Years ago I wrote an article asking Why Is Everyone Busting On A-Listers. At that time it seemed that many people kind of missed my point. That was okay because some people thought I’d missed their point. I’m going to take that on first.
by Jeremy Eades via Flickr
I didn’t miss the point about A-listers and how many of them don’t respond to comments on their blogs anymore. I get it, and I don’t like it anymore than they did. No matter how big someone gets, I feel they should respond to at least some of the people who comment on their blogs. As most of you know, I’m big on bloggers not only approving comments when they’re moderating but also commenting on them, and it doesn’t matter whether or not they’re A-listers. I’ll give those who receive lots of comments a break because, truthfully, some comments are pretty lousy, but many of them deserve to be responded to. Continue reading You Can’t Just Be “Comfortable”→
You’re getting a two-fer today and yes, I’m talking about videos. I decided to go this route for two reasons, which makes sense. One, because both videos help me explain my main topic today. Two, because I did the two videos close to two years apart; hey, that’s the best I’ve got. 🙂
In the first video, I question why we don’t do the things we should be doing. Let’s lead with that, and then I’ll come back:
I hope you’ve watched that video, otherwise some of the rest of this post might not make sense. That’s because, based on that video, I’m going to give 4 recommendations for figuring out how to take action, no matter what it is.
1. Look at your main goal and figure out how to break it into small incremental, achievable actions.
Things often seem daunting when you’re looking at the ultimate goal and start thinking “wow, that’s going to take a lot of work”. Hey, goals take work; that’s life! However, very few real goals can be done in one day. They take planning and then step by step actions.
Think of building a house. In my area, it starts with clearing the land. Then a big hole is dug and fashioned into a basement (I’ve learned that not all homes in the south have basements; just go with it). Then you cement the basement. Then you build the frame of the house, which includes a roof. Next come the outer walls. Once that’s done, for most everyone else you see a house. However, a lot more work has to be done inside, but now it’s easier to get to because the workers are more protected from the elements.
All of these things are done in increments, and I left a lot of stuff out. Still, if it’s your house, you start to swell with excitement with each new addition; think of your goals that way.
2. Find the positives in everything you want to do and only concentrate on those.
If you read this blog or my other blog often enough you know that I always espouse the belief of positive thoughts over negative thoughts. Thus, if you want to learn something, instead of thinking about how hard it is you should be thinking about how good you’ll feel when you achieve it. If you need to lose weight, you should be thinking about your health and, once again, how you’ll feel rather than the work it’s going to take to lose it.
I know a lot of people who say they thrive off negative energy, such as wanting to show someone who didn’t believe in them how wrong they were. I’m not going to deny that works, but it’s not as sustaining as doing things for yourself rather than against someone else’s beliefs.
3. Think of your own interest rather than someone else’s interest.
This one is somewhat controversial but stick with me for a moment.
I know some people who say “I want to do ‘blank’ to show my kid/spouse/parent that I could do it”, or “I want to do ‘blank’ for my kid/spouse/parent”. In essence, they see themselves as doing it for someone else; that’s not true when you think about it.
Doing what needs to be done is always in one’s own best interest. When you think you’re doing it for someone else, you’re actually doing it for yourself, because “you” want something for a specific reason, even if someone else is involved. You need to keep that in mind because, strangely enough, it turns out that when you really believe you’re doing it for someone else you’re more likely to fail.
I’m not the only one saying something like this by the way. There’s a post by a lady named Gretchen Rubin titled Why I Try Not To Do Things For Others, But Instead, Do Them For Myself, where she talks about finding happiness once she learned this as a concept. Also, a book I’m presently reading called Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin talks about the concept of taking control of your own actions because they’re really the only thing one can control, and then things will come together for you even if in some way they’ll involve other people.
It might seem selfish, but remember the recommendation on every flight you take: “put on your own mask before helping someone else put theirs on”.
4. There’s always a way to do something you might not believe can be done.
Finally we get to the point where the second video comes into play. Last summer I was having major problems keeping my glucose levels under control; I’m diabetic, in case you’re new here. I knew I had to do something to get it under control because it was damaging my eyes and my feet and probably other things I didn’t know about.
I decided that walking was going to be the way I addressed this problem. Lo and behold, it worked. However, when I started I was out of town on a consulting gig down south. When that ended and I came home… it was cold! Even if we have a few days of warmth here and there in November, it’s starting to get really chilly at that point, and of course December through May… it’s cold and snowy in my area.
Sure, I could get out and walk by bundling myself up, but not only is it somewhat problematic but dangerous, especially once the snowbanks start building up. Less room to walk, cars sliding all over the place… not the best of circumstances, and you can’t go to the lake and walk either. So… see the video, which is fairly brief:
Before I made this video I had friends wondering how I was putting in the number of steps I was getting every day. As my buddy Rasheed says, if you really want to do something the universe will help you figure it out. 🙂
That’s what I’ve got for you; so, get going and do what you need to do!
A different start than normal on this blog. I’m going to begin by posting one of my recent videos where I highlighted my progress on my 2014 Goals. I’m doing this, even while knowing that most people who visit this post and possibly comment on it won’t watch any of it. Still, it highlights a lot of what’s going on with me now as it regards trying to reach some goals, knowing I’m not going to reach some goals, and in its own way addresses the topic:
That’s just for starters. Lately I’ve decided to address some of my health issues by downloading the app Myfitnesspal and tracking what I’m eating (that link leads to another video, just so you know) in an attempt to lose some weight and also try to stay away from what was another health scare related to diabetes; sigh…
To say that I might be spreading myself thin with all that’s going on in my life is an understatement. To say that I can’t handle it all is another matter; I can and have been doing it. Just not in the manner that I was handling it before.
See, when I was home most of the time I spent a lot of time writing. Not just on my 5 blogs but on 4 other blogs as well. I also wrote a couple of newsletters, none for myself, was on 3 boards (still am) and in an officer position in all of them. And I was marketing, marketing, marketing… that’s what you do when you work for yourself. Throw in all the social media stuff… whew, I’m tired reading it.
I’m not close to a super man; nowhere near it. I’m tired often, but I’ve got goals to go after, things to do, things I want, a lifestyle I want to live, and I’m closer to retirement age than a beginning; that’s a little scary I have to admit. Thus, I know I don’t have the time to just sit around doing nothing; I have to get things done, or at least work towards getting them done.
What I am though is a realist. Over the last year, as I’ve been traveling and consulting out of town, and not close to home, I’ve realized that I had to modify how I did what I did so I could keep up with almost everything I have going on.
I have had to let some things go, some things that just aren’t feasible for the moment, and slow down on some other things that I was pretty good at keeping up with. Kind of like this blog; instead of 3 or 4 posts a week I’m down to 1 or 2. Has it suffered some? Maybe, but we do what we do right?
Some of you know that I consult in two areas: health care finance and leadership.
One of the things I decided early on as a leader is that you take care of what’s most important first but always have the other stuff on a list that you look at here and there, and when you get an opportunity you try to address the issue. There’s always going to be a period where things aren’t as hectic, even in the most hectic jobs; trust me on this one.
In health care finance, there are two major concerns: bringing in as much money as possible fast and doing it in a compliant way so you don’t get hit with major fines later on.
As a consultant, this means going in and looking at the most obvious stuff first because most of the time that’s where the big issues are, and if I address those issues the money starts rolling in. As a director I found the money was in the training; if employees are top notch not only will the money come rolling it, but it’ll continue rolling in so you can go take care of something else.
Back in May I wrote a post about using my Franklin Planner. That’s been a big help because it not only allows me to write down everything I want to do but I also write down little motivational messages here and there to keep me on the straight path.
Part of my planning has been to write down when I need to write something for a blog, which blog, and when I want to release it. That’s obviously a big deal for me, but my local blog, Syracuse Wiki, has had to suffer. That’s because I want it to only be about local stuff, but if I’m not home it’s hard to write about much of it. In the high world of “finance” that’s known as a tough business decision; can’t do it all, right?
Marketing has been shut down because there’s no real reason to do it. I’m an independent consultant; for the most part I can only work on one project at a time, although I can do some consulting via phone (and have). Luckily, those folks have been finding me; nothing wrong with that.
Something else I’ve had to learn, which wasn’t a part of anything I was doing before all that much… I’ve had to learn to take breaks, even have some nights where I don’t do anything close to work.
When I was working for 3 months in New York City some years ago it was much different because every night was a new adventure, but not every place is like that; certainly where I am now can’t compare. So, I rest more when I’m on the road, and I rest more when I’m at home because I don’t have much time to do anything, including the stuff I need to do at home. Without the Planner, I’d be in really deep.
Okay, that’s all been about me; kind of selfish but I felt I had to establish a bit of authority on the subject so I can get to the main thrust of this post which is giving 5 tips for you to figure out how to pull your center together when you start feeling like your life and time is being spread too thin, because sometimes when that happens you just want to up and quit; never quit!
1. Get a planner, journal, memo pad, etc, and write stuff down. What makes most people feel really stressed? Trying to keep everything in your head. There are two main problems with that: you forget stuff; you can’t prioritize things when they’re all in your head.
Writing things down is not only cathartic but you might find that there are many things on your list that you can eliminate, pass off on someone else, get done pretty quickly, or is a major project that you need to do in stages. Nothing else works if you don’t start with this.
2. Find some support systems, even if they only take care of one or two things. For me, even though I could do them, I needed to have someone else do my accounting work and I needed someone to cut my grass and plow my driveway (I live in snow central; look it up lol).
That may not sound like much but for the first one, if you saw the amount of receipts I have to plow through and trying to manage who’s paying me and how, and separating expense payments from work payments, and then categorizing it all and having to then do all the taxes… ugh.
My lawn was taking me 3 hours to do pushing a mower, and when I got a riding mower, though it came down to about 45 minutes, because it turned out I was allergic to grass… well, if I showed you the picture of what I had to wear, in the hot sun… lol As for the snow, try living in a place where it literally snows every day in winter, and even though 6 to 8 inches is kind of a norm it all takes time to remove… so much easier to pay someone else for it.
This is how you need to think; it’s not about what you can do but what you don’t have to do so you can concentrate on the important stuff.
3. Decide one main thing that you want to accomplish in your life and center everything around that one goal. Make it a BAHG, or “big audacious hairy goal”.
In some ways this might seem simplistic but look at it from my perspective. There’s lots of things I do and at times I might start feeling spread a bit thin. In those times I start thinking about the reason I’m trying to do them all, an ultimate goal where, if I ever achieved it, I could feel really free and relaxed.
Before I tell you the big one I’ll tell you some small ones. Initially I wanted enough money to buy a soda fountain machine. That morphed into an ice making machine. Those were kind of stupid as each only cost around $200 or so, thus I decided to shoot for an Aeron chair, which cost around $1,300.
That turned out not to be big enough so I decided on buying a car with cash. Not only did I do that but I bought 2, one for my wife and one for me. So I upped the amount and a few years ago thought about the goal of being able to design a different house and paying for it with cash.
All fine and dandy but I realized my goals were aligned in the wrong place. Those were all things I wanted, and I got some of them, but it was wrong. What I wanted for real was security, the ability to do anything I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it and wherever I wanted to do it. My goal… $10 million in the bank.
Now there’s a real goal! Realistic? Well, some might say no, but there are a lot of people who started something in their mid 50’s and became millionaires so why not me? Here’s the side benefit, and it’s a lesson learned from Jack Canfield, the Chicken Soup for the Soul guy. Decades ago his goal was to make $100,000 in one year selling his book. He made $92,000. Do you think he was disappointed? Nope, because it was more money than he’d ever made in his life, he was close to his goal, and look where we went from there.
So, have a BAHG; even if you don’t get there, you will progress, and you’ll know that all the stuff you’ve been doing, if you’ve been focused, is worth it.
4. Don’t be afraid to let go of certain things, but make sure you look at it from all sides first before doing it. I’m going to let you in on a little secret (won’t be a secret after this). I’m thinking about shutting down one of my websites and blogs. In a way, this makes me feel like a quitter, but in another way I’m thinking it might help me focus a bit more while remaining true to my goal.
This isn’t a new thought, and part of my thinking was reignited this weekend when I was having a conversation with Lynn Terry of Clicknewz. I was telling her about all the blogs I was writing and she asked if there was one or two I could reduce or stop doing. Over the last few days I’ve thought about it some more and, well, it just might happen; I’m just not sure yet.
Still, if I decide to let it go then it’s gone. Last year I stopped writing one of my newsletters after 10 years and the year before I stopped writing a different newsletter after 9 years. There are some other things I’m thinking about removing myself from, not because I don’t like them but because I need more time to focus on my $10 million.
I know I’m not alone on this one. What things are you doing out of obligation that maybe you loved at one time but now it’s more of a chore to do? Is it taking you away from something you’d much rather do, something with a more positive endgame?
5. Take care of yourself first. Remember earlier I was talking about motivational messages I keep writing in my Planner? This is one of the first, and every month I write it again before anything else. That I feel the need to remind myself of this over and over is proof that I’m not doing it right.
If you don’t take care of yourself first you can’t help anyone else for long. If you don’t plan for your future it’ll be upon you before you know it and you’ll be in dire straits. If you don’t take care of yourself there might not be a future; scary isn’t it?
If you feel that you’re spreading yourself too thin think of this particular statement. Go through all the steps I mentioned because they’ll help give you some direction. If you have any conflicts whatsoever… take care of yourself first. We all know what to do; sometimes we’re conflicted. Don’t feel guilty; just do it and you’ll see that not only will you feel better, but things will start going your way.
Let’s just get this out of the way; my 2010 goal process stunk. Well, that’s not quite accurate; I didn’t have a full process to reach my goals, so I stunk. As a matter of fact, I stunk so much that in August I even tried to change a couple of things. I think I trapped myself into a corner; what would Admiral Ackbar say? Well, no matter; let’s take a look back to see what I was hoping to accomplish this year.
Here were the goals:
1. Earn at least $15,000 online.
2. Reach those 500 subscribers.
3. Increase real visitors to this site to 3,000 a month on average.
4. Get even more publicity this year by guest posting.
5. Get my Alexa rank for two of my blogs into the top 100,000.
How’d I do?
1. Hah! Next!
2. I hit 175 one day.
3. Wait a minute; I hit this one. Google Analytics says I’m averaging 4,400 visitors a month, while Count Per Day says I’m averaging 17,000+. Hmmm… either way, I actually attained one of my goals.
4. I started the year strong with some guest posts, got a couple more in the middle of the year and that’s it. I think I wrote 6 guest posts this year, but wait… that was actually higher than last year. So I guess I hit this one as well.
5. Hmmm… I guess I broke this one as well, sitting in the 90,000’s as I write this.
That means I actually hit 3 of my 5 goals; I guess I didn’t fail so much after all, did I? And now that I think about it, I really can’t gripe all that much about #1 either. Sure, $15,000 was definitely audacious, but in the end I’m averaging nearly $200 a month with all the things I do, way higher than in 2009. So maybe I’m on the way up in some fashion.
So, I actually only failed on #2; I’m still wondering about that one, but you know, it increased for the year, actually doubling.
This is why one sets goals. Yeah, a couple of those were crazy, and yet in a way it pushed me to be better, and I was better even if I couldn’t hit the actual goal for 2 of them. Guess I should be proud of myself instead, right?
So, how did you do with your goals for the year? A few of you commented on this post about the last 3rd of the year, so it would be interesting to hear if you at least finished strong.