Lead a vivid life that does good

Category: Healthy Habits (Page 2 of 3)

The story that shapes your life.

The Story you tell yourselfIn my final years of high school I was labelled. I was average (to below average). I lacked discipline. I needed to work harder. It would have been easy for me to accept that story and have it define my life.

What your schools, friends, colleagues and even family say about you is far less important than it seems.

Far more important is the story you tell yourself.

You get to choose the story that shapes your life.

No one else.

Fortunately, the person I am today is dramatically different to the person I was 20 years ago.

Over the years I’ve learnt that its not the things I am told that hold me back. It is almost entirely the things I tell myself.

And to be honest, the stories we tell ourselves are a lot harder to change than we think.

BUT (I use this word intentionally), they can be changed.

That should give you great hope for the future.

My 1000 day habit of taking photos.

1000th Photo of the day
Today, I have taken my 1000th photo of the day in a row. It all started on 25th April 2013, having successfully completing one 365 project in 2009/10 and failing one in 2012, I decided I would give another year of photo of the day a go.

1000 days later, I’m still at it.

Some days choosing a photo means selecting from 100s of photos. Often it meant selecting from one. A couple of days I didn’t miss by sheer luck. I have one photo of the carpet at work that I accidentally took, and another is of Damian’s business card, which I took when I was demonstrating an app. On more than one occasion I got out of bed to take a photo of an inanimate object at home.

I haven’t personally taken every photo, but I was present at every one. Every photo hasn’t been taken on my camera. And on one occasion I had to get emailed a photo of a whiteboard image I asked someone to take in a meeting (riveting).

But I have 1000 photos.

And more importantly because it is my daily habit, I get to set the rules. And my rules from the outset were very loose. Any camera, any photographer so long as I was present, I wasn’t going to post to Facebook or social media each day, so no obligation to anyone else. I made it as easy as possible and as a result, it was tenfold easier than the first time round.

I would encourage everyone to take a photo a day for a year.

I love being able to look back on 1000 days and have an image for each one. Apart from these images I barely remember what I did 2 weeks ago.

I also love the habit.

Start anytime. Set a goal of 50 days. Tell no one. Just enjoy it.

So now that I have hit 1000 days, the big question I’ve been asked is “will I stop?

That’s actually a harder question than it seems…

Right now I’m on holiday, taking a photo a day is easy.

3 x 365 is just around the corner.

So is 4 x 365.

And 5.

I will stop eventually. But I now have an automatic habit of 1000 days. To stop, will require breaking the habit, and habit making or breaking takes a lot of energy and hard work.

Re-solving the New Years Resolution problem.

Happy New Year!

By now a few of you are 5 days into your New Years Resolution. While others, like me, are yet to set some as we come back from our summer holidays.

Wherever you are on your resolution cycle here’s a thought …

resolve - new years resolutionResolution comes from Resolve.

Resolve means to have a determination to take a course of action. Like going to the gym, or learning french, or blogging.

Resolve comes from two words ‘re-‘, meaning to do again and again. And ‘solve‘, meaning to find a solution to a problem.

And so a big part of having resolve is to know what problem you are trying to solve. The goal of going to the gym is generally not going to the gym. Rather its Losing weight, getting fit or having rock hard abs. Knowing what you are trying to solve is the key to the story.

Once you have the story, and the power for self-discipline is in the story. Use the story to ‘re-‘mind yourself almost daily so that you have the ‘re-‘solve, the determination to actually head to the gym.

Or learn.

Or blog.

Self discipline is hard. I believe for me personally it becomes almost impossible without ‘re-‘solve, without the story.

So when you start to struggle to meet your goal, and you will, don’t forget to remind yourself of the story of who you are trying to become, and remember …

You can and will achieve it!

Take care of your brain

Take care of your brain“Yes I’ve put that in my ‘stuff up’ folder” was the reply as we discussed a small error that one of my team had just made. Now the error the person had made was on a task they had never done before, (ever!) and hadn’t been trained for, but they labelled it a stuff up.

Immediately I replied you shouldn’t be calling it a ‘stuff up folder’. A ‘learning’s folder’ maybe or a ‘helpful notes’ folder, but when you use the term ‘stuff up’ you tell your brain that you failed.

We do this often as human beings. Use destructive language on ourselves. By tagging it as a ‘stuff up’ we run the risk of telling ourselves a story of failure and if that goes too far, we become scared of risk and trying new things.

There are of course many forms of ‘stuff ups’

I always do that wrong…

I’m useless at …

I could never …

Sometimes they are really valid.

But often they are phrases we need to single out for what really they are, and intentionally replace with positive statements. And by doing so, we take better care of our brain, and free ourselves up to learn more.

The downside of ‘Practice makes you perfect’

practice makes you not badI’m sure you have heard the phrase “practice makes perfect” many times in your life. You may have even used it on your children or other people you know.

Indeed if you want to get as near as possible to perfect in something, practice is the key. Usually at least 10,000 hours of it.

But before practice makes perfect is … practice makes you great.

Before that … practice makes you very good.

Before that … practice makes you good.

Before that … practice makes you not bad.

Not bad, it turns out, is significantly better than almost everyone else. And ‘not bad’ takes a whole lot less practice than what is needed to be perfect. More importantly ‘not bad’ can often be enough to get you through.

Sometimes our desire to be perfect is the very thing that stops us starting in the first place.

‘Practice makes you not bad’ still takes practice and a decision to start. It’s just the goal is different and the pressure is off.

It may be guitar. Or a language. Or sport. Or maths. Or computers. Or even work. Being not bad takes far less than we expect.

The challenge for me is to stop trying to be a perfectionist all the time, and to be happy with not bad. Because when I’m happy with not bad, it actually makes practice easier and more enjoyable.

Maybe that’s the case with you as well.

And for your kids.

The hidden power of belief

believe_in_yourselfI was reading a study where people were given the opportunity to buy the exact same pain-killer, but packaged in different ways and costing different amounts of money. They then followed up to see which drugs worked more effectively, and discovered that the more expensive the drug, the better people ‘believed’ it worked.

Think about that. We buy a more expensive version of EXACTLY the same pain-killer, and because we believe it’s better … it is better!

Belief is probably one of the most powerful predictors of success I can think of.

Want to lose weight? If you believe you can do it and believe in a programme, you are half way there.

Want to become a more patient parent? You need to believe you can be more patient.

Want to change a habit? Belief is critical.

You can achieve things you never thought possible.

You just need to believe in yourself.

The issue with belief, is so many of us have stopped believing we can. Which means that we believe we CAN’T, and changing what we believe is incredibly hard. Our self-talk is incredibly powerful.

Often believing comes from small successes, so if you are struggling with belief start by setting a really small, short-term goal (maybe 3 weeks away) and work on it every day.

You will nail it.

I know you will, because I believe in you!



3 ways to stay focused on your goals

FocusA number of years ago Bill Gates’ mother held a dinner party and invited both Warren Buffet (super rich guy) and Bill along. At the dinner party she ask what they believed was the single most important factor for their success. Both Bill and Warren gave the same one-word answer: “Focus.”

Focus is one of those annoying words that continually collides with my life. Historically I would not regard myself as a particularly focused person, but slowly over the years I have been improving. As I have improved I have realised that FOCUS requires constant, well focus, on three areas:

1. Turning Goals into Priorities

In order to be focused you must know what you are focused on. The word after all means “the centre of interest or activity.” Without having goals, both in business and personally, you won’t have interests or activity to centre yourself on.

But just as important as having goals, is reviewing them very frequently and setting actions. For me this involves a weekly review of my goals and strategies to set the course for the week, then almost daily reviewing these and setting actions for my day ahead.

Simply said. To focus you must have goals and resolve to take action daily.

2. Be in the Right Space

Now that you have your priorities you need to have a work-space where you can actually get on and do the work without too much interruption. As your all know, not all work spaces are the same. Some of us have our own office and others work in open plan.

The key thing to remember is that different focus, requires different spaces. Sometimes I need to work in my office as I need the tools there to do the work. Other times I can sit with my laptop in a café. Other times I go on a walk with a piece of folded up paper and a pen (so I can leave my phone behind). Depending what you are focusing on determines the space you should be in.

Once in the right space and ready to focus, it’s important to eliminate as many distractions as possible. This mainly involves communicating with the team around you that you are focusing a major goal for a period of time.

3. De-clutter ALL Distractions

I was reading yesterday that the average Facebook user in New Zealand checks Facebook 14 times a day. Social media is great for connection with people, but for most of us it distracts us from their goals. Similarly in our work-spaces there are distractions everywhere, so it is little wonder we struggle to focus. As I’ve become more focused I have had to take some pretty radical steps and a few of these are below:

  • Implement GTD (Getting Things Done). It’s a book. Buy it. Implement it.
  • Have a tidy work-space and try to only have the work in front of you, that you are focusing on. This stops distractions.
  • Turn off every type of email notifications on every device. My focus doesn’t last long, the last thing I need when a new email arrives is an excuse for my brain to get distracted.
  • Turn off notifications on your phone. All of them at first, then bring the critical ones back in. Social Media are unlikely to be the ones you turn back on. While you are at it, delete the most distracting apps from your phone.
  • Relentlessly remove yourself from email lists. The goal of an email is to distract you and get you to check in on their website. Our goal is to not be distracted and to have as much focused time as possible.

Distraction is everywhere which makes focus incredibly hard. If focus is important, you need to radically reduce the distraction. You can still clear Facebook, or check out websites. Just not when they prompt you and not when you are focused.

Becoming more focused is a constant struggle for me. I get constantly distracted and interrupted and I take on too much. All distraction comes at the expense of the goals I think are really important for me.

That said, the more I focus, the more I appreciate the value of focus and the more determined I become on my quest for more.

I’d love to hear if you have tips for becoming more focused, so comment and let me know what you think.

Do you have a minute?

Havea minute?I hate running on a treadmill!

Nothing does my head in quite as much as watching minute after minute tick by, while I stay in one place and move exactly nowhere.

It’s funny how one minute can feel like a blink of an eye, but when things are moving slowly or you are watching a countdown each second feels slow and a minute takes forever.

1 minute in the scheme of our lives is not much time. Even in the fullness of a day, one minute only equates to 0.07% of your day. There are 1440 of them each day.

1 minute is nothing. Unless you make it something. A minute every day … can radically transform your life.

The thing about minutes is they build-up. If you were to do a new habit for just a minute a day, you would spend 6 hours on that habit over a year! All from just one minute.

Maybe its writing in a journal. Or meditation. Or prayer. Or exercise (yes 1 minute counts). Or Reading. Or playing with your kids. Or … ?

Do you have a minute?

Just one minute.


Maybe it could change your life!

The other thing about minutes as they seem to extend. Sometimes spending a minute on something daily, is just enough to get you started, and very soon you are spending 5 or 10 minutes a day.

Start small with just 1 minute.

Start today.


We no longer have an excuse not to learn

Carpe Diem - Seize the DayOver the Christmas holidays I spent a little time doing a course at codecademy.com. It only took a few hours and I learnt a lot, engaged a different part of my brain and can now lead our IT team slightly better.

Codecademy is one of literally thousands of free online courses now available on just about any subject, many of them from world leading schools and universities.

10 years ago, this wasn’t possible. Just 10 years!

20 years ago having access to some of the world’s best, for FREE, was unthinkable.

Now, more than ever before, it is possible to learn and gain experience in your own home.

For free.

The only cost … is your time.

Your discipline.

There are no longer any excuses.

No one to blame other than yourself.

So go, seize the day.



One step that changed your life.

live-courageouslyYou are courageous.

Seldom have I seen or met a person with the courage and determination that you have.

The way that you replaced your old habit and made the positive change in your life is amazing. I wish I knew how you got it, but the resolve you have is inspirational and I love the humble joy you carry from succeeding.

When I speak to you I’m reminded that ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’ and that you just took one step after the next. As with any journey worth doing it has been hard. There have been times you have tripped and fallen, yet you just seem to get back up and keep going.

Now, you are so radically changed that people who meet the new you, cant fathom who you used to be.

Thank you for deciding to take the first step.

Your enthusiasm is contagious.

I cant wait to see what you will do next.

This post is written to YOU.

It’s to Thank You for who you have become a month, or a year, or a decade from today, as a result of the steps you are taking now.

You truly are courageous.


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