When “Soul-Tired”, Take a Holiday!

My time management was going out the window. I was more prone to being distracted. Basically my soul was protesting. I needed a holiday.

It’s been a while since my last post. I’d been busy first and I’d been on holiday. Today I’ll talk a bit about the latter.

I wanted to get away. I could feel it not just in my tired eyes, snow-white skin, and freezing cold hands after a long winter, but also just in my soul. I’m not an overly-spiritual guy, but a phrase kept coming to mind every couple of days:

“I’m soul-tired”.

I knew this feeling from before. It’s more commonly known as burnout, but for whatever reason, my subconscious had come up with a new term for it.

I wasn’t suffering so much physically, as I’d been taking care of myself with sleep, exercise, and eating well, so I wasn’t run down or getting sick, but my routine was slipping as my mind protested its shabby treatment. My time management was going out the window. I was more prone to being distracted. Basically my soul was protesting against doing the same(ish) tasks in the same place for months on end without being able to draw out a paycheck yet). Without having seen much sun or warmth all Winter, and tired after nearly 3 months of bidding for semi-state training contracts (bureaucratic form-filling is not fun… not sure if you knew) I just needed to escape and get some warmth into my bones.

I had missed the last holiday I’d planned to take due to timing complications in my last workplace, so it had now been 11 months since I’d been anywhere (and even that was for a work conference).

So, with my birthday approaching, I decided to get away for it (in the end I departed 2 days after, but whatever) and looked for some quick, all-inclusive Sun holidays. The best deal to be had was for Tenerife, so I booked, and flew out less than a week later.

Puerto De La Cruz, Tenerife. Photo Credit: Kevin Murphy

Switch off. Charge up.

Don’t bring the laptop

I debated (for about a second) bringing my new laptop so I could work by the pool, but no. This was about NOT working. I knew I needed to get somewhere that I couldn’t work, even if I wanted to. Since I usually work from home, it can be hard to delineate the working day from the relaxing part of the day (though I usually use dinner time as the cutoff). I needed to get somewhere that was unambiguously for relaxing. Luckily I hate typing on my phone, so I wasn’t prone to answering any but the shortest of emails on that.

Go All-Inclusive

If you ever have the option to go all-inclusive in a holiday hotel, I do recommend it. It usually works out cheaper (unless you eat away from the hotel a lot), but the main thing it does for you is takes an extra mental load off. You don’t have the stress of budgeting for food or drink, or overspending. “Splashing out” on dessert isn’t a concern. You just have it. Or don’t! Whatever you like! It’s already paid for, so enjoy it at your leisure! Just not too much on the alcohol…

Yes, the booze might be watered down (wasn’t here though), and the food may leave something to be desired, but as Napoleon Bonaparte said; “Quantity has a quality all its own”. šŸ˜‰


I love reading a fresh book on holidays. I used to always read fiction but lately have read a lot more non-fiction. I wasn’t sure if bringing a ‘work’ book with me would defeat the purpose of the holiday, but I risked it. I actually brought two but only read 100 pages of the first. I was just having too much fun (also Tenerife was actually cold so I didn’t spend a lot of time reading by the pool).

At any rate, I’m still reading, and quite enjoying, the classic ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill. I’d put off reading it for a long time because of the cringey title, but when I realised that it’s a classic written in the 1930s, from which most of the other self-improvement books out there (good and bad) owe their lineage, I added it to my list. If nothing else, there are some fascinating case studies in there.

Since my holiday was about recharging, I also bought the audiobook of The Charge, by Brendon Bruchard. I really enjoyed listening to this as I walked around exploring Puerto De La Cruz in Tenerife, getting some sun, taking in the sights and smells, and just gaining some perspective on my life and work by being away from the desk. I’d recommend this book to anyone feeling drained, though the audiobook format isn’t ideal for this one as there are a number of lists and activities to complete that would prove challenging to find again in audio format. Paperback recommended.

Listen to music

I also enjoy having a bit of a soundtrack to a holiday. I like to buy new music (I’m not a Spotify fan) and associate it with a trip or activity. That way, when I listen to the music again, I can in part bring back the sensations and feelings associated with that music. Music has a very mysterious and wonderful superpower that resonates with us deeply – so why not try and use it. I chose the synth-wave band Gunship’s two albums to explore and I loved them! Check out one of my favourite tracks below (I tweeted out this video recently).

Meet new people

One thing I’m so glad that I’ve learned over the years is how to just strike up conversation and make friends wherever I go. It’s invaluable. I definitely have those days where I’m feeling too deflated to talk to strangers, because it does take a little effort and energy (I’m naturally introverted), but when I’m in a new space I can usually manage it. Really it just takes the an opening line and then conversation just goes from there. In a tourist hotel for a week (5 days in my case), you’ll see the same people again and again and it pays to have made a little effort. Effort is the wrong word, even, as it sounds like you gave up something, but you know what I mean.

One of the highlights of my trip was talking to the rep, Richard, from Lonten Tours (he’ll most definitely look after you well if you’re ever on holiday in Tenerife). I went down to book a boat and a bus tour around the island, and just ended up chatting for about 90 minutes about the books and podcasts we consume, and about the side/main businesses we’re both into. We really hit it off. I asked where was there good live music to be found and then got talking about the nightlife. He said they sometimes run pub crawls, but not at the moment. The next thing I know we’ve arranged an impromptu pub crawl for that evening with a few of the other young travellers around. So we’re getting in free (with free shots) to a few of the town’s better clubs and we’ve a small posse getting to know each other, all because of striking up a conversation.

That was my 2nd night only, so for the rest of the week I’d a small friend group who I saw repeatedly. Now I’ve (even more) friends I can visit in the UK, and I’ve a contact (friend too) who I can refer group holiday bookings to while he’ll send me potential business coaching clients that he meets. New friends, a few great nights out, solid tourism advice, and a new business contact – all for the price of striking up a friendly conversation. Whoever thinks that “networking” has to be creepy and salesy is doing it wrong!

Extra tip: I love karaoke too. The first night I banged out Frank Sinatra in the hotel bar karaoke and they asked me to do 2 more songs and close out the night! Not only that but people kept saying hi the next day, recognising me as “that Frank Sinatra guy”. If you can fight your nerves and get up and sing, it’s a real shortcut to making friends, as well as being damn fun in its own right.

All good things must come to an end

holiday tenerife kevin murphy 3

All too soon, it was time to return, but I found some clarity there that I could take home with me. I very much hate commuting, and love to travel. I want to see so many places. I want to visit friends that I’ve made that are scattered all over the world. I left Ireland with a choice to make following an interview done the week before. I was considering whether I wanted to get another office job in a Dublin company, with either a nearly 2 hour commute each way, or the necessity to move into the city and lose half my salary to extortionate rents. I was strongly considering that, as unattractive as it sounds (the company was doing exciting things, to be fair).

But that’s the wrong path for me (and most people I think, but it’s just what Dublin offers right now so many are stuck with it). The books I read on the holiday (especially Brendon Burchard’s, mentioned above), as well as the perspective gained from just leaving Ireland again for a week, solidified in my mind that I want to be in charge of my own career, and have it be a Remote Work career primarily. I returned with a new commitment to my business, and a new Why, which I’ll talk about soon.

In Conclusion

We all need a rest, and some perspective. Life is about balance, and I was off-balance. If you’re feeling “soul tired” or burned out, I strongly recommend taking a few days off. Even if it’s just to run errands, clean the house, and clear Breath of the Wild, that would do you some good, but getting far from home and seeing somewhere new can’t be beaten for casting your own life in a new light, revealing both the beauty and the stains that you’d missed.

Until next timeā€¦

PS As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Iā€™ve linked some books above. It costs you no extra to buy through the link, but I get a small percentage as a referral bonus.

Yin and Yang of Business

Yin and yang is work-life balance. Run your conclusions by other people. Yin and yang is realising that great minds think alike and fools seldom differ.

yin and yang of business

The taichi symbol, taijitu, or more commonly referred to as Yin and yang or yin-yang is an instantly recognisable icon around the world. The object of countless tattoos and copy-book sketchings is an ancient Chinese symbol of balance. Plenty of other cultures have their own symbols and fables, too. There’s the concept of Heaven and Hell. Buddha taught about the Middle Way. All of nature is subject to day and night cycles, and even at the atomic level, everything we are seems to be a balance of positive and negative charges. Dark and light, order and chaos, male and female, etc. We’re all inherently familiar with the idea of balance.

It has always struck me as odd, then, when we hear perfectly reasonable bits of advice, and don’t realise their absolute contradictions.

For example; “look before you leap”. We all know this one. We should plan and observe risks without being too carefree. Good advice.

Yet that conflicts with “he who hesitates is lost”. Both seem to have a lesson or valuable piece of advice, and I don’t imagine anyone would be too quick to argue against one of these well-known expressions, yet it’s cognitive dissonance to hold both in our heads at the same time, surely.

Personally I love “great minds think alike” conflicting with “fools seldom differ”. Whenever I arrive at the same conclusion as someone and they loose the expression (they usually pick “great minds” in my experience) I’ll remind them of the other. It’s a bit of fun, but it reminds me that we’re not necessarily right just because we both got the same answer.

Yin and Yang is frequently absent in business advice

“It depends” is always a safe answer, but it doesn’t make for good headlines in the same way as dramatic statements do. I just want to highlight two examples of where I’ve found the concept ‘the middle way’ to be missing.

Office Layout & productivity

I’ve come across plenty of articles and anecdotal evidence as to why open-plan office spaces are better. They encourage collaboration, a sense of team-ship, more natural light, etc. Fair enough. Yet I can balance that with plenty of articles on productivity and reducing distractions that talk about the switching costs associated with being in a flow state on your current task, then having to answer a nosy co-worker who just wants to gossip for a few minutes, and how much this costs the company.

I think that with content creation being such a necessity in the online business world now, you’re bound to wind up with a lot of conflicting information presented as absolute truth. Everyone has an opinion and has their own experience what works best for them, and many seem to think, or at least present as if, that makes it the objectively better option. To return to the above example, open-plan office space probably is much better for journalists or comic writers, and closed-cubicles much better for programmers or accountants. Office-layout advice is likely to be quite different coming from one camp or another.

Innovation vs Focus

This one is huge, because it affects entire industries and thousands of jobs, yet I still haven’t come across articles or influencers who try to reconcile these two very valid viewpoints (there probably are some, but I haven’t yet seen them, and they’re definitely rare).

Yesterday, this Gary Vaynerchuk video came up on my feed and he’s talking (totally correctly, with great examples) about the need to innovate. It’s especially important to innovate when there’s massive disruption going on, as caused by the internet at first, then mobile, and now things like AI, blockchain, and privacy/security.

Also yesterday, I’m reading (audiobook in this case… I don’t know why I still feel the need to caveat that in 2019) Simon Sinek’s excellent book Start with Why and he mentions how DELL started selling music players in response to Apple’s iPod, but it didn’t work and they stopped after a couple of years.

Okay, copying the competition isn’t the same as innovation, but it did set the wheels turning in my brain. If DELL had done nothing in response, they’d have been criticised for inaction, most likely.

Nokia, once the biggest mobile phone brand in the world, died because they didn’t take smart phones seriously enough.

Tell me if any of this sounds familiar: “act, don’t react”, “focus on your customers, not the competition”, “focus on what you’re good at” or “know what your company does”.

Simon Sinek in the same chapter as I read yesterday suggested that if the US Railroad companies had seen themselves as being in the ‘mass transit’ business, instead of the railroad business, they might have started airlines and much more of them would likely still be around today. Should they have innovated, reacted, or focused on what they’re good at?

The truth is that it’s very easy to criticise when we see failure, and survivorship bias makes it easy to say that a company “made the right choice”. Yet if their competition made the same choice, we’d likely say that the competing company should have innovated instead of continuing to focus on what they’d always done.


(Aside: Is this called “TLDR” now? hmm… just a thought. I’ve always written ‘conclusion’… anyway!)

So when you’re out there picking up words of wisdom for the day, or especially if you’re going to base a whole business strategy on them, do consider the value of the advice (it’s probably coming from a valid place) but also consider the opposite of that advice and whether there’s validity there also. Yin and yang. Balance.

Focus on what you’re good at, but prepare to innovate when you recognise that you’re being disrupted. Yin and yang is balancing action and reaction.

Work hard some days, but give yourself time to recover, too. Yin and yang is work-life balance.

Run your conclusions by other people. Yin and yang is realising that great minds think alike and fools seldom differ.

Or that’s how I see it, anyway. Do you have any other examples, or funny contradictory phrases you’ve noted? I’d love to hear your comments, either below, on social media, or privately.

Until next time…

PS As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I’ve linked the book “Start with Why” above. It costs you no extra to buy through the link, but I get a small percentage as a referral bonus.

Impostor Syndrome, and How to Overcome it

…especially the younger you are, or the fresher you are in a new job, industry, or project. Today we’re going to define and overcome impostor syndrome.

Hello again! I’m excited to be back for this one. I think it’s going to be very helpful, especially the younger you are, or the fresher you are in a new job, industry, or project. Today we’re going to define and attempt to overcome impostor syndrome.

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Perhaps, I could best illustrate with an immediate example. As I write this, I may think “who am I to be offering advice on the internet? I can’t even maintain a weekly blog, seeing as how my last post was nearly 4 weeks ago (and on the topic ‘Stop Procrastinating‘, no less! (To be fair, I never actually set or publicly stated a goal of 1 week (also, I’ve been busy, not procrastinating šŸ˜‰ (PS I’m a programmer, so I’m allowed to use multiple nested parentheses – get over it ))))”.

In short, it’s the feeling that we’re not good enough, and that other people don’t quite realise it yet but they’re surely about to find out, and then bad things will happen.

It’s the feeling you get on the first day of a new job; that you’ll never be able to do what these other people are doing, and you’re going to get fired pretty darn soon. Or when you walk into the first rehearsal with a long-haired, spiked-gauntlet wearing metal band and think “I’ll never fit in here. I work with spreadsheets!”.

Here’s a few of mine from over the years:

  • I’m not a real musician because I don’t know anything about jazz (still don’t).
  • I can’t work as a Tax Adviser, I only barely passed the second exams (never mind that 50% of people fail on the first attempt and I didn’t – that didn’t seem to factor in).
  • I’m not a real game developer because I haven’t published anything yet (despite the fact that I was developing a game) .
  • I’m not a real programmer because I haven’t a computer science degree and am self-taught (as were most of the original game developers and programmers).
  • I’m not a real entrepreneur because I haven’t had a truly successful business yet.

So what does that show? Well, apart from showing that I’ve had a few different jobs, it shows that impostor syndrome sounds a lot like negative self-talk, and coming up with excuses. It sounds a bit like “I can’t be happy until [X result]”, which is always a bad way to think.

But here’s a question for you: Would you say any of those things to your best friend? Or your child? Or your coworkers? Probably not. So why is it okay to say them to yourself?

Don’t worry, that’s not all I’ve got for you.

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

There are a few ways to frame the feeling when it comes around to relieve that anxiousness. Here are a few thought experiments and practicals.

1. It’s common and it happens to everyone.

Thankfully, I spent several years in the games industry, which is full of the most talented, creative, intelligent, kindest, and most helpful people you could ever hope to meet. It’s where I first heard the term, and knew instantly that it referred to what I was feeling. Two minutes later, I’d learned that it applies to almost everyone.

According to the International Journal of Behavioural Science, around 70% of people experience this (it’s probably more like 98% in the games industry – common amongst artists, composers, programmers, and designers – nobody is safe! The 2% I’m just reserving for some of the Biz Dev people, and even then..).

I’ve met and worked with some very successful game developers and ‘regular’ entrepreneurs (if there is such a thing), and they’ve all suffered from it as well.

This isn’t the same as saying “you’re imagining it. Get over it”, but just that the person you’re afraid of finding out that you’re a fraud, even your manager, is probably thinking the exact same thing. In fact, the manager probably moreso (at least the good ones) because the more responsibility you have, the more prone you are to feeling it.

2. Time is a healer.

Thankfully, experience alleviates the feeling. So it doesn’t just scale infinitely. Otherwise most CEOs would be reclusive nervous wrecks all of the time.

As we grow, we gain confidence in our abilities. After all, nothing bad has happened yet! You haven’t been “found out and fired” yet. You’re probably safe.

The principle here is to compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. If you’ve read “12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos”, this is rule number 4.

3. You’re outside your comfort zone. That’s a good thing!

mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

Our comfort zones are safe. That’s where we know what we’re doing, and we know what’s going to happen. It’s a great place to go to recharge your batteries, but it’s also where career and personal growth goes to die. Nothing interesting ever happens in the comfort zone.

Impostor syndrome tells you that you’re in new territory. Love it for that! Pay attention, accept that you’ll make some mistakes (and are expected to by your peers), learn, and grow.

4. Keep an Accomplishment Journal

Here’s a tangible step. Open up a simple .txt file or physical journal, and start writing down all the things you’ve ever accomplished that come to mind. Indulge yourself. Captain of the school football team? Won a science fair? Rescued a puppy? Learned an instrument? Mastered a skill you never thought you could achieve? Got recommended for an amazing job you weren’t expecting? Write it down.

This in an ongoing exercise. When you’re feeling down on yourself, use this as a life-preserver and remember that you’re on a journey, these are your past milestones, and you’ve more to come.

Tip: I like to add compliments I’ve received here as well. It’s so easy for them to roll off our backs and be forgotten. Criticisms are easy to remember, but not compliments. Write them down and let them benefit you a second time later.

In Conclusion

Impostor syndrome can be pretty uncomfortable at best, and paralysing at worst. The way to overcome it doesn’t involve not feeling it any more, but rather taking the sting out of it, and leaning into it – in the same way that courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the accepting of it and continuing anyway.

The next time you feel this particular anxious feeling rising, I hope you’ll remember this article, and you’ll have your Accomplishment Journal ready to go, right? I challenge you to take 5 minutes and start one right now, and tell me if it doesn’t make you smile!

Do please comment if you found this useful, or if you have any of your own techniques. It’s nice to hear from you all.

Until next time…

Stop Procrastinating – 3 Great Techniques

How to stop procrastinating is one of the biggest questions we all struggle with on a daily basis. This paragraph has already taken two days to write!

Tasks that seem difficult, unpleasant, or hard to guess the duration of tend to get put on the long finger. There’s probably a physiological aspect to this. Note: I’m not an expert in any of the fields involved here, but in layman’s terms: The function of procrastination is believed to be our minds protecting us from stress, and the cortisol that we know will be released by engaging with stressful tasks. We’re particularly prone to procrastinate when we’re tired or already stressed. But our bodies don’t necessarily realise that we’ve got bills to pay, dammit!

If procrastination is a protective function though, our bodies don’t seem to consider that incomplete tasks take up mental space (though you can reduce this affect by writing things down on a To Do list), whereas getting things done produces a little dopamine hit. So it’s clear that procrastination, while natural, isn’t necessarily doing us many favours if it’s saving us from a little cortisol now, robbing us of dopamine soon, and producing more cortisol in the long run by creating more incomplete tasks.

Probably best to get a handle on it, then. So! Here are some of my adopted techniques to stop procrastinating. People in paid 9-5 employment can benefit from these too, though they apply more to those with flexible working days.

The Pomodoro Technique

This technique takes its name from the Italian word for tomato. This is because its inventor, Francesco Cirillo, had a tomato-shaped kitchen timer on his desk that he used to measure work periods of (usually) 25 minutes.

The idea is to work in 25-minute sprints, then take a 5 minute break (good to move around, use the bathroom, get some water, etc) and resume another period after that. You repeat this up to 4 times for a very productive couple of hours, then you should take a longer break.

I first started using this technique while working in my last job as a games programmer. I’d have been assigned a big feature to complete, that would take hours or days (you never quite know with games programming). I’d break the task down into chunks that should take 25 minutes or less each, and then focus intently on just that sub-feature for 25 minutes. Sometimes a task wouldn’t be complete, but I’d have definitely broken the back of it without getting distracted. When the clock’s ticking, we tend to focus better.

Now, how this helps me to stop procrastinating requires just a little twist in what you think the technique is best used for. It’s great for productivity, yes, but it also carries the strong likelihood that that unpleasant task (say, a VAT return, or employee review) will be off your plate in less than a half hour if you just start now!

That promise has seen me start and finish more programming jobs, tenders, applications, emails, and bookkeeping tasks than any other technique. I’m even running a Pomodoro clock right now. I’ve 9 minutes left. The blog won’t be finished in that time, but in one more the first draft should be done, another and I’ll have edited and added pictures, and one final one will see it posted, shared on social media, and totally finished!

You could get yourself a desk timer, but I just use a simple free App called ‘RemindMe for Windows‘ (which I also use to remind myself to correct my posture at my desk every now and again).


As I often mention, this is one of the biggest benefits to hiring a coach. A coach is of more benefit keeping you accountable towards bigger goals and tasks, but accountability can be used in all sorts of ways.

When I used to live-stream game development, I set two times a week (and posted them on my streaming pages and Twitter) that I would be streaming live at that time. I didn’t have a huge audience, but once the info was out there, I’d be a liar not to show up and start working. Whatever else happened in the week, I always had two slots of 90-120 minutes where the game itself, in-engine, got worked on. This kept the ball rolling and not stuck in an email & admin pothole.

Similarly, once an artist and composer joined my team, I felt accountable to them, and any tasks I had that they needed done miraculously got accomplished. Most of us hate to let others down and are much more willing to not deliver on a promise made to ourselves alone.

If you work alone and people aren’t counting on you, posting things publicly, or getting an accountability buddy (accountabilabuddy – I can never let that hilarious contraction go unsaid) or coach can seriously help you to stop procrastinating and finish more tasks.

Urgency – Make Plans

This leads on from the others fairly well, but it’s a little different. Where the Pomodoro technique has you create an artificial time pressure, and accountability has you create (if it doesn’t already exist) artificial social pressure, this has you create real pressure – timed and usually social.

Parkinson’s Law states that a task will expand to fill the time allotted for it, in the same way that a gas will fill any given chamber evenly. I’ve always noticed that if my evening is free, I’ll usually wind up finishing some of the tasks that were allotted for the working day in the evening. If, however, I’ve made plans with someone to go to a show, gig, movie, etc, now I’ve now got a real time constraint on the day, and the social pressure of not wanting to cancel on my friend. If I’ve bought tickets, I’ll have the benefit of financial loss aversion too!

Doing this not only helps you knuckle down and get things done, but it rewards you for doing so and protects your work/life balance, which in turn protects your long term health, productivity, and enthusiasm. It’s a positive feedback loop that’s actually very powerful!

So rather than not make plans because you might have to finish work (you always will, according to Parkinson), say yes to that invite to the pub or games night.

How to Stop Procrastinating – In Conclusion

Using these three techniques (and others) have greatly helped me to stop procrastinating and increase the number of unpleasant jobs that I get done. Doing so has also freed up more time for me to enjoy my life outside of work hours (by basically creating “outside of work hours”).

I hope they’re of use to you as well. You might also enjoy my article “Movement Beats Meditation” (which is about perfectionism, not exercise or spirituality).

Do leave a comment if you have any of your own techniques or success stories, and please share the article if you found it valuable.

Until next time…

2019 – SMART Goals

…ditch those vague New Year’s Resolutions (eg. “exercise more”, which only 8% of people tend to achieve) and replace them with SMART goals.

Happy New Year! I hope it’ll be a good one for you all. One way to make that more likely is to ditch those vague New Year’s Resolutions (eg. “exercise more“, which only 8% of people tend to achieve) and replace them with SMART goals.

What are SMART goals, again?

As I mentioned last week in my 2018 goals review, this stands for:

  • Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timed.

There are a couple of variations on the acronym (you may have learned ‘Realistic’ for example), but they amount to the same thing.

When you set a goal, it should be clear, possible to define success (and progress), yet should also push your abilities and comfort zone. Above all it should be time constrained.

A year is a nice ‘tidy’ unit of time for us to think about making big changes in, but it’s comfortably big enough that we can procrastinate for months without having to do anything, unless we set some SMART goals.

It’s also worth noting that people tend to greatly overestimate what they can do in a year (they also underestimate what they can do in 3 years or more).

Write down and Share your goals!

Even when you set SMART goals, people often fail to meet them. They may just lose interest. They may want the result but procrastination gets the better of them, or the goal changes and flexes because they’re not taking a deliberate approach. But there are ways to improve your odds!

According to research from the Dominican University of California, people who write down their goals are 44% more likely to achieve them! That’s huge!! So write them down and leave them somewhere visible, like on a post-it note on your bedroom door, or as the background on your phone. Or both!

Even better is if you also share the goals. You’re 77%(!!) more likely to succeed when you do, versus just thinking about them. Get an accountability buddy (or, “accountabilabuddy”), and share your goals with each other. Then check in every few days to see how you’re both doing. Help each other out.

This is one of the main functions of any type of coach. They hold you accountable to achieve your own goals, while offering the benefit of their professional experience.

What also works here is to publicly share your goals, like on your social media or a blog post. Anywhere that you feel people are paying attention to you and may be interested in your success. So that’s what I’m going to do here.

Sharing some of my 2019 SMART Goals

2019 SMART Goals
nickgesell / Pixabay

Health & Personal

  • Sober January – I do this every year for self-discipline, and to detox a bit after Christmas. No drinking until Feb 1st or later. That’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant (to my health), and timed.
  • Run a Marathon – Carried over from last year. As I explained in my 2018 review, I’ve an ankle injury. This is a big goal with several hurdles, so it’s not SMART, but I break it down into smaller goals. First step is to treat the injury, by contacting a recommended physiotherapist by Jan 10th, and getting the next instructions, and a time frame.
  • Take 1 Holiday overseas – This will be my friend’s wedding in Canada in July. Can’t wait! Hopefully I’ll get another trip in somewhere, too.
  • Personal Budget – I’ve kept track of my spending for years, ever since I moved to Australia and wasn’t working initially. This isn’t a SMART goal, but it does provide a financial framework for all of the goals below, making them possible on my conservatively projected income and expenses, and extra-possible on better income. I’ve broken things into categories, and track spending per category as I go (books, nights out, bills, etc). If you’d like a (blank) copy of my budgeting spreadsheets, get in touch. I’m happy to share useful tools.


  • Volunteer 1 day per month average – Also carried over from last year. I only had 5 or 6 volunteer actions. First step is to contact a local group before Jan 20th and see what kind of help they need.
  • 10 Climate Actions by November 15th – I’m a volunteer Cool Planet Champion as of last November, and we’re expected to take 10 ‘actions’ in the year. My SMART goal here is actually to postpone this as a deliberate focus until March, and then review, as I need to give some serious attention to the new business in the early months of this year.


  • Revenue targets – Suffice it to say that I have these, and you should too if you’re self employed.
  • Attend a non-Irish conference – I tend to go to a lot of Irish meetups, but to go to the effort of a multi-day overseas conference to see who you can meet (and get some travel done) is not only fun, but great for business. I did this in my games company for the last 3 years. Now I have to change industries, but the goal remains. If you’ve any suggestions for a good conference, I’m all ears.
  • Release a free eBook download by April 30th – I want to give some of my best planning and mindset techniques for free to the site’s visitors. This also can help build a mailing list for future use. It’s also a teaser for later material.
  • Release a paid eBook by August 31st – Taking longer to write, but I want to be selling a few products from this website, ultimately, and to have the first one out by the end of the Summer, at the latest.
  • Speak at 2 conferences – Likely Irish conferences, and I’d speak at more than two if asked, but I want to appear at least twice. It’s a great way to get eyes on your business, and to make new connections.


I’ve several other goals set on lots of topics like how many times I’ll perform comedy, music, burlesque, how often I’ll clean the house, how much I’ll read per week, cook for myself, etc. All SMART goals, but for the sake of brevity I’ll wrap up now.

I just want to add that it’s okay to have longer-term, more ambitious goals whose timeframe is harder to establish (“go to space” is one of mine, and it’s timed only by “before I die”), but for anything short-term, especially business related, you should make more deliberate goals.

There are great techniques around achieving those “moonshot” goals (as Peter Diamandis, the guy who created the X Prize, calls them) too. Maybe that’ll make a good topic for another time.


So, Happy New Year everyone! Hopefully in my 2019 goals review in a year’s time, I can report complete success on those mentioned above.

BONUS TIP: If you’re giving up smoking or something similar, the story you tell yourself matters. “I’m trying to quit” is not a very effective story. Try a new mindset. “I’m not a smoker” works better.

Please share some of your own goals and resolutions below and let’s keep each other accountable!

Movement beats Meditation!

I’m a perfectionist. I’m a planner. None of these are bad traits, but if left unchecked they can cause you to spend a lot of energy spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

Hello and welcome to the site! First post! Woo! (It will soon become apparent to you that I’ve a somewhat informal writing style). So, why should a phrase as seemingly innocuous as ‘movement beats meditation’ be the topic for the site’s first post?

Well, I’ve spent days now trying to decide what the perfect first post would be for my new coaching website. Should I talk about the journey that led me here (it’s a good one!), or about my first client (my dad. When I was 23 I told him to fire me), or maybe about the purpose of the site itself?

Action counts

Planning is all well and good, but taking action is what counts! I realised that I was falling victim again to one of my own key character flaws, that I’m sure a lot of us share. I tend to want to know what the second step is before I take the first one. I’m cautious. I’m a perfectionist. I’m a planner. None of these are bad traits, necessarily, but if left unchecked they can cause you to spend a lot of energy spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

Basically, I tend to meditate on a problem, instead of move!

When I realised what I was doing, I was reminded of something that I heard not too long ago: 
“You’ll achieve more through movement than through meditationā€¦in most situations”. It’s attributed to Joe Polish, a renowned marketer and entrepreneur. I can’t quite find where he’s said it, but I’ve heard a couple of the personalities that I follow mention this, and regardless, it’s true!!!

“You’ll achieve more through movement than through meditationā€¦in most situations”

Joe Polish

Taking an action produces a result. Thinking about what action to take gets you exactly nowhere! Even if it was the wrong action, you’ve produced a lesson to learn from, instead of staying put where you were, wasting time, and learning (and producing) nothing!

The ideal first post?

Well, the purpose of my new business is to help entrepreneurs to get past the hurdles that are preventing them from creating a better world for themselves, their families, and the world at large. So, what’s the perfect first post to do that? The answer (or one of several right answers, more like) was staring me right in the face in the form of my own procrastination-shaped hurdle (this is all getting very ‘meta’ now, isn’t it?). Sometimes we just need to move!! Indecision and choice paralysis are the arch-enemies of entrepreneurs (well, more accurately they’re a couple of villains-of-the-week from a huge rogue’s gallery of arch-enemies. “Tune in next week and watch our heroes battle the dreaded ‘Impostor Syndrome'”. haha. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that).

Of course, as with all things in life, it’s about balance. You don’t want to take disastrous action that an hour of research could have saved you from. You don’t want to be overly impulsive, but when it comes to choosing a topic for your new blog that nobody is even aware of yet, all you really have to do is pick something of value. It doesn’t have to be the most valuable thing you’ll ever post. That can come in the future, and time will tell you what it was. You can’t plan for it, so just take an action!!!

Finished is better than perfect.

So, first lesson: When there are several right answers to choose from, don’t let yourself get slowed down. If there are no wrong answers, what’s the problem? Make your decision and go! Flip a coin if you really have to, but stressing over whether one choice might be 5% better or worse than the next is a waste of your mental energy.

Movement beats meditation!

Thanks so much for reading. Do please leave a comment if you got some value out of this.

Talk to you soon…

PS You might also enjoy this later article that I wrote on beating procrastination.