Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Where Are You Going?

The beginning of a new calendar page and the start of the 2nd quarter of 2017 affords us all an opportune moment to look ahead and reflect back. The quarter that was brought me unimagined opportunities, physical challenges and a two surprise financial commitments (one that I needed to meet and one receivable that lapsed). Despite the unexpected or maybe because of it, I managed to stay on target for my 1st quarter goals. I wrote 295,000 words in three projects. I added five new clients and added value to three others. I needed to adapt my run mileage goal because of a nagging and recurring foot injury but was able to clock the missing mileage on a rowing machine. My health improvement was confirmed by my doctor. My reading goal of 150 books this year remains on target (actually one book ahead of target).

How was your quarter? Did January, February, and March live up to your expectations? Did you? What was the highlight of last week? last month? last quarter?
Could you have improved your performance in any element of your life or business?

What are you looking forward to this term? Spring has officially arrived where I live and longer days, early morning sunlight and the greening of my yard and neighborhood is always invigorating. Spring is my third favorite season but coming off what was and felt like a long winter, I am pretty sold on the possibilities ahead.

My goals for the next quarter are my goals and I doubt that they fit well with your circumstances or ambitions. I try to set reachable goals that I can manage if I follow a plan, in all seven elements of the Remarkable People Life Wheel and do an assessment of how satisfied I am in each today and a check-in at the end of June.
I post my goals here as an example of what kinds of things you might consider and to create a public record that holds me to account.

Family – I commit to spending both quality and quantity time with the 20 people in my life that mean the most to me. Quantity – 1 hour a week for most and 8 hours a day for the most important person. Quality – is a reflection of perspective so I commit to being present with each encounter and doing things that the other finds interesting and fun.

Finance – I commit to collect all debts or set up a payment schedule for receivables. There are some large outflows this quarter as we complete a real estate transaction so I commit to reducing expenses by 10%. There are some opportunities in the next three months to reduce or eliminate personal debt so I commit to taking advantage of 3 debt reduction strategies.

Fun – Most of the other six elements of my life contribute to the fun I have in my life. My relationships make me happy and I smile and laugh aloud a dozen times a day. I play games, read great books, write, run, row, rest, and relate which all add to the fun bank. This would be a 10 in the Remarkable Life wheel satisfaction index but I commit to be observant and ready to take in new fun.

Health – This is an ongoing commitment – a higher order habit to live a holistically healthier life. That means that monitoring and maintaining my current blood pressure. I commit to losing another 5 pounds this quarter (which gets me to a 3 year healthy weight loss goal). I commit to eliminating alcohol for April, sugar for May, and coffee for June – for no particular reason other than making a cleansing commitment is good for my constitution. I am receiving treatment for the foot injury so I can commit to daily exercise and a minimum of 100 km on trails each month.

Work – I have three ongoing writing assignments and I commit to writing every day this quarter, alternating projects. I am best at this commitment first thing in the morning so I am ready to return to writing 750-1500 words before 7am each day.
I have space for 4 new clients starting this month (so take this as an invitation to reach out, if you could see us co-creating value in your life). I will send out three newsletters and finalize the content for an online goal achievement course.

Side Hustle – this is my personal category for element 6 (you can pick something that resonates with you – some have opted for travel, projects, relationships, spirituality…)
My side hustle basket is empty right now. I am not testing the waters, surveying, scanning, budgeting any interesting projects. Two ongoing civic hustles are on hold until the October municipal election. I have committed to assist three candidates with their campaigns for election and need to firm up expectations and time needed.

That is the simple accountability and reflection process that takes a couple hours because I keep an inventory running through the quarter and use technology to keep track of achievements.

If you could use some assistance in creating your Life element goals, I would be happy to offer a complimentary one hour Skype session to readers. If that is of interest, please comment here or reach out to bob@remarkablepeople.ca

Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Planning Pitfall

“The best-laid plans of mice and men are oft to go astray” ~ Robbie Burns
Burns seems to be saying “No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it.” Yet in most situations, we ignore this sage advice and expect that ‘if we plan it, it will happen’. We imagine that there are no variables, external influences or unexpected providence that makes our certain expectation fallible.
My contention isn’t that we shouldn’t embrace expectations but rather that we should explore options that are as yet unimagined. Certainty creates a space where willful blindness rears its head and closes off alternatives. This leaves us ill-prepared and even surprised when something doesn’t turn out as we anticipated. When the unexpected leads to frustration, certainty is trying to bully us into mediocrity. If we lean into uncertainty, the unexpected nurtures curiosity and creativity.

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How do we get off the train? Just when we think that there is a breakthrough, we usually are chasing a desired outcome. Brainstorming quickly becomes stormtrooping. Once a destination is laid in, our planning GPS kicks in and we begin exploring the fastest, shortest, cheapest, most convenient route to victory. What if a few detours or roadblocks changed the route? What if the destination is not quite right?

Leaning into uncertainty isn’t easy or organic. Nothing really is. It requires a disposition to curiosity and a tenaciousness to breaking form. An intentional tendency to ask ridiculously difficult questions in order to understand is an asset worth pursuing and an optimistic wisdom to know when to stop asking will keep some semblance of planning alive for those who struggle with ambiguity.

To begin, it may be helpful to ask 4 whys. When you are feeling sure of the destination or next step, ask why. Why do we believe that growth is the most important metric? – however you answer that question, ask why again, 3 more times. What do you notice? Has there been an orientation shift? Are you still charging ahead? Was there an unexpected lesson? None of these observations are negative, they just are.

After trying 4 whys, move to the next step. If you get to a stage where you are blinded by certainty again, try 4 hows, or 4 whos …

Curiosity begets curiosity. Lean into uncertainty and see what you see.

B

Uncategorized

Ready, Fire, Aim and Fire Again

Planning can be helpful, planning perfection can be paralyzing. I am reading Next City’s The Future of Street Design and am amazed at the pilots that are described that bypassed red tape  in favor of doing stuff (well reasoned but not belaboured stuff) and then diligently observe and adapt the scheme. The selected cases show lessons learned that lead to permanent design changes and a couple of pilots that were abandoned very early (lesson learned).

I am applying the ‘build fast, fail early, fix’ approach to some social issues and startups that I am working on. What is we took each day or each hour as a pilot? Would we experiment more? Differently? Would each 3 second moment carry more/less energy and import?

My standard disclaimer is that I am an impatient imperfectionist with a serious action bias so doing something (that makes sense in the moment) and fixing or tweaking as needed. I use that technique in most of my independent work but haven’t shared, very often,  the process with colleagues when working towards some shared goals.

I am excited to try something new rather than rely on practice and approach that I already know will work in some measure but that is still unsettling and unsatisfying. Would you be willing to try a rapid-do approach to your weekend? If you give it a whirl, we would be thrilled to hear your experience.

 

Make This Weekend Remarkable,

B

Self Improvement

Is Planning Crazy?

The world changes so quickly and the variables that impact us and our lives are so interconnected. Does this make planning ahead (more than 168 hours) utter nonsense?

I have meetings booked into July. A vacation is booked for next January. I am looking at financial requirements for mid 2017. We have been discussing goals for 10 years from now. Is this all just to quell anxiety or is it helpful in shaping the future?

A few years ago, I would have said ” it is  essential to lay the groundwork and make specific plans for the future”. Everything seemed so predictable then. Predictability has been shaken. Two economic downturns in ten years. World conflicts bubbling everywhere. Political partisanship and pandering is the order of the day and thousands of variables that I don’t recognize are banging into each other and creating and recreating trajectories.

I obviously am still planning, even if it with less certainty. In uncertain times having a preferred planned future appointment or direction creates a bit of a frame around all the tomorrows. Today I need that range of possibilities or fear I would be paralyzed by the undetermined and erratic possibilities.

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I suggest we all continue to lay out the future with the understanding that adaptation and evaluation may be our most important tools. Planning may be crazy but it is also crucial and constructive.

Make a Plan Today,

B