to rebuild.

 

Make professional development a priority.

Cutting It All Off

I just got a new iPhone and you know what I transferred over? Nothing. No texts, no e-mail accounts, no contacts, no photos (outside of my iCloud shared groups), no apps, no nothing.

What I did do was keep my old iPhone and, as folks reach out to me or as I need to reach out to them, I’ll move contacts into my new phone but I am just tired of always being connected and slowing my life (and phone) down with clutter. As far as my work e-mail goes, it is on my work iPad and my old iPhone. If I NEED to get in touch with someone, I can but I don’t like feeling compelled to respond to an e-mail just because it comes into my phone.

This first anniversary trip made me realize that my personal time is my personal time. Yes, I’m on salary. Yes, I usually work between 40 and 50 hours in a given week. But lines must be drawn and, as much as I aim to always be successful, I aim to be happy more. So it’s ok to make someone wait until business hours before you reply. Believe me, the sun will still come up the next day and, if it doesn’t, I can assure you that your failure to reply to an e-mail at 11 P.M. had nothing to do with that.

Oh, and make sure you communicate this. Folks need to know up front that you will work hard and you will work late but, when you log off, you’re logged off. Does that mean I don’t have nights when I wake up at 2 A.M., walk into my home office, and knock some stuff out? No. Of course I do but that’s a choice and not an obligation. But I communicated to my superior and my assistant in a very respectful but unmistakable manner that, while on vacation, outside of an emergency, I’ll be unreachable and will be back in 3 business days. You are the one who sets the norms in your work life. Do it intentionally and within reason. And, when you are at work, work your backside off so no one can question your dedication to the organization.
Make personal happiness a priority.

Draw Boundaries NOW

Work hard.  Work your hardest.  You are leasing your time to a company/organization, so make sure that they’re getting quality work out of you.  But draw a line.  You have to have a work-life balance.  If you are on vacation, leave your work computer at home.  After a certain hour of night, stop checking emails.  You have to have a sacred time where you cannot be reached and where your mind is able to step away from work.

There are times when I work overtime or work on the weekends because it is an expectation for my role.  But, I also make sure people know that, when I’m on vacation, I’m not available to work on anything from the office.  You see, I’m not the president.  Nothing I do has life or death attached to it.  So, though there is always a sense of urgency to perform when I’m on the clock, when I’m not, I try to step away from the clock and regroup so that I can continue to perform at the highest level when I am at work.  If I didn’t draw boundaries, it would be expected of me that I’d always be available.  And, guess what?  I’m not.  I have a family and a life outside of work and so should you.  Shoot, if nothing else, I have a business outside of work.  If you let your 8-5 define you, you will only be that for as you are in that position.  Work to become multidimensional.  You have so much more potential.  But it all starts with drawing the line somewhere.

 

Make professional development a priority.

It’s Not Worth Your Sanity

Last week was a long week for me at work, as well as outside of.  I had a ton on my plate and because I’m fairly new here, I realize that developing a reputation as a hard worker is critical to my ability to succeed.  But do you know what I also realize?  Boundaries must be set.  I have to be able to say “No, I can’t do this in this amount of time.”  “This is a learning curve.  Let me have a couple extra days to complete this.”  “I have writer’s block and couldn’t get to this letter today.”  Just as important as a reputation of being a hard worker is, so is having one of integrity and knowing your boundaries.  I appreciate this role tremendously because it is teaching me to set boundaries and tell people “Hey, I’m ambitious but I’m also realistic in my level of expectation and, in order for me to excel in the future, I must learn now.”

Overstressing yourself at work will lead to you falling behind, never feeling like you’re good enough, and bringing the stress home every night.  That is likely not what you want and I know for a fact that it’s not what I need.  I enjoy joy far too much to allow anything that is temporary (which every job is) to take away from that for an extended period of time.  It’s just not worth it.  No amount of money is worth you shaving hours off your life every day.

I say that to say this: Professional development is a continual journey.  You never “get there.”  There is always something to learn.  And anyone who says otherwise is sadly mistaken.  So keep learning and, if something is moving too fast, don’t be afraid to pump the brakes a little.  It will help you in the long run.

Make professional development a priority.