Five Days til the New Year: The 20-Minute Goal Setting Experiment
- Posted by Raghee Horner
- on December 26th, 2012
I had a chat with my buddie Rob Booker for his popular Trader’s Podcast last week and as always it was full of classic, short-attention span shenanigans that had us zipping from one topic to the next and while it may seem disconnected, in the end we somehow end up with a memorable conversation. In this most recent “sit down” with Rob I shared for the first time ever how I plan my December “New Year’s Resolutions”. I start in December because anything that you are likely to ever to do you will you will start now! And really the New Year itself is a psychological clean slate so why not take advantage of it? (I am actually going to ask you to do this exercise for three to six months in a row before you actually transition to doing it annually.) So this brings me to my 20-minute “perfect day” exercise and I got a ton of questions about what it is and how I do it so here’s an explanation on why and how to do it.
Spend a few minutes thinking about whatever makes you happy: Whatever it is…a challenging workout, a quiet meal, a clean house, a great movie, a new book, jeans that fit just right, music, dinner with friends, a surprise lunch with your spouse, a weekend getaway, visiting an old friend you haven’t seen in a long while, your kids laughing, opening the doors to your own business, your morning “commute” to your home office.
Every “thing” is really an experience so don’t get hung up on the “stuff”.
Once you’ve let your mind marinate in this blissful awesomeness of memories and possibilities that are all the potential YOU, it’s time to pick up your favorite, smooth writing pen, something with a nice light weight in your hands and some clean, high-quality paper, notebook, whatever…and get to work.
(If you’re more of a geek and a keyboard suits you…no worries. Fire up your Mac or PC. I love Omm Writer Dana II for creative writing).
I’ve been doing this exercise in one form or another since I was fifteen, the year my dad died. And I prefer pen and paper. The whole point then was to paint a picture of what was possible rather than the limits, sadness, and loss that could have swallowed me whole. I knew that my daily habits and thoughts would take me to wherever was better.
Frankly despite how popular they are, I am not a huge fan of making specific long-term goals. As you go from one year to the next, to the next experience, mistake, and coincidence the path and YOU change and sometimes where you’re heading is taking your somewhere different but still very cool. DON’T for a moment think you know today what coincidences will line up to take you to wherever you will be and wherever you’re going tomorrow. DO know that your daily habits – your average day – is what will bring you to the door that you knock on, open, heck, even kick down.
Funny thing is that people will think weeks, months, and years down the line without thinking about the building blocks that will take them there: an average day. My life and career is built on the idea of “building blocks”. The most basic of those blocks is how I live each day. Of course this shouldn’t be random or left to a “to do” list or putting out your and other people’s bullsh## fires. By thinking about how you’d like to live each day (let’s call it your ideal or perfect day) you’re putting certain things – your intentions, your efforts, the universe – into motion. I’m not saying that this perfect day will be the reality every day but let’s have something to shoot for! So what is it? This perfect day…and how the heck do you DEFINE perfect? I’m an English major so language is very important to me. Our words dictate how to think so let’s get to the questions.
A better way might be to explain this is to think: What if this were the movie “Groundhog Day” and you had to re-live a certain day over and over again what would it be? Of course being a trader and writer my point of view and priorities are driven from those purposes. When would you get up? What would be the first thought in your mind when you wake? What would you do after you get up? Would you have breakfast? Would you workout? Do you like the quiet of the morning to write? Maybe you’re a nightowl that likes the solitude of an entire house asleep. For me things popped up like…What was my commute like? (I wanted to work from home) How is my office set up? How many computers and monitors would I have? How would I design a mobile office that I could run from my MacBook Air (a birthday gift from my bestie) and my iPhone? What kind of software would I trade from and write from? What will I wear when I work? How would I eat through the day? (I’m an intermittent fasting fan but that’s a topic for another time.) You can even get to less tangible, more touchy-feely things. What’s your superpower? (I love this one!) What do you look forward to? Who do you spend you day with? What would you want to contribute, learn, teach, experience each day? What do you appreciate about you, your life, your spouse, your family, your friends? Write it all down – fast! – the first things that come to mind. Remember you will be living this day over and over and over again. The sad thing is you already probably do have a certain repetition to your day but you are not consciously choosing it and you are not consciously choosing what it means and how you feel about it.
How are you managing to do all this each day, in just 24-hours? First of all that’s why I want you to limit the time you give yourself to write all this down and second that why I also say you can do this more than once. Hackneyed but true: It’s about quality not quantity. In fact do this exercise once a month for three to six months in a row. Each month you will find you discover what is really, truly important and life-defining. Each time you do this you will distill it all down to a perfect, “perfect day”.
I think of my day as two parts: Before lunchtime and after lunchtime – what’s even funnier is that I don’t eat lunch! In fact it would probably be more accurate for me to divide the day as a forex trader does from the point I wake up to the European market close (11:30am EST) and then from that point on until the Asian market open (7:00pm EST).
For me I use the quiet of the morning to do a few things to get my brain going. I have some favorite blogs, a handful of Twitter follows, and I also have articles that I have saved to Readability. (To write well you have to read A LOT!) I love reading on my Kindle as soon as I get up. Once I get motivated to get out of bed I like to make some some cowboy coffee. I look at the markets while the aroma of my fave pumpkin or hazelnut coffee fills the room. The sunlight is starting to peek through the giant windows in my office and I usually have CNBC on and muted. All of my monitors are glowing lighting the room and I start to think about the markets. Where are the trends? What is today’s economic calendar looking like? What are some of the major headlines? How are my positions and orders looking? At some point I’ll distract myself with a few minutes of Facebook or a YouTube video from my playlist. I also like to see what my workout for the day is going to be at my local Crossfit. This lasts maybe 10-20 minutes and I’ll get back to the markets. I’ll write a lot in my trading notebook and think about the trades that I’ll talk about in my morning Forex Fishbowl chat, broader market themes, and personal trading advice that I can share, a trade recap from the day before. This all takes me to about 10:00/10:30am EST.
After my chat I’ll have ideas based upon what the market has been doing that’ll be the fuel for my articles, blog posts, and videos. I know that I am a trader and content creator. My perfect day incorporates this in every way I can think of. It’s how I live not just what I do. I like to trade and I love writing so I have designed a life and a living that allows me to trade and then write about it. That was a conscious choice I made. I never knew for whom I would do it, I never had a “long-term” goal to be a published author, or world-traveled speaker…I just did the two things that I loved doing – and for a lot of years, for free!
Eventually I did start to put into my perfect day having things like an active trading room, a well-followed blog, being a Chief Currency Analyst for a respected brokerage, teaching my brand of analysis and my personally developed tools to traders…it’s all a reality now because I consciously made it a part of my perfect day. In fact most of this happened within a year of my making these part of my perfect day.
“My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake, and they live in a state of constant, total amazement.” – Meg Ryan as Patricia Graynamore from “Joe Versus the Volcano”
This may seem confusing at first…but remember your perfect day is about daily behavior and habits that you choose to make a priority. You wanna to write for a well-respected site or be a paid analyst? Start writing! Have something unique and actionable to say and put it out there. You want a popular blog? Great. Define what you will write about, who you are writing for (your reader), what you’re known for doing well, envision the blog template, the colors, font, and images.
Here’s an simple but powerful example. Early on I made a conscious decision to make sure that my charts didn’t look like anything else out there nor anyone else’s…the moving averages I used were different in the footprint they left on a chart and I used bright colors. I changed the way the candles shaded in and their individual colors. I wanted people to know that they were looking at a “Raghee” chart as soon as my analysis filled their screen. Now other people copy it (some call it their own). Mission Accomplished. And flattered.
The second half of my day begins after 11:30/Noon EST and I will typically shift from trader to content creator and start writing (lots of writing!) and recording (Hello Camtasia!) …updating my sites, Twitter feed, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, send out emails to my Newsletter list. I like separating my day into two distinctly different things because that way if my morning of trading sucked, I can start fresh and leave it behind. If I seem stuck on my writing but have tons of trading ideas I always have the Asian trading session in the evening. So it’s back to the markets for a little while in the evening for another shift…another fresh start. Frankly, the shifts keep me from getting bored.
I’ll usually do things I want to do from 4:30pm to 7:00pm EST and that may be plan dinner, shop, run errands, nap (my personal fave), read, go hang out with a friend, maybe get a run in or watch TV, take my husband out for a burger or sushi. It’s my time and yes I’ll spend these hours doing whatever I want. It’s my perfect day afterall. Time I enjoy “wasting” has never been wasted time to me.
What’s your perfect day? If locked into one 24-hour chunk of time what would you want to do? Give yourself 20-minutes to put all that happy-joy-joy goodness to paper. The reason for the time-limit is to keep you from thinking that you can do too much in a day like people who have the endless to do lists that they couldn’t possibly finish in a single day.
By the way, I shoot for…
1) eight things “to do” per day
2) a separate list for scheduled things (phone calls, webinars, getting adjusted, workout)
3) a list for delegating things, and
4) that “some day” list – I call it my “chipper” list that I have a need to put in front of my eyes but not feel the need to do it all today… (I’ll talk about how I use the Eisenhower Matrix and the Eisenpower app some time.)
In the meanwhile my friend , you’ve got 20-minutes.
Don’t worry though. In the second part of this process you’ll be writing a “magazine feature-style” article/interview of yourself! Yes. Seriously. And seriously fun. That’s when you can take all the time you want, indulge in more dreaming, more detail, and get more creative. I promise. But part one is where we build a base.
Answer this question: What does your perfect day look like? One that you could live every, single day.
p.s. IF the time constraints put too much pressure on this exercise go ahead and ignore it. BUT here’s the caveat: IT IS NOT an excuse to add more things to your day! Only more detail to the important things. Got it?
The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.blog comments powered by Disqus
Raghee Horner is a private trader and author based in South Florida. She began experimenting with market timing and charting analysis in 1989 at the age of 17... (More)
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