Like many of us, you have been thinking a great deal the last few weeks about what kind of 2020 you want to have and the goals you wish to achieve. This is a typical and necessary exercise for all leaders, but I wish to challenge all of us to open the aperture a bit and expand our thinking about where we will invest time in the coming year. The business objectives, projects and the endless meetings will always be there and require our attention and effort, but how about the other important areas of our lives?
Time is a finite resource, yet we often foolishly behave as if there is an endless supply of it to accomplish everything on our daily to-do lists. As I ponder the year ahead and prepare for what I hope to achieve on both a personal and professional level, I have come to realize that everything hinges on how effective I am with managing my priorities and the precious resource of time.
Here is a list of six priorities outside of the typical business objectives requiring an investment from me in 2020 (and beyond) and how I plan to achieve them:
- Be fully present for my family at dinner and on the weekends. I am fortunate to have a growing business doing work I love. However, I absolutely love my wife and sons more. I must exercise discipline and intentionality to ensure my work exists to serve my family and avoid asking my family to serve my work. How will you make your loved ones feel like they are the priority in 2020?
- Renewed focus on quality time with my clients. I want to always serve my clients with my best effort and full attention. For this to occur, I must be disciplined about saying no to unnecessary meetings and engagements outside of my wheelhouse. I must also be responsible for ensuring our time together is productive with helpful and candid discussions, clear agendas and actionable follow-up. How will you increase the quality of your time with key stakeholders at work this year and what will you eliminate to achieve this?
- Develop those around me. As an executive coach working with dozens of senior leaders each year, this should be obvious. But, I wish to go deeper. I have a freshman in college and have a narrow window to help him prepare well for the years ahead. My oldest son has autism and needs me to be fully invested with my wife in helping him learn to be as independent as possible. I also mentor a number of young leaders who have asked for my guidance and I want to show up with my best effort for each of them. These time investments require careful calendar management and prioritization or they will not occur. How will you make time to develop others in the coming year?
- Continue nurturing my key relationships. I am grateful to know a lot of wonderful people and am committed to spending quality time with them throughout the year. You can usually find me having coffee somewhere in Atlanta five days a week with someone from my network. This effort takes careful planning and commitment (and the help of my wonderful Assistant MK!). Who are the important relationships in your world and how will you spend more time with them this year?
- Invest in my physical, mental and spiritual health. I am no longer the Superman I was early in my career and I have to watch my diet and exercise more. I also need some quiet time each day to think, read, be creative and restore my batteries. I need time for daily prayer and reflection. This time goes on the calendar like everything else of importance and I have to zealously guard it or watch it be easily sacrificed to other demands on my time. How will you take care of your own needs in these critical areas this year?
- Make time to serve the community and causes I care about most. Long ago, I learned the hard way to only be involved in the organizations that match up with the causes I care about most…and I will only serve three non-profits at any given time. This keeps me engaged in a manageable way and allows me to give my best effort to important causes that are making a difference. Which causes will benefit from your talents and how will you best serve the community this year?
I shared my 2020 priorities to encourage you to make an honest list like this for yourself. You may have a very different list as we all may approach this topic in different ways. I could have shared sales and profit growth goals for Serviam Partners or the strategic projects I want to tackle, but those are all givens when it comes to planning for a new year. The financial goals are easy, but try writing down all the other priorities you have that never seem to get fully accomplished with your current approach to calendar management. When this is completed, I challenge you to conduct a calendar audit of one-month last year when you were particularly busy. How successful were you in accomplishing the expanded list of priorities you just wrote down?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers and I often struggle to stay on top of this issue like most business people I know, but I keep trying to improve. Time is a precious and finite resource and I am encouraging everyone I know to stop assuming the important priorities like the ones I shared will get done by accident with scraps of time left over from our busy work days. Intentionality, focus and self-discipline are the keys to making this attainable and workable. If we are successful in making this a reality, life and work will be richer and more enjoyable because of our efforts.
What will your complete list of priorities look like for 2020 and how will you find the time to ensure they happen?
Check out the new Serviam Partners YouTube page for short and helpful videos on the topics I often write about for my network.