Do you have an AOP for your personal life?
We are human beings, and one thing that separates us from animals is our mind, it imagines the future, identifies opportunities, solves problems, and generates value. This ‘expert’ process of capturing value, solving problems, offering services & making money in return becomes our work life!
Then we have our family & home life, where we have our definitions of what gives us happiness (holidays/spending time with loved ones)- our personal life.
Another beauty of the mind is— it’s always thinking, and always working! It creates its To-Do list of things to think about/finish! Whatever is not finished/has to be done, it keeps thinking about it!
Technically speaking, we were built to enjoy both, work and personal life. However, most ambitious people are unable to do so. I believe this is so because what gives us happiness (what we want to do) and what we end up spending time & tracking on are not in sync.
For example — let’s see what gives us happiness — I have spoken to so many people about what they do for work-life balance. What gives them happiness, what usually do they do to switch off, how do they take a break, and what do they do for themselves, 90% of the answer that I get is the following :
All of us truly enjoy doing things with our family and loved ones or maybe even being alone however what do we end up spending most of our time on — Work!
It is so because when it comes to work — we mostly have a target, a destination. We follow systematic tools in our professional life to track growth, there are Annual Operating plans, performance trackers, MIS, and reviews. There is a system to measure it, track it, complete it and record it. As soon as we are lacking in the professional field we can immediately realize it, survey it and fix it.
However, when it comes to personal life we do not have any targets, plans, objectives, or goals. We can not measure it or track it and that is why it is easy to get off track and not even realise when we start to completely ignore it.
Hence, we suffer from a lack of work-life balance. It comes in the form of anxiety/ compromised quality of relationships, addictions, and other issues — and this can create a ruckus.
Solution — a simple AOP (Annual Operating Plan!) for Personal life with trackers (as progress is positive food for the mind). Little progress made daily in personal life can work wonders
How best to approach this?
There are 4 broad quadrants in our life, — 2 fall in personal and 2 in professional. These are
- Family (Personal)
- Education or Career (Professional)
- Mental and Physical Wellness (Personal)
- Resources (Professional)
To track progress in my personal life, I created ‘AOP’
It's fairly simple. On an excel sheet, write down relationships* (have a section for ‘self’) that are important for you, now think what are the areas you need to work on. Then simply plot tasks over daily / weekly/monthly/yearly tasks and chase them. Review them regularly. (Cheat code — Find time to be thankful for them* — it's magical, and helps in dealing with anxiety!
When do you need to start this? NOW!
Confucius, the great Chinese Philosopher, wrote this beautiful sentence back in 550 BC: “We have two lives; the second begins when we realize we only have one.”
The day this realization hits you is when you start living real life.
Measuring progress in each quadrant of life is important, and spending time on personal things is equally important. If plans of tomorrow don’t find a space in your today’s plan, they will always stay in tomorrow and one day there will be no tomorrow.
I am not suggesting giving any less importance to work, the point is to give equal importance to all 4 quadrants and keep metrics in check.