Saturday, January 02, 2010

If you don't know where you're going... could end up someplace else. (Yogi Berra)

This time each year I try to set some time aside to recalibrate my sense of purpose and the goals that I imagine will get me there. I've been doing this for a quarter century or so, since before "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People".

I think that too much introspection is as bad as living a completely unexamined life, but with that said there are a few questions that benefit each of us to be able to answer. If I take time to consider them each year, the accumulated responses are pretty useful. If I were to do this every day instead of every year, well, someone ought to slap me upside the head lest I disappear up my own fundamental orifice.

So here are the magic Halfwise questions:
  • What am I good at?
  • What do I like to do?
  • What do others value?
  • What am I on the road to becoming?
The first three are where I think a person should build his or her vocation. If you like to do it, it won't feel like work. If others value it, they will reward you for doing it. And if you are good at it, your reward will be higher than if you were not.

The fourth is where a person should consider the trajectory of his or her life. It troubles people to be reminded that they are on a road to becoming someone, whether they consider it or not. My habits (good and bad); the people I associate with (likewise), the media and messages that I soak in every day, these all shape and pave the road that leads us to that "someplace else" in the opening quote.

If you are an e-mailing type of person, ask yourself and answer the four questions in an e-mail to yourself. Save that e-mail, reflect on it from time to time, do more of what it indicates you need more of, and then repeat the process next year by editing the e-mail based on what you have learned.

Because there are some really bad destinations on the road of life...


JR said...

Halfwise, Very good advice, I'm sure, and many people will benefit from it. However, over the years I've discovered that I'm hopeless at following sage advice and not especially talented in the art and science of planning. I never, ever, make New Years resolutions. In fact, I once had a perceptive boss who had detected these characteristics in me and, none too subtly, handed me a book with a title something like "How to Manage Your Time Effectively". I handed it back to him a few months later telling him that I never found the time to read it. So, any modest success I've achieved has been through a combination of luck, dogged hard work and plonking one foot foward after the other.

Halfwise said...

I would draw a clear distinction between planning and preparing.

"Planning" is an activity aimed at a specific target. In terms of life skills, it probably does more harm than good, since it implies a sense of control over one's destiny that is way out of proportion to what we really have.

"Preparing" is an activity aimed at creating flexibility and greater readiness to take what life throws at you.

Part of preparing is knowing what to encourage in your life and what to push away, which is what that year-end stuff is all about for me.

JR said...

Thanks for highlighting that distinction. You're good at this. Are you a motivation professional by any chance?

Halfwise said...

Not strictly speaking. I do a lot of coaching, management consulting and facilitating as part of my day job, though.