You CAN Give Up – But There’s One Condition.

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Jordan Peterson is a Canadian Professor of Psychology, known around the world for his right-of-centre views on the steady creep of authoritarianism that is intended to dictate to people how they should speak. That is why he became famous – he spoke to his government to say that there was a huge ideological difference between directing what people should NOT be allowed to say (genuine hate-speech) and directing what people HAD to say, e.g. enforced gender pronouns. You can have your own views on that, but rest assured I will not be TOLD what to say. You can ask nicely, and I’ll do my best to comply, but I refuse to apologise if I inadvertently ‘misgender’ someone based on several million years of evolution and 60 years of hitherto reliable guesses.

But he is also, as indicated, an expert on human behaviour, and in an interview on YouTube (and nearly everything he’s ever said is on YouTube so don’t second guess what you think may have he said, he’ll rip your argument apart) he made this interesting comment when discussing how people are so easily swayed from the disciplined path. You know, when one more cigarette/pasty/drink etc. won’t matter, or ‘it’s too hard to keep pursuing this goal’. We’ve all been there.

He said, “You can change direction if you want – as long as the new road is equally or more difficult.

I can’t say I’d ever given that idea too much thought, before. But it’s a great piece of advice. It reflects the reality that, sometimes, the path you’ve chosen for yourself isn’t necessarily the right one. Many would give up, but Peterson counsels not giving up, but redirecting the same or greater level of effort towards a properly considered, alternative route to the success you sought, or even a new definition of success.

To use a poor analogy based on personal experience, I used to be a runner and did a couple of half marathons, but about 5 years ago my knees started grumbling. Friends introduced me to road cycling, and I recovered a level of fitness I hadn’t experienced for a while. Now, that is an accidental example of ‘changing direction but applying the same level of discipline’ to achieve a similar goal – physical fitness.

What have you been chasing, but no longer ‘love’? Were you on a particular career path that you now question? For example, and again based on what I saw in the organisation I worked for, have you been desperately seeking upward promotion and ignored potentially rewarding sideways development – less pay but a greater sense of contribution, achievement and purpose? To do either takes discipline, but they may also require similar mental and academic approaches which are just as difficult to travel, yet more satisfying.

In the same interview, the interviewer spoke of a friend who’d retired from some enterprise and initially enjoyed retirement, but realised he was getting bored. He made an astute observation with which I sympathise. He said, “I miss being good at something.”

You don’t only have upward, better paid options available. You have specialisation options, academic options, different job options – lots of options. And when you choose the option that works best for you, you discover the pleasure of being good at something.

What could that be? Apply self-discipline, and go and get that.

For more on this subject, buy The Three Resolutions in paperback or Kindle HERE at Amazon.co.uk .

You Can Go Your Own Way – Here’s How.

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This week, I’d like to take an opportunity to tell you more about my book “The Way: Integrity on Purpose.”

In 2014 I self-published The Three Resolutions, an effort to expand upon Stephen Covey’s own writing under that title, which was a small chapter in his book ‘Principle-Centred Leadership’. The chapter described how making three commitments could make quantum improvements in an individual’s life, specifically in three areas. The areas were the physical self in terms of the wellbeing of the body; the ‘mental’ self in terms of character and competence; and the spiritual self in terms of contribution and service to others. The commitments were to overcome appetites and passions through the application of self-discipline and self-denial; overcome pretentions and pride through becoming a person of good character, and of great professional competence; and to overcome unbridled ambition and aspiration through a focus outside oneself.

I expanded on the concepts and publicly committed to a set of rules, values and a personal mission statement that reflected those headings. In many ways I succeeded in executing to a degree, but I felt that I wasn’t as compliant with my intentions as I could or should have been. Asking myself why, and considering the self-generated feedback that resulted, I concluded that there were four reasons why I, and many others, don’t feel as though our level of compliance with our mission statements is as high as we would like.

This realisation led me to consider the reasons for this, and how we could go about addressing the gap between desire and execution in living our personal mission statement; or, for the purposes of this book, living The Way.

First, though, I want to make one clear statement.

When I use the expression ‘The Way’ I am not saying there is only one ‘way’.

When I use the expression ‘The Way’ I am talking about what you will discover, in this book and through its study, is YOUR ‘Way’. Not mine, yours. This book isn’t about moralising and dictating what you should think, feel and do. I may make some suggestions, but the focus is intended to be on assisting the reader to discover his or her own Way, not just reproduce people who believe in mine. The objective is to help you design your better way of living, and for me to redesign and recommit to mine. But yours and mine will be different, either to some small degree if we are alike in some way, or by a huge difference if your values are hugely different to mine.

The Process

I concluded that there is only one true route to personal success. It’s a straightforward formula of four phases. They are:

  1. Find the Way
  2. Learn the Way
  3. Live the Way
  4. Teach the Way

These four phases systematically summarise a strategy for living. The system reflects the identification, learning and application process, that process which we all undertake when learning to live, to work, to earn, to relate to others, to manage – everything. They embody all the skills we need to have and to demonstrate in our efforts to live ‘properly’. They also reflect those areas where, if we are not careful, we will act badly.

This system parallels any development process undertaken anywhere, by anyone, for any purpose. It is how a professional learns; it is how a religion becomes ingrained into an adherent to that religion; it is how a family member learns to become a contributor to that family.  The reason that such a system works is because it is neutral. It is a principle in action. It is the principle of progression, of starting out as a novice with the aim of becoming a master.

I believe that the route to living your Way is taken through these four steps. The steps are progressive, and they involve properly and fully identifying the Way, studying in greater detail about how the Way can be executed, then living in such a fashion as to clearly be in congruence with the Way, and finally to reinforce your Way by teaching it.

In brief, the four elements of The Way are expanded thus:

  • Find the Way

To quote Covey, the first challenges we face when deciding The Way is that we are not sure who we are, and where we want to go. The first part of the book is therefore intended to help you decide what values you have or want to have, the associated behaviours you believe will help you comply with those values, and writing them down so that you, yourself, clearly understand them.

  • Learn the Way

The second challenge, once we have put our fingers on who we want to be and where we want to go, is to learn how to do so. This section will be about studying and committing to the behaviours that serve execution of The Way.

  • Live the Way

Having overcome the first two challenges, there remain still further challenges to living the Way.

The first is that we do not realise that we are compliant because we don’t feel as though we are ‘doing’ our mission all of the time. Life gets in our way in the sense that it is hard to consider yourself ‘carrying out your mission’ when you are filling the dishwasher. Life is full of little routines that have to be done but aren’t, well, exciting.

The second reason for ineffective application of The Way that we have identified is inextricably linked to the first. As our lives are littered with unexciting, routine, non-mission projects, tasks and other activities, we fail to properly and routinely recognise opportunities to execute on our missions. For example, part of my own mission is to be patient with others. Imagine a day cluttered with runs to the shops, commuting in traffic jams, banking and managing money – then something jumps at you and interrupts you and in that second you react impatiently, because you haven’t seen, in the clutter, that opportunity to be what you want to be. The third part of the book is intended to help you overcome the challenges and live The Way – the way that you want to.

  • Teach the Way

And one way of living The Way is to spend a lot of time teaching it. Covey counselled participants at his many events that the best way to learn something is to teach it to others. He would ‘volunteer’ random attendees and tell them he was about to teach something that they would have to repeat to other participants. Then he would point out to those others that his ‘volunteers’ had just pricked up their ears and picked up their pens – they were now listening because they knew they had to understand what they were about to teach. The fourth part of the book will advise you on how to do this.

To summarise, then, the objective of this book is to

  • Help the student identify the values, disciplines and objectives for their future success in life.
  • Help the student find the motivation to learn the precise definition of those values so that they are content they reflect their true desires. And then to master that understanding.
  • Help the student master and execute the behaviours and actions needed to live in accordance with the values they themselves have identified in the first two parts.
  • Encourage the student to teach others, with the objectives of both spreading the word and ingraining their own improved mastery of their chosen path.

I hope you take the opportunity to get a copy, which is available at Amazon through THIS LINK and is as much a bargain of a paperback as I could make it!

On Fishing – and The Poisoning of the River They’re Living In.

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There’s an old saying: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. It’s a maxim with validity, and essentially speaks for itself, but I sometimes feel as though the message has still to get through because it’s a metaphor. Sometimes metaphors need to be more specific, which kind of undermines their purpose but some people need to be spoon fed, and sometimes those people include me.

So here’s my amendment.

“Teach a man to pass an exam, and he passes the exam. Teach a man the ability to analyse, to reason, to interpret, to question and even challenge, and you create a leader.”

(Which is something I wish University administrators and educators would return to understanding in the way they used to when graduates knew more than ‘just’ the content of their thesis.)

Let me give an example of how that doesn’t happen. In my years as a copper, I concluded that a lot of the training we received was designed to tell us ‘what was what’ and to accept the wisdom of our trainers. In fairness to some trainers, they were just given material and told, “Teach this.” I remember being trained about the new surveillance laws in 2000 and walking away convinced I couldn’t do any active police work, so bad was the explanation of the law. Later, I was engaged in an argument with a trainer over another misunderstood process, and I have always been bemused by how data protection legislation continues to be taught by threat, rather than as a relatively straight-forward concept.

You see, people were seeing only the overall objective, but never researching deeply enough to understand the details – which, more often than not, made life easier than their poor understanding allowed. They worked on a ‘you can’t do that’ basis instead of finding out what you could do.

They’d been given a fish, but not taught how to fish.

Giving fish is how young people seem to be learning, these days. Ideologies proliferate without question, which is troubling. Blind obeisance to the prevailing wisdom is causing old, practically settled identity politics to rear its ugly head again, because ideologues shout louder than people who challenge those ides with analysis, research, considered reasoning, appropriate questions and robust challenge (see what I did there?). The worst example is Critical Race Theory, which appears to be a form of reverse-racism, in that three or four decades after the question was settled in principal (it will never be settled in universal practice, fact of life), now those who accepted the responsibility for overcoming all the isms – and arguably the belated credit for doing so – are now expected to account for their guilt for offence caused a hundred years or more ago. Apparently, me, born 1961, must accept guilt for 18th century slavery despite the fact that me, born 1961, never knowingly owned or trafficked a slave.

It’s divisive, and the shouty side is trying to stifle debate either because it has no reasoned argument, or because there is a terrifying motive behind it. In other words, I believe that the unintended consequences of their violent demand for tolerance will be even more intolerant division. They must actually want that, and we’ll all have to pick our side. (And by the way, their leaders never put their heads above the parapet, like most Marxist generalissimos.)

Well done, educators. You’ve fed our kids poisonous fish, stifled challenge, invented reason, and now the rest of us are reaping the rewards of your stupidity. Or, at best, you’ve sat by and let it happen.

It’s not too late. You can stop imposing your ideas on the young and, instead, debate with them. If your ideas are valid, then they will stand. If not, they should die. If you’re quiet, stand up and be counted.

Doing that will take character and competence. And it’s the best service you could ever provide.

In conclusion, let me put it this way – an intellectual argument for CRT is the same as an intellectual argument for that rectangular pile of concrete blocks in the Tate gallery.

Total b—-ks.*

*Bricks

You Don’t HAVE To – You GET To.

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Three words that dismay the most productive and professional among us represent the death knell to a positive mindset. Stephen Covey mentioned them as part of his treatise on Habit One: Be Proactive, and just lately I’ve been feeling their proverbial pinch. The three words are:

“I have to.”

That expression is usually attached to an unwanted imposition or commitment, is it not? If you don’t believe me, ask yourself if, when you are looking forward to executing on any commitment, you use them – or if you use expressions like “I want to”, “I am going to”, or “I have promised that I will…”. In truth, I’d gamble that you only use the expression “I have to…” when what you are about to do is NOT something you want to do, at all.

Well, it’s certainly true in my case.

Until last night. I was reading a book called ‘Best Year Yet’ by Michael Hyatt. He was writing about how barriers present opportunities in the sense that if what we truly want is the other side of such an obstacle, we will do anything we can to go over, under, around or through it. Alternatively, if we aren’t really all that interested in what’s waiting ‘over there’, then there is no way on Earth that we will even try.

Now, I’m not sure if what occurred to me is what he meant, but my brain went, “You don’t have to – you get to.” My brain dropped its mic as it said that. Boom!

And my mind raced.

I get to hold my wife’s hand. I get to ride a road bike because and so that I am fit and active. I get to write because the information technology exists to make that possible. I get to drive a fast car because I earned and inherited money from loving parents that enable it. I get to drive well because people with charitable intent provided the training I needed, and as a result I get to pass on what I learned from them.

I also get to make proactive choices because life gave me the intellect to know that I can, and life did not mar my life with insurmountable challenges. I get to live in a relatively free country (damn that Covid and its excuse for authoritarianism) and am not subject to an unwanted war. I get to hug five gorgeous grandchildren because I got to bring four loving children into the world, and I get their love, too.

I don’t ‘have to’ do anything special to get any of those things. They came naturally, or I sought them out and got lucky that way. I didn’t ‘have to’ have children, I wanted and got to. Some never have that blessing and some don’t seek it – that is up to them.

There’s no doubt about it. I am living a great life because of what I got and get to do,

So from now on, I don’t have to rise out of bed in the morning – I get to.

I don’t have to write a blog that is available to millions (if they want it) – I get to.

I don’t have to walk that bloody dog – I get to.

And it’s quite surprising how that simple change of expression turns an imposition into a benefit,

Try it – from now on, instead of ‘having to’ do something you don’t want do, consider that you ‘get to’ do it because something good happened, first.

The Best Weapon Against Chronic Illness?

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What do you do about the exercise of self-discipline – the First Resolution – when you’re suffering from a chronic illness? When you’re ill, being disciplined is the hardest thing of all to do.

Injury is inconvenient, but unless it’s particularly catastrophic, an ‘average’ injury seems less mentally stressful because you conceive of an end date. You usually know that your body will repair itself. Like injury, most illnesses are the same – you know that ‘this too, shall pass’ unless your diagnosis reveals something a little more challenging.

What do you do when your diagnosis tells you that what you’re experiencing isn’t going away any time soon, is manageable but not evidently curable, and is causing constant discomfort?

That’s when the Second Resolution comes in. Character.

When feeling chronic pain, two personal characteristics tend to go walkies.

First, it’s easy to find yourself venting on other people, failing to come through on commitments, lowering your standards and just feeling miserable. Really easy. Ask my wife. Secondly, it means that exercising self-discipline becomes even harder than usual.

But if you value your good character, you choose otherwise. You recognise your condition for what it is – yours, and yours alone. You can ask for help from others, but you are responsible for accepting or ignoring that advice, or for accepting or avoiding their help. You decide whether to act upon or be acted upon, by whatever it is that ails thee. It also means that you should only abandon the exercise of self-discipline if it is truly too onerous because of the condition. If it isn’t, you need to avoid using it as an excuse.

That choice is easy for people of character, but acting on that choice requires reversion to the practices of the First Resolution, specifically being disciplined enough to do what is required to deal with the condition and the emotions that come with it, and continuing to live a disciplined life. All while denying yourself the soft option of attacking those who have no responsibility whatsoever for your illness.

No, not easy.

If you are suffering from a chronic, painful condition, remember that those you love are a potential support, but you want them to give that support freely – it’s not something to be demanded from them. (I detest news reports when people ‘demand’ something from government – try asking nicely and using a convincing argument rather than expecting other people and organisations to dance to – and pay for – your admittedly painful tune.)

They will give it freely, even when you don’t want to hear it, which is the danger moment. The moment when you reactively slap them down because you KNOW that already. But the real reason you slap them down is – you aren’t doing what you know. But even though you’re to blame, in the moment you snap, it’s ‘their fault’.

Character means being proactive with chronic illness. It means accepting the reality of your own situation, taking responsibility for dealing with it, fighting it in a disciplined way, and acknowledging that any help that is offered is well intended and with a serving of love attached.

And you are allowed to give yourself love, too.

First Things First – But TOGETHER.

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There is a lot of material in the personal development sector that promotes the setting of goals. It’s a standard theme, which makes perfect sense because you can’t develop yourself in a particular direction unless you know what your destination actually is.

Numerically, there are a LOT of those books. Also numerically, there are fewer books that promote the idea that your goals should be, as far as is possible (given the reality of work impositions which your employer would really like you to consider as important outcomes), aligned with your personal value system.

There are millions of books on relationships. Some ethical, some manipulative. There are those which instruct you how to improve a loving, compassionate and giving relationship with someone important to you, and at the other end of the ethical scale there are books that tell you how to make people do what you want them to do for you, regardless of their own interests. We don’t like those, do we?

But in my (admittedly limited) experience I can think of only one that truly combines advice on how to set goals that align with your personal values AND which take into account the fact that what you want to do involves and affects other people. In other words, one book that asks the values-directed goal-setting reader to consider their relationships as part of the planning equation.

The book is Stephen Covey et al’s 1994 classic “First Things First”, and it dedicates a lot of its pages to ensuring that the reader properly considers their important relationships, and compassion for others, as part of their planning and executing of their lives. There are 43 pages alone under the heading ‘First Things First Together’, but the tone of the entire book is one that says, “Everything we do, we do with, for or because of others.” It’s all very well having the drive to get what it is you desire – but this is the only book I have read (on time management/event control) that reminds us that relationships are more important than achievement.

Which is not to say that I have ever mastered that idea. Far from it. I have spent many a day frustrated that ‘someone’ is getting in the way of my plan by being late, letting me down, not performing well, or being the other half of a misunderstanding. Like you, I get the hump with other people.

First Things First was the first Covey book I read, because I was exploring the concept of time management for work at the time I found it. But despite my generic impatience with other people getting in ‘my’ way, it spoke to me. It spoke to me so much that I have subsequently explored everything Covey ever wrote (to an embarrassing degree, to be frank). Me! Mister Miserable, Mister Impatient, Mr Self-Absorbed was impressed by a book, the tone of which was about recognising and respecting other people in personal and professional planning.

So impressed that I taught it, gifted it and promoted it. Some will listen, some will not. C’est la vie.

But if you have an inkling to learn time management AND you love, respect, and wish to take into account the needs of, other people, this is the book you want.

Make it your next personal development purchase.

(And while it might not have a big section on e-mails, be mindful that this is about the mind-set, attitude towards, and execution of life and work, not how to use a hammer that has its uses but isn’t applied to everything. There are lots of books about emails, too.)

You can get it through THIS LINK. (I suggest you don’t buy the audio book as it is too heavily abridged.)

Don’t Be Afraid To Cry. Especially Men.

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I am a traditional male. Not metrosexual. Not a Hipster. Not any of the ‘new man’ alternatives that were designed by people who do not consider themselves ‘just’ men. Each to his own, but ‘my’ idea of a man is someone who’ll back you in a fight, not hang back questioning the morality and whether his hair will get ruffled or his nails scraped. That’s just me – I’m the same age as Jack Reacher, (The book one, not the telly one. There’s been some temporal fiddling going on there.) Not that I’d start the fight, but my criteria for manliness, old-fashioned as it is, is ‘would I be happy if he was my only back up in a scrap?’

But I do have a softer side, and this is the funny thing. I get teary. And this is my list of teary moments.

  1. The last scene in ‘Saving Private Ryan’, where a now elderly Ryan stands over the grave of Lt Tom Hanks and asks his family, “Am I a good man?” (Damn, here I go…….)
  2. The goodbye scene in the movie ‘E.T’. “I’ll be right heeeeeerrreeee.”
  3. Funerals. Anybody’s. I feel the sadness of a life gone by.
  4. My daughters’ births and weddings. I think that’s allowed.
  5. When other people cry on telly in a properly poignant moment. No idea why.
  6. When Mel Gibson, as Lt Col Hal Moore, weeps after the battle at Ia Drang in the film ‘We Were Soldiers’. Made more poignant because the real Hal Moore did exactly that after the actual battle, as he praised the bravery and sacrifice of his men on national TV. (I’m really struggling to see, now.)
  7. The end titles of ‘The Battle of Britain’. Music composer Ron Goodwin’s build-up of strings to brass as they list the losses brings home the sacrifice of young men a third of my age.
  8. ‘Marley and Me’. Can’t watch that.
  9. Artax sinking into the Swamp of Sadness in ‘Never Ending Story’. Moroder’s music did NOT help.
  10. And damn it all, the final scenes of the Bond film ‘No Time to Die’. I’ve known that man since I was 8. And using John Barry’s ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ over it was a killer. And I was in a public place, damnit!

I see no shame in a man crying. It shows some level of understanding and empathy with whatever is causing it. And it shows, I guess, that there is something within said man that underpins his willingness to fight for something that matters, if fighting is needed. If a man didn’t care, then he’d fight for the wrong reason – false, macho, hyped-up patriotism, for example.

I remember 1982. I watched the documentaries as the men left for the Falkland Islands. Singing, “We’re going to the Malvinas, we’re gonna kill a **** or two” at the top of their voices.

And I also saw the documentaries as they came back. Utter silence.

And I wept for their sacrifice – the sacrifice not only of their colleagues and their friends, but also the evident loss of innocence about combat.

Still do, occasionally.

Don’t be afraid to weep.

Are you a Lifelong Learner?

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Interesting question. You may reply that your employer keeps you up to date with industry developments, legal and practice changes that influence or dictate how you work. That is, indeed, training. But I am not writing about training to which you are directed on pain of death. I am writing about self-directed, self-financed (if necessary) and possibly self-interested education. I am referring to off-the-job training.

There are countless options for most of us to learn something that isn’t job-related – for example, we might decide to learn to play a musical instrument, to scrapbook (now a verb as well as a noun), to reorganise flowers or to cook. Community Education is a big area. And I recommend you do some research about that.

But available through the same route, but more competence-focused, are courses provided outside your work but which would enhance your ability to do that work.

No, I have no odea what that might be – I’m not in your industry.

But let me provide my example. I was a serving police detective, but outside of that I trained as a legal executive (lawyer) for 4 years, obtained a qualification that allowed me to teach adults in further education, and di other courses related to both of those. They weren’t provided by, nor funded by my employer – I funded part of it, grants funded the rest. Ker-ching!

On the face of it you may ask what legal training in probate law, land law and contract law had to do with policing, but I assure you the benefits to me as a Fraud Detective were amazing – the number of cases I could deal with because of that knowledge rose, as did the number of cases we passed back to complainants. Cases passed back because we knew they were trying it on – for example, solicitors, rather than dealing with a probate dispute, would point their clients at the police and scream ‘FRAUD!’ so that we would get all the evidence and they could use it having had it gathered gratis. I, on the other and, could show why it wasn’t a fraud (at least at that point) and make a perfectly good legally-sound argument for that decision. And we had one man alleging a commercial fraud that I sent back pretty much annually for 10 years because I knew about contracts while not one of my colleagues had the foggiest.

The Second Resolution states:  “To overcome the restraining forces of pride and pretension, I resolve to work on character and competence.”

Competence in the workplace is obviously covered by that statement, but I argue that such competence can extend, indeed should extend outside one’s professional obligations. In fact, I suggest it should include your societal and familial obligations, too.

Be a better citizen, be a batter parent, be a better child. It’s all there in that simple sentence. Be (character) a better (competence).

There are many facilities available for training, and in areas you might thing weren’t catered for. For example, parenting training is available from many charitable foundations, including Care for the Family. You might think parenting comes naturally.  Lucky you if it did.

Identify and seek out training in respect of the competencies you lack – and identifying and admitting that lack is an example of good character, by the way.

As they say, admitting the existence of a gap in your education is the first step to closing it and reaping the rewards that follow – both financial and personal.

What will you seek to learn after today?

A Personal Observation on My Goals Planning for 2022. Do you have the same challenges?

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Years ago I read the book ‘Your Best Year Yet’ by Jinny Ditzler, who sadly passed away last year. In a nutshell (because it’s a lot deeper than the following might suggest), she proposed that every year you go through a process of examining past success and failures, identifying what you learned from both. From that learning you consider looking at life through a new paradigm, and list three (could be more but not too many) Personal Guidelines for the next 12 months. Only after you’ve done that should you then identify your roles, values – and ten goals for that period. It’s called a BYY Plan.

(I’ve written before about ‘only’ having term goals and ‘what to do when you’ve only got 5 left and loads of time.)

Anyway, I have been doing that on and off for a while (and amending the list every time I complete one or more goals on that list) and this year was no exception. Except I wasn’t feeling the love. It’s 4 weeks in to 2022 and after a spectacular start I was feeling unmotivated. So what was wrong? I decided to look at last year’s BYY Plan.

Last year went well. I had a list, and one of my Guidelines was ‘Make Hard Choices and Act’. That was possibly the best one. Many’s the time I read that and went out and exercised, or pushed myself a bit harder, or did something towards a goal that I otherwise would have avoided. And I would guestimate I completed on well over 80% of the goals I set for my 60th year. I rewrote books, requalified as an advanced driving mentor, and drove three racing circuits of the four I planned, only being defeated when my brakes developed a fault and, let’s be frank, a race circuit is one place you need good brakes. I completed on a few procrastinated house development plans, and generally succeeded all over the place.

So why not this year, so far?

First of all, I realised that some of my goals were a bit vague. Well-intended, but vague. They needed sub-goals to make any sense, or just needed more specificity than I’d initially stated. (30 years of receiving AND giving SMART Goals input and I still screw up….)

Second, I realised that some were the goals you’re ‘supposed’ to have. Which means they weren’t really mine, they were someone else’s.

And third, I set the bar way too high. I decided to ride my bike 100 miles a week. For three weeks (and one day, to be honest) I did exactly that. And I felt absolutely wrecked, bored, unmotivated. The time it took out of each day among all the other commitments I made was mentally wearing.

And one goal was a combination of both the ‘someone else’ and ‘high bar’ faults, and it was debilitating mentally as I struggled with the effort of trying to meet it while not really wanting to. I’d walk the dog and the whole hour was my conscience debating ‘can I?’ ‘can’t I?’ and ‘How do I/Should I get out of it?’

In the end, I chose to disappoint the someone else, and in fairness they didn’t try to talk me back around, and respected my decision. It’s great to have understanding friends.

Anyway, long story short, today is the day I address all those errors and create a plan that is still challenging, but which I want to do as well. For example, one of my guidelines read ‘Exercise relentless self-discipline’. It may seem soft, but that word ‘relentless’ was causing mental and physical pain. Every time I didn’t train because of the motivation/physiological challenges, it just added more pain. Just removing that word is going to make the plan easier to execute without excusing laziness, for example. And if you’re being truly relentless, some things have to give way to other things, which in itself pulls at the conscience, which drives you nuts.

I know I promote self-discipline on this site, but in my book The Three Resolutions I address exactly when self-discipline becomes self-defeating, so my integrity remains intact!

So I recommend Jinny’s book (after you’ve read mine 😊) because properly executed in a considered way the Best Year Yet Plan I made for 2021 resulted in the best year I’ve had in quite a while.

And I was faster than the Stig around Castle Combe Race Circuit. (have I mentioned that before?)

(I admit that’s Anglesey Circuit and not Castle Combe, but I haven’t any pics of that day. Sorry.)

Decisions, Decisions. (On doing the right thing.)

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I was at a meeting last night, and the subject was Guidance – where do you find it? The trainer suggested that there were 5 sources to which you can turn when faced with a decision, or more accurately a momentous decision, the settling of which will have massive impact on ‘what happens next’ in the particular scenario with which you may be struggling at any time. Note that I said impact – the event leading to the decision may seem quite trivial, but your decision on how to deal with it will create the result you want, the outcome you need (which may be completely different), or a complete mash up mess.

The sources included reference material, social and professional peers, and previous practices or protocols. But the one that made me sit up with interest is arguably the most important one, and relates to the Second Resolution, or more specifically the second part.

The decision might well go through all of the assessment sources identified in the previous paragraph: what does the book say, what do my colleagues, supervisors and other human resources suggest I should do, and what is the current practice as laid down in page 457, paragraph 3 sub-section 2 of that manual we all say we’ve read but have actually never been able to find. And after going through that systematic(!?) approach, we arrive at the final guidance criteria, the one relating to that Resolution, and the one which causes the most trouble. And that assessment question is….

“Is it the RIGHT thing to do?”

The problem may have technical solution. It may have a protocol supporting the policy supporting the law supporting the organisation. Your friends may think it’s best. But in your heart, there is doubt.

If that is the case, you need to ask that last question and decide whether your conscience will let you do something you know isn’t right (or as right as it could be), but you’ll keep your job and reputation; or whether you’re prepared to act in all conscience, breach a protocol or practice, risk offending your peers and be absolutely content that what you did was clearly in keeping with your own personal value system, and extrinsic principles.

Not easy.

I hope that where I’ve been faced with such decisions in my past that I usually made the right choice. No doubt there have been occasions when I know I’ve done what I was told to do, in contravention of what I thought I should do, but that was often the result of a direct order by someone with more experience, knowledge (and power) than me. But in one situation that comes to mind as I write this, I was able to communicate my distaste for the execution of the instruction.

It isn’t easy fighting for what’s right. There are always consequences. But it’s a lot easier than fighting your conscience over something you did that you knew wasn’t right. You have to weight the consequences of every decision, right or wrong. You may have to weigh them up for a long time.

But while you wrestle with your feelings over what you decided and what you did, don’t forget to consider that other alternative: how would you feel if you hadn’t stood up for what was right?

Don’t focus on the problems created by acting correctly, in accordance with your conscience, values and personal character.

Focus instead on the personal integrity you demonstrated. People can see it, even if they rarely point it out.