Don’t Slow Down

The New Year will soon be upon us. For some people 2015 can’t end soon enough, nothing seemed to go as planned and they are hoping for a fresh start in 2016.

Others wish this year would never end; they are basking in the glow of a very successful year and they are wishing it could last forever. Whichever group you find yourself in I have a message for you…. don’t slow down. Don’t slow jam your way to the end of the year. 

This is not the time of the year to take your foot off the gas. No matter what kind of year you’ve had so far remember, it’s only “so far.” You have another whole month to build yourself a foundation for a successful New Year. 

If you’ve had a great 2015 and decide to rest the remainder of the year it likely will take you a good while to get back up to speed as the New Year begins. Don’t waste the powerful momentum you’ve built for yourself by finishing your successful year on auto-pilot. Whatever you did to succeed in 2015 continue to execute in the same way throughout the month of December. While the prospect of some well deserved extra rest is enticing you’ll be glad you didn’t take the bait. You’ll begin the year with the kind of momentum that builds true success, the repeatable kind of success.

If 2015 wasn’t exactly the year you had in mind 11 months ago then stop only long enough to determine what went wrong. Take a long look at your plan…by the way if you don’t have a 2015 plan to look at I’d HIGHLY recommend you invest some time in December making sure that you have a realistic, executable plan for 2016 before January rolls around.

Assuming you had a plan examine it closely to see where it went off track. Did you remember to include a backup plan for when the inevitable unexpected and uncontrollable circumstances made your original plan unworkable? Stuff happens and you should plan on it happening to you. 

If 2015 didn’t go according to your plan did you remember to ask for help? Successful people are not afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. They identify well in advance the source of their help just in case it’s needed. Literally list the names of the people you’ll ask for help with your plan should it be required. 

One purpose of a good plan is to eliminate the “wonder” from your year. Successful people don’t “wonder” what they should do, who they should ask or where they should look for help. They “know” because they have prepared for the unexpected. If you found yourself hesitating when things went off course in 2015 it’s possibly because you were missing that key element of your plan. 

Don’t hope for a better 2016, plan on it! 

Successful people treat December as the last month of the year. The most successful people treat December as the first month of the New Year. Which would you like to be? 

Make the choice to finish 2015 strong and it may be the last great choice you make in 2015 …. or it just might be your first great choice for the New Year ahead. 

Unconventional Wisdom

Why do you do it like that? Because it’s always been done that way? Because that’s how “they” do it. Maybe it’s because conventional wisdom says that’s they way to do it. Conventional wisdom seldom leads to breakout success. Unconventional wisdom often does.

Things change! Pretty much everything changes!

Here’s a fun story that shows why we should always be thinking “why.” 

It’s Easter morning as a little girl watches her mom preparing the ham to go into the oven. The mom cuts a bit of ham off of each end before placing it it the pan for baking. The little girl asks her mom why she cut some ham from each end and the mother answers, “I’m not really sure why we do that dear, I do it because my mom always did it. Why do you go in the other room and ask Grandma.” 

So the little girl skips on into the family room and asks the same question to Grandma. Her answer is surprisingly similar, she says, “well I’m not really sure why, I always did it because that’s the way my mom always did it. Why don’t you go into the other room and ask great-grandma why she did it.” 

Off goes the little girl into the living room to ask the same question to her great-grandma. Her great-grandma answers, “well dear, I’m not sure why your grandma or mother cut a piece off of each end of the ham, I did it simply because I never had a pan big enough to put the whole ham in.” 

That’s just how it happens when we allow “we’ve always done it that way” to be part of how we do things. Anything! 

We’ve always done it that way is the absolute worst reason for doing anything a certain way.

Annual or repeating events are the most dangerous and most likely to become “habit” events. Never do an annual event without re-thinking every part of the event. Why do we do it? What must be better? What must be different? Should we do the event at all? 

Relentlessly re-think. Why? Why? Why?

Improvement requires some sort of change, even if it’s only doing the same thing better. We’ve always done it that way is not the way to improve anything. 

Even when you’re satisfied that something is “good enough” you must challenge your thinking. The most successful people know that good enough never is. “Good enough” is accepting mediocrity and once you accept mediocrity then excellence becomes out of reach. 

Stop thinking we do it this way or we do it that way and start asking why. Why? Why? Why not do it some other way? 

Be honest with your answers. If you don’t know why then find out. Accepting what is without determining what could be is just being lazy. 

Don’t be lazy and you just might become a success! 

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Once upon a time there lived a lovely princess named Snow White. Her vain and wicked stepmother, the Queen, feared that some day Snow White’s beauty would surpass her own. So she dressed the princess in rags and forced her to work as a maid. Each day the vain queen consulted her magic mirror, “Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”… and as long as the mirror answered, “You are the fairest of them all,” Snow White was safe from the Queen’s cruel jealousy.

Wouldn’t we all like a mirror that would tell us each day just how great we are. The thing is, some people really do seem to have one. They look in the mirror and the image they see is far different than the image they project to other people.

When we see ourselves we are most often crystal clear on exactly what we meant to say. We make good, appropriate decisions and when we look in the mirror we see somebody worth far more than they are being paid and someone not fully appreciated for the greatness they bring into the world everyday. We know precisely how to leverage our strengths and how to eliminate our weaknesses.

Or perhaps you look into the mirror and the person who looks back adds no value to their world, they are misunderstood and are destined to just wander through life until their time on earth is done.

It’s very likely that neither of those “reflections” is accurate. They are not accurate because hardly anyone sees themselves in the same way others see them. Their mirrors are not providing a reflection that truly shows the reality of their life.

So as we near the end of 2014 here is the best advice I could ever give anyone for a better 2015: get yourself an accurate mirror.

That “mirror” I’m talking about is actually a mentor or coach. Your mentor should be someone who cares about you enough to be open and honest with you about your strengths and weaknesses.

Your mentor needs to be self-reflective because if you want someone to share their wisdom with you, they need to have wisdom to share. Some people simply don’t spend much time thinking about their own experience. You’ll want a mentor that can explain what worked in their life AND why it worked. Your mentor can’t pass along what they don’t know so self-reflection is a key.

If you want a mentor that trusts you then you must be able to trust your mentor. In a good mentor relationship, you need to be able to be honest about your own life and circumstances – and you need to be certain that what you share won’t go beyond your mentor. If they can’t be trusted to keep confidences, your relationship will be superficial at best – actually damaging at worst.

If you’re brave enough to ask your mentor for advice then your mentor needs to be brave enough to give you a straight answer. Don’t look for a mentor who will sugar-coat the truth. Take your advice straight-up, with no sweetness and no politically correct wishy-washy coaching added.
Look for a generous, giving mentor, a mentor who truly wants the best for you. A true mentor will never feel threatened by your success. A generous mentor will invest the time required to help you become your very best. Your success will actually be a priority for them.

Some individuals may choose to hire a coach or a mentor. The same requirements apply; the one big difference is a professional coach may work with you for a predetermined amount of time, on one area of your life in particular or to help you achieve one big goal. Hiring a professional coach is not an expense, it is one of the best investments you can make, it’s an investment in yourself.

Either way you should know this: you will be more successful with someone to help you smooth out life’s bumps then you will ever be by going it alone.

I’m not sure I was clear enough with that so let me repeat it: you WILL be more successful with a coach or a mentor in your life than you will be without one. No matter how successful you are today you WILL be more successful when you add a coach or mentor to your life.

Got it? Then get one!

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!