Do Everything Better

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You are your decisions. Your decisions define who you are.

You are forever becoming who you are.

I am a firm believer that almost every one of those tiny decisions that we make on a daily basis build us into the people we are.

I’ve taken this mentality to heart lately and I’m trying to live by it. Which is why I’m sitting here writing this instead of browsing 9gag while I wait for my train.

I’m currently reading ‘An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth’ by Chris Hadfield, who writes about his journey of becoming an Astronaut. (Sidenote: Chris Hadfield is an avid early adopter of Periscope. This brings me great joy). His mentality is something I agree with. The concept is: ‘In the future, I want to be an Astronaut. What would the successful astronaut retrospectively be doing at this point in their lives? What possible thing can I do that would get me closer to that eventuality?’. In this scenario, we simply ignore all the brick-wall problems like the fact that Canada didn’t even have a space program at the time. The brick-wall problems and things out of your control are very easy to use as excuses, but often change. So, what should Chris Hadfield have been doing? Becoming a damn good fighter pilot. So what did he do? He became the best fighter pilot that he could be

I would like to think that this mentality is applicable to more than just space exploration. It resonates with me and the way I’ve been making decisions lately.

So I’m a 22-year-old Product Developer, living in London. Last year I was a 21-year-old Digital Designer, living in South Africa. The year before that I was a 20-year-old student. In 5 years, I will be a Founder, Product Owner and/or CEO.

Every single day, multiple times a day, I ask myself the literal million dollar question – what can I do today to get me one step closer to that eventuality?

It started quite small. I decided that reading articles on Medium was a better use of my lunch hour than the joyful depths of Buzzfeed. Tiny decision, huge difference.

Reading the thought provoking pieces that Medium is so good at curating has had a huge impact on the way I view not only the tech industry, but the world.

Instead of listening to music on my commute, I listen to audiobooks (most recently ‘How Google Works‘). This also means that my phone stays in my bag for the entire trip, leaving me free to people-watch the lovely commuters pre-occupied by their devices.

Instead of listening to Spotify at work, I listen to more audiobooks (currently: ‘The Lean Startup‘). It’s clear for me to see that this injects a much higher standard of quality into my work.

I know that all of these examples are books. I know. But give me a break, nobody can deny that reading is a pretty fantastic use of time.

Everything can be improved. Everything should be improved. I’m a huge believer in doing things better and this is my way of doing it.

In the interest of over-achieving, I want to do more things better. I found this list, which is resoundingly practical, so over the next while I’m going to work my way through it on my path towards doing everything better.

I guess we’ll start with number 27 – because why should we do things in order anyway? So here I am. Blogging about doing everything better, building expectations for myself and others, sharing my personal journey.

But, I’m not perfect – none of us are. I would quite like it if this discipline could seep into my fitness routine (hah, or lack thereof).

At least I will be successful and happy, if a little soft around the edges.

Do yourself a massive, wonderful favour and read ‘An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth’ .

 

Update:

It’s June now and I can happily say that 3 months later this is still how I’m living. I’m still thinking about the incredible lessons from Chris’s book and applying them every single day. I’ve done a lot, I’ve learned even more and I can honestly say that I am really happy at the moment. I’m so pleased with the person I am becoming.

I read this article on Medium this morning and it reminded me so strongly of all the wonderful thoughts from An Astronaut’s Guide (which my sister is also currently reading) that I wanted to tweet about it:

To my absolute and infinite delight, I received this wonderful tweet back:

 

Wow. What a way to make my Friday.
Thank you Chris for being a real +1, you’ve changed a lot of lives.

 

Another Update:

We’re halfway through July now and I have a marvellous update to add to my little sub-story featuring Chris Hadfield.

Out of the blue, I received a message from an Al Jazeera producer asking if he could speak to me. 5 minutes later, I tentatively answered the call from an American number.



“Eleanor Harding?”

“Hi, yes that’s me”

“We would like you to speak to Chris Hadfield on our
show tomorrow, is that something you’d be interes-“

“Yes.”

“-ted in?”


 

I’m paraphrasing of course, but that was the gist of it. After a few emails and a list of relatively existential questions, I was sitting there doing sound check, speaking to Chris Hadfield. What a magical turn of events.

I’ll be writing about the whole experience, but in the meantime, you can watch it here:



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