“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”
– Jim Rohn
A couple of weeks ago I turned 35 years old. I’ve made some resolutions for the next five years, which I feel will be a defining chapter in my life. One of my goals is to become financially stable in my own right doing what I want and what I’m good at to have impact. There are 4 parts to this.
- Financially stable in my own right means earning a living indicative of to my level of education.
- What I want to do means doing things that are worthy of my time and align with my values.
- What I’m good at means putting my skills, knowledge and passions to work towards meaningful outcomes.
- Having impact means becoming a confident leader in my field and seeing tangible improvements in my community.
There are many ways to skin a cat. I could find a fulfilling job, press on my with own business, hold out for a research grant, or a combination of these things.
When I think about what my life will look like when I’m 40, I see myself working from my own studio with a view of a mountain on a few lush acres, hosting research retreats and consulting all over regional, rural and remote (RRR) Australia. That is what I want.
So, the question becomes – how do I get there? What is the vision that will guide me in the right direction? By what guideposts should I make my decisions to pursue some opportunities and let others pass me by? How do I know what I should spend my time doing?
At the moment, I have many irons in the fire. I have built up a great, relevant network and am involved in several projects and organisations, some of which are high profile and very exciting. The problem is, I’m mostly volunteering while waiting for one of these connections to convert into paid work.
Writing this blog post, my instinct is to go for the big ticket item – which for me right now would be a post-doctoral fellowship investigating connectivity and digital innovation in RRR Australia. I have already been unsuccessful with one application and another opportunity could be months or years away. But I do get the feeling that if I just keep going the planets will eventually align.
So, if the post-doc is the goal, what should I do in the mean time? Surely, I should spend my time putting myself in the most competitive position possible. This means writing, writing and more writing; publishing journal articles, producing industry-oriented pieces, and participating in online conversations in my area of expertise.
Talking to people and making connections comes naturally to me and I thoroughly enjoy the face-to-face social interaction. I find it much more difficult to motivate myself to sit on my own in my office and type on my laptop. However, this is the only way I can participate in intellectual discussion with my peers. I have to put my words where my mouth is.
At the same time, I need to earn some $$$. A part time job might be alright, but then I would forego flexibility to be able to attend conferences and events, which give me exposure and opportunities in business and research. I think the best way to go is to employ myself part time. That means spending 50% of my time working in my business (doing paid work) or on my business (drumming up paid work).
I must also account for the extra time and expense it takes to do work and research from Chillagoe. I often travel 3 hours to Cairns for meetings. I’ll be self-funding several inter-state trips this year to speak at conferences, and our limited and unreliable internet connectivity makes working online a chore. What Chillagoe DOES give me, however, is credibility. I know what it’s like to live and work in RRR Australia, and its the people and organisations in these areas whom I want to reach out to in research, business and life.
So, in this context, what “few simple disciplines, practiced every day” will lead me to success?
- Work a regular 8 hour day. I will get up at 7, walk the dog, have breakfast and be at my desk by 8.30 or 9. I will stop for lunch, knock off at 5, go for a run and sit down for dinner with my husband. I will have routine.
- Write for 2-3 hours each day. I will write for a first couple of hours each day. I will treat writing as my way of “talking” to my peers. I will prioritise writing over everything else.
- Limit busy work. I will only write/respond to emails twice per day (just before lunch and just before knock off time). I will use my morning and afternoon time blocks do actual work. I will value my time and spend it on worthwhile tasks instead of doing “busy work”.
These disciplines seem so elementary it’s almost embarrassing to publish them here. But I think carrying out such disciplines in phsycial and social isolation presents unique challenges. I hope to be able to apply these quite universal principles in a nuanced way to model a type of resilience that “works” in Outback in the digital age. After all, the reason I choose to lead this life is that I want to be part of a modern Outback that is progressive and connected to the rest of the country and the world.
On that note, my vision for my business – Resilient Communications – is for “regional, rural and remote Australia to be fully and seamlessly integrated into the digital economy”. It pretty much sums up why I do what I do – and why, despite the ups and downs, I’m still here.