Lisa: 00:00 You’re listening to the Super Power U Podcast. This is episode #5.
VO: 00:11 Welcome to the Super Power U Podcast where we revealed the mental models and tactical skills needed to activate your Inner Superhero, and here’s your host, Lisa Betts-LaCroix.
Lisa: 00:22 Well. Hello. Hello. Welcome back to the Super Power U Podcast. I have another solo show for you today and it’s absolutely filled with resources and apps and ideas and tools for planning your best year ever. Please do enjoy the show. You’re going to want to go to the show notes at LisaBL.com/5 to check out the URLs and get all those tools. Please enjoy. Let’s jump on in.
Lisa: 00:52 So last week I hit you pretty hard with, um, a slightly manic, full-on fire hose of year planning. I can’t help it. I walked you so quickly through many questions and queries that I typically spread over, oh, probably two or three days, sometimes even a week. Hopefully, you’re able to download and use the year planning workbook. I put it in the show notes last week and I will put it in the show notes again this episode. There is a long version and a short version, so you have options for how involved do you like to go.
Lisa: 01:34 The questions in it are meant to stimulate your thinking, to give you ideas to serve as a guide if needed, but please do not do not approach it as a dogmatic inflexible homework assignment, but rather use it in a way that suits you. Leave sections blank if they don’t feel relevant to you. So today, today we’re going to do another layer of year planning, another approach with a couple of other ways in. I’m going to start with the small details. Uh, you know, that metaphor of “you put in the big rocks first and then medium rocks and small rocks”? I’m actually gonna turn it upside down and I’m going to start with the small details and expand out to a larger and longer-term thinking. One of the things you will probably want to consider as you imagine your year and you still have time because right now we’re just a couple of days in.
Lisa: 02:31 You’ll want to think about how you track it, how you manage it, and how you integrate the to-do lists, the schedule… with the longer-term vision. There are so many formats for exploring and recording your year and your life plans, but as Peter Drucker says, you can’t manage what you don’t measure and I know that’s going to speak to all my Quantified Self friends and for those of you who are just generally quant-oriented, so if you’re inclined to design a spreadsheet outlining the goals that you would like to accomplish, that is a fine way to do it. You can even quantify it with numbers outlining how successful, or what point you feel you are at right now. For my more artistic or expressive friends: Don’t be afraid to take a qualitative or artistic approach.
Lisa: 03:25 So if I were someone who loved pre-printed hard-copy planners, I would probably use Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner. What I like about the full focus planner is that it has a checkbox which serves as a reminder to do a Morning Ritual. Now, Morning Rituals have been well-documented as a success strategy by many people, and if you want some Morning Ritual inspiration, I recommend reading the book, “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. It’s a really good overview and a guide and inspiration for creating a morning ritual. The other thing about the Full Focus Planner is that it encourages a workday shutdown ritual. Now, I have not done that yet, but it is in my plans for this year. The idea is that you have a specific and intentional action or ritual that says: “my work day is ending and now I’m free to enjoy my family”…or whatever. You make a distinction and a delineation between your working time and your non-working time. So there’s a spot for checking off your workday shutdown ritual.
Lisa: 04:36 There’s also a spot for checking off evening ritual, and the Full Focus Planner allocates space for identifying the Top Three actions of the day. I have found this Rule of Three focus to be very effective. I can tend to endless to-do lists making so my list can get very long and after a period of time, I start to either disbelieve the effectiveness of my list or just become overwhelmed by it. So in the Full Focus Planner, there’s a spot for that. There’s also a general schedule overview for each day and a section for notes. More creative or spiritual-oriented people could take a look at Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map Planner, which puts a lot of emphasis on feelings. It has spaces each day for the Core Feeling you desire. It also focuses on three things you would do on your ideal day. I think that’s intending to get us away from the “shoulds” from the “musts”, from the “have to’s” and think about more what we would do if it was the perfect day. But there’s also a section for top three things that matter most.
Lisa: 05:54 So the desire map planner is focusing on the Rule of Three, but making a distinction between the importance of both aspirational To-do and critical or important to-dos. Additionally, and I haven’t seen this before in a planner, the Desire Map has spots to note things that you want to stop doing and also a section for Gratitudes. I love the idea of including gratitudes in a journal. Now I have to admit, I’m a little hesitant about the idea of including things you want to stop doing. I believe full heartedly that we attract what we think about and where we put our attention. And so imagine yourself trying to cut down on sugar and telling yourself “whatever you do, don’t eat the chocolate cake!” Well, what are you thinking about? Now you’re thinking about the chocolate cake.
Lisa: 06:52 Oh, but I digress. We’re talking about approaches to planners. Last year I had a lot of fun using a Bullet Journal. The Bullet Journal is wide-open and wide-ranging. There are so many inspirational ideas online on Instagram or you can just search on bulletjournal.com. Some people call it a BuJo. Uh, but the beautiful thing about a Bullet Journal for me is I love to play with calligraphy and type and colored pens and I love making lists. So my journal, my Bullet Journal tends to be colorful, it tends to be list-oriented. You can also focus your Bullet Journal in any way that makes the most sense for you. Tons of inspiration online… So you already know that my focus here is Strength as the foundation for how we build our lives and how we envision our future.
Lisa: 07:51 So identifying your Super Powers is the next thing we’re going to look at, and this is the gold! It’s a time to celebrate you. It’s fun! It feels good, but most importantly it’s powerful because conscious awareness of our strengths makes them even more powerful. So there are many ways to identify your strengths. First, you can just do a review of your life. Think about times when you felt empowered, when you felt in Flow, when you felt like you were doing what you were supposed to be doing. Consider Skills, Traits and Gifts. Skills are those things you learn intentionally through education, either formal or informal, so they would include things like computer skills or knowledge of another language. When I refer to Traits, I’m talking about strengths gained through living, through life and work experience, so that includes things like communication skills and people skills, soft skills. It also includes the ability to problem-solve and life-planning skills. Gifts by my definition are unique personality traits and qualities. Things like enthusiasm, creativity or dependability, friendliness, sense of humor, expressiveness… are examples of unique personality traits or gifts.
Lisa: 09:22 Now, here’s the thing, we mostly cannot see our strengths because they are so normal to us that they’re almost invisible. We’re going to get understanding, or at least affirmation of our strength, through external means. And here are two simple and fun ways to do that. First, just ask other people. You can ask three people close to you. Just simply say, “hey, what would you say are my greatest strengths? You can ask the three people closest to you or you can ask a variety of relationship types. So for example, perhaps you ask one co-worker and one family member and one friend, or maybe you ask one person that you manage, one person you report to, and one same-level colleague.
Lisa: 10:14 Now I’m a pretty open social media oriented person. I love to live transparently and learn publicly, so it’s the kind of question that I am inclined to ask on my Facebook page to see who’s open to giving me responses that I might not even have considered asking. Now, if that is not for you, feel free to ask for input in a more intimate or private manner and if you feel awkward about it, if you feel like you need an excuse or an explanation, feel free to say, “you know what, I’m doing some coursework trying to learn about myself and I have an assignment. Would you be willing to help me?” The great thing is most people will really enjoy contributing to you in this way because it feels good to appreciate and honor others. They’ll be happy to help you and you might even inspire them to look for their own Super Powers in the same way.
Lisa: 11:12 OK, so now make a list. Write them all down. Compare the things you identified as your skills, traits and gifts to the feedback you get from other people, and I’m guessing you’re going to see overlaps. You’re probably going to see related characteristics and skills. Another way to discover your strengths is by doing an assessment. There’s the Strengths Finders Assessment that comes with the book “Now Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham, but I really like the Richard Step Free Strengths and Weaknesses assessment. It is 84 multiple choice questions and for each question you answer how much you agree with or with each statement. I found the results to be remarkably accurate, and also insightful. There’s a lot of detail provided on your top five strengths and then it lists another fifteen or so skills in descending order of relevance. So for example, in my case, my results showed my top five strengths as resourcefulness, salesmanship, teamwork, curiosity and leadership, and it included an outlined and detailed suggestion for how I can best use those skills.
Lisa: 12:27 So for example, under the strength they call Resourcefulness, the assessment suggests that I thrive in situations where many things are happening at the same time. Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, ding…so I should seek experiences and situations like that. And under Salesmanship it recommends that I make it a point to meet strangers every day because strangers energize me. Because Teamwork is a superpower, knowing people’s goals is bonding for me and I should continue to find out more about people, so that is affirming because the whole focus of my podcast is deepening my understanding of other people. I also really appreciate the fact that this assessment gives extensive details around strengths and it mentions weaknesses but with a lot less emphasis, which as you know by now is the power position in my view. So in my case, my weakness that 31% was listed as Strategic Thinking, so I know that I can build on that strength and I can fill in the gaps by collaborating with people who can fill in that gap.
Lisa: 13:38 I have to say this is really one of my favorite assessments and because self-awareness is such a foundational skill for life design and goal setting, this is definitely one I recommend doing. You can find it by googling “Richard Step Strengths”, but of course it will be in the show notes at LisaBL.com/5. So as we broaden out now on life orientation and thinking about our Super Powers and our strengths, another key point of information is Values. Knowing our Values and understanding the why of how we live our lives and what we intend to do with it is critical. So there’s a list of Values in the workbook. If you want to do something online, I recommend the Barretts Personal Values Assessment. It’s fairly simple. It doesn’t take very long. It, like my workbook version, consists of picking 10 named values from a list and then the results, in a qualitative report, it generates is relatively detailed and it seems to be loosely built upon Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs with values related to “survival” near the bottom and “service” near the top.
Lisa: 14:57 It also provides some next step exercises for people who’d like to explore what they can do with those values, how they can actualize them in their lives. You have to provide your email address before taking the test, and to be honest, I wasn’t crazy about the defined list of values they use. I prefer my list, but I do like that it gave a qualitative assessment in response. So by way of example, mine included insights like the following three: One, “your values show that you are true to yourself and your principles while being receptive to the idea of others”. Two, “living with passion and a can-do spirit are important to you”. And three, “you have a flair for thinking of new ideas or new ways of working and enjoy trying to bring them to fruition”. Another assessment intended to help identify dominant values is the Schwartz Theory of Basic Values. I will link to this one in the show notes because the URL is a little unwieldy. You’re asked a series of questions and the resulting report gives a list of 10 values scaled on a 5.0 scale. So for example, in my case, in descending order at 5.0 was Self-direction. Self-direction is a very strong value for me. I also call that “agency”, um, “personal autonomy”, those kinds of things. The second high-level value for me was Achievement at 5.0. I don’t really relate to that as my value. For me, it’s about more about growing and learning. Those are the kinds of things I think about as “achievement”. 4.6 is Stimulation, which I definitely recognize. I’m definitely someone who needs constant new and constant stimulation. 4.2 is Benevolence, which also came up under another term on the other assessments and then continuing on, descending order. 4.2, Universalism, 3.0 Power, 2.8 Security, so we’re getting to the low values now at 2.8 Security is not something I highly value or orient my life around. 2.7 the same as true for Conformity. 2.6 Hedonism and 2.0 Tradition. Now obviously, your results will vary.
Lisa: 17:14 Knowing our values and being able to think about them and how they apply and how are they’re showing up in our lives is super important because the more we orient our actions and our goals and our lifestyle around those central values, the more masterful, the more effective, the more successful, and also the more joyful our lives will be. So if you don’t already have a clear sense of your values, then take a look at the list and the workbook or take one of these assessments.
Lisa: 17:43 OK, next I want to talk about habit design because in order to create the kind of life you want for next year, your habits matter. Everything we do repetitively is a habit. So you want to make sure that you’re choosing the kind of habits that support the life you want to have. Now, some people say that changing a habit takes 21 days and others say that it takes two months with a specific magic number of 66. Now I don’t know about that, and given the fact that we are generally quite diverse, it makes the most sense to me that how long it takes to form a new habit will likely vary depending on the behavior itself, the person and the circumstances. But one thing is for sure Habit Design is important. And now I want to give you a little sneak preview of an upcoming Super Power U guest, and that is Tiago Forte. You can check out his webinar on the importance of habit design. It’s called “Design Your Habits“. One of the most important things that I took from Tiago’s webinar was the fact that habits are a bridge between our Values and our Goals.
Lisa: 19:01 So if we can design our habits based on our values, then we have a clear path to achieve what we want to create in the world. In his webinar, Tiago references Tom Connellan’s “1% Solution”, which is pretty interesting. It suggests that if we improve ourselves by only 1% each day, the results can be a 3741% improvement over the course of a year. I highly recommend checking out Tiago’s webinar and look forward to his guest appearance here on Super Power U. Now, there are about a gazillion apps which can help you reformulate your habits. And I’ve checked out a lot of them and I’ve used a few of them. So, here are a few that I like and I’ll let you know right now that my criteria, in this case, includes that they be free and that they be available for both IOS and Android. Let’s talk about Habitica, Habit Bull, and Stickk.
Lisa: 20:02 These are just three of the many apps out there designed to help build habits. Habitica is an app that gamifies how you reach your goals. It operates something like a role-playing game and you can play it with other people, design and create your habits and then level up or down depending on how you do. Habit Bull is very simple. The free version allows you to track about five habits each with its own calendar so you can see how you’re doing over time. It also integrates with Google Fit so you can track your steps and other health-related goals. Now Stickk operates on the principle that people are more committed to their goals when there’s money involved. So it asks people to make what they call a Commitment Contract, has users define their goal, acknowledge what it’ll take to accomplish it, and then leverage the power of putting money on the line to turn the goal into reality.
Lisa: 20:55 That’s a brief introduction to just a couple of apps out there intended to help you redesign your habits. So I recommend downloading a bunch, try them out for awhile and see what works for you.
Lisa: 21:08 So now I want to go deeper. I know that for many of my listeners, what they want is more meaning. They want to have an impact in the world because the world needs us now more than ever. Others are committed to improving their relationships with their spouses and their kids and their parents. You might want to think longer term, you might want to go deeper. So I want to explore a couple of possibilities for Life Design that comes from a deeper place, that’s not so action-oriented or To-do list focused.
Lisa: 21:44 The first approach is to Have a Quest. I love the concept of the Quest and I think about the Hero’s Journey as a metaphor for an adventurous life. The kind of life I want to live. In Joseph Campbell’s 12-stage mono-myth from his book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces“, a myth is identified as a challenge the hero has to take which sets him or her on an adventure. It’s a beautiful metaphor for how to live life, especially if you are someone who values a challenge and growth, and I’m guessing if you’re listening to my show, those values are lurking somewhere near the surface. So a Quest is about seeking something important and yes, it often involves a journey. The central character, hopefully, you in your life, breaks free from everyday life, from the mundane and faces danger, metaphorical danger or experiences adventure while traveling in pursuit of a particular goal. So the journey can be external or it can be inward or can be both, but usually a will be fairly challenging and it will be a test of your character and of your commitment and generally, there’s a completion or an arrival or a final result.
Lisa: 23:10 Chris Guillebeau, who I mentioned in my conversation with Marli Williams in Episode #3, has recently popularized the idea of the Quest and brought it into common usage as a goal-setting strategy. His own Quest to visit every country in the world was hugely inspirational to me. I love traveling so it really captured my imagination. You can read more about that in his book called “The Happiness of Pursuit“, which I highly recommend. Some of the guiding qualities Chris Guillebeau points out, if you’d like to create your own quest, is that you should have a clear and specific endpoint, that the challenge should be clear. It will probably involve some kind of sacrifice of time or money. There should be a sense of a Calling or some kind of mission, and there should be a series of small steps that you can take to make incremental progress toward the goal.
Lisa: 24:06 Should you decide to take on a quest, you will be changed! You won’t be able to go back to the way you were before you took on the quest. You won’t be able to see things the same way. You will have leveled up. Sometimes though, change chooses you. I like to talk about things that I feel people don’t talk about enough and I’m going to say that Death is one of those things. Death changes you and whether that’s fear of death, motivating your choices, fear of your own death or the impact of grieving the loss of someone important. I know from personal experience that, for example, losing a parent changes you forever. It absolutely changed me. It changed my perspective. On the one hand, losing my mom made me physically sick and panicked for months and to be honest sometimes it still does. The shock of sadness still takes my breath away sometimes and maybe it always will, but on the other hand, I feel like I’m a slightly better parent and I can say that I appreciate my family more now.
Lisa: 25:20 Years ago, before my mom died, I read Tim Urban’s wonderful, funny, sobering article entitled The Tail End in which he represents in graphic form what a human life span looks like in years, months, weeks, and days, and it illustrates how much time we can realistically expect to have left for various activities like… simple ones, for example, eating pizza and watching sports as well as reading books, but the graphic visualization of the fact that statistically, for most of us when we graduate from college, we’ve already spent about 93% percent of the time we will get in our lifetime with our parents…is sobering. I highly recommend reading this article which you can find on his wonderful website called “Wait, but Why?” Or for more fun and a few giggles, you can check out Tim’s Ted talk on procrastination. Both are linked in the show notes, of course. But I digress…
Lisa: 26:25 The point I’m wanting to make here is that for both long-term planning and short-term too, sometimes it helps to get the gravity that how we spend our time matters. If we can use that as motivation –a reminder of the preciousness of the time we have left– we will be better off. Michael Hyatt talks in his “This Is Your Life Podcast”, it’s Episode #32 called “Creating a Life Plan” about how he uses the thought exercise of how he wants to be remembered by the key people in his life as a guide for deciding what to do and Pat Flynn gives a similar example of imagining how his children will talk about him in the future in his “Smart Passive Income Podcast” Episode #298 called “Before the New Year Begins”. It’s a very fun show in which he illustrates using this situation as a guiding principle for how he and his wife April, make life and business decisions.
Lisa: 27:27 Maybe it seems negative to end on the topic of Death, but I don’t think it is. For me, death is a counterpoint to life and it’s a necessary one.
Lisa: 27:39 Kahlil Gibran is one of my favorite poet-philosophers on Life, and here’s a little piece of what he says about Death.
Lisa: 27:47 “You would know the secret of death. But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life? The owl who’s night-bound eyes are blind unto the day, cannot unveil the mystery of light. If you would indeed hold the spirit of death opened your heart wide upon the body of Life. For Life and Death are one. Even as the River and the Sea are One.”
Lisa: 28:23 For me, this is the central component of life. That if we want to live a full life, if we want to live in exquisite life, we need to understand and recognize that death is part of our journey.
Lisa: 28:34 So in closing, I have one final thing to say and that is that it is so easy to get into the daily grind of life and for us to go from one action to another and from one task to another task, checking things off as we go and simply forgetting about, or not even noticing in the first place, all that we have accomplished.
Lisa: 29:01 So I want to put in a word for Celebration. Please. As you progress through the year, take time to acknowledge what you’ve achieved and what you’ve completed. Recognizing what we’ve done and honoring others also for their achievements has enormous power. So, in the spirit and essence of this podcast, take the time to celebrate even the small wins. Appreciate yourself for the improvement in your habits and get excited about who you’re becoming every day.
Lisa: 29:33 I’m going to wrap up here and say goodbye for now. I’m headed off to the Reno Latin Festival today to perform with my ladies performance troupe called “Moxie”.
Lisa: 29:47 We’ll be back again next week and I have a lot of great episodes planned for you and some amazing guests coming up, so please do subscribe to the podcast. If you have a chance, give us a review on iTunes. All the show notes can be found at LisaBL.com/5 and I look forward to seeing you next week. Until then, have fun, be true, shine your light and thank you for all you do!