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Archive for the ‘Goals’ Category

Chasing Rainbows

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

rainbowLast week was such a storm-filled one that I found myself searching for rainbows each time the rain stopped. And, I found a real beauty just across the street. I started thinking about the fact that rainbows are dependent on the storm and started comparing that to our business life.

My first thought was that we all have storms in our business, whether that is feeling overwhelmed by our work or not being able to get done what’s on our list because a “crisis” or storm brews. Times we are not in control. We also have financial storms, weeks or more with dismal sales.

The thing is all the storms pass, and we hopefully have rainbows: turning those to-dos into ta-das or developing better sales the next week. Is it possible to get to the rainbows without the heavy storms? Maybe yes, maybe no. Here are just a few ideas to consider:

  1. Chart your business activity, specifically your financials. All businesses have sales cycles, times when sales are up and times when sales are down. And, it is often a pattern. If you do not look at what is happening in your business on a regular basis, you can not expect to make adjustments and get to those rainbows. It is about creating a history so that you know that the first two weeks of September are always slow and you can develop a plan of action to combat that.
  1. Using that same history, you can predict when you will need to add some additional help. If history shows that you are always busy and overwhelmed during December, then plan ahead for help. Also give thought to whether the new hire should start at the beginning of the busy time, where she is thrown into the fire, or whether you need to be available for training, in which case a slower time might be better.
  1. Understand how you work. Are any of those storms because you are not paying specific attention to your needs? For example, do you allow interruptions during the times when you should be working in your brilliance? Or do you do all the “it only takes five minutes” items allowing a storm to brew rather than working on the important tasks, which will take longer?
  1. Do you have a Plan B or contingency plan for unexpected storms? Thinking ahead about the potential storms and having a plan will make a difference.
  1. If you find that the rainbows continue to elude you, spend time journaling about the situation or talk it out with a trusted advisor. If you do this, you will probably come to a better understanding and possibly a good solution.

Do you ever look for rainbows in your business? What is your tip to find more rainbows?


Frog for Breakfast, Anyone?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

medium_4148152756Mark Twain has been quoted as saying,


“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day,” and

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” (In actuality, the original quote goes back to Nicolas Chamfort, who lived in the 1700s.)


So why do I suggest starting your day, your breakfast, with a frog? We all have lots on our “to do” list, and I am sure I am not the only one who will look for the easy project first.

The idea with starting with the frog is to get the big item done first, the one that might scare you, the one that you would usually put off, the one that probably has the biggest impact in your business. I think we keenly know this as procrastination!

I’m putting out a challenge right now. Look for the frog and do that first.

Look at it as the start of a new habit. Let me know what your frog is and how eating the frog first works for you.


photo credit: pattoise via photopin cc


Lessons From My Favorite High School Graduate

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

haileyLast week my eldest niece graduated from high school. An honor student, she plans to attend the University of Wisconsin in the fall. I am crushed that she will be so far from home; yet I know she will flourish there. As I was taking part in all the festivities over the weekend, I thought about some of what I learned from her.

  1. Set goals and work to achieve them. She is a very goal-focused young woman and persevered to accomplish those goals, whether that was achieving high marks or working to improve her times on the cross country team or completing a quilt to hang in my guild’s show.
  2. Keep balance in your life. She wasn’t an all-school and no-fun kind of girl. I saw plenty of videos she created with her friends and cousins to know that she found something outside school that challenged her and brought joy into her life. And, as required for graduation in our county, she took part in community service activities.
  3. Celebrate your achievements. She had a list of ways to celebrate the diploma – an afternoon in DC after graduation, a graduation night dinner, another celebration dinner on Saturday, and joining her mom on an overseas business trip later in June.
  4. Be grateful. First thing Sunday morning, she sent us all a text thanking her family  for being there to help her celebrate this achievement and for supporting her along the way.
  5. Keep a sense of humor. In the text she thanked us for being in the first 17.667 years of her life and wishing we will be there for the next 17.667, which would bring her to 35.334.

I know lots of you have family graduations around this time. What did you learn from your graduate? Leave a reply below, or log onto to Facebook and leave a comment.

What’s Your Value?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Value - Business SignThis past Friday I gave the keynote at the Studio Art Quilt Associates Conference. I had a great time connecting — and reconnecting — with so many talented artists. My talk was titled “Starving Artist No More: 7 Steps to a Profitable Creative Arts Career.”As the title suggests, I spent a lot of time talking about your mindset. One of my slides included a favorite quote from Mika Brezinski on knowing your value, which I will share below. From my experience working with creative entrepreneurs, I often find they struggle with determining a value for their work and then charging for it. Here are some tips for dealing with worth.

  1. Know exactly what you are charging. Many creative arts entrepreneurs often are challenged by what to charge for their services. Many tend to undercharge because they don’t know what to charge. They look at what others are charging and figure it must be right. Ever wonder how that person came up with her price? She probably did what you did: looked around at what others were charging and figured it was right. Take the time to go back and determine how long it takes you to accomplish your work. Consider what your expenses are – overhead, taxes, materials, etc. Then determine what you need to make on an hourly basis to meet your expenses and make a profit.
  2. Build confidence in your work and value. In Knowing Your Value Mika Brzezinski said, “Knowing your value means owning your successes. Owning your success means acknowledging your achievements. By acknowledging achievements you build confidence.” One way to do this is to have what I call a Weekly Success and Strategy Session. This is where you set aside time to review your accomplishments for the week and celebrate them. Then strategize for the week to come. Seeing what you accomplish does build your confidence. With increased confidence you will be better able to see your value and express it.
  3. Be visible and promote yourself. Once you see your accomplishments, don’t be shy about sharing them with everyone you know – and even those you don’t. Women, in particular, are not bold about this. Remember, if you don’t toot your own horn, who will? If you need ideas on promoting yourself, listen to our the call in the ICAP Library with Tara Reed on “How to be a Pres-Friendly Agent.”
  4. Look for a mentor. It can be useful to have someone else help you objectively look at what you have to offer and your value. It’s easy to stay in our own shell and others often see things we don’t.
  5. Step out in faith. Once you know and believe your value, don’t second-guess yourself. Own your value and move forward. There’s an African proverb – When you pray, move Your feet – that says it all.

Are You Working Out Your “Done” Muscles?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Done!A lot of us have problems getting things finished. Several reasons come to mind: procrastination, the need to be perfect, distractions by other things, failure to prioritize. Here are eight tips for exercising what I call your “done” muscle.

1. Get clear about what it is that you are trying to accomplish. Once you have clarity around your goals and/or a particular project, it is much easier to move forward. As you work, keep your eye on the prize. This will help you progress.

2. Break your project down into manageable tasks. When you look at a goal or a specific project, it can seem overwhelming. If you can break it down into bite-size pieces, it is always easier to see how you can accomplish it.

3. Look for where you need help. Just because you have a big project, does not mean that you need to do it all yourself. Remember, it is not necessary to know how to do everything, just what needs to be done.

4. Prioritize what needs to be done. This can apply to a specific project or your daily “to do” list. It is easy to look for the quick and uncomplicated things to do each day so you can check them off the list. The problem is you are not really accomplishing what you need to accomplish. What you should be doing is tackling those projects that move you towards completing your goal.

5. Consider the ROI. That’s Return on Investment. You can look at your tasks and see if time spent doing these tasks is worth your time. Maybe you should delegate the tasks or not even do them at all.

6. Finish what you start. Make that your goal. Really look around at how many people actually finish what they set out to do. Many people say they are going to do something and do not ever complete it.

7. Remember good enough is often good enough. Sometimes we spend so much time aiming for perfection that we don’t accomplish our goals.

8. Don’t over-think everything. As the Nike ad says, “Just do it.”

If you have a tip for exercising your “done” muscle, please share it on the blog.

Here a Chunk, There a Chunk

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

list_985725985How does your to-do list look? I just added a book to mine. Admittedly, I did not just add it; it has been there a while. I just cannot get to it, or I don’t make the time to get to it.

Let’s get real honest. My list includes lots of other things of varying import from ziplining to a cooking trip to Italy to working on my latest social media campaign to polishing my Photoshop skills. Lots of business and personal goals. How about yours?

Where do you start?

  1. Get it out of your head by creating a master list. Mine is in a notebook behind a tab called “Someday List.” I periodically add to this list, so it does not stay in my head cluttering up my thoughts or so I don’t forget it. It is a big deal to get it down on paper.
  2. Prioritize that list. You can do this lots of ways. What will make the biggest impact in your business? What can be done the quickest amount of time with the least effort? What really makes your heart sing. It does not really matter which one you choose. Just choose one.
  3. Chunk it down. By that I mean … determining what action steps are needed to complete the task. And, yes, you might not know all of them, but you do know the first few. If you are not a linear thinker, use mind mapping for this part. To mind-map, start with a center circle where you write the project name. Then create a series of circles out from the main circle where you will divide the goal into the big groups of tasks you know need to get done. Then you add spokes out from each small circle where you will write smaller tasks. It lets you picture the whole project, both in the big picture and in the little details. It makes it not so “big.”
  4. Just do it! Look at your calendar and see where you have time to schedule one of these small actions. You are not tackling the whole project, just one small bit of it. Surely you can find time for one action.
  5. Set a deadline. This is to keep you on track.

What would you be able to accomplish if you just chunked it down and started?

I’m stretching. Are you?

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

small__446531078Have you ever been on a stretcher? I was a couple of years back when I was rehabbing a neck problem. What happened? Well, I actually grew a bit, something pretty cool at my age. What does my growth have to do with your business? Well, it’s about being on the stretcher. When was the last time you put your goals on the stretcher?

During a conversation with one of my clients, we talked about stretch goals. What exactly is a stretch goal? I believe it is one that takes you out of your comfort zone. I think it still needs to have a component of achievability; and when you do achieve it, it will take you to a whole new level. You could also think of it as a breakthrough goal.

Why would you want to do this? It’s not really about even achieving the goal. It is about the kind of person you become by doing this. All of us face mindset issue in achieving our goals. By choosing one that is BIG, you have to be a different person. It causes you to expand your vision, overcome your fears, and face obstacles you might not expect. It lets you go to the next level in your business and life. And once you get there, you won’t want to go back.

How do you choose a stretch goal? Think of something that would make a difference in your life or the lives of your customers. Most of us set small, incremental goals that feel safe. When you set your stretch goal, it could be setting a financial goal of 25%, maybe 50% increase. That could make a difference, right? It could be to double your newsletter list. It could be to write the book you have been talking about but never work on. How would you have to think differently if you have a stretch goal?

If you set goals for the year, go back and look at them. Are they all safe? If so, pick one and make it a stretch goal. Then go back and figure out how you will get there. You will be rewarded in the end.

Two quotes to share on stretch goals:

We have found that by reaching for what appears to be the impossible, we often actually do the impossible; and even when we don’t quite make it, we inevitably wind up doing much better than we would have done.
Jack Welch, who coined the term stretch goal.

The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get.
Jim Rohn

About That Intention

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Intentionsphoto[1]For the last seven years, maybe more, I have picked a word to serve as my focus, or intention, for the year. I have shared the story before that I first did this in my yoga class. Kathy, the owner of our studio, passed a basket with words. I chose one, openness, and didn’t really like it. After all the woman next to me picked love, which I thought was so much better. I asked to draw a new word and Kathy told me the word had picked me and I was to go with it. I put the paper with the word openness on the computer where I could see it every day. I was not sure what would happen, but I just started seeing all kinds of things around me. I guess I was “open.”

Since that time I have had lots of different words to guide me through the year ranging from abundance to joy to last year’s word, consciousness. I wanted to live consciously, being deliberate or fully aware in all my activities. Yes, I saw a difference as the year went on. I spent time being conscious, maintaining a conscious living practice each day.

So, why did I make the switch from resolutions to an intention? It came down to the kind of person I wanted to be, not all the stuff I wanted to do or have. Sure, I could have the same resolutions everyone else made – lose weight, get organized, the list goes on. But that didn’t work because I was still “being” the same person. I had to make a choice to “be” a different person. That is what has made the difference, focusing on being.

So here we are, a week into 2014, and I have been thinking of my “word.” I have picked several words to try out, only none really are what I want. I thought of abundance, change, growth, permission, risk, faith, yet none of those words were exactly what I was looking for. Once I thought of trust, I knew I was onto something. It jelled, so to speak. And, as I mentioned it to a few friends, they each mentioned something that I had thought of. For me it is mostly about trusting myself to make the right decisions for my business and my life. Not second guessing myself. Taking chances and expecting them to work out. Knowing that the “how” will show up. It is also about surrounding myself with trustworthy people.

I have a book titled The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler in which she brings to life a variety of human qualities or emotions. This is what she says about truth:

“Trust is the daughter of Truth. She has an objective memory, neither embellishing nor denying the past. She is an ideal confidante – gracious, candid, and discreet. Trust talks to people who need to hear her; she listens to those who need to be heard; she sits quietly with those who are skeptical of words. Her presence is subtle, simple, and undeniable.

“Trust rarely buys round-trip tickets because she is never sure how long she will be gone and when she will return. Trust is at home in the desert and the city, with dolphins and tigers, with outlaws, lovers, saints. When Trust bought her house, she tore out all the internal walls, strengthened the foundation, and rebuilt the door. Trust is not fragile, but she has no need to advertise her strength. She has a gamblers’ respect for the interplay between luck and skill. She is the mother of Love.”

Have you picked a word to guide you for the year? If you have not, give it a chance. You just need to think of the quality or direction that you want your year to take. Need some help getting started. Think about what you might have resolved to do and ask yourself what quality is necessary for that? Or try a search online for character qualities and go from there. Lots of people immediately come up with a word that resonates with them. Others need a bit more time. Best advice is think of a word, mull it over, and if it keeps showing up (like trust), it’s the one.

What word did you end with? And, if you picked a word last year, how did that make a difference? Feel free to tell it below or on our Facebook page.

Book Review: Your Best Year Yet!

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Your Best Year Yet!

Jenny Ditzler

Grand Central Publishing; $13.95

One of my favorite planning resources is Your Best Year Yet! by Jinny S. Ditzler. I have been using this little book for years and recommend it each year. It offers a framework to define your personal values, identify the various roles you play and create goals for those roles. Here are some of Jinny’s questions plus a couple of my own:

  1. What did I accomplish?
  2. What were my biggest disappointments?
  3. What did I learn?
  4. How do I limit myself and how can I stop?
  5. What are my goals for next year?
  6. Where do I need to find education or support to get there?
  7. How can I make sure I achieve my top goals?

I find one of the most empowering aspects of Jinny’s system is the look at the successes of the year. It allows you focus on your successes and not get weighed down by what did not work. It also lets you get off the treadmill of working on your business to see if you really are on course.

Here is a quote from the book I particularly like: “We must prepare our soil before we’re ready to plant the seeds we want to grow in the new year.”

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to if you would like to learn more about the book.

Find Your CEO Hat

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

How many hats do you wear in your business? I know most of us wear more than one, particularly if it is a relatively new business. We have not had time to put the necessary systems and teams in place, so we are everything from the creative head to the shipping department. While that is how most of us start out, at some point we need to look to shed some of those hats. If we want to create a successful business, it is important to take an honest look at our skills and look at where someone else could do the job, i.e., take some of the hats from you.

In the past couple of weeks I have had conversations with several clients about their plans for 2014, and some have centered around the CEO hat. When you wear the CEO hat, you need to take “yourself” out of your business. That can be hard for many of us. I think it is because what we create is so personal. We don’t want our feelings hurt if someone does not like our art, and it can stop us from getting the information we need to make decisions about our business. We have got to remember we are making business not personal decisions. Yet it is critical to put on that CEO hat if we expect to grow our business.

As you take time to look at where you are in your business in 2013 and make plans for 2014, try to take yourself personally out of the business, put on your CEO hat, and consider what the right decision is to grow your business. Look for those places where someone else can handle the tasks and allow you put your energy where it belongs: having the big vision for your business, selling your business ideas and energizing those on your team.

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