Tag Archives: goal setting

7 Steps for Setting Goals and Prioritizing Actions

In order to make substantive progress in life, you must have a clear picture, sense or description of where you’re going. Without that, your time will be consumed by life’s mini and major emergencies.

Even when you have that plan, things won’t always go that way. Never-the-less, make time to be strategic about your life, career or business.

Here are 7 critical concepts that will help you deal with almost anything.

1. Plan at least once a year
Block out time on your calendar and ask yourself where you want to be five years from now. Identify milestones and required accomplishments along the way. Anticipate potential obstacles you might encounter and figure out NOW how you’ll avoid or deal with them if they arise.

2. Bring  your emotions into play
Emotions create motivation. You’ll need some fuel to help you through the challenges and tedious times too. As you ponder your bright future, write down WHY it’s important for you to get there and how you’ll feel once you do.

3. Think big but plan small
This is like Think globally, but act locally.  Progress is made one step at a time. If your goal is big (and it should be) it might overwhelm you into thinking it’s not possible for you. When you break it down into small chunks, your brain will say “I can do that!”. And it will

4. Put activities on your calendar
If your plan stays in your notebook or pad of paper, it won’t be executable. Do somehthing every day (or at least every week) toward your goals

5. Schedule time for breakdowns during the day
Stuff happens. That won’t be avoidable. So anticipate the phenomenon and block out one-hour block for random acts of ‘stuff’. That way, when they happen, you’ll already have accounted for them and they’ll have less of an impact on your plans for the day.

6. Step into the abyss when it occurs
When something big breaks down (a body requiring an unexpected surgery, for example), you gotta deal with it. The emergency requires your full attention. Do what needs to be done.  If you resist, procrastinate or try to avoid it, it will just get worse.

Ask for help. Do things to take care of yourself. Pray and meditate or just think about the bigger picture. That will help provide perspective. Some emergencies are short lived. Other unforeseen circumstances last for a long time and require a lot of patience. Resist the urge to become a helpless victim. Stay true to your values. Stay true to yourself.

7. Keep your eye on the future
The emergency will pass so while you’re dealing with it, think about how lovely life might be once it’s behind you. Emergencies have a way of helping you prioritize what’s REALLY important. So ‘use’ the time to assess yourself and your goals.

Do these things and you’ll become ever stronger, more capable and effective.

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7 Keys to a Mindset that Makes Magic Happen

I attended a training session recently and the speaker said something that reminded me of my days of being a mainframe BAL computer programmer. You may have heard the phrase “garbage in – garbage out”, or GIGO for short.

It reflects the idea that no matter how elegant a program or system is, if you put bad (trashy) data into it, the results you get will still stink.

The speaker took a different take on this concept choosing to focus on a more positive approach with PIPO or “positive in – positive out”. His challenge to us was to intentionally bring more inspiration and uplifting information into our personal computer (i.e. brain) to counter all of the negative messages we get from less inspired, less empowered, less self-determining people that might be occupying our personal space.

His acronym, PIPO, reminded me of my first doll, Pippo. My adoptive mother gave him to me the day she first brought me home with her. I was about one year old then and Pippo is still around now. (Shocking to think how old that makes him!)

To this day, he occupies a prominent space on my bookshelf with photos of my biological siblings I ‘found’ almost 10 years ago. It’s quite an amazing story which could be the subject of another book (and probably will be). If you want to read the (somewhat) Cliff’s notes version of it, go to Happy Reunion Story.

In any event, I’ve identified 7 specific behaviors which I say sustain a mindset that makes magic happen. Do these things consistently and you’ll fly high and achieve your goals all the faster.

1. Read positive, uplifting books and articles on a consistent basis
Daily reading is best and the optimal times for these readings is first thing in the  morning and just before falling asleep.  My morning readings energize me and remind me that all things are possible. Right now I’m reading “The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity” by Edwene Gaines and The Forty Day

2. Go on a detox diet
Get rid of foods that don’t serve you and people who drag you down. You’ve probably heard the story about crabs in a barrel. It’s been said that if you put crabs in a barrel, some will try to climb to the top to escape but others will pull them back down into the fray where they are all stuck. You may have ‘friends’ that spit on your dreams, who never think anything good can happen, that tell you you’re foolish to believe. Get rid of them: quickly if you can, slowly if you have to. At the least, reduce the time you spend with them and ignore much of what they say to you.

3. Watch and listen to intelligent shows on radio and TV
Local network news doesn’t really qualify. It’s mostly watered down. National news is better, global even more so. Angry people yelling their opinions can be useful to get a read on the mindset of some sectors of America, but don’t believe what you hear.

The truth often gets reduced to soundbites which may not even reflect the underlying story. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sitcom or SVU episode. It’s just I don’t spend my entire life in front of the TV. You may need to get your mind off work for a while, but if you’re striving to make magic happen, you’d be better off trading your TV time for inspirational books, meaningful  discussions with those close to you, making and enacting plans to better      your OWN life.

4. Meditate
Just a few minutes each day will help reducs stress and connect you to your higher self, the seat of knowledge. I’m amazed at the doors of opportunity that open with a few minutes a day spent in reflection and prayer.

5. Be grateful for what you have
Even when times are bleak, devote some time to look for and express gratitude for the good in your life. Bank account dry? Be thankful you have clean water and rice in the cupboard. Lost that big deal? Give thanks for the brains that allowed you to get that close and learn from the experience. Passed over for a promotion? Be thankful for opportunity to express your desire and skills. Keep sharpening them and looking for the next opening.

6. Sing, dance, move, listen
Harp music has been shown to reduce stress and even help with the healing of medical ailments. Dance energizes our bodies and stirs our souls. Hiking expands the lungs sending fresh oxygen to the brain.

Even if you don’t do these things regularly or well, work something different into your routine. Remember PIPO. Infuse yourself with that which soothes you. Express what’s in your heart.

7. Help someone less fortunate
A business referral group I’m in just adopted a down-on-their-luck family and donated toys and gift cards to a variety of stores. The woman who delivered the gifts sent out an email that brought tears to my eyes even though my contribution was just one of many. To feel that positive impact our action had on people I didn’t even know was so uplifting.  Feed the homeless. Donate your time. Make your little corner of the world a better place.

Alchemy is the process of transforming something common into something special.

Institute any or all of these (or amp them up if you’re already doing them) and you will cause a shift in your environment, both physical and energetic. Make magic happen.

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3 Keys to Getting More Done in the Time You Have

Each of us starts each day with the same number of hours. So how is it that some make such remarkable progress toward their goals while others amble through life scarcely having any substantive achievements at all?

There are distinct differences with how they USE their allocated hours and what they fill them with.

Poor time management creates frustration, lower self-esteem, stress and overwhelm.
There are some simple distinctions that allow people to utilize their time more effectively than others.

So how do you avoid that when it sometimes seems you’re not in complete control?

Highly effective, productive people use 3 simple concepts to organize their hours and lives.

1. Belief
They set big goals that they firmly believe they can achieve. It’s the goal-setting AND the belief that are critical. The absence of either will sabotage forward progress. Belief arises out of imbuing goals with emotion. Our brain handles the logical, project management aspect of goal setting. Our heart provides the motivation when things get tough.

2. Prioritization
People who accomplish big things constantly and consistently evaluate what’s important and use that to filter what they do and when. When you start YOUR day, how do you decide what to do? If you’re in business, generating revenue and creating systems to create future revenue should always be at the top of your list. If you work for someone else, replace generating revenue with the major goals you’re tasked with. If you’re retired, place your wishes and desires in that top spot.

Then, whenever you face a choice of what to work on, pass your options through the how-does-this-help-me-accomplish-my-big-goals test.

3. Focus

Once the decision of what to work on is made, devote a pre-set amount of time to completing the task. Don’t let yourself get distracted. Take a short break every 90 minutes if you’re working on a big project. But otherwise, stay in your ‘groove’ until your task is complete.

Simple, yet effective strategies will keep you marching forward toward your goals and future happiness and achievement.

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Manage Your Top Line & Your Bottom Line Will Take Care of Itself

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

“Manage your top line and your bottom line will take care of itself.”

I heard Steve Jobs say this in a previously recorded video that was resurrected shortly after Steve announced his resignation as CEO of Apple Computer.

I worked for Apple for almost 8 years – during the time that Steve was not there.  I heard stories of his genius and his temper and experienced first-hand, the most fun and innovative culture I’ve ever worked in.

His statement “Manage your top line and your bottom line will take care of  itself”, really resonated with me.

I’ve been focusing recently on what it takes to land larger, higher-paying clients and the positive impact that can have on a company‘s profitability.

Steve cited 3 things that must be attended to in managing your top line.

The 3 things are strategy, people & products.

Here is my take on how to focus on those 3 critical elements.

1. Strategy
A strategy is an overall plan to achieve specific, generally long-term, goals. It’s an approach, a broad, general roadmap, a way to go about doing business.

A strategy defines how an organization intends to get from where it is now to where it wants to be in the future, perhaps three to five years out.  Pursuing Whales to grow revenue is a strategy.  Going global is a strategy. Penetrating a specific industry is a strategy. Increasing visibility to raise awareness about a product or service is a strategy. A strategy may include time frames but typically they are ‘end point’ dates.

Focusing on strategy charts the course for the organization. It helps yes/no, go/no-go decisions get made in the short term. Positioning and pricing are outcomes of strategic decisions about what markets to pursue and how.

2. People
The best strategy in the world will fall flat on it’s face without competent people to carry it out. Implementing strategy requires a multitude of interdependent decisions to be made. Discerning judgment (a human skill) is a combination of intellect, knowledge, values and intuition. Having the right people in the right positions doing the right things right, can make a strategy come to life and catapult a company to wild success or oblivion.

3. Products
The third leg of this stool is comprised of the products an enterprise offers. Great strategy and great people can make the most of mediocre products. But great products can overcome (at least for a while) weak strategy and ordinary people. Of course, it’s hard to produce great products with mediocre strategy and people.

Apple likely wouldn’t have designed and produced the iPod, iPhone and iPad without great people. But there was a time, pre-‘i’ era, when those great people churned out lackluster ‘also-ran’ products.

When all great components are present, revenues rise because the company is delivering what the marketplace wants. great people make wise decisions about marketing, research, manufacturing, administration and financial matters. Great products continue to be delivered positioning the company as innovative with a commitment to quality.

Profits rise.

Jobs brought a unique perspective and vision to Apple.

So the questions are, What do YOU bring to your firm?

What’s YOUR strategy? Do you have one?

Are  you staffed with the right people in the right roles doing the right things right?

Is what you’re offering a match to the market as it is today or tomorrow? Are you even in touch with market needs or are you developing offers in a vacuum and wondering why sales are lagging?

As I’m finishing up this article, I see a tweet that Apple’s stock hit an all-time high today: $411 and change.

Clearly the strategy Jobs espoused is taking the company in the right direction.

Make sure your three legs of this business stool are sitting on solid ground.

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Converting Overwhelm into Productivity in 7 Simple Steps

People seem to be overwhelmed with finding and acting on potential opportunities for their business.  Fearful they might miss out on something, that grab at anything that looks like a remotely attractive possibility, but this leaves them feeling unproductive, exhausted and still unsure of their future.

Here are seven tips to help you focus and become more profitable:

1. Have long-term and short-term goals that you’re working toward.
Having a long-term view of your life and business helps you create a filter against which you can make your day-to-day choices of how to allocate your time, money and energy. It gives you direction and purpose plus the motivation required to keep going when things get tough.  I call this your Dream Destination and supports you moving through life quickly and definitively.

2. Only set goals that are important or critical to you in some way.
Sadly, people sometimes take on goals that others have set for them. If you set a goal for something that seems ‘cool’ but doesn’t really have a place along the path to your Dream Destination, it will suck the life out of your dream and cause you to detour to unnecessary paths.

3. Decide before you end your work day what your priorities are for the next day.
For those of you who struggle with ‘time management’ issues, this one key will change your life.  Rather than walking into your office and dealing with what comes up (even if you have a to-do list), you’ll risk working on lower priority tasks.  So, before you wrap up one day, review your to-do list (if you have one), consider your Dream Destination and then choose what your top priorities are for the next day.

4. Just say “No”.
Practice saying “No” to both requests you get and to the ‘shiny objects’ that float by tempting you with the allure of something attractive but that isn’t on your priority list. It it’s not your ideal client, don’t pursue it. If it’s not in your current or needed expertise, leave it alone.

5. Work on one project at a time.
Clean your desk of all distractions. Move the piles to another location (or take the time during non-work hours to file them away). Create some physical and mental space for your creativity to arise.

6. Determine exactly what you are paid to do.
Make sure you know how you make money. For me, it’s speaking, coaching, writing and developing programs.  For your business, is it selling products, adding people to your team, creating niche websites that sell?  What?

And specifically what do YOU contribute to that process? Is it making calls to prospects, writing copy for your website, consulting with paying clients?

Spend your time doing those things.


7. Delegate everything else.
I know I harp on this, but it’s critical to your success if you want to grow beyond your current state.

Gather a team around you to take care of the administrative tasks and other items that don’t require your specialized skill set. Create systems and procedures that you can hand-off to other people so you can focus your efforts on the activities that are the closest to getting money into your bank account.

Focus applied to the right priorities is the key to your success.