everyday success


Checking In on Yourself

Twelve weeks from today is New Years’ Day 2018!  It’s hard to imagine that 2017 is almost behind us but I’m afraid it is – almost behind us.  We’re in the last quarter of the year and we’re racing towards the holidays.  Halloween is one thing, but in fewer than 7 weeks, it will be Thanksgiving and you know what happens after that.  In what feels like minutes, it will be Christmas and Hanukkah and a week later, we’re celebrating the start of the New Year.

It feels as if 2017 raced right by.  Before we know it, we’ll be thinking New Year goals and resolutions.  But what about this year’s?  Now is a very good time to look at 2017.  Has it been a good year for you?  A momentous year?  Or, have you encountered bumps in your road?  Take a moment to look behind and ask yourself:

What were the highlights of this year?  What will you remember forever from this year?  Did you meet a new friend, start a new job, have a new child or grandchild?  Could be you traveled or learned something new.  

As you think of the good parts, make note of each and remember to congratulate yourself for the role you played in making each of them happen, in making it a good year for you.

What were your challenges?  Some years may be better than others so, did you run into anything that made this year more difficult?  How are you managing?  Do you have the help you need to get you through?  Have you reached  out to others so you don’t have to manage alone?

There are so many other ways to look at your 2017 experience, here are a few more.

  • Goals  Did you start the year with goals you wanted to happen?  Did they happen?  If not, is there anything you can do in the weeks ahead to fix that?
  • Fun  Did you have fun or happy times during the year?  Did you make sure you smiled – and found things to smile about? 
  • Family & Friends  Our relationships make an immense difference in life.  What changed, either favorably or not, in your closest relationships?  What might you do in the next twelve weeks to strengthen or solidify these, especially with the holidays in mind?
  • Growth, Hobbies  It may look as if I’ve returned to the idea of having fun and you wouldn’t be wrong.  As you look back and then ahead to the remainder of the year, those things you do that are pure expressions of you – whether gardening or golf, hiking or learning a language – give us a deep and needed satisfaction.
  • Health  Checking up on your health is every bit as important as exercise and diet.  Do have need to check with your doctor, your dentist or anyone else?  How often do we mean to do these details but somehow our intense schedule gets in the way?  Remember you and your health!
  • Work and Money  What did you plan for your work this year?  Did it happen and, if not, what can you do between now and 1/1/18?  Whether we love our work or it is a means to an end, it does require your thoughtful attention.
  • Love Life  When you are married, partnered or otherwise committed, do you take time for just the two of you?  Taking time with your partner is immensely important.  Now, as a woman who didn’t marry til 50, I can assure those of you who do not have a current love, there is so much in our lives that is deeply fulfilling.  Instead of a romantic date, do the things in life you love doing.  I just bring up love life and romance because so many people forget to take time for the relationship.

We’ve twelve weeks during which we can add our own final spin on our year.  Plus, we’ll kick off our new year in strength.  May these be good weeks for you!

Success is Not Final

Success is not final, failure is not final: it is the courage to go on that counts.  Winston Churchill

It sounds so easy, you work hard and build your life, you go to school and establish a career, you meet your partner, buy your home and create a family.  Right?  Easy-peasy.  But then what, if you do all these things, is the rest of life just coasting?  What do you do over all those years?  Yes, you raise your kids, but that’s twenty years and then they’re off. 

It turns out that those early tasks are your training ground.  You are making habits that will serve you for your lifetime, habits of working to goals and making them happen.

It sounds so easy but things happen.  Companies get sold or they change their plans and let people go – not because the people weren’t good but because they were no longer part of the plan.  Sometimes we discover that we don’t even like our chosen career.  Or, marriages can fall apart.  Illness can happen.

Suddenly what seemed like a good life, one easily thought of as a successful life, can turn around. It can feel as if you’re veering of the road but you are not.  The thing that is so interesting about life is that it is not a straight line to nirvana.  There will likely be bumps but never, no never, think of them as failure.  It’s simply a time to reassess, roll up your sleeves and get to it.  It takes courage and it takes willingness to turn it around.

Another favorite quote comes from Amor Towles’ novel A Gentleman in Moscow, “If one does not master one’s circumstances, then she is bound to be mastered by them.”  When things go bump, it’s time to break out the courage and get on with it.

On the other hand, life doesn’t always take off at the beginning.  That’s terrible because it isn’t building your confidence in your success.  Still, it is not a lifelong sentence, frustration is not forever.  Remember to seek out a few people you admire and with them, develop a plan. Check in with them on your progress, make yourself accountable to the plan.  It’s mastering your circumstance and finding your success, your everyday success.

Failures Can Lead to Wins

One of the winningest basketball players of history, Michael Jordan, said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.”  Jordan tirelessly practiced his sport; yes, he was talented but he always worked at his talent.

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, the record player and batteries.  The inventive Mr. Edison described his path to success as loaded with discoveries.  He said, “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 

For Jordan it was practice.  For Edison it was a learning process.  We don’t see either as a failure; we only remember their wins because their ultimate wins were so big.  Edison also said that, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not know how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Too often, we think we should be able to get whatever it is we want to get immediately.  It’s easy to lose hope as we move along our path to whatever is in our sights, to our immediate goal.  Rather than lose hope, rather than give up, the answer is to narrow your focus and be willing to risk yet another attempt. 

Don’t let a failure foil your plan.  Allow for failure but don’t make it a habit.  Instead, ask yourself what caused the misstep; then, figure out how to improve on your next effort.  Success is often a matter of persistence and courage.


For more on how failure is often found on the path to success, read Megan McArdle’s just published The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well is the Key to Success or Innovate Like Edison by Michael Gelb and Sarah Caldicott.


Getting a “Fix” on Change

A recent FaceBook poster asked how she could fix her life.  To begin, I don’t know how to fix another person’s life – all my articles are about the tools and techniques I’ve used in my life.  Why do I do that?  Because one new idea just might spark a great idea for another person’s life.  In response, then, I’ll think about some of the things that have helped me in my life.

We are each a work in process.  We are learning about ourselves and our lives every single day. 

To begin, then, imagine yourself as an artist creating a beautiful work of art and that work of art is you.   Every single day you make choices and take actions.  Each choice we make, each action we take is much like an artist’s brush strokes; those choices and actions become an indelible part of our history.  Each day, we take responsibility; each day, we add to our self.

You are you with all the qualities that make you special.  Yes, you can make modifications by trying on different styles or altering your interests somewhat but your underlying beauty remains.  Each day, count the good things, your successes, the moments you smiled, the times you experienced sharing or the gift of yourself.

Life is not a smooth road.  We all make mistakes.  Often, we look at others’ lives and think, how come it’s so easy for them.  The truth is, it isn’t easy for any of us – we’re not in other people’s heads so we don’t know if the road they walk feels like silken sand or a bed of nails. 

What to do, then, if it feels as if a change is in order.  First, remember that life is a journey.  Each day can be a moment of change but change won’t happen in a moment.  Yes, we live in a world that demands instantaneous everything; reality, though, is that change is a step-at-a-time process.  Enjoy the path of change.  Embrace your successes, be kind about your missteps.

Identify the “fix” you seek.  Ask yourself about it.  Define what it is you seek and then make a list of all the steps you’ll take to get you to your goal.  What is the problem and what would be the fix?  Work on one thing at a time.  Everything takes time.  Back to our demand for the immediate: success is built on many small steps that you’ll take over time.

Enlist a confidant for your journey.  Make sure you chose someone who is a champion of you.

Be proud of the changes and choices and actions you take.  Enjoy your successes, appreciate that there will be difficulties along your path.  Always remember that you are the artist, the one responsible for your life. 

Now, when we are younger, we are not as certain of ourselves; we’re still learning about our self.  We’re not even certain that the choices we make or the actions we take are the right choices or actions.  We worry so, wondering just what we should do.  That is why it is helpful to keep your vision of yourself, that beautiful piece of art, in your mind.  To that vision, add your list of steps and actions that bring your vision to life.

This link takes you to The Journey of Life section of my website where you’ll find much more about change and habits and happiness.  Here’s hope we’ve sparked an idea for your life.  For now, my care and well-wishes are with each of you, my readers.

An Overnight Success

On YouTube, the Talking Twin Babies have 95 million views and First Kiss has 30 million views.  Those babies and kissers have reached phenomena level with something as simple as a few minutes of home video.  They even make money from the ads on these happy videos.

Facebook.  Dropbox.  Pinterest.  WhatsApp.  All were started by people who are still in their twenties.  Twitter’s founders are about 40.  Spanx was started by a woman who wanted different underwear.  Under Armour was started by a guy who didn’t like t-shirt material because his sweat made it too heavy.  Every one of these founders is a billionaire. 

It turns out that 75% of all billionaires in the world today, made their money themselves.  No inheritances for them; instead, they imagined a product they wanted and they made it.  Happily, other people thought their product ideas were pretty good as well.

The common thread for this group of people is that they ran with their idea.  They made it happen.  Another common thread is that each is pretty young.  Do these things mean they’re overnight successes?  Certainly, they have achieved notoriety.  Plus, some have significant financial success.  It’s also likely that each and every one of these people enjoyed their experience – following your passion can be fun. 

Whatever the path to success, whether it’s overnight or over years, those who’ve taken the path have worked hard as they brought their idea to life.  Some have a natural talent – maybe acting, singing or at writing code.  They may manage that gift to reach heights. 

Overnight success doesn’t even require natural talents.  With dedication and hours of hard work, a great idea can be nurtured to success.

Making Today a Success

What does it take to make it a great day for you?  What happens in a day when, at its end, you think, this was a success?

A day’s success is different than a lifetime’s success.  A lifetime is loaded with ways to measure success.  A day, those 24 little hours, are usually not quite so huge or complex.  That’s not to say that a day might not be momentous.  We have plenty of big days in our lives – graduations, weddings, meeting the one person we’ll love, job offers, the birth of a child and on and on. 

There are days that are significant but that’s not what we’re about today.  Today we’re thinking about your everyday, the days that are your more usual kinds of days.  What makes those days successful for you?  It’s a great practice to use today’s good and not so good events as a guide for tomorrow.

To get to daily success, though, means you’ll name the things you do each day that bring positive results and a sense of satisfaction.  Those are the things you make a practice, those are the things that become habit.

Conversely, make note of the things in your day that have a negative outcome or just plain don’t feel good.  Those are the things you’ll want to stop.

“There is no beginning too small.”  Those wise words of Thoreau’s prove themselves true over and over again.  My friend, Betty, while doing chemo, viewed her success in small chunks – we called it her “making it to lunch” approach to each day.  We looked at the events of her every day, we broke her day into small segments and that helped her confront adversity.

A day of success doesn’t just happen; instead, a day of success is yours to create.  A day of success is a source of happiness.

Making Change Happen - That Uncomfortable Feeling

You can see it in your mind, the you who has taken time to be calm, the you who is fit and ready for action, the you who is climbing that ladder at work – in every case you are winning the day.  You’ve made your plan, you are set for action.  You are ready for the change that will take you to that new place.

But, wait!  Did you remember to plan for the fact that you are changing you?  That’s right, the you who is a jangle of nerves from overload, you are going to make a change.  The you who is at her desk all day at work and when home munches on popcorn in front of the tube, you are going to make a change.  The you who sells herself short at work, you are going to make a change.

This is the hardest part of change.  We all know what we “should” do to be fit or calm or get promotions, even to save that down payment.  The hard part is that YOU ARE CHANGING YOU.

What to do?  First, don’t start with too big a goal and pay close attention to yourself with your first steps.  Did you forget to do what you wanted to do?  Or, did it just feel not quite right?  If you are known as the ‘yes’ person people can count on, how do you learn to say no?  If it’s your habit to diminish your value at work, you may stumble over the words or actions that change that. 

It feels uncomfortable

Whether you seek 5 little minutes of daily calm or a promotion or to stop playing computer solitaire, change takes you outside your comfort zone.  It’s new and it often doesn’t feel quite right.   Certainly not at the start.

That brings us right back to the fact that to make a change means you are changing you.  Your goal, then, is to make it become “right” and the only way for that to happen is to practice your change enough, to make the change you seek yours.  Yes, you’ll feel uncomfortable or squirmy or even testy.  But that won’t last.  If you let yourself move through, you’ll get to the other side where your change becomes your reality.

Start small and accept that your change won’t feel like you at the beginning.  With practice, you’ll likely surprise yourself, you’ll make it yours. 

Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit, tells of his personal effort to replace an afternoon cookie.  To begin, he kept a watchful eye, noticing his physical and emotional sensations when it neared the time for his daily cookie.  He realized he wasn’t just hungry for food, there was something more.  Ultimately, he replaced that cookie with an apple and a brief chat with a friend.  He ended up fulfilling both the physical and emotional need.

Find the things that fulfill you as you make your change.  Day by day, practice the new and distance yourself from the old.  Soon, you’ll find you are becoming more and more comfortable with the new.  Still, keep an eye out for those old ways, they’ll keep coming after you.  Use the strength you gained in making the change to foil any challenges to your success.

Making Change Happen – When Will You Get There?

Today, we are connected and in control.  That’s just the way it is and that’s also one reason change can be difficult.  We want things to happen now not six months from now. 

Successful change, however, means you’ve been systematic - you've gotten to your goal a step at a time.  That’s not always easy; a slow march to a goal can make us impatient.  Instead of impatience, shoot for a lot of small successes. 

Setting timelines

Some goals come with a date attached.  Your goal may be tied to a special event like a wedding or a marathon.  Maybe it’s a trip you are planning.  Or, you may be saving to buy a home.

Whether you have a specific date in mind or not, setting a timeline will help you as you get to your goal.  This is where you begin to move your imagined goal to your reality.

For many goals, there’s likely a number involved.  How many pounds you want to lose, how much you want to save for your trip or down payment, those are easy numbers to imagine.  But, what about quitting smoking?  It’s easy; you can name the number of hours, days and weeks you go without smoking.  Getting to a career can even be translated into a timeline.

With an event deadline, your timing is obvious and comes down to a simple formula:

Divide your goal (number of miles, pounds, dollars, etc.) by the number of weeks or months to the event.

If you want to lose twenty pounds in five months, that’s

20 pounds / 5 months = 4 pounds a month

Simply divide your goal (20 pounds) by the amount of time you have to achieve your goal (5 months).  The result?  To lose 20 pounds in 5 months, you’ll want to lose 4 pounds each month. 

To take it further, 5 months is 20 weeks.  Dividing 20 pounds by 20 weeks shows that at 1 pound each week for 20 weeks, you’ll reach your 20 pound goal.

If you need $2,000 for your trip and you’re leaving in 6 months, you’ll want to save about $80 a week or $335 each month. 

$2,000 / 6 months = $355 in savings each month

If your goal is to quit cigarettes, you’ll look at your timeline just a bit differently.  In fact, you don’t even need math to use numbers when quitting smoking.  You just need to count.  It’s been fifteen minutes since I had a cigarette.  It’s been 15 hours since I had a cigarette.  It’s been 15 days . . . and on and on. 

Why a timeline?
  1. With a timeline, you’ll quickly see whether your goal is too big or too small.  If you’re training for your first marathon, you can’t start with a 5-mile run.  Rather, you’ll build your endurance over time.  The same is true for savings.  You may want to have a down payment by the end of the year but can you save enough each month to get you to your goal?
  2. By breaking your big goal into smaller actions, your likelihood for success grows.
  3. With a timeline, you’ll reach lots of smaller goals/successes - each one to be celebrated.  That’s right, make getting to your goal fun.  With plenty of smaller successes, you are creating a strong foundation for longer-term success.
  4. With a timeline, you’ll build your confidence that you can reach your goal.
  5. With a timeline and multiple smaller goals, should you slip-up and miss a small goal, you can get back on track without blowing your big goal.

With a timeline, you can allow for a moment of failure without failure becoming a habit.  Small steps are the building blocks of success.

I Blew my New Year’s Resolve

It’s an unintended demonstration – and a pretty public one.  I blew one of my most important New Year’s resolutions, to blog three times a week.  What happened?  I failed to succeed because I failed to plan.  Well, I planned to write, I just didn’t plan what I would write.

To make change happen, to take your goal or resolution from an idea to the real thing, means you need to think ahead, you need to figure out what actions to take before you even start.

What can I do about it?  I can sit myself down at my computer and PLAN.  It’s time to dust off my disappointment and the embarrassment.  It’s time to start again.  But first, the plan. 

In my particular case, I didn’t break my goal into small easy steps – I didn’t make a list of the specific blogs I planned to write over the next few weeks.  Instead, I wrote a lot of stuff at the start but without a plan, none of it took shape into real blogs. 

What happened next?  It’s what happens to so many resolutions, I stopped writing.

Does it sound familiar?  It’s much like starting a diet or an exercise program.  It takes more than just a decision to make the change happen; first you need to plan how you’ll make your change happen.  Otherwise, it is so easy to stop.

I’ve worked out a plan.  Every week, I have to imagine blog subjects and make a list of the blogs I won’t even start for another two weeks.  Every week, I’ll think up three or four ideas for blogs a couple weeks down the road.  That way, I’ll have time to think about them before I write.  And, when I sit down to write, I’ll know what I’m supposed to write about.

It’s exactly the same as deciding to prepare for a marathon.  You’ve got your running shoes.  You plan to start running four days a week.  But did you plan on that storm?  Are you going to run in snow and ice?  What’s your back-up plan for a rainy day?  To make it still harder, what will you do to make sure you get your runs in and keep up your demanding work schedule?  With a plan, you can make it happen.  If you don’t have a plan, then what will you do when you open your door and all you see is an icy cold? 

It’s the same for a diet.  Have you planned what your family will eat while you are making changes?  Have you planned for diet boredom?  What will you do when you go out to eat with friends?  If you ask yourself these kinds of questions, if you think ahead, you’ll be ready to take on the world.

The weird thing is, it’s so easy.  Once you work out how you are going to make change happen, all you have to do is work your plan.  It’s time to get back on track.

Before Another Year: Planning for Reality

We’re wired.  We like things that are instantaneous.  We’re in a world where we want whatever we want right now. 

That makes resolutions pretty difficult.  Often, our resolutions are for goals that take time.  But, darn it, we want it right now.  Instead, we’re faced with doing it again and again week-after-week and month-after-month and that can be tough.  Making resolutions happen can get pretty boring.  That is why many resolution-makers give up by mid-March.

Making resolutions happen means you’ll embrace the reality of your goal.  When we lose weight, it’s two pounds a week – if we’re lucky.  If we’re training for a marathon, it takes months of running to grow our stamina.  If we’re saving for a down payment, it can take a year or two or three. 

All of this means that to win at resolutions, to get to your goal, you need a plan, a timeline and check-points.  Change can happen; count on it.  We’ll start with the plan and over the next few days, we’ll cover the timeline and ways to keep to your plan.

The Plan. 

Rather than dive into a huge goal, remember that there’s more to your goal than a decision.

Break your goal into small, seemingly easy steps.  Small goals are so much more achievable than one huge goal.  If it’s twenty pounds you seek, then look at it in five pound increments.  If it’s a marathon, start with 3 or 5 mile sprints.  If it’s a down payment, celebrate each and every $1,000 you set aside.  That’s right, the  other benefit from taking small steps to your goal – you congratulate yourself for every single success along the road to your goal. 

Plan for the gazillion details that get between you and your goal.  The devil is in the details.   It’s a quote we’ve long heard and it absolutely relates to goal-setting.  There’s so much more than the actual goal.  So, start with a list of all the things you’ll have to do to make it happen. 

For example, if you are planning weight loss, there’s much more than naming a diet.  You’ll want to create menus, figure out shopping lists, decide which restaurants will allow you to stick to your plan. 

Decide whether to tell others.  That may seem a strange consideration but social scientists have uncovered counter-intuitive data.  It turns out that those who are most successful at achieving change in their lives have not shared their plans with many.

Prepare for naysayers.  What will you say?  Count on it, there will people who will tell you that you won’t make it, that it is just too hard.  Prepare your dialog.  What will you say to those who try to throw cold water on your plans.

With a plan, you’ve greatly increased your chances for success.  On the next posts, we’ll look at setting a timeline and ways to check in on your progress.

Before Another Year: What Matters Most?

Happy New Year!  Here’s to one mighty terrific year for you and yours.

It’s natural to be reflective as we turn the calendar, as we move on to another new year.  How many New Years have you celebrated?  Do you celebrate the same way each year?  Is 2014 somehow different?  What will make it different?

It’s natural for our thoughts to turn to resolutions, to decisions about what we’ll do differently in the year ahead.  It’s very human to look back and then look ahead and sometimes modify our path.  It’s also easy to simply name the same old resolutions and leave it at that. 

Same Old Resolutions

But, wait!  Before going with the same old resolutions, stop and think about them.  Are you in a resolution rut?  Do you name the same ones each and every year but never quite make them happen?

Instead of going with the same old, ask yourself a few questions.

  1. What kinds of changes or resolutions work in your life?  In other words, what can you make happen?
  2. Why haven’t you succeeded with some of your resolutions?  It’s true.  Most of us do not succeed with our resolutions.  By March, most of the diet and fitness resolutions have fallen aside.  Instead, let’s make 2014 the year that works for you.  Be honest and remind yourself why you haven’t succeeded with past resolutions.
  3. Using your strengths, how can you craft resolutions you can actually make happen?
What Matters Most to YOU in 2014?

What will make the year ahead a special year for you?  Perhaps there is already something special about 2014 in your life.  If not, do you want there to be something different about this New Year?

Write a sentence or two – or, instead, draw a picture.  What resolutions will get you to your goal AND what resolutions can you actually make happen?  Imagine; what will be different at the end of 2014 if you make these resolutions happen?  With those images in mind, name the changes or choices that matter most to you.

For example, I’m naming 2014 my Tina Turner Year.  Why?  Because I’m in sort of good shape but my legs could get stronger and I could be leaner.  She has incredible legs and she is fabulously fit – who at her age can perform the way Tina Turner does?  Other reasons?  Because she is mentally disciplined and knows how to satisfy her fan base.  I can picture my physique at the end of 2014 and I can also imagine working to make Everyday Success a place that is good for my audience.

That’s what matters to me.  It's not necessary to pattern your resolutions on another person.  I use it as an example that shows the process of identifying the things that matter most for one person. 

What about you?  What matters most for you in 2014 and how can those things be translated into resolutions?  

What Can YOU Make Happen?

That's right, it is all about you and the resolutions that are right for you.  As you create your resolutions, be sure you are naming those things you can actually make happen.  Over the next two blogs, we’ll look at creating a plan and timeline plus we’ll develop ways to check in on you over the year.  Let’s make 2014 the year when we make our resolutions happen.

Before Another Year: What are Your Strengths?

Before starting on resolutions, it helps to first look at your strengths and weaknesses.    Take a look back over 2013, to remember your best moments, your greatest successes?  As you do so, take note of your greatest strengths.

To help your recall, make a chart with two columns on which you’ll take notes as you look back.  It doesn’t have to be a paper chart – it could be in your mind or notes on your tablet.  One column is your strengths column.  The other column is for your vulnerabilities.  Or, you could use the word weaknesses – we all have one or two.

Under the strengths column, list the things you’ve undertaken that worked, that gave you the most satisfaction, those that you consider successful.  Still under the strengths column, add the details of each success, especially how you made it happen.  As you do so, highlight your strengths, those special aspects that are uniquely you.

For an even deeper look at your strengths, you might take the Character Strengths Profile.    It only takes twenty minutes and at the end, you’ll receive an analysis of your core strengths.

Under the vulnerabilities/weaknesses column, take note of those things that didn’t work out as well as in your last year.  Perhaps you started a diet but didn’t succeed.  Or, you may have tried out for a promotion and didn’t succeed.  What might have stood in the way of reaching your goals?

Sometimes we are overly critical of ourselves.  Be sure to give yourself credit where it is due.  That means recognizing the successes in your life.  If you are unsure about your successes, ask a friend to help you enumerate your successes and your strengths. 

On the other hand, be sure you don’t inflate your strengths.  The goal is to make our resolutions happen and that means we have to rely on our strengths not our weaknesses.
Make 2014 the year you use your strengths.

Before Another Year:  What About 2013?

We’re still shopping and writing cards and checking things off our holiday lists. It all comes quickly at this point in the year.  Holiday celebrations are immediately followed by the start of a new year. 

We’re pretty good at buying gifts and wrapping them.  We can pick up the groceries and prepare holiday feasts.  We know all the words to most of the songs of the season.  What we don’t always prepare as carefully is our plan for the New Year. 

Often, we don’t plan for our own self.  It’s so easy to race through our every day with little time to reflect.  When pressed for a resolution, it’s easy to name a couple of really big things we know we’d like to get done.  But, is there a plan, the thing that actually makes them happen?

Before naming resolutions this year, take a bit of time to figure out which are the ones that would be most meaningful to you – and, how you’ll make them happen. 

Looking Back to See Ahead

The New Year is two weeks off.  You don’t have to have the answer this afternoon.  To begin, it helps to look back. 

What were your successes in 2013?  In fact, what are your lifelong greatest successes?  What have you done that brought you the greatest pride?  What have you done that made you the happiest?  What have you done that gave you an inner sense of fulfillment?

After that, think about what you did to accomplish those successes.  What actions did you take that made the difference?

Next, what didn’t happen in 2013 that you wish had happened?  Are those things still important?  Were they failures?  Did you try to make them happen but didn’t succeed?  Or, did they not happen because the steps weren’t taken to make them happen?

There’s no reason to feel downhearted about your answers.  Instead, over the next week or so, we’ll create a plan that allows for the realities of life and gets you to your goal.  Over the next week or so, we’ll:

  1. Look at what’s worked and what hasn’t worked in the past. 
  2. Decide what matters most for the year ahead. 
  3. Create a realistic plan and a timeline. 
  4. Develop ways to make sure you are successful over time.

But first things first.  Before looking forward, take a realistic look back to measure your strengths.  You’ll use those strengths to make your next successes happen.

Can You See It?

It’s the final day of the Olympics.  Over these days of competition, we’ve watched exceptional athletes performing at their peak. 

Repeatedly, commentators have told the stories of the athletes.  It’s never a surprise to learn of long and arduous physical training but the story never stops there.  Many commentators go on to tell about another side to training – the athlete’s ability to visualize, to see themselves performing every nanosecond of a winning performance. 

Alongside the physical training, each athlete plays out every moment of a performance in his or her mind’s eye – over and over and over again.  They anticipate every possible challenge to an exceptional performance and then they see in their mind exactly how they will respond to that challenge.    

Olympians do not visualize the gold medal.  They might dream about it but dreaming doesn’t get them to the win.  Instead, athletes visualize every step of the performance that they see as their best.  They see themselves performing at a winning level and they practice their performance at a winning level.  That is what gets them to the gold.

When you visualize a goal in your future, are you visualizing only the outcome or do you see yourself taking the steps necessary to make your goal happen?  Those who reach their goals, see themselves taking all the steps that will get them to their gold.  In your mind’s eye, can you see yourself “in performance”, taking the actions that will lead you to your goal?

Giving a Daily Nod to the Good in Our Lives

The sunrise was amazing.  The berries at breakfast were delicious.  There was a text from my granddaughter.  I’ve already written an article.  So goes the day.  It’s starting well and for that I am grateful. 

Grateful.  Some of us are more inclined to notice the good things that happen in our lives, the things around us that are good.  Others of us are less aware, less inclined to notice the good, positive or pleasing things in their daily life.  Some, in fact, count the unpleasant things in their day.   

In the past decade, researchers have confirmed that our sense of well-being grows with our degree of gratitude.  When we are grateful, our sense of well-being is increased.  When gratefulness is not a part of our daily thought process, our overall sense of well-being will likely be lower.  

Gratitude is very simple; it’s a matter of giving a nod to the good, the positive, even the beautiful in our lives.  What we are grateful for is personal.  We can be grateful for just about anything and it’s likely the objects of our gratitude will differ greatly.  If you wonder what others are grateful for, visit Encyclopedia of Gratitude. With gratitude as its purpose, this website offers a “witty and wide-ranging compendium of things to be grateful for.”

How you tally the things for which you are grateful can be of your own design.  Many have taken up the popular gratitude journal.  Others make a mental review of their day as they prepare for their night’s rest.  For those whose sleep is not easy, count the good things instead of lambs!  Research shows that a gratitude mental review just before falling asleep improves the night’s rest. 

Whatever the method, whatever the time, daily recognition of all that is good can grow happiness and satisfaction.  Are you counting the good?

When The Path to Success Encounters A Few Curves

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every plan we made followed a perfectly straight path?  No interruptions.  No slow-downs.  No surprises along the way.  So often, however, we’re confronted with a curve or two that impede our perfect progress.

Case in point, the start of a new business.  The business plan is polished and perfect.  You’ve planned for the eventualities.  You are ready for the natural surprises that come along the way.  In fact, you are proud to say that you anticipated a couple of rough patches.  You planned and you were ready.  Those rough patches didn’t slow you up, not one bit.

Even so, no matter how well constructed the plan, the perfect path to your start-up will likely encounter a few curves.  Remarkably, those curves come from the most unlikely sources. 

Consider this website.  Business insurance was simply a line item to be checked-off, right?  Who’d have thought that ideas for success would pose a challenge?  Not me.  But, we couldn’t launch til insurance was in place.  It took a big bite out of our calendar.  As an aside, be sure your insurance is in place before you start your business.  Equally surprising, converting a print concept booklet to something that made sense on a data CD or downloadable book took another large swathe of time.  We couldn’t start the store til there was at least one product to sell!

Whatever your venture, whether you are planning a new business or a vacation, your plan will keep you on the path.  Don’t be surprised, however, by the occasional zig or zag arising from one or more of the details.  Acknowledge the change, find your best solution, even modify your plan if needed.  Use the curves on your otherwise straight path as lessons, as instruction for future planning.  Then, get right back to it. 

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