Finding Time to Reinvent Yourself
I used to admire people who were busy. I assumed they were important or popular, or that their skills were in high demand by influential people. Because of this, I wanted to be busy, too.
But just today, I smirked quietly as some men at school pick-up asked about each other and in turn, answered, “Yeah, really busy, mate!” They puffed up their chests a little, then exchanged in dialogue to determine who was the busiest of the group.
I no longer value being busy the way I used to.
I still have lots to do – it's not uncommon for me to work from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm for weeks at a time. But I don't strive for it like I did way back. I used to think that if I hustled for as many hours as my brain and body could handle, I'd become successful, which, back then just meant I'd make more money. Sometimes I'd do 18-20 hour stints three or four days in a row. Mostly on the wrong things, too.
I remember my boss, Ken Fife, explaining his philosophy about work. This was about 17 years ago, inside his wood-paneled Victorian-era office at the southern end of fashionable Carlton. Muffled by the thick salmon carpet and solid period doors, it was a cosy place to discuss such matters.
He said that if a man couldn't complete a productive day's work and be out of the office by six, he was doing something wrong. He also said that rather than rushing around executing all the time, sometimes the most productive thing he could do was contemplate, think, meditate on an idea. I admired him so much for that.
And the success of his business and his personal life bore testament to that philosophy. His success still endures in all areas of his life.
Because of his approach to work and life, Ken has pursued many interests, both in and out of the commercial sphere. He has built and grown a substantial software company from almost nothing to becoming a major player in its industry. He's run farms in New Zealand, travelled extensively around the world (including Antarctica), he's created business opportunities across multiple continents, learned to play golf, learned multiple instruments, and invested in various asset classes both passively and actively. He's the archetypal Renaissance man.
It's taken me a long time to understand the real ramifications of Ken's advice.
If we fill every day with ‘busy work', we lose the chance to reinvent ourselves.
Ken has reinvented himself over and over. I remember sitting with him when my world was falling apart (divorce, money, health, the lot), and he told me how fortunate I was. He told me how, at my age, he had a single box of possessions and the dream of a better life. That was it.
The life of that version vs. today's version of the man are poles apart; though I suspect the character and the ethics that drove him all those years have hardly altered one ounce.
Reinvention is Everything
Reinvention is proof of life. In today's violently changing workforce, it's now essential. Urgent, even. Without the capacity to reinvent yourself, you leave your income, your security, your self-image; just about everything you value, perilously exposed. You're vulnerable.
A lot of you have caught wind of the changing rules and are now engaged full-speed in reinventing yourselves. But already you're hitting a wall. Time.
I learned a great saying from the famously radical and likeable farmer, Joel Salatin. He said, “Whenever someone tells you they don't have time, or they're too busy, tell them to add two words to the end – ‘for that'.” In other words, they don't have time for that. We all have time – 24 hours every day. The question is, what do you prioritise?
Sorry, yes. It's all down to this.
Let me explain it this way. When you're delivering a big presentation on Thursday; when you're approaching the final year exam, or when your dream job interview is coming up three days from now, you don't fuck around. You don't waste three hours a night playing Need for Speed. You don't go out drinking with the boys and you sure as hell don't channel-surf till it's 1:00 am, and your wife finds you catatonic on the couch.
You prepare. You research. You plan, and you practice. You get up early, and you work a bit later. You take care of your body, you get enough sleep, and you stay hydrated. You treat this like the Superbowl. The Grand Final. The big race. You put yourself in the best position to win.
Reinventing yourself is no different. Actually, it is. It's more important than everything I just listed.
The reason is this. Each time you reinvent yourself, you increase your potential value to the world and as a result, your level of security grows. You give yourself options – flexibility, autonomy.
I don't know what I'll be doing five years from now (probably writing, still). But because I've reinvented my life so many times, I know that even if I don't do something entirely new, I can call on one or more of my past reinventions (many of which I still use today). They include photography, writing, selling cars, selling advertising, Web design, graphic design, enterprise solution selling, marketing consulting, eCommerce development, bricks ‘n' mortar retail, online retail, property renovation and property development.
Right now, I'm experimenting with Facebook and LinkedIn advertising. I'm getting my hands dirty with Instagram. I'm always reinventing myself.
How I Find Time to Reinvent Myself
- I wake early – usually between 5:30 and 6:00 am.
- Between 6:00 and 7:30 am, I pursue my side-hustles. I do the same most weekdays between 6:00 and 7:00 pm.
- I do most of my ‘regular' work between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later.
- I read for about an hour each day – usually 7:00 – 7:30 pm and 9:30 – 10:00 pm. I never read fiction. Real life is interesting enough.
- I make a list each day, in order of importance, of what I'm doing the next day.
- I start the next day with item number one and don't move off it till it's done. And so on with the rest of the list. I don't multitask. One item at a time.
- I don't waste time with meetings unless they're absolutely essential, the agenda is clear, the goals are clear, and they move the game forward.
- I don't watch TV. I watch The Grand Tour on Friday nights and a movie on Saturday nights.
- I walk twice a day and drink water all day.
- I only check emails three times a day (and only on my computer – I don't use it on my phone) – at 10:30 am, 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm. I never check email on the weekend.
- I don't commute.
- I work standing up for around half the day.
- I hang out with my son every night after work and be a kid for a while.
- With every new thing I pursue, I ask myself, “Will this bring me closer to freedom or take it away from me?”
Life is short. Before you know it, the lights will go out, the door will slam shut, and the world will keep spinning without you. There's no glory in being busy without a clear purpose. No gold star at the end of it all.
Decide what really matters to you. Assume no one's watching. Pretend no one cares whether you succeed or fail (they don't). Make time for life. Make time for reinvention.
And let the others fight over who's the busiest. You have more important things to do.
Blog Posts That Might Help
The Tools I Personally Use and Recommend
Books for Entrepreneurs in the New Economy
Choose Yourself – James Altucher
James's unique perspective on life, wealth, business and employment is an eye-opener. A brilliant mind.
Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way – Steven Pressfield
Steven forces us to face a simple truth: it's not about better ideas, but rather, actually doing the work.
The 4-Hour Work Week – Tim Ferris
Tim's book is responsible for fuelling much of today's solopreneur phenomenon. A must-read.
Tools of Titans
Tim Ferris's tome covering many of the best lessons gleaned from billionaires, icons, and peak performers.
The $100 Startup – Chris Guillebeau
Chris debunks the old myth, “It takes money to make money,” with plenty of examples to relate to.
Purple Cow – Seth Godin
Seth is a pioneer from the earliest days of the Internet and a trailblazer in today's ‘connection economy'. Read everything he writes. Seriously.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook – Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary V is loud, rant-prone and tends to swear a lot. But no one knows social media better. Read and learn.
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything – by Sir Ken Robinson
Sir Ken is a remarkable thinker in the areas of education and nurturing one's innate talents. His TED talk is incredible and has been watched almost 43 million times.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope we get to hang out more in the future. And in the meantime, please feel free to share your own experiences. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I respond to all emails. If this was beneficial to you, please consider subscribing and sharing with someone you think would also benefit.
Disclaimer & Disclosure: I'm not a psychologist and I'm not a financial advisor's elbow. This material doesn't constitute financial advice but rather a collection of personal opinions, based on my own experiences. Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. I provide links to services or products I have used and liked or researched and recommend. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you believe they will be beneficial to you.
Also published on Medium.