I was thinking what could lead us to more success in 2017, so here are 17 tips for ’17 :)
1. Think in Outcomes
“Begin with the end in mind” – Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people *)
The secret to success is starting out on the right foot. Thinking in outcomes has multiple steps, and if I had to pick just three, they’d be: What you want (as opposed to what you don’t); What you’ll see (evidence of progress and completion); Roadblocks you can anticipate (and a plan for each in ‘If this <event> happens then I’ll <take this action> form).
“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.” ― Brian Tracy
Flowing nicely off the back of Outcome thinking, it’s obvious that some kind of plan is required. What you’ll do, where, when and with whom. And if you want an easier life too, consider a ‘foundation plan’ for each day of the week containing all the things that you will do routinely. The discipline will set you free and give you confidence.
“When you stay on purpose, focussed in the present moment, the goal comes toward you with frictionless ease” – Thomas M. Sterner (The practicing mind *)
Re-learning the discipline of focus was probably the one thing that made the most difference to my productivity in 2016. Cutting to the chase, essentially this was setting a kitchen timer to 25 minutes and just doing a single thing, until it went off. (The Pomodoro process)
4. Deep work
“Deep work is necessary to wring every last drop of value out of your current intellectual capacity” – Cal Newport (Deep Work *)
Once you’ve got the act of focussing under your belt, you’re better able to do the deep work necessary to deliver significant work of high quality and impact. The key enabler is knowing which time of day is best for you to carry out each type of work – and even which location is optimal too. Just work them out.
“Practise makes progress…” (not a typo!)
This isn’t have-a-quick-run-through kind of practise. It’s ‘deep’ practice: focussed repetition with the goal of learning a new skill. Think of musicians, gymnasts or, even divers. (here’s a link to show you what I mean). It isn’t fun and it isn’t easy. And yet it can generate a deep sense of peace, as you repeat the same action again and again, spotting and correcting errors as you go. So this may have double benefits – learning something new and reducing stress.
6. Personal Development
“Better is not something you wish, it’s something you become” – Jim Rohn (7 strategies for wealth & happiness *).
The years of your employer taking care of your development are over. Now it is all upto you. And you know this. But have you acted on it? At our disposal we have thousands of hours of training material in video, audio and written form. A lot of it is free for the cost of the download. And yet the majority of my over 500 workshop participants this year have never heard of TED talks. Try these as some of my favourites:
TED talk: Best Ever,
Podcast: Tim Ferriss on Testing the Impossible,
Blog post: Farnam Street on Best way to learn anything.
We all know by now that we need to get regular exercise. It doesn’t have to be a nasty experience, though. Even a short 30 minute stroll around the block every day helps. We know the disadvantages of sitting still on our life-span and health. Yet we do nothing differently. If you need a ‘nagger’ then get yourself a ‘smart’ watch. (This is my favourite http://amzn.to/2hwX4LW ). And if you want to get more active, start with even a tiny amount that would be so easy to do.
“Sleep is a fundamental human need that must be respected” – Ariana Huffington (The Sleep revolution *)
Better sleep is that which prepares us for the following day, not just giving us respite from today. Better sleep will make you more successful in all areas of your life. Consider these areas: Darkness; Exercise during the day; No caffeine after noon; No screens in the bedroom or 1 hour before bed; Bedtime routine.
You know all this. Things don’t return love. People (and maybe some animals!) do. Invest in personal relationships, not phones. When we love and care for others, forgiving one another’s foibles and failings, we actually feel better. A life of bitterness is just that. And it goes beyond loving others, often we are unnecessarily harsh on ourselves.
“People who habitually acknowledge and express gratitude see benefits in their health, sleep and relationships, and they perform better” – Martin Seligman (Flourish *)
Are you always ‘too busy’? Feel lacking in joy? Ever considered that these two might be intimately linked? My favourite quote of the year is “Saying you’re too busy is the adult equivalent of ‘The dog ate my homework’.” Try re-phrasing it to “I’ve not allocated enough time to <do something that brings me joy>”. Decide what two or three things bring you joy. Allocate some time for all of them every week.
As I sit writing this in a local coffee shop, a striking variety of sound enfolds me. Yet I am at peace here. Why? Because I know what I’m here for, what I have to do, by when, and what it’s purpose is. I only set 3 goals per day, and I focus my effort on each in turn, without distraction. And I have peace. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” wrote St Paul in AD61. It’s still something good to strive for.
“No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should” – Erhmann (Desiderata)
Some things in life have a ‘long lead time’ – it takes a while for them to arrive. You can’t get fit overnight, become a world-wide success overnight, yet we live in a culture that craves it. When’s the last time you stood serenely in a checkout queue? When you just ‘were’ a human being, not a human doing. My Granny’s generation said patience is a virtue. It still is. Reduce your own stress by planting patience’s seeds in the garden of your mind. You’ll get there when you’re ready.
“In life’s uncertain voyage, I will some kindness do them” – Shakespeare, Timon of Athens.
It often seems that todays culture is unkind – to others who don’t share our views, who are different to us in some way, think differently to us – the list seems endless. And we’re more often than not unkind to ourselves: depriving ourselves of healthy life through excessive eating, drinking, inadequate sleep, inadequate rest and persistently beating ourselves up. It’s time to regain kindness to ourselves and those around us. Paraphrasing Marcus Aurelius “We’re none of us getting out alive”.
Not just in a ‘religious’ sense; though that is the primary aim for many of us; but also to one another in all types of relationship. This might be about saying No when you really mean No, instead of saying Yes to avoid feeling unhelpful. Better to set expectations well than promise and not quite deliver.
Think of the ubiquitous image of a muscled pair of arms cradling a helpless baby. This is power at work in gentleness. Strength can sometimes mean we can keep a light weight raised for longer, being able to calmly assert our ideas or needs. All in a way that says “you matter”.
16. Self Control
This is as much about doing the right things at the right time as it is about resisting temptation to the ‘bad stuff’. What neuroscience has shown us is that self-control, or willpower, is a limited resource. So don’t waste it on decisions that you can make for once and always. Like what clothes to wear. Or what to have for breakfast. Create a morning routine for each day, and just follow it. Free up your self-control for when you really need it.
“…the secret is to sit at the feet at the feet of your own life and be taught by it” Polly Berends.
Quite simply, and in as simple a way as you can, reflect on the progress of your day every day. And learn from it. Make small changes. And notice what happens.
My top 3 are numbers 3,16 and 17.
Which of these are yours? Have you any others too? Join the discussion on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/momohodevelopment/
Happy Christmas !
PS: I’m going to be releasing a new online course in deep practise in conjunction with Jane Jewel, professional cellist with the Lochrian Ensemble. While practically focussed around the cello, the learning will be generalised too. Click here to register for advanced information.