easy goal setting for the skeptical mind
Attitude Adjustment, Performance & Productivity, Personal Development, Staying Healthy

Easy Goal Setting for the Skeptical Mind

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It’s a New Year! How’s that goal setting going?

You guys! We did it. A new year is upon us and thus too is an opportunity to be “resolute.” Obviously, we’re talking about resolutions and goal setting. And, although we’re not even one month into 2018, I’m already sick of the resolutions… as are many. Hell, I’m already seeing fewer numbers at the gym. As long as I can remember, I’ve hated resolutions. Maybe “hate” is a strong word… Maybe “been skeptical of” is better phraseology to describe my relationship with resolutions and the larger concept of “goal-setting.” I’ve certainly been a major skeptic of announcing my goals and there seems to be some research to back that up. If you too are a skeptic of resolutions and goal-setting then consider me an understanding ally in your skepticism.

What’s wrong with goal setting?

Don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with goal achieving but it’s the act of goal setting, planning, writing, journaling, and… (gulp)… visualizing that’s so draining. Whew! That last sentence was so exhausting to think about that it became nearly impossible to articulate just how much I dislike it. I mean visualizing? Say what you will about the hated words of “moist” or “gurgle” but I often think the worst word in our modern lexicon has to be “visualization”.

I think this all stems from the expectations that come from goal setting among us lay people in the larger population. If there is something that you feel you must do for yourself, then you don’t wait, plan, or visualize – you just do it.

  • Your diet doesn’t need to start on Monday.
  • You don’t have to finish that last pack of cigarettes before you quit smoking.
  • You honestly don’t need a new outfit to start working out.
  • You definitely don’t need a new computer to start writing that book.

If you are feeling so compelled to do THAT THING that would be “life-changing”, then when why is there so much rigmarole and waiting? Just start doing it. At least, that’s what I used to believe… and still do with caveats.

My Journey

My biggest life change came about 7.5 years ago. My wife and I were expecting our first child and there was this guy at my work that had a heart attack at the age of 33. This dude was in incredible shape (much better shape than myself) but due to life stresses and a congenital defect, he had a heart attack. Although I don’t have any congenital abnormalities myself, I couldn’t help but have some anxieties about the fact that I was tipping the scales at 280 pounds, not yet 30, not yet experiencing all the pressure life has to offer, and that if I didn’t change I might not be around for my kids. So… I just started.

Basic stuff, really – I took a dry erase marker and wrote down my weight on our bathroom mirror. “7/1/2010 – 277.8”.

Then I did some stuff. I can’t tell you exactly what I did because I didn’t write it down. It was pretty simple stuff: I ate fewer breakfast sandwiches; I ordered 4 items from Taco Bueno instead of 5; ate 5 slices of pizza instead of 8; and, did about 15 knee pushups in the morning and in the evening. When we brought our son home from the hospital 15 days later, I weighed 260.

After that, I did something the skeptic in me shakes his head at: I wrote down the date of one-week in the future, and wrote down a weight beside it… a goal weight. Without realizing it, I had written down a goal.

It was only about a pound or two but I did it again, and again, and again. I didn’t really have an “end” goal in my mind… just short term goals. I met or surpassed many of those goals but on many of them I fell well short. Hell, sometimes I went in the opposite direction and gained weight during that period of time. The point is that despite not having an “end-goal” in mind, I had the idea of progress on my mind and defined success one week at a time. Eventually, I got down to 185 pounds. I drifted back up to 220 and then back down to a relatively steady equilibrium of about 200 (plus or minus five pounds depending on the season).

The Takeaway:

I suppose the realization that hopefully my fellow skeptics can take from this is that there doesn’t necessarily have to be an end-goal in mind. Sometimes “progress” is the goal and that’s OK. We are creatures that can grow, learn, and get haircuts. Our cells die and are reborn every day. Second-to-second, we are different people. There is no finite physical state; therefore there does not have to be a finite goal we are working towards. The reality is that there is infinitude in our resolutions. The part we must wrestle with however is that with infinite long-term possibilities and variables, we must work a little harder to identify the more finite short-term accomplishments. To accomplish the next step, you might have to swallow your skepticism and write down your next step.

In the spirit of openness and honesty, I have to publicly announce that I still have goals that are written down. I practice goal-setting… I’m a goal setter. Like many, I now have goals for my health, goals for my finances, and goals for my career. I’ve even written about the importance of goal-setting for government workers! If I’m being honest, it’s still a struggle to look at those goals, repeat those goals, and (heaven forbid) visualize those goals every day because… it still just seems so silly. Sometimes I fall short of the goals and sometimes I achieve them or surpass them but the importance is that I’m always working towards them. If you too are a skeptic or are interested in the journey of what goes through a skeptic’s mind as he pursues goals, keep checking stopdoingnothing.com and maybe we can work through it together.

Riley Ross is a writer, speaker, and host of the Y’all OK Podcast. At www.rileyevanross.com, he writes about excellence in Government, Oklahoma, and is beginning a series on the timeless concept of Moderation.

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Performance & Productivity, Personal Development

You Made It. Now It’s Time to Work.

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First, congratulations. You made it. You wrote that book. Asked that girl or boy out. Got the promotion. Maybe landed your first head coaching position. Started a new business. I know you have worked hard to achieve that goal, congratulations. Enjoy this moment because now it is time to work if you really want to stay on top.

We spend so much time working toward a goal that we forget to plan for what life will be like after we achieve that dream. And too many times we end up not sustaining our success. It’s not our talent that changes. Our talent got us to the top, it is being ignorant of the work needed once we make it to the top that brings us back down.  Let’s look at how we can prepare for that work.

Evaluate Your Goals

Transitions are a great time to reflect and analyze your goals. This is not easy, though. Achieving a goal is a clear mark for you to reach, but what do you want to do now? Do you want to sell 100,000 copies of your music? Do you want to be CEO of the company? Do you want to win a state title? By articulating what your goals look like it will help with the next step.

Create New Habits

A clear goal allows you to create a new plan and with a new plan comes new habits. This doesn’t mean your whole life changes, but to stay successful after reaching your goal demands you to create habits to sustain that success. With new goals in mind, you can see what it will take to achieve those goals. The new habits you will need to set become clear. But, you and I know that creating new habits is hard. That is why the third idea is so important.

Find Your Motivation (understand your why)

Hopefully, you understood why you worked so hard to accomplish your goal, but in the days, weeks, even years it takes to achieve a goal you can lose sight of the deeper reasons you set out on this journey. Rewriting your goals will help. Goals bring back a focus to your why. But rewriting your goals may not be enough. And honestly, if you find it hard to set new goals connected to sustaining your success, you may have forgotten why you wanted to reach the goal in the first place. It happens. Success is hard work and you can get lost in the grind.
If you are finding it hard to set new goals, or unsure what to do know that you are at the top, there are a few things to help find your why.  First, enjoy the moment. Recharge. Success takes energy. You will find it easier to make the transition from reaching the goal to maintain that success when your energy level is back. Second, be honest with yourself. Evaluate (with your goals in mind) what you want to do next. Sometimes reaching a goal takes so much time that you have changed. If you decide to strive after another goal, that is awesome. But if you want to now take this dream to the next level, be honest, it’s now time to work. You will need to remember why you are doing this, set new goals to achieve, and create new habits to stay on top.


Husband, Father, Coach & Professor Jamey BowelhowerBio: Jamey Boelhower is a husband and a father of six. He is currently an Instructional Coach and an adjunct professor for Central Community College, Nebraska. You can read his regular blog “It Is All Connected” by clicking here. And you can follow him on twitter at @jdog90

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productivity
Attitude Adjustment

How to balance long-term with urgent—one task at a time

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Quick, do this exercise.

Think of all the short-term tasks you completed yesterday, like: replying to emails, fixing glitches on your web site, answering the phone, updating Facebook status, making lists, and waiting for people to confirm their appointments. All valuable. None pay the bills.

In the course of a day most people spend most minutes putting out fires, tinkering with details, making lists and procrastinating. It’s called the Parkinson Principle – work expands to fill the time allotted.

What about long-term projects. How much time do you invest every day moving those projects ahead. I’m thinking projects like:

  • designing your next product launch
  • getting help to build an advertising campaign
  • writing that book you’ve been talking about since 2001
  • outsourcing your social media (that’s eating up a hour a day)
  • using customer feedback to update your product
  • getting your accounting up-to-date

Those projects move the needle forward. The trick is to employ a system where long-term goals drive your actions, not hoping you’ll find more time (mysteriously) later.

Here are three died-in-the-wool systems that will help you balance long-term objectives with urgent tasks. I have taught these systems to thousands of people and they always the most popular parts of my time management seminars.

1. Work from a Flight Plan

Once a week you need to create a Flight Plan – a short list of essential objectives to complete by next Friday. This is not another “To-Do” list full of miscellaneous tasks and “left overs” from last week—instead it’s mission-critical work that moves your long-term projects forward and gets you closer to your goals.

Start with “Boulders” (the big goals for the year): what “Chunks” of Boulders can you complete this week? It might be setting up a meeting, research, or outsourcing – the trick is to have something every week that keeps your Boulders rolling forward.

Next, add in one-off, time-sensitive tasks. Be as specific as possible – “Post job in upwork.com for graphic design” is better than “Get help with graphic design”.

Once you have your Flight Plan, keep it visible and drive all your actions toward completing it before the weekend.

2. Remove Distractions

A distraction could be that sticky note that’s been on your desk for two months, or a full InBox screaming “look at me!” Minor in the moment, distractions have a way of gnawing away at your focus and making it difficult to complete. Boundaries (creating time slots when you are strategically unavailable) and Blocking (creating appointments with yourself) are two systems to start with. Here are some other fast solutions:

  • take 10 minutes and purge your desk of anything not immediately needed (yes, that includes that stack of business cards from the last conference you attended).
  • unsubscribe from email lists that you no longer want. Yes, this will take time (you can outsource this), but think of the distractions that will disappear every day.
  • get all your lists in one place—this includes calendars. If you aren’t using that cool app on your phone every day it’s likely not needed. Delete it.
  • create a list for the month and a “someday” list in Evernote. These are un-prioritized holding zones. Do not look at these except once a week when you update your Flight Plan.

3. Practice Triage

In an emergency, paramedics practice triage. They often can’t attend to everything and everyone immediately, so they make hard decisions about what can wait. You need to do the same.

Jumping from one task to another, without completing what you started is a recipe for anxiety and failure. I am often surprised how much more effective I can be working from a cafe with no Internet connection, as opposed to my office where I am fully connected.

When a distraction comes up (“I’ll just take a minute an check out their web site”), resist. If this does not contribute to your Flight Plan it can wait. Tough love in the moment will pay big love dividends long-term.

Hugh Culver

Bio: Hugh Culver co-created the world’s most expensive tours (to the South Pole), started five companies, and teaches experts the business of speaking. Read his blog on the business of speaking. Follow him on Twitter @hughculver

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procrastination
Performance & Productivity, Personal Development

How to get unstuck and started (even if you love to procrastinate)

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We’ve all been there. You have. I have. Stuck.

Maybe you need to get your sales up or write a book. Maybe you need to deal with a staffing issue (or you need staff). Whatever the reason…being stuck sucks.

The good news is there are hacks that’ll get you unstuck, moving and productive again.

Before we get to that…

Advice is like water. Everyone needs it, but we don’t give it much credit for making life happen. Ask a person in the middle of a desert if water is “helpful” and you’ll get a different story. Why?

When you recognize the “cost” of being stuck the solution is much, much more valuable. So, before we dive into solutions I know work, think for a minute about the alternative. What is the real cost of being stuck?

If you don’t pick up the phone and call the client back. If you don’t create a deadline and start working on that book. If you don’t create those emails and ask people for the sale.

Procrastination has a cost.

Feel it? Good. Now, let’s move to getting you unstuck.

Ten ways to get unstuck, moving and productive again.

1. Get real

Think how many decisions you’ve to make in your life. In a year’s time this will seen minor, so why not just do it?

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” —Churchill

2. Take a break

When you focus your attention on a task completely unrelated, your mind can return to the original task refreshed and with a new perspective.

“Never taking a break from thought work actually reduces your ability to be creative” —Kimberly Elsbach, UC-Davis

3. Get physical

Stand, stretch, go for a run, walk your dog—physical movement increases the flow in your circulatory system, releases feel-good neurotransmitters (like Dopamine, and Serotonin) and puts you in a positive mood.

“Exercise is like fertilizer for the brain…it’s so good it’s like Miracle Gro.” Dr. John Ratey, Harvard.

4. Stop Doing list

What is filling your time AND holding you back? Make a list (Jim Collins calls it your ‘Stop Doing list’)—one of the fastest ways to get started is to stop doing those low-value tasks that are chewing up your time.

“The “stop doing” list became an enduring cornerstone of my annual New Year resolutions.” —Jim Collins, author From Good to Great

5. Change your environment

Clear the desk clutter, work from a local cafe, use paper instead of computer—sometimes, a change is as good as a start.

“As a species, humans have evolved to respond to novelty, once we’ve become accustomed to something, we may grow immune to its effects. —Hugh Thompson, Ph.D

6. Be kind to yourself

It’s easy to blame yourself—don’t. You’ve been here before, you are capable and you will succeed. Have faith you will get through this period, just like every other time.

“Practicing self-compassion provides us with the kind voice and warm embrace we need in difficult times so we courageously do the right thing.” Forbes

7. Let go of the past

It’s hard to get started when your attention is on what didn’t work in the past. Take a deep breath, let it go and focus on what you want to create in the today, for the future.

“Once we start a task, it is rarely as bad as we think.” Tim Pychyl, Ph.D

8. Get advice

Usually we can’t see the forest for the trees when we’re too close to the problem. Ask a good friend, hire a coach – even ask on-line. And then listen.

“When you ask for advice, people do not think less of you; they think you are smarter.” —Maurice Schweitzer, PhD of the Wharton School

9. Create a deadline

A little tension (like a deadline) can move mountains and end procrastination. Give yourself a Decision Deadline (for the full project or a practical solution) and stick to it.

“Deadlines allow us to clarify our thoughts and create an action plan.” — Dan Ariely, Ph.D

10. Create tiny wins

Frustrated about sales? Call one prospect. Want to lose weight? Start walking 20 minutes a day. Need to apologize? Write a card. Any forward motion is a tiny win in the right direction.

“When you feel good about what you did, your brain will change. It will want to do the behavior again in the future. That leads to making the habit stronger.” —B.J. Fogg, Ph.D

Ten ways to get moving. All work. Only one question…what are you doing here (get started).

Hugh Culver

Bio: Hugh Culver co-created the world’s most expensive tours (to the South Pole), started five companies, and teaches experts the business of speaking. Read his blog on the business of speaking. Follow him on Twitter @hughculver

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Attitude Adjustment

Dropped The Ball On Your New Year Resolution: 3 Mid-Year Tips to Rebuild Accountability

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As Ryan Seacrest dropped the ball in Times Square did you drop the ball on the goals you set this year?  No matter if your life or business plan is on a calendar year or fiscal year you must pick up the ball again.  A resolution is simply a choice.  Choose to get back on track.

3 Choices To Get Back On Track:

  • Re-confirm what you really want. State your vision out loud. – Do you still believe it is possible to achieve the goal you have set toward your vision?
  • Confirm each task that needs to be completed and when.
  • Set up a weekly check in with yourself on your progress.

Bonus action – Celebrate your success along the way.  Now that we are six months into the year look back what are the action or actions you have taken to get yourself just a little closer to your dreams?  Share them with me via email at holly@hollyduckworth.com

Hold yourself and your team accountable! Be love and share your light in your business and your life.

 

Holly Duckworth, CAE, CMP is CEO of Leadership Solutions International as consultant, speaker and facilitator on leadership and spirituality. Author of Ctrl+Alt+Believe: Reboot Your Association For Success, Holly is a columnist for MeetingsNet/IdeaExchange on the meetings industry and writes a regular international column on the future of spirituality in business for Science of Mind Magazine. She lives in Denver Colorado Learn more at www.hollyduckworth.com, on LinkedIn & follow her on twitter @hduckworth

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It Is Time To Believe Again
Personal Development

It is another day of believing

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It is that time of the day again. That time where we muster all of the strength we have to get out of bed, plant our two feet firmly on the ground, take a deep breath, and start believing again. We did it yesterday and if we are extremely lucky we’ll get to do it again tomorrow. We will have that chance to believe and act on our belief. Our belief that we were meant to do something significant with our lives. The belief that there is more to our existence other than staring at little small computer screens all day long. And the belief that we have the ability to make somebody else’s life better as a result of us being alive. Sometimes it feels like progress comes too slow, and that other people are just dying to block us at every opp. But yet we still get up every day and put those two feet on the ground. That is faith. That is believing. That plus massive action every day is what will make us successful.

Get the feet on the floor. It is another day of believing.

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Attitude Adjustment

You don’t want it. You just kinda want it.

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your life is passing you by
your life is passing you by

This is how I talk to myself when I am unhappy with doing what I am doing at the moment. I think you could use this also.

You’ve talked about that cool project you want to do. More than once.

But you have made zero progress on it. You’ll get to it this weekend.

You’ve looked at average people that have several books on the shelf and thought ‘I can do that’.

But you have yet to come up with a topic or write a single word.

You suck your gut in when you look in the mirror naked because you have not exercised in 10 years.

Your garden has weeds.

Your car is dirty.

You are still living paycheck by paycheck.

You hate your boss. You hate your co workers. You loathe the drive to work. You stare at the clock when you are there.

You have not done anything special for your spouse in a while. Why bother? You are married.

You hate rich people because they get more than you. They have nicer cars. Nicer house and nicer drinks.

BUT…!

You got on Facebook today. More than once.

You stayed up late watching TV last night.

You  smoke and drink on a regular basis.

You sit in front of a computer all day long. You’ll do it again tomorrow.

Your life is directly reflected in the movie ‘Office Space’.

Hmmmm.

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Performance & Productivity, Personal Development

Having trouble writing down your goals? Look at mine

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I am sure you have heard it time and time again ; the absolute best way in the world to achieve what you want is to write it down. That is why I have page dedicated on this site to my goals. I just recently updated it and numbered it. The numbering will allow me to have conversations make improvements “by the numbers”, and also provide a common point of reference when I discuss my goals with you and other people.

If you are having any trouble writing down your goals look at mine for a starting point. In the version I have online right I have broken them down into some high-level categories. I don’t have action plans for most of them yet, and I don’t have them broken down into big rocks and little rocks yet. But I have a start.

My challenge to you: Write down your goals someplace online. Come back to the comments below or in my forum and share a link to your goal list. First of all – you will get some link love back from me. I even create a special new forum (follow the link) just for you to post your goal lists. Since it is a new forum area it is empty. Be the first to get in there and post. Make sure you update your forum signature so people can come read about your goals in detail over at your site.

The Next Post: Prioritizing the Goals

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