What Do You Want to Spend More Time Doing?



“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

It was time for me to choose my next job, and I was torn between two paths: the path I knew and the path I didn’t.

If I chose the path I knew, I was told they’d make me rich.  If I chose the other path, I was told, I’d learn a lot and grow.

Immediately in my mind, I chose “growth.”

I live by a principle of “follow the growth.”  It’s always served me well.  It always leads to adventure.  It always expands what I’m capable of.  It always leads to experiences that I didn’t expect, that open new doors and possibilities.

But this choice wasn’t that cut and dry.

I didn’t actually know what I’d be doing on a daily basis in either job.  I only had a high-level idea of what the job was about and both sounded good, with not a lot of downsides, just very different journeys.

I called my mentor and told her my dilemma.

Her question echoed through my mind and cut the fog of my conflicting thoughts I had dancing around in my head:

“What do you want to spend more time doing?”, she asked.

She followed with, “What do you want to spend more time doing each day?”

It caught me by surprise.

I had been focused on the jobs, the pros and the cons of each, and the career trade-offs.   I hadn’t created a clear picture in my mind of how I want to spend my time.

I thought for a moment about what I had been doing.  I was working with bunches of world-class companies to help them change their business with new technology.  Every day I was working with smart people on amazing challenges to find business breakthroughs and leap frog ahead.  I was learning at light speed.

Hmmm … that’s what I wanted more of.

I told her I wanted to do more of what I was already doing.

She said, “Good. Go with the job that will help you do more of that.”

At that instant, all my issues and pre-conceived notions melted away: follow the money or follow the growth, job titles, etc.  Instead, it was self-reflection on what lights my fire and what makes me come alive.

My North Star that’s with me always, whenever I look for it.

I find that time and again, whenever I get off path, all I have to do is ask that question, and I get back on track.

In the words of Creed (3 Doors Down), it puts me back on solid ground.

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Image by Matt Clark.


  1. JD, we are often afraid to dream of doing what we’d like to spend our time doing. Especially when that particular work is not available. But thinking along those lines takes us closer to what we want. In spite of obstacles, I am grateful to my family who pushed me towards what I wanted, and here I am today. 🙂

    Your post is powerful and inspiring!

    • Beautiful job on following your passion, and what a wonderful thing that your family supported you on your journey!

      And, congratulations on your growth. Obstacles are often the gifts that grow us, as painful as they can be. John Maxwell’s quote always comes to mind:

      “You don’t overcome challenges by making them smaller but by making yourself bigger.”

  2. I agree with your mentor’s advice. In addition, I believe that our interests and our “whys” often lead us to do the things that speak to our unique nature. As to the quote that the universe conspires to make our decisions happen, I’d have to confess I’m a bit of a skeptic: perhaps there’s a deeper meaning within the quote that is not quite apparent to me?

    • Well put.

      Our unique nature is both our challenge and our opportunity. It’s all too easy to go against our own grain, as we continue the ongoing challenge of leveraging our unique twist in all we do.

      I didn’t know Emerson, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t mean our own internal universe shapes how we see the world around us. In place of obstacles, we see opportunity, and the more we focus on opportunity, the more there seems to be.

      On the science side, when we decide, we do a few powerful things:
      – We activate our reticular activating system (RAS). Our mind gets more resourceful and goes into hunter and gatherer mode for us. It’s the science behind why we get what we focus on. This is why when we get a blue car, suddenly we see everybody with a blue car.
      – Decision gets us into action-taking mode, which gets us out of analysis paralysis (which wears us down)
      – Behind these decisions, we start to form beliefs that support and reinforce our decisions. These empowering beliefs help us squash negative beliefs.

      Our mind can rationalize anything we want. The trick is to make it work for us vs. against us.

  3. I love the opening quote. Choice is a powerful tool! Emerson’s words & your points in the comment immediately above remind me of this from Tony Robbins: Never leave the scene of a decision without taking action.

    This is a poignant, timely post. “What Do You Want to Spend More Time Doing?” is a superb frame as we craft our future–work-wise & otherwise. Thanks, J.D.

    • Tony never ceases to amaze me with his powerful words. That simple phrase just gave me a new mental picture of decision making.

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