Monthly Archives: January 2016

One Word focus per Month

The simpler the task, the higher the chances that it is achieved.  That makes sense.  With that in mind, as we start the year, have in mind to simplify.  Last week, I wrote about having a 2-word purpose for the year.  In this blog, I would like to break it down further to how we can apply that.  To apply it in its most effective manner would be to break it down from 12 months to just 1 month.  The rationale is that we can’t predict the future with any great accuracy but we can manage and plan for the short term with greater success.

Let’s start:

  1. Break down your 2-word purpose for the year.  List down what you would like to achieve or focus on in order to accomplish the overall purpose for the year.  For example, “Inspire” and “Growth” are the 2-word purpose of my year.  In order for me to make this meaningful and actionable, I would need to think about what it takes for me to achieve it.
  2. List down activities or focus areas by time frame.  For example, I would break down “Growth” to learning or improving my skills in mastering the Mac OS.  In order for me to do so, I would need to outline a plan.  The structure of the plan could look like this:
    1. Current skill level on Mac OS is at level 3 and would like to be at level 5 where I can use shortcuts, mission control, new features etc.
    2. To learn:
      1. check out youtube videos on Mac OS tips and tricks or lessons.
      2. Read magazines
      3. Practice and apply
  3. Summarise into 1 word what the focus and time frame.  For example, I would summarise mine to Explore.  Explore and learn the new features of Mac OS in January.
  4. Project for the next 3 months.  Build upon that and decide on what your focus would be over the next 3 months.  For example, mine would be:
    1. Explore:  In January to explore and learn new features.
    2. Practice:  In February to practice and practice what I have learnt and continue to find new features.
    3. Teach:  In March to teach or pass on the knowledge to someone else and in the process, inspire others to learn.
  5. Plan for the rest of the year in a similar manner.  Bear in mind that it might change depending on your circumstances.
  6. Keep in mind the end of the year result that you are seeking.  That will help keep you in step each month.

As for me,  I learn best in burst of energy and knowing that I would plan accordingly.  The plan should also factor in your schedule, if you are on holiday or an especially busy period at work etc.

Give it a go and start for this month.  Once you have a focus area, the action plans should come fairly easily.  After that, it really is just to do it.

Purpose for the year in 2 words.

I am sure that hearing the word “mission statement” or “purpose” will bring out two common reaction, fear and avoidance or focus and passion.  It just seems so big and impossible to figure out.  And yet, deep down, each of us has that need to know.  To know or have an idea on what you are working towards is important to give us a sense of worth.  It is no surprise that people who have a clear purpose in life, walk a more focus and rewarding path as oppose to those who do not have a clear purpose.

Sometimes, it comes naturally to us.  Most times, it is a act of focus concentration to figure it out.  No matter which camp you are in, the truth is, it is in your hands.  For most of us, at work, goals and action plans are set for us by the company and our managers.  All that is left for us to think about is the actual numeric goal and actions to  be taken.  However, in a broader context of our overall lives, that takes a little more effort because it has to align with what is important to us.

At the start of year, it is always a great exercise to spent some time to reflect on what went well, what did not, what you would like to do differently as well as what you would like to accomplish in the new year.  Each of us would have either ended last year feeling like we have accomplished much or not.  Regardless of what happened last year, that is the past.  This new year is the present and the future.  Therefore we have the power to start it differently and purposefully.

I would like to challenge you to just think about your purpose in just 2 words.  Writing a mission statement or purpose can be scary especially with the fear of structuring a sentence well or that it has to be inspiring and brilliant.  However, as nice as that would be, it is not necessary for you to get to that point.  To get started, its about making it simple and clear.  Simplicity and clarity will help you to form further substance as you go along.  After all, life is a journey.  Therefore with only 2 words, the level of complexity and fear factor decreases substantially.

As we have taken the complexity out of the equation, anyone can give it go and come up with just 2 words that best describe your purpose.  Let’s start by structuring how you would think about your purpose for this new year.

  • What are your core values?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are your dreams?
  • What areas are of interest to you?

I find this simple method as an easy starting point.

  • Think about words that resonate with your values.  Write them down.  For example, hard work, commitment, dedication, service, honesty, integrity, learning, risk-taking, change, adventures, travels etc.
  • From the list of words above, select words that resonate the strongest with you.  Pick 2 words.  Those are probably the key 2 words of your purpose as they align strongest with your core values.  For example, service and learning could be the 2 words.
  • Try structuring a sentence with those words that would align with what your purpose or mission might look like.  For example, “To serve a certain community of interest and to strive to continual learn and explore new ideas and innovations”.  It does not have to be perfect, just enough to give it a structure as a starting point.
  • Test it out by sharing it someone.  Expand on it.  Does it resonate with you?  Would others agree and have observed it in you?
  • Keep refining it until it sits comfortable with you.  It should feel inspirational and motivational for you.

Once you get it about right, you will know it.  It will sit well with you and you will feel the passion and excitement from it.  Then you know that you have figured out your purpose.

Give it a go.  It might seem hard as a start but once you start going, it will get easier and it is fun.

The next step from that is to build a structure and plans around those 2 key words of your purpose for the year.  I will cover that next week.

Start the New Year Purposefully

A new year is upon us.  In fact, before we know it, this new year of 2016 will come to an end too.  Let’s do things differently this new year.  Challenge yourself to see if you can start the year differently not with the dreaded New Year Resolution but with purposeful and deliberate vision of what and how you would like to see the year unfold for you.  A vision of what you would like to see the end of 2016 as a reward.  A reward that is both tangible and intangible.

I would add that some goals should be avoided such as:

  • Losing Weight
  • Making more money
  • Buying a new car
  • Exercise more
  • Etc

The reason for this is that the goals above are “superficial”.  It does not extend to your values or beliefs and therefore cannot be sustained.  Goals that are purposeful and that bring out a new need or desire are those that will be achieved.  Goals that are deep in it’s purpose are motivational for you to persevere and succeed.  Therefore think about goals that are broader and meaningful for you.  For example:

  • Healthy lifestyle in order for you to have great quality of life and to fully enjoy your time with family and friends.  In order for you to live a healthy lifestyle, you need to be mindful of what you eat as well as exercise.  This will lead you to action plans which will include what form of exercise you will take up, how much time you will dedicate to it and so on.  You can also include eating healthier, stop smoking and so on, as part of that healthier lifestyle.
  • Financial Management or Responsibilities could be a goal and it should have aspect not just around the promotion that you want, earning more money but also around what you could do to bless others with what you have.  You don’t need to give away all your wealth, just start with what you interest or passion drives you.

Now that we have the general idea, let’s put them into a structure:

  1. Set out clearly your mission or purpose for the year.
  2. Have clear goals with Step by step action plan and make it fun
  3. Monitor and Adjust to suit the situation
  4. Review and Reward
  5. Cheer on
  6. Don’t steal from yourself
  7. Cherish the moment

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be covering each area in greater detail.  Start by starting.  Think about the following:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What don’t you enjoy doing that you would like to stop?
  • What do you want to learn?
  • Where do you want to contribute more?
  • What is the unique impact that you can make?
  • What changes to do you want to make?

Challenge yourself to then imagine the bigger picture.  Is there one?  If there is one, then break it down to see what you can achieve this year.  It is always fun and exciting to think about new things to do and experience at the start of the year.  Now think about how you are going to sustain that and keep yourself motivated.  Think about the rewards that you will put in place when you achieve a certain milestone.  It is even more exciting to visualise when you do achieve the milestone and how that would feel.  Picture that and the emotions that come with it.  Write it down.  After you have finished one, move to the next until you are satisfied.  Now stop and let it sit for a couple of days and return to it.  Read it and see if it still brings out the level of excitement that you had when you started.  If not, modify it.  Keep improving until it is something that you can commit to.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, just good enough to get your started.  Know full well that things will change and changes will be made as you go along so don’t be too hung up with getting it perfect.

Now just start!