Detached Intention

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-by Matt Leedham

The more I work with clients, the more they are becoming comfortable setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and action plans. They continue to achieve and hold themselves accountable. However, I am beginning to see a common challenge around goal setting and achievement. Things become a little dicey when you attach yourself to the goal’s outcome. This can be particularly devastating for entrepreneurs, or anyone that is in sales, or anyone that needs to influence others.

When we attach ourselves to the end result, we essentially depend on others to define our worth. When we hand over the reigns to someone else, we give up the choice of what to think and feel.

Let’s say that you are a salesperson. Your job is to sell 10 widgets a month. Each month, you do all that is necessary to sell 10 widgets – e.g., you have all the proper training, you do all the necessary research on your target clients, you network with others to build a pipeline of business, etc. To your knowledge, you’ve done everything you can think of to be successful.

The result: You only sell 6 widgets this month.

What are you likely to feel like? Did you fail? More importantly, are you a failure? Is it your fault? Are you not good enough?

People that say the don’t like sales, or aren’t any good at it, usually have an emotional attachment to the outcome. It is very easy, especially for those that are new to sales, to feel like they did something wrong and are not worthy of the sale. But what’s the truth?

Those that are good at sales may have refined their technique over the years, but to stick it out in a “no thank you” environment, you need to shift your perspective. You need to engage in the process, not the outcome.

For any baseball fans out there, you’ll completely understand this. Without a doubt, baseball is a game of massive failure. In fact, failure happens much more than success. Think about batting averages. A very good hitter in the Major Leagues will have a batting average of around .300. That means that this incredible hitter (who is likely paid millions of dollars a year), is failing 7 out of 10 times when they step up to home plate. If these great hitters emotionally tied themselves to every outcome, you’d see Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, and Adrian Gonzalez crying in the dugout each night.

I’ve come to learn that setting goals is a great way to manage yourself for things that are 100% within your control. For everything else, I prefer to use the word intention.

For example, going back to the widgets, selling the widgets is not entirely up to you. You don’t have complete control over the process. You cannot control the financial resources of your clients, or whether or not the timing is right for each client. What you can control is your actions directed at selling widgets.

In this example then, selling 10 widgets is your intention. The goal then, based on your experience, is to call 50 prospective clients and do 25 demos each month. Now, you’ve tied your value to the things you can control, and have detached yourself from the outcome.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t care about the outcome. Of course you do! You’re just not emotionally connected to it in a way that may make you feel unworthy to succeed. So, knowing this, if you call 50 prospective clients, and do 25 demos, and only sell 6 widgets, what is a likely response?

Perhaps you would say, “Hmmm…I’ve done everything I thought I needed to do to sell 10 widgets, but it didn’t work out this month. I wonder what the opportunity is here to try something different next month? Perhaps the economic climate has shifted and I need to tweak my strategy.”

This is the perspective of successful sales people. This is a smarter way to work. Don’t beat yourself up and just work harder. Instead, work differently. You have what you need to be successful, you just need to find the opportunity.

Moving Targets

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-by Matt Leedham

In 2004, I ran my first marathon. I trained for 5 months, running 5-6 days per week. At my peak training period, I would run 35-45 miles in a week. I really began to enjoy running. I had all the best gear, would meet up with other fellow running junkies, would stay in on Friday nights and be up at 5am on Saturdays to prep for my long runs. I loved running.

On Halloween 2004, I had one of the best experiences of my life. Running that marathon was an incredible learning opportunity. It was my first race and I just remember how awesome the energy was. Everyone was so excited to run and so was I. I had friends there to cheer me on, strangers shouting my name (which was proudly written on my shirt), and people to celebrate with afterward. Then a funny thing happened the next day…

I stopped running.

Literally, I just stopped. I didn’t run again for over a year. Given how into running I was, I look back on it and can’t believe that I stopped. I was disappointed in myself, but never really took the time to examine why that happened.

Years later, I learned that it is quite common for rookie endurance athletes to go on a hiatus because they make one huge mistake. First-timers get so geared up for the race, and train so hard for completing their first marathon (or half-marathon, or triathlon or whatever) that they view it as the finish line, as if it’s the end somehow. They often make no plans for the future – for what will happen after the race. In a running magazine, I read that it’s helpful for a runner to pick their next race while they’re still training for the first one.

So that’s what I did.

Not just with running, which I eventually picked back up and completed my 2nd marathon in 2010, but with other goals in my life. I would try to pick goals that required about 3-4 months of time and staggered them so that I was constantly striving toward achieving the next big thing.

It worked great! I started to achieve a lot in my career and personal life. I was officially an “achiever!” An over-achiever, some might argue.

Surprisingly though, true happiness eluded me.

In fact, just last night I was speaking with a fellow coach about how my daily routine for the morning has gotten disrupted and I don’t feel as “tuned in” to what I’m doing each day. I began to formulate a plan to create my next 4-month goal so that I can get “back in the game,” get motivated and energized, and go achieve something!

My colleague asked me a simple question. “To what end?”

“What do you mean to what end?” I asked, confused. “To achieve more!”

He replied with calm curiosity, “But why?”

I suddenly didn’t have a great answer. He said, “It sounds like you just want to stick your finger in the socket and get juiced up again, which is understandable because it’s exciting to do and achieve something new.”

He had my attention now, and finished with, “The problem comes when we keep looking 4 months ahead toward the next ‘thing’ we want to accomplish, we forget one very important piece of the puzzle. We forget how we’re living now.

Actually, the real problem (for me) is surrounding myself with very intelligent and insightful people that call me out on this stuff. Shoot! He was right and I knew it.

In fact, his reminder to me sounded very similar to something I read and wrote about a few months ago, The Happiness Advantage. In his book, and based on his research, author Shawn Achor concludes that most people believe that if they can just achieve that next goal (weight loss, a promotion, buying a house, etc.), that then they will be happy. But once we achieve that goal, our milestones for success get pushed further and further back. We end up chasing happiness because we believe it to be just around the corner.

So, you may be thinking (much like I was last night), that I need to take corrective action. I need to stop spinning my wheels and stop chasing moving targets. I need to focus on my life right now, in this moment. But how?

Luckily, I’ve already written about this. If you want to know what to do next, simply click here!

Misaligned

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-by Matt Leedham

As many of you know, I injured my back in early May while on the road (in case you were wondering, the ‘regulars’ at Northwestern Memorial ER in Chicago are quite charming). Since that time, I’ve had knee pain and neck pain, and three days ago re-aggravated my back injury. As a result, I’ve needed to take a fair amount of narcotics to ease the pain and the muscle spasms, as well as visit a handful of health professionals including orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, and chiropractors (I’ll also be giving acupuncture a run soon).

Regardless of the practitioner I am visiting on any given day, I hear two things that are always the same. Whether it’s the physician, the surgeon, the chiropractor, or the therapist, they take one look at my back and say 1) that I’m ‘misaligned’ and, 2) that my back is ‘not happy.’

Seriously, they say my back is ‘not happy.’ I’m not sure if that’s a medical term they learned in their extensive studies of the human body, but that that’s the term they use. And I’m not poking fun at this term as it very accurately describes what’s going on. I mean, my back is NOT happy. I can tell just by looking in the mirror. My spasms are so bad on the lower left side of my body that my muscles are pulling my spine that way – it looks like an “S” shape. It’s actually quite alarming when you see it for the first time – just ask my wife!

So, as I lay there for hours with heat packs or getting an excruciating deep tissue massage, or am all tangled up in a ridiculous traction machine that pulls my spine apart to relieve pain, I can’t help but notice some similarities between my ‘misaligned’ back and our clients ‘misaligned’ lives. More specifically, if someone is not ‘in alignment,’ this often results in them being ‘not happy.’

When it comes to goal setting, life planning, and dream catching, your own personal alignment is critical or you will not be happy no matter how much you accomplish. There are three components in your life that need to be in alignment to sustain happy progression toward a better life. They are:

  1. Core Values. Everyone has core values, but most people are unaware of them or have not taken the time to define them with great clarity.
  2. Personal Vision. We find that most people have not clearly defined a future for themselves, however when they do, it must align completely with their core values. To define a vision for the future that is contradictory to any or all of your core values is to set yourself up for unhappiness.
  3. Interim Goals. The 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year goals that you set for yourself need to be directly tied to making progress on your Personal Vision and should be reflective of your Core Values.

True alignment among these three components in your life will have you engaging in activities that relevant and productive to both who you are and where you want to go.

Water Your Dream

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-by Matt Leedham

This past weekend, my wife and I did some major landscaping work. Well, I should say, we had someone do some major landscaping work. We have a very small property in the city, so the work only took a few guys one day to complete. However, it can’t end there. In fact, they just got us started. The real works comes in the days, weeks and months ahead.

As it turns out, the most critical time for new plants is the first 3 weeks they are in the ground. During this time, the amount of sun, water, and added nutrients each plant gets is essential. Plants actually need four things:

  1. Water – so that the roots can grow strong, stable, and hydrate the rest of the plant
  2. Sun – to convert into energy that builds strong stems, leaves, and beautiful flowers
  3. Nutrients – to accelerate growth and allow for the plants’ full potential
  4. Protection – from weather, insects, birds, and other critters (in our case, squirrels!)

While plants need all of these things throughout their lives, they especially need them in the beginning. Plants, like humans, can experience shock when thrown into a new environment. Everything is very delicate and they need help settling in to their new life.

What the heck does this have to do with achieving more?

When setting a new goal, or going after a life-long dream, you also need these four things. And much like plants, the first 3 weeks is delicate. You need extra care when starting out on something new to allow that goal to get settled and flourish in your life. Much like plants, you will need:

  1. Water – the live-giving nature of water is much like the goal-giving nature of inspiration. You need that constant inspiration and drive to continue onward.
  2. Sun – for strength, what is your ‘sun?’ What is the power source of strength in your life? Is it your family? Is it your faith? Is it education?
  3. Nutrients – humans need growth accelerants too. We need to celebrate our successes, find mentors, and be coached forward.
  4. Protection – I once heard that the beginning of human inspiration is like a tiny whisper of a flame. It must be protected or even the slightest breeze will blow it out, never to return again in the same way.

Protecting your dream, your motivation, and your inspiration is so important when things are new. It can so easily disappear with the slightest obstacle, challenge, or negative influence in your life. Your goal or dream needs to get settled and build strong roots to flourish.

So, go on! Give your dream the water, sun, and nutrients it needs. But most important, vigorously protect it from the elements.

TGIF: Marlena McLean

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TGIF:

This Goal Is Finished

Good morning achievers! Hope you’ve had a wonderful week!

If this is your first time on our website, welcome. Velocity is about helping you find and achieve your passion through personal goal setting. You can find out more about us by clicking on any of these links.

You can sign up for our weekly inspirational newsletter or a complimentary coaching session by clicking on the buttons to the right.

If you are inspired by reading our achiever interview below and want to get on the achievement bandwagon, sign up for our next Goal Setting Workshop on June 4, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Today’s TGIF achiever is Marlena McLean. Marlena comes to us from New Jersey and is avid reader and supporter of both Velocity and everyone that has shared their story with us on Fridays. We love featuring our biggest fans and are SUPER proud of her recent accomplishment. Check out Marlena’s story below!

The Achiever

My name is Marlena McLean. I am a social worker, but I am currently fortunate enough to be caring for my beautiful daughter full time. I also serve as the treasurer for a non-profit charitable organization created by family and friends in memory of my brother-in-law, Jim McLean. The organization raises money to award an annual scholarship to a graduating scholar athlete from our alma mater high school (www.mcleanscholarship.org).

The Goal

My goal was to run the Long Branch Half Marathon in Long Branch, New Jersey on May 1, 2011, preferably in less than two and a half hours.

Why This Goal?

I chose this goal, because I wanted to challenge myself and it was important to me to have a personal goal outside of being a parent. About six months ago, I began to run consistently as a means of improving my physical fitness and allotting myself personal time a few days a week. Prior to signing up for the half marathon, I had run two 5ks. I found that having those races scheduled motivated me to workout regularly. Two days prior to registering for the half marathon I had watched my husband, Justin, successfully complete his goal of running in the New York City Marathon. Watching Justin train and run the race was very inspiring. I wanted to experience the pride and happiness he emanated for days after he ran NYC.

This goal was also very important to me, because, in junior high school, I enjoyed running competitively. As a self-conscious teen, I gained confidence from running. Due to ongoing knee issues, I stopped running in high school. Since then, multiple professionals told me I could/should not run, because of my knee problems. I believe that anything is possible and I wanted to prove to myself that it was possible for me to run.

The First Step

The first step was to have the courage to sign up for the race. While this sounds simple, it was a big step for me. It meant that I was admitting that I would be capable of completing a half marathon. It also meant that I was committing to the training over the next six months.

Challenges

One obstacle I faced was finding the time to run. I feel that running with my daughter in the stroller compromises my running form, which meant I had to wait for my husband (or sometimes my mom) to get home from work so I could run. Scheduling specific days in which I was to run made it harder for me to back out of a run at 8 or 8:30 at night.

Injury (two, in fact) presented another obstacle. A foot injury prevented me from running in December. A hamstring injury sidelined me from about mid-February until mid-March. I began going to physical therapy for my injuries (if anyone in Central NJ needs an excellent physical therapist, I highly recommend Ric Costa at MARA Physical Therapy in Warren!). I tried to stay positive and began swimming to maintain my cardiovascular health.

Doubt was an obstacle I faced at times, especially when I was injured and unable to run as much as called for by my training program. Discussing my doubts with my husband often gave me perspective on my concerns and left me feeling encouraged. Recognizing that whatever pain or obstacle I was currently experiencing would not last forever encouraged me to move forward with my goal. Velocity’s Facebook posts also encouraged me. I remember experiencing a significant amount of hamstring pain on a run one month prior to the race. I felt very discouraged and I told my husband I was not sure that I would be able to run the half marathon. The next day I read Velocity’s T.G.I.F. about Irene Vatandoost’s recent success in completing a half marathon. Reading Irene’s post was very inspiring to me as she discussed doubts, obstacles, and fears similar to mine. In her post, Irene discussed concern about having to walk near the end of the half marathon (Congratulations to Irene who was able to run the entire race!). This may sound silly, but I remember thinking in that moment that it had not occurred to me that I could walk any of the race. Shortly thereafter I decided that I would be completing the half marathon whether I had to run, walk, or crawl!

Staying Motivated

I tried to keep my eye on the goal, and envision how proud of myself I would feel finishing a half marathon. On days when I did not feel like running, I reminded myself how good I feel when I am done with a run. I also reminded myself of something my husband said to me once: “The race is today.” Remembering that each run I completed was a step towards my ultimate goal was motivational to me.

Who Helped?

There were many external factors that contributed to my success. The most influential person was my husband, Justin. He believed in my ability to run a half marathon, before I even believed in myself. Justin helped me with a training plan and he provided me with a tremendous amount of encouragement along the way. He also adjusted his schedule, at times, so that he could stay with our daughter while I ran.

My mom also provided me with an incredible amount of support. She shared in my excitement and believed in my abilities from the start. She never doubted my ability to run the half marathon, despite my injuries. My mom also helped with childcare.

My weekly yoga class helped me physically, as well as mentally, by encouraging a positive outlook on all things, including my running. The concept of Chi Running allowed me to run without knee pain. I received very helpful advice and support from ChiRunning Coach, David Stretanski . David helped me make changes to my running form to prevent re-injury to my hamstring.

TGIF – Celebrate!

I got my medal and looked for my family at the finish line! I was thrilled! I also took some time to reflect back on the past year and the progress I had made.

Advice

When completing any goal, I think the most important step is to believe in yourself. I also think it helps to break down the goal into steps and to be patient with progress. I recommend developing a support system. While I always ran alone, talking to others about my running was helpful. I also found running “support” by reading various running websites, books, etc. Logging my training helped to keep me on task and allowed me to review my progress. Changing how I viewed success and failure also helped me achieve my goal. Initially, I defined success as completing the half marathon, but the day before the race I realized I had already succeeded by signing up for the race and training for it, despite some obstacles.

What’s Next?

I plan to keep running. I thoroughly enjoy the physical and mental challenges I experience with running. I will be running a 10k in June. I am also very excited to be running a half marathon with my husband in September!


Get Off The Mountain

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-by Matt Leedham

Every morning I receive an email entitled “A Daily Boost From Your Professional Partner.” A good friend of mine from New Jersey, Anthony Fasano, is an executive and career coach for engineers, and sends out these little 1-2 sentence daily boosts. This morning message was particularly awesome:

“Matt, many people equate chasing their goals to climbing a mountain. If that were the case we would always be climbing mountains. Maybe we need to reframe this though in a way that promotes a more enjoyable career.

Reaching Your Goals Should Be Fun,
-Your Professional Partner


I immediately had this vision in my head of all of my friends, family, colleagues, and clients climbing mountains, constantly trying to reach the summit and achieve their goals (like these crazy mountain goats to the left). I laughed out loud. That would be ridiculous! Unless you’re an avid mountaineer, that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me, especially if you’re starting at the base of the mountain.

So, let’s take a moment to reframe the thought process here, as Anthony suggests. Instead of looking at goals as simply an end result (i.e. victory, accomplishment, satisfaction, pride, etc.), let’s appreciate the entire goal setting (and goal getting) process.

If it will take you 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months to achieve a particular goal, viewing the entire process as a personal growth experience validates the whole time it takes to achieve (or not achieve) the goal. In other words, even if you fall just a little short of your goal, or even if you downright fail, you still take with you the experience you had along the way.

Your journey will become more enjoyable, as every day and every challenge, and every method you use, is helping you grow and become better. You won’t be forced to define yourself by the goals you achieve, but rather by how well you navigate the process.

Enjoy the ride!

PS…Nearing the end of the process of a stretch goal and looking back can often feel like you’ve just climbed a mountain. I should note that the visual image of reaching the Summit is a positive way to celebrate success after achieving a big goal.

Bonus Reading: Scott Young wrote an interesting post about setting goals for process vs. setting goals for desire. It’s a different spin on things, but you might enjoy the message.


10 Tips to Having an Awesome Day

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-by Matt Leedham

How was your morning?

Mine was awesome. And it wasn’t by accident.

We all have choices to make every day and you can choose, right now, to make tomorrow awesome.

Here’s how you can do it:

**Disclaimer: Not all of this will fit everyone’s lifestyle. Take what you like and leave the rest.

  1. Prime Yourself. You can’t prime yourself while you’re sleeping, so let’s start with before you go to bed. Assuming you haven’t been drinking and are going to bed at a reasonable hour, take 10 minutes in bed to prepare yourself for tomorrow morning. Think about opening your eyes and looking at your clock. What time does it say? See the clock in your mind. Then see yourself sitting up and taking a deep breath. Continue to do this visioning exercise until your first family/work commitment. Then get some rest, because tomorrow is going to be awesome.
  2. Take Care of Your Body. After you rise and take a deep breath, drink a tall glass of water. Every nutritionist and physical trainer will tell you to do this. You are dehydrated after sleep, and it’s the first thing your body needs. Next, do something physical. If you don’t like to work out in the morning, that’s okay. Just take ten minutes to stretch or do some light calisthenics. By this time, you should be awake for 30 minutes and it’s time to eat a small meal. It’s called breakfast for a reason – you’re breaking a 12-13 hour fast.
  3. Meditate or Pray. Exercising and awakening your mind is just as important as getting your body moving. Again, this doesn’t have to be a 30-60 minute session with incense and candles. Just find a quiet, comfortable place and be present. You can pray, or focus on something specific (like your breathing), or just analyze the random thoughts running through your head. There are some great apps for your mobile device that can actually assist with this if you need help (like me).
  4. Be Thankful. Research tells us that people who are thankful and have gratitude are happier and have a positive outlook on life. I recommend that you keep a gratitude journal and just jot down three things that happened to you yesterday. The key here is to write what that thing was and why you are thankful for it. Just yesterday, someone told me they try to write three emails, make two phone calls, and write one note to people they are thankful for. Try doing that once a week!
  5. Review Your Values/Vision/Goals. That’s it. All you have to do is read them. Read them twice for good measure. Just read them and reflect on them for a minute.
  6. Brainstorm Your Activities. Take a moment to jot down all the things in your head that you would like to accomplish that day. Put them into categories (e.g. Personal, Work, Family, etc.). Try to rank each category’s list, putting the things that must get done at the top. Simply getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper has a calming effect.
  7. Review Your Schedule. Take a look at your calendar and see if there are any large commitments that may affect your productivity. Try to schedule chunks of time for meaningful work (i.e. NOT EMAIL). Apply the priming/visioning technique mentioned in the first tip – see yourself walking through the day and being very successful.
  8. Breathe. That’s it. Take 30 seconds, close your eyes, and take 5 deep breaths. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Nice and easy.
  9. Get in the Zone. This means different things for different people. But do whatever it takes for you to get hyper-focused. For me, it’s putting on my Bose noise-cancelling headphones and listening to music without words (usually ambient drum and base). When I do this, I find that I get in zone and can really crank out my tasks.
  10. Check-in with Yourself. Don’t let yourself go the whole day without checking back in with yourself. Lunch time is usually a good break for this. Has something got you worked up or out of whack? If so, revisit tips 2,3,4, and 8.

I truly hope you are able to accomplish tips 1-9 BEFORE opening your inbox. Resist the urge and start the day right. For me, 1-5 happens at home and takes about 45 minutes. I engage in 6-10 at work and it usually takes about 20 minutes.

I hope you find this useful. And more importantly, I hope you have an awesome day tomorrow.

Get a Grip!

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-by Matt Leedham

We are entering the 3rd week of 2011. How are your goals or resolutions for the New Year coming along?

This is the make it or break week for many goal-setters. Research by Dr. Maxwell Maltz indicates that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. What this means is that if you have been consistent from January 1st, and you keep going for another week, you will have engaged in a new routine that will propel you forward for weeks to come. And in my personal experience, it’s after three weeks that you begin to see results, which is its own greatest motivator.

Get a grip on 2011! Grab it before it slips away. Stay focused on what you planned to do. Here are a few tips to keep you on track:

Recommit to your goals – many times, when we first set goals, we do so in an excited state – one filled with optimism and enthusiasm. After a few weeks, we can lose that feeling, and with it, momentum. Take a half-day or morning to recommit to your goals and get excited about them again. Go somewhere beautiful or inspiring and choose to re-engage.

Visualize success – start with the end in mind. If you’re like me, the end looks pretty darn good! Start there by visualizing success. Once you’ve accepted this, the outcome is no longer in question. It simply becomes something you must do.

Review your goals regularly (e.g. every morning) – writing down and reviewing your goals has an incredible effect on your subconscious mind. You will more clearly see opportunities and unknowingly make decisions that put you closer to achievement.

Phone a friend – ask for help. Working with a friend on a goal will not only help you stay accountable to your plans and push you toward higher levels achievement, but it may just bring the two of you closer together.

Try something new – shake things up! My friend let me borrow the P90X program on DVD recently. Their methodology is all about “muscle confusion,” which means doing a variety of different exercises each day so that the body does not adapt and plateau. Sometimes you can “plateau” on a goal and things become stagnant. Shake things up and try something new to reinvigorate yourself.

Stay focused in 2011 and make it a great year! Be in touch with questions as you achieve great things.

New Year’s Resolutions, part deux

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-by Matt Leedham

It’s January 4th. If you’re like many people I know, you’ve set one or more New Year’s resolutions. The problem is, only a small percentage of people actually achieve or complete their resolutions. I wrote about this fascinating phenomenon last month and you can read it here.

Having heard some of my friends’ and family’s resolutions, we can probably figure out why so many fail. Here are a few I’ve heard this week:

  • Read more
  • Eat better
  • Better work life balance
  • Exercise more
  • Be nicer

These are nice dreams and desires, but I see red flags everywhere when I hear these. If anything, the resolutions above may be admirable pieces of a personal vision, which I am completely supportive of if they are in alignment with your personal core values. But as we know, to make the personal vision come true there is a critical step missing here. You must turn these resolutions into specific, measurable goals that you can work on. Read more about that here.

If that’s too much for you right now, let’s talk baby steps. At bare minimum, write down your resolution in as much detail as possible and review it daily, if only for a minute. Keep the resolution in front of you often – post it on your bathroom mirror, put it next to your bed, have it on your desk at work.

You can also use one of many web applications to help you. One simple app is Joe’s Goals. It’s free and you can give yourself a check mark on the days you made progress on your goal or resolution. It’s a great visual way to start or stop a habit.

Stay focused. Remember why you’re doing this. For your health, your family, your career and financial security, etc.

Happy New Year and here’s to a successful and prosperous 2011!

Passionate People

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-by Matt Leedham

This world needs passionate people doing things they are passionate about.

There are people all around us that are doing what they are passionate about and living their “why”…and it’s making this world a better place.

Many of these people did not stumble upon this passion and uncover their purpose by accident. Typically it’s the result of much reflection, hard work, and planning. Many times, it starts with setting a simple goal.

I got to thinking about this the other day when my brother told me about his dentist. He told me how this guy was “the best” and he recommends him to everyone. Curiously, I asked him why? What has elicited this emotional reaction about this particular dentist? My brother told me when he first walked into the dental practice he signed in and took a seat. He looked around and saw all sorts of interesting paintings, diagrams, tools, and artifacts dating back years and sometimes centuries – all things related to the origins of dentistry. Although alarming at first (I mean, who likes to see primitive oral tools in a dentist’s office?), he quickly understood when he met the doctor. He lives and breathes dentistry. He’ll talk at length about the history of his profession and what amazing technological advances they’ve made. He really cares, is passionate, and it’s oozing out of him. And it all started with an idea, a spark of inspiration, an interest and desire to learn more, and finally a plan to explore it further and go for it.

This got me thinking about other people I encounter regularly. Other people that are clearly doing what they are meant to do. They do what they are passionate about every day and literally make other peoples’ lives better. I started jotting down the names of a barber, a doctor, a deli-sandwich maker, an ice cream server, and a bartender – all of whom I have encountered recently and have amazed me. And then over dinner last night, the most obvious example smacked me right in the forehead.

My wife is exploring a passion that has been welling up inside of her this past year. She told me that she wanted to go back to school to learn about child psychology. That would be quite the career change (from multi-cultural marketing), so I suggested that she spend some time volunteering with kids in her spare time. That quickly morphed into a more-than-part-time gig at an afterschool program working with immigrant youth. I knew that even though she is working two jobs (one of which she is the co-owner of the company), she is loving her work with these kids and that one day, she’ll be doing it full time. Over dinner last night, she said to me, “I think these kids are my therapy. I told them today that there is nothing I’d rather being doing right now than sitting here, talking with them, and doing this puzzle.”

I have to be honest, this amazes me. Since I do not have this capacity to work with kids in this way, it’s literally mind-blowing to me. I don’t think my wife understands what I mean when I say that I am as amazed by the technical skill and knowledge of astronauts, as I am by what she can do with kids.

That’s the difference. That’s what matters. Passionate people doing things they are passionate about.

I truly believe by virtue of being here…of living…you are a passionate person. Now that we agree on that, it’s time to figure what you’re passionate about so you can go make this world a better place.