Working With The End In Mind – Stepping Stones And Goal Setting (1/6)

This chapter is about bringing it all together. If you like this is the summary of what I am doing and what I think the basics of an organised life, efficient working style and great communication entails. Again, do not forget that this is quite subjective and there are some things that work better for some than others….

That’s how I started this chapter in my book. Yet it should probably be the core focus in the book – starting with the book end in mind….It is about the vision you have in life. The greater thing you want to achieve. The life, the job, the career that is important to you. I have been quoting Steve Jobs for a while saying that you don’t really need any motivation, as the vision is pulling you if you are working on something exciting. And that is fundamentally true.

If you are working on a new product, bringing something to  market or are eager to get a family started, or the long anticipated job, then you are having a vision. This vision will pull you along, and you will manage to achieve all of that – by being pulled. Sounds easy, but you will know when it hits you. When you get up in the morning with an energy and enthusiasm to achieve something, to get going and work on something until it works. That’s the vision, your drive, your enthusiasm. You will succeed. This goes in line with an inner urge to succeed and make it work. No matter what.

I still read a lot of personal development books, and mainly about how to raise the bar. What I like to understand is how you can continue to push the bar and still succeed and grow. Is there infinite growth in personal development? Will I ever be able to raise the bar to where I want it to be? My answer is clear: YES. One can achieve anything in life as long as you put your mind to it, have a clear vision and goal setting.

Whatever you decide to do, you can achieve it. Whatever you put your mind to, you can achieve it. Practising and being part of what you preach is key. Being one with yourself is also key. What I mean with that is if you are 100% you, not fake or pretend to be someone, then you will be able to be 100% within the now and be yourself, be real and can grasp the moment. You will be an achiever! One must give 100% of oneself to achieve one’s goals! You might be able to rise above others but do not become arrogant. When spirit and body, a healthy body I shall say, come together to form a “youness” – that is when you start having energy flowing through your body that makes you kind of invincible.

There are a few books I have read that have had a great impact on me. One was Chasing Daylight (O’Kelly, Eugene (2008), Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life, McGraw-Hill, Maidenhead) which is a book Eugene O’Kelly started writing when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour he would not survive long enough to finish the book. He describes his journey from loving husband and father and leading CEO to being diagnosed with an incurable disease. As a committed CEO he travelled the world in order to sit next to a prospect on a plane to close a deal. As a committed husband and father he describes his thoughts being on his sick bed looking back at his life. A very powerful book. The key message is to enjoy and cherish the moment, the time you have, make it real, make it awesome for others and yourself.

Eugene achieved a lot. I don’t want to end this post on a low, but sometimes you need to realise NOW what you have. What you are grateful for and what drives you on. Don’t forget, just because you dream big doesn’t mean you should neglect what you have. Do a reality check, be grateful for what you have, and make sure you have this vision to pull you.

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What to eat or snack whilst staying productive (without getting fat)

I love to snack, and who doesn’t? You feel peckish in the morning, a few crisps go down well. Some peanuts and chocolate after lunch and then some more chocolate to stay awake later in the day? So what is the answer to snacking healthily at work?

First of all, maybe self control and eating lots of bananas instead. That worked well for me, ending up eating 4-6 bananas a day. However, if you don’t have that much self control, what can you actually eat and stay healthy?

Fresh fruit is key like apples and peaches. Then lunch, what do you eat for lunch? Heavy bread and crisps like a lot of people in the UK? Or some healthy salad with some freshly made granary bread? I used to snack on carrots. Or some sushi?

Again, our friends at Lifehack where I read a lot of good stuff, have a whole list of foods you can snack on:

  1. Avocados. 
  2. Almonds.
  3. Raisins.
  4. Figs.
  5. Olives.
  6. Walnuts.
  7. Carrots.
  8. Strawberries.
  9. Flaxseeds.
  10. Water.
  11. Sunflower seeds.
  12. Papaya.
  13. Pear. 
  14. Green tea.
  15. Ginger.
  16. Peppermint.
  17. Watermelon.
  18. Low fat yoghurt.
  19. Dark chocolate.
  20. Raspberries. 

You can see they suggest  a lot of fresh fruits and dark chocolate. High on antioxidants, low on bad stuff. Perfect for snacking.

If you look around a few sites and do your research, the list is very similar to above. Those snacks come in handy when your energy level drops. If your blood sugar drops try to eat an egg or dark chocolate. A yoghurt with some honey for lunch? Or water if you feel hungry, someone once told me to drink cold water so the body warms it up and burns energy. Is that really a way to loose weight? One probably has to drink a lot of water to achieve small weight loss.

Definitely seeds and almonds do the snacking trick if you aren’t intolerant or allergic to it. Humous I found on a list and of course olives. They are surprisingly healthy, same as raisins, and they are full of good stuff too!

What did you experience for healthy snacks?

Just start by taking a donut away a week, replace your chocolate bar with dark chocolate and make the small changes. I managed to almost stop snacking now. You can do it too!

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Power Napping

I love to power nap!

The idea behind power napping is to have a 5-30 minute break from the day, recharge your batteries and nap.

Wikipedia defines its benefits as “Power naps of fewer than 30 minutes—even those as brief as 6 and 10 minutes—restore wakefulness and promote performance and learning. A 30-minute nap may also be able to reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep or reverse the damage of sleep deprivation. A University of Düsseldorf study found superior memory recall once a person had reached 6 minutes of sleep, suggesting that the onset of sleep may initiate active memory processes of consolidation which—once triggered—remains effective even if sleep is terminated.

So there we go. My experience of power napping is easily described. I used to, at university, study for 90 minutes, worked hard on past exam papers, really concentrated. Then I took a 10 minute nap. Got up, had a coffee, a snack and went back to 90 minutes studying. Then repeat. I ended up with a first class degree and one of the reasons that was, as far as I believe anyway, is that after the studying my brain relaxed and key things from past exam papers sank into my brain, I memorised things better.

Also, I worked as a warden in halls and alarms went off unexpectedly in the middle of the night. Working as a bouncer until late at night got me in late, so I had to catch up with sleep during the day. A few minutes or 30 minutes here and there got me through uni.

Wikihow explains how it is done 🙂 They even suggest to have coffee before the nap so it activates you when you wake up. Very interesting concept. The main danger really is to just fall asleep properly and not waking up at all. Then you will feel wrecked for the rest of the day. So one key aspect is to make sure you get up as soon as the alarm goes off. If you feel light headed, do it anyway. That’s very important. The latest fitness trackers (Jawbone or Fitbit) offering you options to power nap too, including the wake up.

As you know I am having a 5 am routine. Often, on my commute in the morning, I catch up on 10-20 minutes snooze or power nap. I go deep into myself and nap, waking up very refreshed at the station. It is to catch up on some sleep deprivation, some balancing act in my brain’s chemicals I suppose, to make it a successful day.

Have you tried it?

I know some people say they cannot sleep during the day. They feel knackered afterwards. Surely that is true, but given I have been training it for years, there is a way of being able to train yourself to succeed with power napping. If you cannot, then that is a shame.

The biggest challenge is to do it at work: whilst some companies have sleeping pods or quiet rooms to encourage the napping during the day, I don’t think that is the norm (yet). However, if you have the luxury of your own office, why not put a “do not disturb sign” outside your door and take 10 minutes over lunch?

Carpe diem!

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Can you be as tough as a Navy Seal?

I read about the Navy Seals recently. An article quoted the four pillars of Navy Seals as being

1) Goal Setting

2) Mental Visualisation

3) Positive Self-Talk

4) Arousal Control

This all made sense for personal development also. What does make the Navy Seals or any elite unit so successful, and what can managers or leaders learn from them? To answer that question I did some research and came back to similar or same four pillars as described above.


Navy Seals operate in a very specific area. They have one goal and one goal only. That means they are very focused on e.g. rescuing someone or finding something. Anything else, any surrounding circumstances are ignored. The goal or target is highly relevant and 100% in focus. Nothing else.

Training is usually around 90 minutes for a task, and then those 90 minutes are broken down in smaller tasks. Just as a leader sets a goal for e.g. revenue per year and breaks it down to revenue per day to be achieved. Chunk size goal setting, that can be achieved and work towards achieving the bigger goal.


The Mental Visualisation is key also. This is known from sports people, race car drivers or successful speakers also. They practise the speech or the game or the cycle or drive in their head. They visualise every corner of the grand prix race and how they lean into a curve during the motor bike race. The same is true for leaders who should visually drive themselves through the next staff meeting, the redundancies or hiring process; as sales drive yourself through the next pitch and visualise how great the presentation and hopefully the response is going to be. Try to be prepared for any surprises though.


The positive self talk is key to stay calm under pressure. Always talk yourself that things are going to be ok, and that you are ok and doing a good job. This keeps the confidence going and you are not letting yourself or your team mates down. Remind yourself that if others have succeeded, then so will you. There is no reason to not believe that and it is important to keep going and you will succeed as well. Override your fear!


It goes in line with Arousal Control. When your body feels overwhelmed, physically or mentally, be prepared and steer against it. Don’t let yourself down, don’t fail. This is key in any Navy Seal operation, but also for any manager. Don’t pack it in front of your clients or faint when things aren’t going well. Keep faith and keep a straight face. Grin and bear it.


This summarises some key skills to learn to be tough and mentally strong to avoid surprises and be prepared for the worst to hit you.

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What I learned about GTD recently

I thought it was time to look at GTD once again. Lifehacker wrote a good summary, and I wanted to pick that up again. The five pillars of the GTD workflow are simple.


1: you need to capture everything.

Any to-do’s, ideas, tasks, re-occuring events or task, just anything that comes your way. If that is via Evernote or pen and paper or a tool, like the 2do app which I highly recommend and use daily if not hourly, is up to you. Whenever you think of anything that needs to get done, put it in your trusted system. The idea is: keep it simple as a tool and simple in terms of retrieving it. So capture it often, immediately and make it easy to review.


2: Plan what you capture and clarify what you need to do.

Writing the todos down is one thing, but you need to plan them too. Either by project managing them or breaking them down in mini tasks, putting a time against it or a due date or maybe even deleting them as they aren’t that relevant anymore. Can you delegate parts of it maybe?


3: Organise the items on your todo list….

The natural next step: once you have everything captured and know what you want to have, then organise the items and actions and todos in the app or your paper todo list. Categorise them if you can, e.g. home, personal development, work, hobby etc. Prioritise them A, B, C….or add a due date as of above. Some might just be on the list for GTD’s famous “some day maybe list” or some might go into your calendar as a reminder.


4: Review

Once a week, or on the go (I like to do it whilst being disconnected on flights), review and reflect. Review what’s on your todo list. What is next, what can wait, what has to be done sooner. Can we change the work flow? Can we be more specific? Should you break certain tasks down more?

Ideally you review the list once a week in the weekly review. Is the system working for you for all those steps so far?


5: GTD!

It is great to have many lists but you need to action on them too. Get to work and GET THINGS DONE, tick off a task and get going. You now can be proactive, you know where to focus and what to do and when. You got manageable tasks, easy to start.


Action over to you!



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