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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Being Broke Is Not Fun
Performance & Productivity, Personal Development

5 Ways To Stop Being Absolutely Broke

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I'd love to say all of these are my ideas, but they are not. They are the result of someone asking the question "Has anyone ever been able to go from absolutely broke to making a comfortable living". It was asked on Reddit and I've read every single answer to find the best ones.

I was living in my car...

I was living in my car when someone broke my window and took all my clothes. I'm making a little over $100k now, but this is 15 years later.

I had no credit, but some how was approved at Target for a $200 store credit card. I used that to buy shoes/clothes, and went on to job interviews. Landed a job working at a 24 hr call center overnight for some insurance company. I put allot of overtime, and started with the basics. (I never paid the store credit card, but I did go to a junk yard to get a new car window)

Started a bank account for direct deposit on my pay, used my first $250 for an apartment. (Shitty studio, with no bedroom) had no furniture except for what other tenants thru away. Started 1 class of community college a semester, added more as i could afford to pay them in cash. Took 4 years to finish an associates degree with a focus of study in business. Landed a better job, continued to a 4 year degree... and just kept bettering my skills and resume. (Government Grants, not loans)

I own my own home, have a fully paid car, and live a comfortable life now. I was lucky enough to not ever need a hospital. Luck and planing... don't live a wistful life, use every little thing you have to its fullest.

(I still eat ramen every now and then)

Don't live a wistful life, use every little thing you have to its fullest.

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Dead broke at 21...

Dead broke at 21, lowest credit score possible, no car because repossessed, no license because suspended for non payment of speeding tickets. Homeless, sneaking into girlfriends house to sleep.


Spent my days at the library when my gf worked, reading about great people, changing your life, etc. Used their computers and internet to send or print free resumes. Got into the only, yet likely best occupation that will take a person like that and offer real opportunity for a hard worker, commissioned sales.


Sucked for weeks, awkward, stuttering, not knowing the product well. To be completely honest I cried the first two days I came home, for the first time since I was a child. Just felt hopeless and a huge failure, but I resisted the urge to no show and went to work the following day and the day after.

Each week I got better, started making sales, within 6 months I was pulling in $2000+ weekly commissions.

I just outworked everyone else, I came in early 6am to make calls overseas, stayed late to make calls on the west coast, answered emails at home.

I left within the first year to start my own company, I had learned exactly what the company was doing and realized I could offer the same services. It wasn't easy, but it's 15 years later and I employ 17 people, I earn all different amounts as the owner but never under $600,000 and on good years quite a bit more.


I was a fuck up my whole life OP, took an extra year to get out of high school, no college, destroyed any credit line given to me, quit jobs for no reason, or just not show up because I was tired.


You can wake up a year from now in a completely different life. You might have to jump around to a few opportunities, but keep your expenses dirt cheap, game plan, exploit any advantage to save money safely as in don't live in a crack den, but a trailer is fine.
You sound like you have good self control, which is more than I had, and it took me many years to get my impulses under control.

You can wake up a year from now in a completely different life

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I was hopeless and desperate...

I sold everything I owned, left the state where I used to live with $600 to my name (about to be evicted, and $30000 in debt), in a 12 year old car with expired plates, a wonky transmission, and a bad u-joint, drove halfway across the country to move in with my brother and his wife and their kids, with no prospects and no idea what I was going to do. I was hopeless and desperate, a complete failure at 40 years old. I looked for work for a few months as I taught myself to code, and finally got a contract job for six months, which was extended, and finally after 18 months was offered a full time job. I moved into an apartment. It's seven years later, my debts are paid, I'm at a different (better) job, making $90k a year, and my gf and I are buying a house. I had no hope and no prospects seven years ago. It slowly got better by taking a chance, working hard and having good people around me that I could rely on. Don't give up.

It slowly got better by taking a chance, working hard, and having good people around me that I could rely on.

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It's a lot of work and not hanging out with friends...

Started learning programming on YouTube at 18 while working retail and totally broke, $40k programming job at 19, $50k at 20, $90k at 21, $110k at 23, $120k at 25. Own a house and all that jazz. Programming is one of the few things I see a lot of nerds getting 6 figure salaries without a degree. Echoing what everyone else has said, it's a lot of work and not hanging out with friends, but worth it. I'm definitely happy with my current lifestyle, keep your head up.

Programming is one of the few things where I see a lot of nerds getting 6 figures without a degree

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Got kicked out, dropped out of school..

Yep. 2 years ago, I was a broke college student living with family. Got kicked out, dropped out of school, and started jockeying for more hours at my almost-minimum wage job. Today, I make about 50k, and I still work for the same employer. I'm not a rags-to-riches story like others in this thread, but I just bought my first house, I'm financially secure, and I live pretty comfortably. Granted, I'm a single guy with no kids, but I'm sure you could live comfortably on that kind of money too. Here's what I did:


I bettered myself. On my own time, and sometimes with my own money, I got certified as a wine sommelier, a forklift operator, and got my CPR/AED/First Aid certifications. When promotion time came around, I wrote an eloquent letter of interest highlighting not only my unique skill set, but also my initiative in acquiring said skills without being prompted to do so. Don't think that going back to school is the only way to educate yourself. Find something that provides incontrovertible proof that you're going to work your ass off to keep getting better at what you do if they pick you for that promotion.


I took an interest in general leadership. I had no formal management experience, but when a management position opened up, I highlighted my experience with student government in college and being an NCO of Marines.


I worked on my credit. Gained 80 points in 2 years, paid off some collections, kept my nose clean. You need to take care of that shit with your mom. She screwed you by kicking you out and endangered her grandchild's future... so if I were you, I'd start prioritizing your kid over your mom. When your credit is dogshit, the first step to improving it is having some awkward conversations with your creditors. That's part of being a man, I'm afraid.


I kept living like a broke college student even after getting pay raises. I highly recommend subscribing to /r/frugal and /r/MealPrepSunday for some inspiration on how to live simply and economically. Also: buy a slow cooker. It will pay for itself many, many times over even within the first year you have it.


I kept applying for jobs I didn't think I could get. They kept giving them to me anyway. I worked hard on my letter, I prepped for the interview... and sometimes, other people didn't bother applying and I didn't have much competition. You don't have to be the perfect applicant, you just have to be the best one who bothered to put themselves out there.

Don't think that going back to school is the only way to educate yourself. Find something that provides incontrovertible proof that you're going to work your ass off to keep getting better at what you do.

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If you want to read every response you can find the entire thread at:

https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/comments/7ncjrz/has_anyone_ever_been_able_to_go_from_absolutely

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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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planninh
Performance & Productivity, Personal Development

The four best damn productivity habits high achievers use

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I’m a student of productivity. I have to be—distractions are everywhere.

And while I know there are hundreds of apps designed to plan, protect, measure, and manage my time, I prefer some died-in-the-wool methods.

The good news is you can use them as well and with zero training.

First, how are you doing? Are you able to focus when needed and complete the task at hand? Are you organized and following a plan? Can you recover from inevitable distractions quickly and get back to work?

If you’re not sure you’re playing at the top of your time management game, then these solutions can make a big difference.

1. BOUNDARIES

I think “open door” policies are stupid. It’s also stupid to check you email first thing in the morning, work without a plan and allow interruptions to rule your day.

That’s why you need Boundaries.

A Boundary is when you are strategically unavailable. Different from a meeting, a Boundary is a time block that reoccurs every day to allow you to work on projects that require your full attention.

My first Boundary is from 5:00 to 7:00AM for writing. No Internet, spell-check, email, or social media—just a big cup of tea and writing. I will either be working on a blog (guess what time I’m writing this), client proposal or speech—most mornings I can crank out 1,000 words.

My next Boundary is 9:15 to 10:30AM. I’m at my office (a 12 minute bike ride from home) and working on 50% of the hardest work on my plate for the day.

And then I have a Boundary from 1:30 to 3:30 for the second 50% of hard work.

Here’s the trick: I don’t worry if it doesn’t happen. It could be I have a client meeting, a speech out of town or I’m meeting someone. Of course, I try to schedule around my Boundaries, but if I can’t protect that time my trick is to return to my routine the next day.

2. BLOCKING

You get ready and are on time for meetings. Right? Why not create a meeting for yourself.

Blocking happens when you create an appointment with yourself for a task that either:

  • you know you might procrastinate about
  • impacts someone else and they are relying on you to get it done
  • is strategic and by completing it you move other projects ahead

When I get off the phone from a new client I block time on my calendar to interview delegates (invaluable research as a speaker), create handouts, or have a final call with the client.

I also Block time for responding to RFP’s (Request For Proposals), researching for my blog, creating email sequences for upcoming webinars and just thinking.

I’m always a bit surprised how my Pavlovian reaction to seeing a meeting on my calendar (even if I’m not meeting someone) alerts me to get ready to work on that task.

One last point about Blocking time for yourself: my rule is once the Block is created you can’t delete it, only move it.

3. BATCHING

When I visit my friend’s cabin each summer we chop wood. Nothing like chasing a scrap of wood around the chopping block to keep me happy.

It would be a bit silly for me to announce I’m going to “chop some wood”, proudly return with one stick only to head out 20 minutes later to “chop some more wood.” Instead I Batch.

Batching is a lost art in our age of multitasking and it still works like a damn. When you Batch you complete similar tasks all at once. The most obvious example is your email. That addictive InBox (Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D likens our addiction to email to that of a Vegas slot machine) will suck up every available moment unless you reserve your visits to Batching. Other examples of batching include:

  • paying bills
  • filing and clearing the clutter in your office
  • returning phone calls
  • updating your planning tools
  • updating social media
  • reading and commenting on blogs
  • dealing with personal finances, money transfers, investments, banks, insurance companies etc.

4. BREAKS

And now for the one power tool that will have the biggest impact on your success—taking Breaks. Don’t underestimate the power of a Break.

New research found that over four hours of sitting a day (between your breakfast, commute, email, social media, TV, Netflix and meetings that’s easy to do) doubles your risk of Type 2 diabetes, obesity and early coronary disease. Got your attention?

The trick is to take Breaks throughout the day, not to wait for that long walk in the evening. Researchers found that exercise after the fact (like going for a long run after work) can’t undo “damage” done while we’re dormant in our chair.

So you have to plan to move at least every 15 minutes. Here’s how:

  • move your garbage can, water and recycling box away from your desk
  • when working on a project, set a timer for every 25 minute to get up and move
  • park further away from your office, meeting, grocery store and walk the rest of the way
  • take the stairs
  • Use this list of office exercises to inspire some variety in your movement.

Boundaries, Blocking, Batching and Breaks – pretty easy hacks to get you productive and moving. What are you going to start with?

“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

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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Break Through The Wall
Performance & Productivity, Personal Development

Four Ways To Break Through the Wall

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Let’s be honest, at some point we all hit a wall. A Plateau. A Bad Day. Writer’s Block. Whatever you might call the moment when things stop working. It is a natural part of reaching for a goal. It’s just a part of life. How you handle that moment is crucial though.  If handled wrong the wall becomes too big to overcome, and we become frustrated, irritable, and maybe worst of all, we give up.

If we handle the moment well, the wall becomes a hurdle.  It doesn’t mean it doesn’t take work or time to overcome, but we soon find ourselves back on track to achieving our goals. Here are a few ways to handle those moments when we hit a wall in our life.

Take a Break

We work hard. Life can get busy. Sometimes we hit the wall when we are tired, and that makes the wall bigger than it actually is. It is OK to take a break. Walk away from the wall for awhile. Part of this is being aware of your situation and self. To be honest enough to take a real break. I know this is difficult for us when we are striving to achieve a goal. But when you feel rested, you might discover that the wall was not that big in the first place.

Ask for Help

This option is also hard to do sometimes. Our pride gets in the way, but consider that great athletes have coaches, great writers have editors, and simply, CEOs have friends. We are people, not machines. Getting someone else’s perspective on a situation is a valuable asset in overcoming a “wall” moment. When working on a goal, our focus can actually blind us from seeing new opportunities or hurdles that trip us up. Life is a team sport, you don’t have to do it alone.

Try a New Approach

One way around a wall is a new approach. Asking for help can lead us to consider new approaches. But we can figure it out sometimes when we hit a wall, and we hit a wall, and we hit it again. If we keep doing the same thing and keep hitting a wall, it is time to change.  As a coach and teacher I am always evaluating the outcome of a lesson or practice plan. Track is the best example here. As a track coach I paid attention to my runners’ times for their events. If they didn’t improve their time after a few weeks, I knew I had to change their training. The same holds true in our pursuit of a goal. Hitting a wall, especially a couple of times, is a sign to try a new approach.

Learn

The last approach may be the most important, learn. When we move into a new area of life or step closer to a goal, we are entering new territory. And we might not have the knowledge or skills for this step forward. My first novel has been out for six months. Sales started out well, in fact, I sold a couple of hundred copies. But now sales are almost to a stop. I have hit a wall.  This wall is because of my lack of knowledge about promoting a book. It will take some time, but I am learning about different ways to self-promote and hiring an agency to promote a book.  This wall was created because I had not gained the knowledge needed to promote a book well.

Hitting a wall is a part of striving for a goal. It is part of life. Using one of these strategies should help you get through the moment and back on track.


True leader, Husband, Father, Coach & Professor Hamey Bowelhower

Bio: 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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Any Success Starts With You
Attitude Adjustment, Performance & Productivity, Personal Development

Any Success Starts With You

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Let’s be brutally honest for a minute. No excuses. No whining.

Here is the truth; any success you have in this life starts with you. 

How much work are you willing to put in to your goals? Patrick Allmond has a post about working on the weekends called “Want Success Faster? Treat Your Weekends Like Your Weekdays”.  Have you read it? I wonder how many people agreed with the idea, but then give the excuse that they deserve the weekend to relax?

Here is the truth; any success you have in this life starts with you.

Afraid of what might happen if you make a change? Do it anyway. Remember jumping off the diving board for the first time? How many times did you jump off the board that day? You overcame the fear to discover the joy of doing something you wanted to do. What joy are you missing today because of fear?

Or are you too comfortable? You talk about a goal.  You think about a goal. You might even take a few steps toward achieving that goal. But life is comfortable, things are good. Reaching for something better may disrupt your life. Comfort = Fear. You are right, it will disrupt your life. And no, I can’t guarantee you will succeed, or tell you how long it will take. What I do know is that striving for our goals adds depth and joy to our lives.

So, it is time to be honest.  No excuses. No whining.

Here is the truth; any true long-term life success starts with you.

Let’s get to work.

True leader, Husband, Father, Coach & Professor Hamey Bowelhower

Bio: Jamey Boelhower is a husband and a father of six. He is currently an Instructional Coach and as 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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