It’s good to have a wide range of personal projects going on. It pushes you to try new things in your business, it helps you think more clearly. That can be easy to forget when you are excited about a project and willing to work as long as necessary to see it through.
Like many others I keep a running list of goals – the big, long-term kind of goals. Most of my goals fall into one of three categories: professional, personal or home/family. For years, I thought choosing one goal from each category and focusing all of my energies on reaching just those three would be the best way to be successful.
Lately, though, I’ve been experimenting with variety. Right now, I’m pursuing several goals in the “personal” category at the same time. I’m planning a big garden project. I’m implementing incremental changes to my nutritional habits. I’m running 3-4 times a week with the goal of being able to run for 15 miles. I might be writing some fiction.
At the same time, I’m also pushing the boundaries of my business. I’m marketing heavily to a single industry. I’m taking on more one-time type projects than ever. I’ve changed my invoicing/bookkeeping processes. I may be looking for an interesting part-time job for the summer so that I will be meeting people and learning new things.
As you can see, I’ve abandoned the idea of single-minded pursuit of one goal. But not really. All of the things I am doing in each category will contribute to an over-reaching goal. Personally, I want to be healthier. Professionally, I want to keep learning and stay enthusiastic as my business grows.
At the moment, doing several things all at once seems to be working better than focusing on a single goal. This fact goes against everything I’ve ever read about productivity. Each of the different activities is something that makes me feel excited and energized and it all seems to build together. A really good call with a client or a prospect puts me in a better mindset for running. It works the other way, too. A really good workout makes it easier to make calls I might otherwise not want to make.
I once had a boss who prided herself on the number of outside activities her staff was involved in. It seemed odd at the time, but now I understand. She knew that if her employees were out doing other things that it would help them be enthusiastic about work.
Down time, time to just sit, or read, or watch pointless TV is important, too. I’ve always guarded my “mushy brain” time closely and I still do. But, instead of stressing out because the laundry is in a heap waiting to be folded, I walk away and dig up some weeds or read a study on nutrition. Then, folding the laundry isn’t so bad.
There are so many things that I want to learn about and do that I life time won’t be long enough. But there’s no reason not to make as big a dent in that list as I can while I’m here.