Personal Development


Make This Year Your Best Year

I am Jude. Happy 2022!

We start another year in a pandemic. Yet, I have never been more convinced that, in spite of this, we all have the power to make our dreams come true. I have developed an almost child-like naivete that we can accomplish almost anything we set our minds to. It requires vision, purpose, planning and compound effort. The cost is steep, but it’s more than possible.

Even more surprisingly, I have learned that the journey is truly far more important than the destination. Growth, wisdom and change are the truly valuable by-products of concerted effort, not the ultimate outcome. 

I am committed to making 2022 my best year. I understand that it will undoubtedly present some personal challenges and unforeseen obstacles. However, I am mentally and emotionally fortified to accept whatever is coming. And the next something is always coming….

Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash

I have gained perspective. I realize that I, and I alone, am responsible for how I interact with the world. I determine how I view and respond to issues, setbacks and disappointments and I am choosing to reconsider problems as opportunities for learning and personal growth. And that thinking is revolutionary!

As Marcus Aurelius quoted, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way” or in other words, The Obstacle Becomes The Way. 

I strongly encourage you to explore Marcus Aurelius’ life and Stoic writings. He was known as one of the Five Good Emperors of Rome and seems to have been a genuinely unique historical figure. 

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Get Your Mind Right
Before you attempt to make any meaningful changes, you need to set your intentions and adopt a positive mindset. This is critical. You need to approach your goals with confidence, passion and determination. 

You must develop the steadfast belief that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to, and are willing to work for. Anything less and you will lose your way when you experience adversity. Expect less and you will receive less. 

Research has found that less than 10% of people who set New Year resolutions actually accomplish them. For many, it takes less than two weeks before their will fades and they  disregard any newly acquired behaviours.

Be SMART with your Goals 

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

A. de Sainte-Exupery

In previous years, I too have made my New Year resolutions by committing to a number of non-specific changes. In much the same way most people do, I made vows to develop better relationships with my friends and family, improve my finances or to exercise more.

These generic commitments were well intentioned but doomed to failure. They lacked specificity, planning and accountability. They were merely objectives without a blueprint or any identified actions.  

Use S.M.A.R.T. goals and G.R.O.W. 

In order to be successful in obtaining any meaningful goals, you have to know exactly what you want and the process you will undertake to get there.

S.M.AR.T. goals are clearly defined, trackable objectives that outline what you want to achieve, how you will do it and by when. Each letter represents a different element in this effective goal-setting strategy.

G.R.O.W. is another goal setting framework that emphasizes purposeful decision making:

  • G – Closely consider your Goals and the process you will undertake to be successful
  • R – Reality Check. It requires an honest assessment of your current circumstances and the gap between your reality and your goal. 
  • O – Options and Obstacles. It’s critical to consider all of the potential options and the anticipated obstacles you may face in pursuing your goal. Assess the best courses of action and prepare for the unexpected.
  • W – Will and Way forward. Identify what it will take to reach your goal and choose a well developed action plan that outlines the process. For me, W also stands for putting in the Work because there are no results if there is no direct action.

These two strategies complement each other well. SMART goals are specific, measurable and have a high level of accountability. Applying the GROW method to SMART goals gives further specificity and perspective to the change process. They provide critical analysis and a valuable roadmap to meet any desired goal.

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Develop a Plan 

I know that in order to reach my goals I need to create a well-considered plan and fully commit to the process. Consequently, I need to be more intentional in my planning and goal setting . I want more, consequently I have to BE more. 

You can make your dreams come true too, you just have to be able to envision them, make them a priority and create a practical plan to manifest them through hard work and commitment.

Renowned entrepreneur and habit expert James Clear reports that in a study performed by the British Journal of Health Psychology, people who set an intention by creating an action plan of when and where to work out had a 91 percent success rate in making time for exercise each week.


Aligning your goals with your divine purpose, your core values or another strong personal motivator dramatically increases your chances of remaining committed and being successful. Your goals should be anchored in your mission or a higher purpose, such as the lifestyle you want create or the legacy you ultimately want to leave.

Articulate your most desirable goals and ensure they are in alignment with the big picture. Honestly, making your dreams come true is not as far-fetched as it might seem. You can do it!

Expect the Worst and Plan for It

Every new goal will present obstacles. That is a fact. However, you can plan for these challenges and learn how to effectively respond to them. Like any worthwhile journey, expect that there will be detours and roadblocks and prepare for them well ahead of time.

Develop Productive Habits Create a Productive Life

“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.”

F.M. alexander

Habits can make or break your chances of achieving and maintaining your lifestyle goals. They are automated rituals or behaviours that you develop through constant practice of particular tasks. Habits are incremental steps you compete regularly to reach your goals. Many times, they become subconscious actions you don’t even think about. 

How long does it take for a habit to form?

On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior is adopted or becomes a habit. According to the research, that is 66 days to be exact. Of course, how long it takes depends on the behavior, the person, the level of effort and focus and external circumstances. 

In other words, with the understanding that everyone is unique, it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior or habit into your life.

One new habit at a time

We have finite levels of willpower and discipline thay can be exhausted as they are spread out amongst all of the areas of our lives. Because of this, it’s important to work on developing only one habit at a time. That way, your stores of willpower and discipline can be channeled into completing that one habit, thus increasing your odds of success.

Side Hustle – Unshackled Solutions Life Coaching and Consulting

I continue to complete self study and become more familiar with the profession of life coaching. In terms of a functional definion, I consider a life coach someone who is profesionally trained to assist clients acheive their goals, live m0re fulfilling lives and pursue their full potential.

Life coaching assumes that all of the answers reside within the client. It helps people reach desired results by assessing where someone is, where they want to be and how to bridge the gap between the two.

Life coaches gather information in a co-created process of change, ask curious questions that will promote introspection and allow clients to come up their own solutions.

Life coaching is not counselling, mentorship or therapy. It not focused on the past or the why of things, except in the context of change. Instead, its concerned with the client’s current reality and helping them shape their future through consistent, positive action.

I like what I’m learning.

Your Next Best Read –  The ONE Thing

This was another great book. And it’s timely. The ONE Thing helps you to discover your most important goals, and gives you tools to ensure you can use your time productively to obtain them.

It posits that not everything deserves equal time and that extraordinary results are determined when you narrow your focus to the ONE thing

Interestingly, he suggests that multitasking does not work. Rather, he asserts that concentrating on ONE thing for blocks of time yields far better results. And I think he’s right.

I will be referencing this book again to review how to effectively prioritize tasks and consider where best to invest my efforts. 

Photo by Shiromani Kant on Unsplash

What’s Good? Positive Reflections

The New Year has allowed me to reflect on my personal development journey. I have come a long way, and one of the biggest contributors to my growth has been reading.

It’s not just that I’m reading regularly again, it’s what I’m reading. Many of the books I have recently read have presented powerful ideas and insights that have been helpful in my quest to Break Free and Be Better. 

Reading is literally changing the way I consider myself and my place in the world. My knowledge base and level of understanding is increasing and it’s providing me with ever-increasing confidence and conviction.

Reading has got me believing I can accomplish anything. Because others have already done the impossible, why can’t I?

Not only that, my reading is positively affecting others. The ideas, concepts, and life lessons I am sharing are benefiting individuals within my circle of influence. I am engaging in more meaningful discussions about parenting, financial literacy and the purpose of life.  

I strongly encourage you to read. It may not have been part of who you were in the past but it can become something you adopt in 2022.

There are countless apps and online bookstores to help you find the right book to start. Audiobooks have been a game-changer for me and I love Audible because of the access to 1000’s of free books with your membership. You can also access free audiobooks and traditional books from your local library or the Libby app. 

READ!!! Pick up a book or download one and get lost and inspired. You are guaranteed to learn something. 

CNNDesmond Tutu Fast Facts | CNN

I also want to give a posthumous Shout Out to the life and service of Desmond Tutu. His passing seemed to get lost in the Holidays and didn’t get the recognition it deserved. I believe that part of our purpose is to live a life worth living, and if anyone embodied that ideal, it’s this man. 

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending South Africa’s racist apartheid regime of violence and oppression and for tirelessly championing the rights of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

In keeping with the humble way that he lived his life, Archbishop Tutu was buried in a plain pine coffin, the cheapest available, after an eco-friendly cremation. This was at his request to avoid any ostentatious display at his funeral.

To me, he was a true Afrikan hero in every sense of the word. And like Marcus Aurelius, he was a virtuous man who demonstrated how to live not only in his words but through his actions.

Photo by Sam Burriss on Unsplash

Public Service Announcement

I have been suffering from chronic back pain for as long as I can remember. Like most of us who are middle-aged, I have aches and pains throughout my body.

However, at times, my lower back pain is debilitating. There are days when I can hike or run through the hills in Victoria Park with minimal discomfort and others when I can barely walk. 

I haven’t experienced any demonstrable benefits from either physiotherapy or with a chiropractor. I have altered my diet, lost weight and I stretch daily. I have even stopped going to the gym after almost thirty years and have opted instead to complete far less intense workouts at home.

Unfortunately, nothing I have tried has worked. 

So, after several consultations with the back surgeon, I have agreed to undergo a procedure to relieve some of the pain, tingling and numbness. It will be completed through day surgery and I have been apprised that 70% of people improve, 20% see no significant change in their condition and 10% get worse. I like my chances.

Regardless of the outcome, I need to try something. Yes, I am fearful of the potential consequences if something goes wrong and I hate the thoughts of being off my feet recovering for any amount of time.

But the prospect of being able to live without constant pain is too alluring. The risk is assumable, the doctor is confident there will be a favorble outcome and I don’t see any other viable alternative.

One of my New Year resolutions and primary goals is to operate out of a more positive mindset that embraces optimism and acceptance. In this regard, I am confident I have made the right decision for me and the active lifestyle I want to continue living. 

With the decision made, I am no longer conflicted. If by chance, there are complications or my condition worsens, I will accept whatever happens, find another way to alleviate my symptoms and utilize the experience to grow stronger.

The Obstacle Becomes The Way. I am Jude.

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