How to have an amazing 2016

The holiday season is a great opportunity for productive downtime. 

Small, but important, steps taken BEFORE the next year begins gives you a head start to create what you would like to see in 2016. 

Below you will find a distilled version of my favorite end of the year routine I do to start my new year off right. I personally love doing this in a quiet place other than the office with a delicious cup of coffee. 

First, review your year before planning out the next one. 

This tip sounds simple, but violating it will make your planning less effective. I have made the mistake of not reviewing my year in the past and paid for it by repeating the same behaviors I wanted to stop and change the year before. Without evaluating where you really are, it is hard to gain perspective of where you want to go. 

For reviewing the year, I like to look at my calendar and journal entries. If you have been doing the Five Minute Journal, reviewing the last year (or six months) can be a wonderful way to get a snapshot of your days and get a sense of what was on your mind. If you want to get granular, review all your emails for the last year. 

Next, ask yourself the following questions and DREAM BIG! Don’t hold back. Take your time answering these questions. This isn’t the Five Minute Journal :)

What are the wins, big and small, that I can celebrate?

What was I doing when I was achieving my best results? 

What mistakes did I make over and over again? 

What are the experiences and achievements I’d love to look back on this time next year? 

What’s my ONE most important thing for 2016? (*This is what you will focus most of your efforts on in 2016)

Finally, plan your first month out in detail - especially the actions that need to happen to make your most important thing happen. 

I like to plan the year in quarters and review every month because I feel 90 days is a great window of opportunity to get real traction on your targets. A year is too long of a time to iterate on what you really want. 

Once you’ve done this, I recommend reviewing it every month. I keep my plan in Evernote and save my monthly targets to my lock screen.
Creating accountability (with a friend or a spouse) and having stakes on the line are also great ways of ensuring you’ll follow through on actions. 

That’s it. Wishing you a wonderful 2016! 

With gratitude,

P.S. What is your most important goal in 2016? Please share in the comments here. [LINK]

How to restart a Habit

I asked him casually “Are you still doing the Five Minute Journal?" I was met with awkward silence. 

Recently, I was on a call with Steven, one of our users that I first connected with in December 2013 (just a few months post-launch). 

Steven has started and worked on several successful projects and businesses and has a wonderful family. Initially, he got interested in the Five Minute Journal through Tim Ferriss’ Quarterly Box and loved it so much he wanted to share it with his team at the office. 

And he fell off the Five Minute Journal habit wagon...

When I asked what happened, he said travel and missing a few days here and there eventually led him to stop. I really value that kind of honesty. 

Keep in mind, this is someone who’s passionate about the habit, who has experienced the first-hand benefits of it and has shared it with lots of people in his life. 

Guess what? He’s not alone. 

In fact, there’s a high probability that you have (or had) fallen off the Five Minute Journal habit. 

We are all human. We make mistakes. The more ambitious and hungry we are, the more mistakes we will make. This is part of the deal. 

Yelling “Why the @#$ can’t I stick to a simple habit that will make my life better?” from the rooftops is going to hurt more than it will help. Breathe.

Learning how to re-start habits is an important part of our progress. So let’s get to it!


In this example, I’ll use the Five Minute Journal - 

Step 1 - Take Inventory (aka Assess the Damage) 

Take a look at your Journal and look at the last time you made an entry. Yes, it was a while ago. Read through your last few entries. Remember what was going on in your life. Remember what happened to make you fall off the wagon. This is really important, because you will be proofing those exact triggers in the future. Get into the emotions.

Yes, it will be uncomfortable. And this is precisely why most people find it harder to restart a habit than start a new one, especially if they were pretty committed to it initially. 

Step 2 - Forgive yourself. 

This is probably the hardest part and the most important step. If you take nothing else from this email, please read the next paragraph carefully. It will be well worth it. 
There is mental forgiveness (aka I realize I made a mistake and it’s okay, let’s get on with it), and then there is emotional forgiveness (aka a deep, fundamental realization of how human we are and a reorientation to the habit itself). 

Mental forgiveness is faster, yet emotional forgiveness is slower and incredibly effective. Once complete, if feels as if you were starting the habit for the first time. 

Here’s the trick - be gentle and slow with yourself. You’re doing the best you can. It’s okay! 

Step 3 - Recommit to a WHY 

Why are you doing the Five Minute Journal? Take a minute right now. What does it do for you? Ask yourself why for every answer your come up with till you find something significant.

For example: 

Q: Why do I do the Five Minute Journal? 
A: I do the Five Minute Journal because it helps me become a better person. 

Q: Why is that important?
A: Becoming a better person everyday is a part of my core values.

Q: Why? 
A: Because I can’t imagine my life without progress and growth. 


Step 4 - Re-identify your triggers 

An interesting tactic couples therapy counsellors use when working with clients is asking them if they remember the first time they met and their early stages of dating. 

The idea is to make them feel the same emotions and experiences that made them decide to commit to each other. The same works for habits. Maybe a trigger for you was a podcast or a Youtube video where you heard of the Five Minute Journal. I recommend watching it again. 

Maybe you also remember that if you kept the notebook by your bedside or counter with a pen beside it, you were 80% more likely to write in it. Maybe you rewarded yourself with a coffee when you finished the journal. 

The key here is to get you primed, psychologically and behaviourally to re-start the habit. Use previous triggers + new triggers that you know will help you move forward. 

Also, identify the triggers that caused you to stop - travel, and excuses about time are at the top of the list. 


Step 5 - Get Accountability

Simply put, accountability works. Get a growth-oriented friend to hold you accountable for moving forward on your habit, either through text or email check-ins. Keep the system simple and straightforward. 

That’s it! You’re on your way to having re-started a habit effectively. If you’ve read all the way to here, you OWE it to yourself to take action. 

What habit are you looking to restart? I’d love to hear. Just hit reply to this email. 

With gratitude,

Everybody wants freedom, but what does it actually mean?

When I landed in Canada alone when I was 17 year old, I experienced incredible freedom. Oh, did I experience every bit of it.

I have always yearned for freedom from a young age. I remember yelling “FREEEEEDOM” at the top of my lungs in parks and generally being an all-round rule breaker. Until I moved to Canada, I I did not really understand what it meant to have the opportunity to think and do as I pleased. I had no idea how constrained my life was in India.

Life in India had life paths pre-carved. In Canada, there was smooth infrastructure, friendly people and the choice to decide all things for myself. From this transition, I learned freedom is relative.

I know many who talk about wanting freedom as a metric for success, but never take the time to clearly define it.

Is freedom about having more money than you will ever need?


Making Your Phone Work for You

So I got my ass kicked by reality six days ago. It was July 1st and the reality dawned on me that there were only six months left in 2015.

I’ve done a bunch of things I planned out. But there’s a longer list that I haven't done yet.

How am I possibly going to do everything on here?
Should I not have thought that big to start with?
Are my planning skills that bad?

Mid-year crisis was in effect.

I decided to pull out a new note in Evernote and journal it out. Long form journaling usually gets me out of a funk pretty reliably. While journaling, I remembered a great idea from a good friend of mine, Jordan Gray, that helped me through this funk:

This is how I make sure I stay on top of things for the next quarter. I put my important goals/targets on my iPhone lock screen.

Why quarter? Because if you’re thinking big, a year or even six months is going to feel too overwhelming. Three (3) months is a great time frame for measured, consistent progress and review.

How often you see your goals will be linked to how much you work on them. Whatever you put on your lock screen will get MASSIVE exposure so make sure you use your phone lock screen to work for you.


*By the way, if any Android user wants to send over the instructions for how you would do it in Android, we’re happy to share it with the rest of the folks here and give you credit for it*

Step 1 - Enter the native iOS Notes App. Enter the title as Goals for Q3 (July- Sept 2015).

Step 2 - In descending order of priority, enter one goal per line. This is important because you’ll see the most important goal the most often. You’ll want to arrange the text so it’s visible around the time on the lock screen. Don’t stress over this as you’ll get a few times to get it right.

Step 3 - Take a screenshot of the note (Home + Sleep/Wake button).

Step 4 - Go to Settings > Wallpaper > Choose New Wallpaper, choose the picture, tap Set > Set as Lock Screen.

Now if you lock your phone, you’ll see that you’ve successfully set the lock screen although the time blocks some of your goals. No worries.

Repeat Steps 2-4 until you’ve got a lock screen that clearly displays your Goals for Q3.

Congratulations! you’ve done it.