Resolutions vs. Goals

dreamstime_xs_92607184I’m not a resolutions person.  It seems that too often I make a resolution at the beginning of the year to do something big, set it aside, and never look at it again.  For me, resolutions are passive because I don’t act on them.

I prefer goals.  For me, goals are active.  First there is goal-planning and then developing strategies for goal-implementation.  Goals, or at least strategies, are also active in that they are fluid.  They change.  If one strategy doesn’t work, I try something different.  If many strategies don’t work, then I look at whether I need to change the goal.

The important thing, of course, is that we accomplish what we want.  If making resolutions work for you, great.  If goals work better for you, that is great as well.  Do whatever works for you to make 2018 the year you want.

Show What You Know

dreamstimefree_2404805My husband and I went to a baseball game recently.  Listening to the National Anthem brought back a memory from grade school.  The experience turned out to be one that probably shaped my life more than I thought.

I was in 5th or 6th grade.  The teacher gave us an assignment for the next day:  learn “The Star Spangled Banner.”  I was more than a little concerned—that’s four long verses!  When I got home and told Mom, she told me I’d better start working on it.  After supper, she helped me.  By the time I went to bed, I had the entire anthem memorized.  I didn’t really understand all of it, but I had the words memorized, and in the right order.

At school the next day, the teacher called on my classmates to recite the song.  One by one they went to the front of the class and recited anywhere from a few words to a few lines.  A couple may have recited the first verse.  That was it!

I remember wondering what I should do.  I knew the entire anthem.  That was the assignment and so that’s what I did.  Part of me thought I should stand up and demonstrate what I had done and what I knew.

But part of me wanted to belong.  I didn’t want to stand out from everyone.  I didn’t want to be different.  It would be easy to recite less than what I knew—maybe one verse.  That would be a good compromise, wouldn’t it?  Demonstrate some of my knowledge while not being too different.

I still hadn’t decided what to do when the teacher called my name.  As I was walking to the front of the class, though, I decided to do it.  I had spent the entire evening learning it, Mom had spent time helping me, why shouldn’t I show what I knew?

When I finished all four verses, there was a brief silence (and I thought, “Oh no!  What did I do?!”) and then wild clapping.

My classmates didn’t care that I learned more than they did.  They weren’t going to shun me for that.  It was all good!

I think it is good to show what we know.  If we don’t, no one will know except us.  And others need to know if we are going to succeed.  I have since learned that it’s important to be respectful, to use a certain amount of courteousness and tact at times, but don’t be afraid to show what you know.

Girls’ vs. Boys’ Expectations

dreamstime_xs_7301740There are several things I think we should consider related to expectations.

  • What do we expect of girls compared to what do we expect of boys?
  • What do girls and boys expect of each other based upon our expectations?
  • What do girls and boys expect of themselves based upon our expectations?
  • Actions speak louder than words.

I think many people, if asked what they expect of boys, would say things like responsible, independent, self-sufficient, active.  I think that many would say that they expect girls to be nice, nurturing, caring, compassionate.

There is nothing wrong with any of these things.  They are all good things to be.  So why wouldn’t we want to encourage all children to be all these things?  And yet do we do this?  Or are our expectations driven by stereotypes?

We may state in words that we think girls should be independent and self-sufficient.  However, if we continue to do things for her rather than letting her do them for herself, our actions are stating that we want her to be dependent.  Have you ever found that you step in to help a girl with something sooner than you would a boy?  Why?  To take this a bit further, do you reward independence the same way you reward obedience?  Do you expect girls to be more obedient than boys?  Do you expect boys to be assertive when in the same situation you expect girls to be passive?

It is important that we stop to think about what our expectations of boys and girls really are.  Then we need to think about what our actions are really communicating.  Are we sending mixed messages?  Actions do speak louder than words.

Perhaps the most important reason that we need to be aware of our expectations is that children so easily adopt our expectations as to what other people should be and what they, themselves, should be.

(Notice the picture.  What expectations does that set?  That boys can be doctors but girls can only be nurses?  I don’t mean any disrespect to nurses.  I just want to point out that this is a subtle way that expectations are set and stereotypes are continued.)

Gems or Gravel?

Gems or Gravel? (Video Link)

dreamstime_xs_45482889When people give you advice, it is important to sift through the gravel to find the gems.

I learned this several years ago when I belonged to an association. The members were very friendly, helpful, and full of advice. I took in everything everyone told me and tried to apply it all. It did not work.

I realized that although everything they gave me were “gems” to them, because these things had worked for them, not everything was right for my situation. Of the advice I received, some could be considered precious gems and worthwhile to implement quickly. Some advice was more in the line of semi-precious gems, advice that was worthwhile to implement at some point, but not a priority at the time. And some advice, for my situation, was gravel and best discarded.

I spent quite a bit of time and money trying to implement everything. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I realized that it would have been better had I analyzed every piece of advice first to see if, for me, it was a gem or gravel.

When people offer advice, be careful not to use the gravel. Do not discard everything without analyzing it first, however, because there probably will be some gems in there somewhere.

Road Maps and Signs

Road Maps and Signs (Video Link)

dreamstime_xs_42580843When we travel, we need a road map. We need a plan to tell us how to get from where we are to where we want to go. We also need road signs. The signs tell us where we are. By comparing the signs to the map we know where we are and what we need to do to get to where we want to go. If the signs tell us that we are somewhere that we did not plan to go, then we know we need to do something to get back on our route.

In our lives, we also need maps and signs. Our maps are our plans—where do we want to go, what do we want to accomplish, how do we get there? The “signs” are those indicators that tell us if we are moving toward our goals or not. For example, are we meeting our sales objectives for the week, month, and quarter? Are we meeting our objectives for contacting new customers? Are we meeting our profit objectives for the period?

Our objectives might also be personal objectives. Are we saving the planned amount each week for a major purchase? Have we made reservations for a vacation? Are we spending the time we had planned with family or friends?

Unfortunately, it can sometimes be very easy to continue to “drive” without checking the “signs” when it comes to our professional and personal lives. Just because we are busy does not mean that we are any closer to our goals. We might just be driving in circles.

Do you routinely check the “signs” that indicate where you are in relationship to where you want to go?

It is 2015; What Have You Done?

hIt is 2015, another new year.  Have you made your goals and plans for this year?  Have you done anything to accomplish them yet?  Are you doing even one thing differently this year than you did last year to achieve what you want this year?

It is easy to get excited about another new year, about the things that we will do this year that we have not done before.  The difficulty is in carrying out the plans.  We still have all the day-to-day commitments and tasks that we did a week or two ago.  Nothing has changed, except the number on the calendar.  Nothing will change, if we do not change.

Most people do not accomplish their New Year’s resolutions.  Do not be one of them!  Commit now, implement your plans now, to achieve the professional and personal success you want in 2015.

Time Wasters

dreamstimefree_24395Time Wasters (Video)

We all have time wasters.  We all have things that we like to do that does not give us anything in return.  We cannot succeed if we spend time on these items instead of working.

By time wasters, I do not mean hobbies.  We all need to do things to relax, to take our minds off of work, to connect with other people, to grow ourselves in ways other than professionally.  These things help make our life richer.

By time wasters I mean those things that we do that do not contribute to our lives in any way.  For example, my time waster is spider solitaire.  I do not even know why I like it.  I do not like video games and do not like games in general.  But for some reason I like spider solitaire.

So is it a big deal?  A game only takes 5-10 minutes.  The problem is that those 5-10 minutes can really add up during the course of the day.  That is time spent that cannot be spent on anything else, work or hobby.

What time wasters are stealing time away from your professional or personal pursuits?  You cannot succeed by playing spider solitaire!

Worry, Friend or Foe?

hWorry, Friend or Foe? (Video)

I worry too much.  I worry that I worry too much!

Worry can get in the way of enjoying life.  If we spend time worrying about the future, we cannot enjoy the present.  Worry takes time and energy that we could use elsewhere.  We can accomplish more if we worry less.

And yet sometimes I wonder if maybe a little bit of worry is good.

If we are a little worried about our future, won’t we plan a little better?  Won’t we do a little more like get an education, work hard, put money away for emergencies, for retirement?

I know that I need to manage my worry.  I spend too much time worrying about things that never happen, and are not likely to happen.  But I think I will hang on to enough worry that I still feel a need to plan for the future.

Clean House or Change Oil?

hClean House or Change Oil? (Video)

In a previous blog I discussed work, hobbies, and required responsibilities.  Required responsibilities are those things that we are responsible to do for ourselves.  If we own a business or are self-employed, we have professional required responsibilities as well.  These are things that we need to do, but no one is going to pay us directly for them.  For example, we need to have a website, but no one is going to pay us directly for our website.  We need to work our costs into our selling price to cover our business expenses.

With required responsibilities, we can either do them ourselves or we can pay someone else to do them for us.  It is my responsibility to clean my house.  I have decided not to pay someone else to do it.  I am capable of doing it myself and it does not take that long to do.  It is also my responsibility to change the oil in my car.  I could learn how to do it, buy the necessary equipment, and determine where to dispose of the oil.  I have decided that it is a better use of my time to pay someone else to change the oil.

When I am trying to determine the best use of my time and money related to business, I often ask myself if it is similar to cleaning the house or changing the oil.  Some things, like writing and posting blogs, is similar to cleaning the house.  I have the capability to do it and can make the time to do it.  I also enjoy it.  (I enjoy writing; I hate cleaning house.  I just want to be clear on that.)

Other things, like designing a website, are similar to changing the oil.  I might be able to learn how to do it, but it will never be as good as if a professional did it and it will take me much longer to do it.  If I am designing a website that is time that I cannot spend elsewhere.  The money I would save doing it myself would probably be small compared to lost revenue.  And I would still have an inferior website.

In business, we have to decide what we can and should do for ourselves and what we need to hire someone else to do.  Too often I think people see only the business “expense” and try to do it themselves.  Many of these expenses are also investments in our business.  If we are going to make an investment, it should be the best we can afford.  This may mean contracting with someone else who can do it better and faster than we can.

Are there tasks you are doing that would be better contracted to someone else?

Business, Hobby, or Required Responsibility?

Business, Hobby, or Required Responsibility? (Video)

hWe do many things.  Most, perhaps all, can be divided into three areas:  business, hobby, or required responsibility.

The business area includes everything that we do for others that they are willing to pay us to do.  If we have a job, we get a paycheck in return for what we do.  The work we do has value to our supervisor or the company where we are employed.  If we are self-employed, our customers pay us to provide goods or services because these goods and services are valuable to them.  In my case, people pay me to speak at their conferences and they pay me for my book.

The hobby area includes those items that we do because we enjoy them, but no one is going to pay us to do it.  Or, they will not pay us very much.  Something to keep in mind is:  “Businesses are in business to make money.  If it does not make money, it is a hobby, not a business.”  (This is the best piece of information I learned at the University of Louisville when I got an MBA.)  I love to hike, but no one is going to pay me to go hiking.

Required responsibilities are those things that we are responsible to do for ourselves.  This includes everything from feeding ourselves to cleaning our homes to taking care of our pets and/or children.  No one will ever pay me to clean my own house; it is my responsibility.  And I will never pay someone to clean their own house; that is their responsibility.

With required responsibilities, it is our responsibility to see that they are done.  We can do them ourselves, or we can hire someone to do it for us.  We can clean our house, or hire a housekeeper.  We can mow our lawn, or hire a lawn service.  It does not matter which, so long as it is done.

How would you divide what you do?  What tasks are business, what are hobbies, and what are required responsibilities?