A new year is a blessing. The very word “new” implies that there is an “old” – a past which we can break away and bury, along with every unfruitful memory and habit attached with it. A new year affords us the chance to start over, write a new narrative, reset our thinking and breathe fresh air into our lives again.
Time is the most valuable resource we have, not money. It must be taken seriously and managed well in order for us to reap the best harvest of our life’s produce.
Your life is a summary of how you spend your time. Here are some opportunities to help you maximize your time in the new year.
#1 – Plan.
Are you doing what you are born to do? Is your life moving in the direction you want?
Going into the new year without vision and a plan for your life is like driving to an unfamiliar address without a GPS. Having no sense of direction for where you want to go oftentimes results in feeling lost, stagnant and frustrated.
Your vision is your life’s blueprint. It whispers to you in quiet moments of stillness. It reveals who you are and the gifts locked inside of you. Translate your vision into a written plan. This is not only wise, but scriptural (Hab 2:2-3). Your plan keeps you centered on your vision and focused on the milestones you need to accomplish to get there.
- Do what you are. Your “work” should be a reflection and culmination of your purpose, passion, and natural giftedness born inside of you. If your work does not give you energy or lend you a healthy self-concept, then you are in the wrong career.
- Center your plan around your passion, natural talents and interests that energize you.
- Set your top 2-3 priorities based on your plan; be unwavering and unapologetic about them. Also, document your goals and the tactics you can measure to achieve your goals.
- Share your plan with trusted advisors for their encouragement and accountability.
- Develop a budget around your plan. This will help you be more disciplined and focused in your spending, as money typically follows where you spend your time.
#2 – Protect your plan.
Every good opportunity is not the right opportunity. Based on your plan for the new year, are your extracurricular commitments – boards, auxiliaries, clubs, small groups, service organizations, ministries, etc. – in alignment with your purpose, priorities and personal values?Less is more. Spreading yourself thin across various time commitments will render you ineffective towards the real obligations that matter.
- Invest your time in the interests that matter to you. You know what they are – those entities that source, serve and sustain you and that make you feel validated and empowered.
- Say no to opportunities that fall outside the scope of your priorities and goals.
- Track your progress regularly.
#3 – Economize your time.
The choices you make with your time has an associated opportunity cost. If you’re generally focused and self-motivated, what tends to thwart execution of the plan is allowing interruptions from other people. Does this sound familiar: “Let’s catch up!” … “Can we meet for lunch?” … “Let’s get together once a month.” … “I need to pick your brain.” … “Will you review this for me?“
It’s wonderful to be in such demand and to have a level of notoriety, likability and respect that people want to associate with, learn from, or simply just be around you. While this may feel good, this can be counterproductive towards getting your own work done. The more available you are to others, the less effective you are towards executing your plan.
Simply put, avoid unnecessary meetings.
- Conduct an inventory of your friends and colleagues. Spend your energy with the ones who are encouraging you towards your vision.
- Give priority to meetings that lead to opportunities to increase your value and/or pocketbook.
- When people ask to meet with you, ask yourself, “Is this going to help me accomplish a desired goal?”
- Be reluctant to review other people’s work unless it’s relevant to your work.
- When donating your time, make sure it is for people and causes that matter to you.
- Be selective with people you choose to mentor or coach for free.