How to have an outcome-ful day

“How was your day?” Four words that echo through virtually every household in theindustrialised world and signal the transition from ‘work’ to ‘home’. And the two most common answers? Both one word? For kids and teenagers that word is ‘good’ and I suspect most parents will agree,its hard to get much more out of them. Forgrown-ups that word is ‘busy’ and depending on the day it will likely be followed by either a two-hour download (not recommended) or simply “and I’m too tired to talk about it” (better, but far from ideal).I’m not sure exactly when my life went from good to busy but one thing is for sure, it happened without me realising it.So now I’m in StartupLand and a funny thing has happened… I’ve reverted to using the word good again. Partly because I am really enjoying the change of priorities, spending more time with the kids, new challenges etc. But also because using the word busy now just doesn’t seem fair. How can I be busy? I have no clients, no employees, no meetings (that I don’t want), no emails (that I don’t choose to subscribe to). In fact, I have none of the things that used to make me busy. I no longer have the excuse of being busy, so I can’t justify saying it.So if I’m not busy, what the *#!$ am I doing all day? Well, every day is different of course but I’ve found that since I can’t use the word busy any more I have to be more creative. Like many things in StartupLand its forced me to dig deeper and I’ve found a much more rewarding way to reflect on each day. I’ve started thinking of my days as outcome-ful instead of busy. Sure I made that word up but I realised that busy days are often not very satisfying because typically, busy is measured in inputs rather than outcomes. A busy day is measured by number of emails, meetings and phonecalls and as a result it is all too easy to have a busy day that felt like you achieved nothing. An outcome-ful day on the other hand, helps you to see the outcomes or achievements (however small) more clearly because you are focusing on the change that occurred rather than what you did to make it happen (the inputs).

I find the outcomes can mostly be separated into three buckets and as far as I’m concerned, three positive outcomes is an outcome-ful day and one well-lived:

1. Give something HELPful

What did I do today that helped someone? How did I make a positive difference in someone else’s life? For example, I shared a piece of information with a customer or sold them a product that helped them in some way. Or simply, I helped my kids with their homework.

2. Take something USEful

What did I do today that was useful to me? For example, what did I learn from something I read or someone I spoke with? What knowledge or skill have I acquired today that is useful to me or is likely to be useful to me in the future?

3. Participate in something MEANINGful

What did I do today that aligns with my purpose or progressed me towards finding my purpose? What was I a part of that made a difference in the world today? For example, I participated in a meeting and contributed to change, or I attended an event and demonstrated support for a cause.

Importantly, in an outcome-ful day, you don’t have to separate work and life. You just need to accept that you only have one life which is made up of a limited number of days (inputs) but an unlimited number of possibilities (outcomes). Some days you will have more outcomes at work, some days more at home. The goal is not to balance them but to integrate them so that everyday is an outcome-ful day and one that you are glad you had.