12 Steps to Create Your Best Self From Michael Hyatt

I have curated some of the best ideas from Michael Hyatt’s Living Forward and Your Best Year Ever to create this 12-step guide to creating your best self.

In ‘Living Forward‘, Michael Hyatt shared a practical step-by-step process to create a life plan. ‘Your Best Year Ever‘ is Michael’s take two on ‘Living Forward‘.

Both the books share Michael’s three core beliefs:

  • Life is multi-faceted and all our “life accounts” are important and interconnected.
  • To make progress in the future, we need to access our present across our life accounts.
  • It’s possible to make progress across our life accounts by setting well-defined goals, and creating a system to translate these goals into actions.

The two books are different in three important ways:

  • Michael works with a shorter horizon: a year, instead of a lifetime, and drops the focus on designing a legacy.
  • He recognizes the power of looking back and becoming complete with our past, to be able to look forward and create our desired future.
  • He packs the book with research references and quotes to back up his key premises.

The end result is a simple yet powerful book. Its value is enhanced by well-designed resources like a book website with additional resources, a companion course, and a Lifescore Assessment tool.

As an aside, Michael’s overall approach to designing his business and presenting his products and services online has become an benchmark for me for creating a thought-leadership platform. See: main website, content like weekly podcast and weekly magazine, products like Full Focus Planner and LeaderBox, courses like Get Published, Platform University, 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever and Free to Focus, and the book websites for ‘Living Forward‘ and ‘Your Best Year Ever‘. Very impressive!

I have curated some of the best ideas from ‘Living Forward‘ and ‘Your Best Year Ever‘ to create this guide to creating your best self.

Phase 1: Become aware of your present

  • Step 1: Assess your present: Assess your life areas in three circles — the circle of being (physical, spiritual, intellectual), the circle of relating (friends, family, community), and the circle of doing (work, hobbies, money). Then plot these onto a 2X2 [passion X progress] matrix to identify the areas you need to ignite your passion and the areas in which you need to make progress. This is similar to David Allen’s [perspective X control] GTD matrix. In areas of low passion, you need to increase your perspective. In areas of low progress, you need to increase your control.

Phase 2: Become complete with your past

  • Step 2: Convert your limiting beliefs into liberating truths: Identify the false beliefs that are limiting your progress in your key life areas. The most common limiting beliefs are that we lack the power and/ or resources to change our circumstances. Now, distinguish these beliefs as limiting your progress, by identifying what cost they are causing in your life. Then, reject them and revise them into liberating truths that connect you with your power and resourcefulness.
  • Step 3: Review your areas of regret and gratitude last year: Review what goals you wished to achieve last year in each of your life areas, what results you ended up achieving, and what lessons you learned from your successes and failures. Specifically focus on the areas you regret the most and the areas you feel the most grateful for. The areas you regret the most provide the most opportunity for growth. The areas you are most grateful for provide a secure base from which you can pivot into new growth opportunities.

Phase 3: Envision your desired future

  • Step 4: Design your legacy: Fast-forward to the end of your life and ask this question: “what will family, friends, and colleagues say when I am dead?” Be present with the emotions you are experiencing and write an eulogy for yourself that you would want to be true.
  • Step 5: Create a life plan: Use your eulogy as the end point to create a life plan. For each life area in the circles of being, relating and doing, declare your purpose and reflect why it’s important to you, describe your current reality and your envisioned future, and make commitments to create the transformation.
  • Step 6: Set SMARTER achievement and habit goals: For each of the commitments you have made, set SMARTER (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Risky, Time-bound, Exciting and Relevant) goals for the year. Use a mix of achievement goals and habit goals and stagger them so that you are working on about 3 goals per quarter. Achievement goals represent the outcomes you are committed to. Habit goals represent the behaviours that will lead to your desired outcomes.

Phase 4: Create a system to enable action

  • Step 7: Plan your ideal week: Create margin for yourself to achieve your goals by mapping your ideal week on a calendar. Assign themes for each day, and daily slots for Front Stage, Back Stage, and Off Stage time. Front Stage time is for working on the projects related to your goals. Back Stage time is dedicated to the more mundane tasks of managing the game of work and the business of life. Off Stage time is for rest and rejuvenation.
  • Step 8: Build your support network: Surround yourself with like minded people who are working towards similar goals. They will help you learn, offer you encouragement, keep you accountable and motivate you to do your best. These might include online communities, mastermind groups, running or reading groups, alumni networks and close friends. These might also include paid support like coaches, therapists, fitness trainers, and financial/ legal advisors.
  • Step 9: Motivate yourself with rewards: Identify what rewards are the most meaningful to you. Almost always, intrinsic rewards are more powerful than extrinsic rewards. For many goals, like running, the action is its own reward, as it automatically makes you feel good. For some goals, like learning a skill, the sense of mastery is a powerful reward, even though it might take time to kick in. In other situations, you might need to create an extrinsic reward, like indulging yourself with a treat for putting in Back Stage time.
  • Step 10: Build momentum with easy actions: Set your goals as stretch goals in the discomfort zone, but start taking small actions in the comfort zone. Start with easy micro-actions to warm up and build the momentum and confidence to tackle bigger actions. Focus on consistently building a streak, and not breaking the chain. Small, consistent actions lead to big results with the power of compound interest.
  • Step 11: Use if-then planning to design action triggers: Think through the various scenarios in which you will encounter different types of obstacles. Then, define what triggers you will put in place in each of these scenarios, in advance, to help you overcome the obstacles and take the desired actions. Over time, your desired actions will become default habits and your dependence on the triggers will reduce.
  • Step 12: Set up time to regularly review your system: Set up daily, weekly, quarterly and annual reviews to reflect on outcomes, priorities and action plans. At each level, link your goals in each life area to projects and actions within them. Use the rule of three to prioritise three quarterly goals, weekly projects and daily actions.

I am applying many of these steps in my own life, and I will write another essay on that. For now, if this essay has inspired you to apply these steps in your own life, I would love to learn about how you applied these steps and what results you achieved. Do share your experience in the comments below or on Twitter @gauravonomics.

How to Develop Creative Habits: Three Powerful Daily Practices

Three Powerful Daily Creative Practices

Welcome to my new blog: Learning Creative Habits With Gauravonomics.

I’m a recovering creative developing a daily writing and sketching practice, using three powerful daily creative practices.

The first practice is to rebuild my creative muscle by meditating, journaling and sketching every morning. The second practice is to replenish my creative spirit by creating space and time for my passions every day. The third practice is to reclaim my creative identity by creating and sharing my work every day.

These three powerful daily practices have had a transformative impact on my life, and if you are also a recovering creative, they can also transform your life.

1. Meditate, Journal and Sketch Every Morning to Rebuild Your Creative Muscle

Every morning, I wake up at 5am and follow the same morning ritual. First, I meditate to focus my mind. Then, I journal to empty my mind. Finally, I sketch to make sense of what’s on my mind.

I practice a combination of Pranayama and Vipassana meditation, first paying attention to my breath, then paying attention to the sensations in my body.

I journal and sketch in my Moleskine smart notebook with the Neo2 smart pen. Writing with pen and paper teaches me to trust my hands, and combine words and figures, and the M+ Notes app backs up my daily journal entries and sketches.

My writing desk has become my favorite place in the house. The rug under it has become the favorite perch for my Persian cat Leela.

Within a short time, this simple morning ritual has had a transformative impact on my life.

I am feeling both more connected with my dreams and more rooted in my reality.

Every morning now leads to resolutions small and large and a replenished will to realize these resolutions.

2. Create Space and Time For All Your Passions Every Day to Replenish Your Creative Spirit

I am learning to embrace all my passions, create space and time for them in my house and my life, and build connections between them.

I am reading graphic novels and teaching myself how to sketch using charcoal and color pencils. I am listening to jazz and western classical concerts and learning how to play the piano. I am learning to use my body as a canvas for creative expression, even if that’s sometimes simply an excuse for buying even more sneakers. I now want to start running long distance again, practice writing and speaking Mandarin regularly, and learn how to grow an indoor garden.

I recently redecorated my house to create space for all these passions. My little one bedroom apartment now fits a treadmill, a piano, a writing desk and an art supplies cabinet. Now, it’s not only a house for #LeelaCat and me, but also a creative studio filled with books, music, plants and art.

I have always read a hundred books every year; now I am reading a book every other day. I’m reading books related to my passions that either inspire me to become better or show me how to improve. I start my day at 5am with writing, and finish my day at 11pm with reading, and fit all these passions in the hours in between.

Within a few short months, I have gone from being a minimalist to being a maximalist and my creative spirit feels more alive than ever before.

3. Create and Share Your Work Every Day to Reclaim Your Creative Identity

I am blogging again, after years, as a public commitment to create and share my work every day.

I have always felt that I am meant to write books, many books, fiction and non-fiction. I have written a non-fiction book before on the future of engagement. Since then, I have tried to write the next book a few times. I have bought domain names for these books. I have even designed the book cover for one book. But, I haven’t finished any of these books. My mind is a graveyard of unborn books.

This time, I am telling myself that it is better to write 52 essays in a year, one essay a week, and see if they add up to a non-fiction book. I am telling myself that it’s better to write 52 stories in a year, one story a week, and see if they add up to a novel.

I am telling myself that the only way to reclaim my creative identity is to create and share something small everyday, even if it’s only a photo, sketch, or story about #LeelaCat. I am telling myself that if my inner artist child wants #LeelaCat as his muse, I should indulge his need for fun and whimsy.

My inner artist child is happy these days. For the first time in years, I am writing regularly. Some days, I write as many as 5000 words, between my morning journal pages, my stories and my essays. After years. I am also sketching regularly, and I feel that the writing and the sketching, just like the essays and the stories, are helping each other.

Creative Recovery is a Lifelong Journey

There’s good news and bad news about creative recovery.

The bad news is that creative recovery is not linear. I have good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks, good months and bad months. Every few weeks, every few months, every few years, I feel like I have returned to where I started from.

The good news is that creative recovery is not circular either, it’s spiral. With every cycle I go through, I learn more about myself and my inner artist child, and I become better at protecting and nurturing him.

Creative recovery is a lifelong journey, and I am hoping to develop and deepen these three daily creative practices for life.

I am rebuilding my creative muscle by meditating, journaling, and sketching every morning. I am replenishing my creative spirit by creating space and time for all my passions. I am reclaiming my creative identity by creating and sharing my work every day.

I hope you’ll join me on my journey, and share your own successes and struggles. You can sign up below to receive my updates via email, and follow my updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.