First.jpg

First Things First

I teach a Time Management program. I probably shouldn’t since there is actually no such thing as time management. No one has ever managed time. Time does it’s own thing, relentlessly ticking off second after second regardless of what you may need to accomplish.

I hear people saying all the time that they don’t have enough time but the fact is they do. They have all the time in the world. No one who has ever lived has had more time than you have right now. They didn’t have less either.

1440 minutes a day is what each of us gets to accomplish what we will. No one has ever gotten more and barring the coolest tech not yet invented I doubt they ever will.

So time management is a bit of a misnomer, it’s probably better described as event management. The events that make up your day are what chews up your time. The people who seem to have more time are the ones who have mastered the mindset that everything they do during a day is an event. 

They see breakfast as an event, they see their morning stop at the coffee shop as an event. They see every phone call as an event and they know that when they have a day full of events they stop adding more. If they do add more they drop something else off their list of events.

Managing the events that make up your day teaches you a very important life lesson: no one has too little time, what they have is very poor prioritization skills.

People without prioritization skills end up doing less important things at the expense of more important things, often at the expense of the most important thing.

They do the easy thing, they do what they like, they do what they have always done. If any of those things happen to be the most important thing, the most productive thing, then that’s a happy coincidence. But successful people don’t rely on coincidence.

If you’re really going to be a good life event manager then you’re going to need to have a serious conversation with yourself. That conversation should be centered around your life goals, your values and your objectives. Most people who fail in doing the most important thing first do so simply because they don’t know what the most important thing is. 

Set goals, real goals. Goals that align with your values and principles. Write those goals down and make a plan to achieve them. You’ll be amazed at how much time you really have when pretty much everything you do gets you closer to one of those goals. 

Quit trying to manage time and start managing your life, that’s your true path to success.

Resolutions.png

Eight Percent

Eight percent! That’s the percentage of people who make New Year’s resolutions that will keep them. 25% of people will keep them less than a week. 

I never recommend making resolutions in the first place, I am far more partial to setting actual goals. Goals are much more concrete but you must remember that if you’re setting true goals then you’ll need to invest some time to develop a plan for achieving them too.

But if you insist on making New Years resolutions at least give yourself a chance to keep them. 

Here’s how:

Make it simple. Many people make a long list of resolutions and when they fail at one the momentum, and motivation, to keep the others goes away. Make your resolutions small and easy to keep…. a little progress is better than no progress at all. 

For instance, don’t resolve to lose 25 pounds, resolve to leave a few bites on your plate at the end of your meals. Losing weight requires a life style change and those kind of changes seldom come from a simple decision or resolution. Leaving behind your lifelong membership in the clean plate club however can be much easier.

Be specific. This principle comes from the most effective goal setters. The more specific you are when stating your resolution the more likely you are to keep it. Specificity leads to an emotional attachment to your resolution and makes it easier to invest in…and keep.

Rather than say you’re going to “be a better person in 2016” state in very specific terms what behavior you will change or eliminate to make that happen. Don’t forget the simple part… a resolution to be more positive is too general to succeed and it’s also likely complicated. 

So resolve to smile more, make a conscious choice to smile often because it’s tough to be negative with a smile on your face.  Decide this very moment how many times a day you’re going to smile and then set an alarm in your smartphone to remind yourself. Every time that alarm goes off think of something that makes you smile. You’ll be surprised at how it can improve your attitude.

Share your resolution. Tell people who care about you that you made a resolution and ask them to help you keep it. Successful people are not afraid to ask for help, if you’re serious about your resolution then you’ll almost certainly need some help to keep it. 

Try and try again. Most people give up their resolution the first time they fail to keep it. If you fail to keep your resolution on a Monday then make it anew on Tuesday. If it was worth making once then it’s worth making again. If it’s a self-improvement resolution you’re better off keeping it half the time throughout the year than you are keeping it all the time for the first few days of the year. 

Eight percent is a relatively small percentage but being part of it can make a big difference for you in the new year. It’s never easy to succeed but if it’s truly worth it to you then you’ll do more than make a resolution, you’ll keep it too. 

Achieve.JPG

The Limiting Nature of Goals

I am a big believer in the power of effective goal setting. I’m an even bigger believer in the power of effective goal achieving.

Research has shown that people with true goals and a specific plan for how to achieve their goals are far more likely to achieve success in life, however it is that they define success. They just “do” better in most every area of their lives.

Just to be clear, dreams are great but they are not the same as goals. Goals are written out, with a plan and a timeline for achieving them. If you’re going to write out your goals and NOT make a specific plan for how to achieve them…. well, there’s really no reason to write them out, they are more of a dream than a goal.

Goals, as helpful as they are however do not guarantee success. They can actually even limit our success. Within the past two weeks I’ve had a couple of high performing salespeople tell me they were way ahead of their plan. They were going to make their year “easy.”

They would be able to coast thorough their selling season and still make their year. The heart of their selling season hadn’t actually started yet and they were thinking coast mode already. That’s not good.

Maybe their goals were set too low in the first place, maybe they happened upon an expected sales windfall, maybe they just worked their butt off early in their year. But how they got so far ahead of their plan is irrelevant, their goal has become a limiter of their success.

Sometimes when we reach a goal we give ourselves the mistaken idea that we are somehow done, complete, finished, mission accomplished.

I’m all for taking a breath and relaxing a bit upon the achievement of a hard earned goal. But don’t just quit, don’t stop working, don’t stop improving. Set some new goals.

Your goals, true goals anyway, should be alive, they should grow and change with the circumstances of your life. My long-range goals are different than they were just a couple of years ago and even short-term goals should be adjusted if your situation warrants it.

Goals are intended to push us forward, to inspire and encourage us. Never let an achieved goal prevent you from achieving even more. Successful people continue trying to be even more successful, they continue to challenge themselves with ever more difficult goals.

The achievement of one goal should be the first step in the setting of another. Keep goals in front of you and and you’ll keep your success there too!

Stop.JPG

Stop Before You Start

Geez, what happened to 2014? It went fast didn’t it? I hope it was a productive and prosperous year for you. I hope you kept all your resolutions and achieved all your goals. I hope!

Hope is nice but it’s no substitute for an actual plan.

If you’re like the vast majority of people, your resolutions were toast before you received your first paycheck in 2014. If you set goals your odds were somewhat better. If you set goals along with developing a plan for exactly how you would achieve them your odds of reaching them were actually pretty good.

If your plan included what you would stop doing in order to start doing something more productive then your odds of achieving your goals in 2014 were excellent.

Most of us are very busy people, we just don’t have much free time on our calendars. Yet when setting goals for the coming year we just add more to the mix. To be more successful we will start doing_____________. Go ahead and fill in the blank.

Do your goals for 2015 include starting new habits, starting new activities, starting new projects? Well that just isn’t realistic unless you first plan to stop doing something too.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve joined fitness clubs. I budgeted the money to pay for it, but not the time to use them. It was just one more thing that I didn’t have time to do. To be a bit more precise, it wasn’t that I didn’t have the time, I just didn’t make using the clubs a priority. To use them, I would have had to stop doing something else, I CHOOSE not to do that. It wasn’t really a concious choice but it was a choice just the same.

Unless you found yourself with an abundance of time in 2014 it’s foolish to add more to your “to-do” in 2015. Before you add anything new, take something off.

So let me suggest you begin your 2015 planning by making a “Stop-doing” list. A list of those “things” that you do which get you little or nothing in return. Make a concious choice about how you invest your time in 2015. Open up some time in your day to begin doing some new things that help you reach a goal.

Your success in 2015 might not determined by what you do; it may well be determined by what you don’t do any longer.

Goals.PNG

Will 2015 be Better for You?

They are here! The “Holidays” have arrived. The days of the holiday season seem to go by much faster than the rest of the year. Before we know it 2015 will be upon us. Soon, people will be wishing us a Happy New Year and we’ll be hoping for a brighter 2015 for ourselves and those we care about.

Stop hoping. Start doing.

Now is the time to set goals for 2015 and the rest of your life. Research shows that 84% of people have no formal goals. They have plans, dreams, hopes and of course, the ubiquitous good intentions but not true goals.

True goals are written out objectives, along with an almost daily plan for how you will achieve those objectives. True goals are what high achievers use to get ahead. True goals are what successful people use to motivate themselves.

I could write pages on how to set goals but there is already enough info online that covers the subject better than I could. So here’s a different kind of help, a 2015 kind of help.

Here are three apps that can help you determine just how successful 2015, and the rest of your life will be.

GoalsOnTrack. Perhaps the most robust goal-setting app available, it allows you to record your goals, your personal motivations, start and end dates, sub goals, habits and most importantly, action plans.

It will sync with Google Calendar and Outlook and you can create goal templates within the app as well. It’s not the prettiest of the goal-setting apps but it’s very effective.

LifeTick. My goals are based on my Core Values. The beauty of this app is you begin the goal-setting process by defining your own core values, after all, these are YOUR goals.

Once you have determined your Core Values the app will walk you through the SMART goals process and then add the steps required to help you actually achieve the goal. It lets you keep track of your goal achieving activities and let’s you add notes too.

One big difference is that it is multi-user so others can be part of your goal setting process, this is great for couples. The big downside of this app is that it’s desktop based and in my experience life is mobile.

Strides. This is a great looking app and it has excellent dashboards. It’s like looking at your life on a Smartphone screen. This is more of a habit tracking program than a true goal-setting app but it understands that there are different types of goals and allows you to track the activities required to achieve them. It’s not free (3.99) and it is only available for iOS at the moment.

There are other apps you can check out, which one you choose matters less than the fact that at least your thinking about and planning your future.

Start now and take your time. Goal-setting can, and should be time consuming. You are after all planning the rest of your life. Research conducted by AAA says that the average person will spend 40 hours planning a two-week vacation. Research conducted by me says the average person will spend 0 hours planning the rest of their life.

Don’t be average!

Productive.JPG

Busy Isn’t Always Productive

Are you a busy person? Are you always “on the run” from the time your feet first hit the floor until your head finally returns to the pillow? Is there always “stuff” left to do at the end of the day?

If you answered yes to those questions then there’s no doubt about it; you are indeed a busy person.

Now let me ask you a completely different question. Are you a productive person? Does your busyness lead to a result. Put simply, do you get stuff done? Do you know how you got it done and most importantly, do you know why it should have been done?

If you answered yes to those questions then you are likely a productive person. You are also very likely to be a successful person. Merely busy people are seldom truly successful; productive people almost always are.

Busy people are always working; productive people are always working towards something. That something is usually a goal or at minimum a desired outcome or result.

Here’s the deal with goals, if you don’t have goals, written goals, along with a fairly detailed plan on how you will achieve each one, then you don’t have goals. Not true goals anyway. Not goals you’re likely to achieve.

The most successful people have written goals, goals based on their core values. They work towards their goals every single day. Sometimes they take big steps towards a goal, some days it’s a tiny little step but virtually everyday it’s something.

Successful people know that if they didn’t get closer to a goal then their day may have been incredibly busy but it was not productive.

Goals allow you to have focus and focus is a key to success. That’s why the most successful people don’t buy into the folly of multi-tasking. Multi-tasking makes you busier, and less productive all at once. Few things actually waste more time than multi-tasking and few things save more time than focus.

I know there are multi-tasking people out there who will vehemently disagree with me on this but all the statistics and research are on my side here. Few things waste more time than multi-tasking. We use it when we’re “stuck” on something or there is something else we would rather be doing. We use it to distract ourselves from more important but less enjoyed tasks.

Here’s an interesting question to ask yourself a few times during each day: “Is what I’m doing at this very moment the most productive thing I could be doing?” If you answer honestly you’ll be shocked at how many times your answer is no. You might be doing something you like to do, you might be doing something that’s easier to do, you might even be doing something very productive, but that’s not the question. Is it the most productive thing you could be doing?

Now, take a breath. I understand that no one can answer yes to that question every time. In fact, I’d estimate that even the most successful people can answer yes less than half the time. But asking the question makes you more aware of how you are using your time. You won’t have to wonder “where the day went” anymore. You’ll know why you didn’t get done what really needed to get done.

One more thing, as you ask yourself that question keep in mind the words of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower who said “What is Important is Seldom Urgent and What is Urgent is Seldom Important.”

When deciding if you’re just busy or actually productive it helps to know the difference between merely urgent and truly important. That difference is found in your true goals.

Push Yourself

push_yourself_by_rp31-d3kfhtqSometimes we just need to take it easy. The Eagles even wrote a song about it. They say to “lighten up while you still can.” That’s good advice.

The advice is so good in fact that some people seem to over do it. Some people attempt to take it so easy that they make their life much harder than it needs to be.

As much as I endorse some “down” time, and actually coach people to schedule it into their calendars, I also remind them of that old saying “too much of a good thing.” The rest periods and time away from work are meant to prepare us for our next push towards productivity and success. See that? It says “push” towards success.

The fact of the matter is that in today’s business world we are all pushed. The question is, will we be the ones doing the pushing or we will be the ones pushed by someone else. If we don’t push ourselves, for our own purpose then we will surely be pushed by someone else for theirs.

Most people, sadly, are pushed by someone else. This happens for a variety of reasons but I think one of the biggest is a lack of goals. Goals give people a reason to push. Goals offer us a reward after a long period of pushing. Goals even provide us the fuel we need to continue pushing when we want to stop.

It’s a simple fact of life: goal oriented people are more successful than people who just coast through life without true goals. TRUE GOALS! Those are the kind of goals that have made it onto paper. They are written down along with a time line on when they will be achieved. They also have a very specific plan that states how the goal will be achieved. The plan includes the investment we are willing to make to achieve the goal and that investment is listed in terms of both money AND time.

For many goals the money investment is the easy part, at least when compared to the time investment. If the goal is real then you must block out time to work towards it. All time is expensive, that means there is no free time. That’s why the stuff you plan to do in your free time never really gets done.

When you commit yourself to achieving goals you will push yourself, sometimes you will push yourself well past what you thought were your limits.

So, are you ready to push yourself or will you just sit back and wait for someone to push you? You’re going to be pushed, how and why you’re pushed, like pretty much every other part of your life is completely up to you.