Tag: goal setting

Two Great Grammy Reminders

In the chunk of time I spent watching the Grammys last night, there were plenty of powerful, poignant messages. Two more subtle statements were made, though, that I wanted to share as a Motivational Monday.

  1. The importance of being able to laugh at ourselves
    John Travolta may never live down his terrible pronunciation of Idina Menzel’s name, but last night he showed the importance of being able to laugh at ourselves when we make mistakes. He cracked multiple jokes in reference to the Oscar fail and even pulled out a written script to make sure he could read his lines. People loved it.It’s easy to get caught up in trying to make ever effort a perfect one, but the odds of that actually happening are slim-to-none. Every once and a while we’ve got to be able to let it roll off our back and learn from the experience.
  2. Success doesn’t happen overnight
    In her acceptance speech for Best Country Solo Performance, Maren Morris talked about how she went to Grammy Camp 10 years ago and was now amazed to find herself on stage. TEN YEARS!I’ll be the first to admit I often want results much faster than they can realistically happen. Hearing Maren’s comment reminded me that, if I want to reach high levels of success, it’s going to take an untold number of hours, and ton of dedication and (probably) a large number of sacrifices to bring it to fruition.

The Feeling of Finishing

When was the last time you really finished something? Like…set a deadline, got to that day and were able to step back and say, “Look what I did!”

Back in April, my wife and I decided to sign up for the National Stationery Show to launch her business into the world of wholesale product distribution. We didn’t fully understand what it would take, other than a lot of work in order to get ready in 6 weeks (most of the blogs we read recommend spending at least 6 months to prepare for the show…yikes!)

Seeing as I’m not the creative behind the business, I was fairly limited in what I could contribute to this endeavor. Thankfully, I was given a set of power tools a couple of Christmases ago…which meant I got to build the trade show booth! (cue Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor grunts).

After researching how to build a booth, planning lumber needs, making at least a dozen trips to Lowe’s and having to redo two sizable miscalculations…

it was done.

It surprised me, but on the Saturday my wife and I stepped back from the booth and looked at it totally finished for the first time was a huge moment. We had actually finished the booth…and thanks to my wife’s vision, it looked legit! As we closed the garage door and called it a day, I couldn’t help but notice the overwhelming sense of accomplishment I felt in us having completed the build.

Apparently, it had been a while since I charged myself to do something totally new and challenging — I owned the booth building process from start to finish.

And what’s more, the experience was accompanied by so many other emotions than just the elation of finishing: uncertainty (from having never been to the show before), frustration (from messing up), exhaustion (from lack of sleep), stress (from a short timeline), anger (from messing up again), pride and admiration (for the work ethic and vision my wife had throughout the process). The list goes on and on.

I think that’s the biggest reminder I was able to take away from the experience: accomplishing a goal is never going to be a straight-line path paved with chocolate bars and gum drops. It takes commitment, be it a six week timeline or a six year timeline. And things won’t always go smoothly.

The important thing to remember is that you had a reason for starting in the first place — don’t lose sight of that. The feeling you’ll get when you cross the finish line will be worth it.

Two Ways to Grow

In business and in life, it’s entirely possible that growth can happen organically. Positive opinions of a product or service spread and sales increase without much marketing effort. Or, in our personal lives, we go through a season that teaches us something new (but ultimately unrealized until we look back).

On the other hand, growth at an “exponential” rate is more often attained through forced, concerted effort. You hit the street and convince stores to carry a product, simultaneously increasing revenue and brand awareness because the product is more readily available in the market. Or you sign up for a race with a specific training plan designed to drop 3 minutes from your PR. In both of these instances, you’re both planning and tracking progress on a daily basis as opposed to looking back and trying to figure out how or why the change happened.

To me, the exponential growth is more exciting to reach for because it’s tied to a tangible goal. It’s making a conscious effort to say “I’m not just going to sit here and see what happens; I’m going to go get that thing!”

Vacation Habits

Accomplishing goals and starting new habits is difficult.

We’re busy. We’re tired. We’ve got competing priorities. There are too many fires to put out and the hose isn’t big enough. The most common way for us to receive any reprieve from the everyday cycle of stress is one blissful word: vacation.

On vacation, our obligations to respond to emails, shuttle kids to and from practices and sit in rush hour traffic all disappear.


But what do we do with that free time?

While at the lake a couple weeks ago, I decided to wake up at 5:30am (or earlier) every day to be able to ski on water as smooth as glass (literally…check out the picture above). Why is this relevant (or sane), you ask? Fair question.

Over the last few months, my ability/willingness to wake up at 5:30 and write blog posts fell off dramatically (read: entirely). Were there legitimate reason? Sure, but we’ll get to that another time. But while I do genuinely love skiing at sunrise, I realized those early mornings would simultaneously serve as an opportunity to get back into my early-rising, blog-writing routine.

I haven’t been perfect since then, but the motivation to get up and start is so much greater than it was before vacation. That little taste of morning productivity rekindled the fire that was soundly asleep (and all too prone to hit the snooze button). It was just what I needed.

The Alternative Option
For many of us, the downside of this theory is that vacation time is limited. i.e. We don’t have many opportunities to jump start these good habits. Fear not, there’s good news…it’s call “the weekend”.

We may not be quite as free of responsibilities on the weekend, but odds are good there should be at least 16-18 hours of time freed up by not having to be on the clock, right? Why not try and use some of those hours to reach a goal or start a new habit?

Sit down and dig into that book you’ve been wanting to read. Go meet up with that exercise group at the park. Prep your food for the week so you know you have healthy meals waiting for you in the fridge after work every day. The possibilities are endless!

Vacation is supposed to be a time of rejuvenation, allowing us to come back refreshed and excited. For me, there’s nothing more rejuvenating or exciting than knowing I’ve been able to take a step towards a personal goal.

Dream Big. Start Small.

It’s a rare duck that can start an endeavor for global domination and make it happen overnight.

Be it starting your own business or completing your first triathlon, most people don’t hire 5,000 employees on their first day or get to race the world championships in Kona on their first go.

As a result, I would propose that we mere mortals remember that it’s ok to start small.


What I Really Mean
When I decided to give triathlons a shot, I researched different distances (finding the shortest one!), bought the book “Triathlon For Dummies” and convinced a friend (my wife) to race it with me. As I began training, I could barely swim 25 meters in a pool without feeling exhausted. It was daunting.

When my wife decided to start her own business, she researched the different options to get started (finding the cheapest one!), read up on how to get an Etsy shop going and got a friend (me) to support her along the way. As she posted her first listing, she had no idea if any sales would actually come through. It was daunting.

Where To Start
I’m sure we’ve all been in a similar situation. We look at the end goal and say, “Man, I think that’s more than I can handle”.

Really, what we need to say to ourselves is, “What’s one little thing I can do to move the ball forward?”

Then go do that.

Breaking a dream up into manageable pieces gives us clarity and focus. You finish Phase 1, get to celebrate and then put Phase 2 squarely in your crosshair.

Whether it’s becoming adept at multiple sports for triathlon, understanding basic business principles to start your own endeavor, beginning a regular exercise routine, changing your spending habits or whatever – you have to learn foundational disciplines and then apply them regularly to hone your craft.

It’s Like Novocaine
What it boils down to, really, is process. Things need time to develop. We, more often than not, need to actually figure out how to get from Point A to Point G. And we do that (read: make that up) as we go.

In Remember The Titans, Coach Boone’s assistants are leery of his six-play playbook before leaving for training camp. He simply replies, “It’s like Novocaine; just give it time, it always works.”

Now I’m not saying that every dream we ever have we will work, but rather that we have to keep in mind that it takes time. Setting ourselves up for measureable successes along the way is how we keep motivated and keep a dream alive.

See It Through
For me, this all meant racing a Sprint triathlon in a pool, then a Sprint triathlon in open water, then an Olympic distance and then a half Ironman.

In my wife’s case, she started with a basic calligraphy services concept, got feedback, added products, got more feedback, added her own e-commerce site, got more feedback and now has people interested in wholesaling her work.

In each instance, there were days where we messed up, had something flop, made a mistake or didn’t meet a goal. But we learned from it, took advice and encouragement from others along the way and kept moving forward.

Step, after step, after step.

And the best part is, we’re not done yet.

Dream big.

One Twelfth Check-In

Hard to believe, but we’re almost one twelfth of the way through 2015! How are those new year’s resolutions coming?


Research from 2014 shows that 64% of people report still being on track for their resolution after one month, which seems pretty admirable. However, only 8% of people ultimately end up achieving their goal. So I wanted to share a couple of ideas that might help us all make it into the 8% group.

  1. Make It A Habit
    While it’s commonly believed that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, a 2010 UK study found that it’s actually a little more than three times that — 66 days! This means we have to keep being patient with ourselves. Take it one day at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time. If you’ve made it for 30 days, you’re awesome! Just know that it might take a little longer to truly internalize your new efforts. For me, that means 5:30am is still going to feel early for quite a while…
  2. Make It Personal
    Giving a goal a personal connection to my life always helps me take it more seriously. Don’t just say that you want to quit smoking – say that you want to quit smoking so you can chase your grandkids around the backyard this summer. Every time you look at a cigarette, it’ll help you remember a deeper meaning for committing to it. For me, it’s writing two blogs posts per week to be able to generate content that I hope to one day share as a public speaker. While 5:30am is rough, I’m letting my future-self down if I don’t get out of bed.
  3. Make It Communal
    Surround yourself with people that will support you and hold you accountable. Let them inspire you to keep up the good work. Last week, I took a seven day challenge to write a post every day. It wasn’t necessarily easy, but it built confidence and connected me to people that I know want to product content on a regular basis, as well. Have people on your side cheering for you!
  4. Make It Charitable
    This one might only apply to athletic events, but it’s awesome. Whether you’re training for your first 5k or an Ironman, you can raise money for a cause that matters to you using sites like Crowd Rise. Not that he isn’t motivated anyway, but a college friend of mine initially wanted to raise $10,000 for IU Dance Marathon while training for a full Ironman in memory of his sister. After about a week, he was more than 25% to his goal…so he increased it to $50,000! Not surprisingly, he exceeded that. Not only did he finish his race, he got to leave a legacy in his wake that will last well beyond him while honoring a loved one. If that isn’t motivation to keep going, I don’t what is.

Creating new habits and accomplishing goals can be tough, but they don’t have to be impossible. If new year’s resolutions have been a struggle up to now, hit the reset button and give them another go. If you’ve started feeling pulled to start something, we still have 92% of the year remaining! You can do it.

4 Books to Help Launch Your Dream


If you have an ounce of entrepreneurial spirit in you, odds are good you’re looking at 2015 and thinking “This is my year!” You’re ready to bust out and do something big. When I decided I wanted to start this blog, I began to look for resources to help focus my goals and bring my vision to life. Below are four books that I found extremely motivating and technologically insightful to get this show on the road. Regardless of what you have in mind, each of these has something to offer.

off balance

1. Off Balance by Matthew Kelly
The primary takeaway here is that work-life “balance” isn’t real. One will always effect the other, so it’s a matter of finding what’s important to you and prioritizing. Along with helping you determine these priorities, Matthew also shares his system to drive behavioral change. As he says, “Satisfaction doesn’t come from experiences and things, but rather having experiences and things that you deem important”.



2. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
With a similar feel to “Off Balance”, this book helps you figure out how to do less but do it better – cutting out the trivial many for the important few. Greg discusses topics like the power of choice, the importance of sleep (my favorite section) and how to say “no” gracefully, among many other things. He then gives his step-by-step process to work toward the “essentialist” life. A must-read for anyone feeling overwhelmed and too busy for their own good!


start3. Start by Jon Acuff
A great book that’s both motivational and humorous, Jon’s writing style is easy to relate to – because we’ve all been in a situation where we just needed the gumption to get going. This book will help you flip the switch to “awesome” by debunking any fears lurking inside of you. Whether it’s making action payments at 5:30am or going to rehab to gain experience, Jon is honest with you about how to begin your journey and get where you want to go.



4. Platform by Michael Hyatt
Talk about a power-house playbook! Not sure how to get your message heard or set yourself up for success in the digital world? Read this book. I knew how to blog and use social media before I read Platform, but Michael lays how out to tie it all together (and then the real work begins). I know I’ve only scratched the surface in the whole process, but I’m also confident I’m headed in the right direction – and that’s a good feeling to have. It’s an in-depth discussion on setting up your product, your blog and your social media and then leveraging those resources to stay in contact with your tribe to drive success.

So there you have it…my recommendation for some great reads to help pursue your dreams in 2015. What are your goals for this year, and what will you have to do to accomplish them? Any recommended reads you’d like to share? Please let me know in the comments!