Tag: goals

Productivity Part 2: On Purpose, with Purpose!

A look more at the ‘why’ than the ‘how’ of Productivity.

Do you ever feel like you’re working on the wrong things?

Do you lose motivation half-way through a piece of work?

Do you have a strategy when adding to your To-Do-List or does everything go on it?

Have you ever tried to take a step back and think if there could be a different perspective you could take to get more and better stuff done?

If you ever find yourself asking these questions, this piece might be of interest.

In late 2017, I posted an article (and a podcast) focusing on 11 ways on How to get stuff done. I had been receiving questions from listeners asking how I was managing to keep all the balls in the air and release content on a regular basis. My response, jokingly (and true), was down to me having a lot of free time. I was single and didn’t have any kids. However, I did have a very busy day job, was podcasting regularly, was just finishing up a diploma in Executive Coaching, and was in the habit of signing up to adventure races and the like. From my viewpoint, I didn’t feel like I had productivity mastered (the opposite in fact), but when I stood back and looked at things objectively, my productivity was high. I recall a colleague at the time remark that I seemed to have “mastered time”.

In preparation for this piece, I took a quick glance back at the 11 approaches from 2017to see if they still hold true. Reassuringly, I still use all of them. One is sleep so I’m glad that’s happening and valued. Most of them are absolutely foundational to my productivity. Planning, exercise, creating lists, arising early, setting SMART goals, meditating and using the Pomodoro technique to hold me to account for 25 minutes (or however long I set it) to call out just a few more.

Then & Now!

Flash forward to the present moment. A lot has happened since. Getting engaged, welcoming a baby boy (Jake) into the world, a house extension, keeping the day job going, releasing over 100 new podcast episodes, developing my coaching skills, creating videos and articles (like this one), speaking at events, delivering coaching workshops, and trying to keep myself as physically as active as possible to keep my Type 1 Diabetes under control to mention just a few things that jump out. With all of these in flight, I’m glad to say the management of my time remains in a good place. But I’m not an exceptional case as almost everyone I know are spinning just as many plates as me.  

What has changed for me is the lens through which I look at productivity. My view has gradually shifted, from a time focus and how I could get as much done as possible, made up with practical tools & methods, to a why focus and more on doing the right things.

I’m convinced now more than ever that you can be productive, get Sh1t done, and still have time to be a good dad, husband, friend, and all the other roles you want to have in your life. It just takes some discipline to regularly question and validate what you spend your time on! The more you do this, the quicker you’ll be able to confirm you’re on the right track. Through all of this learning, reflecting, and critical thinking, I’ve become more deliberate about the choices and decisions I make, all leading to time spent better.

I don’t typically quote Nietzsche. However, this one stands out for me. I read it in Victor Frankl’s ‘Man’s search for Meaning’ and it has stuck with me since. It goes “he who has a why to live can bear almost any how” and while this is a bit extreme when it comes to productivity, I believe that it is important to ask yourself if the work you’re focused on is in line with you own why!

That’s what the rest of this article looks at. Some ideas and questions that you can ask yourself about the why before you dive into the how. Let’s begin with a question on productivity itself!

 

  1. Productivity is a Choice

Think about the word for a minute. What does it really mean? Is it about getting stuff done? Or more about the choices & decisions you make?

To be productive, you are making trade-offs, choices and decisions to do one thing over another with your most valuable resource – time! Highly productive people, teams, or organizations recognise this. They tend not to blindly dive into busy work. Work that is never ending but yet has to be done to convince yourself you’re being productive. Instead, achieving high productivity is about taking a more calculated approach to deciding what to work on and then, using some of the practices and tools, how best to get it done. We all have to-do-lists (TDLs) that never stop growing, and that can be demoralizing, especially as you seem to be ticking things off them all day.

Think about productivity as a choice. Please Choose wisely.

 

  1. Procrastination without a clear Why!

Procrastination is probably something we can all relate to. It’s a very real thing! Do you find it popping up a lot? As you scan your TDL, do you find yourself putting certain things off again and again in favour of other tasks? You might notice this happening a lot, yet you keep doing it. It’s a whole lot easier to move a task from today to tomorrow than doing it now, right! Maybe it’s time to ask why!

Getting crystal clear on our whyhas become very popular over in recent years. Ever since the explosion into the zeitgeist of Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why’ book and TED talk, it has become a question I ask myself more and more. Why am I doing what I’m doing? If I do this, will it bring me closer to my goal? Is it in line with my own values or what I believe in? (If you’re not clear on what your core values are, check out this post I shared on how to identify them).

If you can get clear on your why, what your purpose is, your set of core values, and get into the habit of looking at your work through this lens, you’ll find procrastination fades. Why? Because it’s work you believe in and take value from. It might not be easy work and it can take a little practice to build this habit but there is a huge return on investment if you do it. And you’ll see a difference in motivation, which is the next point to cover.

So, take a pause, check purpose, then proceed!

 

  1. A Motivation check on Language!

Maybe you are good at unlocking the procrastination door. You can get started easily but find yourself stalling and find it super hard to get back into it (whatever it is) again?  The motivation is gone. Being motivated by the work you’re doing is essential to progression. Even more so if what you’re working a big goal which looks to be very far in the distance when you start. Even if it does align with your purpose, keeping motivation high can be difficult. I’ve found that using the right language can help!

Back in 2018, I interviewed Jim Breen for an episode of the podcast. He shared many great and impactful insights from his experience and lessons learned. One that has stuck with me since is around using positive language that can motivate instead of creating a blocker. In our discussion, Jim talked about how important exercise was for his mental health. Like all of us, Jim often found it difficult to motivate himself to go for a jog. By making a change to the language he used, stating he “gets to go for a run” instead of saying he “has to go for a run”, motivation increased and the likelihood of taking that first few steps was much much higher.  Changing just one word made all the difference.

I get to wake up at 5am each morning as I want to spend time before work on personal development. I get to write this blog post. It’s empowering and exciting. It’s a choice, not a chore. Take a look at what you’re doing? Are you having to do it? Or are you in a privileged position to get to do it?

Transform from a chore to a choice and keep your motivation high.

 

  1. Locus of Control

I get to read a lot! 🙂 

Earlier this year, I read two books from Charles Duhigg back to back. Both have been very influential in my thinking and in putting this piece together. In ‘Smarter Faster Better’, he outlined the concept of locus of control and whether you’re on the internal or externalside. An example here perhaps will help. Have you a friend or a colleague that is always blaming others for things when they go wrong? That it’s never their fault? That would suggest they have an have an external locus of control. That the world is against them. It’s probably a draining experience to be in their company?

On the other hand, what about that other friend that looks for feedback and asks how did they do? What could they have done better?  You can instantly see that their approach is to become a better version of themselves. They display a huge amount of self-determinism to make things better. How do you view this person? They’re probably much more fun to be around and their energy can be infectious in a positive way. That’s what an internal locus of control looks & feels like.

How does this connect with productivity? Taking an internal locus of control allows you to determine your own future. You’re controlling the controllable, not ‘passing the buck’ or giving yourself an ‘out’. Do you find yourself putting off that task because you haven’t heard back from Tom or Mary and until you do, there is no point? Sounds like an excuse to me! What if you take control and brainstorm out some ideas on what the potential feedback could be, so when that when you do, you’re ready to take action? You’re in effect taking control.

Take a minute now & do a self-check. What is your intuition telling you about your own locus of control? What can you take more ownership on? It’s empowering to make decisions instead of waiting for them to be made for you.

 

  1. SMART GOALS with HEART!

Setting a SMART Goal is one of the 11 tips shared in part 1. It’s been around for years, very easy to remember and implement, and the data proves it works. Most of the time. What I’ve learned since is that it has one big flaw. A SMART goal can lack emotion. It doesn’t clearly call out an emotional connection to the goal and if I’m not emotionally invested and connected to the goal, if there is no heart in it, I’m less likely to complete it.

Pick a work or personal goal that keeps stalling or going off-track.  Take a step back. Is it SMART? If yes, then check is it really something you believe in? Is it in line with your vision, values, and motivations? Does it excite you? If not, can you reframe it, so it connects deeper with you? Make it align with your why!

A very personal example I’ve shared a few times over the last 18 months is my own Dry18 adventure where I gave up alcohol for 2018 (check out the free e-book about this here). This was very much a SMART goal (some might say not very smart at all). Using insights that I took from the book ‘Switch’ by the Heath Brothers, I made sure it was not just a black & white goal but one that connects with my motivations. I reworded the goal numerous times until it was something that really energised and motivated me. One that I could connect with. When that happened, I was more bought into it. It became visceral.

Let’s be clear. None of us want to be wasting our time working on goals that don’t serve us. Take the time out at the start or during your execution to ensure you believe in it. It’s a big factor in staying the course.

When I shared the 11 approaches to get more stuff done, it quickly became one of the most read and listened to pieces of content I shared. I know it wasn’t down to the amazing writing style or never seen before ideas. More about the universal need to get more stuff done and gain control over the never ending to-do list. At the time I knew there was more digging required.

Diving a little deeper, questioning the motivations and really challenging the why instead of just running with the how has helped me keep moving forward and increase my level of satisfaction. Now, with life even busier, with time even more precious than before, filtering out the important from the busy, and the high value from the low has been huge for me.

 

The Best time to start?  

To get started, maybe the best thing is to do nothing at all. Just sit and think about what’s on your list for today. How does it match up against any of the points above? Could you do some ‘Task to Purpose value mapping’and see what tasks jump out as ones you’re excited to work on, are in line with your purpose, and you can control. These could be the ones that will give you the best ROI, fulfilment and set you up for success. Have a listen to that internal voice inside the head. If it’s louder than ever giving you all the reasons not to do it, maybe that’s exactly the sign you need to start.

Taking these few minutes out to assess and resist the temptation to get busy could be the best time you’ll spend all day. You’re starting it off on purpose. With purpose.

Thanks for reading all the way though. It shows you’re serious about making improvements and want to get better. I’d love to hear back from you if you enjoyed this or if you had some feedback or different views. It would be even better if you shared it in your own network.

Footnote:

During the course of brainstorming and formulating this piece, a few other more How-to focused approaches emerged that I’ve been using that didn’t make it into part 1 and didn’t naturally fit into part 2. So, I’ll be releasing a part 3 in the near future. These tips actually sit at the intersection of How and Why so could be worth a look when it’s out. If you sign up to the newsletter, you’ll get notified when that’s out. Link to that below.


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach (ICF) and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of Project Management and Leadership Coaching at Dell in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, leadership, goal setting, meditation, and other topics, like this one!

Connect in with Rob on the socials or via email on the links below:

Email   Twitter  Facebook  Website

Subscribe to the Rob of the Green Newsletter Here

 

 

Do you remember the Jennifer Lopez song from the early 00’s entitled ‘Jenny from the Block’ where said Jenny declared, possibly 100 times during the song, we’re not to ‘be fooled by the rocks (diamonds I’d imagine) that she’s got’, that she just ‘can’t forget to stay real’ and, of course, she’s still very much ‘from the Block’ (which is the Bronx in this case).

I remember at the time of hearing this all those years ago, something not sitting right. I couldn’t help feeling Jenny was very keen to tell us how real, or authentic, she remained despite all her success, fame, and diamonds. Maybe it was just me, but my Authentometer (just made that up now btw) was not registering.

When was the last time you listened to a leader, a politician, a celebrity, or even a co-worker exclaim that they’re, like Jenny, authentic and that ‘telling it like it is’ is just how they roll?

Did you believe them? Was your gut screaming saying, ‘yeah right! you’re not fooling me’. When you hear such statements declaring just how ‘real’ people are, do you instantly feel irritated, angry, or even jealous? Do they seem to be telling you what you think they wanted you to hear?

Taking it a bit closer to home, is it something you say about how you live your own life? Are you living an authentic life or working towards that? Is it something you’re striving for but don’t know what it really means for you? Maybe this post will help.

Define it!

I always like to look at how words are defined. All too often, we skip this part and have a fuzzy idea from the outset as a result.

To be authentic is ‘of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.’ And as it relates to a person, ‘representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified.’

If you’re anything like me, on a lot of occasions, when I hear declarations of authenticity, it can bring up different emotions and feelings. It’s very easy to say it, but quite difficult to buy into it, for myself or for others.

Creating the illusion of authenticity and being eager to tell others just how in touch with who you are is one thing. Actually, doing the work on yourself to discover what that truly means, figuring out who the real person behind the mask is, can be more difficult in practice.

This is a question I’ve been working on answering for myself for a long while. For most of my Twenties, and some of my Thirties, I found myself saying ‘being authentic’ was very important to me. Not only important to me, but important how others thought about me too. The persona I wanted to outwardly portray was critical. I may have even done a decent job at making others believe me. Looking back, I only had a vague sense of what it meant. My heart was in the right place, but my authenticity compass was not pointed in the right direction. After a while, this can be draining and life’s too short putting on an act. So, I decided to do the work needed on myself.

Through a combination of self-coaching and being coached by others, I’ve come to realise that the route is one that’s not still fully planned out and I’ll possibly be finding my way forever. I do believe I’ve found some fundamental markers along the way that have been key in helping me discover what my own ‘block’ looks like. Let me share these and see if they resonate with you.

1.    Self-Accept

Authenticity is about allowing yourself to be witnessed—purely, and simply, as you. The first step forward was accepting who I was, instead of who I was trying to be. Only I know my own truth fully. The good, bad, and the ugly. Over the years, fighting against mistakes that I’ve made, things I’ve done, and said, and wanting them to change only made them worse.

Once I began to accept these, learn from them and improve as a result, I became more comfortable in my own skin. It’s very difficult to be authentic when you’re not a peace with your past, present, and future. Accept what is. As a colleague of mine used to say to me, ‘It is what it is’. How do you get there? I’ve found journaling helpful. Writing down my thoughts, regularly.

 

2.    Self-Awareness & Self-Management

One morning, about 5 years ago, I remember waking up a little late for work and instantly getting myself into a panic.

As soon as that blissful second or two where your mind is empty and still just after waking up passed, the reality of the day ahead surged into my mind. Realising that I had something like 14 x 30 minute meetings scheduled for the day ahead, and a ton of other work to get done, set me into a spiral.

My mind was racing, I was stressed, and I hadn’t even got out of bed yet. I just knew something had to change. This wasn’t living an authentic life, or any type of life worth getting up for. While I was somewhat aware of what was happening, and that a change was needed, I didn’t have the tools or ability to manage it. That’s where Mindfulness came into play.

While I was aware of the reported benefits of the practice from listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos, I just hadn’t given the regular practice a proper go. I made excuses that I was too busy! Ironic or what! I knew I needed to make a change so I committed to a daily practice, initially for a month. Getting up that 20 minutes earlier to make space for it. This was the beginning of a gradual, yet significant change. The beginning of a more self-aware me.

I’ve posted a lot about its benefits over the last couple of years (check out the blogs here) but in short, being more mindful has been a game changer. It’s allowed me to better observe what’s going on inside (the self-awareness piece) and then gave me that space or time to make better choices on how I respond to what’s coming up (self-management). The great thing about it is I can do it anytime and anyplace. It’s always available. Once you’re breathing, which I’m assuming you still are, you can do it!

Developing a greater self-awareness has made me less impulsive, in thought and in action. Before, random thoughts could come in (like the 14 meetings in the day ahead) triggering an emotional response. I’d feel down, negative, stressed, or panic stricken. That would lead to me take actions not in-line with my values, beliefs or principles. I’d end up doing (or saying) something inauthentic. Just to say the right thing or take the easy way out.

Becoming that little bit more aware, gives me that extra moment to make a better choice, take a better option, and ensure it’s one that is part of my truth and in sync of with my values. So, commit to a Mindfulness practice a go for a period of time, not expecting immediate results. Just do it!

3.    Being Vulnerable – It’s ok to not be ok!

Think of the great managers and leaders you’ve worked for in your career so far. Or ones that you’ve admired from afar. Would you say they were OK showing vulnerability? Or did it seem that they always had to be right?

In the fast paced tough talking mask filled world of Business and Leadership, showing a vulnerable side could be seen as a weakness.

While accepting yourself (in #1) takes work, taking off your mask can be tough and showing the real you to others is even more scary.

But for me, to get closer to your authentic-self, being vulnerable is key. While never easy, it can be done. For me, doing the work in both #1 and #2 above has made #3 more manageable.

If you’re in a state of acceptance of who you are and are in a good place when it comes to managing your internal emotions, then stepping outside of the mask can be possible.

 Nobody has got it all figured out and being vulnerable can have a positive effect on how you’re viewed as a leader, if you’re doing it in an authentic way.

Jim Breen, a leader I admire here in Ireland, and hugely successful entrepreneur, and a guest on my podcast last year, has been championing vulnerability for a number of years. Not just for leaders but for everyone. Saying ‘It’s ok not to feel ok, and it’s ok to ask for help’ springs to mind. Being ok to show your vulnerable side in a genuine way has an instant relaxing effect for me. It’s another key part of unmasking.

4.    Do the (self) work & enjoy the process

If you’re reading this far, great. It probably means you’re committed to figuring yourself out and discovering a more real version of you! Now, while you might not agree with my first three points above, that’s ok. Your attributes, values or actions to get there may be different. But this fourth and final point, in my view, is one that’s essential for everyone.

I’m not a huge fan of clichés and try to use them sparingly. For me, figuring out my authentic self has been (and probably right to say still is) a journey. I discovered that the more work I do at getting better (in whatever area of my life I’m focused on), the more I realise that the real growth, learning and progress comes as you commit to and follow the path towards whatever that goal is.

I’ve posted about my Dry18 journey, my Podcasting journey, and others. It’s the same with the work done to get to a more authentic self. If you’re keen to figure out what that means to you, then you’re likely going to figure out a whole lot more along the way.

Now while that path is not likely to be linear, expect many twists and turns along the way, it’s 100% worth doing. You’re going to challenge yourself, your beliefs, and assumptions. But you’re working to answer a question that really matters and can have a significant impact on how you live your life into the future.

As you put the effort in, you’ll be exposed to new perspectives, learn new tools, develop new practices, and start to see yourself (and others) in a different light. Doesn’t that sound like a journey worth taking?

A final truth!

Before I finish, I’ll share one another truth. In the spirit of my own authenticity. When I sat down to write this, I was far from clear on what authenticity was to me. For the last few years, I’ve been undertaking all the work outlined in the 4 steps above, but not in a very focused and targeted way. I didn’t have a SMART goal stating, ‘Reach Your Authentic Self by February 2019 through practicing Steps 1,2 & 3 and enjoy the process as outlined in 4’. I knew I had a strong sense of what authenticity meant, and means, to me but hadn’t taken the time to reflect and summarise it in words. That made me a little uneasy but also excited by what I’d come up with.

This step along the process, probably not the last, has been very rewarding. I have a developed my own definition of authenticity for me. Being able to verbalise how it feels has brought it to life even more.

Maybe I was being too hard on Jenny (from the Block) after all. My approach was to write an article/blog post to figure out what it is for me, Jenny put it down in lyrics to a song. Whatever works best I guess to get you to the desired result. There are many paths that can lead you to the outcome. We just took different ones. Unlike Jenny, the only ‘rocks that I got’ are the ones in my back garden. For Real!

What does authenticity mean to you?

Are you on your own journey to dropping an inauthentic mask to be more real?

Did this post help?

Like any work worth doing, it takes time and effort. Whatever your own definition is for authenticity, I feel it’s better to have one than to not.

If you’d like to chat more about how coaching could work in helping you in your search for authenticity, or other personal or professional development goals you have, get in touch. Details below.

Core Values Reminder

One of the most worthwhile pieces of work you can do on yourself is to identify your core values. Authenticity might be one of these. I posted an approach I used to identify my own and I use in coaching others. You can read that process here.


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach (ACC with ICF) and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of Project Management and Leadership Coaching at Dell in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, goal setting, meditation, and other topics, like this one! Rob recently published an eBook on giving up alcohol for 2018 called ‘Dry18’ and can be downloaded for free here.

Connect in with Rob on the socials or via email on the links below:

Email   Twitter  Facebook  Website

Subscribe to the Rob of the Green Newsletter Here

Right now, this very moment, as I write this, I’m fighting off a very strong temptation to begin this final piece of the Dry 2018 Post Series with an inspirational quote (from someone way more inspirational than me) with the key word ‘impossible.’ How else do articles start these days anyway? Especially ones that cover such a mammoth challenge as an Irish person giving up alcohol for a year.

A part of me really wants to go with the famous Mandela quote “it always seems impossible until it’s done.” Another part prefers the one from Audrey Hepburn “nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible”, and yet another tiny voice in me is championing one from a book I recently read by Yogananda Paramhansa with “nothing is impossible unless you think it is”. But no, I’m not going to go there. That would be way too predictable.

Why ‘impossible’? Well, 12 months ago, giving up drink for a full year did seem a little like that. Not just to me. Many that know me thought it too. And maybe a little bit outrageous. The Questions coming at me were “Why deprive yourself of it?” or “You work hard so why not have a few now and then?” followed by reassuring encouragement of “It’s not as if there was a problem with it. Enjoy it.”

To be fair, while I sensed deep down it wasn’t impossible, to go through a full calendar year without having any Alcohol was a bit daunting. Even if I had become a much more occasional drinker in the last number of years, giving up that glass of Red on a Friday night after a busy work week, or asking for diet Coke instead of a Beer when out for a Meal or at a work gathering was not going to be easy.

Thankfully, as the first few months flew by, I realized this task was far from unsurmountable. Like any Big Goal, if you chunk it up into smaller pieces, it becomes very manageable. So, an elaborate quote stating the ‘impossible’ doesn’t seem apt. As the year progressed, I noticed other words coming up that were more fitting. Words like ‘choice’, ‘options’, ‘simplicity’, ‘commitment’, and ‘freedom’.  By removing the choice, and making the commitment, the freedom came, and life became simpler. I’m still working on how to make that into a profound quote to inspire but maybe this could work:

“Simplicity and Freedom comes when you commit to the choice” – Rob O’Donohue (various times during 2018)

Ok, not in the Mandela or Hepburn league but it’s one I’ve gone back to a number of times this year. I’ve noticed too that this approach can be applied to other Big Goals too.

So, as I finalize this post now, early in 2019 and reflect back, what are some big learnings that stand out?

Reconditioning

Are you familiar with Pavlov’s Dog– the experiment that became famous over 100 years ago by Ivan Pavlov. He studied the behaviour of Dogs and developed a theory of classical conditioning. It explains how people associate two stimuli in their minds and react to one of them as though it was the other. Every time, after the right conditioning, Pavlov’s Dog heard a bell, it would salivate more expecting food.

For the longest time, when something momentous happened, something exciting, important, and worth celebrating, associating a few beers or a night out with it was the norm. Getting a promotion, completing a marathon, a holiday away, watching an Arsenal match, and so on. All would bring on a Pavlovian response within. Instead of salivating expecting food, it would be a signal to get the Beers in! I’d been conditioned that way.

During the year, one of the biggest ‘A-ha’s’ has been how this conditioning has begun to alter. I’ve been reprogramming myself to associate the excitement with a different response. Maybe that was to go for a nice meal, or to the cinema. Or do nothing at all and just enjoy the moment. It’s been an eye opener as I look back. Breaking habits can be tough, yet reconditioning is possible. Leading to a better outcome. And thankfully, no Dogs were harmed in this year-long experiment.

“You must feel great?” – asked by many all year!

My short answer is yes, absolutely, but not in ways you might expect. Physically, I’d feel ok a couple of days after a big night out. So that’s not been hugely noticeable. In fact, I’ve probably had more head colds this year than I’ve had in the last decade combined. The real improvements have been more Emotionally & Mentally.  Having zero hangovers during the year has been amazing. It allowed me to stick to my routine and get more done. It also allowed me to do nothing more often too. I haven’t created more time, I’ve just been able to put it to better use. The Inner Critic, my Gremlin in my head, that lovely voice that’s always been there to give me a hard time after a night out. Well, he’s had a bad year. A quieter one for sure. I now find myself having the ‘Fear’ (which was explained in a previous post here) only when I think about actually having the Fear!

I’ve often compared my life in my twenties, when my social life was full on, to a game of Snakes and Ladders (for those millennials, it was a physical board game popular a long time ago – forgive me if it still is). I’d manage to make great progress up the board, ladder by ladder, skilfully navigating the many snakes there to set me back. But always before too long, the snake’s charm would be too much to escape. The snake here would be the alcohol of course. Or maybe it’s that Gremlin again enticing me into places where it knew I’d regret later. Either way, it led to a fall. Back down the board. Setting me back. This year, while there have been temptations, I’ve managed to navigate my way up the board much more mindfully.

“I personally believe that the majority of people who have down moments in their lives, they can actually trace it back, quite often, to alcohol. Perhaps the only days of my life that I feel lethargic is instead of having two glasses at night time I had five or six”. – Richard Branson

 

Dealing with downers!

I vividly recall hearing the above from Richard Branson in a podcast with Tim Ferriss in late 2017. It was around that time I was thinking about cutting out the booze totally and his words stayed with me since. As I reflect back on the years when I did drink, while alcohol been a catalyst for many great nights, I can relate to Sir Branson’s experiences. I’d safely say that 99% of the nights/days where I’ve felt very low have come very soon after alcohol. Combine that with a pre-disposition to overthinking, giving myself a hard time, and a lean towards anxiety and you have a dangerous mix.

Over the course of 2018, and none more so than in the last 8 weeks of the year, I’ve had to face tough times and deal with very real-life situations. It was difficult to look for positives, be optimistic, and try to reign in that very disruptive and over active critic in my mind. Difficult but manageable. I have no doubt, if I ever added a hangover to that mix, I’d have been in a different darker place altogether. So, from that perspective, my Mood, Emotional Agility and levels of Grit have improved this year thanks to less time on the rollercoaster that accompanies booze.

Other Hidden Benefits