Some of you may have read the title and thought “oh no, not another one of those 7 things you need to do pieces” well it isn’t and here’s why.
Think about the people you know. Your family and friends, people you work with or famous people you see on TV: some of them appear to have easier lives than others but why is that? Sure everybody has problems: even the rich and the famous and the talented have bigger demons than we can image as the recent tragic death of Amy Winehouse clearly shows but I am not talking about that.
I am more interested in those people who just seem to win more than they lose; attract a greater share of luck than the rest of us and above all just seem to cruise through life with relative ease without excessive stress or frenzy. Everybody knows people like this, I know I do, but I wonder how they (I like to call them ELPs – Easy Life People) actually manage it?
I have been fascinated with this subject for years but over the previous few months have been analysing the characteristics of ELPs to find out what makes them special. I have also spoken to a number of people I consider to be ELPs and have looked at those people who operate at the other end of the scale. These rules are based upon this research. One key element of all 7 rules is time: conserving it, using it wisely, getting more done in less of it and understanding its value.
Here are the first rule, with the next 6 individual blog posts covering the remaining number. You may not agree with all of them but speaking from both the analyst’s perspective and from somewhere much deeper inside me they do all apply. See what you think.
1. Know your destination: find some goals that you can believe in
I watched a Bear Grylls show on TV recently where Bear’s objective was to reach a road in the wilderness where he reckoned he could get a lift from a passing truck. He had a compass bearing and an immediate next step: to reach the top of the ridge in front of him but between him and the ridge was a ravine with no obvious way down. With a refreshing disregard for health and safety he leapt of the cliff he was standing on and crashed into a pine tree to break his fall.
Now, obviously he’s as mad as snakes but he took his decision not based on the immediate goal (down into a ravine was not up to the ridge) and not because it was the easiest option but because it was the right thing to do. He knew this because not only did he have a fair idea of his long term destination but he also had a clear knowledge of the next few milestone he needed to achieve – the ravine was a necessary obstacle to conquer and he did what he needed to in order to overcome it.
In sales we have a saying “focus equals penetration and penetration equals revenue” well I think this applies in life. How can you make the decisions you need to make especially if they are in a seemingly wrong direction unless you have a clear focus on the eventual end-game and what the next milestone is. ELPs appear to not only understand this but also to act upon it.
Every journey has three points on it: a start point, a current location and a destination point. The first two are obvious and cannot be challenged; you started where you started and you are where you are but the third is the key one. Without it you will end up in all sorts of places many of which will take you time and trouble to get out of. Having a clear destination in mind is the way to avoid such bother and confusion.
Hundreds of acres of trees have been sacrificed to produce all the books written about goals so I have little to add here except this. Your destination is the life-style you want; one that will make you happy and meet your deepest personal needs. It must encompass everything that is important to you: your family life, work, hobbies, health, beliefs and so on. Nobody can dictate to you what it looks like or what it should contain; that is for you to decide. Remember, your final destination can be a little hazy but your next milestones must be crystal clear just as they were for Bear in his wilderness adventure.
One last thing on this is the phrase “that you can believe in”. One of my problems in life has been setting a destination that was seemingly attractive, certainly achievable and that I felt I should do but deep down I just didn’t believe or care about it: in short I was not passionate about reaching my journey’s end. During these periods of my life I have worked harder, achieved less and been generally more miserable as a result. I firmly believe that you must have a conviction that the destination you have set yourself is the one you really want because if you don’t it’s the same as not having one at all.
My suggestion is to take time, as much time as you need in fact, to define a destination you can really get behind; something you feel passionate about regardless of what others may think. You have little control of this because any objective will either float your boat or it won’t so go for the ones that are watertight because they’re the ones that will work for you in the end.