Day #550:#YearinReview!!! What Did You Ship in 2014?

It’s about 3 hours to the new year in Lagos Nigeria. I am just taking a final opportunity to do a final assessment of the year 2014.

About 4 years ago, Seth Godin started posting an annual Shipped List; a public account of all the projects that he had completed (aka “shipped”) in the previous 12 months. I liked the idea and have, and this year I have tried to write a list of every project I set out to do and I actually completed.

1.Moved back to Nigeria semi-permanently

2.Completed the National Youth Service Corps programme. A major win if you are a young Nigerian reading this.

3.Started a full time corporate job with the largest e-commerce company in Africa Jumia.com.

4.Incorporated a company in Nigeria to begin operations in 2015.

5.Wrote 365 blog entries on this blog never missing a day for the entire year.

6.Launched the Career Sweet Spot training series for young professionals.

There’s also another three or four projects that I started but couldn’t find the guts to finish or ship. If it doesn’t ship, it doesn’t count.

I have to say this is an embarrassing list to publish and perhaps you shop try it. Try to make a list of the things you started in 2014 and shipped. It might surprise you to see how much you achieved and how to prepare for the new year.

Happy new year to you anywhere you are reading this post from. Thank you for stopping by.

Day #549:Going to Make a New Year’s Resolution? Consider These 4 Tips.

So in the next 24 hours, the year 2014 will come to an end. If you are still having problems coming up with concrete goals/ resolutions,here are some tips for making your resolutions as effective as possible. Remember, right now, you’re in the planning stage. Don’t feel like you have to do anything yet! Just start thinking about what would make 2015 a happier year.

1. Ask: “What would make me happier?” It might be having more of something good – more fun with friends, more time for a hobby. It might be fixing something that doesn’t feel right – more time spent volunteering, more time doing something to strengthen a relationship. The more your life reflects your values, the happier you’ll be.

2. Ask: “What is a concrete habit that would bring about change?” One common problem is that people make abstract resolutions, which are hard to keep.  “Find more joy in life,” or “Enjoy now” are resolutions that are difficult to measure and therefore difficult to keep. Instead, look for a specific, measurable action that can become a habit. “Watch a classic movie every Sunday night“ or “Drink a cup of tea every morning” are resolutions that will carry you toward those abstract goals.

3. Ask: “Am I starting small enough? Or big enough?” Many people make super-ambitious resolutions and then drop them, feeling defeated, before January is over. We tend to over-estimate what we can do over a short time and under-estimate what we can do over a long time, if we make consistent, small steps. If you’re going to resolve to start exercising (one of the most popular resolutions), it might be too much to resolve to go to the gym for an hour every day before work. Start by going for a ten-minute walk at lunch or marching in place once a day during the commercial breaks in your favorite TV show. Little accomplishments provide energy for bigger challenges. Push yourself too hard and you may screech to a halt.

But the opposite of a profound truth is also true, and by contrast, some people do better when they start BIG. If they start small, they lose interest or get discouraged. For them, a big transformation generates an energy and excitement that helps to foster habits. Steve Jobs reflected, “I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I’ve done that sort of thing in my life, but I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don’t know why.”

There’s no right or wrong approach. What works for you–do you prefer to aim small or aim big?

4. Ask: “How am I going to hold myself accountable?” For many people, accountability is the secret to sticking to resolutions, and there are many ways to hold yourself accountable.Belonging to a group is a good way to hold yourself accountable, part of why AA and Weight Watchers are effective groups.  Accountability is one reason why #2 is so important. If your resolution is too vague, it’s hard to be held accountable. A resolution to “Eat healthier” is harder to track than “Eat salad for lunch three times a week.”

Have you found any strategies that have helped you successfully keep resolutions in the past?

Day #548:Find The Domino Goal or Habit for 2015.

If you had to make a list of all the habits you’d like to change or create or things you, how many changes would be on the list?

For many of us, we might have more than a dozen habit changes we’d like to make. And we want to make them all right now!

I’ve had several people tell me recently that they are overwhelmed by all the changes they want to make. They want to eat better, meditate, save more money, procrastinate less, write more, get better at relationships, exercise more, and so on … but they’re paralyzed by the amount of change they want to make. In the end, this paralysis means they don’t do much at all.

For me I like to think of it in terms of focusing on one major change that could be a domino for every other thing. For example,I wanted to write more, keep a journal and generally fell more inspired everyday. I couldn’t figure this out for years. However, when I started writing my blog once a day and I committed to writing it for 1000 days, it help other areas I have been trying to work on. Now I know I have to writing at least 100 words a day, I have to find at least one thing that inspires me in a day and I have to cultivate the discipline of showing up to my computer everyday to write something even if some days it’s crap.More importantly, I now know I need to live consciously because I know I want to write about it.

What more, the achievement of one significant goal gives you confidence that you can go on and achieve more.

So my advice, find that one goal, that one habit that if you changed or worked on would trigger a domino effect and help you in other ares of your life.

Day #547: Elizabeth Gilbert: Success, Failure, and the Drive to Keep Creating

Eat, Pray, Love is the modern-day definition of a literary success: a staple on several bestseller lists when it first came out, the novel became a film adaptation starring Julia Roberts. But soon after, author Elizabeth Gilbert felt stuck, so burdened by her own hype that she considered never writing another book.

“I had to find a way to make sure that my creativity survived its own success,” she said. “And I did, in the end, find that inspiration, but I found it in the most unlikely and unexpected place. I found it in lessons that I had learned earlier in life about how creativity can survive its own failure.”

Gilbert began relating back to her early days struggling to first get published, the six years of rejection letters that didn’t stop her from pursuing her passion.

“I loved writing more than I hated failing at writing, which is to say that I loved writing more than I loved my own ego, which is ultimately to say that I loved writing more than I loved myself. And that’s how I pushed through it,” the author said.

Day #546: The Top 10 Books I read in 2014

This is the time of the year to make lists. Everything that happened in 2014. I read and recommended a lot of good books this year and even though I can’t list them all here, here is my list of the top 10 books I read this year.

The list is in no particular order.

#1 Linchpin by Seth Godin: Linchpin is one of my favourite Seth Godin books.Most of Seth’s book have been about creating remarkable products or having a message that changes the world, in this book is about you-your choices, your future, and your potential to make a huge difference in whatever field you choose.There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art. If you are thinking of building a list of books to read for 2015. This should top the list.

#2 Start With Why by Simon Sinek: This book is a game changer for leaders in politics, business and society. Simon Sinek’s TED Talk that comes with this book has over 20 million views.Why do some leaders inspire a movement, sell a great product or create a successful company and some don’t? Those leaders start with ‘Why’. This is the most important element 0f any anything we set out to do. Why should we care? Why do you care? Asking ‘Why’ seems like a simple thing to do. Try it.

#3 The War of Art by Steven Pressfield: What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece? Best selling author- Steven Pressfield gives you strategies on how to defeat ‘the resistance’. The enemy within that stops you from writing that best seller you have been putting off, creating the company, or non profit that would change the world. Whoever you are, I best resistance is kicking your ass everyday by making you give up those goals you promised yourself you would achieve.

#4 The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin: This is another of my favourite Seth Godin book. Everyone knows that Icarus’s father made him wings and told him not to fly too close to the sun; he ignored the warning and plunged to his doom. The lesson: Play it safe. Listen to the experts. It was the perfect propaganda for the industrial economy. What boss wouldn’t want employees to believe that obedience and conformity are the keys to success? But we tend to forget that Icarus was also warned not to fly too low, because seawater would ruin the lift in his wings. Flying too low is even more dangerous than flying too high, because it feels deceptively safe. The big question from this book is: how high will you fly?

#5 David And Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell: In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.Gladwell’s works are thought provoking and they help us see another perspective to how we see the world.

#6 Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky: According to productivity expert Scott Belsky, no one is born with the ability to drive creative projects to completion. Execution is a skill that must be developed by building your organizational habits and harnessing the support of your colleagues.While many of us focus on generating and searching for great ideas, Belsky shows why it’s better to develop the capacity to make ideas happen-a capacity that endures over time.

#7 Aleph by Paulo Coelho: I read only 2 works of fiction this year and Paulo Coelho’s Aleph was one of the best books I ever read. This book chronicles Paulo’s pilgrimage through the trans Siberian railway, the longest in the world to find answers to deep spiritual questions that had been bothering him. The book is riveting and engaging. I advise you read it slowly.

#8 I know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou:Like Aleph, I selected I know Why The Caged Bird Sings for it’s personal and soulful appeal.Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is an amazing book everyone should read once.

#9 Daily Rituals:How Artists Work by Mason Currey: This book’s appeal was the simple way it detailed the lives of many creative people in history. From their daily habits to how they got their work done. Like the fact that Descartes liked to linger in bed, his mind wandering in sleep through woods, gardens, and enchanted palaces where he experienced “every pleasure imaginable” or that Anthony Trollope, who demanded of himself that each morning he write three thousand words (250 words every fifteen minutes for three hours) before going off to his job at the postal service, which he kept for thirty-three years during the writing of more than two dozen books. It’s a deep, poignant piece of research into the lives of some of history’s greats. Perhaps you will find one or two things to pick up from here.

#10 The Start-Up of You  by Reid Hoffman: LinkedIn co-founder and chairman Reid Hoffman and author Ben Casnocha show how to accelerate your career in today’s competitive world. The key is to manage your career as if it were a start-up business: a living, breathing, growing start-up of you.Why? Start-ups – and the entrepreneurs who run them – are nimble. They invest in themselves. They build their professional networks. They take intelligent risks. They make uncertainty and volatility work to their advantage.

Honourable Mentions

The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris: Anything Tim Ferris is an amazing read. Check out his blog here.

Education of Millionaires by Michael Elsberg: This book is a really great book. It got me thinking about some key skills you need to succeed that are not taught in school.

What book was your favourite book this year?

Day #545:Top 5 Posts of 2014

The year 2014 was a great one for this blog. As the year draws to an end, let’s take a look at the top 5 posts on this blog by readership and interaction.

I have excluded posts written before 2014 in this list.

Post #5:Day #288:We Secretly Wreck Ourselves : In this post, I explored the age old concept of self sabotage. We set ourselves some really good goals and we work hard to keep them. Then suddenly we create conditions, rationals or excuses for why breaking that goal is not such a bad idea. This happens  to most of us. It still happens to me. I try to find a way to create something, a good explanation that helps me get away with breaking my habit. If you are curious about how we ‘set out to wreck ourselves’, read this post here.

Post #4:Day #216:Here’s Why I Don’t Create a Daily To-Do List : In this post I explained why one the of the most accepted rule of productivity- ‘write down your to-do list’, doesn’t work for me and how I have adopted another different system that works for me. In case you fine you find yourself overwhelmed with ‘To-do lists’ and want to try out a new system, read this post here.

Post #3:Day #404:Seth Godin:The job is not the work: If you read this blog consistently enough, you must have noticed my love for everything Seth Godin. Seth is one of the most brilliant minds of our generation and if you care about changing the world or doing meaningful work, you should definitely check him out. This post was taken from one of my best books of the year: Linchpin. You can read the post here.

Post #2: Day #208: Qualities that Make Ordinary People Extraordinary: This post focused on what makes people like Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs and Gandhi extra ordinary. Warren is successful for investing and building long-term businesses.Steve was successful for creating one of the greatest companies in the world with products that are changing the way we live. Gandhi was successful for leading India into independence from the British. What are the 5 qualities that set them apart?? Find out Here.

Post #1:Day #205:Top 5 Reasons Why People Don’t Get Things Done: Have you had one of those days or weeks when you know what you need to do, you probably even know how to do it but you can never get yourself to do it. It’s some form of paralysis. It happens to even the best of us. Here I try to look at 5 reasons that might be responsible for this. Read further here

Here are the top 5 posts by readership. Which post caught your attention during the year and had the most impact on you? Share in the comment section.