Life is pretty damn awesome as we all begin to get down and dirty with 2011 and all it has to offer, although it probably feels impossible to do everything you want to this year.
It’s hard to even know where to start. This is where it helps to have a strategic mindset to help out a bit. As I’ve been thinking about what I want to get out of 2011 and how I can achieve it there are some principles I’ve come across that I feel would be good to share. In an upcoming post I will also raise the question of Zen living that will fall inline with the following 3 points:
If you have looked into individuals such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs they all have one commonality that jumps out before any other. The dream took priority; there was little if any delay in pursuing it. Whether it meant dropping out of prestigious educational institutions, entering multiple sectors or jumping into new markets.
Normal society doesn’t function in this way. It believes that we need to work as a form of continuous survival as opposed to working everyday in order to achieve our life’s goals and passions.
The key learning to take from this observation is don’t delay, just do (it). As Oscar Wilde said “no person is rich enough to buy back his past”, delaying therefore wastes this priceless gift.
As Willow Smith is demonstrating, she’s only 10 but she wants to go for her dream now and follow in Mum and Dad’s footsteps. I celebrate this.
Pareto Principle or more accurately Juran's Principle
This principle originates from an Italian economist (Vilfredo Pareto) his observation was that eighty percent of Italy’s wealth was generated by twenty percent of the population. Following this Joseph Juran recognised a universal principle he named “the vital few and trivial many.” The 80/20 as it’s also become known has become one of the most useful principles in modern day management. The principle also acts as an important lesson in life.
80/20 has been taken up by minimalist living, setting out to cut possessions and life’s activities down to the twenty percent that really matters. I know I’ve wasted a lot of time due to materialism and doing things that don’t really matter or act as a delay spurring a differed lifestyle. It’s always worth having a look at your personal and professional life and seeing how you can prioritise and focus on what really matters.
Tim Ferriss’s book The 4-Hour Workweek speaks about prioritisation and how it changed his life to become more effective and efficient to achieve his passions that he achieves not by asking himself “What do I want” or “What are my goals” but “What would excite me?”. When you’re able to focus on what really matters and excites you he’s proven what can be achieved i.e. Learning any language in 3 months.
As a final thought and something that nicely ties up these three observations. When outlining what you want to achieve it’s often hard to know when you want to achieve it. Especially after what we have just spoken about, you definitely don’t want to delay it and you don’t want to end up focusing on what is less important. As what is the pot of gold that justifies spending the best years of your life hoping for happiness in the last?
Parkinson ’s Law works to the principle that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Cyril Northcote Parkinson, the famous British historian and author was qualified to make such a statement having worked in the British Civil Services seeing first hand how bureaucracy ticks. Bureaucracy itself is a by-product of our culture, due to the limiting belief that working harder is somehow better than working smarter or faster.
Work expanding to the time made available (physiologically speaking) means that if you give yourself two weeks to do a task that should only take a few hours, the task will become more daunting increasing in complexity along the way filling the time made available to it.
Parkinson’s Law as with this whole post has been an observation. If you start to set ridiculously tight deadlines to yourself it’s likely you won’t meet them and stress out while doing so. But by changing the perception of how work can be done avoiding what’s least important and taking more time off your deadlines than you usually would, can result in achievements you may never have thought possible.
One final thought I’d like to leave you with for the approaching year is from something I just saw on Sky movies, and something that rings true with me as I begin my first year completely separated from the restriction of an academic framework. With no mark scheme informing me of what direction to go to achieve what I want:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat
“I don’t much care where........” said Alice
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat