thinkerReflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens

We are fast approaching Christmas and this is always a sign that we have once again reached the end of another calendar year. I always find the end of the year to be a time of reflection and review. It is also a time to evaluate the progress of your life purpose, goals and objectives that were set at the start of the year or the longer term goals set in previous years. Your life purpose, goals and objectives should be part of your Personal Development Plan.

The end of the year also offers a fresh start for activities that we had intended to do but never got around to doing them. Although I had previously stated that any day can be the start of the rest of your life, the end of the year can be a special time because it can provide closure to outstanding action items that may no longer be relevant, but also removing limiting beliefs by leaving them behind in the current year. The dawning of a new year provides the incentive to start a fresh action list and the motivation to get things done immediately.

Many people make New Year’s resolutions, however, they quickly discover that the resolutions fade even before the first quarter of the calendar year is reached. It is not just about making New Year’s resolutions at the dawn of the New Year, it is about making a committed effort to set written goals and objectives for the coming year and for the medium to longer term timeframe. Numerous studies have shown only three percent of the population set goals and only about one percent actually write them down.

I challenge you to make a committed effort, that is, take ACTION, to review your previous goals and objectives, and to set new goals and objectives for 2013. Begin by identifying the major achievements and highlights for 2012. These could include work achievements, financial objectives, family highlights, personal development, educational achievements or personal success outcomes. Achievements should also be acknowledged and celebrated to ensure mental reinforcement and capitalizing on the motivation that this can provide to your subconscious mind. I try to reward myself when I achieve a particular goal or objective. For example, I will buy a gift for myself that reminds me of the success that I have achieved, or I will organise a special holiday trip for myself and my family. In early December of 2011 I took the family to Hawaii for 17 days to celebrate a very successful 2011. In previous years I bought myself a Rolex watch to remind me of a successful multi-million dollar deal I had closed.

I use a visual journal with white pages to document my goals and objectives for the new calendar year. Once I complete this activity I then develop Action Plans for the major goals and objectives. Throughout the year I periodically review my goals and revise any action plans that are not progressing as expected. You should also prepare a vision board which consists of a portfolio of visual material or a collage of images that portray your vision, goals and objectives. The vision board helps to stimulate your reticular activating system in your mind to reaffirm your subconscious.

Like most people I also identify a few missed opportunities or disappointments for the year. This allows me to learn from the experience so that I can strengthen my future plans moving forward. Go ahead and document the missed opportunities and disappointments. Ask yourself, “What could I have done differently to capitalise on the missed opportunities or overcame the disappointments?”, and document potential changes and actions for the future. Don’t spend too much time regretting the missed opportunities. The rest of your life starts now, therefore focus on your future goals and plans for 2013. Some of these goals could also be carried over from 2012. Particularly goals that were over ambitious, which is common amongst high achievers.

I had also previously posted a number of blog entries that can provide further detailed information on developing your goals and objectives (see below). Furthermore, I have included a Personal Development Plan Template that may also be used as a guide.

What does your personal development plan look like?

Have a merry Christmas and I wish you every success for 2013!

Dr John Kapeleris

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Productivity in our work and personal lives involves focusing on the key goals and objectives, developing a project plan, identifying the key value-adding tasks, and executing the plan by taking action. It may come as a surprise that many people struggle with this basic approach to achieving personal productivity. Many reasons can be identified for losing focus and not taking the appropriate action to achieve the desired outcomes.

The first issue lies within our minds. The human brain, although powerful and complex, if not trained appropriately can only handle a limited number of tasks at any one time (the literature generally states about seven tasks or pieces of information). As the brain becomes overwhelmed and stretched to perform, it begins to forget important items in the process. The brain does not generally think sequentially or in a linear manner. It thinks more in a random or radial manner.

The second issue involves interruptions from colleagues, unscheduled meetings, the telephone, email or the influence of external people. Interruptions should be avoided and removed from your daily work environment. This can be done by closing the office door, finding a quiet place to concentrate, checking emails at specific periods of the day (morning, midday and late afternoon), making all your calls in the morning and late afternoon, and delegating as many tasks as possible.

The last issue involves lack of clarity and focus. Focus can be achieved through concentration and structured thinking. The mind has to be reinforced that focus and action are the key drivers to achieving successful outcomes from a project. In addition, clarity can be achieved by removing the clutter and blocks that exist in our minds.

Following are the key steps that will increase your personal productivity:

  1. Use structured thinking to provide clarity and focus
  2. Focus on the key goals and objectives
  3. Develop a project plan and identify the key value-adding tasks
  4. Assign time limits on each of the tasks
  5. Take immediate action
  6. Maintain the self-discipline

We all struggle to remain productive and achieve optimal outcomes. The key to success involves focus and action.

Dr John Kapeleris

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In our current busy world being able to concentrate and focus is extremely important for work and everyday life. Focus can provide clarity and at the same time magnification of the tasks we want to achieve. If we focus on the high value tasks that will make the difference in our work and personal lives, then we can easily become successful. Focus has made many individuals and organizations achieve success beyond the achievements of their their nearest rivals who may be more diversified. e.g. compare Intel with Motorola – Intel is focused on silicon chips while Motorola is involved in a number of different products.

The key questions you will need to consider when determining your level of focus are:

  1. Am I focused on my strengths?
  2. Am I focused on high value activities to achieve my goals and objectives?
  3. Do I need to shift my focus?

Al Reis has been a strong advocate of “Focus”. He has stated that success is achieved in business and personal life when you narrow the focus. Al Reis also described a number of characteristics related to focus, including:

  1. Focus is simple, memorable, powerful and revolutionary
  2. Focus needs enemies, is the future, is internal and helps organizations and nations
  3. Focus is selective, easy to find, long-term, but isn’t forever

If you want to improve the concentration and focus of your mind, then you need to work out and exercise your brain.  The correct brain exercises will improve the way your brain works, and develop better focus and concentration. Brain exercises are excellent tools for people of any age who would like to strengthen their mind! Following are some simple and effective brain exercises that can help you develop and improve your brain concentration:

  1. Crossword or Sudoku puzzles. Crossword and Sudoku puzzles can help improve your concentration and at the same time are a lot of fun.  Crossword puzzles are great for strengthening your long-term memory, while Sudoku is great for improving logic based problem-solving. Taking only 15 minutes daily to work on crossword or Sudoku puzzles can benefit you. You can purchase a crossword or Sudoku puzzle book, check your daily newspaper, or search online to find free  puzzles.
  2. Eat foods that help your brain. Your brain will stay healthy and function effectively if nourished with nutritious foods. Proteins are great for the brain, and may be found in cheeses, meats, fish, and milk. Complex carbohydrates are important as well, and these come from fruits, vegetables, and grains. The brain also needs some fat, derived from healthy oils like olive oil or fish oils. Eat foods that include Omega-3s, such as trout, salmon, and tuna. Some nuts contain these fats as well and are healthy food for the brain. Other specific foods associated with improved brain function include, cacao beans (chocolate), green tea, Greek-style yogurt, blueberries, flak seeds and broccoli. Of course you will also need plenty of water – about two litres per day.
  3. Exercise regularly. Exercise not only improves your health and fitness, it also provides important oxygen and glucose to the brain through increased blood circulation. Walking briskly is one of the easiest and effective exercise routines to assist in brain function.
  4. Changing your daily routine. Changing your daily routine takes you outside your comfort zone, which challenges your brain. This influences and and improves your problem solving abilities. One way of achieving this is taking a different route to work or changing your morning exercise routine.
  5. Start a new hobby. Trying a new hobby is another way to expand your interests and use your brain to learn something new. Being busy and learning new things expand the way the brain thinks and gets you out of a rut. Join a local club or take a class at a hobby store or community college. Challenging yourself and improving brain function is something that any person can do.
  6. Brain training games and puzzles. Mental exercise for the brain can be achieved through brain training games and puzzles. Brain activities and puzzles can enhance the logical, analytical, creative, spatial, memory and problem solving abilities of the brain.

Make just one change today to stimulate your brain. You won’t notice any drastic changes overnight, but with time and practice, eventually you’ll find that you can solve problems more easily, improve your memory and enjoy improved concentration and focus.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Try the following Brain Puzzles and add your answers as comments:

  1. A man and woman are walking together. At this very moment their right feet are striking the ground. For every 3 steps taken by the woman the man takes 2 steps. How many steps must each take before their left feet strike the ground together?
  2. A horse trader brings a string of horses to a horse fair. As admission charge, he gives up one of his horses. At the fair he sells one half of those remaining and on the way out he is charged one horse as a trading fee.
    He proceeds to a second fair where similar conditions prevail. There he pays one horse to get in , sells half his horses he still has on hand and pays a single horse as a trading fee.
    Not content he proceeds to a third fair. Here again he pays one horse to get in , sells half of his horses remaining and is charged a single horse as a trading fee. He then has one horse left which he rides home with the proceeds.
    How many horses did he start with?
  3. A bag contains one marble, known to be either black or white. A white marble is dropped into the bag and shaken, and a marble is drawn out, which proves to be white. What is now the chance of drawing a white marble?
  4. A man pointed to a one person in a family portrait and stated, “Brothers and sisters have I none, but that man’s father is my father’s son”. Who did he point to?
  5. A hunter travelling by train to the forest carries with him his gun, which is 2.3 metres long. Unfortunately, the baggage regulations of the train company do not allow any object more than 2 metres long. How does the hunter get around the rule?

Good luck!

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Stress is a natural reaction or response, both physical and emotional, to external threats or stimuli whether actual or imagined. A certain level of stress is required by the human body to ensure the nervous system responds to challenges, stays focused and remains alert. It is a way for the body to protect itself against external threats.

Excessive stress, however can be detrimental, and could result in the following health issues or symptoms:

  • increased blood pressure;
  • suppressed immune system;
  • increased risk of heart attack and stroke; and
  • accelerated aging.

Chronic or long-term stress can also impact on your mind by making you more vulnerable to depression and anxiety.

The following strategy will help to manage stress successfully:

  1. Allocate time for yourself. Spend some time each day relaxing or doing something that you really enjoy.
  2. Make time for other people in your life. Invest time with your close relationships by talking to them and listening to what they have to say.
  3. Start the day with a relaxation activity. Spend at least 15 to 30 minutes every morning exercising, thinking, or undertaking a relaxation exercise, such as reading or creative visualization.
  4. Allow enough time for travel. Avoid rushing to meetings and appointments by allowing enough time for travel so that you arrive in plenty of time stress-free.
  5. Get organized. Avoid clutter and chaos by being proactive in organizing your time (through your calendar), your files (as the documents become available) and your information systems (action and delete your emails).
  6. Be assertive and proactive. Be assertive but avoid aggressive behaviour which could result in stress. Say “no” to distractions and time-wasters. Furthermore being proactive by anticipating in advance what needs to be done will avoid stress in the future.
  7. Start a hobby. Find a hobby that is relaxing and non-stressful, such as reading or taking walks in the park.
  8. Avoid stressful situations. Avoid situations which could be stressful for you.
  9. Make lists and plans. You will be able to think more clearly by writing down your list of actions and plans.
  10. Relax before you go to bed. Before going to bed spend some time relaxing through reflection, creative visualization and relaxation activities, or simply reading a book.

Worry is another behaviour that can create excessive stress. Most of the things we worry about do not even come true. This is well illustrated by a quote from William R. Inge, “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due. Therefore, the best way to avoid or manage worry is to quickly evaluate a situation using a simple checklist by asking the following questions:

  1. What is the worst thing that can happen when confronted with the situation?
  2. How would I deal with the situation?

You will find that virtually any problem or challenge that is confronted can be solved in some way thereby avoiding the need to worry. Taking immediate action to solve the problem or challenge will ensure that the issues do not escalate and become unmanageable.

To your success!

Dr John Kapeleris

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In establishing your life purpose and lifelong ambitions the best way to start is to think about your passions and interests in a world without limitations or constraints. For example, if you were given the option of any position or career in the world what would you choose?

However, we generally find ourselves in a paradigm that is familiar to us, has clearly defined boundaries and has become comfortable. We have learned to become complacent with what is presented to us and we don’t generally challenge the status quo. As a result we get the same thing out of life that we have always gotten, because we don’t do anything differently and many of us try to avoid change.

The world is changing at such a dramatic rate that we must also adapt to the changing environment. We must stop and think about our current situation, and determine whether our life path is being driven by ourselves or influenced by external people. We therefore need to re-evaluate our purpose and ambitions in life.

Following are a set of questions that I have used to identify my passions and desires in a life without limits. Try answering the questions below as an exercise to better understand your defining purpose and your ambitions in life.

1. If I wrote a book, the book would be about…

2. If I produced a movie, it would be…

3. If I painted a picture, the subject would be…

4. If I wrote a stand-up comedy routine, I would tell stories about…

5. If I composed a song, I would write about…

6. If I was going to do something nobody would expect me to do, I would…

7. If I was going to cook a meal for a number of friends, I would cook…

8. If I won $5000 to throw the party of the year, I would make it memorable by…

9. If I designed my dream home, it would have…

10. If I designed my ideal vacation home, it would certainly have…

11. If I could be paid to study any subject for a whole year, I would study…

12. If I could spend two months anywhere in the world, I would go to…

13. If I could live anywhere in the world, I would live in…

14. If I could have dinner with anyone on the planet, I would want to dine with…

Don’t hesitate. Give the task a go. You will never know what new ideas or opportunities emerge.

To your success!

Dr John Kapeleris

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The start of the New Year is a signpost that always brings a feeling of a new awakening and subsequent change.  Many people will set New Year’s resolutions that will not be followed through. Others will continue doing the same old thing and getting the same result. A small percentage of people will set new written goals and objectives, and develop detailed action plans for their major projects, that will ultimately achieve their ambitions and success.

I came across the “10 Commandments of Goal Setting” on the GoalsGuy.com website that I thought may be of value to you:

  1. Thou Shall Be DecisiveSuccess is a choice. You must decide what you want, why you want it, and how you plan to achieve it. No one else can, will, or should do that for you.
  2. Thou Shall Stay Focused – A close relative to being decisive, but your ability to sustain your focus from beginning to end determines the timing and condition of your outcomes.
  3. Thou Shall Welcome Failure – The fundamental question is not whether you should accept failure. You have no choice but to expect it as a temporary condition on the pathway of progress. Rather, the question is how to anticipate failure and redirect resources to grow from the experience.
  4. Thou Shall Write Down Thou Goals – Your mind while blessed with permanent memory is cursed with lousy recall. People forget things. Avoid the temptation of being cute. Write down your goals.
  5. Thou Shall Plan ThoroughlyPlanning saves time and resources in execution. Proper planning prevents poor performance.
  6. Thou Shall Involve Others – Nobody goes through life alone. Establish your own “Personal Board of Directors“, people whose wisdom, knowledge and character you respect to help you achieve your goals.
  7. Thou Shall Take Massive Action – Success is not a spectator sport – achievement demands action. You cannot expect to arrive at success without having made the trip.
  8. Thou Shall Reward Thyself – Rewards work! Think of what you will give yourself as a result of your hard work, focus and persistence – you deserve it!
  9. Thou Shall Inspect What Thou Expect – The Shelf life of all plans is limited. No plan holds up against opposition. Everything changes. Therefore inspect and review frequently and closely, it’s an insurance policy on your success.
  10. Thou Shall Maintain Personal Integrity – Maintain your commitment to your promise. Set your goals, promise yourself that you will achieve them. Eliminate complacency and excuses. That’s personal integrity!

Start today, and set your goals and objectives that will influence the rest of your life!

Dr John Kapeleris

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“The purpose of man is in action, not thought.” — Thomas Carlyle

We are fast approaching Christmas and this is always a sign that we have once again reached the end of another calendar year. I always find the end of the year to be a time of reflection and review. It is also a time to evaluate the progress of your life purpose, goals and objectives that were set at the start of the year or the longer term goals set in previous years.

The end of the year also offers a fresh start for activities that we had intended to do but never got around to doing them. Although I had previously stated that any day can be the start of the rest of your life, the end of the year can be a special time because it can provide closure to outstanding action items that may no longer be relevant, but also removing limiting beliefs by leaving them behind in the current year. The dawning of a new year provides the incentive to start a fresh action list and the motivation to get things done.

Many people make New Year’s resolutions, however, they quickly discover that the resolutions fade even before the first quarter of the calender year is reached. It is not just about making New Year’s resolutions at the dawn of the New Year, it is about making a committed effort to set written goals and objectives for the coming year and for the medium to longer term timeframe.

I challenge you to make a committed effort, that is, take ACTION, to review your previous goals and objectives, and to set new goals and objectives for 2011. Begin by identifying the major achievements and highlights for 2010. These could include work achievements, financial objectives, family highlights, personal development, educational achievements or personal success outcomes. Achievements should also be acknowledged and celebrated to ensure mental reinforcement and capitalizing on the motivation that this can provide to your subconscious mind. I try to reward myself when I achieve a particular goal or objective. For example, I will buy a gift for myself that reminds me of the success that I have achieved, or I will organise a special holiday trip for myself and my family. Last January I decided to go to Byron Bay and live in a beach house for ten days to celebrate a very successful 2009. In previous years I bought myself a Tag Heuer watch to remind me of a successful multi-million dollar deal I had closed in the year.

I use a visual journal with white pages to document my goals and objectives for the new calendar year. Once I complete this activity I then develop Action Plans for the major goals and objectives. Throughout the year I periodically review my goals and revise any action plans that are not progressing as expected. You should also prepare a vision board which consists of a portfolio of visual material or a collage of images that portray your vision, goals and objectives. The vision board helps to stimulate your reticular activating system in your mind to reaffirm your subconscious.

Like most people I also identify a few missed opportunities or disappointments for the year. This allows me to learn from the experience so that I can strengthen my future plans moving forward. Go ahead and document the missed opportunities and disappointments. Ask yourself, “What could I have done differently to capitalise on the missed opportunities or overcame the disappointments?”, and document potential changes and actions for the future. Don’t spend too much time regretting the missed opportunities. The rest of your life starts now, therefore focus on your future goals and plans for 2011. Some of these goals could also be carried over from 2010. Particularly goals that were over ambitious, which is common amongst high achievers.

I had also previously posted a number of blog entries that can provide further detailed information on developing your goals and objectives (see below). Furthermore, I have included a Personal Development Plan Template that may also be used as a guide. A decent driveway paint site will get you the driveway paint you want.

What does your personal development plan look like?

Have a merry Christmas and I wish you every success for 2011!

Dr John Kapeleris

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Having a well articulated and proven implementation process will ensure that any system, plan or method is implemented appropriately.  Implementation (or deployment) of a system, plan or method is commonly viewed as the execution of a series of related activities, each activity termed an implementation stage. Implementation is the action that follows any preliminary thinking in order for something to actually be achieved. The implementation approach will be dependent on the particular system, plan or method being deployed, however, a number of broad steps can be used to guide an implementation process, including:

  1. Initiation – Determine the key strategic objectives of the implementation plan.
  2. Key Processes or Activities – Identify the key processes or activities required. You may need to investigate the “as is” processes (current situation) and then design the “to be” processes (desired situation) that may be required; particularly when new processes are being considered through a change management or process improvement initiative.
  3. Identify Tasks – Under each process identify the tasks that need to be completed in order to achieve the strategic objectives. Undertaking a Risk Analysis at this stage will ensure that any risks are identified and a risk management plan, with contingencies, is developed.
  4. Action Steps – Each task may be subdivided into further individual sub-tasks or action steps. Breaking down the tasks into smaller sub-tasks allows focus and therefore easier implementation.
  5. Assign Responsibility – The next step is to assign responsibility for each sub-task to a specific human resource. The human resources may be internal or external. The assignment of the task should reflect the best person able to complete or deliver the task. The composition of the team is important for successful implementation.
  6. Prioritize – Activities or tasks need to be prioritised to reflect the most important tasks that need to be completed, or specific tasks that need to be actioned before other tasks can begin. Some tasks can be scheduled in parallel to reduce the overall time.
  7. Timeline – The time required to complete each task must be estimated in advance. The forecast will need to be as realistic as possible, but allow some flexibility should any issues arise. The addition of the time required to complete all tasks will translate to the total project time.
  8. Cost & Budget – The costs to complete each task must be calculated in advance and an overall budget should be assigned for the implementation plan. Costs should not only include time, but also additional resources or tools required during the implementation stages.
  9. Do It! – The key to successful implementation is taking action and executing the assigned tasks as outlined in the implementation plan. This step is always crucial for successful implementation.
  10. Review and evaluate – Finally, the implementation plan will require continuous monitoring and review to evaluate progress. Any issues or delays encountered will require modification of the original implementation plan.

The action plan template can be used as a tool to assist with recording actions and tasks, assigning responsibility, confirming the due date and setting priorities.

“Success comes from transforming thoughts and ideas into action”.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Self-discipline refers to instructing oneself to accomplish certain tasks or to adopt a particular pattern of behaviour, even though one would really rather revert to a passive or non-motivated state. Self-discipline is also known as self-control where assertion of willpower dominates a person’s state of being.

An example of self-discipline is when a person maintains a home-study course over a period of time and completes it within the required time-frame and minimum competency level. Another example relates to maintaining a daily exercise regime despite wanting to do something else like watch television or to lie in bed for a longer period in the morning.

One of the key factors of achieving successful outcomes is the power of self-discipline. Brian Tracy’s courses on “Maximizing Your Performance” state that self-discipline is a key success factor to achieving one’s goals and objectives. He defines self-discipline as “the ability to make yourself do what you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not”.

Self-discipline provides the ability to achieve outcomes faster than you ever thought possible. Once you become a highly disciplined person you can take control of yourself and your life to achieve goals that you previously thought were not possible. Self-discipline requires you to making a sacrifice in the short-term so that you achieve greater rewards in the long-term. You need to action what is necessary first (putting in the effort today) and enjoy the benefits later.

Self-discipline allows you to accomplish a number of activities that we would otherwise try to avoid, including:

  • Difficult tasks that require hard work e.g. delivering a presentation in front of a large audience
  • Unpleasant activities that we would rather avoid e.g. daily exercise program
  • Complex tasks with many steps that require patience e.g. collating receipts and expenses for your annual tax return
  • Solving problems requiring specialised skills

The following steps will help you to develop and master your self-discipline:

  1. Take responsibility – You control your direction in life, therefore, you need to make a personal commitment to self-discipline. Your positive state of mind is also important to achieving self-discipline.
  2. Develop a plan – Define the purpose, goals and objectives you desire. Develop and document your plan with the  activities that need to be actioned.
  3. Become action-oriented – If you have clearly outlined your plan you must continue to action the activities until you achieve the outcomes you desire.
  4. Avoid procrastination and distractions – Leave procrastination for another day and remove negative thoughts and habits from your life.
  5. Commit to consistent repetition – The more often you perform an activity the easier it becomes. For example, as you continue to exercise daily for a period of time it becomes a natural activity that you easily perform. The new behaviour then becomes a habit as neural patterns are created in the brain.
  6. Be persistent – Life is full of set backs. You need to maintain your focus on your goals and objectives and continue to make small steps towards success on a daily basis. If something goes wrong continue to persevere and get back on track.

It is not too late to start a life of self-discipline. All it takes is the commitment to maintain and repeat a series of actions or activities that follow a plan over a period of at least 20 to 30 days.

Dr John Kapeleris

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