Productivity 101 Series Part 1: Creating Clarity with a Vision

New Years is one of my favorite holidays because it is about reflecting on the previous year and making new goals for the upcoming year. 2015 was a major transitional year for us mostly revolving around new jobs in a new city. However, despite all the accomplishments that go along with a successful job search and moving across the country, one of the words that keeps coming to my mind to describe 2015 is “underutilized”. Don’t get me wrong…we were so lucky to share many amazing experiences with even more amazing people. I still feel like I left a lot out on the course so to speak. Therefore, I’m going to start 2016 with a focus on improving my productivity.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been delving into the topic of productivity improvement by listening to podcasts, exploring content from productivity experts, and reading books. I’ll list my favorites on my Resources page. From all these resources there are a couple of common themes that are at the core of productivity improvement. I’ve already had some noticeable success with implementing some of these basic productivity principles so I figured I would write a quick series of posts on what I’ve been doing.

The main overarching theme is to know your Vision (a.k.a. your purpose and principles). This will help clarify what it is that you actually want to do. Productivity without a purpose is useless after all. I think David Allen’s six levels of work that is part of the Getting Things Done framework can be most simply boiled down to: Vision -> Goals -> Projects ->Tasks

One of the best things I did when we were considering moving to San Diego and changing jobs was to reevaluate my Vision. I hadn’t considered my Vision since writing one in college (which was a required assignment). I was pretty impressed when I re-read what I wrote almost ten years ago because it was actually pretty good and a lot of it still rings true. What I loved about that original Vision is that it was from the college me which was far less jaded and more idealistic.

This process of re-evaluating my Vision involved asking myself starry-eyed, pondering questions like:

  • When you look back, how do you want to describe yourself and your life?
  • Why are you here?
  • What are you values?
  • What does wild success look like?
  • What do you like to do?
  • What do you hate to do?

From there, I summarized all my mind vomit into a few words/phrases that I want to describe me and my life. This gave me a much better sense of clarity about whether the things I’m actually focusing on are aligned and helping me move toward those ideals. These are a few of the things I came up with:

Family First, Live Long Drop Dead, Kona, CPA, Be Prepared, Live Minimally, Financial Freedom, Make Things Better for Others, Learn and Do Scary New Things, Have a Crazy Good Time!

I love those simple phrases because they are easy to scan from time-to-time and, every time I do, they make me excited. They also provide the much needed “why” behind my goals and things that I do. I think one of the main reasons a lot of New Year’s resolutions fail is because they lack a connection to a bigger purpose. Making changes to habits and achieving goals is hard so there needs to be a deeper connection on why you want to reach a specific outcome.

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