Lifeticking / Motivation

Reflecting on a year that’s been? Journal those thoughts

December 31st, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on Reflecting on a year that’s been? Journal those thoughts

Hi Lifetickers,

It’s hard to not reflect on the year that’s been come the end of December. In many ways a calendar year provides a neat bookend to a period of time in life that is just long enough to take some major steps in life and short enough to work towards them. I find myself in a reflective mood at this time of year and it serves as a great prologue to planning for the year ahead. What did I achieve? What made me happy? What made me content? What would I do differently? What unexpected things happened? How do I feel about my life and where it is heading?

Of course, being Christmas time also means family have the chance to get together to celebrate (and sometimes aggravate). What constantly brings laughter and smiles to our faces are Dad’s recollections of our various sayings as kids. As we get older we appreciate them more and I’m amazed at Dad’s ability to recall them even after 40 years. One in particular that seems to have everyone erupt in laughter is my question to Dad when I was three years old about his cowboy exploits (an occupation otherwise known as Stockman in Australia). I was obsessed with cowboys/stockmen and my story book at the time depicted some cowboys mustering cattle in amongst the dust whilst wearing their bandanas across their mouths. My innocent question to Dad: “Did you wear a tissue in the dirt time?” still has my siblings in stitches every time they hear it.

And so it got me thinking as to how to capture these gems. Whilst I like to use Lifetick as a journal from time to time, I realised journal trackers (previously known as journal categories) serve as a great way to capture additional things that need their own special categories like “Dad’s family stories”.

Since then I have been adding a few other trackers to better “chronicle” my life and some easy ones include “Travel” which is obviously dates and places of my global meandering. Then of course there’s a whole ‘nother tracker called “Travel stories” and thats where it really gets interesting. The thing I like about journal trackers is I don’t have to laboriously add everything at once, but rather just enter them as they come to mind. For “Dad’s family stories” I simply enter the story and back date to when it most likely first took place. Not an exact science, but something that captures the record never to be lost. Of course, future family gatherings will no doubt benefit from my diligent record keeping, so I can only hope I have some stories recorded of the siblings that induce equal amounts of laughter.

May you enjoy your own time of reflection and we wish you the very best for the year ahead.


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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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Another year approaches its end. What does that mean for you?

October 31st, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on Another year approaches its end. What does that mean for you?

Hi Lifetickers,

Here we are on the verge of November and just like that another year has whizzed by at seemingly great pace. The questions is: what kind of year has it been for you? Why am I asking this with two full months to go? Very simple. Whatever you have or haven’t done, two months gives you enough time to make one last big push for your 2016 goals. So that is my challenge for you. Think of it like this:

  1. Is there something that you really wanted to achieve this year and through life’s daily struggles it just gently slipped back into oblivion?
  2. If you sat down and reviewed that goal, what do you think you could achieve with 61 days left? Is it some of it? Is it all of it?
  3. How do you think you feel come New Year, if rather than the millions of others who are thinking about New Year’s Resolutions from a standing still position, you’ve already gotten a huge head start and gained some crucial momentum?
  4. What has stopped you achieving your goals this year? Is there a blocker? A barrier? An attitude? Is it apathy? Is it motivation? How do you think you might overcome this to get going again?
  5. What’s the easiest thing you can achieve today? What’s the easiest thing you can achieve in the next three days? What’s the easiest thing you can achieve this week? Seriously, do all of them.

Most importantly though, it is very easy to forget that every single day is a great day to start working toward your future. Just one step in the right direction can sometimes be enough to get the second step happening and then the third and before you know it you are walking. Then you can start to run.

If you’ve read this far, I’d say you’re either bored and surfing the net or you are actually trying to get inspired. So if it’s the latter, then here’s what you need to do right now. Do not click any other link. Go straight to your goal and update it. Make sure it’s revised according to your new needs and schedule. Then start working on the first task RIGHT NOW. Do not make an excuse. Do not postpone. Do not procrastinate. Just do that task. As soon as I publish this post (and tweet about it) I will do exactly the same.

61 days to go. Don’t waste them. Good luck.


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Finding Ways to Fit Your Study Goals into Day-to-Day Life

October 13th, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on Finding Ways to Fit Your Study Goals into Day-to-Day Life

Hi Lifetickers,

Today we have a guest post for you courtesy of David Recine of Magoosh. Focused on study goals and how we can incorporate them into life, it offers some practical tips and sound advice to ensure ongoing success. Enjoy! 

Setting study goals can be challenging, especially if you aren’t a full-time student.

To find time for your study goals in day-to-day life, you have to strike a careful balance. If you devote too little time to your studies, you’ll lose sight of your goals as other responsibilities crop up. But if you set overambitious study goals, you can easily miss those goals and get discouraged.

If you are setting your own study goals in your spare time, think of these goals as a garden in the courtyard of your life. Plants in a garden need the right amount of water and sunlight– not too much and not too little. Similarly, your study goals need the exact right amount of your time and energy.

First and foremost, you should set a realistic study schedule. Your study schedule should be realistic in two ways. You’ll need to have time for both your studies and the other parts of your day-to-day life. And you’ll need to set aside enough time so that your learning can progress.

To ensure you have sufficient time for both life and study, most people should set aside no more than three hours per weekday, on average. And as you take stock in your life, you may find that you have less than three hours per day. This can be especially true if you have both a full time job and a family.

So three hours per day is the maximum you should probably devote to your study goals. If you are exceptionally busy, you may also need to think of the minimum amount of time you can put in. Your minimum daily time for study depends on what your goals are. If your goal is to master a second language, many experts recommend a minimum of one hour of study per day; this applies to other skill-building study goals as well. If your goal is to pass a standardized test, how much time you put in per day depends a lot on when you need to take the test. If you have a month of study time before an exam, 2-4 hours per weekday and 5-6 hours over the weekend is a realistic minimum; you can see an example of this schedule in a typical 1 month GRE prep plan.

Once you’ve chosen a study schedule that seems realistic, make sure you can also be flexible. Life happens. You will have days when unexpected things come up and you need to cancel or shorten a study session. For language learning and other skill-studies, try to give yourself one or two hours per day. That way if you have a day where you can’t do your minimum one hour of study, you can make up for lost time the next day. For rigorous, multidisciplinary academic studies such as test prep or self-paced online courses, be prepared to stretch your study plan out for a longer period. That one-month,  2-4 hour a day GRE study schedule I linked to could become a two-month, 1-2 hour a day plan. Self-paced courses through schools such as Udemy or Western Governors University can be similarly stretched if need be.

The pace of your life will ebb and flow. You’ll be more busy with your day-to-day life at times, less busy at others. The time you put in for your study goals will need to ebb and flow with the rest of your life. The trick is to make sure that flow of study never comes to a complete stop… until you reach your goal.

About David Recine
David is a test prep expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has been teaching K-12, University, and adult education classes since 2007 and has worked with students from every continent.

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My tv antennae is broken. Life just got so much better.

August 30th, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on My tv antennae is broken. Life just got so much better.

Hi Lifetickers,

Close to a year ago, my tv antennae (or coaxial cable) failed to deliver a signal. At first I was mildly perturbed, but then I thought “I might just hold off on getting this repaired”. I was curious as to how long I could go without tv. It turns out, the answer was and is quite some time. Disclaimer: the Internet still offers many options for tv viewing. However, what’s interesting is how much easier it is to do more purposeful activity when the temptation is removed.

When it comes to goal setting, there are many simple daily events and routines that keep us from doing less than we’d hoped or aimed for. Sometimes, opportunities come along (like a signal-less tv) that should be jumped on because they make our goals slightly more achievable by removing the temptation to do less. In this instance, I didn’t have to actually actively do something to make it happen. However, there will be opportunities we can look for ourselves to remove small temptations that lead us to better habits. Every little bit helps so why not make the most of the little things.

You might ask: what have I gained since the box has been out of action? Well, firstly “watching tv for the sake of it” is completely gone and not even contemplated. Secondly, I am more conscious of what I do in the evenings. Is it more time with loved ones, more time reading, more time studying, more time in the garden or more time doing physical activity. All of these for me amount to a better outcome then sitting passively in front of the tv. But there will always be a time for downtime and that is part of our recharge, so we needn’t become too austere. At least now though, I can seek out programs I want to watch through the Internet and have a specific time to enjoy them rather than simply becoming entirely inactive and soaking up whatever is on offer.

Why not have a think about the temptations in your life that could be easily removed. Even removing one could lead to better outcomes for your goals and sense of being. Every day is a new opportunity to be more of who we want to be in life. Removing the temptations that prevent that is half the battle.

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Stuck in a rut? Move forward quickly with these tips…

July 30th, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on Stuck in a rut? Move forward quickly with these tips…

Hi Lifetickers,

It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut in life. There are many daily challenges that can seem daunting and insurmountable that push our minds and bodies into a state of inactivity and loss of hope. These are the times we need to work on our goals the most and stay true to the course, but it is the absolute most hardest time as well. Be they financial, work, relationship, study, spiritual or physical troubles, it can be enough to bring down the best of us and push us into a mindset of despair. So what can be done? Well, there’s a lot actually. And the key focus of this article lies in suggesting the little things. After all, from little things, big things grow.

#1 Make small decisions.

Often when faced with struggles the first hurdle to overcome is indecision. It can be crippling. Sometimes indecision can be a decision in itself. It means “no”. We need to be mindful that we might actually be indecisive and that’s ok. It’s part of the process. What we can do though, is make regular small decisions. Sometimes a big problem is a series of small actions. Equally, a big decision is a series of small decisions. I’ll use a simple analogy. Let’s say you are trying to train for a marathon. Rather than fear and face the most daunting of training schedules, decide to commit to just four days of training and re-assess. Just four. See how it feels. No commitment. And then in four days if you feel good, make another decision to do it for four more. Or six more. You decide. But always give yourself options. Maybe after a few of these you will feel better about your bigger commitment or it might make you realise that is a different focus you should have. Either way, by making small decisions you are giving yourself more control over achievable things. And that’s the key. Achievable. But perhaps a more complex analogy is required. Let’s say you have financial challenges. These are the worst. Focus on what is in your control. See if there is one saving you can make every week. Some small sacrifice. Make a decision to improve that metric daily. Is it not buying coffee in the morning? Is it saying good bye to a weekly online movie rental. Remember, always a small decision, but stick to it and then make another decision. Make the decisions for things that are in your control. Over time, you can then start to feel confident about the small steps you are taking so you are in a better frame of mind to handle the bigger challenges. Hopefully the financial savings you are making will start to ease your stress as well.

#2 Do small actions.

This is almost the same as above, but it’s worth mentioning. Do something, anything. Just get some motion. Because motion leads to momentum and momentum will break your rut. I’m often deterred from running because the first mile outside my door is nothing but hills. I hate it. But from then it’s easy. So, I committed to just going that mile and then coming back. But I’ve found the more I go out for the short run, the easier it is to extend it because it then becomes flat. Furthermore, as I’ve progressed, 2 miles have become 4 miles and it’s not that hard. Had I tried to face up to 4 mile runs then I would not be interested, but by chasing the small daily activity it got me moving, which made me feel good about it and then finally, it got me doing longer distances. I’ve never been opposed to the longer distance, I just hated the thought of hitting a hill first up. Remember, do anything you can however small because something is better than nothing. You might even walk around the block, but just getting yourself moving (literally or figuratively) in a forward direction no matter how small will reap far greater rewards. Just do something. It is the simplest, yet most effective way and if you can’t face up to the things you think you should do, then make the activity even smaller. Seriously, make it tiny. It can always grow from there.

#3 Do something different.

This might seem hard, but let’s face it, a rut is usually associated with the “same old”. If that’s the case, then just do something differently. Anything it all. And following on from #1 and #2 above, make the decision and do an activity no matter how insignificant. Maybe it’s driving home the scenic route once a week, maybe it’s not watching tv one night, maybe it’s fasting one day a week, or one meal a week. Maybe it’s calling a different friend for a chat every Sunday night. Maybe it’s changing the layout of your lounge room or bedroom. Just do something different! Let me give you an example by shedding some more light on my miserable fitness “regime”. It certainly ebbs and flows, but one of the irregular activities I’ve done is “pull ups” along with some other exercises. Now I’d usually do eight or 10 and think, ok, if I can do this (and the other exercises) daily then I should be feeling pretty strong. But daily is a challenge that I simply don’t live up to. And then after reading an article about a Navy Seal that said whenever you think you’ve reached your limit, your probably only at 40% of your capacity, it got me thinking. This business of eight pull ups is quite pathetic and really isn’t doing much if I don’t do it every day. So I decided to do it differently. As of this week, I decided every time I go down to the high bar I’ll do two more pull ups than I did on the previous occasion. Suddenly, the situation changed dramatically for me. Suddenly, it got a lot harder. But rather than being routine, it became an insane challenge. I mean, when does it stop? And the beauty is, the longer I leave it between sessions, the tougher it will get. So I’m now at 20 and if I don’t get down tomorrow and do 22 then Monday is going to be unpleasant. A simple change has had a profound impact on my attitude, motivation and ultimately ability to lift myself (literally) to greater achievements.

I hope you can perhaps start to think about the little decisions and actions you can do to lift yourself up. And to make it easier, do them a little differently too. As always, all the best with your goal setting and achieving. Remember, a decision no matter how small is better than no decision and an action no matter how insignificant is better than no action. Good luck and go for it.


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The “Moral Support” approach to goal setting

April 30th, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on The “Moral Support” approach to goal setting

Hi Lifetickers,

Goal setting and achieving can be a lonely, lengthy and tiresome duty. Often we fail along the way or we lose inspiration and abandon hope of ever reaching our target. Other times, we can simply keep extending the deadline and so it drags on and on slowly losing its lustre. This of course, comes with the territory. If goals were easy they wouldn’t be goals, so we must at all times find ways to motivate and inspire ourselves to keep on keeping on.

One proven method is to enlist moral support. Whether it’s your spouse, partner, friend, mentor, sibling or coach, a “supporter” is someone who can help keep you accountable throughout the journey.  A supporter should be someone who knows your strengths and weaknesses. Someone who knows how to encourage and not discourage, is empathetic and finally, wants to see you succeed.

Your relationship should be an honest one. There is no point having a supporter if they can’t say to you “Gee Shane, you’ve been a little slack the last month. What can we do to turn it around?” But equally, if criticism is warranted then you want it to be constructive.

If you think your goal setting could benefit from a genuine supporter or two, then you also need to think about what commitment you want from them. Here are some things to consider:

  1. How often should they check in with you and your goals? e.g. weekly, monthly. Remember, you don’t want to place too big a burden on them?
  2. What are you looking for from them? e.g. Words of encouragement, analysis of performance, gentle reminders, discussion on overcoming stumbling blocks. Make sure you discuss this with your potential supporter so they are clear on your expectations before they commit.
  3. How long should they be expected to support you? e.g. a month, a year, for the duration of the goal itself. This is also important. Anyone can commit to a chat about something, but six months might be more than they can live up to.
  4. What’s in it for them? e.g. you’ll do something for them, payment or simply nothing because this is the kind of thing you do for each other. Again, be sure to be open about whatever the expectation is so your supporter knows exactly what the role is all about.

Finally, the good news is that Lifetick allows you to have supporters for your goals. All they need is a free Lifetick account and you can add them as a supporter. You can add as many as you like and it means they can check on the goal(s) you share with them and offer comments of support through the application itself.

So why wait? What are you struggling with right now? Think of who might be a great supporter for that goal and ask them. You never know what value they can provide. They too might need support in some areas in their own life!

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New beginnings…

March 27th, 2016 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on New beginnings…

Hi Lifetickers,

Life is filled with new beginnings. New school, new job, new spouse, new child. At a grander level we have New Year for the western world and subsequently Chinese New Year for many in the east. Today, marks Easter, a celebration for Christians all over the world that also speaks to us of something new. What each of these occasions offers, be they small or large, is an opportunity to “begin again”.

Beginning again is a beautiful concept because it can never disappear or become irrelevant. There is always the opportunity to do it. Even if I were to begin again today, I could completely stuff it up and still begin again tomorrow. And the next day. What is important is that we let these events in our lives inspire us in some way so we have the mindset that wants to begin again.

Beginning again relates to many aspects of our lives. I think back fondly to the days when I played Rugby League (yes, that is different to Rugby Union, but I did in fact play both codes). We had a very wise coach who was able to impart to us and instil in us a mantra that was all about beginning again. It was inspiring in both its simplicity and its effect. He simply made sure we always said to each other “We score next”. Had he said “Don’t let them score” or “Don’t miss a tackle”, then our belief system would be shaken as soon as either one of those events occurred. (Not to mention, they were focusing on negatives and not positives). Instead, he had has looking forward no matter what the setback was on the field, no matter what the score was. It kept us focused and regardless of whether the opposition scored or we scored, we could still look each other in the eye and say “We score next”. We could just as easily have said to each other, “Let’s begin again”.

There will always be opportunities for you to begin again. All you have to do is to be open to them and embrace them.

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…and we’re back!

December 30th, 2015 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on …and we’re back!

Hi Lifetickers,

You may have been wondering why we’ve been silent for so long. Well, I think it’s two fold. Sometimes it’s difficult finding something original to say. Presenting a perspective that’s new and fresh is important to your readers. Anything less is an injustice, insult or sheer waste of people’s precious time. Secondly, work and life can get in the way, thus limiting the time it takes to actually develop those fresh thoughts. Nevertheless, we’ve had a chance to withdraw from the online chatter for awhile now and are looking forward to sharing some new ideas and approaches with you. As always, we remain true to our topic – goal setting and achieving.

Having conceived Lifetick over eight years ago and since used it to tick off many of my own goals along the way all the while corresponding with many hundreds of users, it is nice to be able to reflect and share what I guess amounts to a large body of knowledge. Of course goal setting is always different for everyone, but what doesn’t change is the effort it takes.

People I meet are often fascinated by Lifetick and the ideas underpinning it. Some see it as a silver bullet to all their worldly needs, others a handy tool. One good friend thinks of it as nothing more than a glorified pen and paper and enjoys telling me so. Regardless of these very diverse opinions, the reality is the same for all – if you want to achieve something great, then your success is largely a measure of your effort and commitment to that outcome. Will Lifetick help you? That depends on you. Here’s why.

Lifetick is what I call an “aspirational product”. It’s not mission critical, it’s not checking your calories burned or steps taken every second of every day. It is something more though. And by being something more it requires more. More from you. You have to find a reason to make Lifetick a part of your life. You have to find a way to make checking in each day or week a habit and an important part of your life. What will that reason be? Again, it’s different for everyone. But here’s the catch…

If you don’t find that reason then your usage of Lifetick, your focus on achieving important things in life, your commitment to excellence, your belief of who you wanted to be when the New Year comes round will slip away. And indeed it does. I know because I have the wonder of “usage statistics” at my disposal and they tell a very brutal story. As they say “Don’t become a statistic!” This is very true for Lifetick.

So you must be wondering why all the tough talk? Well, I’m interested in helping people achieve their goals, not drift off into fantasy. And the best way I know how to do that is to first set expectations. Over the coming months I will give you every possible tip I know to give you the best chance to achieve. But right now, the most important thing you can do is make a commitment to yourself. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be achievable. Start small and grow from there. One step then the next. That is how all journey’s begin and end.

If this is your first time to Lifetick, then welcome. If you are someone like me who has been using it for many years, then I’m very happy that we are still here together. I wish each and every one of you the very best for 2016. I wonder what our conversation will look like in 12 months time?

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A year to remember, a year to forget?

January 3rd, 2015 by Shane Maloney Comments Off on A year to remember, a year to forget?

Hi Lifetickers,

After a lengthy absence from the blogosphere, we’re happy to announce our return and of course a happy new year to you as well. As always, thank you for your support. We hope Lifetick is serving you well as you enter a new year filled with hopes, dreams and aspirations. With that in mind, today’s blog is about reflection on what has gone before and how it has the power to shape what will come.

Often we can be quick to forget about what we have been through in an attempt to release ourselves from the pain and suffering associated. Nevertheless, these experiences are those that shape us the most. I am a great believer that everything is learned in failure. But there is more to it than that. I’m reminded of a brilliant quote from Aldous Huxley:

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all lessons that history has to teach.”

Simple yet profound and certainly something worth bearing in mind as we mentally and emotionally prepare ourselves for the year ahead. It is not just our own experiences, but those of people around us, the work place and at a global level that have the capacity to impact us not just indirectly, but often very directly.

Perhaps in thinking about your goals for the next 12 months, one simple exercise could be to think of three things first:

1) What have I learned about myself the last 12 months?

2) What have I learned about the world in the last 12 months?

3) What have I learned about the nature of humanity in the last 12 month?

Why consider these things? Well, at a practical level the answers may in fact impact your priorities. But at a deeper level it may just help you determine whether the goals you had in mind are the right ones for you.

Regardless, of your approach we wish you the best of luck. The process of setting and achieving goals is as much about the journey as it is about the destination, so find a way to appreciate the journey because it will be tough, but it will be worth it.

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