Summer Success Check-in

Summer is in full swing, and while for the most part, I strive for unstructured weekends, I did set summer goals. It’s time to check in.

I had three areas of focus – walking, reading and writing.

I’m on target with the walking, but it has required some creative stepping (pun intended). The actual goal is to walk one million steps. It is an ambitious goal because while I know I should be walking 10,000 steps most days I was only reaching 5,000 to 7,000. I decided I needed to ratchet my efforts, and I set the one million steps goal.

As crazy as it is, it’s working. I’m currently 100 percent on target and 53 percent to goal. Yes, you read that correctly – I have walked more than 500,000 (give or take a thousand) steps so far this summer.

20000 StepsIt has required some herculean efforts on my part. One lazy Saturday, I walked less than 5,000 steps. That Monday I walked 15,000 steps, and was back on track. At a recent conference, I arrived the day before and explored Washington, D.C., on foot visiting many of the monuments. By day’s end I had accumulated 20,000 steps. That helped out when I only had 5,000 steps on the day I returned home.

I get up in the morning and walk 3,000 to 6,000 steps before work. At first, I struggled, but now I really enjoy my mornings. It’s cooler and peaceful. It’s my own world. During the day, if my schedule permits, I walk for 15 to 20 minutes with a colleague. We save all of our discussions for the walk time, and we’ve solved several problems on our walks and taken some great photos to share on social media. If she is not available, I will still try for a short walk. I find the walk allows me to think and processs, and I return to my desk reinvigorated.

My summer reading, which actually started back in May is a bit sporadic because I am tending to read novels. I did, however, finish Greg McKeown’s, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.” I’m more focused on celebrating the essential, and not busyness. I say no to focus on what does matter to me and set boundaries. That means that while I would like to resume golfing, for now, I must say no because what is important to me is my writing. Golf requires too much time – time that could spent writing and rewriting.

I also am about halfway through “Mastermind” by Maria Konnikova. Already, I am finding I am more observant. Still on my list are “Reinventing You” by Dorie Clark and “How Philosophy Can Save Your Life” by Marietta McCarty.

As for writing, I’m making great progress on one of my books. My accountability partner is helping me to stay on track. I also signed up to attend a mystery writer and fan conference in the fall. Not only will I meet some of the authors whom I read and are inspired by, but I also will learn about writing techniques, agents and marketing.

Still, I’m glad there are a few more weeks left to summer. I still need to eat an ice cream cone and catch fireflies!

What’s on Your Learning Bookshelf?

20160420_064541I’ve written about conference homework and the importance of investing in your success. For me both of these usually lead to more books on my reading list. Here’s my current stack —

Reinventing You by Dorie Clark. I recently started following Dorie Clark on Twitter after hearing one of her interviews with Ron Friedman as part of the Peak Work Performance Summit (there will be another one fall 2016). In this book, she provides a step-by-step guide to assessing your strengths, developing a compelling personal brand and ensuring that others recognize the contributions you can make.

Mastermind by Maria Konnikova. A psychologist and journalist, Konnikova says that we can develop our powers of thought and observation just as Sherlock Holmes did. While I haven’t yet finished the book, I did hear her speak recently, and can’t wait to explore further the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights.

How Philosophy Can Save Your Life by Marietta McCarty. McCarty was recognized by Virginia Professional Communicators as its Newsmaker in 2014. During her talk she shared how clear thinking, quiet reflection and good conversation are essential to a well-lived life. She strongly encouraged members to start their own Philosophy Club. This book frames ten big ideas for such a club to discuss. When I finish the book, another member and I are considering starting a Philosophy Club.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I’m looking forward to diving into this book because it’s about getting the right things done, and not trying to do it all. McKeown’s website includes a quiz to see how you are doing with respect to essentialism. He was another participant in the Peak Work Performance Summit, and following his interview, I began to make adjustments on how I spend my time. One way I’ll be spending my time is reading this book.

If you struggle to keep up with your reading list, Peter Bregman writes about how to read a book a week. I have found the advice helpful with particular books. Perhaps you will, too.

Would you share what book (s) are on your learning bookshelf by posting a comment with the title and author and the reason it’s on your list?