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#75: The missing ingredient to your goal setting that’ll help you set meaningful goals

By John Kiama | November 25, 2020

If you want to set meaningful goals that you will feel excited and motivated to pursue to the very end, then you’ll want to consider this commonly ignored dimension to goal setting. While it’s blindingly obvious and rather simple, this is something I’ve always ignored to my own peril. I learnt this concept from author Danielle LaPorte. Here’s the simple premise, when we set goals, we mostly fail to consider the feelings part. How do I want to feel when this goal is accomplished?

Funny enough, our need to set goals is initially driven by feelings. We feel something about the current situation, we want a different feeling and therefore we set goals to accomplish certain tasks so we can have the desired feeling. That said, somewhere in the process, sometimes the feelings part gets caught up in the mechanics of planning and breaking down goals into tasks. Or it could be that conventional wisdom on gaol setting does not consider feeling. Or maybe it’s because we have not identified how we feel now and clearly articulated how we want to feel when the goals are accomplished.

Feelings are a touchy subject, especially with men. There is normally this weird notion that somehow being in touch with your feelings makes you less rational and being vulnerable makes you weak. I personally believe that constricting your emotions is like tying a rope around your legs and trying to run. You’ll trip yourself more times than you want and at best your only chances of getting there are either removing the rope or crawling painfully to your destination.

Next time you want to set goals. Start by identifying how you feel. Don’t you judge yourself for feeling that way? It is what it is. Then decide how you want to feel. Then proceed with the usual goal setting stuff. There’s plenty of advice on convectional goal setting so I’ll not delve in that. 

I would love your feedback and thoughts. What do you think about this process?

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#74: The navy seal rule I’ve been using to push myself when I feel like I’m done

By John Kiama | November 24, 2020

How to do you keep going when you feel like you’ve pushed yourself enough and are ready to throw the towel? One of the areas of my life I’ve been focusing on is the skill of follow-through: set reasonably ambitious goals, do the work and finishing what I started even if the odds are stacked against me and I feel like giving up. This is especially so when I have committed to someone else and they expect me to deliver. I recently discovered the navy seal 40 per cent rule and its change how I think about human potential, endurance and capability…more on that shortly.

A few months ago, I joined a gym and decided to hire a personal trainer who’s been pushing me to my limits. Every time I want to give up he screams “come on, give me 3 more”. Surprisingly enough I always find the strength to oblige to his request. Today I went hiking with a group of friends and it was pure torture. The rule was, you can walk slowly if you feel tired but you cannot stop or rest till we get to the very top. My legs were burning but I keep walking to the finish line. The 40 per cent rule keeps popping into my mind when physical and mental endurance is required.

So what is the 40 percent rule? According to former Navy Seal and author David Goggins who popularised the rule, “When your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re only 40 percent done”. Your body has an interesting mechanism for self preservation where it starts warning you that it’s to wrap up when you are 40% done. As such, if you are to follow the default , you’ll only be living 40% of you capacity if you don’t push past the resistance barrier. 

Pain is not something we all want to avoid all the time but if we subject ourself to the discomfort and push past it then that’s where the real breakthroughs happen. We have to constantly challenge ourselves to dig deeper, and to ignore the mental limits we place on ourselves as we travel the road to success.

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#73: Why I’m starting to prioritise self-care

By John Kiama | November 23, 2020

If you are like me, you’ll probably agree that some of our best qualities can also be our biggest undoings. I’m a hard worker who never gives up. That said, in the last decade, this has been my biggest source of burnt outs and in some cases cause strain in my significant relationships. I’m admittedly a compulsive workaholic who does not always know when to stop. I remember one of my worst times in December 2015. I had worked myself so hard in the weeks leading to the Christmas closure than when I was closing up shop to go home for the holidays, I collapsed on my office floor and had to lay on the couch for a few hours before I go get the physical strength to go home.

In the last couple of years, I have tried to inject balance into my life and have succeeded to some extent. I still find the old me popping up from time to time. I try to metaphorically bite more than I can chew then try and either chew really hard or try and make my mouth bigger. Soon after I find myself overwhelmed and spreading myself too thin.

I’ve been reflecting a lot why I do this and I have arrived at a number of conclusions. Hopefully, this makes sense and if you are in the same situation arrive at a similar perspective. See, I grew up without much and my desire to try and never lack has driven me into workaholism and debt. Trying to run away from something can subconsciously drive you toward the same problem. I think my workaholism has been created by scarcity rather an abundance mindset. Scarcity drives you to short term decisions rather than making good long term choices. This is the first mindset component I’ve been confronting.

Being a new dad has changed everything. As my wife constantly reminds me, we need to live long enough not just to raise him but see his children. I started this self-care journey as a complete sceptic and while I have made some strides, there is still a lot of work to be done. I have massive goals in life but important I want to get to the final life and bring the people I can about the most with me. This is why I am making stuff a priority.

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#72: Great intentions also need great execution

By John Kiama | November 22, 2020

Have you ever tried to help someone but your offer was rejected or your intentions got misconstrued? Or perhaps you were on the receiving end when someone well-intentioned inadvertently hurt you all in the name of trying to help? Regardless of intention, good intentions if not well executed will not achieve the desired outcome. I’ve met a lot of good people who end of causing pain in the name of helping. Heck, I’ve even got plenty of stories of my own about how I planned to do something good but feel flat. So why does this keep happening?

The golden rule to treating others is “do unto others what you would like others to do unto you”. I might also want to add another dimension to this which is “do unto others what others would like done to them”. This naturally means that you have to consider the needs and perspective of the receiver before superimposing your own plans. Just because you think it’s a great idea does not mean that the person on the receiving end appreciates needs what you are offering and in the way you are offering it. The worst end is when you act like “God’s glorious gift to humanity” and now you can understand why they will need to seem things your way. Once again, it comes down to considering their perspective.

The next challenge is how the offer is communicated. How do you support others in a way that preserves their dignity? It comes down on how you sell your ideas. Yes, selling and persuading is important to get your ideas across so you can bring everyone in the same wavelength as yourself. That way, they can see the big picture and hopefully buy into your vision. You can’t just expect people to “just get it”. They can’t read your mind. They might not have the same values and world view as you. You don’t understand their past experience and back and how it might shape the way they see the world.

Empathy and great communication will go a long way in helping you support others effectively. I would be keen to hear any further views on this topic.

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#71: There’s always another option, choice or solution

By John Kiama | November 21, 2020

Have you ever felt like the odds are stacked against you or have a situation that feels impossible? You’ve probably exhausted all possible options within your control and now you feel like you’ve come to the end? My friend, I have been there many times in my business, career and personal life. The one thing I’ve come to appreciate is that there is always another option, choice or solution to the problem. And the path might not be always what you expected.

I look back to at beginning of this year. I had just been freshly laid off from my job, the global pandemic arrives and decimates the job market and I’m seemingly stuck without options. Then a chance conversation with my auntie to take a different “temp job” while I wait to find my “real job” causes me to change careers and now I make slightly more than I did last year and have more time and life balance than I had before.

I believe the reason why we get stuck, from personal experience, is that we are not immune to our mental biasses and limiting belief and maybe thrown a little bit of ego for good measure. What do I mean? You only know what you know and can only solve problems from the scope of your knowledge. I’m not sure who said it but there is this quote that says that you cannot solve problems from the same mindset that put you in those problems to start with. Unless you can expand your perspective on the situation it will always appear insurmountable. This is where letting go of your ego helps as you can admit you are stuck and get support. At times we feel like being stuck reflects poorly on our ability and character and continue to hold onto things to save face.

I believe that for every door shut there always is another door or opening you can get in. In the bible, there is this story of four mates who really wanted to get Jesus to help out their bestie. The hall was packed and there was no way to get but the boys were desperate and really needed to make this happen. So they went up to the roof, made an opening and lowered down their mate. Long story short, they eventually got what they want through sheer determination and not giving up. It took teamwork and a lot of passion. I can only imagine the options they had explored before eventually ending with the roof idea. That my friend is why having people around you that can help you get unstuck.

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#70: Yes, Impostor Syndrome Is Real. Here’s How I Deal With It

By John Kiama | November 20, 2020

You know that crippling feeling that silently whispers to you that you don’t belong where you are. People will soon discover that you don’t know what you are doing and they’ll call you out as a fraud? That may be all your accomplishments this far were pure luck and not your skills and hard work? Yes, this imposter syndrome thing is real and many of us struggle with it than we care to admit. What’s been surprising is to see that even the most accomplished people you see that might appear to be the epitome of self-confidence still struggle with it.

Right now as I type this, I am struggling big time. I am about to start a new series that’ll hopefully have a big impact on my audience but I have been procrastinating almost all week. I’ve questioned my authority in putting this together and wondered if what I have to say will be impactful. Why would they bother to listen to me? The things I’m sharing are things I’ve just mastered, do I have to be a veteran expert because I can talk about this topic? So many difficult questions are running through my mind.

Throughout my career, like many of you reading this, I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome. Over the years, I’ve managed to beat it with pure bravado and a “fake it till you make” it attitude. It’s not until you’ve had some spectacular career failures like I had a few years back that your self-confidence takes a hit and the “fake till you make it” approach loses its power. In the last few years, I’ve been forced to face my biggest fears head-on and develop more sustainable ways to confront and them and move forward with life.

So how do I deal with imposter syndrome? The first step has been acknowledging that I have this problem. When you admit that you struggle with something, you remove the shame and stigma surrounding it and your brain can start to find answers. I know I’m not the only person who faces it and that makes me feel normal. I’ve learnt to now use this as a gauge that I’m about to do something great. The fear is my body signal that I need to step up and get ready for the big league.

The second trick has been to schedule things with hard deadlines. Take a good example of this writing thing. When I started, it scared the daylights out out me. Do I have the authority to write about this stuff? What about all the careless grammar and spelling mistakes I make? Will people start to judge or pigeon hole me? Well, the fact that I have a publishing schedule and I don’t want to break my streak means I write a short article like this one every day and a long-form one every week regardless how I feel. My success metric is completed and published articles by the end of the week. So, having a plan and a clear definition of success helps.

I guess having a strong sense of self-awareness has helped me understand the triggers. That way I can start to change tact before I find myself heading on a downward spiral. This stuff is an ongoing fight, sometimes I beat it and sometimes it gets the better of me.

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#69: How I am finding my voice and evolving as a writer

By John Kiama | November 19, 2020

It’s been just shy of 3 months since I decided to get serious about this writing thing. To be honest, when I started, I did not have a clear idea about what I was going to write about. I have several interests and knowledge on different topics and my writing could have headed into many possible directions. I did not want to waste time analysing or wallowing in indecision and so I started by writing about things I was interested in. 

I started talking about my journey and the lessons I have learnt along the way. I started to notice that the most honest and personal the content was the better the reaction with my audience. Initially, I was shocked to see this trend. Why would people be interested in my story and experience? Well, it turns out that there is plenty of instructional content with tricks and tips but what people want is perspective about how people just like them apply these tricks and tips. Personal stories and antidotes are a great way to do that.

The key to going the distance as a writer lies in finding the balance between what your readers want to read and what you want to write about. I feel like I am quickly finding that balance. I’m also finding my style of writing that is true to me. I flow better when I write about things I have struggled with and found solutions. That way the insights are authentic and I can weave in lots of personal stories and examples. Occasionally I will write about something I am really interested in but still trying to learn. In short, the criteria has been either deep interest or personal experiences.

This is only early days. I’m sure my writing style will evolve. For now, I am enjoying the journey. The initial goal for starting this  daily blog  was to put in the reps required to get better. In my  main blog  where I tend to publish long-form content, I have an elaborate research process and a publishing calendar but with this  daily blog , I tend to leave it all open and publish whatever excites me on the day.  

I guess things can only improve from here. I’m always open to ideas and suggestions. What don’t you hit me up on the comment section below?

I started talking about my journey and the lessons I have learnt along the way. I started to notice that the most honest and personal the content was the better the reaction with my audience. Initially, I was shocked to see this trend. Why would people be interested in my story and experience? Well, it turns out that there is plenty of instructional content with tricks and tips but what people want is perspective about how people just like them apply these tricks and tips. Personal stories and antidotes are a great way to do that.

The key to going the distance as a writer lies in finding the balance between what your readers want to read and what you want to write about. I feel like I am quickly finding that balance. I’m also finding my style of writing that is true to me. I flow better when I write about things I have struggled with and found solutions. That way the insights are authentic and I can weave in lots of personal stories and examples. Occasionally I will write about something I am really interested in but still trying to learn. In short, the criteria has been either deep interest or personal experiences.

This is only early days. I’m sure my writing style will evolve. For now, I am enjoying the journey. The initial goal for starting this  daily blog  was to put in the reps required to get better. In my  main blog  where I tend to publish long-form content, I have an elaborate research process and a publishing calendar but with this  daily blog , I tend to leave it all open and publish whatever excites me on the day.  

I guess things can only improve from here. I’m always open to ideas and suggestions. What don’t you hit me up on the comment section below?

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#68: Why I have not posted a video online in months

By John Kiama | November 18, 2020

A few months ago, I announced on social media my triumphant return to creating videos. Then days, weeks and months went on…crickets. I have not posted a single video online in the last three months and I am not sure I’ll be rushing to post new videos just yet. Is it because I’m afraid of creating videos or don’t have anything to talk about? Far from it. I did a video challenge in 2018 that cured my fear for the camera for good. This time around it’s a matter of strategic focus, more of that in a bit.

A couple of months ago, I decided that I needed to get better at writing. This meant writing and publishing an average of at least 300 words ever single day. On top of that, I create a longer form blog post starting from 1500 words every week. I desperately wanted to strengthen my writing skills and that meant total focus. I cut down all other forms of content creation to focus on writing. I want to make it so easy to express my thoughts with words alone just as I do not have a problem expressing myself verbally.

I think some times we try too many things at once and never commit to going deep in one thing until we gain mastery. For most of my carer, I have been a dabbler who tried many things and has a broad knowledge of several topics but not a lot of depth in certain areas. I’m trying to change that by deconstructing and mastering a core set of skills that’ll define the next phase of my career.

So why writing for now? Writing is the base form of communication. See, while audio and video are great and probably have better consumption rates online, they both have some small limitation. I have an accent and happen to speak fast some times. This means that parts of my message can be lost in translation. With writing, I do not have this problem. If you can read English, you can understand me regardless of where you are from. Also, writing is more places: emails, web copy, sales letters, sales collateral …the list goes. Mastering writing has lots of benefits

I’ll probably get back to regular video creation once I’ve reached the mastery baseline that I need with my writing. I’m pretty good one but there is a level I want to get to before I can allow myself to divide my times and focus. Until then, it’s pounding the keyboards and cranking out words.

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#67: How the COVID 19 pandemic has changed my life

By John Kiama | November 17, 2020

I don’t think there is anyone who has not been directly or indirectly impacted by this pandemic. From the effects on the economy, limitations on movements, change in work life and in the way we connect as humans. Do we shake hands? Do we hug? How close do we stand? While I strongly believe that this pandemic will come and go, there are certainly certain aspects of our lives that will never be the same again. As I reflect on how this has changed me, I know that some of these changes will probably outlast the pandemic.

The first change has been in my relationship with work. As an extrovert, I love being around people. It energises me and fuels my creativity. So, naturally, I love working from cafes and co-working space but not having that for months has forced me into the hermit lifestyle of working at home or mostly by myself. At first, I really struggled but soon I started getting used to it and now I love it. My productivity and creative output have sky rocked and I love working solo. I’m in the process of designing a studio shed in my backyard so that I can keep working from home indefinitely. I now realise how much time I wasted with distractions, travel, setting up and packing down: time that could be channelled toward my family or other interests.

The second change has been an increase in self-awareness and personal growth. Slowing down and being alone for an extended period will force you to face yourself and reflect on life. I’ve had to reflect on what I really want in life and how I want to build my life moving forward. This is not the first time I’ve put a focus on my personal growth. I’ve been here before and failed. This time things are different, I’m making some significant headways. I’m finding myself more consistent on the goals I set for myself. A good example is my writing. So far I’ve maintained a 67-day streak. I’m finally working on my fitness. I guess my goal moving forward is to be intentional with how I live my life and most importantly to live life on my terms rather than let life happen.

How this pandemic change you? What good changes will you keep moving forward?

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#66: My thoughts and plans for staying focused during the upcoming South Australia COVID lockdowns

By John Kiama | November 16, 2020

The South Australia government has just announce a new wave of COVID restrictions and we all grappling with the thought of the limitations given how much freedoms we’ve enjoyed over the last few months since the last lockdowns. During the last lockdowns, I found myself almost mentally paralysed. I had all these ideas for things to do while in isolation but i struggled to focus, concentrate or even make a start on anything meaningful.

With time, slowly but surely I adopted to the new normal. My behaviours around work and creativity have changed so much. I used to love hanging out in cafes and co-working spaces with “good vibes” to “get inspiration” but now I prefer the hermit lifestyle of working from home and do not need a fancy environment to “get my mojo”. I suppose that’s a good thing. My creative output is now the highest it’s been in the last decade. I’ve been blogging every single day for the last 65 days. A lot of my growth in the last few months has come down to setting realistic expectations from myself as redefining what success really mean for me.

We are bit a bit fortunate in South Australia because of all the measures the government is put in place to contain this including setting aside some resource to provide temporary cash relief if you need to isolate and do not have a job that pays for your sick leave.

My plan over the this lockdown will be to double down on my writing. I have a new series coming up around helping people prepare for 2021 I can’t wait to hit publish on that.

Yes, I will acknowledge that i am in a privileged situation to be able to still have a job in these tough times. As much as I am frustrated about not being able to go to the gym or free catch up with friends and family, I chose to worry about only the things I can control and influence. I suggest that you try the same. As sad as it sounds, we have been through this before. Forget the news expect off-course official announcements from the Premier and Health minister. If you have long term projects will outlast the pandemic, keep pushing forward where possible. We will get through this and come out the other end strong.

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