How to Make the Most of Your Time Outside of Work Like Jack Ma

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Follow Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma's advice for building a fulfilling life both inside and outside of work.

Posted by Ross on December 11th, 2017

Ma Yun, better known as Jack Ma, is the founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba, China's biggest online e-commerce company (with a $482 billion market cap). Ma is one of the richest men in the world, accumulating a net worth of $47 billion through Alibaba. He is renowned for his persistence, particularly during his earlier years prior to founding Alibaba, during which time he was repeatedly rejected from Harvard, jobs, and other opportunities.

Through his studies of the Western world and how businesses operate there versus how they do in the East, he was able to apply his broad understanding in order to blend the two schools of thought into an ultimate recipe for success. This unorthodox approach to management, as far as Eastern businesses are concerned, is what has helped to elevate him and his company to where it is today.

Making the most of your time after and outside of work

Ma credits much of his success to the hours he put in ‘outside’ of typical work hours. This is the time when he believes you ultimately define your future, figure out what you want to do, and how to be excellent at it.

“I always tell myself that we are born here not to work, but to enjoy life. We are here to make things better for one another, and not to work. If you are spending your whole life working, you will certainly regret it,” said Ma.

How to make the most of your time like Jack Ma using habits

1. Make the most of your time outside of work by choosing to learn more or work on a side project

The time that you have outside of your work hours is your opportunity to broaden your knowledge and understanding--and to enjoy it. You can use this time to learn a new language, take up a new hobby, or enhance some of your skills. You should, for example, try to:

“Spend at least 5 minutes every night after work learning something new”

Two things to keep in mind here would be:

  1. You don’t have to learn a whole “new” thing every night. In fact, you might want to pick one thing (for example, a language) and spend time on it for a period every night for a few months.
  2. You should aim to gradually increase the time you spend doing this, for example, by 5 minutes every night for a few weeks.

Once you’ve become familiar with spending more time learning and developing your knowledge you might want to start taking on more things to learn.

2. Set aside time to understand what you enjoy and how you can practice it or work in that environment

Based on Ma’s fundamental principles which he has developed over the years, it’s important to spend time actively understanding more about yourself and what you enjoy. As mentioned above, Ma believes that you should enjoy whatever you’re doing, and not feel restricted by simply executing tasks or wasting your life at a job that you find boring. You can motivate yourself to accomplish more by building a habit of:

“Spending 10 minutes each weeknight doing <insert task here>”

Start by writing down one goal you have for the next week or month like, for example, being able to pronounce and remember 50 words in French. In that case your task would be something like spending 10 minutes each weeknight learning French vocabulary. If you’re unsure about what you’d like to learn more about you can always spend some time experimenting with a variety of different types of tasks and see which you find more enjoyable.

3. Practice optimism at the end of every day

Getting into a habit of taking a positive attitude towards your work, life, and the challenges you face will not only help you make more logical, strong decisions, but it will also mean you’re in a more secure mental state. Positivity and optimism are both essential to success:

“Write down 1 thing that went really well at the end of each day”

You can, and naturally will, increase the length of the list over time to 3-5 (or more) positive things that happened. Taking a positive outlook on your life and work will not only make you appreciate what you currently have but also what you could achieve.

The suggested habits throughout the above article can be copied into the Evolution 2 habit tracker. Just sign-up for your account here.

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