Back in the 1990’s, it was all about “collecting.” Baseball cards, toys, coins, comic books – you name it. If you had an interest, there was a “limited edition” just waiting for your purchase. This ran in tandem with a housing market where people were leveling up to bigger and better houses. All these things also elicited another big increase – a sinister side effect that eventually came back to bite us economically – and that was the level of consumer debt.
As with all things that fall prey to a frenzied pace, there came a time of rebalancing. It was ushered in as a housing bust. Suddenly, the market had an influx of expensive houses full of expensive collections that no one was buying.
Then came a new generation whose interests were more in the range of “tiny houses” and minimalistic lifestyles, and where now older and wiser Baby Boomers were seeking to downsize in similar fashion to their younger counterparts.
A similar frenzy occurred in the internet world as well. The frenetic pace of internet marketing coming at the average consumer from every conceivable angle reached a peak. As in anything, there is a need for balance.
And today, people are seeking that balance – in their work, personal development, relationships, finances, and health.
As a coach, I work with leaders across many demographics, across the country, and around the world. And in each case, the reason we work together is to identify those areas of imbalance and make the needed adjustments.
- This may be the worn-out executive who is weary of the financial responsibilities that come with keeping a company profitable and making payroll week in and week out in a highly competitive marketplace.
- This may be the entrepreneur who has hit the wall on capacity and is fast becoming a victim of his or her own success.
- It could be a leader who has climbed the ladder of success only to realize it was the wrong ladder for them.
- It could be a very successful leader who suddenly finds themselves in need of a new challenge, a retreat, or a combination of both.
- Often, it is a leader who has devoted so much to a successful career that their health and relationships are in jeopardy.
The point is, leaders are people, too. They push too hard, strive for too much, and, yes, even leaders need to take the time to declutter some part of life and work and do some rebalancing.
And so, as we begin a new year, I challenge you to consider where you need to recalibrate.
I am not going to challenge you to take on new initiatives and new endeavors – not yet. Not until you have first considered what you are NOT going to do this year.
Ask yourself, “What do I need to release this year in order to gain margin for the things that matter most to me?”
Here are some considerations for decluttering.
Are you finding yourself working all the time? Do you stay late most nights, work weekends, catch yourself checking email in the middle of the night? This level of work will crowd out all other areas of life if you let it. I know, as I spent my many years trying to do it all as well…until the day I got a wake-up call regarding my health. Don’t wait until you hit that wall. Set boundaries for yourself regarding work.
And, by the way, do your team a favor, and don’t email them in the middle of the night, on weekends, and at all hours. Be respectful of your time and theirs.
2. Volunteer Work
I am a major proponent of giving back and supporting my community. But ask yourself if all the obligations you have make sense for you. It is easy to fall victim to volunteer overcommitment. Does the volunteer work fit your values, your schedule, and your passion? Then by all means, continue.
But if those volunteer opportunities have simply become a source of dread, with no purpose behind them, then it may be time to do some shifting. The fact is, organizations are best served by those who have the passion and resources to do the work well. If you can’t be that person, allow someone else to take your place who can fill that role with passion and purpose.
3. Screen Time
Nothing has had more impact on society in recent years than screen time. We are bombarded everywhere with screens – tablets, TVs, mobile phones, movie screens, digital signs and billboards, and JumboTrons™.
According to a shocking study by Nielsen, “American adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media.”
The greater impact may be what we are missing during those 11 hours each day. What could you do with 11 extra hours a day? Think about that.
While all our devices and even social media have some benefit, I challenge you to see if you are gaining 11 hours’ worth of benefit from them each day. If not, it may be time to set some limits. Don’t miss the game by giving all your attention to the JumboTron™.
Teamwork is important. Communication is essential. But ask yourself if you are having meetings that do not result in actions taken, problems solved, or goals determined. If meetings are needed for a specified purpose, then, meet. But if they are simply obligatory because they are on the calendar and have become routine ruminations of the same weekly cud, it may be time to seek more productive endeavors.
Click here for some additional ideas on ways to have productive meetings.
For many of us, activity is key. Idleness is a function we avoid at all costs. But activity is not the same as productivity. If you are always moving, pushing, and ideating, it may be time to stop for a bit and just “be.”
This is another leadership lesson I have learned through the years. You may observe I spend regular time at the beach. This is my time to “be.” During these times, I am giving my mind time to reflect and recharge. It is often during these times of “inactivity” that ideas come, or resolutions present themselves.
Ask yourself if all the projects currently on your plate are the right ones for you at this time. Or are they simply ways of keeping yourself busy?
When you focus in on the one to three projects that will get you to where you want to be, you have a greater chance of success. When you focus your activities on that narrowed field, you can reach your goals. And when you schedule fewer activities on your calendar, you can, ironically, accomplish far more than you imagined.
It may come as a welcome relief to many to have read an article about “less” in a world that constantly demands “more.”
What will YOU subtract this year?
Here is a complimentary tool to help you narrow your focus…and broaden your success.
Looking for a leadership development program you can use with your team? Check out the Boss or Leader: Lead and Learn Kit. It is affordable, effective, and provides high impact. Be a leader who makes a difference!
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. Are you interested in talking to Dave about coaching or having Dave speak to inspire and motivate your team? “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.