Betterment Learning Personal Development

Stuck in a rut?

It’s important to keep moving in life, no matter what endeavour you are undertaking. The human body was designed for movement, not for inaction! Here are some thoughts from Lenny Henry which I think think resonate with me.

Education makes me feel young” “Don’t stand still and get stuck in a rut. Keep moving, because a rut becomes a grave. When my dad retired, he died within months because he didn’t have anything to do. He grew some vegetables and then keeled over. My dream is to always be creative and keep writing comedy, and making movies and television programs”.

My plan for the future:

  • To never stop learning
  • Set some goals each year on my path to becoming better
  • Keep my brain active by learning new things, expanding my relationships, meeting new people, Sudoku and puzzles
  • Staying fit & active 🙂

Do you have such a plan for your life? Let me know what you have planned either for 2010 or for your long-term future!

Betterment Children Exercise Family Learning Personal Development relationships Simplicity

My 2010 Goals :-)


  • Reinvigorate my relationship with my wife
  • Enjoy time with my boys
  • More family trips away
  • Talk to my father more
  • Continue nurturing all my relationships with people I have met and yet to meet.
  • Continue to reach out to others to help them in their life journey


  • Become fitter than I am today
  • Run 500km in 50 weeks (up from 250km in 2009)
  • Run once per week for the rest of 2010
  • Be able to run 5km in 25 mins/10km in 55mins




  • Soccer Coach for my son’s U6 team
  • Volunteer more


  • Riding4aCause – Cross-USA motorcycle ride raising awareness for Male Depression


  • Eliminate our mortgage as quickly as possible
  • Reduce our burden on the environment
  • Continue to look for simpler/streamlined ways of living
  • Look to expand my career into new opportunities, hopefully utilising my Learning & Development capabilities
  • Reduce, minimise or eliminate negativity
Betterment Learning Personal Development

10 Rules For Being Human

I Stumbled across this list of 10 rules for being human by Cherie Carter-Scott, and loved them so much I’ve reproduced it here, with some slightly different formatting for emphasis.

  1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s yours to keep for the entire period.
  2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, life.
  3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The failed experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately work.
  4. Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.
  5. Learning lessons does not end. There’s no part of life that doesn’t contain its lessons. If you’re alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.
  6. “There” is no better a place than “here”. When your “there” has become a “here”, you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here”.
  7. Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
  8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
  9. Your answers lie within you. The answers to life’s questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.
  10. You will forget all this.

Do you have any rules you’d add to this list?

Betterment Exercise Health Personal Development Simplicity

2010, the year of Streamlining & Resilience

I have begun approaching 2010 with 2 driving forces: Streamlining & Resilience.


Streamlining is the art of getting by with less, but not specifically shedding large parts of your life; It’s a case of doing it slowly & gradually, removing things that don’t contribute to your happiness or adding value to your life. Do you have a stack of unworn clothes in your cupboard? Books you’re not going to read? Possessions that aren’t being used or don’t suit your lifestyle anymore? Then you may find an easier path to ridding yourself of these items through Streamlining – a little at a time! Change Management practices show that typically, too many changes at once overwhelm us and send us quickly back to our comfort zone where we decide that there wasn’t much wrong with our life before. Net result is we become fearful and resistant to change. However, making small changes across time is an easier path to happiness and fulfillment.

I came across this description of Streamlining from Sarah Wilson’s Sunday Life magazine post, and simply adore it. “Streamlining, however, is gentle. It’s about shaving off excess, and perhaps steering the boat a little to the left, for a more flow-y ride. It’s a smooth, glide-y ethos for life, and an elegant aesthetic. No gumboots required. Yes, streamlining makes life better. Of that I’m sure.”

Give Streamlining a go and let me know how you go with it!


re⋅sil⋅ience: ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy. (from
Dust Yourself Off

Resilience is the ability for you to mentally recover from some adversity; It could be something small, through to something life-changing. In any case, being resilient is the next step up from merely coping’ which aims to get you back to normal (whatever your level of normal is). Resilience is the ability to get up, dust yourself off, accept what’s happened and be able to continue onwards and upwards.

I began seriously exercising in 2009 (Cycling and running) and am continuing throughout 2010, and know this drive to be fitter & healthier is driving me towards being physically more resilient – able to absorb blows, illnesses and the like and bounce back. In 2010 I’ll also be working on what will make me more emotionally resilient as well, starting with my brain! I’ll be sure to document what I uncover as time goes by.

For more practical ideas to Streamline your life, check out the following:

For more reading on Resiliency and becoming resilient:
Personal Development relationships

Social Media to me

Here’s a quick post to explain my use of Social media, notably Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

  • Facebook is for your personal network, usually people you used to/still know;
  • LinkedIn is for your professional network, usually people you’ve worked with/done business with in the past;
  • Twitter is for people you haven’t met yet! 🙂

I try and keep my networks like the above, but since starting MyProactiveLife, I have been blurring the lines a little more, and I’m comfortable with doing so. Why? I believe that ultimately we are one person, and you cannot keep things separate forever – who I am is who I am, and I attempt to live my life by a set of core beliefs regardless if it’s dealing with a friend, would-be collaborator or work colleague!

Also, I would like people to know that who they meet and work with is someone they feel they can trust and build rapport with – I am not sure you can garner either of these without being sincere & authentic in all dealings with others.

What’re your thoughts on this?

Betterment Health Personal Development

2009 in review

2009 was a watershed year for me, as I set out to break out of a slump of mediocrity and begin my journey to becoming better.  In 2009 I decided to start looking at my own development and let me to draw up the most comprehensive “goals” list I have ever put together.

Overall, 2009 was the year I rekindled my love for meeting & getting to know people. It’s no secret that part of this was due to Twitter, however this served mainly as the mechanism to be able to meet new and wonderful people (as mentioned here in my Connecting to People post, about my social-media-inspired trip to Melbourne). 15+ years ago I was using IRC to meet new people and arrange social gatherings, BBQ’s in the park, movie nights, trips away, etc. I really enjoyed IRC and the power it had to connect us to people we had not yet met, as well as continuing the relationships we had built up. Twitter does this for me today.

In order to capture the thoughts on 2009, here’s a breakdown of my personal 2009 goals with some commentary on each one:

1. Increase my volunteering efforts (First volunteering event was on 4th Jan)

The biggest volunteer effort of note was that I became the coach/manager of my 7yr old’s Soccer team. I was directly involved with the development of his soccer skills, and many times during the season he said “I’m glad you are the coach of our team, daddy”. You could not ask for more than that 🙂

2. Researching the Blanda name/family tree/how ‘Blanda’s’ are related (already begun)

Facebook has really helped me understand more about the Blanda name, and connect with many Blanda’s all over the world. I’ll continue the work throughout 2010 to not only connect with more Blanda’s, but also to know more about them & how we’re linked together.

3. Improving the quality of my relationships, both personal & business, including visiting more people and having more people over for lunch/dinner/a drink or a chat (includes spending more time with my boys).

Here’s perhaps THE BIGGEST win for me in 2009 – As mentioned previously, I had neglected my love of relationships & people, and through Twitter, Facebook and Skype, I’ve found new ways of connecting with people that culminated in becoming a regular at many Sydney coffee tweet-ups’ including #escm, #nscm, #wscm and #coffeemornings. I’ve met many wonderful people at these tweet-ups, some of whom will feature prominently in my 2010 Goals!

4. Understand how I tick

This is one of the most difficult things any of us need to do – understand how we work. What we like, what we don’t like, what irks us, what makes us burst into flower and really succeed at life. During 2009 I began my research into the Brain and how it works, dabbling in anything related to physiology and psychology. This is a work in progress and has helped me understand what happens to me when I am tired. See Understanding Yourself & Taming The Ugliness (an apology).

5. Work out what I want to do with the next few years of my life

  • Getting onto Twitter has opened my eyes to a number of people who can help me answer this question (or at least assist by asking clarifying questions)
  • This blog is and will continue to be part of my journey through life.
  • The next few years will almost certainly involve Volunteering, People, Relationships, Storytelling, Exercise and enjoyable activities.

6. Become fitter: All of the below are either a part of or will be a result of becoming fitter:

  1. Participate in more cycling events (including completing the 90km version of the Gongride)
  2. Take up a martial art with the boys
  3. Participate in more walking/jogging/running events (including completing a Half-Marathon)
  4. Build a small gym in my garage
  • The second biggest win for me in 2009 was in the atrea of physical fitness. I did a lot more km’s on my bicycle than in previous years, including teaming up with some Twitter friends for the 90km Gongride. I also began riding to the coffee mornings to keep the riding up.
  • We did not get to take up martial arts as a family – we did not have the time/ability to include it in the schedule in 2009, and will be revisited in 2010.
  • I did complete the Sydney Half Marathon as well as the Sutherland2Surf and City2Surf runs.
  • The gym in my garage has a few dumbbells and punching bag. Couple this with the stepper and skipping rope, there’s more than enough equipment to keep us fit and healthy!

To Summarise 2009, I give myself a A- rating – I will build on this momentum when I publish my 2010 goals. I would like to hear your thoughts on my 2009 goals, OR to contribute your thoughts on what else I can add to my 2010 Goals (there’s still time!) Leave me your thoughts in the comments below!

Children Simplicity

Thoughtful Gifts

Many of you may know I am not that into having possessions (aka “stuff“), but do appreciate items that add value to our lives, or items that stimulate creativity in my children. Here’s a list of things to consider when buying gifts this Festive season (or any occasion for that matter!)

Thinking points

  • Does the list have a single use only? (if so, it’s unlikely it would be in our house)
  • Will the recipient truly use the product/item/service or will it be tried once and not used again?
  • Does the item need supervision to ensure the recipient doesn’t get into trouble?
  • Is the item useless without other people (think water pistol)
  • If something goes missing or breaks, can it be fixed/repaired or is it done with?

What’s on the list?

Here are things on the shopping list for the family that fulfill the following criteria: Allowing creativity, inspiring, family-oriented or can teach practical skills.

  • Lego – This has always fit many criteria and is a big thing in our house, so it’s  almost always on top of the list. Lego rarely looks like it does on the box when my boys get into it! They make ‘creations’ out of the pieces and Mr 7½ photographs them for posterity. Any type of lego can be used for these creations!
  • Computer games that require thinking – puzzle solving games are big (like Lemmings or Chips Challenge from days past), as are adventure games (Indy Lego for the PS2 fits the bill for family-oriented as the kids love playing with someone).
  • Board games – We’ve bought Uno, Magic 7, Guess Who, Trouble and many others over the years and we still get a lot of use out of them.
  • A3 Sketch pad and crayons, pencils, textas, rulers etc. The number of artworks we have in this house is quite large, and we’ve even extended into making colourful placemats (with an A4 Laminator and their creative genius!)
  • Matchbox/Hot wheels cars – these are used in many ways, from simple vroom vroom races on the floor, to being part of the lego or geotrax cities that get created. They’re also great at some social events to help keep the kids occupied
  • Outdoor activities – for past Christmases + Birthdays there have been kites, bikes, balls and scooters.
  • Last Christmas, Mr 7½ got as digital camera and has found many, varied uses for it, including making home videos and creative pictures when you shake the camera (also taking photos of Lego creations)

So, what didn’t get a  look in?

  • Dunka Doos (you soak them in water and they ‘grow’ into larger animals)
  • Star Wars Light Saber (nothing you can’t do with a few toilet rolls or some time + imagination with a broomstick and some paint). At $60 or so for a single-use item it’s up there on the list of things that are not likely to make it into the house
  • Transformers – they don’t do much except transform, and most of them {wheeled vehicles} don’t roll very well. Once a piece is broken, the toy becomes useless.

These are my thoughts…what are some of yours?

Betterment relationships

Understanding yourself

One of the important aspects of looking to become better is to learn more about yourself. I experienced this first-hand last night when I fell asleep ion the couch at 8pm. Something I rarely ever do. This was after I’d ranted and shouted at the rest of the family for no good reason. My amygdala was obviously underworked and needed to make its presence felt right before my body screamed ‘enough’ and sent me off to sleepyville…..

A little background

I have been sleeping with a Mandibular Advancement Splint since 2001 after participating in a clinical trial to test the efficacy of these devices to help prevent snoring + help the user get a good night’s sleep. I had one custom-made and tuned by a Dentist during the trial & have used it ever since. 10 days ago, the splint chipped and broke and is no longer safe to use (it’s made of a plastic of some sort and would now cut my gums/tongue/mouth if I continued to use it). I have been going to bed later and not waking up as refreshed as I had been when using the splint, and didn’t think much of it until this morning.

In thinking back, I have been slowly losing sleep each night (or not getting the right kind of sleep) over the past few nights, and it caught up with me. You can only go so far before your body screams ‘enough’. Before I fell asleep on the couch, I was snappy and Mr Shouty Man (my eldest son calls me that) and took out some hidden/underlying frustrations on the family. This is not an isolated incident and has happened before.

I also noticed that my behaviour mirrored that of my 4½year old son when he’s tired – he becomes unresponsive to simple requests, is snappy with others and frustrates easily.  I should have seen the warning signs earlier, but acknowledge that most of the time you’re tired, many higher-level brain functions do not get a look-in, only the basic desires make themselves known/felt. So looking back on it, I now see that a combination of things banded together to put me in that position last night. I hope that with this new understanding of how I react to things when very tired, it might help me control the behaviour before I turn into Mr Shouty Man!

So what have I done?

  • The above does not condone my behaviour!
  • I have since apologised to my wife & children.
  • I have explained to them why it happened and that it was not their fault.
  • I have bought myself a replacement splint from Instantly Stop Snoring, a great Aussie company helping people get a good nights’ sleep! It just arrived so will let you all know how it goes 🙂

Will that be enough – time will tell, but I hope I have more understanding of myself to help me out next time this happens! (For more information about Sleep and it’s importance, check out one of my fave blog posts on the topic 11 Reasons Why You Absolutely Need More Sleep).


Everything happens for a reason

Just a quick one here to say that relationships can build from the simplest meetings. Yesterday, I attended a coffee tweetup in Leichhardt (known as #wscm) and was introduced to 2 people who can make a huge difference to one of the projects I am involved in – Riding4aCause.

Before attending the meeting I had resolved to ‘give this meeting a try’ as I was in 2 minds about whether to attend or not. Something, somewhere must have given me a gentle proactive nudge to attend, because it transpires that these new friends will help the project in a number of ways!

Sometimes we do not know why but I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason!



Connecting to People


Technology can enable us in many many ways, and perhaps recently, has truly expanded the number of was we can (re)connect with people in our lives. Whether it be through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Friends Reunited, LinkedIn or other services, there’s a good chance we’ll find and be able to reconnect with people once prominent in our lives.

However we cannot rely on technology alone, for it can only go so far – when we want to deepen the relationship or move beyond superficial discussions, we can really only do that when we meet physically.

When I first started on Twitter, the first few people I followed were from Melbourne. These contacts helped me understand Twitter and showed me (through their tweets) how it worked for them. They also expanded my list of contacts by recommending me to others as well as recommending others to me. I now have at least 50 ‘new’ friends in Melbourne through Twitter that I regularly interact with (some of these people have  branched out into Facebook and LinkedIn as well).

When I was planning the Snowyride trip (Here’s the awesomely detailed ride report on my personal blog), I decided to extend my trip to Melbourne (as I was already part-way to Melbourne) to meet some of these people face to face. No other reason except to make a more personal connection with people I’d come to know through Twitter. So far, I’ve met about 10 people, and through a couple of planned tweetups over the next few days this number will increase!

Melbourne from Williamstown
Melbourne from Williamstown

Something I ask of you (this won’t be too taxing, I promise) – Take a look at how & why you’re using technology, and see what opportunities it has given you to be able to (re)connect with others. Where you can, be proactive to explore opportunities to meet these people face to face. I know I can become a better person from the experiences, conversations, chats and insights gained from meeting people on this trip, and perhaps you could too? Feel free to share this with other people, and share your thoughts with me by leaving a comment below!

P.S. I have now returned home and would like to try and capture the list if people I met whilst in Melbourne. If I miss you off this list PLEASE let me know!

If you’d like to follow my Melb posse (above), use my twitter list: My Melb Friends!

PPS. My friend Robin Dickinson just posted Seven easily missed truths about human relationships, about the differences between connections and relationships. After reading his post, it resonated with me clearly why I made this trip to Melbourne – it was to turn those ‘connections’ into real relationships (and I especially like number 7: Relationships are gifts that grow with shared participation, connections aren’t.