I remember when I was growing up in ‘sunny’ North Wales that every Sunday we would be encouraged to shed our favourite, comfy, clothes in favour of our ‘Sunday Best’. The latter for me would doubtless consist of a nicely ironed shirt, braces and potentially even a waistcoat (for a little Welsh kid with impeccably blow dryed hair, let’s just say I was stylin’). The philosophy behind this was that it was the first day of the week and God was (a) priority so you should give your absolute best. It’s the principle of the ‘Firsts’ or ‘First Fruits’.
In feudal Europe this same world view compelled families to offer up every first born son to become a priest in the catholic church – I got off lightly being forced to wear braces, it seems. It’s the same foundation that sits behind certain faiths giving the first 10% of their crops or salary to the church/temple. But why? More than that, is a purely religious phenomenon or is there transferability for the average Joe like you and I?
Well, In the corporate world you can see a glimpse of a similar philosophy in Google’s 20 Time, since adopted by the educational sphere too. This scheme allowed employees to focus 20% of their time on the things they were most passionate about – the business benefit was that the projects not only kept their best people stimulated but that the most successful ones would also have future commercial value – gmail, Google new and other projects had their genesis in this very scheme. They have now moved on but the driving philosophy is the same.
We all have an unlimited amount of ideas tethered to a very finite pile of resources. More often than not we tend to funnel the latter into whom-, or whatever, shouts the loudest. The TV ad for the latest phone. The relative that likes to turn up unannounced. The DIY project that you see every flipping time you come through the door. But if we’re not careful that sort of behaviour puts us in the passenger seat of our own life. A re-active way to live. Passivity Prevails.
The clincher, however, is priorities. Wait, plural? As a side note this word is super interesting in the modern context. The etymology (word origin) of it is that it denoted the “fact or condition of being prior,” – by its very nature being singular. You can’t have a list of priorities when the term itself refers to THE crucial, most important thing. I often wonder whether if we became people of singular or at the very least, sharper, focus, how much more productive we could be!
To drill this down to specificity, and in doing so maybe even work out where your life is heading, grab a piece of paper, or open up the Notes section of your phone, and allow me to suggest peering into 3 Key Mirrors
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
1.) Your Finances
Flick open your banking app and check out your primary expenses. Where do you spend the most? If you want to go even further list your transactions for the past month in order of cost. What is the category that comes out top?
2.) Your Time
Do a time analysis for the past 7 days i.e. count up the hours you spend in each activity or place. Who or what do you see the most? Try and go even further and categorise into planned and unplanned time. What % of your time is running by the seat of your finely tailored pants and which of it is exactly as you have planned it?
3.) Your Inner Circle
Flick open your inbox. By this I mean your IMessage stash, texts, GChat or recent snapchats. Jot down the names of the top 10 people you have contacted in the past week. Who is the one that tends to initiate the contact? Is this the same pattern week on week?
Now read over your notes and ask your self, If I came in as a complete stranger and saw that little list, what conclusions could I draw as to THE most important thing/person/concept in your life? These three mirrors not only show you who you are now but who you’re becoming.
But who are you really?
Take 5 to consider:
– What do you actually think your primary focus should be in life?
– What’s your ‘calling’ or ‘raison d’etre’?
– What do you think you were put on this planet for?
– Write the the blurb that you’d like written about you on the back of your first book;
– What would you want a dear friend to be saying in your eulogy?
Now take another scrap of paper and ill in the below blanks for me.
|I am ______________.
My primary focus in life is ______________.
The thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is ______________.
HEALTH WARNING: That exercise in and of itself may be challenging for some people but, rightfully so.
It’s a pretty big deal.
But now take what you’ve written and consider ‘How would each of these 3 mirrors need to change if you TRULY were that person?’
REALITY CHECK: Life is not lived in a controlled environment, life often throws us a curve-ball and humans are complex beings swayed by pleasure, pain, our past and, maybe even, sometimes what is/isn’t in our fridge (or is that just me?). There is no perfectly aligned ‘efficient’ life. I know that.
But imagine if you took that principle of Firsts and applied it to the most important thing in your life. The first or best of your time, money and relationship investment going to the thing that makes your life sing? How different might your life look?
CHALLENGE: Try living a week with your focus on your ‘Firsts’. I’d love to hear how you go!