It's that time of year again. Time for people to resolve to lose weight, and then join a gym they never attend. Or to promise that this will be the year that they get a better job. And then they will continue to go about January, just as they did this passing December.
Learn a new language. Maybe you'll even buy a language book. Or Rosetta Stone. But three months on you still can only order cheese or have a taxi take you to the nearest gas station.
Every year we make the same resolutions. And every year we fail to live up to them. Why is that?
The answer to the above question is really quite simple. Because saying you want to do something is merely the first rather small step in actually achieving it. Without a plan, and the execution of that plan, you are guaranteed to fail.
So on this New Year's, don't make a resolution. Ignore the word completely. Instead, make a promise to yourself, and then sit down and make a plan. And after you do that, tell as many people as you can about your plan. The more people that are in the loop, the more you are held accountable, and the easier it becomes to follow through.
In 2015 I have made two promises to myself. I will write, edit, and publish two books this year. And with the help of my new Chinese marketing consultant and speaker's agent, I will break into the motivational speaker's market in Asia. (As well as add more clients here in the U.K.)
My writing plan is as follows:
Book One is broken into seven main sections. At two weeks per section, I'll be done with the draft in fourteen weeks. From a daily standpoint that means I need to write around 2,000 words a day. That will give me far more words than will actually be in the final edition of the book, which is good. Not all writing is created equal. Some days are better than others. And many days are filled with hundreds of words that are, quite simply, crap.
Add another four to six weeks for edits and layout, and by May 31st I should be at the self-publishing process with Amazon. My previous books have all been released through a publishing house. This will be my first self-published book. So I'll build a two week buffer zone between May 31 and June 14 in case the learning curve on Kindle layout and publication proves to be a steeper than I think.
So Book Two, which has already been researched, will get underway in earnest no later than June 15. It has nine main sections. In truth I can probably complete a section a week. But accounting for travel days, speaking engagements, etc, I'll give myself deadlines of two sections completed every three weeks. So essentially three months of writing for the entire rough draft.
Add in four to six weeks for edits and layout, and I should be publishing by the first week of November. Just in time for me to celebrate with a blowout weekend in London when my beloved Kansas City Chiefs come over to play the Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium.
And that plan to start speaking in China (not to be confused with speaking in Chinese):
My marketing assistant is already in the process of laying the groundwork with corporations in Hong Kong and Beijing, where he previously worked. We're in communications with the Chinese language publisher of my book, Heart of Iron, and expect to get their assistance in combining speaking events with book sales. And on my end of things, I am working to increase my online visibility in China - not always an easy proposition - as both a speaker and author.
So that's my plan for 2015. I share it with you for two reasons. One, and most selfishly, because it will help me be accountable. I now have a great number of people who will be expecting to see a new book from me this June. Great. Now it's on me to deliver.
But I also want you to see what I mean by creating a plan, and not a resolution. Saying I want to write two books this year is incomplete, but also quite intimidating. On the surface it sounds like a mountain of a task, until I break it down. When it's in daily and weekly chunks I can begin to visualize the progression.
If your plan for 2015 is to lose 50 pounds, it sounds like an enormous task. But break it down into 52 weeks, and what progress you expect to see at various intervals along the way, and all of a sudden it's conquerable.
Run a marathon. Don't think about 26.2 miles. Think about where you need to be three months out from race day. Then two months. Then one month. Break it down into a series of small plans that all serve to advance your larger plan for 2015.
You want a better job for 2015? First, write down a list of jobs that you can do, that will pay your bills, and that you personally would consider "better" than what you currently have. Research how you get those jobs. What skills you need, or perhaps already have, but still need to be "professionalized." Write out a plan. Talk to others in the industry. That is perhaps the most important thing. We live in an age where we can interact with hundreds of people at a time. The more people who know, the better your odds that you already know someone who can assist you.
And finally, after you make your plan, execute it.
I find that there is one very easy way to stay on the path of successful execution. At the end of each day, ask yourself this: "Did today get me closer to my goal?"
As long as you don't string more than two "nos" together in any one week, you'll be fine. And by this time next year you'll be healthier, happier, making more money, admiring your marathon medals, in love, speaking like a native during your Christmas trip to Italy, living in a new home, celebrating a promotion, and mapping out a plan for success in 2016.
Happy New Year!!
In all of my years, at all of my Christmases, there is one Christmas present that stands out above the rest. The original Millennium Falcon action toy. This was the big boy - more than two feet across. Although for the 7-year old me, it felt like five or six.
The cockpit opened up, providing you a place to stick Han and Chewy. The top pulled off revealing seats for Luke, Leia, C-3PO, and R2-D2. And of course it had the dejarik hologame table. (Only the hardcore geeks will know what that is). It was huge, it was awesome, it was played with for hours and hours, and I still remember walking out to the living room that Christmas morning and seeing it sitting under the tree.
For me, Christmas time is as much about making new memories, as it for reflecting on old ones. Yes, when I was a child many of those memories revolved around toys. Dinner in the afternoon was almost an annoyance, because it meant that I was forced to leave my shiny new plaything alone in a corner for a couple of hours. But toys aside, and the joy and anticipation of tearing into a new package not withstanding, memories, from even when I was just a boy, involve so much more.
Christmas has always been a time for family. Few, if any, were spent with just the four of us (my parents, me, and my brother.) We almost always found ourselves...Continue reading
At the risk of overstating things - and I certainly hope that I am doing exactly that - industry, speech, expression, and art, all fundamentally changed this week. And it may never be the same again.
On September 26, 1989, I was less than a month into my awesomely laid out senior year of high school. I was class president, I'd already been accepted to the college of my choice - the University of Missouri to study broadcast journalism - and my class schedule was the envy of my friends. I had two full hours of music, an hour of "honors" study hall (I could actually leave school to "study"), and I proctored a class, meaning that I had just three hours a day of actual real work.
But on September 26, 1989, at about 3:15pm, every bit of that fun, relaxed, and memorable final year of my youth was wiped clean. That's when I was told that I had cancer.
Most of you know the story that follows. Or if you don't, you can read all about it on the rest of this website. Or in my book, Heart of Iron. So I'm not going to rehash those details now. It's not why I am writing this. Because today isn't about what I went through to get here, twenty-five years later. It's about being here, in this place, in this life, and recognizing that absolute blessing of that.
And it's not just my blessing. It's the acknowledgement of the reality that we are making great progress on the road to a cure. We're not there yet. We still have lots of work to do. But people, just like me, are now living complete and full lives after they were diagnosed.Continue reading
This past week and change I was on vacation in Spain. It was a new country for me, and with it, and a side trip up into the mountains of Andorra, my "countries visited" tally now stands at 22. And each one of them has been a fantastic place to visit, and in many cases visit again, for one reason or another - be it the food and art in Italy, the history in Turkey, the beauty of New Zealand, or the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal.
As we were driving along the Spanish coast, sandwiched between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sierra Nevada Mountians just south of Granada, without a plan, without an itinerary, without a destination, and no idea on where we would eat, I was reminded of just how much better and more adventurous the travels of our youth were. We (the collective we of humanity) almost never had a plan. We'd walk through neighborhoods, poke through dive bars, and eat what the locals put in front of us. It was cheapest way to travel, but it was also almost always the better way to travel.
During last week's trip I celebrated my 43rd birthday. It's no ancient milestone by any stretch, but it's definitely an age that comes without a lot of experience behind it. And sometimes, when exploring a new destination, that can be a bad thing. At 43 I'm discovering that it's easy to start caring more about hotel concierge lounge access, a kingsize bed on a high floor with a view, and easy access to nice restaurants and upscale bars. And of course access to tourist sites.Continue reading