Category Archives: Development

Three meetings and a lack of discipline

After the brilliant Glug last week, this week has been full of meetings.

On Mondays I have been irregularly attending a meditation class. I am glad that I have joined this class, but my results at the actual class have been varied. I think, having learnt the basics at the class, I meditate better at home. But I do enjoy the social aspect of the class, and it’s nice to socialise with people who aren’t really out to compete with one another, but instead have a relatively peaceful, positive time. A contrast to the people I met at the next two meetings.

Tuesday was the latest Live Your Legend Local London meeting (LYLLL?). This meeting did not have the same structure as the other two LYLLLs that I have been to and was organised by a different person to the other two. The others have been smaller and the structure was one big group sharing with each other. This one was too big for that, and the structure was that of an audience watching (and interacting) with one speaker. But after the talk was over we then gravitated into talking in smaller groups.

The speaker of this night was the author of the book Escape the System, Joe Barnes. He structured his talk with questions for the audience and we broke into pairs at intervals discussing how we would answer these questions. A good idea, but I found the question were very similar to the ones that I have already been answering throughout the Live Your Legend process, and they are the ones where I feel I have reach unsatisfactory answers – like, “what’s your passion?”

Wednesday was the latest London New Tech talk at the Google Campus. This event keeps getting more and more popular. I turned up on time for once and I’m lucky I did. Out of a potential 600 attendees only 130 were let in. The presenters ranged from a really enthusiastic guy talking about a new way of dynamically pricing hotel rooms to a woman who droned on about who knows what and I doubt got anyone interested in what she was promoting. I could have made a list of speakers and links for this blog post, but personally I’d like to see this event have it’s own website. Somewhere I could point to and that would have a summary of all the speakers. I think there is the audience for it. I actually talked to the organiser about it.

One final point about this week: the regular Live Your Legend blog/email shot was entitled “12 Ways to Create More Time to do What You Love”. Point five is one that I really have problems with “Stocktake the Wasted Hours of Your Day”. What this means, for me, is the time lost of the internet – social networks and YouTube. I really need a YouTube lock on all my devices. The problem is that I would be the one setting it up and therefore I would know how to circumvent this. I need to get more discipline on this. I know I can do it, as I have developed discipline in other parts of my life. I even wrote myself a sign “NO YOUTUBE”. Maybe I need a bigger sign.

Good things are supposed to come from volunteering, right?

When approaching this post, I was uncertain of how much detail I should share. Detail, not just of one thing, but several topics relating to the past few weeks in my life.

I have only written once on this blog in the last six weeks (infovis posts don’t count). The reason for this is two-fold. The first reason is that I was ill (one of the things I wondered whether I should share. I am fully recovered now). The second reason is that I have been working day and night on a project (which, again, I’m unsure of how much to share).

As part of Live Your Legend, they suggest that you offer you time to people to help them, and that good things will come from this. I agree with this, and in the past fews months I have volunteered my time for four different projects.

Nothing immediately came of my offers. In some cases I was communicating with the people involved. In other cases things were just moving slowly, I had to wait up to a month for a reply. But then within a space of about 3 weeks, it looked like all my offers were going to have to be acted upon.

Great, right? Except this was precisely at the time I was ill. I followed through with the first one. But I had to go back to the other three and withdraw my help. Doesn’t look good.

Now that I am better, there will be opportunities in all three cases to help out again. Which I intend on doing. Possibly approaching them only one at a time.

That leaves the fourth, which I actually said yes to. Fortunately for the first few weeks, all that was involved was a couple of meetings. Then by the time I was better they called on me to do a lot of work for them. Which I was happy to do.

This is another of those points where I wonder what and how much I should share. I’m not going to name the project I worked on, because my experience was mixed. That is, not completely positive. I did write many paragraphs about this experience, but it all seemed so negative that I deleted them, and I will now try to be briefer.

Although most people on the project are nice people, there is one guy who is very bad at the task he has been assigned. As this task is also in my area of expertise, I tried to help out. This was welcomed by the majority, but this guy threw a tantrum and his one ally resorted to bullying, so they got their way. I am of the opinion that if someone has to resort to bullying then they already know their point of view is without merit. Rather than do what’s best for the project, this guy has put his ego first.

I joined up to help this project in a particular area, which is now very substandard and nothing can be done to change it. I am volunteering my time for these people, and as you can imagine, I really don’t want to be in toxic situations like this. I am unsure whether I should just walk away.

Good things are supposed to come from volunteering, right?

It’s ironic that one of the most recent posts on Live Your Legend was subtitled “Why I Refuse to Lose Faith in Humanity”. At the moment my faith is very shaky.

Stop searching and be happy

I have been following the advice on the Live Your Legend website for many months now, and I recently “completed” their 21 Days to Discover Your Passion course. I say “completed” as I think I failed on 3 of their steps and I still endeavour to complete these.

So did I find my passion? I don’t think so. I don’t feel passionate about the course to take in my life.

Recently I have watched three TED talks which are relevant to this. The first is by Terri Trespicio and is entitled Stop searching for your passion.

In this video Trespicio argues that, for some people looking for their passion is preventing them from living their life. If you don’t know what your passion is, that doesn’t matter. Go out and live life. Don’t live your life through your passion. Discover your passion through living your life. Your can be passionate about many things. Or nothing. But don’t worry yourself into indecision and inactivity because you think you haven’t found that one thing. Anyway, that one thing might change.

My response to this is: I have been living my life and my passion has changed. I just wished, now, at this point, I had a clearer direction of where I should go. I suppose the answer from Trespicio and others is to just choose a direction and decide later.

Perhaps a quote about self-help from the talk show host Graham Norton is appropriate here: “The time you spent preparing yourself for the challenges of living are big chunks of life you will never get back”.

Still, I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time. Being in a job I disliked was wasting my time.

The second TED talk is from Nic Marks and is entitled The Happy Planet Index. In it the statistician talks about what makes us happy. Which countries seem to be doing it right (the answer is Latin America, specifically Costa Rica). And what makes us happy.

It is this last point I want to repeat here. He says that five positive actions can you do to improve well-being in your life, five things that you should do every day to be happier are these:

  • Connect – your social relationships are the most important
  • Be active
  • Take notice – be mindful of yourself and your surroundings
  • Keep learning – be curious
  • Give

While following the Live Your Legend program I have definitely done more of all of these points. Connect – I have joined many Meetup groups and generally become more social. I’ve even spoken with family in Australia more. Be active – I have started doing exercise regularly. Take notice – this is something I think I’ve always done. But more recently I have started meditation. Keep learning – I needed no encouragement to do this. I do this all the time. Give – I have volunteered to help people, and I intend to do this more.

I find it interesting that these are also points that are emphasised by the Live Your Legend program. Possibly the way to find your passion is to do the things that make you happy. Not in an hedonistic way. But happier is a way that positively affects your mental health.

In a related TED talk, The surprising science of happiness, Dan Gilbert shows us that happiness come not from freedom (i.e. infinite choice), but from being present and enjoying our current situation. He shows that we have the capacity to manufacture our own happiness and that by giving ourselves too much choice our worries become more not less.

The lesson to be taken from all of this? Stop worrying, stop searching, live life, be a good person and you will be happy.

Out of my comfort zone

As part of the 21 day course that I completed recently, I was supposed to commit to doing three things outside of my comfort zone. Yesterday, I completed the third of these.

I went 24 hours without the internet. It was difficult. Not that I champing at the bit, but just so much of my day to day involves the internet. For example, I knew that I would go to the cinema on this day, but I had to know the showing times. So the day before I had to look for these, as I knew I’d have no internet. Simple things like that.

However, I do think it made me concentrate more on the tasks at hand. I had much less potential for interrupting myself. I am considering if I could do this on a more regular basis.

Two MeetUps

As part of following LYL I joined a pile of Meetups to further my interests and make contacts. Sooner or later there was going to be a scheduling clash, and last Monday I was potentially tripled book. I decided to still go to two of the Meetups.

The first was London Motion, a meetup for Motion Graphic Designers and Animators. It was in the form of a talk and presentation. The speakers were from the design house The Mill and they showed some of their work. An example video can be found here: themill.com/portfolio/1707/motion-design-reel-2015

One of the things that I took away from the talk, and the general chat in the room is that I am going to have to learn the program Cinema4D.

Ideally I would have stayed after the talk and networked some more, but instead I shot off at the end and went straight to the next Meetup. Which was Live Your Legend Local London.

What was weird about this Meetup is that I recently mentioned on this blog that it hadn’t happened in a while, and then the very next day this meeting was scheduled.

I was, of course, last to arrive. As I was the previous time as well. There was a better group this time with eight people there (and one dog called Mabel). Not a lot I can report about my short time there.

I would like to attend an entire evening one day. And I am also thinking about trying to be involved in the organisation.

21 Days to Discover Your Passion

Today I finished Live Your Legend’s “21 Days to Discover Your Passion” course.

Did I discover my passion? I’m not sure, but it has given me a direction to take (the Motion Graphics route). I will take this route, and in the future I will assess how this is going and I may have to come back and try again.

I don’t feel that I adequately completed every module, and it is my intention to go over some of these modules regularly in an attempt to try to fulfill all of them.

While I’m hear, I’m going to repeat two sentences that the course got me to create.

Permission:

I give myself permission to find my passion, to take the time to find out what this is and not always take the easy, lazy way out.

Mission Statement:

The purpose of my life is to learn, educate and create in a fun, positive way.

Below I list each of the 21 modules and they are linked individual to my post about that particular module. I do this for several reasons. One is so I can then delete this list from the “recent posts” list in the left column of this website (desktop version). It looks repetitive. Another is so I have an easy overview of all the topics. And another is so I can put a star next to ones that I think I need to go back and work on.

Day 1 – Give Yourself Permission

Day 2 – How to Unhate Your Job

Day 3 – Getting Real – Worst-Case Scenario

Day 4 – Reframing Discomfort

Day 5 – Creating Congruency and Inspiring Inspiration

Day 6 – Realising What You Want – Values 101

Day 7 – Recognising Your Uniqueness

Day 8 – Discovering Your Strengths and Non-Strengths

Day 9 – Enlisting the Help of Others

Day 10 – Defining Your Success

Day 11 – Defining Your Change

Day 12 – Committing to Your Change

Day 13 – Environment is Everything

Day 14* – Getting the Right People in Your Corner: Modelling

Day 15* – Getting the Right People in Your Corner: Mentoring

Day 16* – Getting Accountable

Day 17* – Identifying Your Passion and Creating Momentum

Day 18 – Creating Time – Productivity 101

Day 19* – Introduction to the 3 C’s

Day 20 – The Best Self-Discovery Tool on the Planet

Day 21 – Making It All Stick…

21 days to… day twenty one

21

Today is day twenty one of the course “21 Days to Discover Your Passion”. Today is entitled “Making It All Stick…”

After completing 20 days of this course in 20 days, this last post is four days late as I was ill. Two days in bed, one day just recuperating, and then yesterday I went to a TEDx conference. I will be writing more about that in another post, but some of what I learnt there is also relevant to today’s exercises.

Schedule 30 minutes everyday to consume something that will help you grow

I am currently learning Spanish, and at TEDx yesterday there was a speaker with tips about learning a language. Two of which were immersion and regularity. So my idea was to do some sort of Spanish study for 30 minutes a day, or at the very least listen to Spanish language radio.

But also, at TEDx, there was the opportunity to join a book club. The books they choose are exactly the kinds of books I have been reading and I think if I join then this would motivate me to read a lot more regularly.

Join a group of like minded people

Since I started following the Live Your Legend website it has suggested doing this and I have indeed joined quite a few groups. Including Live Your Legend London, Go London, London Motion Graphics Meetup (more about this in a post soon), a Mindfulness group, a Geeks group, a local Spanish learners group

When something doesn’t go as planned, immediately write down what you learned (be specific) and more importantly, what you can do differently next time

I will try to remember to do this.

List all of the people that you currently help in your job

I don’t currently have a full time job. But I do maintain a website for a company, so I suppose I help our these people. And I recently did some work with Mars Spiders, so I helped them.

Then list all of the people you would like to help

I recently volunteered for TEDxWandsworth (no word back yet) and I’d like to help our with LYL Local London (more on that in a future post, I hope).

I have an idea of helping to improve the processes in the last job I had, but this is an industry I want to move away from.

Friends.

And what ways would you like to contribute once you have grown to where you want to be

Again, this “where you want to be”. Where is this?

If I could do what I wanted, who would this help? I believe that the intelligent display of information can convey that is obscure to many of us, and ultimately educate. I want to help consumers of information, which ultimately is everyone.

Schedule the next thing you will show up or sign up for

Done

21 days to… day twenty

20
Today is day twenty of the course “21 Days to Discover Your Passion”. Today is entitled “The Best Self-Discovery Tool on the Planet”

As I’ve said before while doing this 21 day course, many of the exercises are taken from other advice that is already available on the Live Your Legend website.

Today’s task? Start a blog.

Your reading it! That was easy.

21 days to… day nineteen

19

Today is day nineteen of the course “21 Days to Discover Your Passion”. Today is entitled “Introduction to the 3 C’s”

Before I move onto today’s exercises, I want to mention that last night I went to two networking events that are directly related to this course. The first was a Motion Graphics Meetup. The second was the Live Your Legend Local London Meetup. I will write more about both of these in a few days at the end of this 21 days course.

Today’s lesson is about the 3 C’s: Consume, Connect, Create. And how there needs to be balanced between them.

Today’s first task. Repeat my mission statement.

The purpose of my life is to learn, educate and create in a fun, positive way.

Second task is to work out what proportion of my week is spent doing various tasks.

Consume. I would say that although I consume a lot of information, I do waste a lot of time consuming junk YouTube videos, Facebook and Reddit. YouTube being my biggest problem. Also I need to read more, but more of that in the next task.

Connect. When I first started following LYL I realised I needed to connect more and so I joined a pile of Meetup groups (and actually go to their events). I also reached out to a load of old friends who I hadn’t spoke to on the phone for a while. I continue to do this, because so of them are taking months to nail down.

Create. I love creating. And I try to do it every day. At the moment I think my output suffers because too much YouTube. Also, I faff about at home too much. What I mean by that, is that I generally waste time. I need to be more time efficient with general every day stuff. The other thing that takes up a big chunk of my time is socialising. I tend to go out with a particular group of friend in London a lot. I go through periods where I tell myself that I’ll only do this once a week. But then I falter and it’s three evenings or more, or all weekend. Nothing wrong with socialising, but these friends are going to go out whether I’m with them or not. I’m going to try to be more disciplined in this area.

The third task is how am I going to re-balance these?

Consume. I need to institute a rule, no YouTube outside of break times. Also, I have already calendared reading time for my next book for the ten days following this 21 day course.

Connect. I have texted a friend I haven’t seen in a while to see if he wants to catch up.

Create. I have several projects that I am doing at once. I will now concentrate on finishing one in particular (which is an update to my showreel) and I will leave YouTube alone to concentrate on the project.

21 days to… day eighteen

18

Today is day eighteen of the course “21 Days to Discover Your Passion”. Today is entitled “Creating Time – Productivity 101”

The first assignment is to change the way that I think about the things I have to do. Instead of saying “I have to…” or “I should…” replace that with “I choose to…” Then further down the line replace “I choose to” with “I get to.” Then eventually replace “I get to” with “I want to.”

OK, I can do this.

The second assignment is to download the LYL weekly planning workbook. I did this in February, 18 weeks ago, and I’ve used it only 6 times. I have problems with it. I will go through the various tasks within the workbook and say why I have problems

1. Take a few minutes to visualize your 3-10+ year high-level goals and outcomes.

Do I visualise the same things? What if I don’t know what there are? OK, I can imagine, being healthy, financial secure, in a good relationship. But aren’t they just general life goals? Specifically the next 3 to 10 years. I hate this when they ask this of me in job interviews. I don’t know!

2. Write down everything from the past week that you’re proud of. List at least 10 things, and many more if you want. Big or small, anything goes.

OK, I can do this one. There are always things I’m proud of. But if I exclude purely social interactions (friends only), and things that I should be doing every week, I don’t know if I could get to ten. This list can be very mundane.

3. Write down any key learnings from the past week: major lessons, meaningful quotes, things that inspire you and dream connections (people you’d like to meet).

I don’t think I learn major lessons or hear meaningful quotes every week. Other than repeating the same thing every week, I don’t find new sources of inspiration every week.

People You’d Love to Meet: Again, I would just be repeating the same people each week.

Inspiring People You did Meet: Do I meet inspiring people every week?

4. Be honest with yourself and list the big things that didn’t happen and what you can improve for next time.

I could do this.

5. Decide on a maximum of 6-7 outcomes you want to accomplish related to the various areas in your life. This could be creating a personal budget, cooking a healthy meal or having a great meeting with a mentor. You get to decide. Just be sure they get you closer to your yearly goals. That’s the key. So “checking Facebook” would not count. Keep in mind that the majority of your time should be spent on activities that leverage your natural talents and strengths, and everything should be in line with your values. Take a minute to quickly review your strengths and values as well to be sure everything is in sync.

I think most of these would be a repeat as well.

6. Every task takes time and therefore needs a place on your calendar. Look at your 6-7 weekly outcomes and decide what core tasks will need to happen to accomplish these. Now spread these out throughout the week. Most people can’t accomplish more than 1-3 meaningful things in a day, so that’s your limit.

So this is about scheduling. This is one of the things that I have picked up from LYL is the importance of scheduling. I have been scheduling much of what I do for many months now. And I have achieved a lot more. But this is sort of a cheat. For example I have several meetings that I’m going to this week. These already have their own schedule. I will attend, but I’m hardly the one scheduling them. I feels like a cheat to claim these as win for my scheduling skills.

7. Look at what’s left on your to do list. Now look at your calendar and see when you could fit the little things in. Schedule these as well. By the end of this process you shouldn’t have any stray to-do lists or tasks. Any remaining items on your task list should be appropriately categorized for later.

“You shouldn’t have any stray to-do lists or tasks” I have ideas, most of which are written in notes all over the place (at least 50 e-post-its on my desktop, and other real post-it around the place). I have lots of ideas and personal projects on the go. No have any “stray” to-do’s. Not a change.

Also, there are loads of mundane household things I need to do every week. But they get fitted in where I can.

Also, some days I feel I can do much more. And some days I don’t feel so good. It’s not like I can schedule for how I feel (health wise, I mean, and not major health issues, just some days I don’t have such a positive mood).

Ask “Who else can I help this week?” List 1-3 people.

Other than repetition, I often can’t think of 3 people.

Ask “Who could help me accomplish what I have planned for the week?” List 1- 3 people

Same as before.

Review expenses and spending from the last week using financial software, online banking or expense notes. If you have a business, look over those expenses as well.

I do this when I have expenses.

So there you have it. I have complained about the process which they set. “Complaining” is one of the things they talked about in the lesson. They said instead of complaining, one should take action. Which I will do. I’m going to take their workbook, and redesign it so that I will be able to complete it.