How your twenties launch the rest of your life.

Finally it has arrived…

Released just a few weeks ago in the genre of personal development it’s The Rocket Years – How Your Twenties Launch the Rest of Your Life by Elizabeth Segran. I bought it as a present for someone in their twenties and I really hope they will read it. I wish I had got this informative and thought-provoking book when I was in my twenties! This period of our lives can really be challenging, influential and sometimes confusing. It can be a real roller-coaster. I love the message that the book sends out – that we have the power to create a meaningful life. 

The book discusses topics such as career, hobbies, fitness, family, friendship, politics and faith. So much variety for one book, isn’t it? The book draws on many recent findings and discusses each topic in combination with the author’s own personal observations of life. The writer explains why politics or friendships are important in one’s twenties and what impact they have later on our lives. It’s such an inspirational and interesting book. I actually thought – I’ve always loved to dig in various research findings about health, personal development, or fitness – why had I not yet collected the most important research findings from at least the last decade for myself and my family? It would be great to know some of these things years earlier, ideally… in my twenties!

If you are interested in the book, it can be bought here: https://amzn.to/30kc4mr

A few quotes from the book:

“I’d assume that an “exit to adulthood” sign would pop up somewhere in my twenties, pointing me to the moment when my decisions would suddenly matter. But that never happened. In the midst of all that carefree adventure, I made choices that shaped almost every aspect of my present reality. My life as a writer, wife, and mother is the direct result of how I reacted when my dream career went up in flames and my romantic relationships fell apart. And somehow, while I wasn’t paying attention, I built a tribe of friends, formed habits and routines, and cultivated values that will serve me for the rest of my life.

I wish there had been some sort of guidebook to help me navigate the choices that lay before me in those years… I wish I’d had a framework to help me wrestle with the existential questions that occasionally drifted into my mind, catching me by surprise…Is there really such a thing as a dream job? What about a soul mate? What will I do with my… precious life?… What will it take to create the life I… desire?

***

“…perception of my peers’ success may have been the trick mirror of social media at work; career twists and turns in your rocket years are actually the norm… But… the data reveal that most people will eventually find deeply satisfying work. It just takes longer than you might expect. The road there is almost always filled with turns, detours, and long periods of being stuck in one place, unsure of where to go next. If you persist, though, there’s a very good chance that you will nab your dream job.”

***

“A 2015 medical study suggested that hobbies could be an intervention for improving health and well-being in daily life, after finding that people who practiced them experienced more happiness and less stress...Surveys have found that 20 percent of the population have no hobbies at all. A quarter has a single hobby they practice regularly. And a little over half the population has multiple hobbies. [However] research shows that leisure time is effectively shrinking. Today’s twenty somethings are on track to have less time for hobbies than their parents and grandparents did. “

2020: New book releases in the field of productivity and personal development

Let’s have a look at a few new books releases that seem really interesting: 

1. 10 Days to Overcome Procrastination Addiction: Take Action & Get More Done by A. Andrews

10 Days To Overcome Procrastination Addiction: Take Action & Get More Done by [Alexander Andrews]

This book was published this month. I think sometimes there may be a fine line between recharging your batteries and procrastination. However, even procrastination can sometimes be quite good for you and, according to scientists, it is a natural and normal developmental stage in teenage years. It can lead to creativity and make our life better as we can find solutions to problems more easily, re-consider our goals, and so on. Of course too much procrastination isn’t good for us. 

In January this year 1,000 people participated in an online Google survey. Nearly 30% admitted that they procrastinate sometimes … which seems fine, right? A little over 22% said they do it often and approximately 20% of people do it every day. That’s a bit more than we would like, I guess. 

What’s interesting is that around 22,500 people a month ask Google ‘How to stop procrastinating?‘. There are many others who look for answers in books or perhaps ask for advice from a friend or family member. It is a common thing, nothing to be too ashamed about but as with everything else we need a healthy balance. If we feel like we procrastinate too often, this book may be very helpful. 

2. Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything by Bj Fogg.

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It’s true, isn’t it? Many of us know that small changes can make a huge impact in our lives. This book will take you through various topics such as motivation, ability, emotions and other aspects that have an impact on creating habits. The emphasis in this book is on the word ‘tiny’ so it seems doable and not overwhelming. 

Most authors agree that we need 30-60 days to create new habits; however, it’s worth remembering that according to scientific studies (e.g. P. Lally) it can even take up to 254 days! I’m not saying this to discourage you, but rather so you bear in mind that quitting shouldn’t be the best solution if the new habit doesn’t seem to be formed within a month or so. We may give up for a day or two as it may be hard to continue doing something that is new to us. However, if it is important for us, we should re-consider if there are any other ways of doing things (maybe instead of running 30min every day it would be better to start with 3-4 x a week?).

3. The Declutter Challenge: A Guided Journal for Getting your Home Organized in 30 Quick Steps (Home Organization and Storage Guided Journal for Making Space Clutter-Free) by C. Aarsen

The Declutter Challenge: A Guided Journal for Getting your Home Organized in 30 Quick Steps (Home Organization and Storage Guided Journal for Making Space Clutter-Free) by [Cassandra Aarssen]

I’ve included this book in the list, because having an organised space and environment around you makes life so much simpler and work so much more productive that it can reduce your housework by… 40%! If you can’t find things you need, and you feel like you have a million things at home and many don’t have their proper dedicated space, then it will draw lots of your energy and you will often feel frustrated, angry, guilty, anxious and stressed! Organised space can make you feel much calmer and more energised. Think of all the extra time you’d have for your family, projects, hobbies, work or simply for yourself, your personal growth perhaps. This book by C. Aarsen is out since 14th May. 

4. TimeCrafting: A Better Way to Get the Right Things Done by M.Vardy

The author promises that time-management does not have to be complicated and complex. He offers a method focusing on Mindset, Method and Mastery. The book is filled with real life examples so it may be easier to identify with some of the scenarios and see how the method can best work for us. The title will be released on 30th July and it will cost £16.95; however, if you’d like to see what the author has to offer you can also check out his e-books which are only £0.99 (Beyond Trying and (Pre)Productivityism). 

Do you feel you may find one of these books useful? What topic in personal growth and productivity fields interests you most?

* Sources: organizedinteriors.com, amazon.co.uk, microbizmag.co.uk

Do you judge a book by its cover?

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Designing books may seem a relatively easy and not very important task but actually merging an idea for a design with a book’s meaning is a massive challenge.

Charles (Chip) Kidd, is not only a famous award-winning American graphic designer but also a writer, a musician, an editor, a book designer and a lecturer who lives in New York. He presented his ideas and opinions in two TED talks and in various interviews which have been seen by millions of viewers world-wide. He is probably one of the most famous book-cover designers.

When asked during an interview whether he judges books by their covers. He responded wittily: “No, I judge covers by their covers.”Image result for kidd chip

Kidd stresses that a book cover is vital because that is the first thing people see while deciding if they want to buy a book or not. In one of his TED talks Kidd quickly persuaded an audience how first impressions truly matter when he started his speech with “a full body wriggle” to draw people’s attention. Kidd advises other designers to trust their intuition but to remember that covers cannot be obvious:

“When I’m working on a cover for a book called ‘City on Fire,’ I’m not going to show a city on fire. It’s like going back to drawing an apple and writing the word ‘apple,’ underneath, you don’t need both.”

When a designer reads a book, he needs to think how he translates the main message and the meaning of the book. Designing jackets is somewhat like capturing something intangible that is embraced by the writer’s words, things that readers need to imagine, and transferring it to a more tangible idea, a picture, a meaningful design.

Image result for chip kidd jurassic parkOne of his most famous projects was a book-cover design for a science-fiction novel, Jurassic Park, written in 1990 by Michael Crichton (the book Spielberg adapted in 1993 into a legendary film with the same title). While thinking of the design, Kidd decided to learn more about dinosaurs, and to see different pictures, models and expositions in the National History Museum in his city.

He was thrilled when he found out that the right to the image was bought and used by MCA Universal for the famous movie with the same title.

Jurassic Park is only one out of over 1,000 book covers that Kidd is responsible for.

Have you ever bought a book because you liked the cover; or vice versa, have you ever decided not to buy a book because you didn’t find the cover attractive?

What sorts of book covers do you like most?

How to reduce stress levels and feel more in control? 

Do you feel you are getting stressed too often? Let’s look at what studies say about dealing with this problem. Being aware that stress can affect our well-being enormously and how to deal with it is certainly crucial for our well-being!

Remember that your emotions are just emotions and they are temporary. Don’t let them dictate how you feel. If something is overwhelming and you feel stressed and you feel that there is no solution, just TAKE A BREAK.

Depending on the situation, different things may help: talk to a trustworthy and supportive friend, watch a movie (preferably a comedy!), unplug and disconnect for a few hours and take a nice hot bath, practice mindfulness or go for a run (take headphones and turn on your favourite music).

When it’s difficult to deal with problems and we feel overwhelmed, it’s best to do some physical activity. Getting more oxygen to your brain, making your muscles tired – this always does the trick and will make you feel better, more confident and calmer!

Diverting your attention to your passion can also be very helpful but it may not always work, for example, if your passion requires quite a lot of attention and focus, because your mind may just not be in the right state, with lots of meandering and not-so-constructive thoughts.

It’s been proven that reading (a minimum of 6 mins) can reduce your stress levels by as much as 70%!

Whatever you decide to do, just don’t withdraw from your life, society, or work. That’s not a solution or a good method to deal with stress. It actually increases anxiety, stress and depression instead of giving you an opportunity to focus and find a solution.

One of the most helpful techniques that you can use on a daily basis to improve your resistance towards stress is to work on your outlook. The way you perceive different situations impacts on how you feel and how your body reacts. Studies found that perceiving difficult tasks more positively, as challenges rather than problems or threats, improves stress levels and makes us feel more in control and calmer. Try to avoid self-pitying, blaming others, and pessimistic and critical thoughts.

And remember. EVERYONE has problems, large and small, now and then. You are not the only one!

What discourages (instead of motivating) us in the field of personal development?

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We know that one of the problems is of course our time usage. I don’t like to use the phrase ‘time management’. Time management used to be SO important for around a decade or so, and yet it’s vital to realise that THIS IS MORE crucial in terms of physical work (especially for example with targets in a factory) but in most jobs, such as admin or management, time isn’t as important as other aspects, such as:

  • being innovative
  • having creative ideas
  • managing stress
  • team building
  • or having great interpersonal/presentation skills

I think the term ‘self-help’ books is quite damaging as well because it seems like there is something wrong with people who read about goal setting, productivity and well-being and they NEED HELP! They need improvements in their life, like everyone does in some areas, but it sounds like they have some diseases, maybe mental health problems, and need help with this. What’s more, it suggests that the problems may be so sensitive and embarrassing that people don’t want to speak to their doctors about it and they prefer to help themselves on their own… SELF- help books… Who created such an unsuitable name tag for these great titles about personal growth, strength and motivation?! I’m glad that this has changed and publishers have started to refer to this section rather as ‘self-development’ now.

Similarly, I believe that we should find a new name for life coaches! What a discouraging wording! I think it suggests they can teach you… how to live your own life properly! So they basically seem to know everything about “how to live a happy life” and can teach everyone the same or similar techniques no matter where they come from, what situation they are in, or what they problems are. It’s like measuring everyone with the same scale.

Many people have started to make big money out of this business and unfortunately there are some so-called ‘gurus’ out there who learn all the secrets of a fulfilling, healthy and happy life on a short online course and then they are certified and ready to tell you how you should work, bring up your children, achieve your goals and build your relationships.

I was really put off by the term life coach for a long time. It sounded like people trying to get rich at the expense of whoever would be willing to pay to get advice from such modern fortune-tellers. “The concept of ‘life coaching’ barely existed 30 years ago. But by 2012, it was a $707 million business in the U.S., according to the most recent figures from the International Coach Federation (ICF).” (read more here).

It sounded like a scam and deceiving people. However, if I’m against something I like to know what it really is. How can I be against life coaches if I haven’t watched a few videos and read some books about them and written by them? I thought they were people who pretend to be psychologists. While getting familiar with the topic I’ve realised that some so-called life coaches are actually great and charismatic people who make some thought-provoking and interesting speeches. I have a few favourite ones now. I don’t treat them as my ‘gurus’ and specialists about everything but it’s motivational to listen to some of their speeches or read some books.

So, yes, it looks like the name is quite unfortunate and may put many people off rather than encourage them to learn something from, for instance, good and experienced productivity and time-management experts.

I’d recommend we dig deeper to see whether we like someone and their opinions rather than focusing on the name that may not always be chosen accurately and wisely…

HAPPY WEDNESDAYS! What can make us happier?

I’ve decided to create a cycle of blog posts on HAPPINESS that will always be published on Wednesdays. There are SO MANY interesting facts, data and anecdotes to share about happiness!

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I’ve noticed that in the last decade the definition of success has started to change from ‘rich and famous’ to ‘happy, healthy and with a meaningful life’. I think media and the Internet are largely responsible for this shift because we’ve learnt that celebrities’ lives are not as perfect as we used to think and that rich does not mean happy. For example, it is such a rarity to see a famous person in a successful relationship for most of their life. Like everyone else, despite all the money and success in the world, they also get sick and suffer.

Studies show that money can make you a little bit happier in some circumstances (more about this in a future blog post) but in the long-term it doesn’t mean HAPPY. For example, moving to a sunnier climate or getting nearly $10,000 more a year would make you very excited and enthusiastic for some period of time, a few weeks or months, but then it goes back nearly to its usual level giving you only approximately a 1-2% boost in your happiness level! (more info in – Christakis and Fowler’s book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (available here).

The article What makes a life good? (in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1998) stressed nearly 2 decades ago that happiness seems to be more valuable to people than:

Pursuit of money

Moral goodness

Or going to heaven

In general most of scholars agree that 3 things/aspects can make us happier...

Before you read further try to guess what these three things are (and write in the comment if your ideas were different from what’s under the picture – let’s make the comments section an interesting place!)

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These three things are:

  1. Meaningful relationships: spending time with people who support you
  2. Finding your passion(s): doing what you love as often as you can
  3. Personal growth: it was found that grit, which by the way is believed to be more important than talent and IQ (Angela Duckworth’s book GRIT, available here), delayed gratification and emotional control can accelerate your development! (You can find out more about delayed gratification and the Stanford marshmallow experiment here: https://jamesclear.com/delayed-gratification )

I think there are still people out there who would criticise this current trend towards individualisation, towards the pursuit for a meaningful life, towards looking for and thinking about our passions, and taking care of and investing more in personal growth than ever before, because focusing on own well-being and happiness can be perceived as selfish, egocentric and more of a luxury than a necessity to some people.

However, I’m sure (or I hope…) that most of us realise that the more we focus on our passions and invest in our personal development (without going to extremes and forgetting the world around us naturally!), the more content we will be with our own life:

  • the happier relationships we will be able to create and maintain
  • the more successful we can be in different aspects of our life, such as at work or being a parent
  • and people enjoy hanging out more with happy folks, not the ones who are frustrated, angry, unsatisfied with themselves, their life and the world, right?

Actually, there was some research done by Christakis and Fowler which stressed that people can boost their happiness levels a lot by simply spending time with happy people.

And where do we find a lot of HAPPY PEOPLE? 🙂

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About the world obsessed with time

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I’ve recently read Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed with Time by Garfield (available here) and the book contains some really interesting anecdotes; for instance, about French who tried to implement the idea of using 10-hour, instead of 12-hour, clocks. The idea was that all 24 hours would be squeezed into a day-and-night-time period of ten hours. How? Simply there would be more minutes in each hour. This idea hasn’t found many enthusiasts though. Clocks are an old invention and we are so used to the usual style and schedule of hours and minutes that we find it difficult to accept any modification of them.

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Sometimes I think about time usage and discuss it with others because it is strictly related to productivity, but until very recently I didn’t really pay much attention as to how OBSESSED the modern world is with TIME.

  • Time is precious
  • Me time
  • A race against time
  • Have a hell of a time
  • Have the time of your life
  • Time is money
  • Ahead of one’s time

… and lots of other phrases that we use very often indicate that time has become something nearly as significant in our lives as food, air or feelings.

Teams who work on updating Oxford Dictionaries decided to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the English language to check what words are the most commonly used. If we ignore words such as “the”, “of”, and some linking words that we use in sentences a lot, and focus purely on nouns, then there is the interesting part!

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The most commonly used English word is … TIME! (more about it HERE )

“That’s unbelievable!” I thought. I know that everyone, particularly in Western developed countries, is kind of fixated about being on time, controlling or managing their time and so on BUT… really?! When and how did we get to the point where we use this word more often than a lot of other significant words which describe our everyday life?

Just if you are curious  what are the rest of the 10 top most commonly used words in the English language… Here we go: person, year, way, day, thing, man, world, life and … hand (?). I understand we use words such as “thing” or “life” often, but “hand”? Another little surprise 😉

Time-management books and articles are incredibly popular nowadays and yet I don’t really believe that we can manage or change our time. Do you? We can surely manage our tasks, activities and life. That’s why I prefer to word it rather as time usage or planning one’s day/time. However, I know that ‘time management’ is a phrase used EVERYWHERE so for simplicity sometimes I’d use it as well (or when I use tags, for example,so people can find my tweet or blog easier).

Do you use or have you ever tried any productivity/time-management tips and techniques? What’s your favourite one?

 

New releases in the field of self-development!

What hot new releases will be discussed this year in the media? Here are a few noteworthy new books related to self-development which will be released very soon (and can be pre-ordered):

  1. Crushing It! – by Gary Vaynerchuk (famous motivational speaker). It will be released on 30th January 2018 but can be pre-ordered (available here).

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2. The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win –by Jeff Haden. This book will be published on 9th January 2018 and of course can be pre-ordered (available here)

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3. The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store – by Cait Flanders. The book will be released on 16th January 2018 and can be pre-ordered here

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4. Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff – by Dana K. White. It will be published on 27th February and can be pre-ordered here

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5. Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More by Morten Hansen. The book will be published on 30th January 2018. It can be pre-ordered here

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Any titles in this genre that you’ve read and  would recommend? Please comment below.

How much does your self-development matter to you?

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This Christmas Santa has been very generous 🙂 to me and I’ve received some wonderful pressies, including some books I’ve really wanted to have for a while:

  • Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferris (available here)
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert (available here )
  • Grit: Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success by Angela Duckworth (available here)
  • The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferris (available here)
  • The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey (available here)

I’ve decided that this blog will be a good place to post books reviews once in a while. What do you think? Have you read any books about personal development, time management or motivation?

These books used to be called ‘self-help’ books and I think because of this their reputation has been somewhat damaged. Some people don’t buy them because they say they that don’t need any help with finding out how to prioritise their life or they don’t have a problem with time management and so on…

I’m glad that the industry has been changing and now these titles are called self-development’ rather than ‘self-help’ books! I’m glad that people are starting to realise how important personal growth is and that it should not be a luxury but a necessity.

Personal growth doesn’t just help to keep you sane and away from mental health disorders but it’s a lot more than that. When you do what you love, when you commit to lifelong learning and improve your skills and knowledge, you feel more positive, happy and satisfied with your life. Naturally, the more optimistic you are, the more positive your approach and thoughts, and this will have an impact on others around you too, on your relationships and on various other aspects of your life.

The happier you are, the more successful you can become.

Happiness drives performance, not the other way around.

Contrary to what many people say, investing in your own personal development is not egoistical and selfish. It’s something that makes us better human beings in many aspects, also in social terms.

I’m wondering if you are interested in such self-development titles. What book(s) have you been recently reading?