I have always found myself operating from a core set of operating principles — or “first principles,” if you will. Here are my guiding principles for 2011.
1. Do the important stuff first
Where does the time go? Can it really be noon on a Sunday morning and I am still surfing aimlessly? When I sit down to a new day — or catch myself drifting throughout the day — I return to this simple mantra. What is important? What is important today? What could I be doing right now that is more important that what I am currently doing?
>While this is a simplistic, and painfully obvious, personal mantra, it helps me to set priorities every moment and fend off the curse of procrastination and the demon of dilly-dallying.
2. If I want to read more, read more
I have an insatiable desire for input … but not just any input. Life is too short to spend meandering through Facebook or an endless stream of RSS feeds. What I crave most is well-thought-out, well-researched, and well-written ideas. This explains my ever-expanding reading list of books. And yet, even with an insatiable desire to digest more books, I never seem to have enough time to read. How can that be? I know I want to read more … and yet I don’t.
Funny, though, how I always seem to find time to check my Google home page, or follow the weather, or check the latest updates on Twitter. We spend time on the things we deem important. Actions speak louder than words. If reading is important to me then I intend to make it important. See #1.
3. Pay attention
Look with a photographer’s eye. As a newly reborn amateur photographer, I find that looking at the world with a photographer’s eye draws me into reality with a level of intensity that I love. With a camera nearby I am not just looking out the window, I am looking out the window to see the way that light is catching objects. I am looking for a scene or a composition that would make a great shot. As I move about my day I am not just in a room or in a public space. I am looking intensely and listening and smelling and feeling and asking myself, “what is the essence of this moment?” And, “how could I capture it in a photo?” Living with a camera nearby is to live with a heightened sense of awareness.
4. Listen to my own voice
As far as dysfunctions go, the family of my childhood could rank up there with the best. It took my 20’s to break free of the dysfunction of my youth. In my 30’s I invested heavily to get myself on the path I wanted to follow. I did the hard work. Now is the time to trust my inner voice. I know where I want to go and I know what I want to do. There is a new brand of hard work ahead. This is my year. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and, doggone it, people like me.
5. Relationships matter
Success is communal. Successful individuals occur only in the context of a community. And in the 21st century our communities are virtual. The good news is that with a little effort and a few tools I can build and maintain a rich web of professional relationships. As a recovering introvert™ I sometimes have to remind myself to invest the energy in strengthening and maintaining the relationships that are important to me, to my growth, and to my friends’ success.
I am not one for New Years’ resolutions, per se. (Whenever I decide to change a behavior I start that day. As mom always says, “there’s no time like the present.”) So these aren’t really “New Years’ Resolutions.” But they are the way I operate. And they reflect how I want to focus my energy for the coming year.
What are your guiding principles? I would love to hear what guides you and drives you. I will tweet the best responses.
Life is what you make it. Let’s all have a great year!