Weekly Learnings Roundup (February 5, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

THE RESPONSIBILITY/FAULT FALLACY by Mark Manson

Taking full responsibility and ownership of your life is transforming. When we blame others for something bad that happened, we don’t gain control of our lives. Blaming is counterproductive because the perpetrator cannot fix what has already happened. The onus is on ourselves to take responsbility and do something about it. Great piece from Mark Manson about the responsibility/fault fallacy.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

The Hunt for Bin Laden (on Netflix)

An eye-opening documentary on the War on Terror and how the Obama administration was finally able to track down Bin Laden. I can’t say I’m an expert in this area but I found the documentary informative on how modern terrorism has grown and how it took 3 US Presidents to locate one man.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

Don’t think about it, just do it. Most of your stress is in your thinking about what you have to do, but if you just do it you find the doing is easy. It’s the thinking that’s hard.

— Ajahn Brahm

(British Theravada Buddhist monk)

Productivity tip of the week —

Tea, reading, and meditation to start your day.

Over the past year, I’ve been experimenting with a morning ritual that involves brewing a green tea in the morning followed by 15-minutes of reading followed by a 5-15 minute meditation.

Personally, this combination has worked really well for me. Green tea is a very nice way to start the day compared to the jolt that I get from coffee. As the tea is brewing, I open up a book, read for 15-minutes, and sip the tea when it’s ready. Once I’m in an inspired mental state, I go through a daily guided meditation from Mary Meckley at Sip and Om.

I find that this combination of self-care activities gets me feeling excited to tackle the day. The mindfulness and feeling of presence within my body also helps with dealing with challenges and problems that may arise during the day.

Do you have a morning ritual? If so, post your own ritual in the comments below!

Featured image by Joshua Earle via Unsplash.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (January 28, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

What I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Zen Habits by Leo Babauta

Leo shares his lessons learned from 10 years of writing on Zen Habits. His insights from his personal and work life are really valuable. Personally, I resonated with his focus on “intentions” over “goals”. When your intent is right, you’ll find a way to create value and make it more fun to go through the process. His lessons are also a great reminder that it takes time to build something great and at the same time life is short so enjoy the moments that accompany the journey.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

The Tim Ferriss Show – The Return of the Money Shot

This episode features an “ask me everything” with comic, Whitney Cummings. She opens up to her experience of being in codependent relationships and how she’s been able to overcome those experiences. It’s a really open and honest podcast episode that anyone can benefit from listening to. I also appreciated her take on the benefits of having a dog (as I’m thinking about getting one some point in the next 12-16 months!)

A quote that’s inspiring me —

Every day passes whether you participate or not.

— Deng Ming-Dao

(Chinese American author, artist, philosopher, teacher and martial artist.)

Productivity tip of the week —

Vitamin D supplementation

Disclaimer: Please consult your physician before you decide to add a supplement to your diet.

It’s mid-winter here in Toronto and this is the time of year that Seasonal Affective Disorder begins to set in. Personally, I’ve felt a little down over the past couple of weeks as we’ve only had sunlight for about 2-3 hours per day.

One of the ways that I ensure I stay healthy and keep my mood up during these months is through Vitamin D supplementation. There are very reliable studies that have looked at the wide range of benefits of Vitamin D including immune health, bone health, and well-being. Examine.com has a really good overview of Vitamin D.

The current recommended daily allowance for Vitamin D in the US and Canada is at 400-800IU/day but that is often regarded as being too low. The safer upper limit in the US and Canada is 4000IU/day and some research even suggests up to 10,000IU/day. Personally, I take closer to 5000IU/day and feel no adverse effects.

If you’ve yet to add Vitamin D to your supplementation, I highly recommend it especially if you live in the US or Canada. And if you’re curious as to what product I use, I have a recommendation below.

Product or service I’m loving —

Thorne Vitamin D/K2

I like this product for Vitamin D supplementation because they use D3 instead of D2. D3 is used more effectiely by your body that D2. The liquid drops also come in a medium-chain triglyceride oil which makes it easier for your body to absorb. I also take my Vitamin D with krill oil which further helps with absorption into the body. It’s not a cheap product but well worth adding to your morning supplement list.

Again, consult your physician first to see if this is right for you.

Featured image via Pixabay.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (January 22, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

Every successful relationship is successful for the same exact reasons by Mark Manson

Incredible article on what makes a successful long-term relationship. The author had 1500 people send their advice from their successful and/or failed relationships and distills it into 13 rules. I highly recommend everyone read this.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

When we assume that everyone is a volunteer and that all power is transient, it’s easier to become the person we’re proud to be.

— Seth Godin

Productivity tip of the week —

Start a small morning routine for self care.

I’ve written about my morning routine in the past and it’s still the best investment of my time I make everyday. Sure, some parts have been changed or updated over the years, but finding that time in the morning for self care activities really makes a big impact on the rest of my day. If you don’t have a morning routine or would like to start one, try something very small first. Perhaps reading an inspiring book for 5-10 minutes? Perhaps closing your eyes and finding stillness for 5-10 minutes? Or perhaps it’s making coffee/tea at home and looking out your window for a few minutes? You get the point.

Product or service I’m loving —

Fitbit Charge (2)

I’ve had my Fitbit Charge for the past two years now and I’ve really enjoyed the product. I started off with their entry-level version – the Flex – three years ago and found the upgrade to a Charge worthwhile as it tracks your heart rate. The information that Fitbit collects on a daily basis (steps, resting heart rate, sleep efficiency) is something I review everyday and allows me to see trends on what I’m doing well or not doing well with my nutrition and exercise. While durability is still a concern with wearable devices (my original Charge lasted only a year) I find the cost is outweighed by the benefit I get. I’m still going strong with the replacement Charge I received last year but plan on upgrading to the Charge 2 at some point down the road.

Featured image via pixabay.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Five Stoic Quotes from Marcus Aurelius

The below quotes come from Book Three and Book Four of Marcus Aurelius’s MeditationsA cornerstone of the Stoic philosophy, Meditations is a book I highly recommend anyone to read to prepare for life’s inevitable challenges and adversities. If you’d like to read a quick summary of the book, you can check out my Actionable Book Summary of Meditations here.

On pursuing the highest values in life…

If, at some point in your life, you should come across anything better than justice, honesty, self-control, courage – than a mind satisfied that it has succeeded in enabling you to act rationally, and satisfied to accept what’s beyond its control – if you find anything better than that, embrace it without reservations – it must be an extraordinary thing indeed – and enjoy it to the full.

My thoughts:

Justice, honesty, self-control, and courage. Can there be anything of higher value to pursue in life?

On constantly watching your thoughts…

You need to get used to winnowing your thoughts, so that if someone says, “What are you thinking about?” you can respond at once (and truthfully) that you are thinking this or thinking that. And it would be obvious at once from your answer that your thoughts were straightforward and considerate ones.

My thoughts:

You become what you think. So make sure that you’re monitoring your thoughts just as closely as you’re monitoring your actions. Don’t overthink or worry either. Simple is better.

On not letting others dictate your worth…

It would be wrong for anything to stand between you and attaining goodness – as a rational being and a citizen. Anything at all: the applause of the crowd, high office, wealth, or self-indulgence. All of them might seem to be compatible with it – for a while. But suddenly they control us and sweep us away.

My thoughts:

Humility. And keeping in mind what’s most important. Achieving goodness for oneself and others.

On being transparent and open with your thoughts and actions…

Never regard something as doing you good if it makes you betray a trust, or lose your sense of shame, or makes you show hatred, suspicion, ill will, or hypocrisy, or a desire for things best done behind closed doors.

My thoughts:

A good measuring stick on whether an action you’re about to take is wrong is when you feel a sense of shame or have to do it “behind closed doors”.

On being a good man…

…And then you might see what the life of the good man is like – someone content with what nature assigns him, and satisfied with being just and kind himself.

My thoughts:

Be content with what nature assigns you. Things happen. The least you can do is be just and kind to yourself and others.


Final note: 

For those curious about which translation of Meditations to get, I highly recommend the Gregory Hays’ translation as it is translated in a way that most of us, modern readers, can easily understand. But, you can’t go wrong with any of them out there because, well, wisdom is still wisdom.


Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (January 15, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die by Jon Moolallem

Death and dying are often touchy subjects. This story opened my eyes to what palliative care and a hospice should actually look like. Thanks to B.J. Miller and the Zen Hospice for starting this conversation.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

Jocko Podcast – Episode 1 – Jocko & Echo (Discipline, Ownership)

The Jocko Podcast is hosted by a retired former Navy SEAL officer, Jocko Willink. I first heard Jocko on The Tim Ferriss Show and then again on the Waking Up with Sam Harris podcast. From facing insurgent attacks in Ramadi to staring into the eyes of evil that comes with warfare, he’s been through it all. In this episode, Jocko talks about the discipline with which he prepares himself everyday and how he keeps his ego in check in various situations. Long story short, he’s a badass and a guy with incredible mental toughness. And someone I look forward to learning more from in future episodes from his podcast.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

— Abraham Lincoln

Productivity tip of the week —

Educate yourself with 30 minutes of a podcast everyday

At this point, you’re likely familiar with podcasts and the (free) value that they provide. There’s a lot of great content out there and listening to even just 30 minutes of a quality podcast everyday can help significantly with your personal and professional growth. So carve out some time on your commute, lunch time, or after work hours listening to a podcast that can help you grow. My personal favourites are The Tim Ferriss Show, The Tony Robbins Podcast, and Bulletproof Radio (specifically for health-related information).

Featured image via Unsplash.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (January 8, 2017)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think by Tim Urban (via WaitButWhy)

Whether we like it or not many of us are influenced by the voices of our parents, friends, role models, and the “norms” of the society that we live in. While being accepted and fitting in were prerequisites to surviving in a tribal society in 50,000 B.C., the caring of what other people think in today’s world is hurting our ability to listen to our own voices. This articles take you through why “the Mammoth” (i.e. the voice that tells you to fit in) is preventing you from listening to your Authentic Voice and what you can do about it. Personally, I wish I had something like this to read in high school as I think it should be mandatory reading for all students in this country.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide To Thriving In The Age of Accelerations by Thomas Friedman

This is my first “official” read of the year and it’s a fantastic one. If you want to learn about how the world is rapidly changing today, this is the book that explains it all. We’re living in an interesting time today where the forces of technology, market, and mother nature are all colliding at once. It’s a book that’ll help you look at how far we’ve come over the past 10 years and what the future may look like.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

If you wish to be loved, love!

— Seneca

Productivity tip of the week —

Create a daily reading habit.

Last year, I had the pleasure of reading 27 new books. The books covered topics from health, marketing, personal growth, and a handful of fiction books as well. It was a fantastic experience absorbing knowledge from this variety of books as each one – whether they were great books or just “meh” – had a nugget that I could ponder or even apply to my life.

Developing a reading habit is one of the most beneficial things you can do in your life. It’ll help you see things in a new way often leading to greater satisfaction and improvements in your life. It’s no wonder that some of the most influential people today are the biggest readers.

So start with a daily reading habit – and just start really small – for 5-10 minutes everyday. Time yourself so you’re not reading over your prescribed limit. When you leave something just to the point where you feel like you can go a little further, you’ll be excited to come back to it later.

Product or service I’m loving —

Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge

If you’re looking for a way to add more reading to your life in 2017, I recommend signing up for the Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge. It’s a fun way to keep track of the progress you’re making throughout the year. You can even share your goal for the year with friends on Facebook so they can see what books you’ve been reading during the year.

Last year, I set my goal to read 20 books and surpassed it by 7 books. It’s nice to be able to look back on the various journeys that the books you read in the past year took you on. It’s a free service so try it out. If it’s your first time setting a “reading goal”, aim low. Start with 3 or 5 books then work your way up in the future.

Featured image via Unsplash.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

My Favourite Articles from 2016

As part of my Weekly Learnings Roundup, I share an article that I’ve enjoyed reading. Over the course of a year that’s a lot of articles! And so, I’ve organized the articles I shared on my blog under Personal Growth, Professional Development, Health, and “Other”. Maria Popova’s work from Brain Pickings makes a very consistent appearance on the list below and I highly recommend checking out her remarkable writing.

Personal Growth

Why Self-Compassion Works Better Than Self-Esteem via The Atlantic

According to Kristin Neff, a psychology professor at the University of Texas, the pursuit of higher self-esteem has been misguided. It’s a timely reminder for me (and perhaps all of us) to be more self compassionate.

Walt Whitman’s Advice on Living a Vibrant and Rewarding Life by Maria Popova

I admitedly don’t read a lot of poetry but Walt Whitman’s work intrigues me. I’m particularly interested in reading Whitman’s seminal book, Leaves of Grass, as I’ve heard it’s a classic from multiple people I admire. Enjoy this quick read by Maria Popova on Whitman’s advice on living a fulfilling life.

Bruce Lee’s Never-Before-Seen Writings on Willpower, Emotion, Reason, Memory, Imagination, and Confidence by Maria Popova

It’s hard to describe how inspiring Bruce Lee’s career in martial arts and film was. In this article by Maria Popova, we get to see some of Lee’s internal dialogue and methods that helped him overcome the many critics he faced.

Why being bilingual helps keep your brain fit by Gaia Vince

Bilingualism is more common than you think – between 65 to 70 percent of people around the world speak more than two languages. In addition to the ability to communicate with a greater variety of people, a steady stream of studies have show that bilinguals outperform monolinguals in a range of cognitive and social tasks. I speak English, Japanese, and Spanish, and I’m hoping to further develop my Portuguese competency. This article was a great “kick in the butt” to put more time into my Portuguese!

What Makes a Good Life: Revelatory Learnings from Harvard’s 75-Year Study of Human Happiness by Maria Popova

In an unprecedented 75-year study, we discover the key element for a happy and healthy life. According to Harvard psychologist and Grant Study director Robert Waldinger, “the clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”

You Can Write Your Way Out of an Emotional Funk. Here’s How. by Susan David

This is a fantastic article on the power of writing and journaling. According to the article, numerous studies have shown that “applying words to emotions is a tremendously helpful way to deal with stress, anxiety, and loss.” Just taking 20-minutes everyday to journal can help overcome feelings of guilt, shame, confusion, and allow you to ‘step out’ of yourself and gain greater perspective.

My Dad Was Bruce Lee—Here’s How He Still Inspires Me And Others To Innovate by Shannon Lee

Great post by the late Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon. There’s a lot to learn from the man who transformed the Hollywood landscape for Asian actors. Not only that, his philosophies on life (e.g. “be like water” and “walk on”) inspire many of us to realize our inner strengths and become the best we can be. The article mentions a new podcast that Shannon has created – the Bruce Lee podcast – which I’m excited to check out!

Alain de Botton on What Makes a Good Communicator and the Difficult Art of Listening in Intimate Relationships by Maria Popova

It’s amazing how much our childhood impacts the way we communicate today. Communication is a product of how open and willing we are to be fallible and vulnerable. In intimate relationships, this is especially important.

Professional Development

The Three Frameworks You Need to Kick-start Sales by First Round Review

Great piece on sales strategy for those working in the startup and small business world.

This is the “growth hack” that got my whole company started by Julien Smith

A really cool story about how Breather was able to get their business off the ground. You’ll be surprised at how simple and how well their “growth hack” strategy worked.

OKRs are Old News — Introducing Goal Science Thinking by First Round Review

Setting better goals both personally and professionally is an area I’m weak in. This article explains clearly the benefits of using the science behind goal-thinking that can be applicable both in the workplace and in our personal lives.

Mike Birbiglia’s 6 Tips for Making It Small in Hollywood. Or Anywhere. by Mike Birbiglia

Some sound advice from one of my favourite comedians. My most important takeaway? Just start. If you want to do something, get started – stop talking about it.

On Receiving (and Truly Hearing) Radical Candor by First Round Review

I really enjoyed this read. It was particularly helpful in understanding the importance of giving honest feedback. I often find myself tiptoeing around a piece of critical feedback but that does more harm than good for both me and the person I’m working with.

Health

How Exercise Shapes You, Far Beyond the Gym by Bradley Stulberg

Exercise should be as fundamental to your weekly priorities as eating quality food and getting enough sleep. Beyond the health benefits, exercise can also build greater resilience in your mindset and seep positive benefits to all aspects of your life.

 

Don’t Fear the Fat: 7 Ways Fat Can Help You Lose Weight by Bulletproof

For decades the food industry has made us want to believe that high-fat diets are linked with heart disease and generally bad for you. But having been on the Bulletproof diet for the last (almost) 2 years, I’ve never felt better having more high-quality fats in my diet. This article breaks down how fats can help you rather than hurt you.

Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime by Ferris Jabr

Extensive article on why your brain needs downtime and the solution doesn’t have to be a 6-month sabattical. Here were my top takeaways:

1) Consciously build out downtime/down days during the work week. (E.g. Half-day Friday and no screentime after 8pm.)

2) Take a 10-20 minute nap in the early afternoon.

3) Continue my mindfulness meditation practice.

4) Spend more time walking outdoors – ideally in nature.

Other

New science on the benefits of stress and building resilience in children’s lives. One key ingredient for helping to build reslient children? One person, just one person, that the child can rely on for unconditional love and affection.

Weekly Learnings Roundup (January 1, 2016)

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Learning Roundup. These bite-sized, weekly posts are designed to give you a quick hit of interesting learnings and articles I came across this week.

It’s a motley assortment of tips, resources, and links that will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration for the upcoming week. Enjoy!

What I’m reading —

4 Ways to Control Your Emotions in Tense Moments by Joseph Grenny

A lack of emotional intelligence might be one of the biggest career-limiting (or perhaps even life-limiting) habits we can have. I know I’ve struggled with it in my career. Step 1 in handling a difficult emotional situation is to own it. In Grenny’s words, “You can’t change an emotion you don’t own. The first thing I do when struck by an overpowering feeling or impulse is to accept responsibility for its existence.” In other words, it means to give yourself permission to feel the way you’re feeling – it’s not right or wrong. But once you can sit with it, you can then deal with it.

Books, documentaries, or podcast episodes I’m enjoying —

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

I watched this on Netflix the other day and loved it. While I don’t consider myself a “minimalist” a lot of the things the film dives into speaks to the type of person I want to become. I’m a big fan of the minimalist approach to living in a consumerist society. It’s true, at the end of the day, it’s not what we have but who we have around us.

A quote that’s inspiring me —

Love people, use things. The opposite never works.

— The Minimalists (Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodermus)

Productivity tip of the week —

No caffeine after 2 p.m.

Caffeine can be a powerful ally in your daily productivity in helping you improve your alertness and efficiency. The downside with caffeine is that it has a half-life of 4 to 6 hours in the human body meaning that by the time you’re winding things down in the evening you may still have upwards of a third or a half of the caffeine in your system. That’s not good when your productivity the next day requires you to get high-quality sleep before.

As a rule of thumb, try to limit (or ideally eliminate) your caffeine intake by 2 p.m. If you really need the caffeine to kick the afternoon slump, try to switch to a green or oolong tea instead of coffee. Check out the 7 Negative Effects of Coffee & The Healthy Drink You Should Replace it With from Health Ambition for an interesting look at the potential negative impacts of coffee and how you can mitigate them.

Product or service I’m loving —

Year of the Hustle Calendar by Busy Building Things

I’m a big fan of the work that the guys at Busy Building Things create. In particular, their Year of the Hustle Calendar is one of my favourites. If you’re familiar with Jerry Seinfeld’s “don’t-break-the-chain” methodology, this will become an indispensable tool in your productivity and tracking arsenal. Here’s a shot of the 2016 calendar for me. (Note that I used a calendar from another provider last year so it looks a little different).

fullsizeoutput_f3d
2016’s hustle calendar focused on 15-minutes of blogging everyday.

Featured photo by Pixabay.

As always, thanks for checking out this Weekly Learnings Roundup. Follow me on Twitter @peternakamura to see the full list of articles that I share on a daily basis.

My Ship List 2016

Last year, I started the tradition of putting together a “ship” list. You can check out the 2015 version here.

In a nutshell, I’m borrowing a page from Seth Godin’s book to share with you my 2015 “Ship List”. The Ship List is anything that you “shipped out” over the course of the year (I’ve cheated a bit to include milestones in this one). Seth compiles his list every year and it’s a great tradition.

Below is my 2016 ship list which includes some personal and professional milestones. The process of compiling the list was actually quite interesting. It allowed me to take a moment and reflect about my year and scroll through my calendar. It’s helpful because it makes you appreciate how much you can accomplish in 365 days.

January

  • Began my new role as Marketing Manager at Actionable.
  • peternakamura.com experiences the largest spike in visits with 293 unique visitors.
  • Actionable Team retreat in Toronto.
  • Volunteered for the Future Possibilities for Kids (FPK) program.
  • Started writing the first version of the “Weekly Learnings Roundup” which was originally called “Links of the Week”.

February

  • Spent a week with Carly’s family in beautiful Hermosa Beach, CA.

March

  • Took a cooking class with Carly at Dish Cooking Studio.
  • Completed Discovery Session tours in Ohio and Southwestern Ontario.

April

  • Completed a Discovery Session tour in Boston and New York City.
  • One-year anniversary of living in my own apartment.
  • Published my 50th blog post.
  • Participated in the Collision Conference (largest startup conference in North America) in New Orleans, LA. Learned more about what it means to compete and stay relevant in the startup world.
  • Completed the 7-month workout challenge in the Seven app.

May

  • Traveled to Las Vegas, NV for Actionable’s first Global Summit and team retreat. Groundwork gets laid for organizational priorities for the second half of the year.

June

  • Participated in a softball tournament with friends.
  • Picked up Carly’s kitten – Freddie! Who is now an integral part of our lives.
  • Consolidated my finances for greater efficiency using YNAB (You Need a Budget).

July

  • Attended Infusionsoft University in Toronto to deepen my skills with the software.

August

  • Spent a weekend camping at Bon Echo Provincial Park.

September

  • Booked a trip to Japan with Carly.

October

  • Celebrated my 30th birthday with Carly in Prince Edward County, ON.
  • Brought on Gina as our first “official” team member on the Discovery Session marketing team.

November

  • Joined the global Actionable team at the Kingsbridge Centre in King City, ON for our annual staff retreat. Amazed to see our team grow from 8 people to over 20.
  • Participated in the Axe Batizado and earned the second belt (azul) in capoeira after two years of training. Learned a variety of movements including being able to hold a handstand for at least three seconds.
  • Launched my new Daily Tracking tool to create greater awareness of my habits and routines.

December

  • Read my 26th book of the year surpassing my goal set to read 20 books by 30%.
  • Developed a Marketing Strategy for 2017.

(Bonus) 2016 Hustle Calendar

fullsizeoutput_f3d.jpeg

Here’s to making your 2017 another productive and meaningful year!

Craft Your Yearly Goals in Buckets.

If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.

– Bruce Lee

This past October I turned thirty.

It was a big milestone for me and I was extremely grateful to have wrapped up another decade of life here on Earth. Like what many of us do when we hit a major milestone, I took a moment to pause and reflect on my experiences so far.

But this year I tried to be a little bit more deliberate with my goal setting. (More than the typical 5-minute daydreaming I usually do). I spent several days collecting my thoughts and crafting personal goal “buckets” for the next year and beyond. I focused on goals that I’d be able to make progress on in the next year and would also have a significant impact on my life for years to come.

I found the framework I used to be helpful so I wanted to share it with you. I call it the ECCCT process. Here are the steps:

  1. Express.
  2. Connect.
  3. Craft.
  4. Commit.
  5. Track.

Using these steps, I crafted my 7 personal goal “buckets” for my 30th year. They range from goals on emotional and physical health, professional success, personal finance, and relationships. It was an eye-opening process for me to take the time to dig into what I want out of my life.

There isn’t a perfect process in setting goals and the framework above might not be for you… and that’s okay. This is just one way to do it. You may want to borrow elements of the framework or try your own thing. Personally, I found it particularly helpful to go through this process during the month of my birthday as it felt tied to a meaningful day in my life.

Either way, important part is that you’re taking the time to reflect and think about what you want your next year to look like. Speaking of time, I’ve also added a suggested “Time alloted” under each of the steps as a guideline on how much time you might want to spend in each stage. This is just a suggestion – if you feel like you’ve put in enough time into each stage, move on. Just make sure that you feel like you got everything you need to get out of the stage. Sometimes taking a break and stepping back from the process may help too – I’ve suggested a 24-hour pause in some steps to give time for ideas to bubble up.

Good luck with the process! If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to use the Comment section at the bottom.

1. Express.

Objective: Express your thoughts about things you want to explore.

Time allotted: 3 to 6 hours.

The first step is Express. The objective here is for you to take a moment to write down or type all the thoughts you’ve had around the things you’ve wanted to explore.

Here are a few questions to get you started with the Express step:

  1. Looking back at the past year, what were some of the top priorities that emerged for you?
  2. What projects do you think about starting most often?
  3. What are some of the areas in your life that you want to improve in?

We live in a world where there’s so much information that comes at us from every direction and we often get inundated by the thoughts and information that pop into our brains. So using a pen or a Word document to write your thoughts down can be an illuminating process.

There’s a wide range of topics you’ll want to explore in this stage. For me, I spent a lot of time hashing out priorities in health, fitness, relationships, finances, etc. Anything that’s a value or a priority in your life should be expressed at this stage. And, finally, nothing needs to be polished at this stage. All you’re trying to do is help yourself put your thoughts down. Ideally you’re spending at least a few hours on this step. Come back after a break if you need to.

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.

– Confucius

For me, this process involved typing. When I saw my thoughts typed up on a page (or in an Evernote note in my case) I got an immense sense of relief. I could now look at that my thoughts objectively and work with them.

Your preferred way of expressing might be different. (You may even prefer recording audio, video, etc. over writing/typing). The important part is for you to record your thoughts around your goals and dreams. Spending enough time to get all of your thoughts and ideas out here is really important. Don’t be afraid to write down your fears and insecurities here as well. The more honest you can be with yourself in this process, the more meaningful the goals you create become.

2. Connect.

Objective: Review your thoughts from Step 1 and identify common themes.

Time allotted: 1 to 2 hours. (Optional 24-hour pause).

Now that you’ve spent some time expressing your thoughts it’s time to connect some of the key themes together. The objective here is to bring together your thoughts that appear to be closely related. In a document or piece of paper, you may want to start creating headings like “Health” or “Work” and organize the various thoughts under these headings. If you’re more visual, you may want to draw this out or use a mindmap.

After you’ve organized your thoughts, take a moment to look through them.

  • Are there common themes that seem to stick out?
  • Do the headings overlap with each other?
  • Is there a theme that seemed to have gotten a lot of attention from you?
  • What areas are missing? Was that by design?

The idea here is to refine your thoughts a little bit more. This is also a great moment to see if there are any areas that are missing that you haven’t yet expressed yourself in. Feel free to go back to the Express stage at any point to hash things out further. I’ve also found it helpful to let this step sink in a little bit by coming back to the document 24 hours later.

3. Craft.

Objective: Create up to seven “Goal Buckets” to organize your goals under major themes.

Time allotted: 1 to 2 hours. (Optional 24-hour pause).

At this point, you should have a lot of great ideas and themes to work with. You’ve expressed your thoughts and had a chance to start connecting some of the thoughts together. Now it’s time to start crafting your “Goal Buckets”.

Your Goal Buckets will consist of the major themes that have emerged from the Step 1 and 2. For each bucket, you’ll create a sentence to describe what that bucket is about. For example, one of my Goal Buckets for the year is to invest in friendships. So one of my Goal Buckets for the year is “Develop better, tighter friendships.” It’s a fairly broad goal but tight enough to cover the main objective.

Here are a couple more of my Goal Buckets:

  • Make all-around improvements in capoeira with a focus on strength and flexibility.
  • Continue to save 15% or more of my income for future financial flexibility.

The key in this step is trying to keep the objective of the Goal Bucket succinct (i.e. no more than 1 sentence). You want the goal to be something that gets you really excited to get started with everytime you look at it. It’s something that lights a fire inside of you. With that being said, don’t worry about making the goal perfect. You still have some time to tweak things later in the process. At this point, you’ll want to start writing down your Goal Buckets so that it goes from a jumble of ideas into one succinct sentence.

Finally, keep the number of Goal Buckets to five or seven at the most. I’ve found that trying to manage seven goals across an entire year can be too daunting and ultimately demotivating if you’re not making progress.

4. Commit.

Objective: Commit to 1 or 2 micro-goals for each of your Goal Buckets.

Suggested time allotted: 1 to 3 hours.

Step 4 is to commit to tangible micro-goals within the major buckets you created above. For example, if one of your major goals is to “eat a healthy diet and lose 10 lb”, how are you planning on achieving it? How can you break down that goal into mini-goals that you can work on during the year?

Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.

– John Wooden

Think of these micro-goals as either 1. a habit you want to establish (e.g. workout for 15-minutes everyday) OR 2. a milestone you want to hit by a specific day (e.g. read 6 books by July) . Just a couple of guidelines to consider when you’re setting your mini-goals:

  1. Make it fun.
  2. Make it small.
  3. Make it measurable.

Fun doesn’t get the credit it deserves. If you’re not having fun, the goal itself won’t be very motivational. If you’re looking at the goal you’ve written down and thinking “Oh boy… this isn’t going to be fun” then try a different angle. Fun can also mean new, exciting, or challenging.

Small and measurable are also important for micro-goals. Keep the goal small so it’s something that you should have no problem completing. You can increase the difficulty or commitment at a later stage but the key is to make the barrier to start as low as possible.

I really like measurable goals. Whether it be a checkbox for a habit you completed that day or more detailed data you were able to collect. My habit goals like reading 15 minutes everyday or spending 15 minutes to work on my blog are both measurable. I can also be more detailed with goals to sleep 8 hours per day by tracking my Fitbit data on how much I actually slept the night before. Having measurable goals will help you feel motivated as you make progress.

Finally, the Commit step involves sharing your Goal Buckets with someone who will keep you accountable to them. This can mean a friend, family member, or colleague that will be supportive and honest with your progress. If you want to raise the stakes even higher, considering posting your Goal Buckets/micro-goals on social media or on your blog. You may also want to consider using stickK – a website that lets you put stakes on whether you achieve your goals or not. If you don’t achieve your goal, you can have stickK send the money to your least favourite charity! How is that for some added motivation?

Side Note: You may have heard of the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goal-setting framework. I think it’s a helpful framework for setting micro-goals but it’s missing a major component of a great goal: Emotion. If the goal isn’t connected deeply to your emotions, it’s bound to fail. So if you’re setting a SMART micro-goal, perhaps add an “E” for “Emotional” and tie it back to Goal Buckets you got excited about in the Craft step.

5. Track.

Objective: Track your progress on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. 

Suggested time allotted: On-going

Tracking is probably my favourite part of this process. You’ve done the heavy lifting by creating meaningful goals for yourself and now it’s time to execute. Making sure you track your progress is essential to keeping your momentum going and course correcting along the way.

The important part with tracking is that you’re looking at your goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Each timeframe allows you to see your progress (or possibily the lack thereof) from a different viewpoint. Trends you might be able to see from a monthly timeframe may not be apparent from a daily or weekly timeframe. And likewise, there are insights you can gain about yourself only from a daily review of your progress. Experiment with some of the tools below and see how they might work for you!

Daily

I use a Daily Tracking spreadsheet to help me keep track of my key daily activities starting with the sleep I got the night before all the way to my daily reflection questions. I also use this spreadsheet to keep the goal “buckets” that I created to continuously remind myself about what the big picture looks like.

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-1-52-47-pm

Daily tracking is really important to me as I get a chance to interact with the data on a daily basis and uncover some really interesting insights about my behaviours and habits.

Weekly

For weekly tracking, my favourite tool is the Weekly Big Rocks. The concept of Big Rocks was first introduced by Dr. Stephen R. Covey the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Big Rocks represent the important things in your life such as your health, relationships, finances, etc.

If you can imagine your time as a large glass jar and your priorities as the big rocks and non-priority items as sand, you can fit all your big rocks and sand into the jar only if you put your big rocks in the jar first. If you put the sand in the glass jar first, there will be no room for the Big Rocks. It’s the same with life. If you fill your life with the trivial items first, you won’t have time to take care of your priorities.

pebbles-and-sand

I use a template from Travis Hellstrom’s Crafting Your Purpose Course to set my Weekly Big Rocks. He’s got a fantastic mini-course on how you can identify your key values and priorities in your life. I highly recommend it if you want to check it out.

The purpose of this document is to note down the biggest “roles” you play in your life (e.g. husband, father, colleague, friend, etc.) and write down 1 or 2 of the most high impact activities for each role you play. I do this every Sunday evening to make sure that I carve out the time for my most important roles I play. This dovetails very nicely with your Goal Buckets as many of the roles will relate to the goals you’re trying to achieve.

Monthly

Finally, monthly tracking involves doing a quick review on the progress you’ve made over the past month. Taking 30 minutes to answer the following questions can help you reflect and reset for another productive month. Credit to Leo Babauta from Zen Habits for sharing his monthly review process in this blog post.

  1. What work did I get done?
  2. What projects did move forward?
  3. What personal learning did I work on?
  4. What health and fitness challenges did I do?
  5. What other big life events (some of them unexpected) happen?
  6. What are some things I’ve learned and want to remember?
  7. What are my hopes for the next month?

It’s usually quite surprising what we can accomplish over a month. Taking the time to complete this review can open your eyes up to your capabilities and keep you motivated.


I hope you find the above framework helpful. It’s still an evolving framework and I hope to come back to this post on a yearly basis to add my thoughts and experiences to them.

Gretchen Rubin, the author The Happiness Project, wrote in her book that “the days are long, but the years are short”. I think that’s absolutely true. But if you live an examined life in which you deliberately set your goals and live according to your values, you can look back knowing that those years that felt so short were packed full with meaning.