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Focus Challenge Day 3: Living in Alignment

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Focus Challenge Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of the 5-day Focus Challenge. If you haven’t yet, make sure to complete Day 2 before attempting today’s challenge. Today’s challenge is all about creating momentum towards your ideal future by making sure that you are living your life in alignment with your values.

Let’s get started.

Many people have a misguided idea of passion. They think that passion means doing what you love, but that’s not quite right. The truth is if you are looking for a job where you enjoy it 100% of the time, you’ll never find it. There will always be things that you have to do that aren’t necessarily fun or enjoyable, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them or that you can’t gain satisfaction from them.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University. He literally wrote the book on flow. His research shows that people are happier not when their life is easy, but when they feel fulfilled. So passion is not about doing what’s fun, but that satisfaction and flow actually comes from being able to click in and do the things that are important and have meaning to you.

That satisfaction comes from being in alignment with your vision and values. So if you understand how what you are doing is helping you achieve your ideal future (identified in yesterday’s lesson), motivation and passion come naturally.

Where people get frustrated is when what they are spending their time on is not in line with the future they want to create. Even if you are doing the right things but have lost your “why,” it’s not likely you’ll stick with it long enough to see the results you’re looking for. But when you are in that sweet spot where what you are doing is in alignment with your dream, it’s exciting. You can’t wait to get to work because you know that every minute invested is moving you one step closer to making your dream a reality.

The Three Bricklayers

There’s a famous parable about three bricklayers that illustrates perfectly what it’s like to work in alignment.

While walking down the street one day, a man saw three bricklayers working in the heat of the noonday sun. The man approached the first bricklayer, and asked the man, “what are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing?” the worker replied sarcastically. “I’m laying bricks!”

The man then walked up to the second bricklayer and again asked, “what are you doing?”

“I’m building a wall,” the worker replied matter-of-factly, not even bothering to look up from what he as doing.

The man then walked up to the third bricklayer and again asked, “what are you doing?”

“I’m building a great cathedral to honor my God!” the worker replied excitedly. “It will be the most beautiful cathedral the world has ever seen!”

All three workers were doing the same task, but only the third was really living in alignment. When you are living in alignment, it brings passion and energy to everything that you do. This results in higher quality work, which obviously then translates into higher wages, better jobs, etc. So if your idea future requires an upgrade in pay, there’s no better way to get there than to start working in alignment and bringing passion and joy into what you do!

So in today’s exercise, we’re going to identify what living in alignment looks like for you.

Exercise

First, take a full sheet of paper and fold it in half. On one side, write the five things that you value most in life. On the other side, write down the five activities you currently spend the most time on. Spend 5 minutes doing this.

Done?

Now compare them and answer the questions for yourself: “Am I spending time on the things that are most important to me?”

Next, take a look at your ideal future description from Day 2. Are the things that you are currently doing (the five activities you spend the most time on) moving you towards accomplishing this ideal future? If not, list the 5 things you could do right now that would make the biggest impact in moving you towards your ideal future.

Once you’re done, let us know in the comments!

 

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71 Comments

Posted by Michael  | November 8, 2017 at 8:35AM | Reply

Value in life

1. Quality time with my wife
2. Time in prayer and reading
3. Creating efferent workflows for redundant tasks, website testing and updates
4. Getting exercise
5. Learning new skills

Spend time on

1. Exercise first thing in the morning
2. Coding websites for client projects
3. Reading blog posts and social media
4. Making unnecessary adjustments to automation
5. Creating workflows for testing and updates

Biggest impact; spend more time in in prayer and reading. I believe that quite focus time will help all areas of life become more aligned.

Posted by Wesley  | November 8, 2017 at 8:56AM | Reply

I had a much easier time answering what 5 things I spend the most time on than answering what the 5 things I value most, which was a big flag to me that I need to spend more time thinking about what’s important to me. It was easy to figure out the activities I have been spending the most time on because I have been using the Toggl timer as an activity tracker for a few months. Until this morning I hadn’t logged in online and ranked the projects in order of how many hours I spent on each. and the results were eye-opening.

Spending some time this morning in deep thought about what the 5 things I value most has been worthwhile for me. While I think I need to spend some more time thinking about it, I can already see a few changes I can make to the way I spend my time that will have big payoffs. There is a category in Toggl that I named “neutral” for activities that don’t fit well in the other activity categories I’ve made, and this was number 5 on my list of activities, behind 1. Work 2. Sleep 3. Habits/Rituals 4. Commute 5. Neutral

There’s a big opportunity to either get more information about how I spend that “neutral” time by breaking it into more specific activities or simply to be more aware of when I’m tempted to use that activity label and to think about what specifically I should do in those moments to get closer to living in alignment.

Posted by Russ Fellows  | November 8, 2017 at 9:31AM | Reply

Oh boy. Two of the top five things I spend time on are in fact time wasters. They don’t get me anywhere near my five, 10, or 20 year objectives.

I really need to push myself harder to leave my comfort zones.

Posted by Saju K  | November 8, 2017 at 10:37AM | Reply

When I looked at the values I cherish and where I spend my time on.. it looked like two paths and never the twain shall meet. I gather now what I have to do and have set it in motion.

Posted by Ben  | November 8, 2017 at 10:45AM | Reply

Hmmm… My “most valued” and “most time spent on” lists intersect each other, but they are not as aligned as I would like. Fortunately my “do now” list is thus straightforward: There’s a couple of things I need to start making time for, a couple of things I’ve been doing that I need to continue, and one thing I need to address and eliminate once and for all.

Posted by Jessica  | November 8, 2017 at 10:57AM | Reply

1. Travel
2. Freedom over my schedule
3. Quality time with my partner
4. Quality Creative Time
5. Down time

But where do I spend most of my time?

1. Freelancing
2. Part-time office job
3. Commuting
4. Errands / Chores

This has lead me to believe that I now more then ever need to focus my attention away from my ‘real-job’ and more into my business/passion. Which means quitting my job. I also read into this that I need much more creative time, and should think about hiring a cleaner and meal plan on Sundays to prepare for my week.

Posted by Kat  | November 8, 2017 at 10:59AM | Reply

Well… about half the things in my list align, which is great, but I’m always so busy with studies that it’s hard to find a moment to work more on other things that I think are important… but now I’m motivated to find moments in the day to squeeze them in. I’m going to start by trying to find a bit of time in the moment for some quiet reflection time, since my mind is always so cluttered and always jumping from one thing to the next…
As for time-wasters, strangely enough, I’ve found that one of the things I spend most time on is planning and organizing, to the point that I feel like I’m achieving nothing because I’m constantly re-planning and re-organizing. I need to find a more efficient way to plan…

Posted by Tomas  | November 8, 2017 at 11:44AM | Reply

This is exercise is a great eye opener, just showed me how off the track I am. No wonder I wasn’t getting anything done.

Posted by Bill  | November 8, 2017 at 11:48AM | Reply

I was surprised to discover that some things I’m spending time on during my day have such low ROI that they’re actually time wasters and that other things I felt were wasting my time are actually moving me in the right direction—I just need to change my way of viewing them to make them more positive and life-giving. This was very insightful!

Posted by Jeremy Brown  | November 8, 2017 at 11:51AM | Reply

I struggled with the 5 things that I value most exercise. I need to carve out some time to think about that a little more. It’s no wonder that I sometimes feel as though I am being dragged around by my tasks.

Great exercise!

Posted by Teejay  | November 8, 2017 at 12:12PM | Reply

Done … and eyes are opened! I aligned with a couple things, but more tasks that didn’t align with my values.

Posted by Alice Ferris  | November 8, 2017 at 12:19PM | Reply

Since I did the focus challenge in May, I went back to my answers from then and updated them. My values didn’t change much–one is different, but the things I’m doing changed quite a bit. A sign of progress from the previous focus challenge, I think!

My one thing to focus on is delegation. We have a “one person bus” company right now–if I get hit by a bus, the whole thing ends. And the things that aggravate me the most are things that I could delegate, if I find the right person. I want to focus on finding ways to make our company less reliant on me.

Posted by Anantha Subramanya  | November 8, 2017 at 12:20PM | Reply

Well. I took some to define the most important things for me. Then, I wrote down where my time is going! Some were in alignment and many were not. However, I thought, is there no space in my life to spend time for things that are important to others? Working on re-calibrating the proportion of time spent on things important to me and the ones who are very close to me. I must say that this was an eye opening exercise!

Posted by Jason  | November 8, 2017 at 1:37PM | Reply

5 things I could do right now that makes the biggest impact on moving towards my ideal future:
1. Stable bedtime / wake time
2. Daily exercise (running / weights)
3. Heavily cut back on social media
4. Get and keep my task management system up to date
5. Regularly remind myself of my goals

Posted by Christine  | November 8, 2017 at 1:37PM | Reply

Top 5 things I value: meaningful work, relationships, creative hobby, reading, mindfulness
Top 5 things I spend time on: work (>50% meaningful), commuting, chores, TV, internet
Ways to re-align what I value and what I spend time on:
1) Make chores and commuting (neither of which I can really eliminate) more meaningful/done more mindfully
2) Shrink TV and internet to increase time for creative hobby and reading
This was a good exercise. Thanks!

Posted by Whitney Elize  | November 8, 2017 at 1:53PM | Reply

Value Most in Life

1. my happiness
2. Freedom to travel
3. Family
4. Friendships
5. Movies(hobby)

Spend Most Time on

1. Watching TV/Movies
2. Planning Trips
3. Going Out
4. Writing in Journal
5. Cooking

Want to spend less time on going out and put it towards going out to a dance class. combine exercise and fun for myself.

want to watch less tv/movies to squeeze in more daily math drills.

Posted by Árpád  | November 8, 2017 at 1:56PM | Reply

Writing lists is not my favorite thing to do at all, but this time it had a very useful reason. I had a similar exercise a couple of years ago, when I had some health issues, and after that I changed many things. This time I started with a blank paper again, but later I made a comparison. The values are almost identical, but the activities not. I found that one activity from the actual list I should minimize and do something more useful instead of it.
This exercise just remembered me how important to look up regularly on the tree from the maze, thanks!

Posted by Janeson  | November 8, 2017 at 2:16PM | Reply

Huge red flag here for me. No worder I feel internal discord; the way I spend my time has previous little to do with the things that are most important to me. My ideal life list is much closer. It’s time to once again take my pruning shesrs and cut out the the weeds in my activity garden to make more room for the roses to grow. The garden analogy really is very true. I’ve done this exercise before, but the weeds crept back in. Persistent little devils.

Posted by Katie Alexander  | November 8, 2017 at 2:20PM | Reply

Values: family, helping others, personal growth, health/longevity, and innovation

Activities: Errands/driving; screens (blogs, social media, email, news, TV); Kiddos school volunteer; work; household CEO

High Impact Actions: maximize drive time (podcasts/info. diet primarily of personal growth, health, and innovation-oriented e.g. AE :) ); increase sleep to 7 hours/night w/reg bed and wake times; daily exercise; daily action on innovation, business development; daily quality family time

Posted by Phillip Imbesi  | November 8, 2017 at 2:48PM | Reply

Things I value most.

– Being a dad and husband
– Being a programmer
– Being counted on
– Being a friend
– Being creative

Things I spend my time on.

– Work
– Parenting/Husbanding
– Video Games
– Social Media
– Model Railroading

I’m mostly in alignment as long as I’m equating social media with friendships as that is the primary way I can communicate or keep tabs on a set of friends that have become more and more spread out.

The model railroading is my creative outlet, it used to be theater but as I’ve had to step away from things that keep me out of the house for long periods of time it’s been my go to.

I need to move being healthy into that space so I guess it’ll be bye bye video games for a bit.

Posted by Lisa  | November 8, 2017 at 2:57PM | Reply

That exercise was a little depressing. Like some of the other people, I had trouble coming up with values. I need to give my goals some deep thought! I spend too much time on new hobbies that I don’t follow through with and social media, though. And a LOT more time at work than I would like.

Posted by Kristen Smith  | November 8, 2017 at 3:00PM | Reply

What I value most:
1) spending time with family
2) maintaining a healthy lifestyle
3) being involved in my community
4) maintaining a clean, orderly home
5) being financially independent (no debt)

What I spend most of my time on:
1) working
2) playing with my baby and dog
3) doing housework (cooking/cleaning/laundry)
4) driving to and from daycare
5) participating in church groups & visiting with friends

I actually think these align pretty well, all things considered. I would like to spend more time with my husband, and I’ve been trying to find a way to get more exercise (preferably without my daughter having to spend even more time with a babysitter than she already does). I certainly don’t have everything I want yet, but I think our family has been doing well given our situation. Being a working mom with a husband in law school doesn’t leave me much time to waste on things like Netflix!

Posted by oliver glenn  | November 8, 2017 at 3:36PM | Reply

Value in Life:
1. QT with wife, hiking, topic discussions
2. QT w/the kids. Not quantity, but quality.
3. QT with family and friends, connecting, sharing moments
4. Quiet reflective time for me only. Can also be used for golfing
5. Working ON the business, not IN the business

Spend Time On:
1. Family mealtimes (sunrise breakfasts, and dinners all around the table, every night.
2. Golf 2-3 times a week.
3. Building the business and other rev streams
4. Self-improvement and lifestyle design reading
5. Household chores

Biggest impact: We’re working on the right things, but there is room for improvement. Time is a vacuum and simply gets filled up, so I think we need to have a reflective or accountability session int he week to ensure we’re spending time on the right things with priority and adjustments.

Things to do Right Now:
1. Build out the week’s schedule with 30 mins blocks of time. Do a forecast and an actual. Compare and adjust.
2. Build our dream board. Review if above schedule enables board success.
3. Block in more time with the wife for hikes in the week.
4. Set up reminders and block out “call family/friend” times in the week.

Posted by Don Pavlik  | November 8, 2017 at 3:39PM | Reply

Had a difficult time stating my values, what I had written down seemed more like traits, character, and activities. A good exercise to make me reevaluate what my values really are and based on what I am currently doing daily where the disconnect is.

Posted by Todd  | November 8, 2017 at 4:03PM | Reply

Done. This is a valuable exercise, but harder to practice week after week, month after month, etc. The big takeaway I have from this is to be proactive in designing my schedule to fit these values as opposed to being so reactive.

Posted by Alexander Malmström  | November 8, 2017 at 4:05PM | Reply

This is a problem for an entrepreneur where you have to work on your business to achieve your goals but you spend more time working in the business instead. I don’t spend time on Facebook, I actually do work but not on things that will make it grow as much as I need

Posted by Mike  | November 8, 2017 at 4:16PM | Reply

I am relatively happy. with the results of this exercise. In 10 years, Lord willing, I will be retired, i.e. free to pursue my values of loving God with all my energy, strength, intellect and passion. This will look like time to hike and enjoy outdoors, “be there” for my kids and grands, enjoy life with the wife of my youth, serving where time and talent have led me.

Posted by Steven  | November 8, 2017 at 4:40PM | Reply

Done. I realized I should be focusing more time on the relationships I value and actually block out time in my calendar for it.

Posted by Corinna  | November 8, 2017 at 4:41PM | Reply

Wow…I really need to get focused! I spend alot of time doing things that are not aligned with my goals. This exercise really opened my eyes to what I need to make time for. Thanks!

Posted by Eric  | November 8, 2017 at 4:46PM | Reply

Ouch! This one really hits home. My top five values and top five actions are nowhere close to being aligned with each other let alone with helping me move toward my Five-Year Plan.

Posted by Nils  | November 8, 2017 at 4:55PM | Reply

Also struggled with the five most valued things as many of the commenters above. Sometimes it’s not that easy to know what you really want/love/have passion for…
Well, for luck there’s some alignment in my list. But being early in my career as a surgeon the first steps are laid out by board requirements. Although you could also waste time during the daily activities at work and not get closer to meeting these requirements.
All in all Challenge #3 was a real eye-opener and helped a lot to identify the things to work on and get the Eisenhower Box sorted.
Thank you guys!

Regards
Nils

Posted by Thomas  | November 8, 2017 at 5:18PM | Reply

I’m happy to report that today’s challenge allowed me to see that my values and activities do align! It’s added fuel to my motivation. I’d been dealing with lack of purpose periodically but that was because I never took the opportunity to *visualize* what I’m doing!

My next goal is to get my values/activities to align with my long-term goals from yesterday’s challenge. The disconnect isn’t terrible but it’s one where, if I can visualize everything from start to finish, then nothing will stop me :)

Thank you, AE, for this breakthrough!!

Posted by nick  | November 8, 2017 at 5:51PM | Reply

hmm, seems I need some course correction

Posted by Jon  | November 8, 2017 at 6:24PM | Reply

What I value most:
1) my wife
2) the ability to live a mindful, present life
3) my health
4) financial independence
5) experiencing new things

What I spend most of my time on:
1) work
2) sleep
3) exercise (new on this list)
4) cooking
5) watching TV and other mindless downtime

I want to reduce #5 (I’ve already made some progress, but need to continue) in favor of more new experiences. It’s a challenge when my wife also wants to just come home and crash in the evenings. For now, better sleep and more exercise will help us not be so fatigued.

Posted by Joe  | November 8, 2017 at 6:52PM | Reply

I’m pretty far off between the two lists but now have an idea what needs to be done to correct.

Posted by Mark  | November 8, 2017 at 7:48PM | Reply

1. Spending quality time with my family
2. Traveling
3. Adding value to others by reducing wasteful processes
4. Health – Exercise
5. Learning

1. Processing emails
2. Tracking tasks in multiple systems for me and work (me: DevonThink and OmniFocus, work: ServiceNow and Jira)
3. Tangents that come up while performing a task
4. Volunteering as a Scoutmaster for my son’s Troop.
5. Other peoples emergencies, Q1 – Not important/Urgent

There were some surprises where things do align, but I really need to reduce the processing and tracking required in my current workflow.

Posted by Kacy  | November 8, 2017 at 8:34PM | Reply

5 things I value most: my health, family, enjoying life, making others’ lives better, being productive.

5 activities I spend most time on: work, replying to sticky situations (it takes me forever to respond to an angry customer or frustrated coworker because I rewrite and rewrite, I put it off, etc), watching TV, social media/being on my phone, walking (we got a new dog so I walk her for close to 2 hours a day total).

5 things I could do right now to move towards my ideal future: work on new card designs for my Etsy shop, journal, sit and read, exercise, paint!

Posted by Randy  | November 8, 2017 at 8:55PM | Reply

Top five most valued list still not as ‘easy’ to list as it should be, or I think it should be; this is an exercise that needs to be a recurring task. In terms of alignment, three of five is a good average in sports, but not so much in real life, especially when the rankings aren’t aligned.
Recalibration required.

Posted by Ella  | November 8, 2017 at 9:23PM | Reply

Again, this is stuff that ‘I thought I knew’, but actually sitting down and writing out each of this lists has put me face-to-face with things I need to change if I want to live a life more aligned with my values and priorities. It’s not all bad, but what I did find interesting was that a lot of the things that I spend time on feed into each other and make me feel worse for not getting things done, so I do more of them. Time to swear off reddit, methinks! (Even if I think I’m learning stuff D: )

Posted by Laurie  | November 8, 2017 at 9:36PM | Reply

This exercise has forced me to acknowledge that I am completely ignoring one of my core values, and have been for at least six months. This has been one of those things that I have had nagging at me, but which I keep pushing to the side. I am going to use tomorrow’s focus block to do some deep thinking on what kinds of activities I need to do to support that value, and to schedule them into my day as a first or second priority.

Posted by George  | November 8, 2017 at 10:34PM | Reply

I do a pretty good job of staying aligned, but there are many things that distract me and pull me away from my most important work.

Posted by Keith  | November 8, 2017 at 10:34PM | Reply

By far the biggest alarm is how much time i spend on my phone. It’s hard enough with me devouting a lot of my time to my work and then coming home with distractions that keep me from my family. Definitely something that I can change right now!

Posted by Donny  | November 8, 2017 at 10:42PM | Reply

Had to give some deep thoughts to figure out what is actually going on with my life. Found out things I value most are so abstract that I don’t even know if I’m moving towards it or not. But definitely I need to do more!

Posted by Michael Breen  | November 8, 2017 at 10:55PM | Reply

Wow! What I want to value, compared to what I am actually valuing (based on activities) – it’s like I’m two completely different people. It reminds me of the sales template good-better-best, with my activities being bad, values-better and future me – the best. These exercises are great!

Posted by e.e.  | November 8, 2017 at 11:44PM | Reply

Value in Life:
1. Spending time with husband
2. Reading/Watching Movies/Listening to music/Getting Inspired
3. Spending time with friends
4. Working out
5. Achieving work success

Spend Time On:
1. Social media ( :I )
2. Texting
3. Stressing
4. Arguing with husband (lol!)
5. Household chores

Clearly I have some work to do, specially since I genuinely do spend a lot of time stressing out instead of focusing on work. I definitely think having “focus” blocks will help, as well as avoiding tasks that I can delegate. Working on that! I also need to stay positive. Life is so much easier with a positive attitude.

Posted by YURI  | November 9, 2017 at 2:28AM | Reply

Done! It was very helpful!

Posted by Bob  | November 9, 2017 at 2:44AM | Reply

Hmm. I think my activities and values are matched up well, but proportions are way out of wack. Things I can do to fix that involve more delegation and better mix of deep focus work / people focus. Also specifically carving out time to spend with my wife for us to recharge.

Five things I can do right now yielded a few things I know I should do but put off, plus a couple that all of sudden have a higher priority (financial related, specific training/seminars).

Really good exercise.

Posted by Margaretha  | November 9, 2017 at 2:52AM | Reply

Here are the five that I spend most time on:
• Spend time with my partner
• Domestic Chores
• E Mails
• Time with the dog
• Reading trivia
These would move me towards my goals:
• Spend time with my partner and the dog; dog=exercise
• Chi Gong and Meditation
• Set up filters for E Mails so I only review these once a week
• Schedule time for domestic chores twice a day
• Set an alarm Mon-Fri
Partner and dog are my rocks, so I am not doing to bad. E Mails and trivia are water, so I am addressing these. Chi Gong, exercise and meditation are rocks too, so these need to be incorporated in the morning and afternoon rituals. Great thing about the dog is that walking kills two birds with one stone……

Posted by Shashank  | November 9, 2017 at 4:50AM | Reply

After this exercise, I can see that my top 5 daily activities are may
be aligned with my top 5 values but there is no momentum built to reach ideal future from the last exercise. I can see some clarity on what I should change in my daily tasks to bring some kind of intentional imbalance to get momentum in a specific area which has the highest impact on achieving ideal future. Here are few changes.
– Spend more time on Networking (Online/Offline) by adding values to other people lives
– Start building things rather than in consumption mode all the time
– Learned/Read what is relevant to current stage of life and business
– Put yourself out there irrespective of thinking about being successful on first product/appearance.
– Learn from your own failures than other other success

Posted by Susan  | November 9, 2017 at 7:26AM | Reply

I actually manage to attend to my top five values, but only very sporadically. I spend a lot of my time tending to daily family needs/caring for an aging parent/errands, and driving to and from a full-time job that has little to do with my top values. Top all that off with some social media, and there goes the day. I don’t even watch TV; who has time for that?

Posted by Diane Thompson  | November 9, 2017 at 7:27AM | Reply

I think it makes a difference that I am retired and get to spend my time on what means the most to me. I can remember when I worked and spent most of my time doing work that gave me no great satisfaction and the rest of my time commuting.
I am a lot busier than I was when I worked but I have the satisfaction of spending my hours doing things that bring me joy and satisfaction. I also moved to a location where I don’t have to commute saving me a LOT of time.
I have my calendar colour coded to my main activities which I love the most so that I can make sure that there is a balance.

Posted by CLive  | November 9, 2017 at 7:41AM | Reply

This is BIG!
I feel quite inadequate at the moment, as I am dealing with a heavy cold that has just descended. That is never going to take me towards my goals! I will be a bit behind, but ‘thinking time’ is still there to a degree, and I need it!
The comments are so inspirational too. Thanks to all who have done so.

Posted by Julia  | November 9, 2017 at 7:50AM | Reply

Late. Because, if both alignment and misalignment
An urgent AND important issue arose during my blocked time. I️ took care of it. Once home, I️ spent time with family, one of my big 5.
My current tasks are mostly in line with my 5-year goals; it’s the unplanned things, emergent and important that thwart me. Have to think how to … plan for that? Allow for that? Dodge that? Don’t know.

Posted by Anton  | November 9, 2017 at 8:36AM | Reply

Most time:
1. Responding to emails – serving other people, keeping them happy)
2. House chores
3. meetings!!!
4. Preparing lectures / teaching
5. Watching Youtube videos

VALUES
1. Animal companionship – connecting / bonding with animals
2. Time to do my own things (hobbies, exercise etc.)
3. Expanding my knowledge / getting new insights / discovering truths
4. Admiring nature / appreciating the beauty of the moment
5. Independence
NO I DON’T SPEND NEARLY ENOUGH TIME ON THE THINGS THAT ARE MOST IMPORTANT TO ME

BIGGEST IMPACT:

1. Become more focused (big rocks) – set 3 to 4 goals
2. Block of time (diarised) for special projects
3. Set aside leisure time (diarised)
4. Create email time zones
5. Establish a morning routine

Posted by Jeremy  | November 9, 2017 at 8:47AM | Reply

Done. Thankfully, after a year of Essentialism and pruning, I’m a lot closer than I was last time I did this exercise, but there’s still room for improvement.

Posted by Mario  | November 9, 2017 at 9:20AM | Reply

What I value most:

1. Financial security
2. Living without fear
3. Personal wellbeing (Health, Sports, Relationships, Food)
4. Travelling
5. Our cat! She’s really cute!

What I spend most time with:

1. Work
2. Internet / Smartphone (most of it without good purpose!)
3. Commuting
4. Time with wife
5. Sports

When I do only look at the list, you could say that there is some kind of alignment, but I do not fell it like that. In worktime I do not only do the things that help me getting security and fearless. I often focus on the wrong things and procrastinate the more important things. In private life, I do some sports but still weigh too much. So even if I spend some time on my most important issues, I do not seem to do it in the right way.

What I could do now to come closer to my goals and values:

1. Define, which work steps are more important than others. Delegate other stuff.
2. Define workflows for all the things that I procrastinate because I do not know, how to handle it.
3. Make morning and evening routines to save some time and to integrate sports and preparing of healthy food.
4. Leave the smartphone alone far more often and use the time with wife, cat and friends
5. Find a ukulele teacher!

Is it really that simple? 

Posted by Tom Erickson  | November 9, 2017 at 9:24AM | Reply

Great exercise, I learned that I am not even close to the things I value or that are important to me. I have dug down so far into work that I will need sunglasses if I ever come out. Change is needed NOW.

Posted by Rajesh Iyer  | November 9, 2017 at 1:32PM | Reply

wow ! thanks for posting this is all I can say. My values and my daily routines are poles apart. A day late but I am glad I did this exercise.

My values : Financial Freedom, Work Skills, Family, Health, My long term goal of giving back to society .

My time hoggers : can be summed up in one word actually – Internet. ( chat, IMs, FB, and even amazon) . Just one habit i started just recently fits to help improve / contribute to things I value most. Reading Technical and Productivity blogs.

Posted by Anesh Naidoo  | November 9, 2017 at 3:38PM | Reply

I’m clearly out of alignment with my long term vision of where I see myself. I knew that was the case but this exercise just crystallised my thinking. I know what I need to do to get my alignment on track and feel motivated to start today. I have a call set up with my business partner to start moving toward my ideal future. Wish me luck.

Posted by Srilekha  | November 9, 2017 at 4:18PM | Reply

What I spend most of my time on (in no particular order)
– Leisure
– Classes/classwork
– Work
– Procrastination
– I’m not actually sure? Probably random web surfing

What is most important to me:
– Self expression
– Self awareness
– Personal growth
– Autonomy
– Staying in touch with my loved ones

Well… these don’t look all that similar.

Posted by Simon  | November 9, 2017 at 4:32PM | Reply

Well… as I wrote before, I had created my Personal Manifesto a couple of weeks ago. As a result, my 5 top values are (mostly) in line with my 5 current activities. And those, which are not in line, such as temporary excessive workload, is leading me towards where I want to be in my future, i.e. having more free time by eventually switching some income on autopilot.

Again, this was great exercise to visualize and truly realize what is/shall be important for me personally and whether I’m doing it / living it. Thank you, Mike.

Posted by Christine McMullin  | November 9, 2017 at 9:00PM | Reply

While I’m mostly in alignment, there are a few areas where my values don’t play out regularly (especially health and spiritual growth).

Posted by Johanna Granlund  | November 9, 2017 at 10:57PM | Reply

1. Read more
2. Study professionals in my field
3. Be better at mealprepping healthy lunches and snacks.
4. Work out more effectively (HIIT instead of longer workouts)
5. Be more effective in terms of cleaning the house

Great exercise.

Posted by David  | November 10, 2017 at 2:11AM | Reply

This is another worthwhile exercise. I think I’m generally working on the things that matter, which is something I’ve been working on all year. I could spend more time planning and thinking about the best strategies to use, rather than simply doing.

Five things I could do right now that would have the biggest effect on moving me towards my ideal future
1. Spending more time creating research ideas
2. Spending more time on creating research output
3. Mentoring my students in a more structured and organised way
4. Teaching my students additional skills on the big picture and GTD organisation
5. Spending better quality time with family

Posted by Bob DeSilets  | November 10, 2017 at 6:05AM | Reply

Value:
1) my health
2) my family
3) creativity
4) nature
5).music
Activities:
1) playing games, web surfing
2) commuting
3) reading
4) work
5) family time

I struggled with my values for some reason, and finally put something down that sounded right, but I’m not sure if they’re the right things for me. Having the need to focus on them shows me I need to dig deeper and think more about what I value most. From my activities, the things that would give me the biggest impact on getting to my ideal future are pretty clear:

1) substitute games/ browsing habit with reading
2) wake up earlier (start with 5:30 instead of 6)
3) run 2x / week
4) schedule weekly review sessions with OmniFocus (I’ve been really bad about it)
5) journal regularly, starting with one thought, 5 min per day

Posted by Diana  | November 10, 2017 at 1:20PM | Reply

I value time with family, exercise, golfing, financial stability and continuing to learn.
I spend time on all these, but possibly too much time on finances. Need to work on better balance there.

Posted by Dan  | November 10, 2017 at 1:26PM | Reply

Almost a total mismatch on the 5 things I spend the most time on vs. what I value in life. Mostly handling client and family crises and requests. That and what I call “maintenance” tasks – things I do just to keep from falling behind.

What I’m going to do right now is work on developing DAILY habits that work toward my long term goals.

Posted by steven  | November 10, 2017 at 11:10PM | Reply

Done.

Got my gf in on doing the challenge as well so it has definitely been a great exercise to not only work on ourselves… but work on our relationship at the same time.

Values:

My relationship
Fitness/Health
Family
Freedom (time,money,location)
Education

Mostly in alignment except for this past couple weeks there have been a lot of conflict and I’m trying to regain the momentum.

Posted by Steve W  | November 11, 2017 at 2:51PM | Reply

This exercise has made me realise why I feel so overwhelmed at the moment. I’m trying to do so many things well, and only some of them are moving me towards my vision of the future. I’m spending most of my time at work or parenting and I’m neglecting the other aspects of my life. I need to schedule time for other areas of my life, and sacrifice some work hours, or negotiate with others to help with parenting. I also need to cut down on email, and listening to productivity podcasts!

Posted by Karusha  | November 12, 2017 at 1:52PM | Reply

I have done a similar exercise before and have definitely seen a misalignment but without the simple follow through step of what can I do right now to work towards my ideal future, it was just an interesting exercise.
Now, I have some specific things I can focus on:
– come home earlier to spend time with my family
– exercise and eat healthy
– consistently meditate every morning
– half an hour each day for personal development
– significantly reduce the amount of time I spend watching stupid videos that add no value to my life.

Simple, easy to track, and I would love to see how knowing that I am doing these things to create my ideal future changes my approach to these changes.

Posted by Simon  | November 13, 2017 at 1:44PM | Reply

Wishes

1. Security
2. Simplicity
3. Love
4. Health
5. Compassion

Time Spent
1. Distractions
2. Repetitive Work
3. Time wasting
4. With family
5. TV

How to improve
1. Financial Plan
2. Save more by transferring out money at payday.
3. Replace TV with learning.
4. Replace repetitive Work with learning
5. Automate where possible.

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