Setting Goals and Making Them Visible

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When I was in high school, I wanted to get a computer.  Computers weren't nearly as inexpensive as they are now days.  The one I wanted represented about 15% of my fathers yearly salary at the time. It was much more expensive than what I could reasonably expect to save during the summer--even with taking on some extra odd jobs and saving every penny possible. I really wanted to have a computer when I started the next school year, so I decided to make that my primary goal for the summer. To help me focus on my goal, I set aside a savings account specifically for the purchase.  Using my parents' typewriter, I created a thermometer style graph showing how much money I had saved and taped … [Read more...]

High Goals and Expectations

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Everyone has a different idea about success. Many times our expectations are determined by the way we were raised and our interaction with our peers. These expectations can cause us to set artificially low goals. I know a man whose goal is to get his GED so he can get a job and make payments on a car. I just met a girl who has a goal to finish a 9-month cosmetology program so she can work at SuperCuts in front of Wal-Mart. When looking at your goals, make sure you understand the expectations you carry that influence the magnitude of those goals.  If no one in your family went to college, you will probably set your expectations for your education lower than someone whose parents … [Read more...]

Tuesday’s Tip: Surrounded By What?

Take a few moments to look around your work area. What have you surrounded yourself with? Does your environment help you focus on your long term goals and celebrate past achievement? Does your environment make you want to stay organized and productive? Most people put too little emphasis on their surroundings. I'm not saying that you have to spend all your time trying to create the perfect office, but you shouldn't ignore the things around you. Your productivity can be greatly influenced by your outlook, and your outlook can be greatly influenced by your surroundings. For years, I never had a picture of my wife on my desk at work. It wasn't that I didn't love my wife, but it just … [Read more...]

11 Steps in Becoming Educated for Your Dream Job

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I had quite a few comments about taking classes online in my post "17 Things You Should Stop Doing".  When LifeHacker linked to the article, they had even more comments from their readers. Many of the comments were negative, saying that you shouldn't take classes online. So, I wanted to take some time to talk about the best way for college to fit into your career. First, here is a little background about my education to give you an idea of where I'm coming from.  I have a bachelor's and master's degree in music composition (both taken at physical universities where I was sitting in class).  I am currently working on my thesis for a master's focused on software engineering that I took … [Read more...]

Setting Goals

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I attended a very small school where most coursework was done at your own pace.  To make sure you could graduate on time, the yearly work was broken down into 4 quarters of 9 weeks each.  The quarters were broken down into weeks and what you needed to accomplish each week was divided into each day.  Each student had a "goal card" in front of their work area showing their planned progress for the next day.  There was also another chart that showed their quarterly and yearly progress. As I sat at my desk, directly in front of me was all the information about my goals.  I could see a chart of my progress for the year, for the week, and for the day.  There was no escaping the focus on … [Read more...]

Making Habits of New Years Resolutions

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New Years resolutions  are a very familiar concept to most of us. The tradition of these habit-changing goals originated in ancient times in Babylon, according to most academic sources. The Romans picked up and carried on this tradition and interestingly enough, one common resolution was to ask forgiveness from enemies of the prior year. In Medieval times, the date for the New Year was changed several times, but was eventually returned to January 1st. Cultural Differences According to this article by Brooke Williams, some cultures take their New Years resolutions quite seriously. The Chinese, for example, have made house cleaning an important customary event on the first day of … [Read more...]

Stretching Yourself

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Take the time to do something hard.  Take the time to do something new. Your biggest surges of growth will come from stretching yourself.  You can stretch yourself in small ways by trying a new type of food, talking with a stranger, or watching a movie that is different than your norm.  You can stretch yourself in big ways by quitting your job and going into business for yourself. Regardless of how you go about it, you will grow more by stretching yourself on a consistent basis than by reading every self-help book you can find.  When you are looking for things to stretch your capabilities, here are a few things to keep in mind. What are the risks?  You need to understand the impact of … [Read more...]

Little by Little

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Often one of the biggest road blocks to our personal growth is that we feel we can't take on a new project until we have vast amounts of free time. The reality is that we will probably never have a couple hours of free time each day. However, if we can set aside just 15 minutes each day to dedicate to doing something we've been putting off for a better period of our life, these small investments will add up and go a long ways toward achieving our goals. For example if you want to learn a foreign language, practice a neglected musical instrument, read through the works of Shakespeare, or any number of enriching activities you probably don't feel you have enough time to start.  Most … [Read more...]

Define and Conquer

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There was an interesting experiment done by the American Pulpwood Association when they were looking to increase the productivity of loggers.  Half of the loggers were given a specific, high goal to achieve.  The other half were encouraged to do their best. The people who were assigned goals started bragging to one another as well as to family members as to their effectiveness as loggers. Productivity soared relative to those crews who were urged to do their best. Goal-setting instilled purpose, challenge, and meaning into what had been perceived previously as a tedious and physically tiresome task. A by-product of the goal intervention was that, within the week, employee attendance … [Read more...]

Habit List Course

The Habit List Course is now live.  You can signup below.  If you are reading this in an email, you may not be able to see the form.  Visit the site in order to sign up. Using the Habit List 30 Days - 10 lessons This course explains the Habit List–a method of tracking habits you want to develop that shouldn’t be on your regular to-do list. It explains the theory behind the list and includes the popular PDF allowing you to print your own Habit List. (In Testing: Signup Below for Beta) Name: Email: … [Read more...]

Gym Membership

My wife and I have been planning on joining the local gym for several months, but we've been on the road so much that it hasn't been practical.  Now that our travel schedule is slowing down we went ahead and filled out all the paperwork and signed up last week. When we turned everything in we asked about the schedule and what was the busiest times of day.  The receptionist told us, "oh January is really busy with New Years resolutioners, but they will all be gone by February." One of the biggest mistakes people make with resolutions is shooting too high.  Some people think, "if I shoot for 100 maybe I'll hit 51 which is better than if I shoot for 50."  In reality it doesn't work that … [Read more...]

Writing Down Goals

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Marston online has some comments on research related to productivity. The most interesting comment was: The researchers wanted to know what accounted for the dramatic difference between that top 3 percent and the others. They found that of all the possible variables, the only difference between the top performers and the rest was the the top 3% wrote down their goals. The research was done by the Ford Foundation, but I haven't been able to locate that particular study. … [Read more...]