Part 8 in my series on How to Improve Odds for Success.
A most excellent morning to you! I’ve had one too many espressos so I’m going to jump right in.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve laid out a framework I hope will be helpful to those of you wanting to effect positive change in your lives. Today, I’ll pose three questions to ask yourself while establishing a structure for your personal improvement project.
Question 1: When are you going to meet?
To take measure of the week gone by and the data you’ve collected, you’ll want to decide on a particular day of the week to meet and set it up as a recurring weekly appointment in your calendar. So that you won’t consider the review process a chore/work, I recommend picking a day of the week when you (and your collaborator) are regularly available, rested, and unhurried.
For personal/family matters, my wife and I use Saturday as our review day and try to firm up the time of our meeting a day or two before. We’ve tried other days such as Fridays and Sundays but for a variety of reasons find those days to be less optimal. The time of our meeting is intentionally kept open to allow for flexibility and we use the process of firming up our appointment as a reminder that “yes, we’re doing this” and “yes, this is important.” I recommend you do the same. It doesn’t take long for those automated, recurring appointments on your calendar to lose their meaning and purpose.
Question 2: What is the duration of your project?
You’ll want to have a moment in time when you close the books on your experiment, reflect on how things went, and consider if a different independent variable should be incorporated into your success equation.
Equally important, is to take this time to reflect on the top level goal that is linked to the dependent variable in your success equation. What better time to do this than after you’ve ended your experiment? For example, say you’ve developed a success equation that has a dependent variable that originated from a wish/desire to lose weight, this would be the perfect time to take note of your weight.
Choosing the timing is totally a personal matter, and dependent on your project and the circumstances. I typically close the books on a project after three months. This provides enough time to determine if the independent variable I’ve defined can work for me; but, not too long that I’m stuck doing something unfulfilling or have lost sight of the wish underlying the work I’m doing. It’s also at this point I start to get a little bored and feel like I need a break. Which brings me to…
Question 3: How long are you going to take a break?
After the performance period is over, a welcome and deserved break from weekly meetings and data analysis might be in order. At this point, give yourself permission to celebrate and allocate time to set the stage for what you’d like to do next. This break serves not only as a period for rest and recovery, but it’s also a great time to see if you’ll continue doing the things you’ve been doing without all the overhead and oversight. As well, you might decide to change things up and have some fun.
If for example you’ve had “running” as the independent variable in your success equation and you want to stay active during your break this would be a great time to try something different (e.g, hiking, biking, yoga, etc.). Or, if you spent the last three months taking French language lessons, this would be a great time to watch some French movies or celebrate by going out for some French food or even taking a trip to a French speaking country.
I typically use the “break” month to identify what I want to work on for the next three months. This works best for me because there is something about the third month of a project that seems to be the hardest As such, knowing I’ve got a rest and celebration around the corner keeps me in the game even if I occasionally get off track along the way. A month may seem like a long time to take off but, for planning purposes, it allows me to break up my year into thirds and gives me extra time to decide if I want to renew my commitment or move on to something new.
Next week I’ll share an example that pulls everything we’ve discussed together. Until then, some music to add to our growing collection of eclectic music (see here for the Manufacturing Peace of Mind™ Spotify playlist) and hopefully distract you from the election.
I’ve mentioned before I’m a big fan of Lebanese food and wine. I’m also a fan of Lebanese singer/songwriter Yasmine Hamdan whom I was introduced to through the band Soapkills, a duo she founded with Zeid Hamdan in Beirut in the mid 90s (for a sample of their music I’ll add the song “Souleyma” to my playlist).
In 2013, some time after Soapkills disbanded, she worked with French music composer and record producer Marc Collen to release a fantastic solo album titled “Ya Nass.” The song I leave you with today, “Hal,” is off of that album and perfectly placed in the Jim Jarmusch movie “Only Lovers Left Alive,” a slow moving, vampire love story set in Detroit and Tangier (if you like Jarmusch films, despite being a movie about vampires which isn’t my thing, I can recommend).
One day I hope to learn Arabic, a beautiful language that uses a diverse collection of synonyms and word structure to convey meaning in poetry, song, and literature. At the moment, without the 2200 hours required to learn it at my disposal, I found the following translation written, I believe, by this fellow blogger in the comments under the linked video. (We contacted her to confirm but have not heard back as of publication date). I wanted to share so we can fully appreciate the beauty in Hamdan’s song (and understand why it speaks to the movie) :
I adore you
Even if a day passes by without seeing you
I forget you?
How come this time I drew you.
The longing moves the nostalgia in my heart
the night gets longer and the day passes backwards
Oh my fragile heart
The separation is killing me.
I have no solution
I have no solution
The heart only loves once.
Oh my fragile heart
The separation is killing me
I have no solution
The heart only loves once
The heart only longs once.
Although the sun is only now starting to make its way into my day, I’m already looking forward to a dinner of Lebanese food, wine, and music.
Have a great week…xian
*Again, not offering weight loss advice. I’m simply using weight loss as an example to illustrate a framework you can use to affect positive change in your life. If despite this note you decide to take this as advice, do consider chatting with your doctor about what you’re about to do.
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Having said that, I am interested to hear from you. Good, bad, or otherwise, please feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com. I’m the only person who will read your email and, as time allows, I’ll do my best, at a minimum, to personally acknowledge receipt.