Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Who needs a plan?

When I'm feeling low or struggling to motivate myself then a plan is sometimes the last thing I need.

Just making a start, no clear idea where I'll end up, is often more beneficial than spending time trying to write up a plan.

Once I've started, gotten some momentum, a plan will start to form and I can begin to refine it, knowing I'm already making progress.

I found this last year when I signed up for NaNoWriMo. Weeks before November. I started writing. No clear aim in mind but I started to get new story ideas and followed them up, using them to test how long I could write for, how many words an hour I could manage. By the time I sat down on the first of November to write a brand new novel, I had built up momentum and confidence and a clear plan.

Two weeks ago I started something similar with exercise. I've been wanting to climb a lead overhang for years. I make progress but something happens and I stop going to the climbing wall or exercising and lose the momentum I built up.

I know my lack of stamina is a major part of the problem. There is no use working on pull-ups when I get exhausted too quickly during a stressful climb.

I also want to run a 10K race. Preparing for that will build up my stamina for climbing. As my stamina improves I'll have more energy to work on my other goals: writing, business goals. As I make progress in these goals I'll be more motivated to keep exercising!

Are you sensing a pattern?

There is synergy in improving several areas of your life at the same time.

We need to be careful. I can't go out and run 10K today. I went for a jog last week and had to switch to walking after just one kilometer! But I will keep going out and will improve.

Over the last couple of weeks I've started to form a plan. I'm going to work on some key goals for 100 days. I'm going to set clear goals, measure my progress and I expect within 100 days I will have completed or be close to completing some of these goals.

You can choose to work on improving any part of your life. Where would you like to be in 100 days?

Here's a challenge - set aside a couple of hours and write down 100 goals for your life. These can be short term - finish in an hour; to goals that will require the rest of your life. They can be fun, creative, practical, silly, insane... or even secret goals that you have been passionate about your whole life but have never dared to tell anyone.

If you don't make it to 100 goals then take a break and pick up the list later. No-one needs to see the list, you can even tear it up and start again if you want.

When you've finished - celebrate! You've just achieved something that few people do.

More tomorrow on the official first day of my 100 days, 100 goals...

Monday, 30 July 2012

An inspiring Olympics

Are you inspired by the Olympics? This year I've been caught up in all the hype. Normally I'm mildly interested but tend to only catch the news highlights. Having the Olympics in the UK has brought the excitement home personally.

Starting at the end of July the Olympics have coincided with seasonal change for me. Holidays are a distant dream. (I only started back at work last week) I've felt low all year and wanted to do something, anything about it.

For a couple of weeks I've been considering setting myself a challenge: 100 days, 100 goals. Choosing some goals I both want to achieve and feel are achievable in that time.

One of the joys of having so many goals is the synergy that can appear when you least expect it.

This synergy is well documented yet I haven't often taken advantage of it. When I made the decision to get a career and signed up for night class I only had a vague plan. My wife gave me Tony Buzan's Use Your Head and in following his advice my life was transformed.

Over two years I regularly exercised and studied and grew in confidence and found I had more energy and drive than I thought possible.

So, what happened? I allowed other things to take priority over exercise and I'm suffering the consequences now.

I keep starting an exercise regime and have kept it up for months some years but never consistently or permanently. I want to improve that.

I checked my resting heart rate yesterday: 81! That is appalling! This is after a couple weeks of basic pull-ups and press ups. My stamina is shot. I used to have a resting heart rate of under 60. There is no reason I can't get back to that.

Do you feel you have enough energy?

Would you like to work at improving the energy you have with me over the next hundred days?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Hero: Stephen Covey

Goal 70: To finish reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and apply it

It was with shock that I read today that Stephen Covey had died... yesterday. It seems outrageous that a man who has had such a positive influence on the world could pass away and this fails to make headline news. I only found out while reading a summary of recent business news from LinkedIn. Fourth story down.

I've intended to read The 7 Habits for years but while I enjoyed the first couple of chapters, I never made it past them. While I desired to become more effective, I was afraid of the change I would have to make to my life. I didn't really want to examine my life in the detail I felt I would have to while working through the questions posed for each habit.

In May I wrote that I was working on a business plan. I ended up with a financial forecast but no real business plan. My first contract working for myself has required commuting by train. I decided to use the time commuting to read, initially downloading some technical manuals onto my Kindle. Then I remembered that a few years ago I had the opportunity to download chapters from The 7 Habits along with other business and technical books through a company subscription to Books24x7

At the time I read the first couple of chapters, read a page or so into a couple of others and then filed the pdf's away meaning to read them someday...

Uploading them onto the Kindle I found the print readable but not ideal. But I was motivated to keep reading. Relating the habits to my business plan I could see value in what was being proposed. It only took me a month but I completed reading The 7 Habits early July. I've still to work through all of the questions but I'm now far more motivated to do so.

I guess that I find it easier to seek effectiveness in business than I do in my personal life. I often actively resist too much organisation of personal time. But perhaps that is simply because I don't make enough time for what is really and deeply important to me.

Stephen Covey wrote with honesty and humour. He placed conscience and values and people high above fame and riches and I am sure I will benefit from his writing for years to come.

Have you read The 7 Habits? What difference has it made to your life?