Focus on processes, not events

Abstract image

Many Nigerians want to be rich. Wanting to be rich is not a bad thing. In a Country like Nigeria where infrastructure can be quite poor, having money is the only way to ensure you can cushion yourself against poor power supply, healthcare and expensive food. One could argue that wanting to escape the poverty trap is a very good motivator. A focus on being just rich, however, risks missing the point of personal development. Being rich is an event. What you need to focus on is a process.

An empty process chart
Have you mapped out your process chart?

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Want to stay productive? Find a community

3D people in a circle

“The friend of a thief is a thief.”

-Unknown

The quote above was a popular one during my primary school days. Teachers used it to warn us about the dangers of keeping bad company and the influence of peer pressure. Although, I also recall them using it to warn us to stay away from noise makers in class. The influence of peer pressure in one’s life can be enormous.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most amount of time with.”

-Jim Roth

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You need to start making less decisions

Branching decision lines

How many decisions do you have to make a day? The average person has to make about 35,000 choices every day. At first glance, that doesn’t seem right. Surely, you aren’t faced with that many decisions on a daily basis? Wait. Think about it. When you wake up, you get out of bed, which foot do you swing down the side of the bed first? Left foot or right foot? When you brush your teeth, which side do you start from? Which tooth do you brush first? Do you stroke upwards, downwards or sideways? Fortunately for us, most of the decisions we make on a daily basis are almost automatic. The brain uses the habit loop to allow you do routine tasks like brushing your teeth, making a cup of tea, driving to work without having to consciously think about it. It doesn’t mean you aren’t making decisions. Only that they occur on a near subconscious level.

A decision tree
Life is a series of infinite decisions

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Keep your eye on the task

Quote by Joe Girard

The old adage about taking things one step at a time seems too simplistic to be of any use. Yet, many great truths have a comforting simplicity about them. Picture this. You come up with a big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG). Your BHAG is so great that it sometimes scares you. That’s the point of a BHAG though. It has to be a kind of go big or go home idea. You have a perfect vision of the end product of your goal yet you fail to achieve that goal because you could never get started.

Many times, what stops us from working towards a goal is fear of the unknown. We know what we want, we are just not sure how to get there so we keep procrastinating and the goal never gets achieved. In Eat that Frog, Brian Tracy describes how it is possible to drive across the Sahara by following oil drums 5km apart. This is the maximum distance at which two barrels could be seen such that during the day, a person driving would be able to see two drums, the one in front and the one behind them. In this way, they could safely drive across the sahara one oil drum at a time.

Vast expanse of desert
One oil drum at a time

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Are your goals actionable?

An open notebook. "My goals" is written and underlined

I had an interesting conversation with some of the young people I mentor at Paradigm Initiative. About a third of the current class wrote their UTME exams not too long ago. Before the exams I asked them what their short term goals were. Naturally, all UTME candidates mentioned getting into the University to study a course (of their choice?).

Smiling, I let them know while getting into the university can be a huge stepping stone to greater things, their short term goal was not a very good one. It’s easy to say “My goal is to pass UTME and get admission into BUK to study economics.” It sounds good and you seem focused. However, it fails to meet one very important criteria for good goal setting. The statement is not actionable. Go back and read it again carefully.

SMART goals
Don’t forget to make goals SMART

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What did you achieve in the first half of 2019?

A spiral notebook. A page is open with the words "Review" written on top

We have hit the half year mark for 2019. Thank you for following my blog so far. It’s also a milestone for me. That being said, what have you achieved in the first half of the year? It’s time to carry out a half year review.

Before you get started

  1. Find a quiet spot. You will need as much focus as you can muster for this. You also don’t want to be distracted midway through.
  2. Have your personal development plan (PDP) in front of you. Your PDP provides an overview of what you set out to achieve for the year and how far you have come.
  3. Have something to write with. It can be a notebook, tablet or the note taking app on your phone. Please turn off mobile data if you choose to use an internet enabled device. You don’t need the distractions.
  4. Take your time. Your midyear review is not something you want to rush.
An open notebook. Three different coloured pens are lying on it.
All set to start your review

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Learn from Failure

A report card with a big "F" on it

“The Greatest Teacher, failure is.”

-Master Yoda, The last Jedi.

Let me confess, I’m a Star wars fan. The quote above is from a Star Wars movie. With that out of the way, we can begin. Many goals remain unaccomplished because someone refused to try again after they had failed. Crushing failure can stop someone from trying again. Yet the only way to achieve success is to try again. That seems almost like a paradox.

Nobody likes to fail. Some people are afraid to fail. Failure can be very depressing especially if you put in a lot of hard work. I acknowledge all these things about failure. Yet to allow failure to be the factor that sets the limit on what you can achieve is to develop a closed mindset.

Scrabble pieces spelling "Try again"
As often as you need

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