Starting Off 2015 | January Goals

Pier

It’s embarrassing not to have posted anything in December 2014 after being so consistent in November 2014. December taught me that it isn’t always possible to make it happen. Sometimes enough impediments pile up that no matter how strong your intentions, discipline and routines are, forward progress isn’t possible.

For most of December I was taking medicine for a nagging health problem (now gone) that caused me to feel weak and tired. This made consistent exercise and workouts impossible. This was doubly frustrating because exercise is a key source of stress relief and clear thinking for me.

All this, combined with time consuming distractions at work, holiday season madness, and a two week road trip with my family were a knock-out punch for extinguishing my morning and evening routines. Now that I’m back home and settling in again I feel rested and ready to go again, though the first few days of 2015 I felt lost and directionless.

January is About Restarting

I know restarting is key for getting back on track. Here are the challenges I’m laying out for myself as I reboot into 2015. I’m committing to do these things for the rest of January 2015, starting today! Feel free to ask me how I’m doing on these goals.

  • Morning routine starting every day at 5 a.m. or earlier
  • YAYOG workouts at least every other day (no more than one day off between workouts–since June 2014 my rule has been two days which worked well. Now I want to re-build strength and establish more momentum).
  • Evening routine
  • At least 10 blog posts

Each month I pick a new habit build or challenge I want to meet. I’m not adding any new habits this month. Instead I’m rebooting and going deeper with habits I previously established to build the best foundation I know for myself to serve the year ahead. I have big hopes for 2015 and believe it will be a pivotal year on a number of levels.

Over to You

What are you committing to for January 2015?

Morning Questions

Another Morning

In the post about my Evening Routine I shared the questions I ask myself as I wrap up the day and do some quick journaling.

Along the way the evening questions inspired the idea of questions for my Morning Routine journaling. Some of these questions I made up and the rest I took from Donald Miller’s Storyline Productivity Planner (highly recommended).

I try to answer to answer each of these, though I don’t always. Some mornings I don’t do any journaling, but instead use the “writing portion” of my morning to prepare blog posts. And then other days the early mornings slips away and no writing happens. I do find that writing, much like the reading portion of my morning routine is centering and clears my head.

Questions I Usually Answer

  • What would make today great?
    • Sometimes just writing it down makes it concrete and more possible
  • Today I would like to finish:
    • It’s easy to work on lots of stuff, put out fires, and read lots of email, but it feels really good to finish something–finishing things makes me feel good.
  • If I could live today over again I would:
    • This question is from the Storyline Productivity Planner and is kind of a mind-bender.
    • The idea of this question is to pretend the day is over and you are looking back on it in satisfaction. What would be the things that would have made the day satisfying or fulfilling.
  • Things I get to enjoy today:
    • It’s easy to see the day ahead with dread or all the things must get done.
    • Acknowledge or plan some things into the day that will make it enjoyable.

Questions to Get Really Clear on What I Will and Won’t Do Today

I don’t always make it this far. It’s also a section I recently added that I’m playing with.

  • What things MUST get done today? Keep this list short (no more than three)?
    1.
    2.
    3.

  • What are nice-to-haves for today? If they get done it’s great. If they don’t it’s not the end of the world.
    1.
    2.
    3.

  • Things I commit to NOT doing today. This might mean staying off social media, checking email, reading the news, etc. Whatever your biggest time wasters are.
    1.
    2.
    3.

Over to You

Are there any questions you ask yourself or commit to as part of your morning routine?

Prototyping is Not Wasting Time

Painting

I hate wasting time and I often have the unrealistic expectation that processes should be efficient. It’s easy to think that prototyping is a waste of time and inefficient, but it’s not.

Here’s an interesting quote of a quote from page 71 of Die Empty.

Tom Kelley, general manager of IDEO, described the benefits of the prototyping process in his book, The Art of Innovation. He writes, “Prototyping is a problem solving. It’s a culture and a language. You can prototype just about anything — a new product or service, or a special promotion. What counts is moving the ball forward, achieving some part of your goal. Not wasting time.” In other words, prototyping allows you to make progress before you even know what progress should look like. He continues, “Prototyping doesn’t just solve straightforward problems. Call it serendipity or even luck, but once you start drawing or making things, you open up new possibilities of discovery. It’s the same method that’s helped scientists unlock some of the greatest secrets of nature.”

One challenge I find with prototyping is that it’s not a natural inclination when I’m under pressure to finish or don’t have any time to spare. Sometimes a shortcut to prototyping is creating lists of ideas or solutions (no matter how wacky they might be) to a particular problem.

In Choose Yourself by James Altucher, Altucher is all about generating lists and strengthening the idea muscle in our brains. For $0.99, even if you don’t like Altucher’s writing style or believe some of his stories, there are tons of good take-aways and encouragement to be found in this 276 page book.

Could it be that if we are intentional with our time it is not possible to waste it? By intentional I mean, setting out intentionally in a particular direction versus scrolling twitter, news sites and daily bargains websites. And setting out in a particular direction is often a prototype.

Becoming a Better Version of Yourself

manI’m convinced that if we focus on finding and building the best version of ourselves it makes everything else better, including ourselves. Using others as a benchmark has a place, but more often it is a race to bottom.

We measure the number of hours we work, customers we bring in, website visits we generate, etc. compared to someone else. There’s really no end to things you can compare when it comes to yourself and another person. Even if you come up on top what’s the real benefit?

I’ve experienced team environments like this. They aren’t a lot of fun–often toxic.  When the team becomes suspicious of each other and there’s no trust, comparison becomes a key metric for measuring success.

In one of the last chapters of Start With Why, Sinek tells a moving story of a boy named Ben Comen who has cerebral palsy. Ben is not the fastest runner on the team or the slowest… technically he probably he is the slowest runner, but he never finishes last because after the team completes a race they always loop back to finish the race with him. Ben falls down a lot, often finishing the race bloodied and bruised.

The idea is that Ben is racing to improve and compete against himself, not beat the other runners. There is no way he could. Take this in.

Something amazing happens after about twenty-five minutes. When everybody else is done with their race, everyone comes back to run with Ben. Ben is the only runner who, when he falls, someone else will help pick him up. Ben is the only runner who, when he finishes, has a hundred people running behind him.

What Ben teach us is special. When you compete against everyone else, no one wants to help you. But when you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you. Olympic athletes don’t help each other. They’re competitors. Ben starts every race with a clear sense of WHY he’s running. He’s not there to beat anyone but himself. Ben never loses sight of that. His sense of WHY he’s running gives him the strength to keep going. To keep pushing. To keep getting up. To keep going. And to do it again and again and again. And every day he runs, the only time Ben sets out to beat is his own.

Now think about how we do business. We’re always competing against someone else. We’re always trying to be better than someone else. Better quality. More features. Better service. We’re always comparing ourselves to others. And no one wants to help us. What if we showed up to work every day simply to be better than ourselves? What if the goal was to do better work this week than we did the week before? To make this month better than last month? For no other reason than because we want to leave the organization in a better state than we found it?

I get that businesses have to make money and all that. I think Sinek is onto something here. I love Sinek’s idea of becoming better versions of ourselves because that’s a reoccurring theme my buddy Gregg Monteith raises in our podcast–the idea that we are meant to be the best possible versions of ourselves.