They say the most rewarding investment is investment in yourself. Which is absolutely true. However, it seems more like a strategy or a vision. I would like to share about the most rewarding tool for self-investment in my life.
I call it “the wall” & inspiration for it came from our office interiors. All the dividers and tables have glass on it and for the last several years I have written notes everywhere to explain my point, or doodle a framework for my colleagues. To help them get the vision that, I am trying to depict. After a few years of observation I saw that people tend to understand a point of view far more clearly if it has visuals in it. That’s a no-brainer, I know. I began to think, what if I use the same approach on myself? Excel sheets do not work for me – I need something that I would see every day when I wake up.
I ended up installing this bad boy right here in my living room. I put it up 3 years ago and within these very fulfilling 3 years it made me shape myself into a person I would admire more. The results I get are very empowering & the accomplishments give a sense of pride.
So how do I format it? In the way that it is most rewarding
I divide the wall into sections & subsections. Which have yearly, monthly, daily & recurring tasks or goals. Furthermore I write on the wall topics that I would like to know more about, things that I want to research & topics I want to write about. However, in the case of this article, it came to me at the spot during my vacation in Central America.
It is the 16th of March, it is quite sunny outside with little clouds scattered across the sky. My room is overlooking the Pacific Ocean and I am hearing sounds of waves & bird calls all day & night. Me and Danny are in the same room right now, he is reading one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s books and I am trying to gather my thoughts to produce a well put article. Danny is an ER doctor from Columbus, Ohio. It is almost lunch time & I will try to finish it by then. Because I want to try Boogie Boarding after lunch.
Now that you can imagine my amazing scenery, I would like to segway your attention back to the wall. I put both personal & corporate goals on there. Furthermore, I do some encrypting because some goals are very private and I do not want my house guests to understand whatever it is I am going through or what is the amount of funds I wish to raise for a project.
One of my favorites for wall writing is “the month”. What I do is, I write the number of days in the month in order & add 7 daily tasks on the side. Whenever I complete 4 tasks on that day I put an X over that date, if 5 I put a circle, 6 circle on an X & if 7 I put a big black dot. “The month” is happening 3-4 times a year & it is the time(s) of the year when I become very productive. I sometimes can put on daily tasks such as: Reach out to a client/partner, read 40 pages, do breathing exercises, pass a course on Duolingo app for Spanish & Italian and so on. It really depends on where I am during the year & where I want to go. The results are truly astonishing. Subsequently I make sure that all daily, monthly & yearly tasks/goals have alignment. This means that, every day I have to get closer to my end goal(s).
Do you remember me keeping talking about James Clear & Atomic habits book? Well, James served as an inspiration for my structuring system of the wall. One of the best lessons he has in his book is the following: 1% daily progress can lead you to change in the amount of 37x within a full year. It really checks out.
In July I put on the wall that I have to learn Spanish, Italian & playing 3 full songs on Piano. I fulfilled them all. I was in Italy with my girlfriend for the new year & I did manage to order food or communicate occasionally in Italian. I am in Central America right now & I do get by with talking to strangers in Spanish, I truly understand what they are saying 90% of the time. Finally thanks to Jamila Askarova I am able to play songs by Ludovico Einaudi, Joep Beving & Jacob Banks.
People sometimes can get an idea that I am bragging, however I like to think that I keep proving to myself & to others, truly that – Change is the only constant. I am proud of my learning curve & have discredited my own judgmental approach to people. Whenever I do something – fear of being judged for my actions or words does not hold that big of a space as it did before. No one is perfect, however it is the attempt that makes a difference.
I want to share another story related to the wall. I always considered myself a shy & timid person. I used to say that I hate public speaking & I feel very discomforted when doing so. I used to feel all red & sweaty every time I was delivering a message in a meeting or at an event. One day I decided to have a shift in the way I label myself. Made a decision of changing the statements of self description. Evidently when you say that “I am a very shy person” it sounds like a very bold and static statement, which cannot be changed. However when you shift your perspective you can say “I feel like I can be better & fluent in situations when I have to deliver a message in front of a public audience” & encoded this question with an Italian word “Timido”. And voila… Your brain immediately asks a question – “But how?”
The minute your pre-coded brain asks that question you can come up with a checklist of things to look up or act on.
Last year I was invited to a conference to deliver a 15 minute speech & answer questions in front of the biggest audience I ever was. I felt very nervous, prepared a word-by-word speech in advance, and planned to read. Another reason I was very anxious was that 200 attendees will be paying money to have a chance to listen to speakers & I was amongst those speakers. Must say it added more pressure to it. The big day came & I delivered my speech. I wish I could say that it was one of those bliss moments that I overcame every fear that I have and delivered a Tim Robbins like speech. Nope, I sucked. I did not like how I delivered the message.
Following week I was asking myself “how can I be better at public speaking?” – in fact put the message on the wall. Next day an opportunity presented itself & I ended up having dinner with Jeyhun Ali, a professional public speaker & full time primetime news anchorman on TV.
I asked him for tricks & readings on how to become better at public speech. He gave me a few pointers. Further on, a few days later we met again to further discuss public speaking & to order a bespoke suit from the atelier he owns. During which he gave me the most important & simplest lesson of all. He told me that “you are not a professional public speaker & no one expects you to be perfect. Just be yourself”. And 10 days later I went to an event at ADA University without a prepared or memorized speech. Just took some notes with me & overcame that discomfort one sentence at a time.
Not only that, right after the speech I felt very alive & relieved that I could deliver my speech in exactly the way I wanted it. Plus, it felt great to be bombarded with questions from students. Felt amazing to accomplish the purpose I came for which was to share experience & add value. It was nice to be appreciated.
By the end of the year I deleted the word “Timido” from the wall – a sense of pride pours down the veins every time I delete something off it.
I do not expect everyone to install a glass wall on their wall and mess it up with holes, nope. Whatever floats your boat, it can be a notepad, a whiteboard or an app which reminds you daily. You can fill it up with things you will get to enjoy in the future, accomplishments which will make you feel complete and aspirations which will help you feel fulfilled, content & happy.
It does not matter what amount of years we have in our life, it matters how much life we have in our years. You are the hero of your journey.