How to Focus Your Resources on Achieving Your Goals

Many people spend more time planning a single vacation than planning their lives.

The press of daily events makes it easy to put ourselves on the back burner. Yet every day spent without focus is like water flowing through your hands.

Time, like water, is a precious resource that cannot be recovered once it’s gone.

As the new year begins, resolve to think through your life purpose — your personal mission statement — and then focus your time, your activities and your resources to make sure you’re making steady progress toward well-defined goals that support your life mission. Be sure to consider all the important aspects of your life: family/friends, health/personal interests, career/finances and spirituality/giving back.

I believe so strongly in the power of goals (based on plenty of personal experience and learning from experts) that I present an occasional workshop to share my thoughts and document best practices on this vital topic. It’s impossible to share all the learnings from a multi-day workshop in the space of a single article, but I will hit the highlights here and provide a resource list if you’d like to learn more.

Why bother? Because Oprah has it right with her focus on “living your best life,” and that’s exactly what smart goals help us do.

Start with the big picture

After a discussion about values that drive personal codes of conduct (it’s a particularly timely topic given our current cultural issues), I ask workshop participants the $64,000 question: “What is your ultimate purpose?” Or, put another way, “What’s the primary question that you’re trying to answer with your life?”

This question leads to other questions, such as:

  • “Why was I put here?”
  • “Why do I want to do this?”
  • “What’s the purpose of my life?”
  • “Why do I want to be the kind of person that I am?”

Take the time to really wrestle with these big-picture questions. The answers you come up with will form the foundation of your personal life mission statement and the goals to support it.

If you are struggling, borrow a page from Huckleberry Finn and imagine your own funeral. Visualize the people in attendance and imagine what they would say about you. This exercise can tell you a lot about who you are now and, most importantly, who you want to be.

Ideally, your daily work not only financially supports you (and those you love), but also supports your big-picture reason for being on earth. If not, maybe it’s time to think about making some changes — either at your current job or somewhere new.

This happened to me early in my career when I realized I wanted to make a recognizable difference in the lives of my customers. Working at a large corporation would never give me that opportunity, thus my IT consulting and training company was launched soon thereafter.

Define goals that support your mission

When thinking about work goals, consider these questions:

  • What’s the ideal role for your professional life?
  • How much money do you want to make when you are at the top of your earning potential?
  • In what ways can you provide the absolute most value to your organization?
  • Think of times when you were at your absolute best in terms of performance. What do those days have in common? How do you make this the standard for every day?
  • What are things you can either not do or can delegate in your work life?
  • What tools, technologies or methodologies can you leverage to be the most productive?
  • Who can be a mentor in your career?
  • What organizations have members that could provide insights and relevant experience to help you shine in your career?
  • What books, CDs or courses could help you advance your career?

Get real

Thomas Edison reportedly once said, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” This is why it’s important to get all your big-goal decisions on paper.

Be clear about what you want and, most importantly, why you want it. (Does each goal support the things that you’ve decided matter most to you?)

Some people struggle with this phase of the process because they’re not 100 percent sure about certain goals. I advise weighing each option that could lead to a similar outcome by looking at the pros and cons of each. After weighing consequences and insuring you’ve reasonably limited the downside risks, make choices and resolve to succeed.

I’ve found that having my mission, values and goals clearly written and posted in multiple places — exercise equipment, desk, notebook, bathroom mirror — where I can see them every day helps me to stay focused. When a new decision must be made relative to my time or other resources, I can weigh the choice against these well-articulated priorities. It saves time and, most critically, keeps me from wasting my time or money on things that do not move me closer to achieving my goals.

Happiness matters

No matter where you land with your goals — work-related and otherwise — keep in mind that happiness matters and it’s easier to achieve than you might think. Research consistently has shown that people who report feeling happy and fulfilled in their daily lives share three common attributes:

  • Healthy relationships
  • Sense of purpose
  • Appreciation for everything good in their lives

Some people even manage to appreciate their problems and challenges as the learning opportunities that they are.

So, remember to engage with life in meaningful ways, say thank you, and spend quality time with the people who matter most. At the end of your life, you may be lucky enough to enjoy your own funeral — even if you’re not there to appreciate it.

 

 

 

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This article was written by Tom Salonek, the founder and CEO of Intertech, an IT consulting and training company, who has published more than 100 articles on business, leadership and technology.

How to Get More Grit

What is one thing you want to accomplish in 2018?

Having a clearly defined personal goal with a defined outcome can assist in driving our purpose for getting out of bed and embracing our day. Picking one goal and focusing on it with purpose and conviction can feed our spirit that promotes and supports positive mental health.

One key is picking a personal goal that inspires us. Research by American psychologist, researcher and author Angela Duckworth suggests that having a goal aligned with a defined passion can fuel our motivation to push through adversity associated with learning and overcoming failures on the path to achieving the goal.

Sometimes it’s not the most talented person who finishes first; it’s the person who has the most courage, follows through on what they say, remains optimistic in tough times, and focuses on excellence to finish without being frozen by the need for perfection. Grit is a positive trait based on passion and motivation to achieve a measurable, long-term goal.

Do you know someone who had never run a marathon who woke up one day and said they were going to run one? Training and putting themselves through a transformation from huffing and puffing to walk up the stairs to being fit enough to run a full marathon is a wonderful example of grit in action.

When we pick a goal and challenge ourselves – whether physically, mentally (such as taking a course), work (starting a new career or project) or life (focusing on improving our finances) – we become engaged in the process and we develop our grit.

In 2014, The Globe and Mail and Howatt HR launched the Your Life at Work Surveythat’s still active online helping individuals to measure their quality of work life. To launch this study, we ran articles on topics such as, “Do you have the grit to reach your goals?”

Here are the results from 844 respondents who took our grit survey:

· Nineteen per cent fell in the low grit category. This score suggests a person is struggling to finish goals and following through on their plans.

· Fifty per cent fell in the moderate grit category. This suggests a person sets goals with good intentions and motivation to achieve; however, they may not follow through because they change their mind or get distracted by another goal.

· Thirty per cent fell in the high grit category. This score suggests a person has the resolve and commitment to follow through more times than not on what they set out to accomplish.

· The average score on the 10-item scale was 35/50.

· The three items that received the lowest score – which indicated why some people have a lower than desired grit score – were:

-I take rejection hard;

-I frequently set a goal and then change it;

-Setbacks discourage me.

Awareness

Before you set your next personal goal, consider the role grit can play in supporting your success. The first step is to become aware of the link between passion and success. Think about the last three goals you wanted to achieve, complete the Grit Quick Survey, and compare your results to outcomes of these goals.

Accountability

The first lesson from self-awareness with respect to grit is understanding the role self-determination and conviction play in accomplishing personal goals. Next is considering how what we want to accomplish is supported by our environment (such as by our family, partner or employer). When we pick goals, it’s beneficial to consider potential, unintended consequences that may occur by spending time and energy on passion. Ideally, our goals don’t hurt or take away from others we love or care about.

Action

When you pick a goal you’re comfortable with pursuing, the more you can tap into grit, the more likely you’ll be successful in overcoming short-term barriers. As well, you’re likely to have long-term drive to achieve your desired success.

Tips for sparking grit daily:

Intentionally plug into likeminded people – One way to fuel yourself is to surround yourself with people who want the same thing as you.

Pay attention to your self-talk – Praise yourself for trying to keep your mind on the process required to achieve your goal.

Define milestones in small chunks – Have one or two simple and clearly defined actions that support your goal. Focus on the defined tasks.

Reinforce your purpose – Answer why what you want is important to you, and say it to yourself before you go to bed.

Stay nimble – No plan is perfect. Accept that to achieve your goal your plan may need to change or evolve, based on circumstances. Keep top of mind that in the end it’s the goal that matters, so you can allow yourself to be flexible and adapt as needed.

 

 

 

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This article was written by Bill Howatt, chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto and  the president of Howatt HR Consulting and founder of TalOp.

12 New Year’s Resolutions Backed by Science That Could Actually Work

The end of the year is fast approaching, so that means it’s time to think about… resolutions. If 2018 is anything like more or less every other year, your resolutions this year are likely to focus on things like losing weight, exercising more, learning new skills, and generally enjoying life more.

The problem with resolutions, of course, is that we break them. Only about  8-12% of people report sticking to their resolutions. Intentions are easy; following through is hard. Research on resolutions tells us there are three basic problems:

  1. Our resolutions are too vague.
  2. They require too much willpower.
  3. They lack tangible cues and rewards to keep us on track.

Here, then, are 12 ideas for resolutions — backed by science — that might actually work.

1. To lose weight

We do better at maximizing (well, in this case minimizing) metrics we track. Setting a specific goal in pounds, however, is setting yourself up for failure. Instituting a system to keep healthy eating on your mind — and to give yourself regular numerical feedback — is more likely to get results.

Don’t resolve:
I will lose 15 pounds.

Do resolve:
I will weigh myself every morning.

2. To exercise more

The lowest-effort, highest-impact thing you can do to get more exercise is to start walking more. And we’re much more likely to exercise when we plan when and where ahead of time.

Don’t resolve:
I will join a gym.

Do resolve:
I will take a walk to the park near work every day at lunchtime.

3. To save more

Don’t leave saving more money up to end-of-each-month you. Do all of your saving for the year in one fell swoop, taking advantage of the powerful principle of pre-commitment.

Don’t resolve:
I will save 10% more of my income.

Do resolve:
Today, I will set up a recurring, automated savings deposit of $X on the 1st of every month.

4. To learn a language

Learning a new language or skill is consistently one of Americans’ top resolutions. These types of resolutions, however, are the beginning of a long journey. So, here’s a way to stay on track. Studies have found that rewarding yourself along the way is one key to following through on your resolutions. So tie skill practice directly to a reward.

Don’t resolve:
I will learn Italian this year.

Do resolve:
I will study Italian for 30 minutes every day — and, if I stay on track, I will reward myself at the end of each month with a meal at my favorite Italian restaurant.

5. To get more sleep

On average, we should all be getting seven to nine hours of sleep. Easier said than done. However, one specific thing you can do is take heed of the research showing just how bad it is to surround ourselves with glowing rectangles ahead of bedtime.

Don’t resolve:
I will get more sleep.

Do resolve:
I will put away my laptop and tablet computers for at least two hours before bed.

6. To feel less stress

One of the biggest sources of stress in modern life is email. Research has found professionals spend as many as 13 hours a week checking it. An experiment out of the University of British Columbia found that limiting the number of times a day a person checks email significantly reduces one’s stress level.

Don’t resolve:
I will try to relax more.

Do resolve:
I will turn off email notification on my phone and only check my accounts three times a day.

7. To be happier

Directly trying to be happy tends to lead to a backfire effect. But there are plenty of indirect changes you can make that have happiness as a side-effect. A big one: practicing gratitude.

Don’t resolve:
I will try to be happier.

Do resolve:
I will write down three things every day for which I am grateful.

8. To travel more

One of the most effective ways to keep a resolution is to break it down into pieces and to have a plan. Take something like the common, but vague, resolution to travel more. You don’t have to drop everything and jump on a plane tomorrow; at the same time, if you don’t take concrete steps, you may not get it together this year to see more of the world.

Don’t resolve:
I will travel more.

Do resolve:
I will choose a destination in March, I will put in for vacation time and book everything by June, and I will take a trip in August.

9. To cook more

Another important factor in keeping resolutions is to give yourself cues to encourage the behavior you’re trying to cultivate. If you’re trying to eat better — or just enjoy a hobby — what could be simpler than signing yourself up for one of the growing number of meal-kit delivery services?

Don’t resolve:
I will cook more.

Do resolve:
I will sign up, today, for a cooking-related delivery service.

10. To volunteer more

Volunteering has been linked to positive outcomes for mental and physical health. Motivation, however, is always a challenge. Studies are clear that one of the biggest factors in changing our behavior is the group with which we spend time.

Don’t resolve:
I will volunteer more.

Do resolve:
I will join this specific charitable organization.

11. To quit smoking

A classic for a reason. But recent research has found that smokers have a greater likelihood of quitting if they receive regular encouragement.

Don’t resolve:
I will quit smoking.

Do resolve:
I will sign up today for regular text messages from the National Cancer Institute.

12. To find a new job

Daydreaming at your desk isn’t going to get you there. Nor is writing down “find a new job” on your year’s to do list. Instead, take concrete-but-achievable steps that will increase your odds of success. Networking is key — remember that something like 80% of jobs are never even advertised.

Don’t resolve:
I will find a new job.

Do resolve:
I will set up at least one networking lunch or coffee every week.

And PS: Don’t tell anyone your resolutions! Research shows it can create a premature sense of accomplishment. Also, pick one, two, or three resolutions at most; too many resolutions take up too much brain space and increase your odds of failing at all of them.

 

 

 

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This article was written by Ryan Sager,  editorial director of Ladders, based in New York City.

How to Create Healthy Habits in the New Year

It’s the time of the year to dream about new healthy habits and commit to leaving behind negative patterns that don’t align with your true self. Many people promise to eat a healthier diet, start working out, read more, or watch less television, but only a few succeed in the long run. Use these tips to make sure your self-improvement goals become part of a regular lifestyle rather than great ideas that melt in the spring.

Set Clear Goals

When you set a goal, it should move you toward something you want, rather than away from something you don’t want. Energy flows where attention goes so put your attention on what you want instead of what you don’t. Be very specific. For example say, “I want to sit in full splits” instead of “I want to be more flexible.”

Make sure these clear goals are reasonable too. If you’re new to exercise, opt for a fun run of 1 or 2 miles rather than an Ironman. You can always work your way up to the big goals after you’ve had some initial success.

Don’t Change Everything at Once

Even if you recognize that both diet and lifestyle need radical change, prioritize your self-improvement goals. It’s like learning to juggle—you don’t start with six balls, you start with three and then add one at a time. Juggling three balls successfully feels way better than dropping six. And if it feels good, you’ll be motivated to keep going.

Maintain Your Momentum

If you set clear, realistic goals, you might feel like they are easy to achieve. That’s good! There’s no reason to make things more difficult for yourself and risk losing all the progress you’ve made. If things are going well on your diet, don’t reduce your calorie intake even more. If running once a day feels easy, don’t double your effort.

Instead, stick with what’s working and add in some rewards. When you get to the first month, treat yourself. If the reward is aligned with your intention, that’s even better. For example, if your goal is to spend time walking outside every day, buy yourself some new hiking shoes after a successful month.

Surround Yourself With Supportive People

When you make the decision to change a habit or create a different lifestyle, be prepared for potentially negative feedback from some of your friends. Some people may think that your choice to change is a poor reflection on their choice to remain the same.

The best thing you can do is spend time with people who inspire you to make positive choices. When you surround yourself with peers who celebrate your success, it will encourage your continued progress. You could also make new friends. If your goal is to start running, join a beginner’s running group. If your goal is to eat better, you could start a recipe-sharing club.

Remember That You Are Deserving

Even if you’re surrounded by great people, with a clear goal and built in rewards, the human tendency can be to let your personal wants and needs fall to the bottom of the list. After cooking, cleaning, and packing lunches for the entire family, your plans to go to the gym become easier to ignore. But just like flight attendants say, put on your oxygen mask before helping your children. You have to make sure your needs are met before you can take care of others. Seeing their parents model this same behavior, children begin to learn the value of voicing their opinions and taking care of their needs.

Be Gentle With Yourself

If you fall back into old patterns, instead of berating yourself, be grateful that you noticed. Wanting to change is the first step, so have gratitude that you recognize there is change to be made. If you fall off the horse, get back on and try again.

 

 

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This article was written by Tamara Lechner, whose mission is to be so happy that those around her cannot help but step into her light. She enjoys writing, speaking, and teaching about how a positive mindset affects business, relationships, health, and life satisfaction.

7 Tips To Make 2018 Your Most Productive Year Yet

When you dive back into work after winter break, it’s tough to know where to begin, so it’s important to get clear on priorities.

The holidays are over, the new year is here, and it’s time to get back to the grind. Struggling to wade through a bottomless inbox and never-ending list of to-dos? The post-vacation blues are real: it can take up to three weeks after New Year’s Eve to return to pre-holiday productivity!

Most of us can’t afford a three-week slump so soon after returning to the office. But with a little focus, faith and effort, you’ll be back in the flow in no time. Here’s a round-up of my top tips from the last year to make 2018 your most productive year yet.

Learn the power of prioritization

When you dive back into work after winter break, it’s tough to know where to begin. You have emails to answer, meetings to attend, old projects to wrap up and new ones start. It’s important to get clear on priorities — as soon as possible. Here’s a simple system I use to map out my top three tasks every day.

Embrace a ‘WTF’ attitude

No, not what you’re thinking (although, you’re probably saying that a lot this time of year!) For us, WTF stands for Willing to Fail, meaning we lean into failures as learning opportunities. We believe the only way to grow is to try new things, and more often than not, this means we make mistakes. We’ve created a learning culture at our offices where everyone feels safe to embrace a WTF attitude.

Don’t let stress get the best of you

Your workload has probably piled up while you’ve been out of office. With the stress of looming projects, it can be tempting to pull all-nighters to get everything done. But the last thing you want to do is burn yourself out — this will only make you less productive in the long run. Listen to your body, take breaks when you need them and stick to a regular sleep schedule. These, and many other tips, can all help prevent stress at work.

Race to conflict

Tensions might run a little higher this time of year, as everyone settles back into their routines. Conflict resolution can often take a backseat to the million other things you have to do. But avoiding problems won’t help you get ahead. Instead, race to conflict, be empathetic and deal with it head-on. Remember, you’re not the only one suffering from a post-vacation hangover.

Delegate as much as possible

Prioritizing effectively makes a huge difference on your productivity, but you can’t do everything, nor should you. Don’t get bogged down in time-sucking, energy-killing tasks that distract you from the more important stuff. Instead, pass them off to someone with the bandwidth and the skill, and get back to the bigger picture. Delegating can be hard, but it’s a skill strong leaders take very seriously.

Make a bucket list

One of the best ways to beat post-vacation depression is to have something else to look forward to. We encourage all our employees to create a list of 101 life goals so they always have something new on the horizon, whether it’s a trip to Peru or learning to speak French. Turns out dreaming on the job is better for productivity than you might expect.

Choose a positive mindset

The bottom line is this: your attitude will determine how quickly you reach your pre-vacation productivity levels. Our thoughts hold a lot of power over what we can accomplish. If you constantly sulk about your overwhelming workload, it’s unlikely that you’ll get anything done. This year, choose to have a positive mindset about everything you do. I promise, it’s your secret superpower to blasting your goals in 2018.

 

 

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This article was written by Brian Scudamore, a passionate entrepreneur & people person – turning ordinary ‘everything’ into exceptional.

Finish the Race Attitude: Make it Work for you in 2018

So what is a “Finish the race attitude?” Well, attitude is defined as “A way of feeling or acting toward a person, thing or situation” and “finish the race,” is getting things done!

In this article, I want to talk about the three steps to having a “finish the race attitude:” goal setting, goal execution and goal completion.

Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, recently studied the art and science of goal setting. She gathered 267 people together – men and women from all over the world, and from all walks of life, including entrepreneurs, educators, healthcare professionals, artists, lawyers and bankers. She divided the participants into groups, according to who wrote down their goals and dreams, and who didn’t.

She discovered that those who wrote down their goals and dreams on a regular basis achieved those desires at a significantly higher level than those who did not. In fact, she found that you become 42 per cent more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis. So for those of you that do write down your goals ask yourself these questions:

Do you review them monthly? Do you review them weekly? Do you review them daily?

Why daily? The key is to look at what you are doing on a daily basis to see if it’s aligned with your goals. If it is great, if it’s not then ask yourself, “Should I be doing this?”

So remember, when goal setting – write it!

The second step is goal execution. Fine, so I’ve written my goal down but it’s so big, so overwhelming I just don’t know where to start. As the old saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time.” In 2010, I undertook to run 250 marathons in one year.

Initially, the excitement of the challenge and the fact that I had people join me on the run kept me going. However, after a few months, the excitement and the people disappeared.

It wasn’t so much a physical challenge as a mental one. I was running five marathons a week and by mid-year I was literally running on empty. I remember waking up at 5 a.m. after running four marathons that week. The rain was pounding on the bedroom window on I just wanted to stay in bed, have a cup of tea and read the newspaper. The only way I could face the day was by “Chunking it down” in 10-minute blocks.

I got up and in the first 10 minutes had a tea and breakfast. Then, for the next 10 minutes, I’d go and just dress up in running gear, no harm in that. The rain was still pounding down. Next, I’d get in my car and take a 10-minute drive to where I would start my run. Next was the difficult 10 minutes. I’d then say to myself “Martin just go and run for 10 minutes, if you don’t like it then turn around and come back.”

Well, after 10 minutes I was out there and turning around was not an option. Chunk it down. Use the technique on anything you’re tackling: Blogs, newsletter, cold calls and even writing a book.

So remember. In goal execution – chunk it!

The third step is goal completion. At the end of the day you’ve either successfully completed your goal or you haven’t. One of the hardest things is to take on something and it doesn’t work out.

In 2013, I set a goal of running the Calgary Marathon while attempting to set a Guinness World Record for the fastest time in full lacrosse gear. The purpose being to raise $10,000 for Right To Play. The rules stipulated that it had to be under four hours and I had to wear a helmet, elbow pads, shoulder pads, and gloves while carrying a lacrosse stick and ball.

On race day, the temperature started at 15C and increased to 20C. My black helmet, probably not the best colour, became an oven. I started to overheat and my heart rate went through the roof. Up to the 38 km marker my pace was on target but then the wheels came off. I was dizzy and my legs went to rubber. I crossed the line at four hours 18 minutes and they rushed me into the medical tent.

Nelson Mandela said, “I never lose, I either win or learn.” So what did I learn? Well, it was probably one of the stupidest goals I’ve ever set however from a fundraising point of view it was a success. I think I got a number of “Pity Donations.” The temperature had done me in and there wasn’t a lot I could do about that. Sometimes when you take on something and given it your best shot it still doesn’t work out. The key, accept and move on. That’s why, when we do have successes, it’s so important to celebrate them along the way.

So remember. In goal completion: celebrate it!

In finishing, I want to leave you with three “Its.” In goal setting – write it, in goal Execution – chunk it, and in goal completion – Celebrate it.

If you follow these three steps, then you will be well on your way to having a “finish the race attitude.”

 

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This article was written by Martin Parnell, a keynote speaker, author, 5 time Guinness World Record holder, world class endurance athlete and philanthropist.

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