December 31, 2017

Tips on Work, Life Hacks, and Life Lessons

The end of the year is often a time of reflection. We ponder on the accomplishments during the past 12 months as well as things we wish we could have done better. The latter may be used as a basis of establishing personal or professional goals we set for the coming year. While I am not one to create New Year's resolutions, I appreciate that a new year is a moment in time to begin anew and focus on items that will help me become a better person.

While perusing the internet, I came across a list of top 100 tips on work, life hacks and life lessons as compiled by Nelson Wang, co-founder of Here are few tips of Mr. Wang's that I found of particular value as I welcome the year of 2018:

Work Tips

7. Celebrate progress. I agree with that "the journey to your goal could be a long one. So make sure you take the time to celebrate your progress along the way." Life is hard and many of us encounter not just one, but multiple challenges on a daily basis. It is too easy to focus on the failures (big and small) or times when we are performing our best. Nevertheless, it is important to celebrate progress. As Mr. Wang correctly asserts, "Because success is worth celebrating."

28. Embrace failure and learn from it. "You are going to fail at some point in life," writes Mr. Wang. "It could be a big event, like getting fired. It could be a small event, like forgetting to do the laundry. It's all relative." Some years will bring more accomplishments than setbacks and other years will see the latter outweighing the former. Embracing failure and assessing the lessons learned will often lead to making better decisions in the future.

Following from #28, Mr. Wang's list includes:

29. Embrace your champions. "Along the way, you will find people that genuinely believe in you and your mission. They will cheer you on. Embrace them. Even if your only champion is your mom." My mom is a GREAT champion on mine!!

30. Embrace your naysayers. "On this same journey, you'll also find people who doubt you every step of the way. Embrace them too. Only this time, use that doubt as your source of motivation."

During the course of my career, many people, some of whom I consider trusted friends and advisors, expressed doubt or serious concerns about a business idea or strategy. While I admit that I initial response was one of defensiveness, I learned to slow down, take a deep breathe (see #51 below), and try to understand the basis of their doubt or concerns. Was I not explaining myself clearly? Was I overlooking an important element?

Sometimes their concerns altered my approach and other times I proceeded as originally planned despite their doubts. Nevertheless, it was important to embrace these doubts and use them as my source of motivation.

Life Hacks

35. Freeze your fruits/vegetables. Many of my friends and colleagues born outside the United States comment about the large volume of food Americans waste. I agree.

Fruits and vegetables are often expensive and I have never understood the rationale for letting them go to waste. Mr. Wang suggests freezing your fruits and vegetables, which may later be used in soups, stews or smoothies. (Perhaps life hack #35A is to invest in a good blender.)

51. Slow down. "We get it. You want to make a dent in the universe. You want to change the world. You want to create something magical. Slow down. Take a deep breathe. You don't have to react instantly all the time. Sometimes, taking a moment to collect yourself and to think about the situation might drive a better outcome for you."

Not reacting instantly is an ongoing challenge for me. However, doing so often means that my work is controlling my life (and schedule). Maintaining effective time management skills and choosing the time when I respond to messages provides me with the opportunity to slow down, take a deep breathe and assert control over my life.

A friend and colleague recently gave me an hourglass to help remind me the virtue of patience, which is not one of my strengths. Slowing down, taking a deep breathe and having patience is an ongoing challenge to I will seek to incorporate in my life in 2018 and beyond.

Life Tips

56. Learn one new thing a day. Being a constant learner is, in my opinion, one of my greatest strengths. As such, it is a value that I appreciate among those closest to me in my personal or professional circle.

Being a constant learner simply begins with learning one new thing a day. Mr. Wang notes, "This could be one word from a new language, a scientific fact, a life hack or anything else that you're interested in. Over time, learning one new thing a day will shape you into awesomeness."

57. Remember people's names. Many of my mentors throughout my professional career demonstrated the importance of building relationships. This often begins with remembering people's names (and, if possible, other personal details such as their hometown, names of their spouse and children, schools attended and degrees earned, hobbies, etc.). "When you say someone's name, it shows that you care," explains Mr. Wang. "It shows that you recognize their presence. It shows that you're a nice person. Try it."

84. Be insanely curious. This connects well with #56 on learning one new thing a day. I agree with Mr. Wang that "being curious will help you keep an open mind" and "by doing so, you'll learn new ideas and help bring passion and excitement in your life." More importantly, "You don't know everything, so learn as much as you can in your life!"

94. Don't compare yourself to others. This tip is easier to follow as I get older. 20 years ago when I was in the early stage of my career, I, like many of my contemporaries, regularly and mistakenly compared myself to others. This is natural when you are in the your 20s feeling insecure and competing for opportunities that you hope will lead to significant returns.

I now see my younger colleagues exhibiting the same behavior. I could not say it better than "just focus on being the best possible version of yourself."

Which of Mr. Wang's tips do you find valuable or relevant?

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. And thank you for being my champion or naysayer (or sometimes both).

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

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