Last Friday was the one year anniversary of when I was laid off from IBM so I decided to take a day to unplug and reflect on the past year. As I was sifting through my thoughts about the previous year, one thing kept coming to mind:
I realized that I spent too much of the past year simply going with the flow and hoping things would work out. As a result, I was wasting a lot of time and energy. I was just letting life happen to me.
You can't live life like it's one big accident. You have to live your life on purpose.
Lots of speakers describe this concept. Stephen Covey says to "Be proactive." Zig Ziglar says "If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time." Dave Ramsey says "Things don't move unless you move them."
But here's what I discovered. Deciding what to do isn't enough. You also have to decide what NOT to do.
You see, I can decide to work on something, but if at the same time, I don't decide NOT to surf the web, or NOT to get distracted by Twitter and Facebook, I can end up thinking I'm working but in reality I'm just wasting time.
Or I sit down at the TV to watch one show and three hours later I'm still sitting there because I didn't decide NOT to watch anything after I finished the one show.
When you are self employed or running a small business (or any business for that matter), you've got to be intentional. You've got to aim at something. You've go to be proactive. And you've got to move something. And you've got to eliminate the stuff that simply isn't important.
If you don't, either nothing will happen or lots of stuff will happen, but none of it will really matter.
So I moved things that I've been needing to move since I was laid off. I created a basic business plan. I created some revenue goals. And I created a mission statement.
To delight my clients by creating Firefox extensions that meet or exceed their needs.
So now I just have to make sure that every day I'm being intentional. For me, that means setting aside specific block of times to focus on specific tasks, including ALL my Firefox extensions. It means not checking my email every five minutes. It means using tools like SelfControl to make sure I'm not distracted. It means I need to stop saying "I should do this" and either do it or don't do it.
It means making sure that everything I do has purpose.
Every time I sit at my computer or the TV or the XBox 360 need to make sure I do it intentionally. Or I'll simply waste my time. I've got to have boundaries. It's ok to spend some time on Facebook. An hour on Facebook? Probably not so much.
So what are you doing to be intentional?