Archive for the ‘Goals’ Category

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.

Where is Your Return?

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

This week I am at a retreat with some other creative artists. We each brought our own creative work, and we are offering support or advice  – business or art  – as needed. For some, the time is to sew needed samples for shops or classes; for others, it is to do personal sewing or reading. I brought a mix of some reading and plan to make a quilt top. What struck me is that these are women who are doing good work and striving to get it out in the world. They are also good business women who know where their efforts pay off. My question is, do you know where the return is in your business?We are quickly approaching the end of the year, and it is a good time to take a look at how your revenue looks compared to the goals you set early in the year. Are you on track or will you have a shortfall? Are your expenses in line? Have you looked at where the money comes in and where it goes out? For example, you may think that your fabric line sells a great deal, only when you go back and look at the royalty earned compared to your total revenues, you may be surprised it was not as high as you expected. Likewise you may have an activity that happens infrequently and it brings in more than you remember. You cannot make decisions based on something you do not know, so you need to look at your books.You still have time to make a difference in how the bottom line turns out in your business for 2013, plus you will have a better start on 2014. Take time to review what is working in your business and do more of it. And, if you have questions, set up a time to chat with an accountant to see what you can do to get better control on the financial end of your business.

Please share what you learned by looking at your books and what actions you’ll take below.

Is It Time for a Business Retreat?

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Before the fall starts, show season is in full force and you start thinking about the holidays, try to set aside some time in the next week or two to work “on” your business. I think the business retreat is a great way to do this.

All of us find it really easy to work in our businesses but do you work “on” our businesses? I’d always heard about this concept, but didn’t really understand it as much in the early days of my business. Well, that was because I was spending all my time working “in” my business. Much of what I learned about this concept came from the E-Myth people, particularly Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. The premise is that we can’t grow our business if we spend all our time doing the work in the business; i.e., being the technicians or doers. We have to learn and utilize management and entrepreneurial skills to build the business. Your goal should be to have your business work for you, not you working for it.

So, is all your time spent “doing” the business?

Here are four ways to strive toward working on your business:

  1. Develop a clear vision about the path your company will take. This clarity is critical for you and for any people that you hire, whether full-time or on a project basis.
  2. Take time to work on your business. I’ve heard from numerous quilters in business – longarm quilters to commission art quilters – that you need to spend two-to three hours marketing your business for every hour you spend fabricating your art. The best approach here is to set aside the time that works for you to do this. It could be three hours every morning or it could be every Monday and Tuesday. Sometimes you need to try working on your business in a different surrounding. I have a friend who goes to the local café each week to work on her business. The goal is set a time consistently to do this.
  3. Look for ways to create systems in your business. This could be anything from a system to contact potential buyers to a system to process orders. Systems make a difference in how much time you don’t spend as a technician or doer. I’m continually looking at what I do to see if a system could be initiated.
  4. Work on yourself. In addition to spending time working on your business, you need to work on yourself. The late Jim Rohn said, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job. The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become.” And, who you become as a person spills over into your business.

I’ve blocked a couple days for this and am thinking about going somewhere outside my home. It’s easier to do this without distractions. Good luck with your retreat and the plans you come up with.

Please share your best business lesson on the blog.



Are You Focusing On MGAs?

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

U.S. Coins and Paper MoneyAs a creative entrepreneur you probably struggle with a large to-do list. I know I do. Even as your business grows and you have assistance, it can still seem overwhelming to get everything done in the allotted time you have.

The key is to put money generating activities (MGAs) at the top of the list. If you look at the last five things you did in your business, how many were related to sales or marketing in your business? You need to prioritize those activities if you are going to bring income into your business. Here are some tips to do that.

  • Capture all the things that you need to get done in one place. No more sticky notes or little pieces of paper. You can create one master to-do list or one for each project. Just the act of getting the tasks out of your head frees up thinking and working energy. I like to use a sheet of paper in a three-ring binder.
  • Go back and decide what you need to do today. You will probably have other tasks to add each day that may not be on your master list. Rank the activities so you can see how many are really money-generating activities. You can use A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, C, etc., ranking system to prioritize them. “A” tasks are those which will make you money.
  • Get going and finish your A1 task before moving to your A2 task. It will take disciple to stay focused on those A tasks, and that’s what you need to do to generate an income.
  • Look at the tasks you are doing with the thought that maybe someone else can do them. Consider taking one of these and train someone else to do it. You’ll be able to spend your time on MGAs while your team can handle other work. You’ll actually be happier and more productive.
  • Watch getting sidetracked by little tasks. It’s easy to look at the list and think you can winnow the list down by doing some quick items, e.g., the phone call, answering email, checking your Pinterest page. I’ve tried that and what happens is that I don’t get to the big stuff because I did the little stuff.
  • At the end of the day, look at what you accomplished. Ta-da!

Please share your tips about how you stay focused on MGAs below.

The 1977 Granada

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

ToronadoWith traveling so much in May, the weeds got ahead of me. Way ahead of me! Weeding is not a chore I enjoy. I’d much rather sit outside and enjoy the fresh air and read or take a walk. About this time I found a note from a young man in my neighborhood looking for work so I gave him a call. He was off from college and wanted to earn extra money. He had a big goal. He was the recipient of a 1977 Granada, a classic car. Only problem was the car needed some cosmetic work that he and his dad could do and he needed to buy insurance.

What did I learn from this young man?

  1. Knowing your why is huge. Tim, that’s the young man’s name, said he needed the car because it would make the right impression. It was an impression that he wouldn’t get with the family’s old pick-up truck.
  2. Create a plan and work the plan. Tim showed up at my house with calendar pages for May through August printed out. He knows how much money he needs to make to maintain the car. He has the calendar filled in with odd jobs ranging from yard work to dog walking so he can accomplish that.
  3. Set deadlines so you can work toward your goals. Tim plans to take a “lovely young woman” out on on June 16th, so he’s got a deadline. He wants that good impression. He has other deadlines along the way, but that’s the first one.
  4. Look for options and ask for help. Tim has outlined how much money he needs to make, only it will take the summer to make enough to pay the insurance. (That’s not counting on the money for gas!) To meet his goal, he had to look at other options. His older brother, after reviewing the plan, is loaning Tim the money for the insurance. The older brother considers it a good risk.
  5. Don’t forget yourself. When Tim was setting his calendar, he put in the fun activities he had planned so that working toward his goal didn’t consume all his time. It’s easy for those of us who work for ourselves to finish one task and then jump right into the next.

While I could see all the specifics of a good business plan here, what was most fun for me was the joy that Tim had in telling me about the car, how he was fixing it up, and the impression he knew it would make. It was a good reminder for me about looking for the joy in my goals.

Now I’ve got to keep a lookout on the 16th to see the car tooling up the road.

Please share your thoughts below.