Checking In On 2017 Goals by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Way back in January, you set your yearly goals. January is an exciting time for many people, as it offers the chance to start over with a clean slate. You get to think about all the exciting and productive things you plan to do for the year, and put those ideas and goals on paper.

The time you spend making goals in January is wasted, however, if you aren’t revisiting those goals throughout the year. October marks the beginning of the fourth quarter of the year, and is the perfect opportunity to check in once more on those yearly goals. We’re three quarters of the way through the year, and moving into the home stretch on accomplishing our goals. Here are some tips on conducting your check in.goal

  1. Be honest. When you review your progress, don’t skip over anything. Take a hard look and what you said you would do compared to what you’ve actually done.
  2.  It’s likely you’ve met some of your goals, and can clearly see that you’ll meet others by year’s end. Take the time to celebrate crossing the finish line on goals and being on track to complete others.
  3.  Track what got in your way. You may find that you haven’t reached, or are not on track to reach, some of your other goals. Take a look at the obstacles that kept you from being where you wanted to be as you move into the fourth quarter. Some of your obstacles may be self-inflicted, while others may be completely out of your control.
  4.  Make adjustments for the final quarter. Where you’re lagging behind, evaluate the adjustments you should make to make up for the lag. If you find that it isn’t possible to meet the original goal, adjust the goal so that you’re still striving for improvement. Press the reset button and accomplish the most that you can for the remainder of the year.

Don’t give up on your goals. Even when you see that you can’t meet your original goals by year end, it’s unwise to totally scrap the goal. If you’ve found that a goal you set at the beginning of the year is no longer relevant to your success, replace it with a more relevant goal and keep moving forward. If you can’t accomplish all that you wanted for the year, make the most of the time you have left and do the very best you can. If you’ve given a goal all your effort, you still have plenty to celebrate at year end.

Holding Yourself Accountable by Ciindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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As leaders, we regularly hold others accountable for their actions and for doing their jobs. In many cases, we find it easier to hold others accountable than ourselves. It’s easy to make excuses about our bad habits or our failure to stay focused. images2

Learning to hold yourself accountable and ensuring you live up to the standards you set for others is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself as a leader. To help ensure you stay true and accountable, begin practicing the following skills.

  • Write down your goals. Know what you’re working toward and when you plan to have achieved it. Monitor your progress regularly and make adjustments when progress isn’t going as planned.
  • Write down your tasks. This is the first step toward holding yourself accountable. Make a list of what you will do either daily or weekly, in order of priority. Work on high priority items first, and then move to lesser priority items. At the end of the day, if you haven’t made it through your list, decide how to handle this issue, either working late to complete the items, or moving them to the next day’s list. Over time, you’ll get a good handle on how much you should get accomplished in a day, and you’ll begin to see patterns emerge regarding what gets in your way of accomplishing your daily or weekly goals.
  • Have an accountability partner. Work with someone who will hold you accountable and you hold them accountable.  Have regular check in calls and document progress.  Work with someone who is comfortable to call you out when you get off track and visa versa.
  • Give yourself incentives to ensure you get work completed or meet goals. You can use positive or negative reinforcement to help you stay accountable. For example, promise yourself you can have a special night out if you complete all your tasks this week. Conversely, you could deny yourself something you normally do because you enjoy it if you don’t meet your weekly goals.

Holding yourself accountable takes discipline. These exercises are designed to help you develop this self-discipline to the point that you don’t even have to consider whether or not you’ll meet the requirements you set for your self. Once you have this self-master, you’ll be well on your way to being the leader you’ve set out to become.

Taking Appropriate Action by Cindy Stradling CSP ,CPC

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One primary sign of a good business leader is the willingness to take action when needed. Too often, problems languish due to a hesitation to make a definitive move forward. However, in addition to being willing to make a decision and take action, it is just as important for a leader to take the appropriate action at the time. Here are some tips to ensuring the action you’re about to take is the appropriate one.images

  1. Is it necessary? There are times when a problem doesn’t really require action. We may be tempted to take unnecessary action because we are upset or have a strong opinion on the situation at hand. But, before you make a move, consider how the scenario might play out if you do nothing. Sometimes, letting a situation resolve itself without your intervention is the best course of action.
  2. Is it well thought out? Once you’ve decided that it is important to take action, it is equally important that you take the right action. Look at all your options, and choose carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask for input from those who will be affected by the actions you’re about to take.
  3. Is it timely? Taking action at the wrong time can be costly. Be certain to evaluate the timing of your action. The right move at the wrong time can be just as costly as the wrong move. This is especially true of situations that involve people who may be hurt or angry. Sometimes, a cooling off period will change perspective on the situation.

One of the marks of a great leader is the ability to make good decisions and move forward, even in times of uncertainty, and even when these decisions must be made quickly. However, even in the most urgent of times, it pays to take a minute and ask yourself the three questions mentioned above before you make a move.

Visualization Can Make a Big Difference by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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There are many techniques you can use to increase your chances of meeting your goals and being successful in your endeavors. Things like indexorganization, keeping a calendar and learning to prioritize are all important skills when it comes to making the most of your time to ensure you complete the activities that will make you successful. But, there is one activity that you might be neglecting that could have a powerful effect on achieving your goals. This activity is visualization.

Simply put, visualization involves imagining yourself achieving your goal. Imagine how you will feel, look, or what specific qualities will exist when you have reached the goal you’ve set. For example, if your goal is losing weight, you might visualize yourself in the perfect outfit at the perfect size, or imagine yourself being able to run a mile, or reach the finish line of a marathon. If business success is your goal, you might imagine winning a business award, reaching a certain revenue, or having an office full of employees. Seeing yourself having what you desire can help you achieve it.

Here’s why.
Your brain has the capacity to grow and develop. When you learn something, you change your brain. This is something you likely already know. What you may not know, however, is that your brain, as powerful as it is, cannot distinguish between actually experiencing something and imagining it.
According to a research paper by the Coaching Academy on neuroscience and visualization, “if you exercise an idea over and over (in your mind) your brain will begin to respond as though the idea was a real object in the world”.* As your brain visualizes the achievement of something, it is training itself for the actual achievement. The longer you do it, the easier it is to visualize, and the more likely you are to take the other steps needed to make the goal happen. And, there’s other science to suggest that the mere act of visualization actually moves you toward your goal.

A study at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio compared people who worked out at a gym with people who had virtual workouts in their minds. They found that those who actually worked out showed a 30% increase in muscle strength, as might be expected. However, those who engaged only in regular virtual workouts showed a muscle strength increase of 13.5%.*

So, as you’re making your list of tasks for reaching your goals; don’t forget to include visualization of yourself achieving that goal in your daily routine. It just might help you get there faster and easier.

*www.activeacuity.com

How To Know If It’s Time to Give Up on a Goal

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targetOne of the hallmarks of a successful person is perseverance. The most successful people have proven themselves to be able to meet their goals simply because they do not give up easily on those goals. They show the discipline and commitment to continue to move forward toward a goal even after making several failed attempts and even when the odds may seem impossible.
However, there are times when it doesn’t make sense to continue to pursue a goal. Making the decision to stop working toward a goal is often very difficult for people who are accustomed to always reaching the goals they set. Here are some tips to help you know when it’s time to take a new direction:

• You’re pursuing it only because you said you would. If you’ve lost your passion for a project, it’s time to reevaluate whether you should continue to pursue the goal. For a goal to be worth continuing to pursue it is important to know that you will still find fulfillment in achieving it.

• It is no longer financially feasible. If you’ve begun a business or project and determined that it doesn’t make financial sense to continue. You should pursue another path or begin to recognize it as a hobby.

• It infringes on things that are more important. If you have found that reaching your goal requires that you put in so much time that you neglect things that, in the long run are even more important, it’s time to reevaluate. It may not require completely giving up on your goal, but rather reorganizing your life and changing your timeline, so that you can move forward at a pace that allows you to keep up with the other important things in your life.

Giving up on a goal is never easy for those who are accustomed to always reaching their goals. However, sometimes it takes more character to know when to change direction than to continue to pursue a goal that is no longer appropriate for your life.

The Truth About Goal Setting by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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We’ve all set goals many times in our lives. For most of us, we’ve achieved some of these goals, while we’ve failed to achieve others. It is important to look at the goals we’ve reached and those we’ve failed to achieve. When you do so, it’s likely you’ll see two main differences that helped determine whether you met your goals or didn’t quite measure up.commitment

1. Desire. Some things that we want are fleeting desires. We may see others have these things or be able to do these things and wish to have them. We may think, for example, how great it would be to finish a marathon. But, if we truly hate running, the desire to run that marathon may disappear after just a few training sessions. You are more likely to achieve a goal when the end result is something you strongly desire.

2. Commitment. Reaching goals requires consistent effort. We often fall short because our short-term desires, or how we feel on a particular day get in the way of our commitment to the end goal. Reaching your goals requires doing what you need to do even when you don’t want to do it. This goes right back to desire. When the desire is strong enough, the commitment is easier to keep.

3. Reality. Sometimes we fail to reach goals because those goals were not realistic. Let’s think again about the goal of running a marathon. No matter how much we might want to run that marathon, and no matter how committed we are to doing so, we won’t reach the goal if we expect to be able to go from couch potato to marathon runner in two weeks.
Often times, in our great desire, we set ourselves up to fail by setting unrealistic goals. One way to help avoid this is to have checkpoints along the way to our goals. At the checkpoints, we can evaluate our progress and see if timelines or expectations need to be reset. When we do this, it helps to prevent giving up because we didn’t reach a goal in a particular amount of time. It’s easier to continue when we see progress.

Goal setting is an important part of achievement. Remember to choose your goals carefully, so that you can ensure you have a strong desire and the commitment to stay focused. Be certain that those goals are realistic by checking your progress and reevaluating. With these simple steps, you can reach any goal you set out to achieve.

Building Momentum by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

As you face any new challenge, momentum helps you to ensure that you have the power and resilience required to meet your new goals. Momentum can help keep you focused when your enthusiasm may wane and can help keep you energized, momentum12preventing you from throwing in the towel when facing obstacles. Here are three ways to help build momentum early in a project that will see you through to the end.

1. Plan. A roadmap is critical in any long race. Having a plan in the beginning helps you to envision the steps required to meet the challenge. Though you may have to alter the plan throughout the course of the project, having an initial plan helps you to ensure you’re continuing to move in the right direction.

2. Gather resources. We rarely achieve great things alone. Be certain you have the human and capital resources you need to get the job done. It is very difficult to keep up momentum if you run out of people, money or equipment.

3. Envision the finish. Every project has ups and downs. The down times can make it difficult to rekindle the momentum you have in the early days of the project. Imagining the pride you will feel when you’ve accomplished your goals is a great way to ensure you keep the momentum going for any long-term goal. Recapture the image of your success as often as needed to help you keep your eyes on the prize.
Each of these ways of helping build momentum is fairly simple, and each can easily be a part of any type of project. Yet, as simple as these steps can be to take, these can also be critical to your success. Safeguard your project’s momentum from the very beginning, rather than trying to rekindle it when it wanes. Doing so will help you ensure that your project always moves steadily in the right direction.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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According to the definition in Wikipedia, fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat that causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus which is perceived as a risk of significant loss of health, wealth, status, power, security or of anything held valuable. In short, fear is a motivating force arising from the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to coanxietynfront it or flee from it (also known as the fight-or-flight response) but in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) a freeze or paralysis response is possible.

Why would I write this week’s blog on Fear?  As we moved forward into a new year, a lot of people set new goals, resolutions and intentions.  All too often these expectations are never met because of a perceived (usually not real) fear or threat.  As a coach I have worked with numerous people who have gotten stopped by a hidden fear.

The acronym F=false E=evidence A=appearing R=real comes to mind when I think of this. Our brain is very complex and the fear response is automatic.  When we set a goal we have to step outside our comfort zone in order to achieve it (this is because we need to do things differently to get different results). When we do this we can experience heightened stimuli that releases chemicals that can cause your heart to beat faster, hands to sweat and your muscles become energized.  Once we understand that this is just an automatic response to doing things out of our comfort zone, we can learn to embrace the feeling and move through it.

I can remember a client I was coaching on improving her prospecting skills.  We worked to build her confidence and practiced what she would say on a cold call.  She was truly petrified to pick up the phone.  The day came when she was to start prospecting for her new sales position.  She emailed me to say she was shaking as she picked up the phone.  I congratulated her on her persistence to keep going and move through her fears.  She is now a top sales person and she often says if she had let her fear stop her she would have left the job.

A personal example comes to mind as well.  Years ago I used to think that only losers traveled alone. I thought it would be a terrible experience and I was afraid to travel alone.  One year I decide to change all that and booked a Caribbean Cruise by myself.  I was frightened for my safety and thought I wouldn’t have any fun. I decided I would feel the fear and do it anyway.  In fact I paid a high premium as a single person. That trip changed everything for me!  Not only did I have a great time, I made some new friends as well.  I bought a gold ring on the island of Antigua and have kept it on my finger since the trip.  Whenever I feel afraid to step out of my comfort zone I look at my ring and it reminds me that often our fears are not real, and I do whatever it is that I am afraid of.  The nervousness is still there, I simply acknowledge it and keep going.

As you move forward in 2014 toward your new goals and if you get the feeling to stop, procrastinate or avoid altogether, ask yourself “Is there a fear that is preventing me from going forward?”  If you discover that this is what is hindering your progress, I say “I am going to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!”