Lifeticking / Life

When and when not to give up

November 30th, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on When and when not to give up

Hi Lifetickers,

It’s very easy to sit back and give advice on goals from the office chair. We all know it’s actually tough to go out there and achieve them. In doing so, is there ever a time when we should simply give up? Many people might cry: “Never!” But in reality there can be very good reasons. Let’s explore a few. It may not seem like a motivating concept to ponder, but equally sometimes it’s worth considering what we are sacrificing in order to pursue something.

When to give up

  • When it becomes far too damaging to your health (only you can determine what level this is)
  • When it is damaging important relationships in your life
  • When it starts to make you forget about other more important things in your life
  • When it becomes immoral or unethical
  • When it feels like your heart simply is not in it… at all… and you are only doing it in spite of yourself
  • When you realise you were only doing it due to peer pressure or societal pressure and not a genuine burning desire
  • When it no longer aligns to your values

Not very pleasant to contemplate. Perhaps we should balance it out with some opposing views.

When not to give up

  • When your reasons are really just excuses
  • When you are almost there
  • When you have made a promise to yourself
  • When you have made a promise to others
  • When you know in your heart this is more important to you than most other things in life
  • When you are exhausted, disheartened or disillusioned. Sleep on it and make a decision when you are in the right frame of mind.
  • When everyone else around you has given up
  • When it feels like the darkest hour… because that is the closest to the dawn

Obviously, these lists could go on. The key point is to constantly evaluate the things we perceive as important in our lives. These can change. Equally, situations can become clearer over time giving us a better perspective on our motives and justifications.

Have you considered your own position in life lately? Did it reveal some truths? Potentially, uncomfortable ones? We must constantly strive to be authentic and that can be challenging in a world that is full of contrivances. Nevertheless, the first step is to evaluate and then re-evaluate our goals, motivations and values in life. Staying true to these will help you achieve the goals that matter and shed the ones that don’t.

Happy discerning.

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Your 2014 choice: Function or Form?

January 2nd, 2014 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on Your 2014 choice: Function or Form?

Hi Lifetickers,

The new year is upon us and with it comes the usual indulgence of introspection (something I thoroughly encourage) and planning for a better year than perhaps the one that just preceded it.  Whilst I am on the record for my harsh assessment of New Year’s Resolutions, it is difficult to avoid slipping into that mindset. So rather than passing it off as something entirely negative, we should in fact look for what we can draw positively from it. In this regard I offer two things: 1) embracing goals and 2) a focus for helping you stay the path in achieving those same goals.

There is enough on the Internet (and our website/blog) to satisfy the first point, so my intention in this post is to offer something addressing the second point: something for you to perhaps ponder as you go about your activities each day to remind you of why you are doing what you are doing. Just as a coach at half time in an intense contest needs to deliver a clear and simple message, so too would I like to humbly offer you something distilled into a small phrase that eliminates and separates from the clutter that constitutes the information that flows in and out of our lives each day. That simple phrase is: “Function or form?”

At the risk of becoming somewhat a reductionist that is re-purposing the classical architectural concept of the blend of form and function to make beautiful buildings, I do think it is very worthwhile to see how this concept applies to our every day lives. We make hundreds if not thousands of decisions every day, many of which aren’t even entirely conscious ones. However, for those that are and for those that matter to our long term wellbeing we should ask ourselves:

“Am I doing this to better serve my true interests, goals, values and welfare?” (Function)

or

“Am I doing this to look good?” (Form).

At first glance it almost seems as if the two alternatives don’t fairly represent either end of the spectrum, so perhaps it could help if I were to add some variations to the latter (Form):

Am I doing this to:

  • appear more than what I am?
  • impress others?
  • avoid being embarrassed?
  • rule out any chance of failure?
  • keep up with the Jones’
  • further myself at the expense of someone else?
  • take more than I give?
  • fit in with the crowd?
  • satisfy my ego?
  • cover up my lack of substance?
  • enhance my status?

Whether we like to admit it or not, Form (in the context of this post) often comes at the expense of Function. It doesn’t just rest with us either. Society, through its institutions, constantly offers us Form over Function and we are all too happy to allow it. In fact, we often demand it. Need convincing? Try this for a sample:

  • Politicians are elected to 2-4 year terms and are expected to do something for our long term futures yet if they don’t meet our populist and fickle short term interests we vote them out.
  • CEOs live and die by the sword that is known as the share price, yet time and again we are reminded by people like Warren Buffet that share prices very often do NOT represent the true value of the company and are far too short term in nature.
  • Celebrities cover our online news pages and multiple magazines, yet we know full well reading about their latest plastic surgery does little to develop our own lives. And yet, these magazines are what we consume more than anything else.
  • Politicians from opposing parties will consistently and reliably disagree with everything the opposing party suggests. Is it even remotely possible that they disagree on absolutely everything? Or are we more comfortable with them lying to us to maintain the “us vs them” paradigm. At what point in our history did this become not just tolerated but expected and accepted?
  • More and more advertising is directed to us focusing on Form (status, differentiation, appearance, image) than Function (what real value it actually brings to us). Have we really become that superficial in our collective affluence?
  • We spend hours on Twitter and Facebook (to name just two) each day in aid of what? Being informed? Is that really the information we need to be consuming so fervently?

So what does this mean for you and your year ahead? Well, I think it is quite simple. Be conscious of your actions and your motivations. Do you want to bring value into your life? Or do you want mediocrity? The path to mediocrity is well trod and it is filled with those who chose Form. But the path to true value has never changed. It has always been there, sometimes barren and sometimes inhospitable, but nevertheless, it remains always asking us to take up the challenge.

So in the midst of the chaos of our lives that is about ensue for another 12 months, perhaps this is something you can contemplate and decide upon each day when you wake up:

Am I going to choose Form? Or am I ready to choose Function?

The choice is yours. Life is waiting.

 

 

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The Facebook dilemma

August 20th, 2012 by Shane Maloney 6 Comments

Hi Lifetickers,

Settle in, this is long…

I’m often asked a question to which my response is met with amazement, bemusement, contempt, incredulity and on occasion – admiration. The question is quite simply “Do you have Facebook?” The even simpler answer is “No”. At no stage in its existence have I ever really desired access to this ubiquitous contagion. Nevertheless, this has not prevented it from impacting my life. Therefore, in the interests of 1) not having to explain myself time and time again (by now being able to direct people to this blog) and more importantly 2) explaining the dynamic that inevitably helps or hinders one’s goals in life by being a user of Facebook, I’ve decided to do what everyone else does who has a blog and bore you with my tedium on the topic. But first some caveats:

  1. I accept the usefulness of Facebook in maintaining contact with close ones when traveling abroad or living great distances apart
  2. I recognise the wonderful ways in which Facebook assists us in connecting with people we have lost touch with in the past and
  3. I am sure for many people the positives outweigh the negatives of pursuing this great pastime. (Let’s face it, by the sheer enormity of our connection to Facebook, surely it deserves the status of “pastime”, which in itself is a disturbing thought.)

But in saying this there are many issues that counter the arguments above and whilst they are not the main thrust of what I am here to say it is nevertheless important to remind ourselves that:

  1. Facebook can indeed be an incredible waste of time for many people. The stats don’t lie people. Whilst many of you might regard yourselves as efficient and disciplined users, it might pay to put a stopwatch on your usage over the course of a week and see how those numbers look.
  2. Facebook has very little regard for your privacy. It has proven this on multiple occasions. Don’t even ask me how this is possible, but a Google search of “Facebook” yields 5 billion results whereas a search on “Facebook privacy” yields 8 billion results! By all means take the time to do some reading if you haven’t already. It’s pretty hard to miss considering articles are produced by major news establishments at an unrelenting rate. (Reduce that previous search of “Facebook privacy” to the last 24 hours and filter it down again to just “News” and you’ll still get 24,000 results.)
  3. Facebook has an incredibly long memory (like the Internet). It neither forgets, nor forgives.
  4. Facebook breeds narcissism.
  5. Facebook cultivates insecurity.
  6. Facebook feeds addiction.

All of these things above have been written about extensively, so my purpose was not to rehash them here. My purpose however, is to take a bigger picture view of life itself and talk about its very “meaning” in the context of those things that seek to reduce that “meaning”. Like a lot of people, I’m keenly interested in why we are here. I’m also interested in why we do what we do. Therefore, if you were to ask me why I don’t use/have Facebook then more so than any other reason it is because it quite simply reduces meaning in life. Now of course we all have different ways in defining meaning in our lives, so I will try to break it down to see if you can find some common threads.

1. Facebook trivialises relationships.

Why do we have so many friends on Facebook? Do we really want to know what they are up to? Do they really want to know what we are up to? Is it really that necessary for me to have someone connected on the basis that I simply might need to connect to them at some stage in the future. In such a short amount of time we have managed to create more relationships that actually mean less. We have uncompromisingly chosen quantity over quality. And yet, this goes against what we are really seeking in life – meaningful relationships. People often tell me how it was amazing that they were able to get in touch with someone from their past through Facebook. I would counter two points to that: 1) There is a reason that person is no longer in your life. We aren’t meant to keep in touch with everyone. That is life. And it is neither good nor bad. It just is. And if that person IS definitely worth getting back in touch with then 2) You would find a way to find them if you really wanted to. This in turn means the effort would be greater (and therefore more rewarding) and met with even more gratitude one would imagine (where such seeking is reciprocated).

Another aspect relating to the trivialising of relationships is the nature of the communication that takes place between people. It can either be 1) public (highly trivial unless for example, announcing the birth of a child) or 2) private (surely this too is trivial as a meaningful conversation between two individuals might at least require a phone conversation or face to face?) Whilst it is easy to hammer away at the points mentioned earlier about narcissism and insecurity, let’s instead look at this a little more deeply. Is it really us seeking our 15 minutes of fame? Why is it so often I hear from friends and siblings that they can’t believe someone has posted something, belittling the interactions of friends or family. Does anyone ever tell that person they share those concerns about the nature of their comments? Or are they not close enough for us to be that truthful towards them? Doesn’t that right there capture a simple yet recurring sadness of what it is we are engaged in? A “friend” posting something or with such regularity for us to then somehow think less of them, whilst not having the decency to actually be honest about it?

In the world of relationships, Facebook is the bastion of false security. We engage on our terms, at a distance and are free to react however we please. We sever that most precious of ties that make us beings that relate. Ones that empathise and share and look each other in the eye when we talk to each other about things that matter in our lives. Ones that detect a tone in a loved one’s voice over the phone that suggests a plea for help. We post a vibrant and vacuous self image to everyone whilst we suffer in an ever increasing isolation. We present whom we want to be, not who we are. We lie to our Facebook friends about the great lives we lead, but more importantly we lie to ourselves.

And yet, the great paradox is that we want to be heard. But why? Why do we need to be heard to feel loved and important? After all, seeking 500 empty Happy Birthday’s from Facebook friends because they ALL got the notification means absolutely nothing. In fact, it is worse than nothing, because it takes away from the joy of someone actually remembering your birthday. You now don’t even know who actually does remember your birthday because EVERYONE got reminded by Facebook. So why is all of this paradox? Well, in our search for meaning we want to relate, but in seeking it in such desperate ways it only increases our isolation and emptiness because by its very nature it has no meaning. This is the absolute fundamental point. We choose our friends. We fight for them. We cling to them. We laugh with them. We cry with them. They are the people we need in life and they are the people that need us. Our family and our friends bring us meaning in life because they understand and accept us just as we understand and accept them. We don’t choose our Facebook friends. We are conned into having them.

I could easily talk about the ending of romantic relationships and what that might mean for the sufferers who both have Facebook accounts. But fortunately, I don’t have Facebook so largely I am unaffected. Nevertheless, I am convinced it can’t be healthy to see an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend and what they happen to be doing with their lives post-relationship. Space, closure, separation. These are the things Facebook is not good at.

2. Technology = Convenience = Better?

So often in life we assume every piece of technology that comes along makes life better for us. We so easily see that by the introduction of a new peace of technology life has become “easier” or more “convenient”. Does that make it better? I’m not suggesting by default that it doesn’t, but I am asking that we conscientiously ask ourselves that question every time something new and exciting enters our realm. Nowadays we walk less, we run less, we stand less, we eat more, we watch more, we have devices that do everything for us. Is this what life is about? I’m quite prepared to admit that technology may give us freedoms and liberties, but what was ever wrong with hard work? What was wrong with having to wait for something and not get it immediately. Why is it that having everyone connected to us all the time through Facebook actually makes our lives better? Before mobile phones people made plans and met up with each other. Now a simple meet up for a coffee or beer involves about half a dozen text (sms) messages between leaving home and seeing our friend 20 minutes later. Have we become stupid as a society in the space of 20 years? Furthermore, that same little piece of technology allows us to “flake” on our plans. Better offers come up last minute and we take them knowing we can easily contact the person we had “committed” to meet in the first place and aplogise ever so insincerely that the engagement can’t be met from the protective layer of a virtual message.

3. More time on Facebook means less time for contemplation and thought.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be stuck on a desert island with access to little more than basic food and shelter? Whilst a few might desire such a blissful state, I’m sure for the majority of us this would represent an extreme wrenching from our present state of being. One with messages coming at us through the TV, Radio, Newspaper, Internet, Phone, Billboards and so on. Our current state of being barely even allows for us to be alone with our thoughts. Have you ever noticed how rare it is for people these days to wait somewhere, be it on a street corner or out the front of the cinema for a friend and actually NOT be looking at their mobile device? What is it that drives us to feel the need to get some kind of status update on anything and everything all of the time? Is it boredom, is it insecurity, is it the fear of having to look strangers in the eye as they pass us by and greet them or is it simply that we have lost our ability to be alone with our thoughts? But it does beg the question: How rarely our we alone with our thoughts? And furthermore, is this really good for us? “A life not contemplated is a life not worth living.” No prizes for guessing who said that.

4. Facebook is the great promoter of the trivial.

When was the last time you worked on your goals? And how did that time compare to your time on Facebook? Or reading the news for the 7th time that day even though the articles are the same as the ones you saw the 1st time or reading a blog or looking at humorous pictures or videos? If you needed to make more time available to pursue something meaningful in your life what would be sacrificed? We are always time poor, yet we somehow manage to amass an enormous amount of time each day to mobile phones, iPads, Twitter and Facebook. If we really want to achieve things in life then we must make sacrifices. Difficult choices must be made. And yet, there are obvious ways we can do this. Surely our time on the Internet should be the first to go? Or at the very least reduced. There are many ways we can inspire ourselves to greatness, but in reality it usually comes down to one thing: getting off our bums and doing something about it.

I’m not asking you to get rid of Facebook. Do I think your life would be better if you did? Yes. But that is a personal opinion. If I were to so audaciously ask you anything it would be this: Every time you log on and read something trivial, post something trivial or simply spend more time that you personally believe is worthwhile based on productivity, relaxation, entertainment or any other metric that matters to you, then do so in a conscious way. Be aware of your usage and be aware of what is being sacrificed in your life in order to make the most of the trivial. And so finally, I will leave you with a fascinating thought:

“More than ever, the grand sum of all earthly knowledge, wisdom and information is available to everyone in the world that has an (unfiltered) Internet connection. The question we must therefore ask ourselves is what are we doing every time we log on?”

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Want to see your life on one page?

May 30th, 2012 by Shane Maloney 6 Comments

Hi Lifetickers,

Today we’d like to share with you some recent philosophical developments we’ve made in relation to the bigger picture of life itself. Sounds dramatic I know, but for those of you (like me) who are constantly engaged in the perennial quest to refine core values, finding that right mix is a never ending challenge. (This in itself is a perfect mirror for life itself – life being the journey and not the destination – but that’s not the topic here).

In constantly reshaping and revising my outlook on what core values actually mean and subsequently comprise, I happened upon what I believe to be a universal approach to the business of categorising these values. However, upon further reflection, this new universal model seemed to be more than just about core values. Why? Because it presented a way of revealing all of our lives rather than just our lofty aspirations. This is because it allows us to group our activities (effectively what it is we do each day and how we do it) in a way that allows us to 1) reflect upon those activities 2) evaluate their importance and priority in our lives whilst 3) assessing how much time we actually spend on them.

It is called the Life Hexagram™ and it captures the flow and balance of life in a very simple manner. Whilst we don’t contend that people haven’t tried to capture their lives in a simple pie chart before, we would contend that the Life Hexagram™ does it in a slightly different way. It begins with an inner circle that, whilst ostensibly cliched, is quite effective in breaking up life at the very highest level being – Mind, Body and Spirit. Where the Life Hexagram™ really provides value though is in the secondary circle. This takes the three main concepts and breaks them down into the inward and outward flows in the following manner:

Mind

  • Absorb – how we take in information and engage in activities that keep our minds active and alert. This could be study or reading or even doing the daily crossword.
  • Apply – how we use our minds and make the most of what we have to offer intellectually, be it at work or elsewhere.

Body

  • Nourish – how do we feed our bodies? Our diets, sleep, breathing, exercise and stretching are all things that nourish the body. How much of our lives do we devote to this each day?
  • Express – how do we put our bodies to use? Sport, dance, playing with the kids in the backyard. Physical expression can manifest itself in many ways and is as old as mankind itself.

Spirit

  • Contemplate – how do we invigorate our spirits? Solitude, meditation, prayer, music, even stillness can bring about the necessary fulfilment.
  • Act – how do we put our spirits into action? Helping others, volunteering, developing relationships, charities, doing that which brings us life!

 

As you can see the second ring of the Life Hexagram takes what are the three core areas and treats each one as a flow – in and out. In fact, philosophical enthusiasts will note the mixture of both Western ideas (Mind, Body, Spirit – Trinitarian) with Eastern (Yin and Yang, the inward and outward flow as portrayed in Taoism). And so, we are presented with a circle comprising an inner ring of Mind, Body and Spirit and the outer ring of the six flows that associate to the three. These six flows could legitimately serve as core values and are designed to capture all things, hence their universal nature. However, there is perhaps a better use and this is where the title of our article comes into play. By writing in the third ring of the circle (refer images below) the various activities we undertake in each of the six areas, we are immediately presented with a perfect representative circle of our lives. Not an aspirational life, but an actual life. What are the exact things we go about in our day to day lives. Of course the temptation is to write the things we want to do (and there is nothing wrong with this), but the value comes from writing in what we actually do. A simple glance at this each morning and night with perhaps a two minute reflection would serve us well in establishing just how balanced our lives are. Do we really give our spirits enough time in contemplation or quiet? Are we nourishing our bodies properly each day to meet life’s challenges? It can be a very stark picture. But by presenting it, we can improve upon it.

A further exercise would be to compare the completed diagram to one which does indeed contain our aspirations. What would we like our lives to look like each day? It doesn’t have to be a complex exercise, but if we give it the time by simply entering the things we want to form a part of our lives we have already planted the seeds. From there we can ascertain the challenges we face in not only achieving these daily or weekly activities, but also the impacts on the balance of our lives.

In conclusion, there is one final way in which the Life Hexagram™ can be used and that involves a fourth ring around the outside of the circle. For the left brainers amongst us, you may appreciate that we could break this ring into a 24 hour day or a seven day week and apply the minutes and hours we have afforded each activity within a given time period. This of course, gives us our most accurate metric and would therefore provide a lot of insight, but personally, I prefer the simplicity of perceiving the three things and contemplating my day that way.

We hope this offers you a new perspective on your life. We’ve provided some images for you to download in this blog post including one with some examples in each of the six areas to stimulate your thought processes. Good luck with your efforts in extrapolating your lives. Perhaps you will be surprised with what you see, but at the very least we hope that whatever it is you do see, you see it more clearly.


Click for a blank printable version

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The worthiest of goals… introducing The Halo Trust

March 13th, 2011 by Shane Maloney 2 Comments

Hi Lifetickers,

I’m sure if each of us were to look back at some of the goals we’ve achieved throughout our lives there would be some surprises. Things that perhaps now seem insignificant, things that we may have forgotten about and things that we still smile about because of what it meant to us when we achieved them. Equally, looking forward it is easy to imagine that each of us has at least one big goal that seems so far away and almost daunting to think about. The kind of goal that in many ways we might wish one day will define us. The kind of goal we want to achieve more than any other. The kind of goal that is epic, all encompassing, invigorating and above all – worthy.

Today, I want to share with you a goal that is all of these things and more. It is not just a goal like yours or mine, but one that resonates around the world and touches millions of lives. It is a goal encapsulated by a single organisation’s mission and that is:

“Getting mines out of the ground, now.”

In 2006 I travelled to Cambodia as a tourist. There were many things that struck me about this country. First and foremost the people were genuinely happy and very friendly. Furthermore, they were incredibly hospitable. This of course, I have not found to be uncommon in my travels. However, there is a striking difference about Cambodia that is hard to ignore. Little more than a generation ago it experienced auto-genocide on a scale that is virtually unrivaled in the history of human conflict. The devastation was and is horrible. There are many reminders to this very day of what happened during that period including the museum that is Tuol Sleng (the school that became a prison of torture) and of course the Killing Fields where the graves of the victims are so shallow, the clothes they were buried in extrude from the ground. But of course, the greatest reminder is the people themselves because despite the warmth of their smiles, they continue to suffer the physical and emotional burden of landmines and other unexploded ordinances. And this suffering is impossible to ignore because many men, women and children whom I passed in the street visibly bore the suffering in their very bodies due to the fact they were without a leg or an arm and in one rare case without legs or arms as a result of stepping on a landmine often very near to their homes. This of course does not speak of the dead. During the conflict in Cambodia in the 1970s and beyond landmines were used to great effect by both sides of the conflict and as most of us know with landmines, the effect lasts long after the war is over.

During my time there I travelled to several remote places. On the way to one such place I met a young Cambodian man whose job it was to clear landmines and he worked for an organisation that I have since come to know is very widespread – The Halo Trust. Some of you may be familiar with the work of The Halo Trust, but for those of you who aren’t, The Halo Trust is an NGO (UK)/Not-for-Profit organisation (US) that “specialises in the removal of the hazardous debris of war”. In the 22 years since it commenced operations it has achieved the following milestones:

  • over 1.3 million landmines destroyed
  • over twelve million items of larger calibre ordnance destroyed
  • over fifty million bullets destroyed
  • over 2,800 heavy weapon systems immobilized
  • over 129,000 assault rifles destroyed
  • over 7,400 minefields cleared
  • 27,367 hectares (67,625 acres) made safe from landmines
  • 128,785 hectares (318,235 acres) made safe from unexploded and abandoned ordnance
  • 12,409 kilometers (7,710 miles) of roads cleared

Despite these amazing statistics, there is yet much to do. Whilst progress has been phenomenal, many mines remain putting the lives of men, women and most often, children at risk. That is why we have decided to donate $1 from every sale (and subsequent payment) of Lifetick and Lifetick Coach to The Halo Trust to support them in the work they do in the many war torn places around the world such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Angola, Somaliland, Georgia, Nagorno Karabakh, Kosovo and Colombia. We encourage you to visit their website for more information about how they do what they do and if you are in a position to do so, then by all means contribute in any way you can or spread the word. It is very easy to get caught up in our own goals in life, but it is also not out of reach to become a part of the worthiest of goals, even if it is in some small way.

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Insignificant in the face of mother nature…

January 17th, 2011 by Shane Maloney 5 Comments

Hi Lifetickers,

Hope this finds you in good health and spirits and well on your way to achieving your goals for 2011. I did intend to write briefly on our release of Lifetick tutorial videos on YouTube. However, I think they are self explanatory, so I will simply provide you with a link to our channel. Feel free to subscribe so you can be notified when new tutorials are added. We’ve started with 10 videos and we’ll be extending this in the coming weeks to cover the various intricacies of our goal setting and life coaching software products. Hopefully, this will be of additional assistance in your use of the software. In the meantime, this post is being hijacked by news of some other events that have taken place in the last few days.

Here in Brisbane (and pretty much the entire state of Queensland in Australia) there has been a phenomenal series of floods. The devastation it has wreaked may in fact go down as the greatest our country has ever seen. Whilst the overflowing goodwill of the various communities in aiding the cleanup has been amazing to see and be a part of, the reality that now faces many thousands of people is one of great uncertainty as they try to piece together lives and livelihoods that have been literally swept away.

I’m acutely aware that a few words on this blog can do little justice in conveying the enormity of what has been (and will be) endured. Nevertheless, given our Lifeticking community is a global one, it would be a bit callous of me to provide a blog post on Lifetick’s progress without at least acknowledging what has happened literally a couple of miles down the road. Our hearts also go out to those in Brazil who’ve also suffered a similar fate, but sadly with a far greater sacrifice of human life.

One needn’t spend much time on a news website anywhere in the world to realise people everywhere are faced with adversity. Amidst this dark backdrop, there is one thing that remains certain. And that is the strength of human spirit. Whilst we are always evolving, perhaps what should not be forgotten is that we are also enduring. The very core of our being is one of endurance. It is a word that speaks so much. It carries with it a sense of weight and hardship. But it also speaks of hope. Because to endure something surely means to outlast it. And that is what defines us. It is the people who endure great suffering and emerge on the other side that so much inspiration can be drawn from. Surely the goals we set for ourselves are all the more worthwhile because we have had to work so hard for them… enduring the struggle to claim the prize. After all, isn’t it the journey that we are really interested in rather than the destination? What are highs without lows?

If you do start to wane in your efforts this year, don’t be down hearted. It is a part of life. But do draw strength from those who have truly suffered and endured. Their actions have spoken louder than the words of any great orator and they will continue to speak. It is the human spirit as its finest.

5 Comments »

Thoughts for the year ahead…

January 3rd, 2011 by Shane Maloney 4 Comments

Hi Lifetickers,

Firstly, let me wish you a very Happy New Year! Whether you’ve recently joined us or have been tracking goals with Lifetick since May 2008, we are immensely grateful that you have chosen to do so. Our greatest satisfaction comes from the emails we regularly receive informing us of individual success and we hope this continues throughout 2011!

Secondly however, I wanted to share some thoughts for the year ahead. After all, it is at this very time that we can perhaps best let go of what was and embrace what will be. Having said that, there is much to learn about ourselves from the past. Who we’d like to be versus who we really are sometimes throws up discrepancies that can be hard to accept. Nevertheless, taking the time to analyse this is perhaps the best way to start the new year. To use a simple analogy, it’s not much good holding a compass if we don’t know where our starting point is.

So how do we actually find this starting point? It begins with honesty. The ability to see ourselves for who we really are lies at the very start of our life’s journey and should really be a constant checkpoint along the way. It should neither be approached with guilt nor rose coloured glasses, but rather a discerning, inquisitive and objective mind. One that hopes to learn from what has passed, both good and bad. In fact, I am reminded in my own life constantly that everything is learned in failure. Whilst failures are hard to accept in any area of our lives, the very fact that each failure has something to teach us means we already have a positive aspect to embrace when moving forward in our lives. Therefore, honesty with ourselves is crucial if we are to understand who we are and why we are where we are.  As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”, so too does it carve out our very characters. How we deal with a situation today is very much the product of our previous experiences in life. We can only hope that we are applying our experiences and learnings in the best possible ways. Always remember that every step you take in life is like a small chiseling of a Michelangelo masterpiece – we define who we are day in, day out, by what we do… and certainly what we don’t do. It is not the big events in our lives that define us, but rather the small day to day efforts that become habits that really define us. But more on this shortly…

Step 1: Take a good honest look at who you are and where you are right now

– Is this who you want to be?

– Is this where you want to be?

Seek neither to condemn nor praise, but simply understand who you are. You may be surprised.

Having delved into the past, it is nice then to gaze into the future. There is no doubt that the New Year is a fitting time to do such. Despite my personal reservations about New Year’s Resolutions, there can be no doubting that the beginning of the calendar year is a time when we feel most excited and motivated about the next chapters in our lives. Why not then devote some serious time to planning it? This post isn’t intended to be a full resource on how to go about this task, but I will provide an overview:

Step 2: Define who you want to be and where you want to be

– What is it you really want to do with your life?

– Why aren’t you doing it?

– How can you start doing it?

– What will help you get there?

Don’t think small. Think big. Are we talking 20 years or 12 months? Have you thought about your core values in life? Do your goals align to these values. You will find Lifetick provides some pointers on establishing these, but you will need to put some thought into it beforehand. Take the time to actually write down your thoughts (or better still – enter them into Lifetick), but in any case, make it an active task as opposed to a passive one. Set aside time by yourself (or with your partner) to really get down where you want to be and who you want to be. But you still need another element to complete this stage:

Step 3: Decide why you want to be who you want to be and why you want to be where you want to be

I’ll admit that last statement sounded confusing with all the why’s, who’s and where’s in it. So let me paraphrase: For everything in Step 2 ask yourself the same question – Why? Would you believe that people actually march ahead defining all these grand plans and statements without really taking the time to actually work out why they wanted them in the first place? And to top it off, would it surprise you to know that sometimes the two don’t even match? Sometimes we think we want something, but when we really pit it against our core values and habits, the reality is they simply don’t match. And that’s ok. It would be worse to pursue it for months only to be disappointed with success. Think laterally, work out the why and it may redefine the what!

Step 4: Assess the gap.

Any business analyst understands that a gap analysis talks about the difference between what exists now and what needs to be in place. You too should do your own gap analysis between Step 1 and Step 2.

– What is it going to take to change who you are?

– What new habits will you need to have in place?

– What old habits will need to be waved farewell?

– And most importantly, what are you prepared to sacrifice?

I think the last point sums life up perfectly. Are we really prepared to make sacrifices? I hate to say it, but it would seem the overriding answer is “no”. After all, it is much easier to sit in front of the tv for an extra thirty minutes than to do exercise or read to the kids or work on the novel or produce a new blog post (ahem). But nevertheless, we are capable of making sacrifices and we should draw on those around us who do for inspiration. As I mentioned earlier in the post, it is not the big events in life that define us. It is the day to day stuff. Habits. Good ones. If you are to take anything from this post today, then it is this: Create one new good habit in your life starting today. It sounds simple, but it is hard. Why? Because it requires that which we are least able to give  – consistent positive behaviour. Whether it be exercise, study, healthy dieting, family time, reading or positive thinking, you need to find a way to kick off your own positive habit. And then you will be amazed because without even noticing it, your life will have changed. For the better. Not just because of this one habit, but because it has its very own ripple effect and before you know it, it will flow into other areas in your life. And what started as one habit may end up becoming five or six. Think about it. What is one habit you could start today? Now get started.

Step 5: Find contentment.

As much as Lifetick is about achievement, we are also very much about contentment here at Meridian 86, so our final word has to be on this. Whatever it is you pursue in 2011, make sure you enjoy it. Smile when the going is good and suck it in when it gets tough. Cherish the hard times knowing that at those very moments in your life you have your very own Michelangelo carving out your character. It will serve you well in the future so be thankful for what it provides. Not every goal we set we achieve and regardless of whether we achieve or not, lest we find contentment then we will never be able to be happy with what we have done in our lives.

Good luck in 2011. We sincerely wish you the best and are truly thankful for your support. We hope in 12 months time we can all reflect on what has been a good year.

4 Comments »

One sentence a day…

October 26th, 2009 by Shane Maloney 3 Comments

Hi Lifetickers,

The correlation between journal keeping and success is universally well known. There is no shortage of statesmen and women who can attribute in part their ongoing motivation to succeed to the daily habit of maintaining a journal. Allowing time each day to collect one’s thoughts and put them into words not only serves as an effective check of one’s activities, progress, purpose and direction, it can also lead our minds to a deeper level of introspection of how we carried ourselves that day. Be they interactions with loved ones, colleagues or a random person on the street, when keeping a journal it is hard not to reflect on whether the world was a better place for having us in it today, which of course is a healthy thing to do.

But how do we make this happen? Journal keeping (like most things that require daily commitment) sounds good in practice, but can be a drag for most of us. Personally, I suffer from a severe case of inconsistency and therefore good intentions last a week at best. Nevertheless, there is always hope. I recently committed to a technique that I believe is already proving effective in getting my journal entries made on a more frequent basis. Quite simply, it is – Write one sentence per day.

When you think about it, one sentence a day is not hard at all. In fact, it is ridiculously easy. But is it useful? I would argue a heartfelt “yes”. Why? Because it is not the content that matters, but the act. We can’t all aspire to be Oscar Wilde, able to produce a worthy quote at will, but that doesn’t matter. Simply logging in and making the entry itself is the action that develops the necessary discipline and focus that can greatly benefit us. Furthermore, once you’ve logged it, it is almost impossible not to write more… and there of course is the complete benefit. But, if one begins with the very modest and honest objective of only writing one sentence, then it will ensure the goal remains achievable on a day-by-day basis and that is the key.

We are starting to notice in our stats a great rise in journal category usage in Lifetick. For those of you who are yet to try this functionality, it is most useful in recording daily activities you would like to measure or report on. For example, gym visits, calories eaten, books you’ve read and much more. Totally customisable, you can read more in the help tips when you edit the categories themselves in the journal.

Add a note

Finally, we would like to sign off today with the announcement of some new features:

  • Task notes (frequently requested) allow you to capture extra information on your goals
  • Fortnightly (every other week) recurring tasks
  • Interface improvements
    (including larger task and full screen reports windows)

3 Comments »

New Year’s Resolutions? …forget about them

January 1st, 2009 by Shane Maloney 4 Comments

Hi Lifetickers and welcome to 2009.

We wanted to say a big thank you for your support during our first year of operation and we look forward to expanding the product even more in 2009. Obviously, the new year brings with it a swag of resolutions, mostly useless and doomed, but nevertheless, that won’t stop us from adding our two cents worth to the ever expanding opinion on achieving more in life.

Firstly, most of you are on the right path because you chose to sign up to an online goal setting app – in our case Lifetick – and you did it during the calendar year, which means that you didn’t need the motivation of a new year to pull the proverbial finger out. Therefore, this would suggest one of two things happened in your life in the last 12 months: inspiration or desperation. Regardless of which, if you are using the product consistently then you will be achieving more, so congratulations on that.

A second key point that should not be underestimated is the financial investment some of you have made for the full version of Lifetick. This is important because people feel more committed toward something and value it higher if they have had to pay for it. This is for two reasons: cynically we presume that something free isn’t worth anything and more interestingly, by investing in something we feel the need to get our money’s worth out of it.

But the reality is, none of this will really get you over the line in terms of getting more out of life. In fact, if you are relying on a new year’s resolution to make for a better life then you are sadly deluded. Sure you can pay for an online goal setting app to make yourself feel better, but how many times in life do we buy a bicycle or pay for a gym membership only to see it rust or go to waste. It is a classic case of HAVE-DO-BE. If I just HAVE this then I’ll DO more and I’ll BE happy. Where we need to be focused in our endeavours is the complete opposite: BE-DO-HAVE.

What is BE-DO-HAVE? Firstly, it’s a philosophy. A way of life. If I BE this person and I DO these things then I will HAVE abundance. Effectively, it is putting the horse in front of the cart where it belongs. It is easy to make excuses for ourselves, but if we haven’t got the wiring correct at the outset, then surely, we are doomed to fail.

Therefore, what advice can be given based on this? I’ll break it down to a small list:

  1. Re-wire your brain. BE-DO-HAVE. Take responsibility for where you are in life and use that as your starting point. Doesn’t matter if it’s a long way back, at least your compass will be correct.
  2. Sit down and think about what you want to be different in your life. Write these things down.
  3. Apply the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting methodology. If something doesn’t add up then scrap it. Ever noticed how many NY resolutions are vague and therefore don’t fit the S.M.A.R.T. methodology? You can forget about achieving a single one of your resolutions if they are in any way, shape or form vague.
  4. Cast your eye over your goals. If you are having doubts about one, scrap it. Isn’t that giving up? No. The reality is that goal setting really helps work out what we REALLY want in life. The truth is that most things in life we don’t REALLY want. Sure, they’d be nice to have if there was no effort involved, but life is not like that. Otherwise, we’d all win the lotto. Make your list count. If you really want something, it will be a goal.
  5. Now the hard part. Daily inspiration. Find it any way you can. This is what will make or break you. Some ideas:
    a) Read a famous quote every morning when you get out of bed e.g. What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
    b) Put pictures and reminders of your heroes on your walls, computer screen, as bookmarks, on notepaper.
    c) Get in rhythm. Listen to music that inspires you. Make a compilation of the songs that make you feel better about yourself and keep you motivated when you need it.
    d) Use an affirmation. Not for all, but some swear by them. Worth trying.
    e) Share your dreams with someone you can trust. No, not a random on the Internet. Someone who will take them seriously and believe in you. You should ask this person to follow up with you every one to two weeks to check your progress. If he (or she) is a true friend, he will care and it won’t be an effort for him.
    f) Start a good habit, by breaking a bad habit. If you can start one good habit then you can start a hundred. Find the easiest one and give it 21 days. Prove to yourself you have it within you.
    g) Read biographies of inspirational people every 2-3 months. You’ll soon feel the effects of their lives wear off on yours.
  6. Finally, let go. That’s right. Let it happen. Find time each day to pray, meditate, contemplate or just be still. Whatever it is that works for you. Life is about balance, so if you’re too busy achieving you may not be enjoying the fruits of your labour. Find your own balance.

Tools like Lifetick will certainly help you with organisation, reminders and motivation here and there, but your drive will come from within. Find a way to tap into that. It is different for everyone, so beware those who promise the world with their wares.

Good luck and we wish you a successful 2009. We hope to serve you well throughout.

4 Comments »

What do you value?

October 12th, 2008 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on What do you value?

Hi Lifetickers,

In the time we’ve been operating we’ve had some interesting feedback and questions regarding Core Values. It can be quite inspiring to hear how users are re-evaluating their priorities in life, simply based on the fact that Lifetick forces them to consider what their Core Values are exactly.

During the months of development and testing, we had the opportunity to refine the product again and again. However, we also found ourselves refining our core values again and again. Sometimes it was easy to name something important in our lives, like “Family”. Other times it was not so easy. In fact, one of the reasons for it being difficult is that our values can change over time. It’s also common to enter values that don’t necessarily feature heavily in our lives on a day to day basis. There is nothing wrong with this, providing it is where we want our lives to be. One such example is “Adventure” (one of my own core values). Although I’m very much a part of the 9-5 crowd (and some), having the Adventure core value reminds me of an important aspect of my life that I am always striving to achieve, even if it is only once a year.

So with all this being said, we wanted to give you some feedback on what the most popular core values are that you’ve created, so you can see what it is that people value. Here are the Top Ten:

Probably not too many surprises there. In fact, Lifetick now has over 100 different core value names from our users, so here are some of the ones we found inspiring: Charity, Peace, Love, Kindness, Compassion, Honesty, Freedom, Trust and Integrity. Nice to see such a blend of values with virtues.

Finally, we wanted to quickly mention that we’ve now added a “Print Tasks by Core Value” feature (originally requested by Christy). Simply click on the Print button in the Navigate or Life screens and you’ll see it added to the available list.

We hope it provides another useful perspective on your personal journey.

Comments Off on What do you value?