The last week of the year is always one of my favorites. Why? Because it's the ideal time to peel off that old chapped, scaly skin that's been wearing on you over the course of a year and replace it with a shiny new set of plate mail armor!
It's the ultimate time for course correction and behavior optimization. Sort out those many seemingly "little" things in your life that add up to significant amounts of overhead and hassle that distract from what's really important -- to live the good life.
This process works differently for all people, but its important, in my opinion, that everyone spends some time to evaluate what's working and what's not and make some adjustments - even tiny ones that can make a positive difference.
Here are five key things that I am doing -- oh and it's feeling sooo good!
1. Cutting out low value online services and limiting time spent on all social media in general. After years of early adoption and deep usage on the web, I've seen nothing but diminishing returns lately. I'm not sour or a hater on social media -- just trying to take back some of my valuable time that I can use for higher value activities. Here's my simple "golden rule" for using tech products or services.
Unless a product or service immediately or imminently makes me smarter, wiser, more efficient, more productive, more attractive, happier, or richer I will not use it (and definitely not pay for it)!
Facebook - In the early days, Facebook was a great medium for me to rekindle old relationships and build my personal brand. Now it's become nothing but a carnival of nonsense for me that's a massive drain of time. I'm not leaving it, just significantly curtailing its use. I'll accept new friendships (if they are truly 'friends'), but will be making very few (if any) new status updates or burning valuable time perusing photo albums or an increasingly silly stream of friend updates and postings. Basically, facebook now becomes my online photo repository for remote family members and friends to keep up with what I'm doing with my life. FB, it's been real...
Gowalla - As an early adopter of this service, I had high hopes and wanted to support the local startup. These hopes have been dashed for me because I'm yet to see one iota of value for the paces that I've put the service through over the past eight months. I've topped the leader board at Caffe Medici since I started using Gowalla and not once have I received even a nickel off the double espressos I consistently order. Not good business- both by Gowalla and Caffe Medici. If there's no value to me, it's no use to me and doesn't deserve my time. Bye for now...
Others - I use too many other online and mobile services to list. I'm in the process of evaluating the main offenders of low value (they know who they are) and will systematically cut or curtail usage in the coming weeks. I'm feeling like "less is more" in 2011, especially as my professional life will necessitate more distraction-less focused time, that was all too often pirated by a host of web browsing, notifications, and alerts in 2010. My "free" time is too valuable to me now...
2. Pruning my closet and revamping my wardrobe. As one of the original early participants of the Six Items or Less challenge, I quickly learned the value and relief that having less choices and clutter in my closet brought me on a daily basis. It's taken a bit of time, but last week I purged at least 1/2 of my closet and will be making a massive Good Will delivery to ring in 2011. From this point on I will scrutinize every garment I consider for purchase and ensure that it fills a real need and fits the profile of what I want to put on my body.
3. Career version 4.0! I have not been this excited about my career since I joined Opera Software in Oslo, Norway back in 2000. This will now be the fourth major version of my 17-year career and its shaping up to be another very pivotal shift. I'm looking at everything from working as an independent consultant to being a key player at an exciting local Internet or software startup. My heart is still in technology after all these years, and knowing what I know now about business, design, and human needs, there are so many amazing opportunities to deliver great user experiences that make a difference in people's lives. There is one Austin-based startup in particular that I am very excited about and look to make a decision on soon after the new year. Either way, I'll be doing what I love in 2011.
4. Philosophy of life and business. Nobody really likes getting old, but one of the true benefits to aging, is the wisdom and insight it brings. The value of wisdom and insight is the ability to hone a solid philosophy of business and life that helps guide you through key decisions of what to do and what not to do. It also provides you with the confidence and strength to appreciate everything you have accomplished and posses in life. Especially when it comes to material things -- which are by themselves fleeting -- you can easily avoid the trap of spending too much time and effort worrying about collecting & consuming more and more stuff and the overhead that it takes to manage it all. In 2011, I aim to make this philosophy an even richer part of my daily life and will focus even more on acting on the opportunity, rather than the "good" or "bad" of life's events.
5. Mandate of Authenticty. For the first time in my life, I feel like I know who I am, what's truly important to me, and what I want to spend my time doing. This is an exciting development because I feel like up until now, I've been living the lives of other people or what others wanted of me. Now that I have a daughter, its important to me that she knows her father in full and understands what drives me. That will hopefully also transform the perception of others (including family members, colleagues, and friends) - many of which, I don't feel, know the real me. My present and future relationships mean so much to me and hinge on the firm understanding of who I am and what I want as a human being. 2011 is going to be my coming out party in this regard.
Happy New Year to all and best wishes for a healthy, fulfilling, and prosperous 2011!!