This article was written by Thomas Oppong, Founder @Alltopstartups, and was originally published on Medium.
The time before you go to bed is golden, as it exists every single day, and it’s usually completely yours to schedule. What do you want to do with this time? Read? Spend time with your kids? Work on a hobby you’re passionate about? Take advantage of this time.
That time between clocking out of work and hitting the sheets every night is yours to do whatever you want. Using that time to pursue something meaningful to you will immensely improve not only your total well being, but sense of self worth. But the reality is that, after a long day’s work, you feel exhausted and all you want to do is to take a long break and zone out with the television on.
Netflix may not be a great idea, but documentaries and TED talks can lead to a greater understanding in a multitude of disciplines. It’s all in how you prioritize your life after work.
Starting and consistently doing or creating something will give you a sense of empowerment that can translate in the office as well. Extracurricular outlets don’t just boost your sanity — they feed back into your day job and can actually make you more productive.
But the daily grind can easily overshadow your passion project like writing a book, learning a new language, starting an online business, creating art, learning an instrument, designing, learning to code, collecting and selling vintage objects etc. It’s not enough to show up to work on time, and do a good job. You have to remain relevant and consistently improve to become a better version of yourself.
The biggest problem many people have is finding TIME to actually put ideas to work.
Striking a balance and committing time, attention and energy to that one special project that needs your focus is possible if you really want to pursue a meaningful project.
The trick is to turn that passion project into a habit! What you do every night after work can be life and career changing!
The 60/30 minutes rule
For the next 30 days, devote just 60 minutes of your time after work to the best opportunity in your life. Nothing else. Zero distractions. Your single most important task within that time is to make even the smallest progress on your passion project. You don’t have to make significant progress. But it matters that you stay consistent.
Do not compromise family values to get ahead in life though. Create your own balanced, fulfilling life. If 60 minutes is not realistic for you. Dedicate 30 uninterrupted minutes to it for the next 30 days and you will be amazed at the results. You could even consider investing this time in your passion project in the morning before work. Choose what works best for you.
However slow you move or improve, you will be deeply fulfilled in the fact that you are actually pursuing something you care about. Something that means the world to you. Something you have always wanted to do.
YOU are your biggest investment!
Your development starts with what you know about yourself. Do you know “YOU”? What are you capable of? What are you curious about? What have you always wanted to do in your spare time that could help you pursue the life you want.
At one of his Berkshire Hathaway annual meetings, Warren Buffett said:
“The most important investment you can make is in yourself. Very few people get anything like their potential horsepower translated into the actual horsepower of their output in life. Potential exceeds realization for many people…The best asset is your own self. You can become to an enormous degree the person you want to be.”
If you have a good idea of who you are and what you want to do with your life, you are half way to a successful life. Invest in yourself, it’s the best investment you can ever make. Create a bigger version of yourself. Don’t settle on a self-imposed plateau; always aim a bit higher than before.
It’s not about the kind of skills you acquire because you have to, but because you want to and it feels right. Something you are happy to do without hesitation. Skills that are unique to you. Skills you can only learn by doing. Skills that can only be developed when you find your true self.
When you put yourself on the line or otherwise expose yourself to the possibility of failure. Basically, what I am trying to tell you is that, there is something about you that can be explored and developed to your benefit and the rest of the world.
Invest in yourself!
Start by reading but focus on your creative pursuit!
The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
The habit of reading can change your perception, improve your worldview or better still expose creative ideas to you when you least expect it. Whatever you want in life, knowledge is key. Reading can give you a good head start if you want to start slow and figure out your meaningful work.
You will acquire new information every day. And even transfer your knowledge within your company. You could also create new possibilities for your employer based on your daily evening discoveries. Richard Steele once said “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Don’t get caught up in just the habit of reading without pursuing your creative work. You learn best by doing. You don’t want to divert the mind too much from its creative pursuits.
The do something habit is greater than thinking mindset.
Even if you have 30 minutes every night, each week you can easily read a book or better still start learning by creating something!
Spend an hour a day to learn about a topic
Exercise your creative genius. Anything new to your brain can stimulate it. Different skills, ideas, cultures, and opinions can have a positive effect on your own views about the world.
Acquiring new skills and gaining knowledge on a daily incremental basis is a proven way to take your career to the next level and improve your self-esteem.
When was the last time you questioned the existing convention, conceptualized problems differently, approached problems in new, innovative way. It’s about time you figured out what could be improved, challenged, done different, done with less effort to achieve more. Start questioning everything. Consider everything. Go through every possibility until you know for a fact it can or cannot be done.
Steve Job’s calligraphy course in college helped build the first Mac. In his famous 2005 Commencement speech for Stanford University, Jobs said:
“If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.”
You never know what will be useful ahead of time. Try new skills and they will connect with the rest of your skills in the future. Take online courses that can help you start a passion project. These are a few I have put together about becoming an entrepreneur(they are all free).
Reflect on what you learn by blogging
Apart from becoming a better writer, blogging can help you organise your thoughts. Blogging encourages deep thinking. When you begin to share what you know with others, your ability to communicate gets better. Blogging helps your brain to stay active. You will also be able to link ideas and pieces of information better.
Once you commit to the habit of reading about your industry and sharing what you know with your audience, you will begin to comprehend and process information faster.
It’s a slow process, but once you commit to it, you can significantly improve how you process and share knowledge. It’s definitely not easy but it’s worth your precious time.
Make 2017 your most amazing year yet!
Don’t invest in a career. Build a life. For centuries we’ve been trained by the system to stop thinking and do as we are told. But dreamers and thinkers are changing the world as we know it. Thinkers and dreamers are the new untouchables. Everything you want is a dream away.
The only thing holding you back from doing something truly amazing, is you. The world is full of amazing people. You are either one of them or aspire to be amazing! The amazing ones are an inspiration to those who aspire to do something amazing.
It’s still okay to dream, wish and hope for an amazing life — not just an okay life, but a ridiculously amazing life. You are where you are today because of the choice you made yesterday. Your choices today will determine whether you will have an amazing or regretful life tomorrow.
Re-think your evening routine!
If you make creative pursuit part of your weekly schedule, at least Monday through Friday, you’ll begin to see change as long as you keep doing it at the same time each day. Make it a habit to see significant improvement. A routine at night means better time management.
Think of all of the time that was either used productively or possibly wasted after work till the time you go to sleep and ask yourself what could I have done or can I do with all of that time?
There truly are no limits as to what you could have learned or accomplished. It’s what separates the masses from the high achivers in this world!
But changing your habits and life can start TONIGHT!
One more thing…
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