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How do you run your life?

Abdelrahman Magdy gives valuable tips about how to manage your time, goals and how to direct entrepreneurs' decision-making.
Abdelrahman Magdy | 11.10.2011
It’s seriously challenging to stay focused and positive while turbulent situations are storming your life either personally, work-related or concerning the future of your country. Having a system in place to run your life accordingly can be a great support to stay focused, positive and moving forward regardless of what’s happening around you.

During the previous weekend, with the need to sort a few things in Alex, I used it as an opportunity for some – unfortunately, very rare – ‘me time’ to rethink things, reorganize priorities and get back with a clear vision of where am I standing and where am I heading. Looking at this experience now, I discovered that I already have a system to run my life accumulated from previous experiences and just never thought of it as an organized structure to “run your life”. I’m here to share.

It’s important to first understand what controls our decision-making and influences “how” we approach running our life. I believe we have a few assets that direct our decision-making and eventually decide our destiny. Those are our beliefs, character and experiences.

We grow up with our beliefs and owe our parents and environment for the fundamental ideas that will control how we approach life afterwards. Our faith, national belonging and basic ideas about social interaction are mostly formed at an early age. While we should never stop questioning our beliefs and be open for a paradigm shift, a major change in those is rare, takes time and is a heart-wrenching experiences.

Besides our DNA, practicing these basic ideas forms our character. Our basic personality traits start showing up as a result of our interaction with the environment and experiences we go through. I believe with practice people can change if they have the will, dedication and suitable environment. I personally started showing more patience lately and that wasn’t a character trait I grew up with.

The set of knowledge, skills and mental images formed by our experiences in life are also a major factor in deciding our destiny.

As we define who we are and how we look at life by these beliefs, character traits and experiences, we realize that we have limited time to live, with room for limited things to do. That’s when we’re required to decide the direction that our life will take by deciding our goals. If we don’t have well-defined goals, values and objectives in life, then we didn’t start living yet and just being reactionary towards what happens to us in life.

From about four years, I started using Clear Mind ~ Bright Future to write down my goals in a booklet. I come out from a goal setting session with a single paper with my goals for every year; an exercise through which you ask yourself about your purpose, legacy, values, life goals and fears. It helps you write down who you are and what you want in an objective way that will lead to your yearly objectives this year.

I led an exercise on 01/01/2011 in a gathering JanSat1 Achieving Your 2011 Dreams during which I went with some colleges through the experience of setting our goals on a single paper.

Getting back to my 24 pages analysis, I can see no change in life purpose, values or legacy, but as it moves to specific key areas in life, goals start to get smarter and more specific. Every year, reading this, I can see the direction I’ve decided to take my life to and see the path evolving, that makes you feel grounded, aware and “know what you’re doing with your life”.

Funny thing is that in the 2008 goals paper, I can find “Tozzz” (an Arabic word meaning “doesn’t matter”) in the “Positive attitudes I am now cultivating” section and I can evaluate this in that the last few years whenever something happens, I say “Tozz” and move on.

Having decided on specific goals, it’s time for strategies and the action plans to reach them. Two years ago, I started using 37Signals applications and currently as I look to them, I find on Backpack that there are private pages that include how I’ll approach what I want to do. When it’s not private, these pages get shared with team members, advisors or anyone who has a valuable contribution to make.

So, our goals lead to strategies, models and approaches to get it done. And by then it’s time for execution. Basecamp, being a project management tool, is currently where operations to get stuff done is being led. I counted 23 projects currently being executed in different activities I’m involved with. I created a company and called it “Abdo” through which I manage personal projects and executive tasks not related to any other project.

I base all my communication on these applications, so whenever there is something that should get done, “if it’s not on Basecamp it doesn’t exist” and I try to train and mentor everyone I work with to religiously follow these applications. Actually, the level of interaction there is a health indicator of whether things are being done and on time or not.

Even if I’m digitally connected most of the time, I keep my agenda as a record for my previous activities and those soon to come. Having to organize your daily activities on the agenda is the best approach ever. All this digital stuff gets too complex for a daily check of what you’re supposed to do.

Sometimes, our life gets out of control and we need to get back to researching who we are, what we stand for, what our goals are, what strategies we need to reach these goals and then what should we do about them. When I get back and look at things with this clarity, I can identify what went wrong and how to ReWork it.

I enjoyed this exercise putting my thoughts on a blog post and I’m curious to know about you, how do you run your life?