How much valuable time do you expend on activities that don’t fuel your passion or make you struggle? That’s the question I considered as I listened to David Siteman Garland talk about the activities that fill our time on a daily basis. David was a special guest at an event hosted by one of the most remarkable networking communities in the DC region called Cadre (Connecting Advocates, Deepening Relationships, Exclusively – www.cadredc.com)
David currently hosts two shows: RISE: The #1 Show For Mediapreneurs, featuring conversations with web show hosts/bloggers/podcasters/other mediapreneurs, and RISE Fitness, which features conversations with health and fitness rock stars, advice, inspiration, recipes and more.
While he is laser-focused now, it wasn’t always the case. David is a self-professed, former yes-aholic. Previously, he never heard an opportunity or idea he didn’t like. The result? Overwhelmed, stressed out, unhappy, out of touch with those that matter, and unable to do any one thing really well.
He essentially pressed “Stop.” He started saying no, and stopped worrying about the fallout associated with establishing boundaries. He took an inventory of his activities and his life, and eventually discarded everything that didn’t reflect the core of who he is and who he wants to be.
Accomplishing this is a matter of classifying our time into 4 quadrants.
There are 4 ways to segment our optional* activities:
- You love it, and you’re good at it.
- You love it, but you’re not so good at it.
- You’re good at it, but you don’t love it.
- You’re not good at it, and you don’t love it.
(*I included “optional” because all of us have to do things we don’t like, whether it’s as mundane as taking the dog to the vet or doing laundry, or something more significant such as handling legal and financial matters. That’s part of life. This column focuses on how we can evaluate where we should put our chosen energy and time, and dispose of or delegate the activities that don’t allow us to tap into our strengths and passions.)
For argument’s sake, let’s say you want to start a business. You bring lots of experience, talent, and knowledge to the market and you’re passionate about sharing those gifts with the world. Because you love what you do and you’re great at it, you have no problems getting customers. People want to do business with others that bring lots of experience & credibility, and also love their line of work.
After a while, you find that you are spending less and less time fulfilling your passion, and more and more time focused on the management of the business. It’s not as much fun anymore. You’ve moved from “I-love-what-I-do/I’m good-at-what-I-do” to “I-don’t-love-what-I-do/I’m-good-at-what-I-do.” The bloom is starting to fall from the rose.
Rather than get sucked into a downward spiral of discontent, this is a great opportunity to honestly assess your passion and your strengths, and make changes to stay in the most favorable category. Options may be to scale back the business rather than grow it, work with just a few key customers, invest in technology that automates key processes, make some hires, or outsource the business management aspects of a growing company. There’s no right answer. What matters is that you make choices that align with the life you want to live. Ignore the skeptics, naysayers, pessimists and move forward.
“I love what I do and I’m great at it.” Wouldn’t it be fantastic to make that your daily mantra for everything that fills your time? What can you do to get there… and stay there?