LIFEHACK: YOUR NEW YEAR RESOLUTION IS KEEPING YOU FROM ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS

Procrastination

I know you are familiar with the scenario – January 1, you’re pumped full of energy. You blast through your to-do list during the first few days of the new year. You’re running and gaining speed. It seems like you’re going to achieve your goals this year.

But then things change.

The days start coming prepackaged to discourage you. The money you’re expecting doesn’t come, your family stops being supportive, your workload skyrockets at the office, blah blah blah. In short, real life shows up. Before you can say déjà vu,  it’s the 5th week of the new year and you’ve broken every new resolution you made on January 1.

And …you’re back to square one.

Let me tell you what you’re doing wrong. Let’s say you could have started that dream project in the first week of December. But you don’t. You put it off till January 1. What you’re doing is you’re perfecting the art of procrastination. And suddenly, you want to change on January 1. Can you see the “logic” behind that reasoning?

Listen to me – there’s no such thing as a New Year resolution. January 1 isn’t a mystical day that allows people make decisions that would change their lives forever. No day holds that power. Rather, important decisions are made – listen to this – at the point of need.  Simple.

This means that if you need to break your addiction to sugar, for goodness sake, just stop now. Don’t put it off till January 1. That’s procrastination.

You want to write a book? Start now. Right now (after you’re done with this post of course). Don’t wait till January 1. That’s laziness.

Boxers train and train before their big fight. You should do the same. You should start whatever it is you want to do RIGHT NOW. If you’re going to screw up, it’s better you screw up this year. In fact, statistics show that a measly 8% of people who make new year resolutions achieve them. 8 percent! That’s discouraging.

So put yourself on the clock this year. Tell yourself, before January 31, I will …. This way, you hit the ground on January 1st running.

That’s my second lifehack – ditch the new year resolution this time ‘round. Just get to it already. Don’t procrastinate.

P.S. I liked this picture so much, I had to paste it.

procrastination6

Happy Holidays!

MY 2013 READING LIST

These are the books that kept me up late into the night, kept me company during long bus rides and rekindled my dream of becoming published some day.

Spirituality

1. Jaded – A.J. Kiesling

At a time when my faith was floundering, I picked up this book from my stash and read. Talk about a godsend. This was timely.

Experienced journalist, Kiesling explores the true meaning of church and community and offers hope to those who’ve been hurt , disappointed and offended by “the church”. Filled with paradigm-shifting truths.

2. The War is Over – Andrew Wommack

If I ever become a bible teacher, I want to be as simple as Andrew Wommack. His writing style complements his teaching – easy to read, easy to follow and easy to believe.

In this book, Wommack reassures Christians of God’s love for man and His finished work on the cross. Emphasis on finished. Over and over again, Wommack drives home the point that God’s favor and acceptance isn’t something to be labored for, but rather something that is already given to every believer. Just believe and drink freely.

Writing and Craft

3. On Writing Well – William Zinsser

I really hope I get to meet Mr. Zinsser before he dies. I would like to tell him how much his book has improved my writing. I want to let him know that I’m now one of his biggest advocates, regularly recommending this book to anyone who cares to handle a pen. I loved this book and I think it goes side by side with Mr. King’s On Writing.

Simplicity is the bedrock of all good writing. That and consistent practice. That is the lesson running through the soul of this book. It’s a handbook every writer should have and reference occasionally as it covers nearly every facet of non-fiction writing – Sports writing, Comedy, Review and Critique writing, Memoirs, Conducting interviews, Travel  writing and so on. The list is exhaustive. Get this book.

Psychology and Social Science

4. Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

I loved reading this book. The subject matter has a certain universal appeal. And the treatment the author gave it is engaging. It just didn’t have that OMG factor that I got from Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine last year.

5. How Laziness Saved My Life – Okechukwu Ofili

I’d heard some good things about the book. Debonairs bookstore even listed it among their bestsellers once. So it was only a matter of time before I got my hands on a copy.

Not bad for a Malcolm Gladwell wannabe. That might sound like damning praise but when you consider that Malcolm Gladwell has spawned a slew of big thinkers and a whole new genre of social science writers, you realize it’s not. Ofili’s personality comes through in the book and there are a few interesting ideas in here. It’s just that the research backing it up is measly. Nevertheless, had a good time reading it.

6. Made to Stick – Chip and Dan Heath

7. Think! – Edward de Bono

8. David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is the master of the art of presenting BIG IDEAs and unintuitive thinking in social science. His bestseller – The Tipping point- is still being referenced in marketing circles today. David and Goliath may not attain such epic status but it’s a compulsory read nonetheless.

David and Goliath is a study in the tenacity of the underdog. Mr. Gladwell in his usual style, weaves tale after tale of disadvantaged people surmounting great odds and rising to the peak of their profession. As is now regular practise, Gladwell has gotten a lot of flak for the way he uses research and statistics in defending his ideas. But that is beside the point. His stories and his ideas are, if nothing else, fascinating. A good read.

Novels

9. The DarkTower I – Stephen King

10. Percy Jackson I – Rick Riordan

11. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

12. A Visit From The Goon Squad – Jeniffer Egan

13. Brief Encounters – Ben Fountain

14. Inferno – Dan Brown

This year involved a lot of firsts for me. This was my first Dan Brown book. It was about time I saw what all the hype was about. And boy, did I find out. This book took off like a hurricane from the first chapter and didn’t let up till the final 3 pages.

Our protagonist, Robert Langdon, wakes up with amnesia to find himself in the middle of an international cat and mouse game involving terrorists, secret government agencies and …let’s just say to say more would ruin the plot.

From what I hear, this is his weakest book so far, so I think I’m in for a treat with his other novels.

15. Seven Wonders – Adam Christopher

16. Crystal Rain – Tobias S. Buckell

17. The Emperor’s Soul – Brandon Sanderson

My first Sanderson novel. This is the book that spoiled me for other others. Sanderson’s style, intricate magic systems and clever worldbuilding hit all the right notes within my brain. This novellete drove me into a Brandon Sanderson frenzy. Ironically, the book is just a little over a 100 pages but, Damn!

A master forger is entrapped to restore the soul of the emperor of the kingdom. She must do this while imprisoned, under threat of death by skeletal warriors and so many other complications.

18. The Rithmatist – Brandon Sanderson

19. Steel Heart – Brandon Sanderson

My best book of 2013, hands down. There was a point in Steelheart where I put the e-reader down, pumped my fist in a “hell yeah” gesture and spent the next five minutes basking in the images flowing through my mind. Such was the thrill of reading this book. This is superhero fiction unlike anything you’ve ever read.

20. Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson

21. Mitosis (A Reckoners Story) – Brandon Sanderson

22. Well of Ascension – Brandon Sanderson

23. Hero of  the Ages – Brandon Sanderson

24. Alloy of Law – Brandon Sanderson

25. Old Man’s War – John Scalzi

26. Ghost Brigades – John Scalzi

27.The Fall of Five – Pittacus Lore

LIFEHACK: HOW TO ACHIEVE MORE IN 2014 THAN YOU DID IN 2013

lifehack goals

It’s been a long day.

Right now, it’s Christmas evening and the guests have come and gone. Bellies are overstuffed and a lot of poultry lost their lives today. Family’s watching TV which is something that rarely occurs in my house. All is calm but for me. I’m nervous. Finally, the hour I’ve dreaded all year long is here.

It’s time to do a little time travel through 2013 in the Machine of Retrospect.

To be honest, reviewing the year usually leaves me feeling disappointed, weak and ashamed. I usually don’t have any solid accomplishments. But this year, for the first time, I’m reeling from the euphoria of accomplished goals.

This year, I finished Grad school, started 2 blogs, launched a business as a freelance editor and ghostwriter, read 27 books and started writing 2 books of my own.

The reason why I call this a life hack is because I’m trying to decipher what exactly I did right to achieve all these. I mean, let me put things in perspective.

In a year where I had Grad school, a full research dissertation, a 3 month grueling internship program and a ton of volunteer work with an NGO, I still found time to start 2 blogs, launch a business, start 2 books (a novel and a big idea book) and plough through 27 books, many of which have been on my reading list for years. This is a personal best.

Hacking my Success

One of my personal demons is my perfectionist personality. I somehow always convince myself that if I couldn’t do a perfect work, I’d rather not begin. Or I’d say something like, it will take too much time and money to do the necessary research to do a “good enough” job. So I’ll wait”. That’s just another way of defining laziness and procrastination.

But this year, I got  some serious help in this area from a friend– Victor. He gave me life changing advice:

If you’re going to do something, just do it. It won’t be the best but it definitely won’t be the worst. And when you do it, you can always improve it. But you just have to do it first.

This advice coincided with my discovery of Justin Jackson’s site, particularly these posts – JFDI, and My First Kiss.

See how similar both Victor and Justin sound? Needless to say, I took the hint. And here I am.

So my first lifehack is this – I figured out what was holding me back, and I got rid of it. For most of us, that thing is fear. The fear of failing, of getting laughed at, of getting criticized, blah blah blah. Look, I get it. Nobody likes falling flat on their face before their peers. But if you love yourself, as I’m sure you do, you’ll strive for your dreams, especially in the new year.

You have to realize that, 2014 is going to be like every other year before it. It will come at you one day at a time. And days will turn into weeks and weeks into months. By this time next year, do you want to be congratulating yourself, basking in the exhilaration of fulfilled goals? Or do you want to be angry at yourself for another wasted year?

Guess you have a choice to make.

Click here for my second life hack which I’m using  again for 2014.

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A Letter From a Caring Father to an Aspiring Writer

dad writing

I find it hard to share my real dreams with my family. I mean, they know about my desire to write but I don’t think they really appreciate the fullness of this dream. And what it demands from me and from them. So I decided to write this fictional letter from my dad. I’m sure it captures his fears succinctly.

Dear Mr Writer,

I heard you want to be a full time writer. Let me be sure I understand what your mom told me, in between tears of course.

You are tired of looking for a job. You suddenly remember that you have a “knack” for writing. And you are pursuing your dream of one day becoming a bestselling writer.

I have just one response and it is the same one I had when your mother told me the news.

Stunned silence, followed by Have you lost your mind child?

You think I sent you to college for 4 years, and another 18 months for a masters degree only to throw it away at the graveyard of careers? Or to struggle before you can afford a decent life?

Maybe you don’t realize this is the real world and not something from your make-believe ones. Here dreams don’t always come true. And there are usually more bad endings than good. Here, you need a job that pays the bills every month to keep from dying of hunger. And making rent. You know what happens to people who can’t make rent? They sleep under the bridge.

Me and your mom hopped from apartment to apartment when we first got married. Making rent those days was like a miracle. But we never once slept without a roof over our heads. You know why? I had a real job!

Now listen to me, I want you to stop this nonsense right now. I’ve called my buddy from back when I worked in advertising. He’s made a few calls and wants you to come around.

By the way, I began this letter by calling you “Mr Writer”. That isn’t belief in your dream. It’s sarcasm.