The Blurb On The Back:
Do One Thing is for you if you want to make changes in your life but don’t know where to start. With practical tools to tackle the issues in your life that are stopping you from achieving your goals, you’ll find out how to start making the change you want from today.
Covering nine distinct topics and with over 60 practical ideas to try, discover how to:
– acknowledge and remove the blocks in your life
– understand what needs to change and how to make it happen
– ask for help and find ways to give back to others
– use your new perspective to sustain momentum in the future.
If you only do one thing … read this book.
Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
Geraint Evans is an award-winning chief marketing officer, turned life coach and public speaker. This is a useful self-help/personal development book narrated in a chatty and engaging style and offering helpful checklists and summaries that draws on (and acknowledges) other work in the field and then adds in Evans’s own experiences in using them to draw together a comprehensive set of exercises for establishing and achieving personal objectives.
The book is structured as a roadmap, broken into 12 chapters, each with a very helpful little summary of the key points at the end and then a broader summary (with graphics) is provided at the back. There is also a really useful list of other resources and books at the end, which I especially liked because Evans refers to a lot of other authors in the book to explain what worked for him. Speaking personally, I really appreciated this because it feels like Evans is pulling together the different advice and while he explains what works for him, he offers up other ways of approaching things which may work better for the reader.
The idea behind the book is that you need to identify the “best version of yourself”, which Evans refers to as your TARGET SELF, before then setting out steps and ways by which you can achieve that. What I particularly liked about the book is that Evans doesn’t try to dictate what your TARGET SELF is – many of these types of books talk about targets by reference to the job market, i.e. getting more money, climbing the corporate ladder or setting up business yourself and turning it into a success. What makes this book different is that Evans sets out his own story and how he essentially had a case of burn out and needed to work out what he wanted to do, which may include changing your focus and improving your work/life balance. Each chapter includes some of his personal experiences in using the techniques, which I found useful because (a) it keeps the text engaging and (b) he’s open about where things worked for him and where he needed to adjust.
The book begins by explaining that you need to take time and actually think about what you want to achieve. This sounds incredibly basic, but I have to say that it’s the first time that I’ve come across a book of this type that recognises that you might not actually know what you want – the vast majority assume that you already have a goal in mind and then set out strategies and tips for achieving it. The fact that Evans takes the time from the outset to set out tips to help you actually work out what it is that you want is one of the things that makes it worth your time – especially if, like me, you’re not really sure what end point you’re looking for. I especially found useful his tip of writing out a timeline of events in your past to get a feel for what you’ve done and where you are and use that to help evaluate how you feel about your life right now before looking forward to create a timeline of where you want to be. I also liked the fact that he looks at this in terms of emotions, encouraging the reader to think about how this makes them feel and reflect on it. Finally, Evans is one of the few writers in this genre who also encourages readers to think about what they can give back to others rather than just thinking about what they want for themselves, which is good because it shows that he’s thinking (and in turn encouraging readers to think) broadly and in terms of wider impacts.
Evans goes on to then give tips on working out what (if any) knowledge you may need to reach your TARGET SELF. Again, I liked the fact that he acknowledges that not everyone is into book learning and he encourages looking at other means, including videos, websites and finding people to speak with. Also good is the focus on active listening – this was something I have come across in other books in this field and I think it has made a difference to my interactions – and the emphasis on constant reflection, which gives you the ability to work out how it’s going, how you’re feeling about things and whether you need to change anything. The chapter on energy sources was interesting because it does encourage you to evaluate the relationships in your life, but I thought it was aimed more at extroverts than introverts and also while I understand the benefits of being with people who inspire and support you, there’s a risk in this chapter that it encourages you to cut out all negativity when not all negativity or criticism is destructive and in fact, can sometimes be helpful.
The next chapters look at targets and achieving the same, looking at these on a 12-month basis and adapting what Evans calls the SIMPLE formula for the same (which draws on some of the principles of SMART thinking):
S – scope (what do you want to achieve);
I – impact (how will achieving this objective change your life for the better)
M – money (how are you going to afford to do it) (on a personal note, very good to see recognition that there is a cost element to objective setting and achievement)
P – progress (what things are you going to do to know you are closer to completing your objectives)
L – learn (what do you need to know in order to achieve this)
E – end (when will this be done by)
Evans considers this in the context of what he called “side trackers”, i.e. things that can divert you from your objectives. Again, he is good at drawing out how these can be emotional or financial and encourages readers to work out what may be stopping them. I found his tips for identifying distractions and handling procrastination to be helpful and again, there’s a focus on reviewing your progress and reflecting on the same so you can see what you’re achieving and work out if anything needs to change. He also encourages daily preparation and preparation activities to help keep you on track. To be honest a lot of this (e.g. making sure you have your things ready for the next day and establishing a daily routine) are things I already do anyway and I’m not so into visualisation techniques but he does distinguish between people who are more morning focused and those of us who are more night owls, which is refreshing to see (so many of these types of books tell you that you just need to get up earlier, when I am someone who has to ease into my day and works better from the afternoon).
Evans ends by looking at how to make sure you don’t take too much on (and I completely agree with him that saying “no” is a skill we all need to master) but also saying yes to things that you wouldn’t automatically want to take on. His suggestions on how to deal with people coming up and potentially distracting you while you’re in the middle of something are actually very sensible – especially if you’re not sure how to handle that situation. He also makes sensible suggestions about assessing failures and how to move on from them – much of which builds on points he’s made before about how to manage tasks and objectives.
All in all, I found this to be a very thoughtful book and Evans’s use of his own experience makes it a lot easier to relate to and draw on the material. Evans is generous is providing a list of other books that he’s cited or drawn on for those readers who want to go deeper into the techniques discussed here and at the end there is a more graphic-driven section that summarises and repeats the material in the chapters for those who want a handy reminder. I’ll say that I always say about books of this type – not everything here will work for you but Evans is a writer who recognises that and there are good practical suggestions that should at least form a launch point for you. Each chapter ends with the standard (for this type of book) cross-referral to Evans’s own website, which was unfortunately not working at the time of review. To be honest, I thought that doing it each chapter was overkill, but it is a standard thing for self-help books and given the material within the book, was not something that I begrudged.