Success Is About Focusing On One Thing At A Time.

When I was in my thirties, I had a multitude of ideas, projects, life goals and things I wanted to do. By the time I had reached the end of my thirties I still had a multitude of ideas, projects and life goals and I had made little to no progress on any of the goals I had ten years earlier. Why was that?

With age comes wisdom and the wisdom I gained during my thirties was that it really doesn’t matter how many goals, dreams and aspirations you have or how determined you are to achieve them. If you do not focus on those goals or dreams one at a time, you are not going to achieve them. To really get down and achieve your goals and dreams you need to focus on them one at a time. If you don’t, you too will end up with a long list of started, incomplete and failed goals and you will blame yourself or some other outside force or person.

The good news is all you need to do is make a tiny adjustment and take one goal at a time. It really is that simple.

Tony Robbins has a brilliant quote:

“People overestimate what they can achieve in one year and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.”

This quote really uncovers the core problem why so many people fail at achieving their goals. I guess it is the human condition that we want everything now and we don’t like waiting. But if you really want to achieve the long list of things you have written down as your goals and dreams you are going to have to decide which ones you are going to go for first and which ones can wait until another year. If you only focus on two goals or projects each year, at the end of the decade you will have achieve twenty amazing things!

Once I started focusing on just one or two goals a year my life turned around. I started achieving things. In 2011, I got my first book published here in Korea. It was a book about presenting in the twenty-first century. After that I developed a number of workshops to go along with the book, started my own communications company and wrote two additional books, and started a second company. I had all these dreams and goals in my thirties, but never achieved any. That was because each year I started out trying to achieve all my goals at once. Now, I have a much more realistic time line. Each year I write a book, grow my business and usually begin a new project. Last year was my YouTube channel, this year it is my online course business. My life has simplified and at the same time I am achieving so much more. All it took was a tiny adjustment and a realisation there is plenty of time to achieve things, so you can take you time and pick and choose which goals you want to achieve each year rather than trying to complete everything all at once and finishing nothing.

I have never written or recommended writing out a ten year plan, after all life is extremely unpredictable. But you can always hold a list of the things you want to accomplish in Evernote or a notebook. Then, each October or November take some time out, have a look at the list and pick two big projects you want to accomplish next year. Decide which one you will focus on in the first half of the year, and which one you will focus on in the second half of the year. Once you have done that, you should list down all the action steps you need to take to make the goal or successfully completed project a reality. Once you have that list of action steps you then bring them in to your todo list manager of choice and make sure you are doing something every day, or at least once a week, to make that goal or project complete.

I have been following this structure for over five years now and I have accomplished so much. I do not always hit the deadline, last year’s book (Working With Todoist: The Book) was published a month late, at the end of January instead of December. But I do complete the projects. It does not always mean the projects are successful or I achieve everything I expect of them, but they get completed, which is a huge improvement on having ideas, projects and goals incomplete or never started. The thing is; my goals, plans and dreams are now becoming a reality and all it took was a tiny adjustment.

When I was a little kid, I remember my mother telling me “my eyes were bigger than my stomach” what she meant was I frequently put far more on my plate than I could realistically eat, and that is what most people do with their projects and goals. They have far too many projects and goals going on at any one time, which means they either fail in their goals or they never get started or completed.

So, if you want to stop failing at achieving your goals, if you want to get projects completed, then you need to reduce the number of projects you work on each year. Focus on two big projects each year and assign one to the first half and one to the second half. When you start doing that, you will accomplish far more in one year than you ever did in ten years. It really is all about focus and you can only focus on one thing at a time.

For all my readers on this blog, I am offering a 50% discount on all my online courses. I have moved all my courses over to Thinkific. It is a great platform that allows me to have just one code for all my readers to get their 50% off. Just follow this link and it will take you to my course page. If you have trouble managing your email, or have become tired of feeling stressed, disorganised and overwhelmed then I have coarse that can help you to become more productive and better at managing the things you want to do. So take action and take advantage of this offer :-)

*** 50% Off Coupon code is… syep50 ***

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Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.

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We Are Ultimately Looking For The Same Thing.

My wife, The Little One (Barney) and myself in one of those happy moments. 

My wife, The Little One (Barney) and myself in one of those happy moments. 

Success is something the vast majority of people strive for in their lives. And while most people think we all have different ideas about what success is, in reality we all share the same goal. To be happy. Of course the difference lays in how we define what makes us happy, but ultimately our life’s goal is to be happy.

While that may sound simple, and as with most things in life it is, this is also the source of why so many people never achieve success. That is because people spend all their time looking for the wrong thing. They look for things they are passionate about, they look for a career in a large, global company or they seek success in other pursuits and activities, believing this is what will lead to success. For the vast majority of people, those pursuits, may indeed lead to success, but not necessarily lead to happiness and because of that they find they feel unfulfilled and unhappy.

Yet, seeking happiness is easy, all it takes is for you to look for the things that make you feel happy. What do you enjoy doing that makes you feel happy. For me that is, among other things, driving in the car with my wife and dog going on a journey into the countryside. I love that time we have together in our otherwise busy lives. So, once I identified what makes me feel happy, all I had to do was find ways that I could maximise the times we spend doing that. One of those is to develop our business so it is less dependent on work in our home city and gives us opportunities to do work in other cities in other areas of the country. This way we will get to travel regularly around the country together and I can do lectures and workshops while we travel.

In order for me to gain greater happiness all I needed to do was change the way I work. And this where most people struggle. While it is relatively easy to identify what it is that makes us feel happy, it is often difficult to identify what we need to do to enjoy those happy moments more often, and once identified, we then struggle to find ways of achieving it. Or, even worse, we find excuses not to change them.

If you truly want to achieve a successful life, one that is defined as having a happy and contented life, then you have to change. You have to find ways that will increase those moments you feel happiest and remove those moments when you don’t feel happy. It all sounds easy I know. The truth is if it was easy, then everyone would do it. But, sadly the human condition likes regularity and hates change. We often unconsciously harm our long-term happiness for the short term comfort of something we are familiar with. This is the situation smokers have when they try to give up. The immediate comfort a cigarette gives them is so much more powerful than the long-term health benefits they would have by not smoking. The job we hate going to everyday is far more comfortable than having to take the uncomfortable steps of finding another job. And those that do get to a point where they can no longer bare the job they do and apply for another job, often look for jobs in the same area they were doing before because, again, doing the same thing is far more comfortable than trying something new and much more fulfilling.

If you really do want to achieve happiness, fulfilment and ultimately success you are going to have to change and there is no way around that. You have to change the things that do not contribute either in the short term or long term to your overall happiness. Smoking, over eating and work you hate doing are some of the first things you can change. You can also change the people you hang out with if they too are not contributing to your overall happiness.

Happiness does not come by arriving at a destination, happiness comes from the journey to that destination. As humans we need to grow and we need continuous growth. Great, overwhelming happiness comes from the feeling you have when you are moving towards your goals. The euphoria of achieving a goal is very quickly replaced by the feeling of what next? This why the people who are the happiest are the people who are moving towards a goal that at first seems impossible, yet as time goes by, they move closer and closer towards that goal. I know so many happy people, people who’s dream is to have a small farm in the countryside by the time they retire, and they are putting away a small amount of money each month to achieve that goal. At first the dream seems far off, but after ten or twenty years they can see light at the end of the tunnel. I see other people who want to start their own business, and are going to night school twice a week to learn the new skills they will require to make that business become reality.

“Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year, and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.”— Tony Robbins

There is so much you can do to improve your happiness. But before you can do that you need to know what it is that will make you happy, and then discover what you have to do to achieve it. Once you have those steps completed, the next step is to take action. To do something every day that will take you towards that dream. It may take many years before you get there, it may never even happen, but the action you take that brings you closer towards it is what will make you feel happy, worthwhile and accomplished. And that, dear reader is all it takes for you to be successful.

For all my readers on this blog, I am offering a 50% discount on all my online Udemy courses. Use the links below to get your discount. If you have trouble managing your email, or have become tired of feeling stressed, disorganised and overwhelmed then I have coarse that can help you to become more productive and better at managing the things you want to do. So take action and take advantage of this offer :-)

*** 50% Off Coupon codes ***

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Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.

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How A Personal SWOT Analysis Can Supercharge Your Life.

A few weeks ago, I decided to try out doing a SWOT analysis on myself to see where I felt my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were. I have never done a SWOT analysis on myself before, and so I was delving into the unknown.

This exercise really opened my eyes to the huge benefit an individual SWOT analysis could have on other people’s lives too.

What I discovered by this analysis on myself was that my strengths lie in content creation, I have been creating content in various formats since 2002. I enjoy creating content, and I’m quite happy spending eight or nine hours in the office creating PDF files, videos for my YouTube channel, or writing blog articles. In fact I think sometimes I’m a content creating machine. However, when I looked at my weaknesses I saw I was terrible at marketing. So I find myself in a position where I can create a lot of content, content I think is worth sharing with you, yet I am unable to reach a large audience because of my lack of marketing skills and know-how.

I then looked at my opportunities and saw so many different areas where I can help others to become more productive and more successful. These opportunities I quickly collected into Evernote. Looking at my threats, I find I am in the fortunate position that there are very few threats out there, and certainly those few threats that are there are manageable.

What struck me most about this exercise was how it forced me to go into a deep analysis of myself. I know most people never sit down and analyse what they are good at and what they are not good at and they are missing out on something very powerful. I am fortunate that I am at an age now where I am fully aware of my strengths and weaknesses, but if I think back to my 20s it would have been very hard for me to be so brutally honest with myself about where I thought I was particularly weak. While doing this exercise, it occurred to me that self awareness, the ability to be comfortable with your own weaknesses, is something that develops overtime. But being brutally honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses is essential if you truly want to be successful. I know there are many definitions of success, and how I define success is likely to be very different from the way you will define success, but knowing what you are good at and what you are not so good at is one of the first steps you need to take to find your own path towards the success you define for yourself.

Following this SWOT analysis I realised I needed to start studying social media marketing. I determined that social media marketing was the area that would have the biggest impact on my audience numbers, and therefore allow me to reach many more people. Other areas of marketing I can come to later after I have mastered the area of social media marketing. The SWOT analysis meant I was able to start my studies very quickly. I could quite easily have gone on for years hoping someone with a large following would retweet one of my blog posts or share one of my YouTube videos, but hoping somebody with a large social media following would find my content and share it is not a very good marketing strategy.

Far too often I see people wandering aimlessly through life not knowing where their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are. Where we are now, technology is changing the way we work so fast that there are threats all around us. Doing this kind of analysis means you are you able to see how things are changing in your particular Industry. It allows you to better understand where your strengths are and where you can use those strengths by taking advantage of your own opportunities. It also means you are able to be fully aware of the areas where you are weak, and where you may be able to turn a weakness into a strength. I am reminded of the story about Warren Buffett, where as a twenty something year old young man, he identified public speaking as an area he was particularly weak at. He enrolled in a Dale Carnegie public speaking course and became one of the best communicators there is today.

It could be that you identify a weakness as something you do not want to change. If that is the case, you could team up with someone who is strong in that area.

To be successful today is hard, but to be successful in any era has always been hard. The people who make it, the people who become successful are the people who take the time to step back, look at their lives and analyse where they are strong, where they are weak and where they have opportunities. At the same time they have an eye on any potential threats that may come their way in the future.

It’s a very competitive world, but it is also a world with a great many opportunities for all of us. Taking time out to work out where you can employ your talents and strengths is one surefire way to set you on the path towards immense success. And all it takes is about one hour, a pen and a piece of paper. Surely you can find the time, a pen and a piece of paper and find your own path towards a better and successful future.

For all my readers on this blog, I am offering a 50% discount on all my online Udemy courses. Use the links below to get your discount. If you have trouble managing your email, or have become tired of feeling stressed, disorganised and overwhelmed then I have coarse that can help you to become more productive and better at managing the things you want to do. So take action and take advantage of this offer :-)

*** 50% Off Coupon codes ***

Supercharge Your Productivity

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You can also subscribe to my weekly newsletter where I send out every Friday a complete summary of all the content I create each week. Including all my YouTube videos and blog posts. Sign up here.

Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.

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Your Office Worker Mindset Is Destroying Your Chances Of A Successful Life.

For many years now, we have been conditioned to believe we need to get a good education, go to university and get a job with a big global company. We are told time and time again this is the formula for a successful life. Yet, if this was true more people than the estimated 0.08% of the world’s population would earn above $100,000 per year. That means 99.02% earn less, most a lot less than this.

The truth is, if you are relying on just one income, your salary, you are not going to have any kind of financial success unless you are extremely lucky or you are wise enough to know the importance of investing when you begin earning your first salary cheque. Which, let’s be honest, very few twenty-somethings understand or even want to do.

I know success should not be measured in terms of money, but even if we measure success in terms of spending time doing pleasant things with our families and friends when we want to, most people spend more time at their place of work than they do with their family and friends. In Korea, where I now live, most office workers are working on average 10 hours a day, they then have dinner with their colleagues before heading home around 8 or 9pm. Not much time to spend with family and friends here.

The truth is if you think working for a company, earning a regular salary is going to give you the life and lifestyle you have always dreamed of, you are going to be very very disappointed. It will not. If you truly want to have the freedom to spend time with the people you care about, doing the things you love doing, you are going to have to dramatically change your thinking and start to understand that you need to be more opened minded about how and where you earn a living.

The success of books like the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris and the growth in entrepreneurship is indicative of the changing attitudes to work. In the past working for a company for a regular salary offered us security. These days that is less true. Automation and AI could take away your job tomorrow. In the past when industries declined, it took many years to happen and gave employees opportunities to retrain and move to other jobs or companies. Today that time no longer exists. The speed of change in technology today is having a very disruptive effect on job security.

But it is not all doom and gloom. Indeed, all these changes have given us so many more opportunities to create a life for ourselves. The internet has given everyone the chance to spread their ideas, showcase their talents and interests. It is a fantastic time to be alive. We no longer need to rely on one salary. The opportunities to increase our income streams are endless. You could create a YouTube channel that can earn you a few extra dollars a month, it is very easy to buy and sell on the stock market, you can create online courses, develop a website to sell your expertise to other individuals who want to learn new skills through Skype or FaceTime. There are so many opportunities to earn additional income. But if you have the office worker mindset, you are not going to be able to take advantage of all these opportunities because you still think in terms of “9 till 5”.

It is time to take a look around us and see the amazing opportunities we all have to create the lifestyle we have always dreamed of. There are of course some basics, things like hard work, a little imagination and the ability to have a vision of what our perfect life would look like. But once you have the basics, the next step is to start trying new things. Start writing a blog, create that YouTube channel you have always wanted to start, begin writing the book you promised you would write one day. Just start now.

The way to create the life you have always dreamed of is to break away from the office worker mindset. You life is worth so much more than a commute to a 9 till 5 office or factory job Monday to Friday followed by a weekend spent feeling tired and worn out stressing about the week to come. You could spend a few hours each week creating content for your blog or YouTube channel. You could learn how to make cushions, smart phone cases or hen coups. Anything that could help you increase you income streams.

And that is what it is all about. Increasing your income streams. using your talents, your experience and your know-how to help other people find the things they are looking for. None of this will happen if you have the office worker mindset though. With that mindset you will spend the best years of your life giving your valuable time to a company that will take everything it can from you, while paying you the least amount it can get away with, before leaving you on the scrap heap of former employees. You deserve better than that and the great thing about life today is you have the power and opportunities to break away from all that.

So open your mind, start thinking about you being your greatest asset and make that asset work for you in as many ways as you can. And always remember, you only have this one life, this one life to make an impact on the world and the people around you. Don’t give up the best part of you to a 9 till 5 job. You, your friends and family deserve so much better.

In the spirit of not having an office worker’s mindset, check out my latest online course on email management. If you hate email and find it a burden, then this course is just for you. With this link there is a 50% discount as well.

If you want to receive all my video and blog posts in one convienient place each Friday, then you can now subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.

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What We Can Learn From Designated Survivor.

Over the weekend I began watching Designated Survivor. A US drama by ABC in which a low level minister in the US administration becomes the President after the incumbent President and all of Congress and House Representatives are killed in a terror attack on Washington DC.

The new President, played by Keifer Sutherland, has never had so much power and responsibility and suddenly finds himself having to deal with incredibly challenging situations. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend you do. It is gripping and very entertaining. 

From a productivity point of view, I found myself admiring the way President Kirkman, (Keifer Sutherland’s character) handles these challenging situations. Advisors demanding decisions, foreign countries taking advantage of a weakened US government to benefit their own causes and terrorists striking all over the US, there never seems to be a moment where President Kirkman can just sit down and relax for a few moments. 

This reminded me of how many of us work today. There is so much stuff being thrown at us, from emails arriving at every minute of the day and night, text messages and demands from our colleagues for a decision on this project or that project. Professional and personal issues demanding our attention all at the same time. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy. How do we cope in these testing situations? 

Here are a few lessons we can learn from the Designated Survivor that may help in our quest for a better, more productive life. 

Be guided by your values

What I saw in President Kirkman is a man who at first is overwhelmed by all the decisions he has to make evolve in to a decision making machine. President Kirkman’s abiding value is “the truth”, he is never once tempted to show a slight of hand or to deceive. He only wants to govern in the fairest and most open way. Occasionally he will delay announcing something if it gives him and his advisors a little breathing room to make a better decision, but his overriding values of truth and openness prevail in all his decisions. And this is true in our real world. If we allow our values to dictate the decisions we make we will always make the right decisions. This decisions may not always be in our own short-term best interests, but because the decision came from our values, they will always be the right decisions in the long-term. 

Values such as integrity, honesty and hard work are values that will always serve you well. You may have other values, but the important thing is you allow all your decisions be guided by your own values. When you do this, no matter what, your decision will always be the right decision for you, whether or not they are the right decisions in the short-term.

Don’t put off difficult decisions

Another trait I noticed in President Kirkman is his ability to prioritise what is important and needs dealing with right now and what can be dealt with later. Putting off the hard decisions does not make them go away, they hang around like a bad smell. You need to deal with the difficult decisions first. The easy decisions can wait. Deal with these early in the morning. Make the decision, and then move on to the other things you have to deal with. You will find yourself so much more productive if you do that. My advice is to take some time out either in the evening or before you begin your day to decide what needs to be done and make sure the most pressing, urgent and difficult decisions are the first things you deal with. You will feel so much better for doing this. 

Get ahead of existing and potential problems

One of the most commonly used expressions in this drama is the expression “we need to get ahead of this”. Meaning, when something goes wrong, or something looks like it is going to go wrong, you need to be ready with your response. You may even need to deal with the problem before it becomes a problem. The only way to do this to be completely aware of what is going on in your world. Maintaining a todo list manager and an up to date calendar helps here, but so does taking some time out to review everything that is going in your world, both professionally and personally. If you manage a team of people, give them space to work, but make sure they are giving you regular updates. You don’t want an employee coming to you with a problem that is already a week old. You need to be anticipating and reviewing, so the problems either don’t occur or you are able to mitigate them when they do arise. 

Give yourself some quiet time

In almost every episode there is a scene where President Kirkman, stands alone either on the balcony overlooking the White House gardens, or by his desk in the Oval Office. These quiet moments of contemplation help him to see the bigger picture and evaluate all the advice being given to him. This is a great trick you can use to help you to make better decisions by allowing your brain to process the information. Once you have processed the information you can make much better decisions. 

Listen and trust your advisors but make your own decisions

After President Kirkman has been in office for a few days he has learnt who to listen to and who he can trust. One of the striking characteristics of President Kirkman is he will make decisions contrary to the ideas of his advisors. But he still listens to them. In one of the early episodes one of his generals insists they begin an air attack on a terrorist suspect immediately, but he disagrees. The president wants better confirmation the suspect is there. Remember you are in charge of your department and your own life. You should listen to advice, particularly when you trust the person giving you the advice, but ultimately you will take the responsibility if things go wrong, so be willing to make contrary decisions if you feel you need more time is required or another way would work better. 

No matter how busy you are, whether or not you run a large department or you are just starting out in the world of work, if you make all your decisions based on your own values, you never put off the difficult decisions, you make sure you are always aware of potential problems, you allow yourself some time each day to think through all the things going on in your life and you trust and listen to those people closest to you, you will very rarely, if ever, go wrong. Always remember you are responsible for the decision you take in your life. You can’t blame others if things go wrong. 

Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity.  Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative. 

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It's Time To Start Planning 2017

This article first appeared on my Medium Blog

As we enter the final quarter of 2016 it is time to begin thinking about the year ahead and what you want to accomplish. Too often we leave the thinking process until the final few weeks of the year, which means we end up rushing the process instead of allowing time for ideas and thoughts to percolate and to really get to the bottom of what we want to achieve in 2017.

Over the years I have evolved a simple process that allows me two months to think deeply about what I want to achieve and to give myself enough time to really allow thoughts and ideas to be developed. It is surprising what ideas I have when I allow my brain time to think. Ideas pop up at the strangest of times and in the strangest of places. I could be sat down watching an old episode of BBC’s Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson could say something and boom! I have a brilliant idea. Or I could be writing away in a coffee shop, minding my own business while enjoying a cappuccino and suddenly another idea might come up. 

Having my phone, computer or iPad with me at all times means I can capture those ideas and add them to my list any time, anywhere, whether it is on a bus, tram, subway or even in a meeting. 

Over time, I have fine tuned this process to help give myself a little more focus on the things that are important. I developed a basic Evernote note that has five main sections. Each section is clearly identified in the note so I can easily get to the list I want. These are as follows:

Ideas:

This is where I write down anything I would like to do next year. That could be a country I want to visit for a holiday, or simply something to buy like a new iMac. This is essentially where I put random thoughts and ideas. During this idea capture phase, the crazier these ideas are the better, as the crazy ideas often lead to ideas I had never thought of before.

What Would I Like To Change about Myself?

This is where I add thoughts about what I would like to change about myself. Perhaps I don’t save enough money, or I spend too much time doing unproductive things. It could also be something like give up smoking, drink less alcohol or read more books. Anything that you would like to change about yourself would get added under this heading.

What Would I Like To Change About My Lifestyle?

This is where you add things you would like to change in the way you live you life. For example if you live with your parents and want to get your own place, you would add it here. Or it could be something as simple as eating a healthy breakfast every day or get up at the same time every morning including weekends. 

What Would I Like To Change About The Way I Work?

This one is a relatively recent addition to my list. Because the nature of work is changing so fast these days, new way of getting work done are being created every day. Here is where you write ideas about how and where you would like to get your work done. It could mean you want to work for a remote company so you can work from home or the local coffee shop. You might decide to do your work using only a tablet computer rather than a desktop or you would like to learn how to use a different kind of software. Anything that involves changing the way you work today would go here.

How Can I Challenge Myself?

This one, to me, is the crucial one. This is the question that gave me the idea of starting my YouTube channel, Medium blog and to write my first book. As human beings we are hard wired to fall in to routines. Challenging ourselves is the best way I know of getting out of routines and and a mediocre life into creating and achieving something new and exciting. To add to this list think of some of the things you are afraid of doing and if the idea of doing those things excites you, then add it here. Whatever you add, it needs to be challenging and more importantly exciting. 

The key to this system working for you is spending the next two months thinking about it. You don’t need to think about it everyday, but as and when new ideas come up, add them to the list. No matter how crazy you might think they are, you can always remove them later. The process of adding things to the lists will spark new, exciting and challenging ideas and one of those could very easily lead you to making a fortune or meeting your life partner. Just one of those crazy, stupid ideas might be the spark that changes your life forever.

Here is a link to an PDF template I created which you can copy to your note taking app of choice. I recommend for the next two months you have this note saved in a place that is easy to access at any time. You want to be able to get to the list as quickly as possible so you can add that thought straight in to your list. The next two months is not about sorting, editing or organising, it’s about collecting, developing and thinking. 

I will post part two of this exercise towards the end of November so that I can guide you on the next steps towards a fantastic 2017. But for now, you only have to think and develop. Good luck. 

 

The Mental Power Of GTD.

This article first appeared on my Medium blog

One of the wonderful things about implementing Getting Things Done, is you stop feeling the stress of every day life. Because you are fully aware of what you are doing and what you are not doing, when things are due and what is coming at you in the near and distant future, everyday stress just melts away. I think it is this, more than anything else that makes GTD a game changer in the modern world.

I write about this because recently the Korean version of Getting Things Done book was launched. I immediately put the book on my recommended reading list for all my students and dedicated an hour with each of my clients extolling the virtues of the GTD lifestyle. Yet almost one month after sending out the recommendation only a few my of students / clients have gone out and bought the book. The excuse? “I’m a bit busy at the moment.”

On deeper investigation, it seems many of my clients enjoy being in a state of perpetual stress. Worrying about what they have to do, by when and how and having no idea what is coming up in the near or distant future. There is a fear that if they read the book, they will come face to face with the very things they have been avoiding for so many years. All those little things around the house that need fixing, all the relationships that need a poke to get moving forward and all those little, but important projects, they have promised they would do for and with their families.

The reality is you cannot avoid these things. If you don’t capture them and decide what you want to do about them, they will just buzz around inside your head reminding you you need to do something about them at the most inappropriate times. It’s not a very healthy way to go about your life and the unnecessary stress these thoughts and todos create is just not healthy.

And that is the thing about GTD. It allows you to capture everything on your mind and to know exactly what is coming up in the near and distant future. It allows you to feel in control of your life, and that control allows you to focus on the things that really matter to you, your family and your life in general and it takes away the stress these un-captured thoughts, promises and commitments cause.

So if you are on the sidelines about GTD, or if you are fearful of finding some unpleasant task you had conveniently forgotten about and are not sure about whether you should join in the fun, let me explain what GTD can do for you on a more mental level.

When you implement GTD, you collect all the things that are in your head in to one collection bucket. That could be a digital inbox or a physical inbox, it really doesn’t matter. Once you have collected everything on your mind, you process that inbox by making a quick decision about what that ‘thing’ is and then make a decision about what you want to do with it / need to do with it. If it can be done in 2 minutes or less, you do it straight away. If it needs more time, you decide what you need to do it (computer, spouse, phone etc) and add it to the appropriate list. Of course there is a lot more to GTD than this, but to put it as succinctly and clearly as possible, that is the essence of GTD.

However, what overviews like this do not show, is the mental benefits of GTD. You see, by getting all this out of your head and on to a list you trust, you very quickly begin to feel less stress. After all, you can now see everything you have to do. You now know what you have to do, and will have a pretty good idea of when it needs to be done. You are now able to make decisions based on what is important by time and by what is important to you. That in itself removes a lot of the stress most people feel every day.

Once you have that clarity, the clarity of knowing exactly what you have to do and by when, you also have the clarity of knowing what you do not have to do and you can then allow yourself to relax, knowing you have everything under control. I see so many people spending their weekends worrying about things they can’t remember about what they have to do and by when. If you have things like this flying around in your head, how can you possibly relax and enjoy the moment with your kids? You are constantly trying to remember all these things you cannot remember. Trust me, your brain is not very good at things like that it tends to exaggerate the importance of these unremembered things and that just makes you feel even more stressed.

So, aside from getting all your stuff in to a well organised system, GTD does so much more than that. It reduces a huge amount of stress because the principles allow you to gain control in your life, and that means in both your work life and your personal life. It means there are no nasty surprises blindsiding you on a Tuesday afternoon, and it means you leave work at the end of the day, knowing all the important things have been done. That’s why I highly recommend you read GTD. Not just for your future, but for your health’s sake and for the sake of your family and friends. A GTD mind means you are actually enjoying the moment you are in, because all the other stuff in your life is in control and on a list you trust you will get to in the near future.

You do not have to live a life of perpetual stress. You can live a life of little to no stress. A life where you are in control of what you do, when you do it and how you do it. You can enjoy the comfort of knowing what is due, what is coming up and being able to see the future with much more clarity and optimism than you do at the moment. All it takes is to read a book, implement the principles in the book and just get on and enjoy the ride. I can promise you it is a fantastic feeling, and one well worth the time and effort to do the reading and implementing.

4 Ways to Beat Stress For a More Fulfilled Year

This article first appeared on my Medium page. 

Recently I was asked what do I do when I am stressed. After much thought, I realised that I am rarely, if ever, stressed. This got me wondering why I don’t experience stress. Is it something in my DNA, or is it because I relentlessly organise my life both professionally and personally or is it something else?

I concluded that it is probably a combination of all of those things. However, I know I do take steps to avoid stress and to make my life work as smoothly as possible. I exercise regularly, I know the importance of getting enough sleep. I avoid alcohol during the week and I plan ahead to prevent any unpleasant surprises. These steps are a very powerful antidote to the stresses and strains in a persons life. So, here are a few tips you too can take to avoid stress and have a much more relaxed lifestyle.

Plan Ahead

This one is certainly my number one tip. If you do not plan ahead you are going to be in a state of perpetual stress. If you have no idea what is coming up, you are going to be unprepared and all the following tips are just going to fall apart.

Recently I saw this in action. My wife, who is the complete opposite of me, had an event to go to. She was the lead person in this event and she was responsible for making sure the cameras were fully charged and that the tripods and other equipment needed were ready to go. My wife got home late the night before and was feeling very tired. She decided she must charge the batteries overnight. Unfortunately, she could not find the battery chargers and spent thirty minutes looking for them. Finally she found them and she put the batteries on charge. She went to bed knowing she needed to be up early.

She then spent 30 minutes looking at her social media feeds before falling asleep. three and half hours later she woke up and rushed around looking for everything in a very agitated and stressed state. Needless to say, she ended up arriving late and leaving some vital equipment at home.

Had she thought about all the things she was going to need a few days before and made sure everything was in the right place, the batteries charged and ready to go, she could have got a good night’s sleep before the event, woken up knowing everything was ready and would not have forgotten anything.

Planning ahead, it probably the most powerful weapon you have against stress. It’s quite often the little things that cause the most stress. Not having a pen when you need one in a meeting, your phone battery running out just at the moment you have to make an important phone call. All these things add up. So just plan ahead. Look at your calendar on a Sunday evening or Monday morning and see what is coming up and ask the question “do I need to prepare anything for that?” If the answer is yes, schedule some time to prepare for it. If you are going to be outside, away from your office or home all day, make sure you have a way to charge you phone for example.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is vital if you want to get things done to a high level of quality. I understand it is not always possible to get a good night’s sleep, but it is possible to catch a quick nap when you need to top up. I do not know how I would survive without a nap during the day. I even schedule a nap and will postpone exercise to get sleep if I need to. I know my productivity drops dramatically if I don’t sleep enough, and if my productivity drops so does the quality and quantity of the work I do. This then leads to more work later and an increased amount of stress.

If you feel tired (because of a lack of sleep) take thirty minutes or so out, lay down and sleep a little. The way you feel when you wake up will result in better quality work and you will get so much more done.

Have a Plan For The Year

This one is a relatively new one for me. I used to find myself feeling anxious around June / July each year and I could never understand why. I realised it was because I really didn’t feel I was achieving anything worthwhile. So, two years ago, I started making three priority goals for the year. These were one professional, one personal and one could be anything I wanted it to be. This year’s goals are to write a book, to complete a full course marathon and to save up and buy a pair of Crockett and Jones Skye 3 boots in Chestnut.

Because I have made sure that there is a mix of professional and personal goals, it is not only fun to focus my mind on achieving the goals, but I now race myself to see how fast I can achieve the goals. I was recently able to place my order for the boots, so I can tick those off, my training for the marathon is going great and I am a third of the way through writing the book. I feel very stress free at the moment and in the past the beginning of July was the worst time of the year for me.

Be healthy

There is so much written about the importance of exercise and health already. But it really is important. Not only because when you feel physically healthy you have a pride in your physical appearance, but the energy you have by being fit and healthy means you can get so much more done. Exercise also gets you out of the office and your home and into a different environment. It’s ‘quiet time’ that can allow your mind to rest.

Going out and drinking a skinful of beer and filling your stomach with Burger King Whoppers just before you go to bed is going to leave you feeling dreadful the next day. You are not going to be in the mood to do great quality work and your sense of pride is going to suffer. This will only increase the feeling of stress you have. Just don’t do it

And that’s it. Knowing that you have everything under control and you are prepared for everything will take a lot of unnecessary stress out of your life. Getting enough sleep will mean you make less mistakes and the quality of your work will improve. Having a plan for the year that is both achievable and manageable will give you focus for the year and by keeping your health in good shape you will always feel great. These four things will genuinely turn your life around and make you into a happier, more productive person. So start making those plans today. It’s never too late.

A Better You? You Have The Power!

This article first appeared on my Medium blog

I think I am old enough now to understand what I want, and the type of person I want to be. It’s taken a while to figure this out, but I am reasonably comfortable with who I am. The journey to getting to this place has been long, confusing and sometimes disappointing, but what I have learned along the way is that no matter how low you feel, how far away you think you are from being the person you want to be, it is always possible to make the necessary changes to become that person.

It’s not difficult, but you do need to spend some time thinking about what really motivates you, what really makes you feel good about yourself and what makes you feel proud. (I don’t mean the negative pride, I mean the pride you feel when you know you have achieved something good) as with all things that lead to a fruitful and a life of achievement it does take some effort and a little time to figure it out.

Let’s look at a few things that are typically what people want to change about themselves:

Body shape

If you are not happy with the shape you are, then you have the power to change that. If you are comfortable with your shape, then great. But a large number of people I know do want to change something. Now, I do not believe cosmetic surgery is ever the answer, But you can start exercising. Exercising not only improves your overall health, it can dramatically improve your body shape and more importantly, it can and does improve your overall confidence.

Exercise does not have to be extreme. It can be light jogging, walking or just some general exercises at home in the evening or early morning. You decide what type of exercise you want to do, when and where. That’s the great thing about exercise. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. And you only have to do it three or more times a week.

Your Style

If you are not happy with your personal style, you can change this too. Sites such as Pinterest and Instagram are great places to get inspiration about clothing, accessories and footwear. All you need to do is spend an evening or two searching through images to get a general feel of what you like, the colours and textures, and begin buying items of clothing you truly like and would enjoy wearing. Don’t follow fashion, create you own style and be comfortable and happy with it.

I actually did this around five years ago. I found myself a tailor to make my suits and shirts for me (they are not necessarily expensive) I used Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration and I came up with a style that was a cross between the 1960s James Bond (the Sean Connery era), Cary Grant and Steve MacQueen. I didn’t know then, but it turns out this style is classically elegant (so I’m told) and timelessly fashionable. The biggest difference I have noticed is photos taken of me now never age. The clothing I am wearing never goes out of fashion and I always feel appropriately dressed and comfortable with what I am wearing.

Your Interaction With Other People

Your interactions with other people can have a huge impact on your overall feeling of wellbeing. Improving your interactions is simply a matter of becoming comfortable with asking questions about the person you are meeting and having a genuine interest in them. A book that really helped me was How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It was a revelation to me when I read this in my early twenties and still inspires me today. I am not a natural ‘people person’, but this book really helped me to understand people better and to help me improve my relationship building skills.

Speaking Better

Okay, this may not be so common, but it is one I feel quite strongly about. I teach people to communicate better and so how people communicate their ideas and messages has always fascinated me. I admire people with great voices. People like Jeremy ClarksonNoel CowardVincent PriceRichard BurtonTom Hiddleston and Mike Rowe inspire me to speak clearer, more eloquently and better.

I also regularly listen to my speech to see if I have picked up any bad habits or if I am using too many “umms” and “errs”. If I have, I focus on removing them from my speech.

Learn something new

Stanford, Oxford and Cambridge universities put many of their courses up on iTunesU. If you want to broaden your education you can sign up for any of these courses for free. Read materials and watch videos it’s all there and all designed to enhance your eduction.

Of course if you want certificates, then you can enrol in any number of night school classes. Your choices are endless.

Whatever it is you want to improve in your life, then you really do have the power to do it. You need to first know what it is you want to change about yourself and that can take time to discover, but once you have discovered it, you can set about creating a plan that will take you on a path that will achieve that change. The resources we have available to us today are excellent. YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and other sites can all show you what you can achieve with just a little time investment.

So, if you are not happy with an area of your life and you want to change, then you know you can do it. Just make the decision and go ahead and make it happen. You have the power to change things in your own life and become an inspiration to others. So, instead of sitting on the sofa wishing you could change something in your life, get up, turn off the TV and start making that change today. Become a better version of yourself.

 

Are You Building A Life Of Value?

This may be a phenomenon in Asia more than a phenomenon in other areas of the world, but as I travel round from company to company helping people with their communication needs, I find an increasingly large number of people who are completely dissatisfied with the work they are doing. They hate their industry, they hate their company and they hate the work they do day in and day out. Is that what life is about? Is that it? For many people yes it is.

For many of these dissatisfied people, they have followed the advice of their parents, friends, teachers and peers and done what they were told was “the right thing to do”, For others they just followed the crowd and did university courses their friends did because it was a cool thing to do. But all this advice was profoundly wrong. It was wrong because the advice came from a perspective that was not theirs. They never followed the things that interested them, they followed advice that put them at odds with who they really are, and now they are suffering in jobs they hate, doing work that does not fulfil them and feeling miserable all week.

A life of value, where you make a contribution to the world, does not come from doing a job you hate. A life of value comes from inside you, doing what you truly believe in. That could be developing a solution to one of life’s problems, it could be doing everything you can to create a better way of supplying electricity to homes and workplaces or it could simply be building a business that caters for our beloved pets while we are out at work. Whatever it is, you do it because you love doing it and you really believe in it. Going in to work to push paper around an organisation so that you get a pay cheque at the end of the month is never going to make you feel fulfilled and happy. It is going to cause you misery and depression. And at the end of it all, when your company pushes you out and says, “sorry, you’re too old”, What will you have? If you’re lucky you might have a reasonable pension, you may have kept your marriage together or still living with you life-partner, but you will have built nothing.

We live in a world where almost anything is possible. Starting your own business has never been easier and doing what you truly want to do is now more achievable than ever before. We need to stop listening to the advice of others and start listening to our own inner voice and do the work we want to do. The opportunities to go back to college or university and learn something new, or even learn a new skill through YouTube (I learnt how to take care of and polish shoes properly through YouTube) have never been better. You do not need a lot of money. All you need is a little time and some real belief in yourself and you can start doing what you really want to do. And when you start doing what you want to do, when you start doing something you really believe in you will find that every aspect of your life will improve. You will have more energy, more enthusiasm more love for you friends and family and above all else you will feel much happier about yourself.

Surely, that is something you value more than anything else?