Last New Year’s Eve, I posted a short list of 5 resolutions that were achievable in 2017.
They weren’t your traditional mumbo-jumbo, new-year new me bullshlarken – they were effectively 5 mindset shifts and daily habits that you could put into immediate practice that would create a good foundation for achieving increased satisfaction in the game of life.
How did you do?
Actually, who cares? Just read it again and start from zero, today (or you can wait until January 2nd, like the rest of the Resolutionists).
Anyway, a lot of you loved the post, so I decided to give you 5 more pearlers! I know! Out of control! So here goes.
1. Show some empathy
Every day we encounter people; some we know, some we don’t. Most of our waking lives are spent interacting with others so as to get what we want. After all, we are self-interested beings and even when doing a good turn for someone else, we actually do it to feel good about ourselves…and that is totally fine!
But while it’s fine to look at the world through your own window, just remember that everyone else has their own window (thanks, Craig Harper for that saying!). We all think and act based on our own experiences and temperaments. People also don’t like to let on what they’re going through for fear of showing weakness; they hide behind masks and put on brave faces. A simple smile or asking, “How are you, really?” or thanking them for their service or something they did for you, all go a long way.
Conversely, too much empathy – particularly if you are in a leadership role – can negatively impact performance and development, as described by my business partner Greg in this article.
Recommended reading: How To Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
2. Do something crazy
This year my wife and I welcomed a baby daughter into the world, in late August. Then, well ahead of schedule, the house that we were building completed a few weeks later. Within the space of a month, we had a highly-dependent human being to nurture as well as a new house to move all our worldly possessions into (while at the same time the resultant admin and bank liaison that goes along with erecting a house, packing up and cleaning an apartment, liaising with the rental agency to get your precious bond returned etc). Coupled with this, a new house is literally just that: our driveway was a mudslide and there was not an inch of grass on which our ageing dog could do her business. There was more dirt on the outskirts of my house than anyone has on the Clintons.
Now I’m not suggesting you go out and procreate with whoever tickles your fancy, and then tip your life savings into a deposit and encumber yourself to the tune of half a million dollars. But maybe it could be something like doing your first triathlon or Ironman, or becoming a full-time student again on a wildly different career path. While this is dangerously close territory to a traditional New Year’s resolution, it should be something that you have been putting off for some time, potentially due to fear, but something that ranks high on the urgent-important matrix. Other ideas could be – for those travel-minded of you who can’t afford to stop working – taking a month-long remote working stint in a cheaper country. Or how about buying a dog? Or selling everything you own that you really don’t need and using the funds to travel and/or do some charity work? Or – like a female friend of mine did in 2016 – not buying a single item of clothing for a year.
Recommended reading: The Magic of Thinking Big, by David Schwartz
3. Do Something Weekly to Help Someone Else
We have a weekly accountability exercise in our business that consists of 3 baseline tasks and one bonus task. Being a start-up, coming up with a shortlist of important things to do in a 5-day period was easier than playing Jenga with a toddler. However, what is even more difficult is narrowing that shortlist! That’s when I started theming my tasks to make this list simple to define and give more variety to the activities. One task each was related to my two core roles (technology/website and content) and then one to a learning task (short course or tutorial or guide where I had a skills gap).
But in the spirit of gratitude and paying it forward, while at the same time holding myself accountable to a team member, my last task (not necessarily the bonus task) was to do something for someone else. Sometimes it was merely sending them the information you said you would, or it could be as generous as helping them learn a new system or helping them complete a task through sharing the workload. The endorphins one gets from aiding a colleague or friend is one thing; the return on your ‘investment’ is often tenfold as your beneficiaries are more than likely to return the favour without question.
You would do well to heed the old aphorism: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
Recommended reading: Legacy, by James Kerr
4. Try a New Skill / Upskill
It has been my long-held firm belief that chasing a career or career ladder is mostly a futile exercise. Since my first real job in my early 20s, I have chased skills acquisition over job titles, and to that end, I believe that a career is simply a continuous process of acquiring new, relevant skills.
A simple exercise for you to do is find about 10 job adverts on a recruitment website such as Seek for roles that interest you. Combine the skills required into one document and then score yourself out of 10 on each. Then, for those skills where there is a clear gap in knowledge, head to your old mate Google and do some research on who is the authority (or authorities) at delivering the best course content, either online or in person, for those skills.
While formal education is still the ultimate in many people’s books, informal education can be just as valuable and there is a myriad of possibilities available to you these days. This could include reading books, listening to podcasts, following some blogs on social media, taking an online course on Udemy, attending webinars and seminars, or just learning on the job. There can be a lot of conflicting information out there, which is why it is important to research who the authorities are – even better if it’s recommended by someone you know who has got the result you are looking for.
Recommended reading: 4 Hour Blog: Tim Ferriss is an entrepreneur who shares tips and ideas about lifestyle design and self-improvement. He also has a podcast and is the author of several bestselling books.
5. Stop waiting for conditions to be perfect
If I had a dollar for every time I waited for the right time to start something or give something a go, I’d be richer than a Bitcoin billionaire. The truth is, we all do it. “I’ll get to it next week when I have some spare time” or “The diet starts on Monday” are all too common in our vernacular. However, next week comes and the opportunity is either lost or the energy to take action has waned to such a degree that you would prefer to create a story around your own bullshit and then let yourself off the hook.
So focus on WINning – What’s Important Now – and clear the desks of the unimportant and non-urgent things and get cracking, buster. Have some focus on one thing at a time (multi-tasking is a myth!) and reward yourself when you achieve the seemingly small and insignificant steps en route to Pleasuretown!
A great structure to follow for goal-setting is that of the ESIP framework. You can read more about this in another one of Greg’s blogs, which explains this concept really well.
In the spirit of self-improvement and honesty, I haven’t written as much as I’d like or intended this year. That has been a failing on my part, but one that I am hell-bent on resolving in 2018. I certainly won’t be waiting on the conditions to be perfect and I will be starting from zero every day, not just every year! Best of luck to you all next year and beyond.