Archives: Motivation

Media tarting

The highlight of my day was not (surprisingly) the 6 hours I spent in the car driving to Bristol. I do love long car journeys, especially when it gives me a chance to listen to some of my heavily-stacked Podcast queue, but even 6 hours is pushing the enjoyment factor when I’m in the car on my own.

I did however, love chatting to BBC Radio 5Live Breakfast and BBC West Midlands Drive about the rising CF population and the predictions that it could almost double by 2025. Not sure I agree with the numbers entirely, but we know the number of people being born with CF is relatively stable, so the prediction suggests a definite rise in longevity, which can only be a good thing.

This week on Tuesday it was Kerry’s birthday, then Emily’s, then Jess’s. All three of them no longer with us, all three of them succumbing to the ravages of CF and the complications it brings. The fact that we could be looking at a future where no one is dying from CF is incredibly exciting and definitely brought a smile to my face. What better way to mark their birthdays than helping spread the word about our fight to beat CF for good?

Lessons from a month of meditation

It’s the end of January and the end of my first month of habit change.

What with everything that’s been going on for the last few weeks, I’m actually surprised at how well my meditation practice has been going. I’ve missed a couple of days here and there, and some of the days I did it my mind wouldn’t let me focus, but that’s not a bad record.

What I love about the Headspace app is the way it guides and supports you in achieving what you need to, as well as the way it explains meditation. Here’s what I’ve learned in the last few weeks:

Meditation can be a habit like any other

I meditate first thing in the morning, before I do anything else. It’s 15 minutes of my morning that sets me up for the rest of the day. The days I struggle with it are when my routine is disrupted for some reason, like at the weekends.

If I don’t have an alarm set and wake up naturally, I find it harder to settle myself and do a meditation session. I suspect this is because on weekdays my habit trigger is the alarm going off – I know what my first 2 hours of my day looks like and it’s kicked off with the alarm followed by meditation. Perhaps I need to find a different trigger so I don’t lose momentum when I’m not setting an alarm.

It’s OK to think

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that meditation is not about not having thoughts, but rather about noticing those thoughts and bringing your focus back to the breath.

The problem I always used to have with meditation was getting cross with myself for thinking things and losing focus. Now I just recognise that I am thinking and bring my attention back to my breath. This has been particularly useful when I’ve been trying to meditate at times of high emotion and stress.

Anyone can do it

If you’ve ever thought that meditation just isn’t for you, give Headspace a try for free – their Take 10 programme is perfectly formulated to ease you into the process and learn more about yourself and the practice.

You will feel calmer

I used to be a very short-termpered person. It really didn’t take much for my fuse to be exhausted, and I’m not going to pretend that my new-found calmness is due to the last 30 days, but it is thanks to the collective experience of meditation in fits and starts for the last months.

That’s also not to say I’m now a picture of zen or incredibly boring; I still have the same passion and drive, the same energy and enthusiasm I’ve always had, I’ve just learned how to let things that I can’t do anything about slide past me without letting them annoy me or make me angry. And that makes commuting a lot more pleasant.

Give it a go

You’ll have gathered that I’m a fan, and I’d love you to try it. Check out Headspace or any other guided meditation app, or just read up on getting started from someone like Leo Babauta.

In February, I’m going to make sure I’m writing 500 words a day. Read more in tomorrow’s introductory post.

How specific should we make our goals?

I’ve been mulling over a lot of the things I want to do in 2012 since I posted my list of goals. The question is, was the list enough?

That list represents the essence of everything I want to do over the next 12 months, the things I want to focus my life on and what I think will bring me the most happiness and fulfilment throughout the year. But is striving for “more” of something too generic an aim? Should I have more specific, more focussed goals?

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A weekend of reflection

This weekend, I celebrate four years of new life and give thanks to the person that has given me this chance.

Thanks to my transplant occurring after midnight, it means I can enjoy two totally separate days:

The first day is dedicated solely to my donor, to give thanks, pray for their family and think of what they have done for me and everyone in my life by being so selfless at the worst of times.

The next day can then be exclusively a day of celebration, a day when I can allow myself to rejoice in the gift I’ve been given and the things it’s allowed me to do.

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External motivation

Inspiration has rarely been a problem for me. From the remarkable friends I have in my life to the memory of my donor, there are myriad ways for me to keep focused on my ambitions.

Motivation, on the other hand, has often eluded me. Despite the best of intentions, there always seems to be something that holds me back – just that little tiny bit – from pushing on.

Leo Babuta, a guy who regularly blogs on motivation and goal-seeking over at his Zen Habits blog, suggests the smallest step to get you started. While that works for me on many levels (and many projects), I frequently need external motivation to keep me on track.

What is external motivation? For me, it’s simple: fear of public failure.

Although I’ve blogged before about failing and how it’s OK1, for something like my marathon challenge I knew that only if I committed to it publicly would I hold myself accountable, simply because people would be watching.

Today I went for my second run; tiny steps, maybe, but a big leap forward for me, as getting past that first run/next run hurdle has always proved a sticking point. If I can nail it next week, I should have formed the habit and can only go from strength to strength from there.

This, then, is a blog readers call-to-action. It’s you that will keep me on track, on target and motivated to succeed. I need all the support you can muster, and probably a good deal more as the time gets closer.

Will you join me for the ride? And what do you need help with motivation for? Reciprocal motivation and support is all set to come your way!

  1. and how we often learn more from our failures than our successes []

7 Reasons Transplant Week Is So Important: Day 1

This is Jo. She was a very close friend of mine.

She was waiting for a double-lung transplant, just like me.

She died in November 2009.

She is missed.

Sign the Organ Donor Register.

An Old Favourite: Choose Your Battles

This week I have been engaged in numerous discussions of the organ donation system in the UK, mostly spurred by my appearance on Channel 4’s strand which asked, “Should Organ Donation Be Compulsory”.

Over the week, the show has featured a variety of views both for and against presumed consent and organ donation as a whole. One of these was Derek House, a Jehovah’s Witness who believes that all organ donation is fundamentally wrong.

While his views raised ire among the transplant community, it struck me that Mr House isn’t the man we need to be targeting. His religious beliefs preclude him from supporting organ donation: we’re not going to change that.

If we want to see the number of organ donors in this country increase, we need to tackle the vast disparity between the 75% of people who say they would be willing to donate their organs1 and the 26% who have signed the organ donor register. Those people don’t need convincing of the merits, they just need to be drawn out of their apathy.

Steve vs Roxanne

Focusing our energies on a battle we’re already winning seems like a better use of resources than fighting one we will inevitably lose.

The same goes for any kind of battle you may be facing as an artist or entrepreneur: look at the fights you face and work out which ones are worth your energy.

Picking your battles is not the same as taking the path of least resistance. It’s about using your focus and energies on strategies and tactics that will make a difference, not banging your head against a brick wall.

  1. the oft-quoted figure of 90% is, infact, the people who support the idea of organ donation; 15% of people support the idea, but say they wouldn’t donate their organs []

Make Your Mistakes Great

In yesterday’s post I talked about how mistakes are now open for public consumption thanks to the permanence of the internet.

What does that mean for innovation and leadership?

new mistakes

It means you have to fail bigger. Fail better. Fail publicly.

Too many people see the increased visibility of failure as a reason to go all out to avoid cock-ups.

Au contraire. The bigger, the more significant, the more noticed the fail, the quicker, the stronger, the more good-humoured the recovery, the deeper, the longer, the more profound the admiration will be.

Set an example. Tell the world it’s OK to fail before you get things right.

On The Absence of Fear

You’ll remember that my Lent resolution this year to give up fear, inspired by my Twitter-buddy Jeanne who consistently inspires people with her utter lack of fear and her stubborn unwillingness to give in to it at any point.

Giving up on fear is at once much, much harder than you may first think and much, much easier, too.

#571 No fear!

–The Easy–

It’s easy to ‘say’ you’re giving up fear. It’s definitely a plus to be able to get the words out and feel emboldened by the commitment you’ve just made.

It’s easy to stop yourself fearing the everyday kind of things that used to bug you – it’s a conscious choice whether you’re going to allow yourself to worry about how you pay the bills or if your energy is better focused on how to generate the income that’s going to cover them. A fact that’s especially true for freelancers like me without a steady paycheque1.

It’s easy to take advantage of the initial freedom that giving up fear brings you. It’s easy to float yourself away from the day-to-day issues and focus on your fear-free living–for the first week or so.

–The Hard–

It’s hard to genuinely beat your brain into submission when it tries to stir the old fear about those everyday items you shrugged off in the euphoria of your first few days or weeks. The rumbling in your subconscious feels like it’s never going to go away.

It’s hard to tackle the “new-found” fears that crop up without your being able to plan for them. You land a new job and you’re suddenly worried about being “the new guy”. How will you fit in, will you get on with your co-workers, will you be good at your job? All these things that life throws at us are wont to prompt a significant rise in our fear levels that isn’t easy to ignore.

It’s hard knowing that this new way of life is forever. There’s really no point in giving up fear for a few weeks or a month2 – it’s a lifetime commitment. And that is scary.

–But, But, But–

When you’re successful, when you manage to rise above your fear, to master it, control it and stop it from being the boss of you, it becomes very, very difficult to revert back to your old ways. The idea of being scared becomes almost laughable when you think of your old fear of making that phone call, or attending that networking event on your tod or of introducing yourself to the hottie across the room who’s been making eyes at you all night.

When you truly commit to stepping up to the plate and facing Fear’s most crippling fastball, you can do so in the knowledge that you’ll swing for it, you’ll hit it and you’ll be running for home before you can say “I’m scared of getting my kit dirty”.

  1. or paycheck for our American cousins []
  2. or 40 days []