in life

Re-Shifting Your Priorities (Hint, It’s OK)

“Where the heck have you been”?

I’ve had more than several people ask me this over the last couple months – wondering where I’ve been and why I haven’t been around this neck of the woods as much lately.

A (long) while back I wrote about the concept of re-shifting and re-focusing your priorities. It stands true that focus is imperative as you strive to do whatever it is in front of you to accomplish – but focus can be just as much of a hindrance as it is a necessity.

Focus too hard on one specific goal, one particular something, and you may just miss out on a whole world of other opportunities.

Things change, priorities shift – think about how much has changed in YOUR life over the past year, even the past month.

So back to me, this blog, and re-shifting my own priorities. I’m not dead (yet), I’m not retired from writing – instead, there’s been a lot of (exciting) things on my plate that have taken me away from pantsless-land. In the meantime…

1) I launched a new business.

If you’ve been following me closely – you’ve probably heard of my new company, Proof (if you haven’t – or even if you have – go check us out).

This was one of the big reasons I packed up and moved back to Nashville. When it comes to writing, all of my thoughts related to business, marketing, Social Media, branding, and so on are housed over there – so if your a subscriber here, and you like what you’ve been a part of for the past (almost) two years – subscribe to Proof’s RSS feed and you can keep in touch with me over there.

2) I’m supporting my wife’s pursuit of meaningful work.

This is something us social-media, lifestyle design, gen-y, location independent-types talk a lot about. The idea that work can (and should) have meaning – that a job should be more than just a job – the rebellion against working simply to get paid.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have found that very early in my life – I’m living a life I didn’t think was possible this time last year. Now it’s my wife’s turn to take steps toward pursuing that herself.

What does this mean for me? It means longer hours (as if there are ever enough of those throughout the day) and pushing full speed ahead so I can continue to support both of us while she does her thing. Happy wife, happy life, right?

3) I’m unplugging (a lot) more often

Personally, I’ve taken a significant step back from the online world. A “digital detox” so to speak. Why? Because this is where I spend my professional life – and for a while – this was where I spent my entire life (or at least it sure as heck felt like it). It’s the simple idea of work/life balance. Even if you love what you do, would you want to live in your office? Exactly.

There’s a lot of talk about freedom and it’s association with entrepreneurship – and, don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful thing – but equally beautiful is being able to close the computer, walk away, and go enjoy life. We all want freedom, not necessarily pure freedom – just some wiggle room.

That’s where I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. Life is good – GREAT actually. The take away for you? Don’t be afraid to shift your focus, to purse something new even if it means sacrificing your commitment to something else. You can do a lot – but you’ll never be able to do it all.

How has life, and your priorities shifted recently?

(Image c/o Rob Williams Design)

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  1. Seriously just wrote a post on this very subject about how I’m changing the focus of my blog – so timely.

    It’s great that your focusing more on “not being online.” I’ve taken the last couple weeks and really tried to focus on spending meaningful time with the wife and kids – besides just sitting in front of the TV.

    It’s been awesome.

    Thanks for the post – very encouraging.

    PS – we’ve put off our game of Madden for too long.

    • Sitting in front of the TV mindlessly…ah now if I could only get back to those days, lol. Sometimes mindlessness is a good thing, ya know? And yes…we’ve got to get on Madden one of these days…

  2. Great post. I think it’s always good to get off the online world and start spending more time on other priorities. It’s good to unplug a little because the online world can be overwhelming- especially if you spend your whole day on the social web. Congrats on your new developments, and hope you enjoy your time off! :)

    • Thanks, Akhila. It isn’t really time-off, just spending time on new things, ya know? All a part of that evolutionary process. It’s great to hear from you and I hope you’re doing great.

  3. I’ve been trying to have my cake and eat it, too for a long time and it’s left me feeling scattered. My all-over-the-placeness was partly due to planning my wedding, moving to New York City, and dealing with my wife’s health issues. But to be honest, it was me trying to do the latter, my business, a screenplay, and a joint venture all at ONCE. Multi-tasking is good for two items but not six and now I’ve put a sign next to my desk that says “Multi-tasking is for unicycling torch jugglers (i.e. NOT YOU)”

    I think what it comes down to for me is just defining what’s enough to put on my plate for right now that will keep cash in the bank and keep my mind relatively centered. I’m still trying to figure that out but I’m sure glad I at least am in the process!

    Thanks for the kind reminder, Matt.

  4. Hi Matt – I love this post!

    My priorities shifted in a big way when I quit my day job. The main reason being that I really wanted to spend the summer “off with the kids.” I wanted to experiment with a slower lifestyle. Maybe it appeared that I got lazy or quit pursuing my writing, but that wasn’t the case at all. Life was just full of other priorities. I could have worked late at night or on weekends, but I chose a simpler life over a chaotic one. And I’m really glad I did.

    Now with school in session, I have a lot more time to write and build my freelancing business. I’m loving it! And like you, I’ve learned how important it is to unplug, to realize life is short and the people who will actually miss me when I’m gone are here at home, in person.

    Happy wife, happy life … you are wise! ;-)
    Take care,

    • Well for the record, I’ll miss you when you’re gone :) And yes, I learned very early on to make the misses happy :)

      Life goes on, such as it is, right? Writing will always be a passion and it’s not going anywhere but right now, focus has shifted elsewhere and I’m OK with that. A lot of folks think something is wrong when they stop doing something they used to spend a ton of time on, but that’s just a part of growing up and getting involved with new things…

      Cheers to you and future success! Hope you’re doing great, Melissa!

  5. I think it’s great that you’re helping your wife find work happiness. My husband and I have done shifts in this area, and right now, we’re in the enviable position of helping each other (although we’ve had to drastically cut our spending habits to do it). Two thumbs up > d(^_^)b

    In terms of de-toxing, I believe it’s good to do longer unplugs when you can. After almost a year of working to launch our own online project management application, we decided to take 10 days fully off and travel to the UK (a lifelong dream of both of ours). It was amazing, and while we did experience some slowdowns with our business momentum, it’s picking up again, and I wouldn’t have traded those 10 days for anything.

    • Yes – I think back to my honeymoon in May and that was the last time I TRULY unplugged. It was great – and that’s something I have to do much more often moving forward. Easier said than done, when you’re running your own business, as I’m sure you can attest – but a little break-away and recharge can work wonders…Cheers!

  6. Great points Matt. “The Dip” by Seth Godin tackles this very issue and dismisses the notion that, “If you focus and want anything badly enough that it will come true.” It’s the very same as “The Secret” fanatics who actually believe that if their thoughts are positive that they’ll get whatever they want in life. You can sit in a room and wish for a Ferrari to be delivered in your driveway or to be drafted in the NFL but without action, you have nothing. Bottom line.

    It’s cool to see that you’re balancing work and life. Ya have to quote Gary Vee on this one, “Do what you love and spend as much time with family. That’s all that matters.” Congrats on Proof, the site and the team that has been assembled are absolutely amazing. Keep doing big things, you deserve it.

    • Yes – great book! And thank you for all your kind words and support my friend – we’re REALLY excited for the things we’re currently working on and things to come for Proof. Stay tuned!

  7. Matt,I can totally relate with you with the thought of re-shifting and going through different phases in your life. 2010 has been an unbelievable year for me on professional and personal levels. There has been a slew of POSITIVE events since January that have re-shifted my thinking, how I prioritize my time, and understanding what I want in my life.Does that mean I’m completely unplugging from everything that I’ve built in this digital world? Not at all. I’ve continued to work, but more behind the scenes and the learnings I’ve been taking on at work. The amount of growth I’ve had professionally there has been unreal and that’s where my focus has been. Personally, well more to come on that but let’s just say things have come full circle for my life and my future and trying to enjoy some of the finer things in life right now.Everyone does it differently. Some want to stay plugged and bust tail 24/7 to live the life later on, but I choose to balance it out in a different, as do you and as do others.More power to you brother; glad to see you’re doing amazing things – and Chicago misses ya!

    • I’m at least working on that balance – it’s a work in progress. I work more than I’d like to right now – but luckily I love what I do and I embrace that by putting in the man hours now I’m creating a much more balanced future. This is all part of the ‘starting a business’ insanity – a lot of work, but well worth it.

      Glad to hear things are great with you as well my friend. Matt misses Chicago! I’ll be up there around Thanksgiving and I’d love to plan a gathering in the city while I’m back…

  8. Totally agree, there’s nothing wrong with shifting your priorities, especially when your life undergoes some major changes. It’s great that you are pursuing new business opportunities, helping your wife, and focusing more on non-digital life. Those are definitely positive shifts! I also support the time you’re taking to visit new places, attend conferences, and share your knowledge of the digital world. (Not a timely comment at all!)

    • Hah, touche’ – but suffice to say the last year has been the most productive of my life, by far, and now more than ever I’m realizing as an entrepreneur I HAVE to re-shift and re-focus on the ‘balance’ – because it’s all too easy, as those in my situation can attest, to let work consume you.

  9. Again…. Dude! You are singing my song!

    “There’s a lot of talk about freedom and it’s association with entrepreneurship – and, don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful thing – but equally beautiful is being able to close the computer, walk away, and go enjoy life. We all want freedom, not necessarily pure freedom – just some wiggle room.”

    I’ve been cooped up in my home office working 100 hours per week or something ridiculous building out some soon-to-be awesomeness for LoveYourWorkLife. Barely seen the light of day. This is the total opposite of my life usually. I’m typically out doing a 60 mile bike ride, going to events where I don’t know anyone and making rad new friends, and just generally being out and about. But the past 6 weeks or so… totally different story.

    Today, however, I change my tune. I am out of the house, working at a coffee shop, caught up my laundry, calls, and emails, and went to get my car tuned up. Tonight… I’m going out to some business event – don’t even know what yet.

    I’m reading this article, catching up on my Google Reader at this coffee shop and loving how life always gives us exactly what we need to hear if we put ourselves out there and open our eyes, ears, and heart to receive it.

    Thanks for that article, yet again, Matt.

  10. I have also recently announced that I’m posting less on my blog. A) being funny takes too much time B) I have two freakin jobs, man C) I like having a life. All good reasons.

    I think it’s just fine to post less & live more. If people asking where you are, obvi they like what they read here & want more of it; but, I’m glad to see you don’t feel guilt about abandoning us by the side of the road like a bag of puked-up-leftover-hamburger. (Sorry, my cross-country trip to California when I was ten is being regurgitated as well.) No, really. We’ll be fine. *sob*

    Looking forward to reading more whenever you get to it :)

  11. Hi Matt! I feel like I’ve been doing the same thing the past couple weeks, so thanks for affirming my decision! LOL… I’ve actually referenced your post in my blog today… hope you don’t mind. :)