The Century List – 100 days to Accomplish 10 Bold Goals

It’s pretty common to hear people talk about their century lists, inspired by the 2007 movie The Bucket List. In case you don’t know, a bucket list is essentially a list of things you want to do before you die (in other words, kick the bucket). A few years ago on valentines day my better half and I exchanged our Century Lists or as we refer to them ‘Centum Negotium Perpetro‘, which is our list of the 100 things we each want to do before we die. The idea was that we would help each other complete and fulfill our worldly aspirations.

The process of making the list was inspirational – there are no boundaries and no limitations. It’s intimate and personal and it forces you to answer questions about what you want to accomplish in life, where you want to go, what brings meaning to your life, what is important, what milestones you want to achieve and what you need to accomplish to live a life without regret. For me the list was complete when I had someone to share it with, someone to help my dreams and aspirations become reality. To date, we’ve completed 13 items on my list and 6 on his, representing a 9.5% completion rate. At this rate, it will take us around 30 years to complete both of our lists and that is only if we don’t continue to add to them.

In the midst of thinking about my career goals for 2011, I thought I’d get an early head start tackling a few items on our Century List. The plan is to spend the next 100 days working on 10 items from our lists. The timeline is for motivation as I’m deadline driven. In no particular order, below are the 10 goals we’ve set out to complete by February 8, 2011.

1. Read the Night Sky: Be able to locate 10 constellations
2. Bungee Jump
3. Learn to juggle with three balls
4. Master the Rubick’s cube
5. Volunteer for a great cause and motivate others to join
6. Build an amazing sandcastle (one worthy of a photograph)
7. Live a week without spending money
8. Train for & run a full marathon
9. Renew a friendship with a long lost friend
10. Spend a date on the bus: spend an entire day on a bus reflecting on the past and planning for the future

Since I’ve had a lot of messages from my readers to get back to blogging – I’d love to hear from you:
Do you have a Century List?
Are you planning to make resolutions for 2011?
What are the top 3 things you have/would have on your Century List?

I would encourage everyone to have a Century List. How about incorporating all of your annual resolutions into a list that becomes an extension of who you are. You can keep it in Google docs, so that it is easily accessible, shareable and you can add to it anytime you want. Here are a few sites that can help you jump start your Century List.

Good Luck.

Inspiration Wednesday… Change the World.

I’ve decided to add an Inspiration Wednesday section, because I think it’s a healthy reminder that anything is possible.

When I left a job I loved at Microsoft for island life, many were skeptical. I wrote this great email to all of my colleagues that High Risk = High Return. Six months later people still tell me that it was the best departure email that they’ve ever read. I suppose it’s because the email is a clear reflection of me and my pursuit of happiness. I haven’t changed the world yet, but I sincerely hope I’ll have the opportunity to try.

I’m a PC Geek, but I can’t help but love Apple’s old ad Think Differently because it showcases people that rise up to challenges and make a lasting imprint on the world. Sometimes change is what we find when we open ourselves up to a world of possibilities. I could not have said it better, Think Differently.

Sometimes happiness sounds better with a Y. I love Will’s speech to his son, coaching him to pursue his dreams: “You want something go get it, period.” – Pursuit of Happyness Movie

I grew up with an inspirational friend without arms and legs. This next video reminds me of her and her passion for life. If you look into her eyes, you’ll quickly realize that there is nothing she can’t do – thanks for the powerful lesson in life Lindsay. Nick Juvicic has a similar story – “I Love Life”.

Nothing worth pursuing is without risk, but you have to at least attempt it. What are you waiting for?
Happy Inspirational Wednesday.

Count Something #3: Pennies & Sense

I love saving money and I’m not afraid to admit it. I suppose that’s what I get after years spent with my mom searching for the best grocery deals. That’s also why I’m so impressed with the line of smart, innovative, power saving devices that Belkin just released. Now you can plug any electric device into the Belkin Conserve Insight to get a reading on the amount of power, carbon and how much it costs to run your device. If I had one of these I’d be able to answer random questions (sadly, I do ask these):

Does running my AC unit at 25°C cost less than 23°C?
What does it cost to keep numerous devices plugged in when they are not in use?
Do old devices really cost more to run?

If the answer to the last question is ‘yes’ and the value is significant, I’d like to use this as leverage to upgrade a few ancient electronics (wouldn’t you?!).

According to research, an entertainment system on standby power is costing you an estimated $76 per year*. If that’s only one room in the home, imagine what all your standby devices are actually costing you. My mission for the day, count how many things I could unplug based on usage patterns in my home:

1. Phone Charger (~once a week – I use a Blackberry, which tends to hold a charge for about a week)
2. Electric Toothbrushes (while we use them a couple times a day – they can last for a week without being charged)
3. Printer / Scanner (~once a week)
4. Electric Kettle (~ three times a month)
5. Toaster (~once a week)
6. TV (we actually got rid of this completely)
7. Hot water heater (we actually just flip a switch whenever we want hot water)

What would you unplug?

*Details: Based on an entertainment system configured with a DVD player, VCR, video game console, subwoofer, and amplifier left on, but not active, for 19 hours per day at $0.117 cost per kilowatt hour. (Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration; U.S. Department of Energy; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and The Neilsen Company)

Charting the Path to Happiness

I couldn’t resist posting the flowchart created by Typecut. It reminds me of the inspirational talk Steve Jobs gave to the 2005 graduating class at Stanford and I quote, “… for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Don’t ever be afraid to take risks and make calculated changes in your life.

Count Something #2: the Water Booth

I’d like to think I’m an environmentally friendly individual. I recycle, I favor green products & brands and I carry a reusable SIGG water bottle with me. Irrespective of this, I decided to count the number of water bottles I used in a week. I could blame the hot weather but on four occasions in the last week I ran out of water and had to purchase a bottle to keep hydrated. I assume I’m not the only one guilty of grabbing a bottle of water at a corporate lunch, a networking event, at the gym (when I’ve forgotten mine) or outside on a hot day.

The simple math:
On average if you consume one bottle of water a week, that one bottle will equate to 52 bottles a year and approximately 3500 in your lifetime (give or take).

The estimated global annual bottled water consumption is around 200 billion gallons and according to the International Bottled Water Association the US are the largest consumers of bottled water – consuming 8.665 billion gallons annually (2008). Based on the table below, the average person in the US consumes around two .5L bottles of water each week. This is up 32% over five years despite the mainstream acceptance of reusable water bottles.

The scary truth, it can take up to 1000 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose, which means a lot of unnecessary plastic is piling up in landfills and recycling sites. We have an opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint.

Image from SIGG

One Solution
What seems like a simple solution, we set up water booth fill stations in high traffic areas. These would be similar to water fountains – except that one side of the unit would sanitize the reusable bottle at high pressure to kill bacteria and the water source would be purified, filtered and locally sustainable. Given that the majority of bottled water is just filtered multiple times, your resulting cold refreshing water from a water booth would be similar to the brand name bottled water supplied on the market today. The water booth could even allow the consumer to select a vitamin or flavor supplement to include in the fill up. Given 90% of the cost of bottled water is associated with producing the bottle, lid and labeling, a water booth could offer water at a fraction of the price of bottled water. Like the obsolete 25 cent telephone booth – we could have a 25 cent water booth – with proceeds allocated to environmental causes.

I’d personally love to see the ‘green’ companies out there adopt a booth to maintain in their store, reception area or lunch room. Not to mention in malls, parks and high traffic areas. I hope Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Fiji and other bottled water companies are listening.

Count Something…

Sorry for the lag in posting as I just got back from a long vacation. Aside from meeting wonderful people in Venezuela, Trinidad, Tobago and Grenada, I also learnt to sail under a captain who happened to spend his days working as an astrophysicist for NASA (everyone has a story). There is something magical about being at the helm of a boat, by yourself in the middle of the night – surrounded by nothing but ocean and letting the moonlight and stars guide you. I actually found myself counting the stars and smiling at the recollection of counting stars as a child.

As a numbers person, it’s easy to get caught up in sales & operational data that you fail to count things that have personal meaning – so I’ve set out to count things that matter. Last week I started counting the number of times I use the word ‘can’t’. I hit 6 and reflected on all the things I thought I couldn’t do. For example, I’ve always thought I couldn’t wink. To be honest, it never really bothered me. To me, winking was not a skill I could market myself with. The thing that bothered me was that there were six things I thought I couldn’t do. The idea that I was trapped by the the mere thought of not being able to do something – motivated me to learn. I actually went on the web and found a few ways to teach myself to wink, and it worked. I can now wink!

I’m not passionate about winking – but I’m passionate about learning. By simply counting the number of times I used the word ‘can’t’ I learnt twice as many things about myself.

What are you passionate about that you can count?

Are you a Multitasker?

The New York times published an article last week, Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price. The article discusses the effects of technology as it relates to multitasking and how the technology revolution may be affecting our brains neural processes. An interesting read if you are like me and spend the majority of your day multitasking online via a number of devices.

The article states the average person spends 12 hours a day enjoying media at home, a large portion of which is enjoyed simultaneously (i.e. TV & Web). This represents a 240% increase since 1960. I’m not sure how I would have filled a day in 1960, but it’s clear that the web and tech gadgets have completely changed the way we live and learn. On a recent subway ride, I observed that awkward commuter stares have been replaced by an obsession with checking and responding to emails on smart phones, playing highly addictive games on handhelds, and balancing Starbucks on electronic reading devices. Is it possible that we know more about the lives of our distant acquaintances on Facebook then our own family members? I’m not complaining because I’m a technology junkie, but I can’t help but wonder if my multitasking skills can be leveraged to manage a life rich in real-world experience alongside rapidly changing technologies.

Inquisitively, I took the two quick multitasking tests highlighted in the article… My Result: I am a multitasker – through and through! It turns out that I often struggle with focusing on one task when a number of distractions are presented, but I maintain accuracy and vigor switching between several tasks with ease. I’d love to coin myself a “super multitasker”, afterall I did have 6 applications, 8 browser windows, 12 queries, a phone call and several emails on the go. The truth is – I would rather put my PC to sleep than close all my applications for a complete shut down… now, if only I could balance my personal life this way.

Try the quick test for yourself and see how you fare.
Test your Focus
Multitasking test

Focus Test

Measuring Switching Costs

Letters & Numbers

Can you Ignore Distractions?

Switching Tasks Results

Can’t wait to hear about your results!