Personal Growth

My Word of the Year

In prior years, I wrote resolutions, picked a motto and chose verbs for the year.

This year I’m picking a single word.

Picking a word of the year no doubt has been a long, noble tradition for some people. In a strange twist of fate, my word of the year came to me via a circuitous route.

My friend Justina throws a New Year’s Day party each year, and this year asked her guests to pick a word for the year. She got the idea from Christine Kane’s Word of the Year worksheet. Christine Kane in turn was inspired by Kathy LaMotte, who picks a word every year instead of a resolution. Kathy happens to be married to my long-time friend and mentor, Eric Jackson. And it was through discussions with Eric that I realized my own word for 2014.

What is the word?
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What Is Your 100-Year Goal?

Steven Covey wrote: Begin with the end in mind.

As an exercise, he encouraged you to think of your funeral. Imagine how people felt about your death, what they say in your honor.

I encourage you to think even further. What is your 100-year goal?

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Habits vs Recurring Tasks

I’ve been on a quest to add helpful habits to my life. But what I’ve really been doing is setting recurring tasks.

There’s a difference.

I woke up this morning and went about my business. I created my to do list:

  • Answer e-mails
  • Talk to a customer
  • Exercise

All sounds great, right? But I forgot one: writing.

Only 5 days ago I committed to writing 500 words a day in an effort to develop a habit of writing daily. I even created a spreadsheet to track how many words I write each day, to make sure I don’t miss days.

Yet today I almost did.

I went blissfully through my day checking off items on my to-do list. I went out for my “daily” run (which isn’t exactly daily yet). After I got back, I jumped in the shower. Then it hit me: I had forgotten to add writing to my to-do list.

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In Search of a Universal Self-Tracking App

I’m a data geek and a personal improvement fanatic.

I want to improve my personal habits, skills and behaviors. I strive to be healthy, happy and productive.

And, for the most part, I am.

One way I achieve this is by tracking my life. Self-tracking for me has two benefits:

  1. Increased Awareness
    The simple act of tracking makes me self-aware and helps me to change my behaviors. Tracking calories helps me lose weight, even when I don’t consciously change my diet. Wearing my FitBit causes me to exercise more, even though I rarely look at the data afterwards.
  2. Actionable Data 
    Memory can be unreliable. Not only do we forget details, we alter them as new experiences change our perception of old ones. Confirmation bias can make us conveniently forget details that don’t support the conclusion we want. Tracking information gives me a more objective view, helping me to make better decisions.

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Reigniting Habits

I don’t retain habits well. My habits wax and wane. They need constant renewal.

I derive pleasure from seeking out new things. Too often that squeezes out the old, even when the old helps me live my life more effectively.

Luckily, I’ve discovered it’s easier to re-ignite old habits than to start new ones. Each time I fail to maintain a habit, I don’t beat myself up. I let it go until I’m in a place to rekindle. Until I have the energy to fan the flames and build my habit anew.

I am in that place again.

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Help Give a Family in Rwanda Clean Water

Did you know that 30,000 people die each week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions? That’s 1,560,000 people a year.

90% of those deaths come from children under 5 years of age.

But you can help.

Take 5 minutes today to make a donation.

In July I attended the World Domination Summit and saw Scott Harrison speak about being an greedy nightclub promoter. Then he joined Mercy Ships, helping to provide free medical care to the people of the world’s poorest nations. The experience transformed him.

He returned to the U.S. to found charity:water, a charity dedicated to providing clean water to everyone in the world. But he did more than form another charity. He transformed the charity model. Continue reading >

Notes from Less Is More: Simple Productivity Hacks

This past weekend I attended the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. One of the sessions I attended on Sunday was Less Is More: Simple Productivity Hacks presented by Julia Roy (@juliaroy). For those who missed the session, my notes are below. For more productivity hacks, check out Julia’s web site. Continue reading >

How To Write a (Useful) Blog Post in 30 Minutes

This week I launched a new blog called Lean Decisions to help people make better decisions. In preparing for the launch, I wrote a month’s backlog of articles by writing one post a day. Since I have limited time, I had to learn how to write fast. Keep reading to see what I learned.

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How to Express Appreciation

Do you tell others often how much you appreciate them? Does it come across sincere?

I struggled in the past with expressing appreciation. Especially with employees, but also with loved ones, colleagues and even strangers.

I aim to get things done. Once I complete a task or project, I’m onto the next one. I used to forget to stop and appreciate the people and things around me. To take a moment and express a heartfelt thanks.

And even when I did, it often felt empty. I knew I needed to appreciate my employees, and I did. But I didn’t do it effectively. I just said “thanks”, and left it at that.

For my Leadership Asheville class, we each had to choose a personal development goal. I chose to learn how to appreciate and encourage others more. Read on for some of the lessons I learned over the past year.
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1 Motto + 7 Verbs for 2012

Each year, as the old year winds down and a new year leaps excitedly at us, I set aside time for introspection. To review the past year and envision the new year. In the past, I set goals for each year, as many of us do. I’d type my New Year’s resolutions and post them on the wall. Then promptly go about not fulfilling them.

Three years ago I started making a new type of New Year’s resolution. Rather than focus on goals, I focused on behaviors. I set specific, measurable activities I needed to perform on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I then tracked how I was doing in a spreadsheet.

For the most part, this worked. I now exercise daily, eat healthier and write regularly. I’ve lost weight, developed better friendships and am overall much happier.

Due to some major life changes, though, I stopped consistently tracking my resolutions in early 2011. Surprisingly, it hasn’t affected my activities–they’ve become habits, not just resolutions.

Thus, this year, I’m trying something new again. Instead of behavior-based resolutions, I’m choosing a motto as an overarching theme and 7 verbs that I aim to explore this year. I have thoughts in mind on how to explore these, but am purposely leaving myself open to experimentation.
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