Archive for the ‘Goals’ Category

New Stuff

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

It’s been a few days since the last post. There’s a reason for this emptiness in our collective lives, and I’d like to explain:

I started Motivated Performance as a purely selfish exercise. Yes, I wanted to see how many subscribers and readers I could attract, and yes, I wanted to learn more about “monetizing” a blog. But my main purpose was to simply get thoughts down “on paper”.

By writing about subjects that interest me, I learn more about the subjects that interest me. This is an exercise that serves me first and others second. (Selfish, I know…)

But the “serve others” part isn’t working out in a way I’m happy with. There are lots of sites that focus on personal development and improvement and some a very good. I try to keep tabs on both the good and the bad to learn about the subject (my main interest) while also learning about delivering the message (my secondary objective).

Unfortunately, folks that write for a living have to make a living. (That is the point, right?) To do so, these otherwise good writers use the latest techniques and “methods” to drive readership and subscription numbers. I do not write for a living (I’d be broke), but I have noticed a trend amongst those that do: the “list”.

A numbered or bulleted list is allegedly the sure-fire way to deliver the message (and thus attract readers). This may or may not be true, but it’s been deemed “effective” in the blogosphere. As a result, posts that might otherwise contain great ideas delivered in a great manner are turned into “lists” in the hopes of ending up on the front page of some social networking site. Yuk.

It’s particularly troubling to see this kind of behavior in a niche that’s allegedly focused on individuality and creative self improvement. As a group, the writers and readers that are interested in improving their lives are not supposed to behave like a bunch of lemmings.

I’m not interested in conforming to these “latest” ideas and/or methods, and I’m not interested in producing work that looks like everyone else’s work. I’m also not going to work to “stay focused” on a specific topic (personal development) when the subject matter seems to be suffering a degree of commoditization. Wow…I hope that’s a word.

As such, a lot will stay the same here, but some stuff is going to change. First, a redesign is in order. I threw this site together in days with the help of a web designer/developer. I think he did a good job (given the time constraints and that he had to work with a neophyte like me), but an update is in order. It’s coming.

Second, the purpose of the initial exercise has been accomplished. In the first 30 days of this site’s existence, I did what I set out to do. We’ll continue posting on personal development and self improvement, but we’re also going to post on just about anything we want.

Much of this will revolve around current events. Individually, we really can’t produce much change in the world (with rare exceptions). But collectively, if we’re on top of “what’s happening”, and if we take the time to educate ourselves, we can change a lot. Power shifts from the governed (where it belongs) to the government when we get lazy. Let’s not be lazy.

So! Get ready for a change. Actually, get ready for a couple of changes. It’s going to be fun!

Learn from a child (redux)

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Okay, I’ve been asked about my son that was mentioned in yesterday’s post. I’ll try not to sound like a proud parent, and I’ll be brief:

From the age of seven, my son knew he wanted to attend one of the military academies. First, it was the Air Force Academy, then West Point, then the Naval Academy. (West Point was very, very brief.)

He planned on being a fighter pilot, then a Special Forces team member, then a Navy Seal. When I asked him why he decided against being a pilot, he told me “if I can’t fly fighters, I’ll be a glorified taxi driver. Not interested.” He has since decided that he’ll train as a Seal AND attend flight school.

So what can we learn from this youngster/now-young-man?

From the start, he knew he had to set goals. Okay, so he’s a kid with goals. Big deal.

But then, and on his own, he began to break down his Big Goal into “sub-goals”. The sub-goals he broke down into small, manageable, and measurable steps. Then, to double check his plan of attack, he devoured every bit of information that he could that identified what the “perfect” Academy candidate looked like. Then he became that candidate.

He was always a good student, but he decided to really apply himself in mathematics and the sciences. When he didn’t take AP English, I questioned him about it. His response? “Doesn’t matter, Dad. I’m better off focusing on AP Sciences and AP Calculus.”

He was always active and played various sports. But being prepared for Buds training (the prerequisite of the Navy Seal program) means being very, very physically fit. He started running, and ultimately he was named Captain of his Cross Country team in his Junior and Senior years and Captain of his Track team in his senior year. He’s not a big fan of ab work or push ups, but he works out every morning trying to improve the number of sit ups he can do in two minutes and the total number of push ups he can max out.

To mix it up a little, he took up Fencing. He’s Captain of that team too. He’s a State ranked fencer (Top Ten) with hopes of being Number One this year. To prepare for fencing, he started doing exercises and footwork drills over the summer between 6th and 7th grades. Fencers don’t touch a weapon until they reach High School in his program, and they rarely compete until their junior year. Starting as early as he did was not very exciting. But! He was a Varsity fencer in his freshman year due to his early preparation before Middle School.

Everything he did was done with a purpose and a goal in mind. He decided to join Sea Cadets (a kind of junior, Junior ROTC program). He attended Boot Camp after his freshman year. Out of 140 cadets (many much older than him), he was named Honor Cadet of the program. The following summer he was named Honor Cadet of each training session he attended.

Is he a natural? Far from it. This kid will do whatever it takes to succeed. He works harder than anyone else in the family to accomplish the things that he does. And he never loses sight of the ultimate goal.

Break the big things down into little steps. Prepare, prepare, prepare.  Be honest with yourself and be accountable. Have fun. Enjoy your success. These are the things I see my son do on a daily basis, and I am inspired by him and I learn from him every day.

He is one amazing young man. And yes, that’s a biased opinion.

Different Circumstances; Different Approach

Monday, January 28th, 2008

In my business (one of them), there are many industry “standards” that don’t make a whole lot of sense. One of those is the “rush”.

A client will call in, or fax, or email an order, and somewhere on the order will be the word RUSH. Better yet, we often see SUPER RUSH. What does this mean?

RUSH can mean a bunch of different things. It can mean “I need it in ten days” (in which case it’s not a rush), or it can mean “I need it today” (most certainly a SUPER RUSH). Without more information, it’s impossible for us to know.

Most of my competitors address the RUSH quandary by simply picking their own delivery date. “I guess he needs it in a couple of days…” That makes a lot of sense, right? (No wonder we run circles around our competitors).

We call the client and ask for a specific drop-dead date. Sometimes a rush really isn’t. By calling, we’ve clarified the time-frame and we’ve saved everyone a lot of headaches. We’ve also had a chance to be professional in the eyes of our clients.

In these kinds of circumstances, it is absolutely imperative that you get as much detailed information as possible.

When it comes to your goals, the opposite is true (almost). Yes, you want to make your goals specific. Yes, you want to have a deadline. Yes, you want to be accountable along the way. I’m not suggesting that you “wing it” entirely.

But I am suggesting that you allow room for a little “faith”. What’s this mean?

It means that you pick a goal, you pick a deadline, and you let the rest work itself out. If you choose your goals wisely, and if you allow all of your senses to get actively involved (“I can see my success, I can feel it, I can smell it, I can taste it”), if you can visualize your world once you’ve succeeded in reaching your goal, your brain will take care of the details.

If you’ve read The Secret (good book), or if you’ve read any of the many books that discuss the Law of Attraction, you know that there is this idea of “the universe” and “vibrations” at work. The Universe responds to the vibrations (the feelings) you’re putting out, and it delivers that which is most dominant in your mind. The Universe works in the background, and it works in profound ways.

Whether or not you understand or believe in these ideas, I know you’ve experienced something good that “just happened”. You can’t explain it; you didn’t put any effort into it. It “just happened”.

That’s often a result of your mind working in the background to untangle some problem or address some challenge. Learn from this kind of experience; let your mind do its thing.

When setting goals, it’s often best to set a really big one and let the rest work itself out. A common example of this is when Kennedy proclaimed that the US was going to the moon by the end of the decade. We didn’t have the technology, we didn’t know how we were going to do it, but we knew we were going to. We accepted this on faith. We took the leap.

Sometimes you need to drill down to the finest, most minute details in life. But sometimes, especially when it comes to the big picture, you’ve got to just let it happen.

Goal Realized

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Heather Davis lost 110 pounds in 12 months.

She didn’t start an elaborate training program.  She didn’t get nuts about her diet.  She simply decided to change the way she approached food and exercise — a little bit at a time.

Heather didn’t get bogged down in the details.  She knew what made sense, and she worked in little steps.  The little steps really added up!

If weight loss is one of your goals, CNN is doing a series on eight people who were successful in losing weight — a lot of weight.  One guy lost 300 pounds!

Check it out here.  And take Heather’s advice: “don’t let anyone tell you ‘you can’t’…you can.”

Lists, How-to’s, Guides, and Links

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

I keep tabs on a handful of blogs I feel are well written and informative. I also monitor blogs that allegedly tell us all how to blog. Then there are the blogs that tell us how to make money blogging…

It’s a little too much sometimes.

Maybe…maybe someday we’ll do a list or a how-to. According to the “experts”, the quickest way to make it on one of the social networking sites is to pop out a list. Once over that hurdle, readership skyrockets and bank balances balloon.

That would be pretty exciting.

Links to bigger, better-read blogs are effective for cranking up readership too. Our commenting on a bigger blog’s post…

Maybe tomorrow.

Stick This?

Friday, January 18th, 2008

In the world of motivation and productivity, I suppose nothing should surprise me. Money has been spent, lost, or wasted by people trying to find a magic bullet for their lives, and money has been made by those claiming to have the bullet for sale.


But now there’s a new twist: Stickk. Developed by some Yale folks (smart people), Stickk encourages you to “put a contract out on yourself”. In a nutshell, you make a bet with yourself and you select a referee. If you achieve your goal (monitored by said referee in weekly steps), then you’re not losing money. If you fail, the money goes to a friend, relative, homeless person, or other worthwhile charity that you select. The money can even go to an “anti-charity”; if you hate guns, for example, your hard-earned cash can go to the NRA if you fail to reach your goal.

Interesting, huh? I’d certainly say so.

But if you need this kind of motivation to reach your goals, you’re probably not doing a good job of figuring out what’s important to you and what matters. The Stickk approach can be fun, I’m sure. But it should not be a necessity.

Resolution Meltdown

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

It’s that time of year again…time for those New Year’s resolutions to be tossed out the window! You failed, baby!


Oh, the disappointment. The frustration.

Week Three of the New Year is when gym attendance levels drop back to normal, diet commercials on television are replaced by commercials proclaiming “diets don’t work”, and that snazzy new organizer is lost in a pile on your desk. What happened?

First, realize that you’re not alone. There’s a reason the gyms get quieter, diet commercials go away, and so on — this is a very common time period for “failure”. Some “experts” say that for a habit to have any chance of becoming permanent, one must engage in said habit for 21 days. Others claim that 30 days is the magic number. Regardless of which number you choose, you’re getting close to prime fail time.

Personally, I think 30 days is the time you should invest in any change in your life. But! I also think that 21 days is the center of the “trap”. This is the time period where failure is most likely, and as such, it’s the time that we really need to put our heads down and stay the course.

Before you give up, and before you get depressed and down on yourself, remember to take another (fresh) look at your resolutions. Is each one really important to you? Can you see, hear, taste and smell what it feels like when you reach your goal? Are you visualizing success? Do you still get excited by suceeding?

Some of those resolutions might have been decided in haste. Reevaluate, double check the plan of attack, and enjoy the feelings today that success will bring tomorrow. Stick with the resolutions that make sense and toss the others guilt-free.

Psychological Stunts

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Brad Isaac is sharing a series he calls 101 Goal Setting Breakthroughs 2008.

Today he writes about visualization and optimism and how both relate to achieving your goals. In typical Brad fashion, he has a lot of ideas! Check out today’s post here.

I’m going to let Brad do the talking today (and I’m going to engage in the dreaded “yeah, what he said”…see the archives if that line confuses you). Anyway, I’m going to spend the day like I did yesterday — celebrating the birth of a son to our close friends Sami and Jacqui.


The Branson Outlook

Monday, January 14th, 2008

A family member (thanks Mom!) was kind enough to give me a copy of Richard Branson’s Screw it, Let’s do it for Christmas. I’m not always a huge Branson fan (he’s a bit of a showman for me), but Mom said the book came highly recommended.


It’s a very quick read, and it’s very straight-forward. I don’t think Sir Richard was trying to do anything more than share his views on life (and he avoided the typical showmanship in doing so).

In my opinion, we tend to over complicate our lives. Here’s Branson’s list of key points to make life a bit less complicated and less difficult:

  • Just do it (a “borrowed” phrase, I suppose?)
  • Think yes, not no
  • Challenge yourself
  • Have goals
  • Have fun
  • Make a difference
  • Stand on your own feet
  • Be loyal
  • Live life to the full

There’s a bit of redundancy in that list, so let’s focus on the basics: we should have challenging goals that are fun for us while making a difference as we see it. We’ve got one shot at life, so let’s get the most out of it and let’s never “settle”. Be positive, and act! Do!

How’d I do? Branson’s ideas aren’t necessarily new, but the ideas have been put into (successful) action. That’s good enough for me. You?

Another Pause

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Writing at Dumb Little Man today, David Bohl presents a different point of view than the one presented here over the past few days. (This love, happiness, and productivity stuff sure is popular at this time of year…).

Get the other side of the story here.

You are free to reach your own conclusions (obviously), but I think David is taking a halfway approach. (I am not bashing the guy! I’m simply disagreeing with his conclusions in a mild kind of way…).

Life is not an either/or proposition. You may not necessarily love what you do today, but you can certainly aspire to ultimately do something you truly do love. The student/required course work scenario discussed earlier is a perfect example of this idea in action.

Many things in our lives are parts of the journey towards our ultimate goal. These “things”, and even our goals, are not static — goals will change or be modified, things we feel are important today may not seem so important tomorrow.

What we’re really talking about is a mindset. An attitude. A way of life. You don’t have to “accept” anything. You can do, or be, and become anything you choose.

That includes being in love with what you do and being happy.

(Steve Jobs is going to tell us more in the next post.)