Inspiration for Transition: Methods and Techniques
Making major lifestyle changes are quite a challenge these days in our society. For working class adults, we may have businesses we own and operate, we may have mortgages to pay and fixed monthly bills, we might have work commitments or could just feel bogged down by the weight of material abundance and feeling that these are insurmountable obstacles to making a much needed and sought after shift in our lives.
I've experienced these realizations and worked through many transitions with my family. Some by design, some by weathering traumatic and tectonic shifts, striving every time to learn and grow out of them even stronger and more whole, together, than we could have previously imagined.
I am sharing some of my learning from those personal experiences as well as my technical experiences from working in some of the most complex aerospace engineering and manufacturing projects and transitions in the world. While there are a wide variety of heavy technical methods, tools, and processes we could talk about, I'm going to share some of the more approachable, useable, and applicable to daily life and it's many transitions. I think everyone could benefit from some of these approaches and strategies, whether you are planning a transition soon, have a mild inclination to explore your options, or have never felt any need whatsoever to make any major shift. Life can and WILL shift for you and these strategies can help create a bedrock for you and give you the means to weather the storms as well. Working through some of these methods will likely inspire you and generate more creative thinking for a future wide with possibilities...that is my hope at least!
First, it's cliché, but in clichés contain truths many of us would rather not deal with. I firmly believe in creating a personal and/or family vision. Many people instantly balk at such a thing and cry "I'M NOT A PLANNER!". This isn't about a plan, it's about understanding, in general, a desired future State of Being for you and your family. I'll leave it to you to search out all the methods and techniques to do this, I've explored many myself, and all of them had some level of benefit for me and my family. The point is to DO IT, write it down, create it, make it tangible. Next step is to improve on it on a regular basis, say annually. Readdress and revisit it. It should remain essentially intact with refinements as you go along. Visions often are manifestations of your deep core principles and values and those rarely change. You want to make sure you appreciate it and ensure it remains relevant for you.
"But how do I make this useful on a daily basis?", great question! The simplest answer, among a vast array of uses of such a creation, is when making simple or even complicated decisions, ask yourself "Does this bring me closer to that vision or farther away? Am I really BEING that vision today, in what way I can, or am I behaving and acting in a way that takes me farther away from it?" If you consistently make decisions and act opposed to that vision its either the vision isn't right or you have some serious work to do on your self-defeating nature. If you're working to transition by design or perhaps you have the very unlucky and unfortunate experience(s) of the tectonic shifts in your life, having a foundational vision can help you stay personally inspired, motivated, and focused but can also help your family (or business) weather through shaking and shifting to come out better for it on the other side.
Next, and I'm not the originator here and I’m not quite sure who is, but understand there are 4 Currencies in Life: Time, Money, Energy, and Attention. At any given moment, you're balancing (or NOT as the case may be!) these 4 currencies. Many people don't realize there are 4 (most often people think time and money alone) but understand that much of your angst and lack of motivation could be originating with an imbalance in these currencies. You're making trade-offs and you may not be consciously aware and making defeating sacrifices that won't get the returns you think you will get. Maybe it's devoting vast amounts of time to get more money, or perhaps its giving your reserves of attention (and thus time as well!) to influencers, media channels, or ideas that don't get you closer to that vision. Understand that your desired change or transition might not be the rebalancing you need or perhaps you can dramatically improve your currency holdings if you focused some energy or attention on something else or different than you might have been assuming. Mull on these currencies and see what kind of balance or imbalance you have and create action to rebalance on a regular basis.
Effectiveness trumps efficiency any day! While many focus their energy and attention on being more efficient, or rather doing things faster/better, that's all essentially meaningless and a dead end if you aren't first certain that you're working on the RIGHT things. Otherwise you're doing a great job working faster and better on things that don't matter! This one's hugely obvious to everyone but we all commit this failing more often than we want to admit. Much has been written on the subject from Peter Drucker's Effective Executive, Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and Tim Ferriss' 4 Hour Work Week, to name only a VERY select few (that I've read and highly recommend!). Go check one of those out to get deeper into this. Your transition will be vastly more enjoyable and the probability of success is MUCH higher if you understand and continuously readdress whether you're working on the right things to get you to your next stage or not. I'll share 2 simple techniques to work at this are:
Prioritization of major activities, investments, "currency" expenditures or even future changes: how hard will it be to accomplish the change (or how hard am I working on this today) vs. what is my expected return (or am I getting out of this currency expense) today? Think of this like a 4 square between Easy/Hard on the Y Axis and Low/High on the X Axis. You'll end up with activities or changes that are: Easy to accomplish with High Return, Easy but low return (not to be ignored), Hard and High Return (not the best but still not to be ignored), and then Hard things that get low returns (this can be tricky but most of these aren't worth it). No categorize your list of major activities over say, the past 3 years (and project forward to the changes you want to make), into these buckets. Get it? Contact me directly if you want more help!
The trusty 80/20 Analysis. For those that aren't familiar, go search for "Pareto's 80/20 Analysis" and you'll find endless material on the subject. It's covered well in 4 Hour Work Week and The One Thing. Essentially, do an inventory of your past experiences, say in the last year or 5 years. You can go as deep as is useful for you. You can do the same for intended changes or transitions in the future, it's only a matter of envisioning the results and feelings you'll get from these activities, accomplishments, or currency expenditures. Now after the inventory stage, mark the items in your list that provided you with the MOST dramatic returns or excitement, joy, etc.. More than likely if you have a list of 10 items, or 50, you'll select approximately 20% (or 2 or 10 in our example, respectively) before you start to feel a diminishing of that excitement/return you felt (or will feel). What this is is a mathematical Power Law manifesting in your life, meaning that a small number (in this case approximately 20% or some other ratio) of these activities/desires, etc. will produce 80% of the energy, excitement, joy in your life. That other 80% isn't necessarily completely useless but you should really be scathingly critical as to whether they are necessary or not. Otherwise, you're not being as effective in your life as you can be. The opposite is also true, meaning that some other 20% of those activities, choices, expenditures, etc. produced approximately 80% of your negative feelings or poor results. Get it? Contact me directly if you want to know more.
Lastly (for now) is the fundamental tenant of Continuous Improvement. No, this doesn't mean self-help to the extreme or exercising until you go blind or eating raw veggies all the time. What I mean here is given your vision and effectiveness inventory, you get the BEST results, longest lasting, and most meaningful when you continuous improve and move towards them. It's like the concept of compounding interest but taking it to another dimension of results. Continuously address your vision, refine your behaviors, actions, and choices to move to your transition with ever increasing odds of success. Read more, across a variety of subjects, move more, in as many ways as you can, relate more, with as many diverse people and ideas as you possibly can, give more, in service to others with any combination of the 4 currencies as you can. This one is probably the simplest but the least practiced. These things compound and snowball with time. I promise you'll be more fulfilled and excited about where you are and where you want to be.
This post has been about simple, practical strategies to make transitions and changes in your life or just continuously improve your already joyous position! I've personally applied all of them professionally, with a vast array of businesses and groups of people, as well as personally for myself and my family. They are only a few but they are First Principles level fundamentals anyone can benefit from and apply on a continuous basis. Please feel free to contact me directly if you'd like to know more or have examples you'd like to share!