Self-improvement and personal development is a continuous process. Though I have not posted about my work recently, I have continued to work on my own improvement. The goal is to improve 1% daily. It is a continuous process that aggregates over time through repetition. Over the last couple years, I have experimented with many processes and have found that I stick with very little continuously. Through three daily processes I have maintained, I have increased my gratitude, learning, and reflection.
Much has been written on the importance of a morning routine. I loathe routines, and quickly lose interest without positive feedback. Having experimented with dozens of morning routines, I have found one that I continue to use.
In the morning while drinking a cup a coffee I will open the “Day One” [iPhone, Android] journal app on my iPhone. I have created a morning template in the app with just three questions. It is not significant, and only takes a few minutes to complete.
The 3 morning questions:
- I am grateful for…
- What would make today great?
- Daily Affirmation:
- At the bottom I insert a recent photo from my library.
On most mornings I am grateful for waking up next to my partner and my morning cup of coffee that gives me the time to wake up and think about the day ahead.
The question, what would make today great? Is setting the priorities and intention for the day. There are never any more than three. If you have more than three priorities then they are not priorities but a to do list. Focus on the key one or two items that if completed are at least the 80% solution.
The daily affirmation is normally, “I am ready and open to the possibilities come to me.” It is a simple saying that allows me to frame the daily obstacles or interruptions as possible opportunities, keeping my outlook positive.
Starting out the day in a positive mindset it is easier to find solutions and can adapt to the events of the day more quickly. As of this writing, I have a 145-day streak that I am striving to maintain. There is a streak reminder when the entry is completed.
James Clear, Arthur of “Atomic Habits” has a great blog post about how Jerry Seinfeld has continued to stay relevant in comedy. Without totally destroying the quote and the blog post, he has a visual reminder to see his progress and he doesn’t want to break the chain once he starts.
A little over a decade ago, I had a friend tell be that he listens to books while he commuted in his car. At the time I remember telling him that I would fall asleep if I didn’t have my jams playing. The thought of listening to a book or working on my personal development sounded boring to me.
Today I listen to nothing but books from Audible and podcasts while driving. (Sorry Kam! You were right all along!) I have turned my car into a university on wheels. Over the last year I have listened to 63 books and have replayed many of those multiple times. Along with countless podcasts and reading 23 actual books, I am constantly looking for ways to develop my thinking and improve myself.
Most of my listening has been on business, and personal development. I know that I am coming up on transition period as I prepare to retire from the military. Taking the time to learn and explore possibilities now will allow for better future decisions.
Reflection and Personal Development
When it became clear that COVID 19 was going to extend my deployment, I took a free Coursera course from Yale named “The Science of Well-Being.” This course covered many Positive Psychology principles, and illustrated that what we think will make us happy really doesn’t. The course had me test various activities and exercises that have been proven to increase happiness. It provided time to reflect on my values, goals and how I define success for my life. Given the environment I was in, the application of these exercises were beneficial.
A key component to personal development and these insights was finding time to reflect and think. For me my daily walk was key. I would walk and listen to study music. The consistent moving and calming sounds allowed the walks to act as a moving mediation. I found I was able to quickly find the answers that had been plaguing me while I was trying to write them out. I keep my phone on me and record voice memos or take quick notes when some enlightened thought struck.
As I look to the future, I find myself reflecting to happier times in my past. Questioning what parts of those experiences I most enjoyed and look to create that similar experiences in the future. At this point in time, the opportunities I am looking for include the following characteristics.
Future Work Wishlist
- Remote friendly work.
- Mild travel to desirable places.
- Continuous learning, challenge and growth.
- Something that is not a constant routine.
- Work in or lead a small team of people.
- A balance of autonomy and flexibility with some structure.
Evolution and Process
This wish list will continue to evolve. In the near future I will be talking with friends and networking. I will question my assumptions and explore how I can make these ideas a reality. It may take form in one of three ways.
- An opportunity that is in my current career field in which I already have the required hard and soft skills many companies are seeking.
- It maybe an opportunity to change career fields that require additional education, certifications, or learning curve.
- Maybe I create a business that provides solutions to others problems and create these conditions on my own terms.
I don’t know what it looks like yet but I am loving the process of learning, reflecting, and taking action. It still looks similar to my assessment in my second post last year. This personal development journey may look different for you. No matter where you are in your journey, take a second and reflect on the how far you have come, and the process to achieve what you have thus far.
Small changes over time can have monumental impact. My hope is that by starting early, the aggregation of a daily 1% improvement will compound to great effect. It will also allow me to explore many opportunities and know when the right one comes along.
P.S. I intend to complete more than the 10 posts I have created over the last year. In that process I hope to become a better writer, communicator and action taker.