Wednesday, May 24, 2006
On Calligraphy and Goal Setting
The photo shows my calligraphy set - so far unused! I got it on a trip to Florence, Italy. They had the most amazing gift shops there. My handwriting is really terrible (luckily you can't tell in this blog...) and I'm hoping to improve it and to eventually learn calligraphy. I've already checked, so I know where calligraphy classes are available. But I haven't registered yet.
So what I'm basically saying is that I'm a procrastinator. Not all the time, not with everything, but too often. However, that's not the whole story. I've already said that I'm interested in so many things that it's impossible to do them all.
So it's also about prioritizing. I find that I prioritize much better at work than in my personal life. Because at work, I (usually!) have clearer goals than I do in my personal life.
I've been reading a lot about goal setting lately. The theory is that you can't get what you want until you know what you want. It's quite a simple statement, it even seems stupid at first. Let's take a story to elucidate: this story is from the Lewis Carroll book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alice asks the Chesire Cat which road she should take. The cat asks: "Well, where do you want to go?". Alice answers: "I don't really know where I'm going." The cat answers: "In that case, any road will take you!"
It's a funny story for children...or is it? Aren't we all kind of like little Alice? We expect to get to something we think of as "a good situation in life", when we've never actually sat down and written down what it is that we want out of our lives.
I can't remember the exact figure, but only something like 1-3% of people have goals written down. The rest of us just think that if we kind of have a vague idea of what we want, that's enough. But is it? Think about how large corporations operate. Do they just vaguely set goals to "do better next year"? ;-) Who's more likely to achieve their goals (or dreams) - those who know what they are, or those who don't? ;-)
I've recently written down my goals. However, they are still not detailed enough, since they don't give any dates by when I want to achieve the things I've written down. Goals need to be specific. You start with the end in mind, create a tangible vision of where you want to be and by when, and you then start breaking it down into smaller pieces. Those of you familiar with the principles of project management will recognize this process. Except than in project management we usually skip the initial visualization part - what will the world look like when we are "done"?
I'm not going to reveal all of my goals since it's perhaps a bit too personal. But I will give you an idea. Here is one of my main goals in life:
To realize my full potential - and to find balance.
I did not think of this myself, I read it somewhere. But it's something that really stuck with me. I've been listening to a set of CDs called "The Dynamic Living Seminar" by Skip Ross. He asks: "What would your life be like and what would you do if you started to believe in your full potential as a human being?". Think about it. We use so very little of our potential. They say that even Albert Einstein used something like only 10% of his brain capacity. I wonder how much the rest of us use?
I've studied a total of 13 languages. This does not mean that I speak 13 languages, it just means that I've studied that many. I've studied some as little as one semester in night school. But even that little bit helps me to manage a bit better when I travel to a country where that language is spoken.
Most people are amazed when I tell them this. Why? Do they think that our brain capacity will somehow run out? That our brains will be overloaded? That does not happen. If we work too hard (and I unfortunately have plenty of experience of that), we can certainly become exhausted, even burnt out. But is the cause really that our brains are over-loaded? I don't think so. I think that it is our bodies that break down. Our bodies need rest. But think about what we do when we sleep - do our brains rest? No! We dream, so our brains are working as hard as they are when we are working - or even harder, since we are being highly creative when we make up those dreams.
I believe that what makes our work exhausting is our lack of motivation. I find that I can read a fascinating book for very long periods without really getting tired (apart form my body becoming cramped, or getting a headache because I forget to drink, etc.). But put me in a boring meeting and I'm "tired" after half an hour. Our work is mostly exhausting because it's not challenging enough!!
The same applies to reading. I'm very interested in learning to speed-read. It's amazing how fast humans can read if they take the time to learn. I just read recently that the reason we get bored in meetings is that our brains listen much faster than most people can speak, so our brains have too much spare time on their hands to think about other things - so our minds wander. The same applies to reading. If we learn to read faster, we can actually remember more of what we read than if we read slowly! Amazing! I really must look into a speed-reading course. I have so many books I want to read that it would really pay off...
So the moral of my story today is this: the same principle that applies to our muscles applies to our brains: "Use them or lose them". And we can make our brains "grow" just like we can make our muscles grow bigger and stronger.
We used to believe that IQ is something that you are born with, something that cannot be improved. However, there are people who make it a hobby to take IQ tests. They practice and keep improving their thinking technique - and the score does go up. However, what's the point? What good does that higher IQ score do them in life? (OK, OK, I'm just bitter 'cause I didn't pass the Mensa test! ;-)).
What's a much more important determinant of succcess in life is Emotional Intelligence. I won't go into the details here, but it's basically about how you get along with people - and with yourself.
Of course, if one is lucky enough to meet a person with both a high IQ and very high emotional intelligence - wow!!! Unfortunately, I haven't met many people like that. But I am grateful that I've at least met some. :-)