The past two months have been hectic to say the least. I’ve been doing more courses in the university than during the fall, and I also started a new work project which actually turned out to take quite a lot of my time and energy. I’m doing things that are entirely new to me such as detailed project planning and resourcing. Factor in a new relationship and the end result has been an almost complete neglect to my own personal growth, which resulted in a slight depression.
During these couple of months I’ve learned something new, though. This is probably the first time ever when I have had so many promising opportunities that I simply can’t get involved in all of them. I had to start prioritizing and actually refuse from things which is definitely something that doesn’t come naturally to me.
Because of the standstill in my personal growth I have felt that I’m not moving forward, that I’m not evolving, and as a result I felt like I had betrayed myself and wasn’t living up to my own standards. I also learned that this blog and my personal growth are very much intertwined. Without new profound realizations and discoveries in my own life it feels like I don’t have enough interesting things to write about.
It’s great to be able to plow through obstructions and get the job done. And it’s good to keep yourself disciplined and on purpose. But if you forget your larger purpose while pursuing the small and endless tasks of daily life, then you have reduced yourself to a machine of picayune… Tasks are important, but no amount of duties adds up to love, freedom, or full consciousness. You cannot do enough, nor can you do the right things, so that you will finally feel complete.
– David Deida: The Way of the Superior Man
I’m sure no one wants to hear about the intricacies of my work as an SAP specialist, or what I’m learning at the university – which quite frankly isn’t all that much. School and work really are not the places where you learn things about yourself, about what your wants and desires are, or how to discover your place and purpose in the world.
I wanted to empty myself of my commitments, obligations, duties, and wants in order to see them objectively and pick the ones that are most important. Applying Pareto principle, I wanted to find out the 20% of things that give me 80% satisfaction. Call it prioritizing or mental spring cleaning, but after I realized I needed to do this it felt like a huge burden was lifted from my shoulders. This is the list I came up with.
Highest priority commitments
Currently my number one goal is to do a student exchange in Seoul, South Korea next fall. I should know in two weeks whether or not I get accepted but I’m having my hopes high. I also want to graduate some day, so right now I’d say the two commitments I really feel obliged to keep are
- Getting more courses done this spring so I’m a step closer to graduating.
- Saving money for the student exchange.
I was losing money the whole fall due to not having enough work, but to my big relief that changed now in mid-January. It also looks like I’m able to work throughout the summer and save money for the exchange. I’m having a new kind of project role at work which gives me more responsibility than before, so I’m also taking it as a challenge and a learning experience.
Other high priority stuff
These are the things I enjoy a lot, or are otherwise the ones that are giving biggest dividends for the time I invest in them.
- Physical fitness
- Going to gym, doing yoga, running after the snows melt, playing squash etc.
- Diet and nutrition
- Making sure that I keep eating healthy, which involves preparing most of my own food.
- Taking care of what I eat and how I exercise gives so much energy that they are more like enablers that make it possible to tackle all the rest of the things going on in my life.
- I started dating a lovely girl about two months ago, and this relationship is something I really want to invest in and explore more :)
- The people you spend time with will shape your own personality. One of the fundamental success principles is to surround yourself with people who are forward looking and have a drive to succeed in life. Their energy will enhance your own. There are some extremely wonderful people in my life, and I want to keep it that way :)
- Language learning
- Don’t ask why, but I wanted to do a student exchange in a country where English is not so commonly spoken. This is because I want to learn a new language and I figured it’s much easier to stay motivated when you are actually going to need it every single day. So yeah, as soon as I get confirmation about South Korea, I’ll start studying the language lifehacking style.
- Personal growth
- As I said, this area of my life has been on a standstill for the past couple of months. Only this week was I able to do something new regarding it, and it’s amazing how much energy the experience gave me. I felt again that I’m moving towards some larger goal in my life. For me reading is an integral part of personal growth, so I will not mention it separately.
There are actually quite a lot of these high priority things that I want to keep in my life and juggling all of them might be a bit of a challenge. I don’t know how things will turn out, but these are the ones I will try to devote my free time to.
This category includes things that I will do if I have time left from my other activities. The main reason to write them down and have mentioned here is to stop myself from feeling obligated to do them. I want to be free of them, and enjoy them only when and if it fits my schedule.
- Aalto Entrepreneurship Society
- It pains me to not be able to commit more to being an active member of the society, because Aaltoes is doing amazing job in aggregating entrepreneurship in Finland.
- Even though I enjoy writing a lot, I’ve realized that I shouldn’t force myself to do it, at least when doing so does nothing but makes me more stressful. I will keep writing new blog posts in the future as well, but I’m stopping myself from being committed to the earlier once a week schedule.
- Developing business ideas
- I am starting to seriously consider becoming an entrepreneur, and I have quite a few different business ideas to get started with. However, I feel that this is something I can also focus on later after I have done my student exchange.
There are a few other existing and emerging short-term opportunities in my life, and I try to keep what I have promised to deliver earlier. I don’t want to prevent myself from accepting possible new challenges either, but I think I have to start acknowledging that I can’t do everything, and to become rather critical about what I should commit myself into.
This exercise was first and foremost to help me regain some control over my own life and to figure out what I really want to do with the limited time I have. If you have done something alike or have a completely different method I’d love to hear about it!