MonthDecember 2016

Please Stick to your New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve written before about why I’m not convinced by New Year’s Resolutions. I think if you want to make change, make it there and then and not wait until the new year.

But, if you insist, please at least stick to them!

I can’t say I’m an expert in habit setting or goal achievement,  but if I want to start and maintain something here’s what I do:

1 – Change my phone wallpaper

A constant reminder can be a huge help. Whether it’s a reminder of what to do, what we want to achieve, or even what we want to avoid.

We look at our phones constantly and therefore it is the perfect place to put that reminder. Find an image or some text that summaries the resolution and put it as your phone background, that way you will see it many times a day and it will begin to set in.

Also, I find my phone to be quite a personal thing – not many other people will see my phone in the day and so by setting a goal on there I find I set it personally. I’m not making a note of it for all to see. Also, the reminder can be personal, something only you understand. For example, you want to lose weight before a holiday – your background could be a picture of holiday destination, no one else has to know what your true goal is.

2 – Be tough for the first month

The success of goals is often determined by the setting of habits; going to the gym, reading, learning, practicing etc. Often it involves a repeated action. But the whole reason behind the resolution is the lack of said action in the previous year. So you’re unlikely to just be able to start doing it continuously, otherwise you’d already be doing it.

To set a habit I need to be tough at the start. No excuses, extra planning to ensure I get what I need done, not missing a day. After the first hurdle it becomes part of routine and so you can let up a little. However, always be cautious that a habit can slip, so keep an eye on it – if you start to waver, be tough again!

3 – Tell someone who cares

It can be really easy to convince ourselves for why we aren’t doing something we should be doing. We can create excuses or scenarios as to why it was feasible. But it isn’t always to easy to tell another person.

Find someone that cares about you achieving this goal and get them to remind you of and make you accountable. When they ask if you have completed an action and you say no, make sure they demand why. The accountability will keep you in check, after all you don’t want to disappoint them and be seen to be failing.

 

The resolutions won’t just stick – you have to implement mechanisms to help them become routine. Find what works for you and make 2017 the year you complete you New Year’s Resolutions.

The Importance of Reading

How many of you will have a book on your Christmas list?

This year, for a Secret Santa, I gave a book and received a book (if you’re interested, I gave ‘1984’ and received ‘What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20’).

In my opinion, books, podcasts, interviews, videos etc are some of the most valuable tools for learning. Exposure to different ideas, stories and experiences. Yet very few people utilise them. Here’s why I think such things are invaluable.

1 – You can learn from the mistakes of others

They say failure is a lesson to be learnt – make mistakes, learn from them, don’t make them again, and improve.

Well by hearing the failures of others, you can learn the lessons without having to go through the hardship. You can recognise situations before they happen, you can learn what to expect or how to prevent things – or on the flip, how to encourage and force a positive situation.

2 – You can see a new perspective

One of the biggest challenges we face is the blinkered view we have of the world. It can be hard to see and understand alternative views and opinions. We can have our minds expanded through experiences, but those can be few and far between.

An example that is recent for me on this topic is a podcast from Malcolm Gladwell – revisionist history. He covered the topic of Toyota’s out of control accelerating cars. Toyota paid out billions for cars that accelerated out of control and lead to deaths. It was a huge story and a dark time for the company. It would be easy to have a negative view of the company from this, however after listening to this podcast you’ll learn that the car actually had zero faults, the cause of the out of control acceleration was something else – listen here to find out what the cause was, it will shock you.

3 – It’s a distraction and an enjoyment

Some books will teach you lots through facts and stories, others will take you to a new, sometimes make believe, world. Don’t underestimate the power or importance of either of these. Facts are great, they will teach from those that have been there and done it. Yet, a fiction story can be extremely powerful. Sometimes it’s an escape and a relaxation from day to day life. Sometimes it’s a thrill that stimulates your mind, other’s it’s a pick me up – it’s will just help.

 

All I say is don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, and be committed. You don’t have to read, I listen to audio books. Youtube is full of amazing material, iTunes podcasts the same. Find aseriess you enjoy and follow it!

 

 

Why do we leave things until the last minute?

There’s so much value in getting things done early… yet we always leave things until the last minute?

I’d be quite interested to understand why we do leave things until the last minute. I could speculate as to why, and I guess many people do, but that topic can be saved for another time.

Recently I’ve spoken to a couple of people about starting projects and setting things up and I found myself emphasising the same point – do what you can now so you’re prepared. Have a store of content to get going with, be ready for delays later down the line by getting things checked off now.

Often projects aren’t completely solo, they will rely on another person in some way and this can instantly cause delays. In fact, the delays from other people don’t even need to be specific to your project, it could be related to something else, yet it impacts other things you’re doing. For example, you want to write an essay but suddenly a group member from another piece of coursework is “ill” and you have to pick up their work. Now you have double the work in the same time.

It just makes sense to get things done earlier, doesn’t it!

I’m by no means a master of this, and like many others, I probably wished I was. However, I do have a few techniques that I use to try and get things done well in advance.

1 – Break down every single step

This gif will explain the importance of this.

Image result for when im starting an essay gif

When you look at writing an essay, you don’t know where to begin and so you don’t begin. You ponder and think and times keeps ticking on.

So break down every step, from research for each point to references for a definition. Do 3 or 4 small steps and suddenly your introduction is written. It all starts to build up without much delay.

2 – Make yourself busy

They say if you want something done, give it to a busy person. That’s because they know they have no time to waste, they won’t procrastinate, they will do!

Get involved in more projects, make plans for your evenings, do whatever you need to do to restrict the time you have available. Wen you know you don’t have any option but to do the work there and then, mot of the time you’ll get going.

 

If you’ve got any great tips please share!

Win a medal only to have your funding scrapped

Today UK Sport announced their funding plans for the road to Tokyo 2020. This news was not good for anyone related to Archery, Fencing, Weightlifting, Wheelchair Rugby, and the sport that got me upset – Badminton.

Before I get into the news of today. Lets have a quick look at what the UK Sport Funding actually is and how it helps.

“The primary role of UK Sport is to strategically invest National Lottery and Exchequer income to maximise the performance of UK athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the global events which precede them.

“Investment decisions are made on a four year basis wherever possible to cover a complete Olympic or Paralympic cycle but are focussed on an eight year performance development model.

“Success is measured by the medals won, the number of medallists developed, and the quality of the systems and processes in place to find and support the nation’s most promising future champions.” – UK Sport website

There’s even a nice flow chart to show where the money goes.

The money is allocated according to performance bands, plans are written, and targets set – with the outcome essentially being to win medals at the next Olympics. The more success we have, the more money is put into funding; the funding for Rio 2016 was 11% than that for London 2012. In fact, on average each medal in Rio cost £5.5m in funding.

UK Sport has built a reputation for firm decision making when it comes to fund allocation – if your sport doesn’t make the cut, you don’t get a cut of funding. Perhaps it is in part throwing your eggs in one basket as sports such as cycling saw big funding increases post-Beijing. Many critics also believe the tactics are damaging grass root sports; in one cycle there’s plenty of money to fund development projects, in the next it has all gone.

Here’s a summary of the funding allocation for recent Olympics.

This chart has never been a great site for any badminton fan, with funding slowly falling. This isn’t really much of a surprise; Beijing target 1 medal – not achieved, London target 1 medal – not achieved.

Despite no medal since 2004, the Rio target was once again set as 1 medal – this time ACHIEVED.

Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge caused a big upset by winning a bronze medal. They wouldn’t have been top of the list of UK competitors likely to win a medal, yet they delivered. It was a signal of the improvement of UK Badminton’s increased strength in depth – we have players that can compete at the top level in a number of disciplines.

Goal reached, so a funding increase should follow right? The next aim should be 2 medals, yes?

Well, the target may go up – it will certainly again be at least 1 medal – yet UK Sport announced that funding for Badminton is to be cut completely. It’s been a huge shock, and it raises the question, what happens now?

Badminton doesn’t attract the levels of sponsorship to be self-sufficient, it’s current development programs are already under-funded, many top athletes can’t afford to train and play without the critical backing from the governing body.

Quite frankly, this is a massive blow to the sport in the UK that can really impact any future success. I feel for the next generation of UK athletes that won’t receive the support they deserve, I feel for the program developers that will see their hard work reach a stop if funding is retracted, but mostly I feel for the two medalists who, only 3 months ago, achieved what was really only a dream of theirs, they reached the pinnacle, yet today they find out that the sport they love and have committed their lives to is being crossed off the list.

Zorba the Greek

This week I finished the book, ‘Zorba the Greek’ by Nikos Kazantzakis, published in 1946. Hailed as a classic, this book really was hard to put down.

The book is a tale of the narrator setting off to find fortune from mines, before setting off he meets Zorba. The book follows their journey together – and this is where the book impressed.

I’m not quite sure what happened, but I got completely lost with the storyline. At one point I had no idea where they were or what they were doing, yet I was hooked! I know I missed something, rather than it being a fault of the storyline line, yet I felt this wasn’t an issue. I wasn’t hooked to see what would happen next, I was hooked to hear the words written about Zorba.

The majority of the book follows conversations between the two characters, one a bookworm and businessman, the other an ageing man with an immense passion for himself and life. The conversations cover all aspects of life, sometimes reflecting our own deep thoughts and feelings, other times saying exactly how we wish we thought or lived. It is an easy, engaging and comforting read. It makes you feel good – Zorba makes you feel good.

At times I felt I was there in Greece, listening to Zorba talk about his love for his 2nd or 3rd wife, or hearing him play his Santuri, and for these times I did not need to know the story. Perhaps that was the main message of the story anyway, you don’t always need to know what’s happening, sometimes being in the moment with yourself and those with you is all you need for happiness and peace.

 

With that said, I’m still planning on watching the film just to make sure I haven’t missed anything 🙂

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