I worry about becoming stagnant. I'm quite sure lots of us share that worry and conversely, most of us will know people who don't have that worry at all. I envy them in many ways; they want an easy life and concentrate on enjoying things. As far as I can tell, that sentiment isn't compatible with self-employment, or if it is, it's so far away on the horizon I can't make it out yet. In my efforts to always grow and always be moving forwards, I invented a minor way to achieve this and I'd like to see if it works for other people.I was a little overwhelmed by the comments, emails, and messages I received across platforms after my recent article on failure. I am going to write a few spin offs on areas that received the most interest and questions and this is one, broadly speaking at least. Some of my failures came from attempts at growth, which is where most failures come for most people I suspect, but something that underpinned those failures also underpinned my successes. This "something" I made up by accident and has served me well and continues to do so.
I'm an advocate of to-do lists. As far as advocacy goes, that's about as dull as it gets, but they're incredibly effective. I tend to create three types of to-do lists: yearly, monthly, and weekly. During my first year of employment I had lots of business goals I aspired to achieve; some financial, some social, and just about everything in between. When I reached the point where I couldn't think of any more meaningful tasks I wished to complete that year, I nonchalantly wrote "do something you're proud of that you hadn't thought of when you wrote this list."
Little did I know when I wrote that with very little thought as to what it really meant, it was to be fantastically effective for me. I was around six months in to self-employment when I gazed up at my yearly list, wondering what I could cross off next and my eyes fell on that final goal. I decided that as my personal blog was growing but not nearly at the rate I wished, I would find a new way to combine by love for writing and for photography. This anecdote has a predictable ending: I joined Fstoppers. My first few articles were successful and I was proud to be a part of this great team and community, of which I am now an editor.
Not long after I had crossed that goal off, I sat back and thought about how effective it had been. With that, I decided to add it to every monthly list of goals henceforth. Doors started opening that I didn't even know existed. Not every month I got to cross this goal off, largely due to the second clause as opposed to the first; I did something I hadn't thought of but it didn't work out in a way that made me proud of it. But the magic was, sometimes it did work. I found myself (and still do) thinking about new ways to do new things. I was reaching out to people, companies and industries I didn't know almost indiscriminately fueled by a distant notion that something interesting might come out of it.
I found myself eating lobster with Lionel Richie at The Dorchester in London (I shouldn't have put this example first, it really is the peak. Also, this wasn't a sit down dinner, rather a chat with him and his girlfriend Lisa while waiters fawned over him! I thought I'd add that caveat lest I be accused of undoing all the hard work of my last article.), working with brands I didn't think I could, and forming partnerships I thought only happened to other people. I cannot recommend this little piece of advice more. It has allowed me to meet and work with people who would have never crossed my path "organically" and I'm now tantamount to an adrenaline junkie seeking out their next fix.
Growth and comfort might as well by antonyms for all they have in common. It's easy to be comfortable but difficult to grow and even more difficult to force yourself out of comfort and in to growth. I found this simple monthly goal an effective method, but I'm sure it's not the best. What sentiment or motivation do you use to push yourself?