What I’ve Learned So Far This Year

Even though it’s early in the year, I have learned some important lessons.  I thought I would share a few of them with you.

This is not the first time that I have learned these lessons, but these are great reminders of what I want to focus on for the rest of this year.  Execution of a good idea is sometimes better than having a great idea with no execution.  

Having just the vision’s no solution; everything depends on execution.

— Stephen Sondheim

Lesson 1: You have to carve out time for important areas of life.

I took the time to set goals in all of the major areas of my life at the beginning of this year, and I realized one thing.  I am busy.  I have many responsibilities and many tensions to manage.  But I also have commitments that cannot be compromised.  So I decided to carve out time in my calendar for areas that are non-negotiable.  To me, this means that I will not be happy on a consistent basis unless I spend time in those areas.  For me, time needs to be set aside for my wife, my kids, my work, my health, and my relationships.  

I know from the past that people and problems can easily invade into those areas unless I actively choose to protect that time.  It is not enough to just say certain things are important – time must be allocated and guarded.

Lesson 2: Goal setting takes time.  Schedule it now.

I am always surprised at how long it takes me to set goals for an upcoming year.  For me, it is not a quick process.  I will usually spend 1-2 weeks putting together goals and a game plan for each area of my life.  I really believe that this time provides energy and motivation that can last nearly all year.  As Jim Rohn said, “A well-designed future is greeted with anticipation, rather than with apprehension.”  

A well-designed future is greeted with anticipation, rather than with apprehension.

Jim Rohn

But the more responsibilities I take on, the longer it takes me to set goals and create plans.  This year, I already have placed times in my calendar to set goals for next year (in November and December).  I set more time aside than I think that I need (about double) since November and December tend to be very busy seasons because of family, the holidays, and work obligations.

Lesson 3: Relationships are important.  Don’t wait.

About a month ago, I had set as a task to follow up with one of my old law school professors and see how he was doing.  I really enjoyed getting to know this particular professor (he taught Moot Court), and I have had lunch with him a few times since I graduated.  Every time I spoke with him, I really enjoyed the experience.  He was extremely intelligent and very witty.  It was a joy to spend time with him.  

Well, I waited a month to email my old professor, but I did email him.  Sadly, one month was too long.  A few days after I sent the email – just asking how he was doing – I received a reply back.  It was from his wife: she told me that my professor, and friend, and had passed away from an unexpected neurological disorder just a few weeks prior to my email.  That reply email was one of the saddest emails I have ever received.  The funeral had already occurred, and I had no idea that my friend had died. 

There are many opportunities in life for regret.  I wanted to add this lesson, because it is still painful for me.  Relationships are important.  Don’t wait to follow up if you are thinking about someone or if you can help someone.  You never know what can happen, or what will happen.  Use the time you have well.  

Right now counts forever.

Lesson 4: Try making a “pissed off” list.  

Finally, there is one more lesson I want to share.  I know the title says “Three Lessons” but I didn’t want to change the title…

I am normally pretty diligent about setting goals on yearly basis (and usually much more often).  As I was setting my goals for this year, I imagined the end of the year.  I looked at all of the goals I just wrote down in all of the different areas of my life.  Honestly, I felt overwhelmed.  There were too many goals.  I wondered how I would be able to hit them all.

So I reviewed each goal, and I asked myself one question: would I be pissed off if, in December of this year, I had not reached the goal?  If the answer was yes, then I put that particular goal on a separate list, my “pissed off” list.  My “pissed off” list is actually pretty short, but now I know where I need to focus this year.  Those are the goals that I need to hit, or I will not be happy with myself at the end of the year.  Have you ever made that type of list?  I will let you know how it works out.  

So there are three four lessons that I have learned already this year.  What have you learned?  Let me know in the comments!

  • Jeff Swerdan

    You have to focus on the things you want and writing goals down is a great step towards making them come true

    • John Mashni

      Absolutely. Thanks Jeff!