I had a great opportunity recently to present the findings from the research for my book to an audience of 60 people from UNICEF. It came about when their Head of Brand read an article I wrote about the challenges working parents face.
The purpose of the presentation was to open a discussion about the relationship between work and well-being. The crux of the presentation is I propose that work / life balance can be created through diligent time allocation.
Here are the slides. I have written them in a way that can be read without me presenting.
If you haven’t achieved the things you desire it could be due to one of these reasons.
Ambition. You think you know what you want but don’t really. Ambition is about creating a very vivid articulation of what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it. There is little point in trying to be an elite athlete, a CEO, an entrepreneur, or a better husband if you are unclear what it really means and how it will enhance your life. Exceptional achievement is hard work, full of highs and lows, exciting times and boring times. When the going gets tough, if you lack ambition you will quit.
Capability. You don’t have the skills, knowledge or right behaviours to achieve your ambition. With focus you can develop any capability you desire. What could be more different than being a US National Champion at both Chess and Kung Fu? That is what Josh Waitzkin managed to achieve using the same system of learning.
Confidence. It’s staggering how many people underachieve because they lack confidence. Mind talk is very powerful: what if they laugh?
All of these things are within your control. Take a step back and analyse your achievements through this lens. It might help you to focus your efforts on the real issues holding you back.
After busy week we enter the most relaxing day of the week: Friday. Your thoughts are focused on the plans for the weekend and how soon you can leave work. Yes, there is probably a bit of work to do but it’s easy to slip into the mindset that “I’ll do it next week”.
Don’t – do it now, whatever it is. Your contribution in the later stages of the week might make all the difference. When everyone else is cruising, you are speeding ahead.
What if it goes wrong?
What if they think I’m a fool?
What if I get criticised?
What if I lose my job?
What if they don’t like it?
If you are holding back, this is what you are thinking. Don’t, you’ll take it to the grave with you.
Do something that terrifies you. You never know, it might work. And if it doesn’t, you learn something for next time.
I am going to share with you a little experiment I conducted in 2012, which was inspired by Derek Sivers in a 3 minute TED Talk he did in 2010 called Keep your goals to yourself.
Derek Sivers is a well known American entrepreneur, famed for creating CD Baby and then giving it away to a charitable trust, which sold it for $22m to support the main purpose of the Trust.
The thesis of his TED Talk was this: if you tell people your goals, you are less likely to achieve them. Grounded in research (dating back as far as 1926 by a psychologist called Kurt Lewin) that found the act of telling people your goal tricked the brain into triggering the emotional reaction you feel when you have actually achieved it. That feeling of achievement reduces the motivation to see the goal through, and hence leads to fewer people achieving it.
I tried that approach with my 2012 New Year resolution – I told nobody what it was and for the first time ever I achieved my New Year’s resolution. For the record the goal was to run 365 miles in the year. I was trying to get back into the habit of running and it worked – two half marathons later, the benefits have been a lower heart rate (now at 46 bpm) and 8% body fat lost. [I’d recommend the Nike+ GPS app for iPhone to help track runs].
When you are thinking about your personal goals, why don’t you try a little test: keep a few of your goals to yourself and see what happens.