Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Measure your success

Yesterday I wrote about writing down your goals.  Did you do it?  If not, sit down and write them down now.
Today, you should think about it how you’ll know if you’ve succeeded.  It’s wonderful to have a goal, but you need some sort of concrete measure to know when you have achieved the goal.  You also want to attach a timeline.  For example you’re goal may be to be healthier, but how will you know if you are healthier.   A measurable would be to exercise at least 3 times a week for 3 months, bringing you to July 31st, or to lose 10 pounds by July 15th. When the date comes you can evaluate and see how you’ve done.  Put it on your calendar.  Did you exercise 3 times a week?  Did you lose 10 lbs?  Then you can re-evaluate and if you fall a little short recommit with a new timeframe or if you succeed, you can set your next goal.  

Maybe your goals are about reducing debt.  The measure might be to decrease your debt by $500 in the next two months.  Or maybe you pay an extra 10% above the minimum balance due on your credit card for the next 12 months.  Maybe you want to improve your relationship with your spouse or your kids.  How do you measure that?  You might not be able to quantifiably measure the outcome, but you can measure the efforts such as one date night a month with your husband, or one afternoon every other week with each child.  

Take your three top goals from yesterday and write down at least one measure of success with a time frame.  Don’t forget to write the goal on your calendar, set email reminders and write it on the list on your fridge and follow up to make sure you stay on track.  Share it in the comments section of my blog to really commit.  Sometimes, just putting the word out there can give you motivation to get up and work at achieving your dreams.

The truth is this isn’t rocket science.  I’m not saying things that you haven’t heard or aren’t common sense.  But then why are there so many self help books, motivational speakers, audio programs and life coaches?  It’s because we all need the ongoing reminders and encouragement to keep going, to keep growing and to keep evolving.  Today, take another step in your evolution.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Write it down

Have you written down your goals?  I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.  It is imperative that you write them out on paper and keep them where you can see them every day.  We’ve all read books and listened to audio programs that tell us to write down our goals, but the truth is that most of us will not follow through.  We will think about the goals, and this is a good starting point, but until they are committed to paper, they are just fleeting thoughts.  

Examine each area of your life: career, family, relationships, personal development, finances, and health. Now write down three goals for each area and then out of those 18 pick the top three that will make the biggest impact on your life.  These should be posted in multiple areas where you will see them everyday, many times a day.  Post them on the fridge, in the bathroom, at work, in your purse or wallet, on your television and in your car.  These three goals should be front and centre in your life to remind you what you are striving for, why you are working hard and what the benefits will be.  

Why is it so important you may ask?  Because despite our best intentions, life gets in the way, and I don’t mean the life you are trying to build.  I mean the day to day grind of getting up, going to work, cleaning the house and doing whatever it is you do everyday because you have to, not because you want to.  

We make grocery lists, and have calendars to track the kids’ activities and appointments.  We have job jars for chores around the house, and email reminders telling us what we need to do and what not to forget.  Why not add the goals that will move you towards that life of your dreams to your lists on the fridge, your calendar and your email reminders.  

It may be important to pick up milk and schedule your car maintenance, but next to my goals, they pale in comparison.  I’d rather forget the milk for a day or two and take action on achieving my dreams.

Monday, April 18, 2011


I’m back after only one post all week.  The hiatus was a necessity to surviving our week of flu hell, but everyone seems back on track and healthy again.  

It’s amazing how hard it is to get back into the swing of things when your routine changes.  Last summer after running every day for several months, two weeks on holidays and I found it very difficult to get back to a routine of running at least 5 days a week.  The last couple weeks, I’ve been exhausted and then we all came down with the flu and I’ve been finding it hard to get back into my daily routine at home and at work.  

Many of us are creatures of habit.  We do what we’ve always done because it’s easy and familiar.  We live on auto-pilot and even with the best intentions and new routines in our lives, it doesn’t take much to fall back into old patterns.  What are your routines and patterns?  What are your habits, good or bad?  

Try keeping track of how you spend your time for a week and then add up the hours spent doing different activities.  If you watch 2 hours of television a week, you’ll have 14 hours right there.  If you spend 30 minutes a day on social networking sites, you’ll rack up 3.5 hours.  If you work out for 45 minutes 3 times a week, which comes to 2.25 hours.  Your 30 minute commute to and from work 5 days a week adds up to 5 hours a week.  Even little things like cleaning up the kitchen after dinner probably adds up to a few hours a week.  All of our activities take time and it is important to know where you are spending your time.  Just like your bank account, you need to know where the money is going so you have enough left for the important things.  Time is more precious because we all have the same 24 hours a day.  How you choose to spend that time is what will differentiate you from others.  

Prioritize what you spend time on, because no matter how hard you work, or how smart you are, you will still only have 24 hours today.  I often come back to television because I see so many people spending hour upon hour watching television.  They say they don’t watch much but then I hear them talk about 10 different shows they watch religiously.  I like television and grew up watching quite a bit, but I have to say that giving up cable was one of the best things I ever did.  I pick one or two series a year to watch on DVD and that’s the extent of my viewing.  I have time to do so many other things that seem more important for me. 

It doesn’t matter whether you watch television and I’m not preaching that you give up your cable, I’m only suggesting that you really evaluate how you spend your time.  Maybe television isn’t your problem but you work late into the night, sometimes coming home after your spouse or kids have gone to bed?  Was this a good use of your time?  Maybe it is some days, but it will likely affect your family life if it is a regular occurrence.  Look at your routines and habits and see where you can change to better use the limited time you have.  The clock hands move forward whether you are reading to your kids or watching reruns of some comedy.  Just remember that your kids will grow up and move on and you may not have the opportunity to spend time with them when they are older.  People pass away and we think to ourselves, I wish I had called; meanwhile we spent another late night at the office.  Don’t waste the most valuable resource you have, your time.  

Time is unforgiving; once it’s gone you can never retrieve it so make sure each moment counts.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I took a couple days off.  Unfortunately the family has been struck by the flu and we’re not all back 100%, but I got an email from a friend today that had me thinking.  This friend is obviously having a rough day, although I suspect this day has been a few weeks in the making.

When in search of our goals, when trying to take action every day, when dealing with family issues (like when everyone gets the flu at the same time), or when the things we try don’t work, we can become disheartened.  We may think that we want to just quit.  Why not go back to living on auto pilot and being average, coming home, watching television and not striving for more all the time?  It is impossible to be positive all of the time, everyday and you shouldn't expect this pf yourself.  The truth is that even the best of the best have bad days, weeks or months.  

The true measure of your success is how you deal with the setbacks, obstacles and failures.  Feel the frustration, the pain, the fear and even the sense of failure, but then move on.  Look at what has happened and what can you learn.  Is this a test of your commitment, or perhaps a push in another direction?  When you are having a rough time, take some time to feel the feelings.  If you need to take some time off to re-evaluate, do it.  The reason we are striving for our goals is to have a better life and to enjoy it more.  If what you are doing does not bring you joy, then you most definitely need to take a step back.  But remember why you started down this path of personal development.  You know there is more that you want for your life and you know that you can have it.  Right now, it might just be the method of getting there that isn’t working quite like you had hoped.  Sometimes, when we are on the brink of discovery or success that is the moment when our faith in ourselves is tested the most, and we just need to push through. 

Take care of yourself and turn to those around you who will support you.  Listen to the feedback, whether direct or indirect from the setbacks you encounter and then take the next step.  Movement, any movement is better than standing still being passive and just accepting what comes at you.