misspent-life

hbr.org
How Will You Measure Your Life?
Don’t reserve your best business thinking for your career.

Create a Strategy for Your Life

“Had I instead spent that hour each day learning the latest techniques for mastering the problems of autocorrelation in regression analysis, I would have badly misspent my life. I apply the tools of econometrics a few times a year, but I apply my knowledge of the purpose of my life every day. It’s the single most useful thing I’ve ever learned.”

“The choice and successful pursuit of a profession is but one tool for achieving your purpose. But without a purpose, life can become hollow.”

Allocate Your Resources

“Your decisions about allocating your personal time, energy, and talent ultimately shape your life’s strategy.”

“If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find this predisposition toward endeavors that offer immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, you’ll see the same stunning and sobering pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.”

Create a Culture

“The theory arrays these tools along two dimensions—the extent to which members of the organization agree on what they want from their participation in the enterprise, and the extent to which they agree on what actions will produce the desired results. When there is little agreement on both axes, you have to use “power tools”—coercion, threats, punishment, and so on—to secure cooperation. “

“You have to design them into your family’s culture—and you have to think about this very early on. Like employees, children build self-esteem by doing things that are hard and learning what works.”

Avoid the “Marginal Costs” Mistake

On living a life of integrity:

“Unconsciously, we often employ the marginal cost doctrine in our personal lives when we choose between right and wrong.”

“But looking back on it, resisting the temptation whose logic was “In this extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s OK” has proven to be one of the most important decisions of my life. Why? My life has been one unending stream of extenuating circumstances. Had I crossed the line that one time, I would have done it over and over in the years that followed.”

“The lesson I learned from this is that it’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time. If you give in to “just this once,” based on a marginal cost analysis, as some of my former classmates have done, you’ll regret where you end up. You’ve got to define for yourself what you stand for and draw the line in a safe place.”

Remember the Importance of Humility

“One characteristic of these humble people stood out: They had a high level of self-esteem. They knew who they were, and they felt good about who they were. We also decided that humility was defined not by self-deprecating behavior or attitudes but by the esteem with which you regard others. Good behavior flows naturally from that kind of humility.”

Choose the Right Yardstick

“I’ve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched.”

“Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.”