Motivational Mondays – 31/08/20

Hello fine readers and welcome back to my Motivational Mondays Post – The only weekly newsletter to give your medicine with a spoon full of sugar!

Following a 4:3:2:1 approach, it contains 4 exceptional thoughts from me (ha), 3 admittedly better quotes from others, and 2 things I’ve been reading and/or listening to this week that have helped me grow!

As always I’ve finished with 1 silly story to lighten your Monday blues… 

Love to all X


4 x Thoughts From Me:

If you can improve your life knowing you already have enough, then future failures will hurt you less and future successes will bring you more joy. 

The early bird often catches the worm because he or she is an early bird. If you’re a night owl, forcing yourself to catch worms in the morning isn’t the best strategy. Far better to build your day according to a schedule that suits your chronotype. Why hunt for worms if it’s easier for you to catch mice?

For all wannabe bloggers: understand we all have to start from scratch and that it takes time and effort for things to take off. Most important are your reasons for blogging. Let it be about the love of writing. Let it be about helping others, however small the number. If your words reach just one person then you’ve already achieved something special. Forget the numbers and speak from your heart. Forget the numbers and concentrate on making connections instead. Forget the numbers and enjoy the journey.

An intolerance of right wing politics from the left only strengthens intolerance in the right and vice versa. Not having tolerance for those who you disagree only strengthens their position, as well as your own. It only deepens the divide. What we need is greater understanding. We cannot change what we don’t understand.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.” – Octavia Butler

“After a point of time, when you get success and fame, money and everything, the purpose of life has to be redefined. For me, I think that purpose is to build bridges. Artists can do that very easily, more than politicians.” – A. R. Rahman

“Democracy is only as good as the education that surrounds it.”- Socrates


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This interesting No Stupid Questions podcast episode with Steven Dubner and Angela Duckworth: How Much of Your Life Do You Actually Control? In this episode Steven and Angela discuss the advantages of having an internal locus of control versus an external locus. They also discuss the reasons why we procrastinate and how to stop it. Note and quotes below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Those who have an internal locus of control tend to think they effect outcomes more than they actually do. They believe life is controlled by them. Those with an external locus tend to think they have less control than they actually do. They believe life happens to them. 
  • People with an internal locus tend to be more successful. They have better mental health. People with external locus are more prone to depression- tend to be more lackadaisical at work. 
  • The most productive thing one can do in a difficult situation is to concentrate on controlling the controllables.
  • Good to have two columns in your mind. What you can control and what you can’t. Make the active choice to concentrate your finite attention and energy on what you can control. Give up wasting it on blaming external circumstances outside of your control. 
  • Children taught to have a growth mindset and to have grit perform better. It’s important to teach this mindset keeping in mind that other children – through no fault of their own – are disadvantaged. We can’t continue to create a culture of superiority where adults believe it’s only because they worked harder that they have been more successful. 
  • “Why put off what you can do tomorrow till the day after tomorrow?” – Mark Twain 
  • Why do we procrastinate? We procrastinate because of fear. Not because of laziness. 
  • We often think of a task as being far more difficult and taxing than it really is. As a result we expend more emotional energy procrastinating than we would if we simply got on with the task.
  • I love deadlines. I need deadlines. Without the deadline I’d be about 90% less productive than I am. 
  • Procrastinating is a form of impulsivity. It’s a failure to delay gratification – like the marshmallow test. The question is whether you are going to do what’s best for your future self or please your present self? 
  • A procrastinator correlates with lower achievement and lower self esteem 
  • Upside to procrastination?- more creative. Procrastinating can be used as a useful creative tool. To connect the dots. 
  • But deliberately delaying a task or a problem to think of a solution – is that procrastination? Procrastination is used as a negative term to describe an action we wish we had done earlier. 
  • Tip 1. Break big tasks into small tasks. The dread is often because you are anticipating the enormity of a task like writing a book. When focusing on small manageable chunks progress becomes easier. 
  • Tip 2. Just start. Self deception. I’m just going to take a look. I’m just going to do 5 mins. Simply start and you’ll often find you end up doing more than you expected.

2 – This excellent TED talk – Why Schools Should Teach Children For The Real World – by Ted Dintersmith.

“As automation eliminates structured jobs and careers, schools should focus on training students to be bold, creative and entrepreneurial. Instead, argues education advocate Ted Dintersmith, the core purpose of education has been lost in a wave of testing, data and increasingly irrelevant metrics. In this talk, he underscores the need to educate for innovative and creative strengths, and trust our schools and teachers to prepare our kids for life, instead of standardized tests.”


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

This one will be short and sweet, just like my gorgeous silly boy who decided to start naming his nose after things!

Yes you read that correctly.

As my wife explained, he’s started pointing at his nose and saying things like, “This is car!”

I laughed before replying, “That’s good to nose…”

I’m here all week ladies and gentlemen!


Till next time…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!

One bonus question for you all:

What can you write about that nobody else can?

(Thank you all so much for reading. If you have any suggestions, thoughts or ideas about today’s weekly post I’d love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom.)


PREVIOUS MONDAY POSTS:

Motivational Mondays – 24/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 17/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 27/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 20/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 13/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 06/07/20

I Am The Fly

As I went for my walk around the park today I paused to observe a tree.

I started imagining what it must look like from the perspective of a fly. How each leaf – seemingly soo small – must be the size of an entire house.

How the whole tree is its neighbourhood. How the park is its city. The neighbourhood its country. The whole city its world. The whole world its galaxy…

At this point I realised the world is well beyond what the fly could ever comprehend. The fly has no idea just how small it really is.

Not. A. Clue.

Then it occurred to me.

I’m no different.

It occurred to me.

I am the fly.

200 Followers!

Can you believe it?

200 whole individual follower people!

That’s 199 people I don’t know and my mum! Hi mum 👋!

Extraordinary stuff.

Where do I begin?

Of course it’s been a long and arduous journey since I started blogging, with many ups and downs along the way, but to reach 200 followers is beyond my wildest expectations! (I’m guessing it’s beyond anybody’s wildest expectations!)

Couple this with winning what can only be described as the blogging equivalent of an Oscar last month, one could only conclude this is the finest blog in the entire blogosphere!

But don’t take my word for it, just ask my mum!

Now please bare with me while I try to be serious for a second…

I genuinely want to thank all of you who have taken the time to read my pokey little blog this year.

I started blogging because I wanted to help others in some way, shape or from, while also improve my limited skills as a writer. Having overcome a number of personal issues with depression and anxiety in recent years, I also believed I had something more to offer than simply telling people how great they are (which of course they are).

I’ve no idea if much my words have had any effect, but I can say with absolute certainty your words have helped me enormously. If I got into this because I enjoy writing, connecting with all of you lovely people is what will keep me in the game for much longer.

The sheer number of amazing individuals all trying to help one another become better people is truly inspiring. It really has been a great things to feed off of, especially this year.

To each and every one of you – for helping to teach me, to challenge my very limited ways of thinking, for engaging me with humour, love and compassion – thank you all so so much. You have all been a massive silver lining to the monstrous storm cloud that is 2020.

Love to all,

AP2.

Motivational Mondays – 24/08/20

Hello fine readers and welcome back to my Motivational Mondays Post – The only newsletter to start your week with a snap, crackle and pop!

Following a 4:3:2:1 approach, it contains 4 exceptional thoughts from me (ha), 3 admittedly better quotes from others, and 2 things I’ve been reading and/or listening to this week that have helped me grow (in a non sexual manner)!

As always I’ve finished with 1 silly story to lighten your Monday blues… 

Love to all X


4 x Thoughts From Me:

Don’t pay much attention to your past. The lessons you’ve learnt will be applied at the appropriate moments provided you remain present. If you spend your time looking backward you’re in danger of missing those moments. Then you’ll find history repeating itself. Stay present with one eye on the future. Leave the past where it is.

If you complain you suffer twice. If you blame you deny yourself the opportunity to learn. If you give up both of those habits you’ll go far. 

I do believe if you can find the thing you love – if it happens to pay the bills as well – then you’ve landed a winning lottery ticket. This is the advice that everyone pedals as a possible reality but the truth is many of our passions simply don’t pay the bills. Writing for me is about the why – not about trying to get clickbait or make money. If I tried turning it into a profession I think I’d give it up fairly quickly. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with a half decent job while spending your spare time doing the things that you love instead. This is a more realistic and achievable goal. So long as you make the time to pursue your passion, it doesn’t have to be the thing that pays the bills!

It’s difficult to love other people if you don’t love yourself. It’s difficult to love yourself if you don’t love other people. It works both ways. Ask yourself which you have most trouble with and work on it.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation. While bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality.”– Eliyahu Goldratt

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot… Grief is just love with no place to go.” Jamie Anderson

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour.”- Truman Capote


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This fascinating Intelligence Squared podcast episode about The Hidden Power of Caste, with Isabel Wilkerson and Yassmin Abdel-Magied. “Race, class, gender. These are the categories that are commonly thought to define our lives. But Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson argues that ultimately the determining factor in societies is a more powerful, unspoken system of divisions: caste.”

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • What is caste?An arbitrary graded ranking of human value in a society – where a person’s characteristics determines standing, respect, access to resources, assumptions of beauty and intelligence, whether benefit of the doubt is given etc. – In the United States the metric born out of the slave trade for our caste system is/has been race. We live under the shadow of this metric to this day. 
  • Teacher in Iowa experimented with children in her class by assigning caste system based on the colour of their eyes. Anyone with brown eyes was deemed inferior and not allowed the same privileges. They were not allowed to interact with others. Brown eyed children were bullied immediately. They would say oh that’s because he/she is “a brown eyed” if they made a mistake or performed poorly. They actually ended up scoring lower in tests because they believed they were inferior. Something that was undeniably a neutral trait was instantaneously taken to mean something else by these children, simply because that’s what they were told!
  • Hitler spoke of his admiration for ‘America’s knack for maintaining an air of robust innocence in the wake of mass deaths.’ The Nazis admired the Americans for their caste system – they sent researchers to the United States to understand how they were able to subjugate and subordinate African Americans. Helped to form the Nuremberg laws. 
  • The tragedy of caste systems: We make assumptions based on what we can see. Yet you might know nothing about a person but because of the caste system under which you’ve been raised, your assumptions are automatic.
  • (In response to receiving racial prejudice) “I don’t take offence. I believe this is simply a problem of the coding we have received as humans from an arbitrary caste system based on race.” 
  • The beauty of focusing on the system and structures is you can remove the emotions that get in the way of seeing things clearly. You can understand it’s not necessarily the persons fault for the assumptions she or he has made. 
  • The coding is so deeply imbedded that it operates despite all evidence to the contrary. 
  • One of the things modern Germany has done so well in is educating its own population. They have turned all the places of previous horror into memorials and centres of education. 
  • “Whatever is there won’t go away just because you won’t look at it. Actually it’ll only get worse.”
  • If you don’t know you can’t act. Nothing can be expected of you if you do not know. The question is what do you do when you do become aware? You have to be able to see a problem to solve a problem.

2 – This excellent BBC article The ‘Batman Effect’: How having an alter ego empowers you by David Robson (author of The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things). We’ve all heard the mantra ‘fake it till you make it’ – well this article explores how adopting an alter ego – such as batman – can help you overcome your anxieties and achieve your goals. Well worth the read! 3 quotes from the article below.

“Although the embodiment of a fictional persona may seem like a gimmick for pop stars, new research suggests there may be some real psychological benefits to the strategy. Adopting an alter ego is an extreme form of ‘self-distancing’, which involves taking a step back from our immediate feelings to allow us to view a situation more dispassionately.”

“In one study, participants were asked to think about a challenging event in the future, such as an important exam, in one of two different ways. The group in the “immersed” condition were told to picture it from the inside, as if they were in the middle of the situation, whereas those in the “distanced” condition were asked to picture it from afar – as if they were a fly on the wall. The differences were striking, with those taking the distanced viewpoint feeling much less anxious about the event, compared to the immersed group. The self-distancing also encouraged greater feelings of self-efficacy – the sense that they could pro-actively cope with the situation and achieve their goal.”

“The researchers had suspected that the alter ego would be a more extreme form of self-distancing, and the results showed exactly that. While the children thinking in the third person spent about 10% more of the total available time on the task that those thinking in the first person, it was the children inhabiting their alter egos who stuck it out for the longest of all. Overall, they spent 13% more of the total available time on the task than those thinking in the third person (and 23% more than those thinking about their behaviour in the first person).”


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

My son came up to me today while I was meditating exclaiming, “Mama’s brushing her tit.”

I shot up!

“Excuse me?,” I said, thinking I must have misheard him.

“Mama’s brushing her tit,” he repeated.

Oh my, I thought. He shouldn’t be looking at that.

“Where is she?,” I asked.

“Mama in bathroom,” he replied.

I poked my head through the open door. Sure enough there was mummy, brushing her teeth!

I was both disappointed and relieved at the same time.


Till next week…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!

One bonus question for you all:

What have you been brushing this week? 

(Thank you all so much for reading. If you have any suggestions, thoughts or ideas about today’s weekly post I’d love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom.)


PREVIOUS MONDAY POSTS:

Motivational Mondays – 17/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 27/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 20/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 13/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 06/07/20

The Question To Ask Yourself Before Every Decision

It was late the other night that my wife told me about her sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the amount of things she sets herself to do – of always feeling pushed to do things – of feeling “the need” to do things – that she sometimes feels driven by an underlying sense of ‘not good enough.’ 

I paused to take in what she was saying, before climbing into bed next to her. 

She’s certainly not alone, I thought. I knew those feelings well. I suspect those feelings are probably shared by the vast majority of young professionals driven by certain expectations of society, of their parents, of their conditioning to be the best version of themselves.

As I responded, in one of my rare moments of clarity, I remembered a question that I wrote down from a podcast I heard a few weeks ago. It’s something I’ve asked myself repeatedly since, as a way to guide my actions , especially when I’ve felt a strong resistance to them – like my perceived need to keep up with my own work. 

The question was this:

“Am I making this decision because of love or fear?”

 – Dr Vivek Murthy

I felt it was such an insightful way of asking yourself why or why not you should do something – whatever that may be – as you go about your day. The more I contemplated it over the following weeks, the more I realised how powerful it was as a guiding force in keeping the values I hold close to my heart, clear in my mind. After all, I believe all our feelings and actions are driven, on a basis level, by one of these two underlying emotions. This question is a great way of bringing to light, exactly which one of these two emotions is driving your actions at any particular moment.

Am I doing this because of love or fear?

As I climbed into bed I asked my wife what her motives are for doing (she’s a yoga teacher FYI) what she’s been doing? Is it because she believes strongly in the cause, to help others, or does she feel pushed to perform, to be better because of some perceived need to prove something to others or, indeed, herself? Is it from, on some level, a feeling of inadequacy, of not being good enough as she is right now?

I went on to explain something that dawned on me about why my own motivation towards work had stalled so many times in the past. 

I never felt good enough. I was scared what others thought. I was scared that I would underperform and not be seen as good enough in the eyes of my coworkers. I was so scared of ‘being found out’ for who I thought I was. Of confirming a long help belief – a false one – that I wasn’t good enough. The same has been true of my writing.

Thinking back it’s no wonder my motivation died. It’s no wonder when I sat down to do the work I needed that it was such an enormous struggle. It felt like walking through quick sand as I ploughed ahead while fighting the stress, anxiety and sometimes, full blown depression, that had consumed my heart. 

If only someone had shouted, “you are good enough you fool – you know this – you’re just doing it for the wrong reasons!!”

Alas, I know that wouldn’t have helped. True insight and understanding has to come from within and that takes time. It has taken years to grow in my heart. It still is.


LOVE AS MOTIVATION FOR WORK & LIFE


The last six months – since the world of aviation has been brought to its knees because of the coronavirus pandemic – have given me, like countless others, plenty of time to reflect.

With regards to work I have come to realise that framing my motivations, to be clear that they are coming from a genuine place of love, is what I need to do. Whipping myself into shape doesn’t work in the longer term. It’s too hard.

As I explained to my wife, when I sit down to prepare for work, for a flight or simulator check, whatever it may be, the question I have started asking is, am I preparing from a place of fear or love? And, if I am feeling fearful, what is it that I’m really afraid of? Why am I doing what I am? If it’s because I feel the need to prove something, then I know I’m coming from the wrong place.

Of course preparing so you don’t fuck up in such a way that the flight ends in catastrophe is one way to think about things. Ultimately that’s our goal – Safety absolutely, rightly, comes first. However there’s a big difference between preparing or working from a place of all consuming fear, versus love. Even if you still feel fearful, if you’re coming from a place of genuine love, that will give you strength to carry on. To stare down the eyes of the beast. 

I relayed some of those loving motives, as they applied to me in my work, to my wife.

To honour and protect my fellow crew members whom I owe it to perform at my best as I know they are. To do my best for every single passenger we transport – to make sure they arrive at their destinations –  that they make it home safely to their loved ones. To remember I am providing for my own family through this job – that gives us everything we need to live a happy, healthy and secure life. To remember I love myself – self preservation because I want to be alive – so I can be around for my family and friends. So my wife has a husband to love her. So my son has a father to lead him.

There’s something else at this moment in time too. 

Although there isn’t a huge amount of flying to go around at the moment – I realised the small amount there is, is an opportunity to be part of something, to help in a way most others around the world can’t. To help bring the few people who need to travel for very urgent reasons. To help bring critical supplies, medical or otherwise, to areas of the world who desperately need it. To help the world keep turning to some degree at a time when it has all but ground to a halt!  It’s a gift to be able to do something more than simply stay at home during this pandemic. I know millions of others would give a lot for the opportunity to do the same. It’s something to be extremely grateful for.

While these might seem like obvious motivations, I can tell you they are easily lost, or have been for me at least, in a profession so heavily driven by perfectionism – to prove your competency, and that you know everything there is to know. The pressure to prove yourself isn’t part of the the job I relish. 

Yet, when I allowed myself to think in these terms, I found myself itching to get back into the righthand seat for the first time in a long time. To be a larger part of this fight against the coronavirus pandemic – even if that means I only get to fly a single sector. I want to help in any way I can. Through my wiring and my profession. 

I now realise just how important it is to remind myself of my real motives when I feel anxious, especially when plagued by self-doubt, to help refocus the mind and bring me back to the present.

Am I doing this because of love or fear?

As I relayed these thoughts to my wife that night, it was interesting to hear that for the charity classes she had been organising, from which she earned not a penny, she had felt none of this resistance. She believed in the cause strongly, for a number of reasons including bringing people together from their homes at this difficult time globally. So they too could do something more than just sit at home – to contribute to charities in need, while showing love to themselves. A beautiful act of self-compassion extending outwards.

It’s obvious isn’t it? She had been acting from a place of love and the motivation for doing so was effortless.


SOURCES:

5 Simple Tricks For Overcoming To-Do List Anxiety

“Procastination isn’t caused by laziness. We don’t postpone tasks to avoid work. We do it to avoid negative emotions that a task stirs up – like anxiety, frustration, confusion, and boredom.”

SOURCE: Adam Grant’s Worklife podcast – ‘The Real Reason You Procrastinate.’

Do you know that feeling, after you’ve written out your to-do list, despite how it’s suppose to make you feel, when all you want to-do is crawl under a rock and die? 

You know, when a slow and painful death seems preferable to confronting the mountain of tedious work you feel you have to-do?

And so you slowly put down your to-do list, walk over to the couch, gently sit down, carefully pick up the remote control and turn on NETFLIX. Which you then proceed to binge watch for several hours…

A bit like a psychopath who completely disconnects from all his or her responsibilities and emotions? 

I’m sure you do.

Anyway this got me thinking.

Why exactly does writing out our responsibilities on paper cause some us to run away from them faster than a teenage boy climaxes?

After all we know this kind of behaviour doesn’t help us, yet we can’t help ourselves. Sometimes all we want is to tell life to go fuck itself and so we do, even if that means fucking ourselves in the process.

The real question, of course, is how can we stop our to-do lists from making us feel like shit and actually help us get shit done instead?

Well fear not my fine readers for I’ve complied 5 simple tricks – as partially backed by science – to help you not only write a to-do list that doesn’t make you want to tell life to go fuck itself, but carry it out as well!

You’re very welcome!


1 – DO THE THING YOU FEAR THE MOST FIRST

“The task you’re avoiding isn’t always the one you hate. Sometimes it’s the one you fear. The one that’s most worth pursuing.”

SOURCE: ADAM GRANT’S WORKLIFE PODCAST – ‘THE REAL REASON YOU PROCRASTINATE.’

The science shows that making a plan to complete a task provides the same mental relief as completing the task itself.

Which is exactly the point. Writing a to-do list is suppose to make you feel better so you can actually get started with something.

It’s suppose to get you in the mood… (Yeah baby!)

The problem for me, and I suspect countless others, was never a matter of productivity, but what it was I actually chose to accomplish during the day. I now realise I used my to-do list as a way to constantly defer the shit I was most afraid of.

I’m not talking about homework assignments here of course. I mean things like confronting my depression by asking for professional help or having certain difficult conversations with certain family members about shit I really don’t want to talk about…

Yeah, you know, the shit you really need to be doing first!

It was pointed out to me, in Adam Grant‘s excellent worklife podcast episode – ‘the real reason you procrastinate,’ that it wasn’t the tasks I was avoiding but the emotions I’d attached to said tasks.

The problem with ignoring these tasks is you inadvertently give those emotions (the thing that you’re actually afraid of confronting) greater hold over you. Thus the longer you leave said tasks undone the harder they become to-do.

Unfortunately there’s only one solution.

However scary they are, the tasks that you fear the most are exactly the ones you should be pursuing first. Not tidy the apartment!

Why?

Well it’s a classic Catch 22. By doing the very tasks you’re afraid of, you’re helping to confront and resolve those emotions that caused you to avoid those tasks in the first place.

If you don’t want to live with those emotions any longer, then you have to stop avoiding them. You have to rip the bandaid off. If you don’t it’s only gonna hurt more later on. Believe me!

Of course I realise this might not be what you want to hear so I thought I’d offer a few more tips that can help you do what’s necessary by putting things into perspective.

2 – ASK YOURSELF, “WHAT WOULD I DO IF THIS WERE MY LAST DAY ON EARTH?

It’s important to be very clear about what your most important tasks are on any given day. Often we’re not. A great way to do this – something I do every morning as part of my journalling routine – is to ask yourself the following question: “What would I do if this were my last day on earth?”

I’m guessing your to-do list would look markedly different.

Things like telling your family how much you love them. Apologising for any major wrong doings or forgiving those that wronged you would also probably appear. Remaining as present as you possibly can be. Paying attention to every waking moment for the truly precious moment that it is! Sitting with and observing any difficult emotions. Allowing those emotions to come out (instead of watching NETFLIX). Taking a walk outside to feel the elements – wind, rain, hail or shine! Simply being…

You get the point.

Of course you shouldn’t take this question too seriously otherwise you’ll probably bin your to-do list altogether and tell your boss to-go fuck himself. Perhaps not in the best interest of your future self…

Still this is a great question because it helps align your to-do list with the values you hold closest. It helps to prioritise the things that you really should. It also puts thing into perspective.

The truth is you don’t have to-do anything. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and self-loathing by thinking so. You don’t have to-do anything if you don’t want to.

You get to do those things.

Which brings me to my next trick for reframing your to-do list. That is,

3 – WRITE A GET TO-DO LIST INSTEAD

Put that at the top in big bold capital letters: GET to-do.

Not only does this set yourself up to be more grateful for what you feel you might have to-do, it also helps to take the pressure off.

You get to do it, you don’t have to do it.

Keep reminding yourself of this important fact.

I’d add another small tip.

Write out 3 things you’re grateful for today before you write out your get to-do list. I could show you some science that shows just how beneficial having a gratitude practise is, but I don’t want to bore you.

You know all this.

The point to label is YOU GET TO-DO THESE THIHGS. One day you’ll be dead and you won’t get to.

It helps to keep that in mind.

4 -KEEP IT MODEST AND BE SPECIFIC

How much do you really need to-do today?

So many of us put everything down we’d like to complete and then burn out after realising we’ll never be able to achieve all those things.

You’ve got make it manageable.

Don’t say I’ll write one blog post or go for a 10km run or finish reading that book. Say I’ll write one paragraph, jog for five minutes and read one chapter.

Simply taking a step in the right direction is enough.

So what if you didn’t quite get everything you wanted to-do done?

The most important thing is that you enjoyed it. You’re never going to enjoy it if you’re always racing towards the finish line.

And if you really don’t manage to complete much, if anything, of what you intended, then please refer to point number 5.

5 – SHOW YOURSELF SOME COMPASSION

‘You can change some of those emotions by showing yourself compassion. We procrastinate less when we remind ourselves that it’s part of the human condition. We’re not the only one suffering from it.’

SOURCE: ADAM GRANT’S WORKLIFE PODCAST – ‘THE REAL REASON YOU PROCRASTINATE.’

A tough one to finish I know. The truth is I’m awful at being kind to myself.

This is why, every morning as part of my meditation routine before I do anything else, I practise a loving kindness meditation for everybody including myself.

After all it can’t be called universal compassion if it doesn’t include yourself.

It’s important to remember we’re all fallible humans at the end of the day. Things like confronting our demons aren’t easy. It takes time to find the courage.

Go easy on yourself if you don’t do that scary task.

Who honestly get’s everything they mean to-do in a day? Really? I certainly don’t.

That said, I tell my wife I love her every night before bed without fail. I make sure I spend a couple of quality hours with my son – laughing and playing with him every afternoon before dinner. I meditate every single morning and take every opportunity to practise mindfulness whenever I can. I always go for a walk outside as a way to remind myself that I’m alive and how fucking amazing that is!

Quite frankly the rest can fucked. Occasionally it does!

The older I get the more willing I am to say, so the fuck what? Tomorrow’s another day right? If you fall off the horse today, simply get back on it tomorrow. Falling down is inevitable. Getting back up is what matters.

That’s life.

(As always I welcome ALL opinions on this blog. If you have any other tips about crafting the ultimate to-do list I’d be very keen to hear from you in the comments section below! Thank you all so much for reading!)


SOURCES:

WorkLife with Adam Grant episode on ‘The Real Reason You Procrastinate.’

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/tech-support/201310/why-your-do-list-drives-you-crazy

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/zeigarnik-effect

Motivational Mondays – 17/08/20

Hello fine readers and welcome back to my Motivational Mondays Post! The only newsletter to rub your belly and pat your head at the very same time.

Following a 4:3:2:1 approach, it contains 4 exceptional thoughts from me (ha), 3 admittedly better quotes from others, and 2 things I’ve been reading and/or listening to this week that have helped me grow

As always I’ve finished with 1 something silly to lighten your Monday blues… 

Love to all X


4 x Thoughts From Me:

Freedom demands we choose our responsibilities. The same way that having a life demands we protect it. If you want freedom of choice then you have to choose to take responsibility for your life. If you don’t someone else will choose your responsibilities for you. The danger is they will use that for their own profit and power by forming a narrative you refused to take responsibility for forming yourself. In doing so they will shut your mind from your heart. The moment that happens you’ve lost your freedom.

It’s not a matter of quality over quantity. I believe that quantity produces quality amongst a sea of mediocrity. The greatest artists produce far more average work than they do masterpieces. The point is though, they produce far more work.

It’s far easier to help those who actually ask for it. Very rarely can we help those that don’t. Don’t be afraid to put your hand up and ask.

When you’ve only suffered enough to know what misery is, but not enough to know what for, then you must endure a while longer. Keep searching for the meaning and you will find your salvation.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.” – Thucydides (Source: MAYALAND – ABSTINENCE)

 “How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to mind the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then, without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time.” – Anne Frank

“Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor Frankl (Source: Vrunda Chauk – Taking Responsibility)


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This interesting No Stupid Questions podcast episode – Are You a Maximizer or a Satisficer? with Steven Dubner and Angela Duckworth. In this episode Steven and Angela discuss whether it is better to be a Maximizer or a Satisficer and what is the best interview question to ask. Notes and quotes below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Question #1: Is it better to be a maximizer or a satisficer?
  • Maximiser – when it comes to work a maximiser is someone who tries to become better and better. Someone who tries make the best of every decision. You’re looking for the absolute best outcome everytime.
  • Satisficer – someone who is happy to settle for good enough.  You’re looking to save time and energy.
  • Often being a Maximiser in a professional sense is a good thing but maybe satisfising for others things Satisficing might be a better approach? ie. when going for lunch. What is the opportunity cost for spending so much time researching the perfect place to eat, when you could just grab a bite and get back to work?
  • If you’re talking about your vocation or life partner? Sure let’s maximise. Choosing lunch? Maybe best to satisfise. 
  • Useful terminology for thinking clearly about what you want to settle for, versus what you want the best out of in life.
  • Studies found that in general Satisficers are happier. They are willing to settle for less. Maximisers perhaps never happy enough because it’s not possibly to maximise every decision all the time?
  • We become more of a Satisfiser the older we get. Is it because we let our standards slip? No – has more to do with choosing what to care about. Deliberating not caring about the rest.
  • Often maximising doesn’t lead to happier outcomes. Think about choosing from 24 different types of jam at the supermarket versus 3 different types. Sometimes it’s simply not worth trying to maximise all your decisions.
  • Question #2: What is the best interview question?
  • What do you hope to have achieved in 5 years and 10 years time?
  • Fermi question? Is a question where one is asked to make a quick estimate for something that is very difficult to measure accurately. Tests the ability to quickly approximate difficult calculations. 
  • Unstructured – where you basically have an informal conversation with someone. Danger of harming the interview process. Basing decision on personality versus actual credentials for the job.
  • Work sample. Where you give them a problem to solve. Asking a potential editor to go away and edit a manuscript for example. This is better
  • Meta question – Tell me the question I should ask you that’s going to make me hire you? 
  • It’s important to remember the interviewer wants the interviewee to succeed. 

2 – This fascinating article – The Truth About Clickbait, by George J. Ziogas. In it George explores the science behind how it works and what we can learn from it. This is well worth clicking on! Quote from the article below.

“If you think you’re above clickbait, think again... If you believe in your content, if you believe in what you do, then you have a responsibility to create clever headlines that will encourage people to read that information.


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

My wife came into our office this morning and asked if I would like her to make me a cup of oolong tea.

I looked up at her with a stupid grin on my face.

I said nothing.

“Is that a yes? No? Would you like a different kind of tea..?,” she continued.

My grin widened. I remained silent.

“Are you going to answer me or not!?,” she pressed, clearly sensing that something was up.

“I’m thinking,” I finally replied breaking my silence.

“This is going to take oolong time…”

My wife rolled her eyes before leaving the room.

I maintain this was a brilliant joke.

I received no cup of tea…


Till next week…

Have a Happy F***ing Monday Everybody!

P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!

One bonus question for you all:

What’s your favourite kind of tea?

(Please take your time deciding)


(Thank you all so much for reading. If you have any suggestions, thoughts or ideas about today’s weekly post I’d love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom.)

PREVIOUS MONDAY POSTS:

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 27/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 20/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 13/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 06/07/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 29/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 22/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20

Why Freedom Demands Responsibility

“The principle of freedom must be our first commitment, for without this no one is immune against the virus of aggrandizement – the impulse to grab power, wealth, position, or reputation at the expense of others.” 

Herbert DouglassSourCE:The Cost Of Freedom

True freedom is a commitment to experiencing the very real limitations of our choices.

We will always have to live with some sort of, ‘what if I had…’ We will always have to mourn the limitless possibilities we didn’t pursue. If we had no choice about our life we’d simply get on with it, but because we do, we live in constant fear of making the wrong one.

That’s the price we pay for the freedom of choice. 

We have to live with the consequences of our actions. We have to live in the knowledge we could have done things differently. To know we could have done things better.

I wonder if many of us don’t actually want the level of responsibility that comes with having to choose our own fate? Perhaps this is why so many of us prefer to be told what to do? Perhaps this is why so many of us choose not to think for ourselves? 

It’s too uncomfortable.

We don’t want to take responsibility for our life. We didn’t have to as children so why should we now?

Many recent decisions we’ve made in the “free” parts of this world demonstrate an unwillingness to take on this fundamental aspect of freedom. We follow the herd because it’s easier. We follow the herd because that’s what our parents taught us to do.

I imagine that living in a society where your thoughts and actions are decided for you is in some ways easier. You don’t have to think about what to do. When your survival depends on the actions that the state has demanded, you just do. So you become another brain washed cog in the totalitarian machine. Just as your dictator ordered. There’s a nice little cog.

The sad truth about such a life is you still have responsibilities. They’re just not your own.

You cannot escape responsibility.

Many of us falsely belief that freedom comes with the freedom not to have any responsibilities. How we love to have our cake and eat it too! We say, if only I choose the right leader then I’ll be able to achieve financial independence free from having to try at anything.

Delusion is a word.

Delusion is what’s sold to you by populists who promise the world free of charge. They promise you the things that only you can deliver for yourself. 

There’s a huge price that comes with freedom, incalculable in fact – millions have died for it – but I believe the rewards justify it. Yes the possibility of failure is real, but so is the possibility of achieving greatness. We should remember that humans don’t flourish under the conditions of compulsion – we flourish under the conditions of free co-operation.

It’s hard to shift through the noise of course. It’s extremely hard in fact. To do the research required to figure out what your own opinions are on matters that affect us all. The rewards are not that you’ll have a leader you want or a country that reflects the values you hold either.

You probably won’t.

The reward is actually greater than that. The reward is that you get to know who you truly are. This is something your country and the world needs more than your vote. What we need is a diversity of unique voices speaking for themselves. What we don’t know need is a tribe of mindless people echoing only the thoughts of one man.

Don’t be so quick to throw your freedom under the bus for someone else. 

It’s important to remember that no two voices are the same. Freedom respects that fact. We should be extremely wary of those who seek to limit the voices of others. We should take the time to listen to what our own heart has to say. We should put in the effort to form our own opinions. We should honour them with the choices we get to make.

I read a quote recently by Niklas Göke from his excellent article Responsibility Is Freedom that said,

“Freedom is not about shedding your responsibilities, it’s about choosing them.”

I would go a step further and say that freedom demands we choose our responsibilities. The same way that having a life demands we protect it. If you want freedom of choice then you have to choose to take responsibility for your life. If you don’t someone else will choose your responsibilities for you. The danger is they will use that for their own profit and power by forming a narrative you refused to take responsibility for forming yourself. In doing so they will shut your mind from your heart. The moment that happens you’ve lost your freedom.


(Thank you all for taking the time to listen to the random wanderings of my mind. I’m curious to know what your thoughts are regarding the relationship between responsibility and freedom? As always I welcome ALL opinions on the blog. This is a free state)

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

Hello fine readers and welcome back to my Motivational Mondays Post! The only newsletter to give you a nice warm hug and a much needed kick up the backside at the same time.

Following a 4:3:2:1 approach, it contains 4 exceptional thoughts from me (ha), 3 admittedly better quotes from others, and 2 things I’ve been reading and/or listening to this week that have helped me grow

As always I’ve finished with 1 something silly to lighten your Monday blues… 

Love to all X


4 x Thoughts From Me:

There isn’t an inverse correlation between success and failure. The more you fail in life, the more you succeed. If you’re not failing it simply means you’re not trying as hard as you should be. If you ask me, the only real failure in life is not trying. You need to put yourself in positions where you have to fail in order to succeed.

Creativity has nothing to do with being the best but everything to do with expressing your individuality. It’s about doing something in a way that only you can. This is what makes the creative process so beautiful. It’s also what makes imitation such a terrible waste of your talents. There will always be someone who can do it better than you but no-one, who can do it the same.

What the world needs from you and what society expects are two very different things. One you need to trust in. The other you need to tell fuck off!

Why we feel the need to map out our entire lives from the age of thirteen is beyond me. Life is meant to be a melody. Yet so many of us get stuck on one note. That’s not a beautiful song. That’s just noise. Or put another way, a really shitty way to live. You have to allow the melody to play out through both the high notes and the low. That’s what creates a beautiful life.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“Your passion is for you. Your purpose is for others. Your passion makes you happy. But when you use your passion to make a difference in someone else’s life, that’s a purpose.” – Jay Shetty

There are so many people who don’t know what they want. And I think that, in this world, that’s the only thing you have to know — exactly what you want.Agnes Martin

“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.” – Carl Jung


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This insightful Tim Ferris podcast episode with Brad Feld on The Art of Unplugging, Carving Your Own Path, and Riding the Entrepreneurial Rollercoaster. I was particularly interested in Brad’s advice on dealing with depression and how to find the right therapist. Quotes and notes below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • “Do your words match your actions?”
  • “Brad, they can’t kill you and they can’t eat you. Suit up.” — Len Fassler
  • “The first day of therapy with a new therapist is worse than the first day of school.” 
  • I was able to break down my shame around depression gradually by talking about it. The more I did the more comfortable I became with having had it. 
  • Having honest conversations with other people who told me that this was the first real conversation they’d ever been able to have about their struggles with depression made me feel like what I had to say had value. This created a positive feedback loop that obliterated my shame. Not lessen it, obliterate it completely! My narrative shifted. I just started to think ok it’s depression – not gonna hide from it. We’re human. We can either deal with it or not. 
  • To be willing to go deep on yourself. To keep recognising we are all flawed. The more we can do this without shame the better. Ask yourself, How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want? What it is not being said? What is being said that you’re not listening to? 
  • It’s true for most people. We are in complete denial about the ways in which we create our own unhappiness. 
  • HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT THERAPIST – GET A REFERRAL FOR A REFERRAL. I recommend finding someone – a friend or colleague who has done therapy and get their recommendation (or if you have a GP you’re comfortable with – most of them will have a network of therapists for referral). Go to their therapist for a referral. Get them to spend an hour with you so they can refer to someone that in their professional opinion believe is appropriate for you.

2 – This interesting BBC article – The mindset you need to succeed at every goal by David Robson. The article explores what it means to have a strategic mindset and how you can use that to achieve your goals more easily. Well worth reading! As quoted,

“The construct – called the “strategic mindset” – describes the tendency to question and refine your current approach in the face of setbacks and challenges. While others diligently follow the same convoluted path, people with the strategic mindset are constantly looking for a more efficient route forwards. “It helps them figure out how to direct their efforts more effectively,” says Patricia Chen at the National University of Singapore. And Chen’s new research shows that it may just spell the difference between success or failure.” 


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

This week I get to spend it enjoying the confines of a hotel room in San Francisco! Such are the joys of layover travel during the COVID era.

Anyway, to make me feel slightly less homesick I thought I’d share this short story of when I was learning the ropes as a brand new father nearly two years now. May it serve as a waring for all new parents everywhere…

So I was happily going about the task of wiping my son’s bottom by gently lifting his legs up by his ankles and pushing them into his body (so his knees were pressed into his chest), before he happily let rip!

It seems the pressure applied plus the liquid consistency of his stool created the perfect conditions for something called projectile shitting.

That’s right!

Shit flew all across our windowsill – upon which we had positioned him and his changing table – travelling at least 4 feet from his anus before completely covering our favourite framed wedding picture.

I’m guessing there’s a cruel metaphor somewhere about what his plans were for our marriage. Best to ignore that.


Till next week…

Have a Happy F***ing Monday Everybody!

P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!

One bonus question for you all:

What’s your best (or worst) projectile story?


(Thank you all so much for reading. If you have any suggestions, thoughts or ideas about today’s weekly post I’d love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom.)

PREVIOUS MONDAY POSTS:

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 27/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 20/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 13/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 06/07/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 29/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 22/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20