Tag Archives: Professional Development

5 Things You Must Focus on to Achieve Your Goals

focus-mattersGoal-setting is an important activity for those who yearn to live an accomplished life. Yet, many people do not set goals and others who do, don’t set them well.

There was a purported study inaccurately attributed to Harvard or Yale about about the impact of setting goals. The ‘study’ concluded that 83% of the population didn’t have identified goals.  It further showed that 14% had goals but only a mere 3% of the population had written theirs down. It went on to say that years later, the 3% with written goals had earned 10 times more than everyone else. (The statistics vary based on whose interpretation of the ‘study’ you read.) As it turns out, that study never happened.

‘Facts’ aside, it reinforces the concept of writing your goals down.

An actual study conducted later by Gail Matthews, PhD at Dominican University revealed 3 important conclusions:

1. Be clear on your goals and write them down.
2. Develop a plan on how you are going to achieve them.
3. Develop an accountability mechanism.

I haven’t conducted a study. However, I have been active in the performance improvement and performance enhancement field for a surprisingly long time (read, “decades”).

Here’s my take on the 5 critical components of what it takes to make magic happen.

1. Have a clear goal
OK, this is a pretty consistent first step across all platforms so I won’t spend a lot of time on it. Yet it is still one many people skip.  Don’t be one of them. ‘Nuf said?

Know where your end destination is, whether its later today or later in life. Pick a specific, measurable ‘what’ you will accomplish and a ‘by when’ it will be done.

2. Know your “Why”
Knowing why you want to achieve the goal is at least as important a motivating factor as knowing what it is you want. Accomplishing goals, especially big, hairy ones, will likely take an inordinate amount of effort. You’ll probably NOT have smooth sailing along the way, so having a deep urge, a deep longing, an important reason to continue in the face of all of the crap on the road is critical.

3. Feel your success
Imagine how you’ll feel once your end goal is reached. Will you feel fulfilled, safe, secure, happy, proud, satisfied, excited, peaceful, powerful, confident? What ever the emotion, start ‘practicing’ feeling it NOW, even before you have the ‘thing’. Don’t wait until you get there, feeling that ‘future’ emotion now will make life more enjoyable, help support your motivation factor and actually help draw in the resources, ideas and connections to help you get there.

Time will pass more easily if you’re not waiting for the future to feel good. Be that feeling now.

4. Think about how you’ll make it happen
I was listening to Brian Tracy speak at the Arizona Chapter of the National Speakers Association earlier this month. He had conducted a study of high achievers. He said there were two factors that distinguished top performers from everyone else.  First, they had big, clear goals. And, secondly, they thought constantly about how they could achieve them.

I would veer away from the idea of constantly thinking about ‘how’.  I would say, constantly focus on the ‘what’ and the ‘feeling’, but allow for the creative process, for divine intervention, coincidence, providence, unexpected inspirations to light the path forward for you.

5. Be happy now
This is related, but slightly different that point 3. The tip here is to focus on things that RIGHT NOW are going well: things your grateful for, things you’re happy about TODAY.

I was listening to Marshall Sylver, host of the Million Dollar Television Network. He was also talking about focus and achieving goals.  He said  “You get what you focus on.” So instead of focusing on all of your problems, focus on what you want more of in your life.

Pharrel Williams also was definitely on to something with his inspired song, Happy. The words, energy and message resonated with people around the world. The song extols the virtues of being happy.

In one verse, he describes the feeling of letting things roll off his back. “…Here come bad news, talkin’ this and that. Give me all you got, don’t hold it back. I  should probably warn you, I’ll be just fine. No offense to you, don’t waste your time. Because I’m happy!”

So, to quote another song from way back, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” Focus on what matters. Your goals, your dreams, your happy, grateful, positive feelings and what you want are what really matters.

5 Keys for Living the Life of Your Dreams

DEAR-DynamicIf you’ve been with me for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about the BAR Theory where your beliefs shape your actions and your actions highly influence the results you attain in life.
This ‘new’ model reflects more recent things I’ve been studying about how life works: how to accomplish what you want without having to ‘force’ it or ‘make it happen’ through direct activity and hard work.

It all starts with your desire which is fueled by your emotion. But not the emotion you experience today about not yet having your heart’s desire (like frustration, disappointment, worry, etc.). But rather bringing into your experience TODAY, the emotion EXPECT to feel once you HAVE your heart’s desire. The key is feeling that joy NOW even without the presence of the thing you’re longing for. It’s a far more graceful (literally, full of grace) process that still gets the job done.

Here are 5 keys to living the life of your dreams:

1. Allow yourself to dream
It’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced world in which we live, rushing from meeting to meeting, from job to family, from cooking, cleaning, and producing to bill paying, from driving to more driving and sometimes, from emergency to emergency. It feels like power and energy arise from some outside phenomena.

It’s critical though to carve out time to just be and be present: to relax, reflect, day dream,  meditate, pray, journal. Just feel yourself and the power within you. When we lead dramatically busy lives, it’s hard to find that quiet, knowing yourself sometimes.

Schedule it. Do it daily.

2. Listen to your heart (or your intuition or your inner voice or the VOG)
As soon as I heard the words, “feel the earth under my feet” this morning, I was ‘rewarded’ with a cash prize. OK, it was a small prize (a quarter), but how often to you find quarters on the ground, far away from any retail establishment where they may have been in motion?

You may have heard me share about another time I heard the VOG (voice of God) several years ago when I was sitting in a confernce room participating in a guided meditation, when the VOG told me, “You should make jewelry.” It was such a clear message, I immediately went out and started telling people I was starting a jewelry design business even though I had only ever made one pair of earrings in high school art class.

That turned out to be my first entrepreneurial venture and was so successful, it funded nearly a month in Africa (Tanzania and Zanzibar), exploring, safari-ing and living in “the bush” with the Maasai.

3. Be grateful for ‘what is’
When you feel frustrated because things aren’t going as planned, and you linger in that frustration, it just keeps the object of your desire at bay. The key is to appreciate the things that are already working in your life (even if you have to really hunt for them) and focus on them. You’ve probably heard, ‘What gets measured, gets managed”.

Here is an interesting quote, “Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”  Jose Ortega y Gasset

Read more quotes on attention here. www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/pay_attention.html#6SWlWXb1hgGyKGRQ.99

4. Do good in the world.
Make it a practice to do everything you can to make the world a better place. Be kind. Recycle. Do no harm. Pay it forward. Help someone else. Live purposefully and conscientiously. Recognize you’re in a community and collaborate with those around you for the good of the community and its individual members. Stive to help people get their authentic needs met. Be a positive energy and voice in the the world. Be a part of the solution rather than harping on all the problems.

5. Expect things to turn out well.
Just last week, a dear friend shared this thought: “God responds to expectations, not prayers”. Not to knock prayers. I do pray, often. But there’s something about the certainty and knowingness of expectations that energizes you from the inside that warrants consideration. It’s the BAR Theory. If you expect things to turn out poorly, they likely will.

On a related note, Art Linkletter (am I dating myself here?) said, “Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.”

And I’ve always said, “We have more options than we generally see, and more control than we tend to take.”

7 Principles for Extracting the Extraordinary in You

extraordinaryWhat does it take to live an extraordinary life? What would that mean for you on a day-to-day basis?

I was recently reminded of some simple (yet not necessarily easy-to-do) concepts that if installed in your life would place you squarely on the higher road, the road less traveled.

I’m still working on some aspect of each of these myself. It’s a lifelong discipline. Not for the faint of heart, but surely well worth the effort.

1. Be truthful.
Being truthful is about honesty and accuracy. The accuracy aspect is about re-conveying an experience such that your words evoke the thoughts and emotions you experienced in the person you’re sharing with. While each of us has our own perspective of life and interpretation  of events, if your intention is to have them experience what you did, you’re on the right track. No shading of the truth to make yourself look better.

Additionally, the honesty aspect will likely cause you so alter your behavior. You may have heard the phrase, ‘Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper.’ Living your commitment to transparency encourages good behavior and lack of deception at work and home.

2. Give more than you take.
Give freely of your time, love and money. Give generously and not with the expectation that your gifts will be repaid. Purposeful giving fulfills you. It’s almost like you’re not giving for the benefit of the recipient. Make life easier for yourself and others. Don’t forget yourself. The problem some over-givers encounter is that they deplete themselves in the process and end up feeling resentful.

3. Don’t take what isn’t yours.
This is more than just ‘don’t steal’. It’s about not benefiting from ‘mistakes’. Now I’m all for serendipity and miracles and to be honest, I don’t know that I can tell you how to distinguish between those incidents and the ones that are to be avoided. I think the barometer here may be how you feel internally although the internal barometers of habitual ‘takers’ are probably flawed.

Here’s an example…My husband and I were shopping in a store last week. We bought something together and each paid for half in cash. The cashier gave us both our change back, but it seemed like too much. I didn’t say anything, not sure there was a problem, but the more I thought about it, the more I was pretty sure we got too much change. My mind tried to justify it by telling me ‘It’s a big store. They won’t notice it.’ But my heart felt something else. So I went back to the store, found the clerk and reminded him of the transaction. He couldn’t really validate the error with their sales system and ended up telling me to keep the $5 for my honesty.

I left feeling happier, but I still feel like giving that $5 to someone who needs it more will make me even happier. Think “Pay it forward.”

4. Make the world a better place
Do your actions make life easier for those around you? Is the world a better place because of what you think, do and say each day?

Or do you make people jump through hoops to get your favor? Do you consistently ‘block’ other people’s progress?

How would you behave differently if you knew your purpose was to leave the world in a better place because you lived here? Be constructive. Be helpful.

5. Honor life.
All living beings have the right to their lives. Respect them. This applies to not only to humans (even the ones you don’t like) but to non-human creatures as well. Last summer, I accidentally severed a praying mantis while pruning some plants. I was heartsick as he stared at me mournfully it seemed, with half of his abdominal cavity missing.

While I carefully carry spiders out of my home, I still intentionally kill crickets and scorpions when I find them inside. I guess now, I’ll work on finding some non-lethal way to rid them from my home when I encounter them.

6. Do no harm.
Intentionally ending the life of another (even an ant), when living rigorously, is an extreme measure. But what about the ‘little’ harms we do during the course of life?

Have you ever tried to get someone in trouble at home or work without first discussing the situation with them with the intent to resolve it? Do you gossip?  Do you have nasty, judgmental thoughts about others?

Once I took this discipline on, I had to confront the judgments I made of others. Casting frequent silent aspersions seemed automatic at times. I’ve taken on the practice now of blessing people, especially those my internal judge initially denounces.

7. Recognize that you are the source of everything.
It’s easy to blame others for the status of the world and even for your experience of your own personal life. In the training and coaching I do, I often share the concept of “Those idiots over there…”. When you place blame on your co-workers, spouse, children, parents, siblings, neighbors, strangers, political opponents, you rob yourself of power. You pine for changes in them. You want to ‘fix’ them.

You can’t change them. You’ll never change them. And if you wait for that, you’ll be in misery forever.

The only person you can change is you. The only person who can change the experience of the life you are living is you.

When you shift your thinking, emotional responses and actions, you will start having a new experience of life. Additionally, your new perspective, behavior and words will eventually impact the people around you and their response to you will likely change as well. The dynamic of your relationship will be different.

So stop trying to fix them. Work on improving yourself.

One of my favorite sayings is, “We all have more options that we generally see and more control than we tend to take”. So I challenge you to implement the ideas mentioned here. Open your eyes to options that are currently hidden from your view and take control of the way you live your life.

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5 Keys for Maximizing the ROI on Your Professional Development

If you’re like me, you love to learn. I am always looking for ways to be more of the  best version of me and ways to improve the operation of my business.

The risk that you run with that kind of passion is that you’re consumed with learning, but weak on implementing and it’s implementing that allows you to monetize your investment and create a strong ROI.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you strive to improve yourself and your business:

1. Set aside time to integrate what you learned immediately.
When you attend a conference or a class, schedule some ‘down time’ the next day so you can review your notes and plan what you’ll do with your new knowledge.

2. Avoid taking too many classes in close proximity to each other.
It’s likely to take you weeks or months to fully integrate your new strategies into your routine.  Strive to allow sufficient time to assimilate your new knowledge and turn it into improved strategies and actions before piling on more knowledge.

3.  Practice and share your new ‘stuff’ immediately.
Many times people feel tentative when they start implementing something new. That tentativeness is played out by not sharing what you’ve learned with your community.

The longer you wait, the less likely you’ll be to ever implement. So give yourself permission to be a newbie. Try new things. Offer a small group of clients special ‘early adopter’ pricing for your new approach.

4. Make connections.
If you’re attending a live event (virtual or face-to-face), strive to connect with other people who serve your market but offer something to it that you don’t. These are great prospects for building referral relationships or strategic alliances. They will speak the same language as you (having just completed the same learning you did) and hopefully, will be equally motivated to monetize their investment.

5. Get support.
Making changes in your routine is often a challenge especially when you’re trying something new. As you make investment decisions, lean towards programs that offer some ‘post-learning’ coaching or Q&A support. As you implement, you’ll probably come up with questions that you didn’t have as you were learning the material. Follow up support can be invaluable and help you implement more efficiently.

Ongoing training and development is a necessary investment in your future success. You must tackle it wisely however in order to maximize your return. These tips will help you do just that!

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5 Secrets for Making Time Work for You

What are you doing with your time? If you’re like many people, your days rush by you leaving you exhausted or exhilarated and frustrated or ecstatic. Maybe some days, you feel all four of those emotions.

What is the key to keeping the pendulum hovering over the exhilarated and ecstatic positions?  Focus.

Knowing what to focus on though, can present a real challenge for some. Stephen B. Covey provided invaluable guidance in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. But that was published in 1989 before many people had email.  Mark Zuckerberg was just 5. The internet was the bastion of academic universities and world wide web was still in its infancy.

So how do we profit from time today?

1. Set long- and short-term goals
When you know where you’re headed, the pathway becomes more clear. When the path is clear, the correct daily actions along the path are more easy to discern. Without direction, any action keeps you busy but won’t necessarily get you anywhere you truly want to be.

2. Do something everyday that scares you
Miracles happen outside our comfort zone. Our routines and habits keeps us ‘safe’, in the mind’s eye at least. Unfamiliar activities are seen as dangerous and a threat to our survival. Yet, no true progress is made if you keep doing the same thing over and over again. My husband makes the distinction between people who have 20 years of experience vs 1 year of experience repeated 20 times. One person is more likely an expert; the other, not so much.

3. Track your time
It’s a tedious practice but can yield frightening results that will motivate you to make changes. Pick, in advance, 2 – 3 ‘typical’ days in your upcoming week. Every 15 minutes, make a brief note about what you did with the previous 15 minute time frame. Review your activities after 2 – 3 days and notice which ‘rabbit holes’ sucked up your valuable time. Make a vow to yourself to avert time wasters and energy drainers. Delegate. Negotiate. Procrastinate (on those things that aren’t worthy of your time and talents).

4. Clump like tasks together
If you have a lot of calls to make, do them all at once. Shifting from a phone call to an email to an office visit down the hall to working on a report uses up valuable energy. Allocate time to completing similar tasks during one period. Your mind won’t have to make so many transitions. You’re less likely to get distracted during one of those transitions and will feel more productive once you’re accomplished a list of things rather than the onesy-twosy items you may fall victim to.

5. Set a courageous, unpredictable revenue or salary goal
With this big number in mind, evaluate every task against the value of your time. Ask yourself, “Would a person who makes $’X’ be spending their time on this activity?” Even if you have a job with ‘constrained resources’ available, this is still a valid practice. It will cause you to prioritize your activities in terms of their real value and help you look for other, easier ways to accomplish some of your goals.

Focus is the key. Focus your energy, your time and your talents to accomplishing specific tasks. Put mental blinders on and stay with a task until it (or some predetermined portion of it) is done.

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