Updated: Jan 8, 2022
PLUS: Get your FREE 100-page booklet, 'Questions Introverts Ponder & Answers Extroverts Need to Hear'
At a New Year's Eve party we attended last week, we had some delicious chocolate silk pie (and some cheesecake and plenty of chocolate martinis too)! I'd say we are off to quite a sweet new year. With that in mind, bear with me while I share a tasty analogy.
2022 is like a pie. We have to put lots of ingredients into the bowl to make a delicious pie. Too much milk or not enough eggs or sugar and it just won't taste right.
Figuring Out the Recipe
So what ingredients are you going to put in your 2022 pie? Perhaps family, health, work, spiritual, social, or personal time for hobbies and learning. What else is an important part of your 2022 recipe?
Now the pie pan only has so much space. You have to allocate your time and efforts to fill the pie with the ratio that will be most meaningful and gratifying for you. If you spend a large portion of your time on one item, you will have to reduce focus elsewhere.
You may start by saying each ingredient could be poured in equally, but will that provide you the most fulfilling year (or a very inedible pie)? But if you double the "work" ingredient, you have to cut back elsewhere - maybe family or personal hobbies, etc.
This exercise (something I definitely will have to do after all this pie-eating) is intended to help you evaluate what is most important to you, how you want to spend your time, and ultimately what choices you want to make. These decisions are yours. They have to be in order for you to take ownership and be happy. They are not your spouses or doctors or boss' at work.
I. How to decide what is most important
It depends in part on what will make you fulfilled in 2022 - what kind of pie would you like? If you had chocolate silk in 2021, maybe you want the same in '22 or perhaps apple or peach?
Consider the list of ingredients or categories such as family , personal time for hobbies and learning, work, health, spiritual, social, etc. Feel free to add or delete some.
For each one, jot down what comes to mind as far as activity or goals for 2022.
Enlist others for this exercise, including spouse/significant other, and your manager based on your work goals for 2022, as well as other family members, and so forth. Again, they can input but they don't get to decide what your ingredients are for your pie.
II. How do you want to spend your time?
I recognize we may all want to only have family and personal time, but bringing in the dough (for the pie shell) is usually necessary so consider what your work and career goals are. How can you achieve those most efficiently?
Which ingredient or category did you write down a long list of activities quickly and which was a short list and took some time to develop? The rapid-fire list is a clue on where your passions lie. Do more of these.
Consider some scenarios. If you focus more on one category, what would you have to reduce to fit in the pie pan? How does that feel? Does it feel exciting or spur a twinge of pain or reluctance? Maybe the pie is too sweet or soupy?
III. How do you make the tough choices?
If you start prying time and energy away from personal hobbies and learning, what might that look like? Many introverts benefit from a reasonable dose of these to re-energize and reflect. These can be a catalyst for succeeding in other areas of your life.
This is a great opportunity to reflect on what might be a waste of time or inefficiency. Perhaps a new computer or calendar can help you work smarter not harder. Maybe some things you have done for years just because, but it could be time to stop them and see how that feels.
None of us can do everything. It's actually quite healthy to make choices. Slough off the old stuff. Challenge yourself to stop at least 10% of what you do (say 1-2 hours worth of activity in a typical day) so you can replace it with new, more exciting things. Change can be difficult but often is for the best and then you wonder why you didn't make the change sooner. I "discovered" bread pudding late in life. Now I'm trying to make up for lost time!
Sample and Modify
So once you've sorted through the ingredients and right proportions for your recipe, it's time to put it in the oven or fridge. Bake it or let it sit a while. Each month, eat 1/12 of the pie and consider if you still enjoy that pie or if your tastebuds have changed and you need to modify the recipe.
One of my friends and fellow introvert entrepreneurs says she will set aside some time once a month to review her plan. She'll call that day 'Pie Day' and she'll actually treat herself to pie while she ponders her progress. Sounds delicious! I'm going to steal that idea.
Maybe it's now too sweet or you want more fruit. Maybe one part of your plan has gotten too big and you are feeling overworked or stressed. Maybe conditions have changed at work and the family budget has gotten a bit tighter? Maybe you feel like you are right on plan, but it's not bringing you the balance and joy you anticipated?
In all cases, it's better to be aware of this imbalance sooner than later so you can make necessary tweaks to get back in line and preserve your dreams for the year.
Undoubtedly, you'll look back on your year next December and recognize a lot of changes from the original January plan. That's fine. We have to be flexible in order to take advantage of opportunities that arise or to protect ourselves from risks that may befall us. But if you continue to monitor and adjust, you'll be on track to have a fulfilling year...and have a piece of pie every once in a while.
My 2022 Pie
I used this exercise recently to make my own "pie." I consulted with some trusted business coaches and realized to have some of my business dreams, I'd need to spend about 50% of my time on work. I pondered that a lot and decided I needed a better work/life balance to be happy., so I challenged my business plan, identified my priorities, and pushed other items off my list to preserve the work/life balance I sought.