The prepared mind
I’m on holiday this week and spending it based at the Whinfell Forest Center Parcs in the Lake District, I’m looking forward to it a lot as this will be my first Center Parcs experience. Unfortunately I had to hang around in St Annes for a while because I needed to pop into the Dentist to get a crown refitted, which meant I got the opportunity to spend 90 minutes reading in Caffe Nero, so it wasn’t all bad.
Crown all sorted I headed up the M6. The rain was holding off so I decided to go to Pooley Bridge, I’ve never been before and Ullswater was looking magnificent. I explored about a 1/4 of the east shore before I started to loose the light. I’m planning to go back tomorrow and walk the whole east shore.
My chosen audio book for this holiday An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield, and he reads it himself which I generally like as it adds to the authenticity. So far the book is great and it’s providing a real insight into what makes an Astronaut tick, which seems to be a combination of a love of learning, hard work and adventure. Chris stresses many times in the book the need to prepare for what life will throw at you and he has certainly done that many times over in his life.
Chris has lived his life in a world so far removed from mine that I find it hard to really internalise it. He spends 99% of his time, learning new things and then endlessly practising, refining and planning to put them into action. He might spend 4 years preparing for a mission that lasts only a few days.
In my line of work by contrast I’m never trained in anything, I mostly learn things just in time, and almost never do the same thing twice so there’s no practising or refining. All this is about to change though, because last year I decided that I would spend more time in deliberate practice.
I’m working on seven big areas in my life, in no particular order:
- learning programming (Python and later Powershell, both using the Visual Studio environment). I used to programme for years, but I never really learned in a systematic way, preparing a hobby for retirement.
- maximising my impact at work (mentoring and coaching key people, working on our workplace strategy, coaching our optimisation team, more effective – walking – meetings) to keep employed until I retire
- simplifying (buying nothing, experiencing more, appreciating what I have) preparing for living on a lot less in retirement
- improving my physical resilience (hiking, stretching, strength training, fasting) getting as strong as possible now so that I can weather flares and hold back the years
- improving my mental resilience (meditation, discipline, mindfulness, eliminating headaches) preparing for the dozens of flares and other difficulties that I’m faced with every year.
- spending more quality time with my family (holidays, day trips, evenings out) preparing for a time when the girls leave home. I want ultra strong bonds with my girls and a full life with Debbie when they leave
- looking after myself (monthly think weeks, rest and relax Fridays, monthly holidays). Keeping my energy levels high, my body strong and my mind relaxed and enjoying my last few years at work.
Quite a list, but then by design there are a lot of synergies between the areas.