You know that stock job interview question where you’re asked to specify a weakness and you flip it to become a strength?
Well, if you’re like me then the next time you have a job interview (which for me is admittedly quite unlikely) you can tell them that you’re a long-term planner and you’re always specifying a thing, setting goals and then working towards making the thing happen.
If it’s business related you apply this to a new opportunities. Maybe you’ll write some models to test things out and if you do decide to go ahead you might define some metrics to benchmark your progress. (Fear not, there will be progress.)
In your personal life (which for the self-employed is likely to get all mixed in with work too) you have your productivity system nailed. Doing regular reviews, weekly plans & daily time blocking. You might do the tomato timer thing, it’s fashionable to have Trello baked into your workflow somewhere and you may have all the Gmail keyboard shortcuts memorised. You could even have an annual retreat for a really deep planning session. Whatever. You plan, you’re a doer.
The interviewer at this point is looking at you all confused. “So, how is this a weakness?”
The problem – your weakness – is that with all this doing you’re sometimes (by default?) not leaving much space for any being. You’re all about focus on the end goal to the detriment of other ‘discretionary’ life tasks.
Like actually living.
Rachel Andrew posted a great article on A List Apart on the very same subject last week where she encapsulates this tendency perfectly:
there has to be balance. The more we obsess about our plans playing out as we had imagined, the less we leave ourselves open to new things
The key word here is balance. It’ll be different for you. For me it’s not so much about experiencing new things – although of course new experiences are really important too – it’s about the slowing down and just looking around to see what’s going on.
Mrs B has always called me ‘urgent’ and she constantly points out my (literal) ‘jiggly leg’. I’m generally already thinking about the next thing to be done, the next 50 miles I have to drive on the road trip, what I’ll be doing when we get wherever it is we’re heading.
If so, and at the risk of stating the obvious: it is not very healthy to live your life like this.
At best you’re missing out on the point of living and at worst, especially as you get older, it’s going to come along and bite you right on the arse one day. This is particularly true if you are also neglecting other important things like exercise, your diet & sleep (I’ll write more on this in the coming weeks).
The point I’m labouring here is that the part of your life journey that is happening right now is also important. You might want to consider finding the time to talk to your other passengers, to take a look out of the window or even maybe go on a little detour along the way.
In other words: be sure to enjoy the ride. Your journey isn’t a means to an end, it’s actually the reason you’re here.