Never-ending Circle Of Growth
It is been a few years I am drawing my circle of growth every year right at the begining of the year and sometimes during the year I look at it to remind myself the goals that I want to achieve which makes me tuned.
This time of the year is a great opportunity for me to review what I was planning to do, what I have done, what I learned from experiences and others, what are my failoures and why it happened, what areas I should focus more to imporve and many more questions.
I have work related goals, personal related goals which I wrote down every year. I would not pick more than 4-5 goals and always in the middle is the happiness and health as without them nothing in the world worth having.
Following this pattern turn yours wishes into goals to become achievable.
This cricle dynamically changes every year based on where I am, who I am and what are my new perspectives and desires. Having reviewed these pattern after over years, gives me this opportunity to see my idealogy and my perspective towards my life.
My goals and plans over last year
The 2019 was a very full-on year for me. I had some goals last year which I achieved them all to some great extend and I am happy and satisfied which is what you need eventually. I list 3 main goals of mine here and discuss some of my actions, plans and strategies that might be interesting to you. Here are 3 main goals:
I was planning to get into public speaking in international conferences. Not only I could make this happen but also it was followed by becoming Microsoft Azure MVP as well.
Here is the list of my public speakings over last few months (Aug 2019-Dec 2019) which includes big conferences like NDC Sydney and Microsoft Innovation day.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams
Established new habits in my life
I planned to change some habits of mine including adapting new exercises like yoga, adapting new healthier diet than my previous one and some other habits. Have a look at this podcast to see how to establish a new habit.
Approaches I took in 2019 to achieve my goals?
Expand your network and get their support
I am really interested in sharing knowledge and improving my public speaking skills. I have done talks at user groups and meetups over last few years and last year I aimed to become an international public speaker in bigger events and conferences.
In order to achieve it, I communicated my goal with a few people who are supportive, knowledgeable and experienced in this area including some of event organizers, active members of my community, people who have done talks before ,and many more.
Well, expanding the network is really important. It is not easy though to have a great network. It needs effort, communication and dedication. If you become an active member of community by participating and contributing to the community perhaps it is a great way to start expanding your network. I would see it as the most important factor of career success!
Once I decided to get into public speaking, I got some great advice from my mentors or people who help you achieve your goals and I started to break down the problem to 3 pieces.
1- Finding a topic that I am interested
2- Learn the topic better and more deeply and learn how to present it
3- Start with small steps exatctly what Kaizen said.
Kaizen is a great strategy to achieve goals
Once you picked a topic,investigated and prepared it, you need to present it in small events, you get your name around and it is great start for bigger events.
Then I submitted my talk to bigger conferences but the key is KAIZEN. Start from small events, practice your talk, get feedback, improve it for the next talk and find a bit bigger events each time!
First you build up your profile so bigger conferences feel more comfortable in picking you for their events.
Second you build up your content and confident over time, so you would be also more comfortable doing that.
I basically started from an event of 20ish people to the event that I shared the stage with Sataya Nadella the CEO of Microsoft for almost 1000 audience.
Here is the list of my community activity and public speaking over last few months (Aug 2019-Dec 2019)
Other than public speaking, all other activities helped me to become nominated for Microsoft MVP. Activities like blogging, running lunch and learning events for my organization, mentoring people, helping events and organizing meetups and being a community leader in general.
Discipline is crucial
All small steps that I mentioned above are essential to achieve a bigger goal. However, small steps needs a good disciplines and time management. Otherwise, it is too easy to procrastinate them and ended up not doing the actions you needed.
The key of stopping procrastination is disciplines.
Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life problems.
Discipline tools are delaying of gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth, and balancing. If you are interested to adapt more disciplines and time management in your life, I strongly recommend reading the book The Road Less Travelled written by Scott Peck
Self-discipline is self-caring. If we feel ourselves valuable, then we will feel our time to be valuable, to organize it and protect it and make maximum use of it.
Learn where to say YES and NO firmly
Part of this discipline is the ability to say NO to what is less aligned with your priorities and say YES firmly to what is priority even if it is scary or difficult to do. We need this practice to say YES and NO!
Using Pomodoro for time-management
Also time management is another part of this discipline. I realized that when I started a hard task to do which involves a lot of thinking, my mind start to wandering and jump to do something easier. For instance checking emails in the middle of my activities! Then I learned to control it with Pomodoro technique where you work for 25min focused and take a 5min rest regardless the fact that you have to leave it in the middle and interrupt yourself. Also it prevents you from spending time on something more than 25min where your efficiency is already dropped! Two other amazing points I found with this technique.
First, when my mind tries to distract me, it means that I am getting somewhere that my mind is pushed the capacity and that's why the brain is getting tired and tries to escape. That's exactly is the point that I need to continue and that's when all great ideas and more advanced thoughts happens to me. 25min focus just does not let my mind break the productivity phase.
Second, if you use an app to manage your tasks based on Pomodoro technique, you can track how much focused time you spent for something in reality. for example your estimation of writing a blog post is an hour but Pomodoro technique shows you it actually takes less or more! It is giving you a realistic expectations.
Learn how to learn
Everyone has their own unique method to learn new things. I found mine and you can find what suits you.
Some people loves collabrative learning like me. That's why I organized learn and lunch sessions (BrownBags) in my company to provide and opportunity for my colleagues and myself to learn together. Some times we also need self-education which I get help from online sites like Pluralsight, Linkedin learning, Egghead or bookds and articles. Sometimes having a workshop helps learning intense and quick. For my public speaking other than learning from others' experience, I took a workshop which was really helpful. This workshop was New voices in Tech and sponsored by Yow conference
Plan to overcome fears that are blockers to your goals
Starting this journey was really fearful to me initially. Public speaking is scary for many people and I am not a native speaker which was increasing the levels of fear for me. However, I believe every problem has an answer when you look for it!
There are lots of tools and methods that helps with overcoming these fears which I will talk about them in another blog post. But for at this stage, It is important to think of your fears and find them out first. The things that might happen and you are scared of them.
Then ask yourself what would happen if those scary things happen? That is a very interesting question which I will explore it later more.
Increase your mental and physical capacity
Some of the goals that you pick need great capacity from you and if you are not responsive and flexible enough they can easily break you and burn you out.
Public speaking is one of them as you need to be mentally strong enough to overcome fears, be energetic as it needs efforts from you and finally be confident, transparent and open to your audience.
I remember after my first talk a few years ago, I felt exhausted which could have been potentially led to stop me from doing more. I believe in order to deal with problems in the life we need to be equipped with some tools. I started to learn some tools that I needed to manage my state when I am under stress, pressure and keep my energy level up in hard situation. These tools also help with healthier lifestyle too.
My observation shows me that diet of people in IT in general is not great. As part of their job, they need to solve problems everyday and they spend good portion of their day thinking of solutions which burns lots of energy, therefore they need to maintain their energy levels throughout the day.
For many of them, sugar and caffeine is the source to gain their energy back while in long-term it is not working at all.
Eating a healthy diet – increase the amount of fruit, vegetables, wholegrain foods, reduce the amount of sugar and caffeine diet keep your energy level throughout the day.
Improve your body posture
Your body posture has a great effect on your career success. People with weaker neck and back and digestion adapt defensive posture and make you less confident. Low quality blood is source of exhaustion, digestive problems and health concerns.
There are some tools to learn to improve the body performance which led into mental performance.
Brisk walk every morning, breathing consciously, Yoga, going to the cold water (or cold shower), having quite moments in the day and relaxing your body and mind. They all help to improve your blood circulation and body posture which is key tool in your communications and decision making through the day.
Have a look at this podcast series which show you the tools that you can leverage to improve your energy level.
Express your interests
Just keep in mind that if you don't communicate your interests and plans, people would not know whether you are into some responsibility or activity or not.
You provide the opportunities for you by communicating your interests to people including your managers and leaders. Clearly you also need to show your knowledge, abilities, leadership skills, can-do attitude, caring/sharing attitude and many more. But no matter what treasures you have, people need to know where you want to go and which path you want to take otherwise it is hard to help you progressing in your journey and career.
Request some 1-1 meetings with your managers and discuss your abilities, plans and express your interests and ask for opportunities in a transparent way.
Setting and achieving your goals is a skill to learn. Nothing is too far away to achieve, once we become clear what we want, we find a solution to achieve them.
Knowing of what we want is the first step then human is capable enough to achieve any goals afterwards by having plan, become disciplined and maintain mental capacity.