Friday, February 11, 2011

The trouble with goal setting

We're knee deep into 2011 by now, and most of us are barely making progress on the goals or aspirations we tend to identify at the beginning of the year. I'm not a huge fan of big, audacious new year resolutions, but most likely due to my business background I am accustomed to annual/quarterly goal setting.

So far, we probably fit into these two categories:

Juggling work, managing the house, running the kids, etc? We're trapped in an unending list of things and people that depend on us...maybe for everything.

Most or all of our time is spent managing our home and children. Somehow we've gotten too far away from the structured worklife we once had and certain things fail to get done or continually get pushed to the next day on our to-do list.

I read some simple, yet powerful (aren't these always the best?) advice about motivation and how it relates to obtaining goals. If you fall into either category, this strategy can work.

Tackle goals by developing simple if-then statements. We all typically have larger goals/aspirations, and if we can identify key things that we HAVE to do in order to reach these goals, then we can make progress. For me, one of my if-then statements looks like this:

"If it is Tues/Thurs between 9-11am then I am working on freelance writing projects."

By identifying what I intend to do with this time in a very direct way, it creates focus; and it addresses a challenge I have dealt with unsuccessfully for quite a while. It means that during these timeframes (all three kids are in school/preschool) I am NOT doing laundry, fussing with email, meeting a friend for coffee, running an errand or working out. I clearly know what I should be doing and stick to it.

Since acquiring 4 hours per week of "free" time for me that does not require a sitter or grandma, I have literally covered the map with what I have chosen to do with this time, being allowed to commit to whatever sounded good that day (and heaven knows that my list of possibilities runs long). When it came to making progress on goals that were truly meaningful to me and my family's life, this just could no longer do!

So, whether you are carving out time in a hectic schedule watching chunks of time disappear or needing to identify time that might get pulled in too many directions because of a lack of structure, try this strategy and watch your progress begin to take shape. Stop being pulled around by the life you have designed and start molding the dreams and aspirations for the life you envision!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas came a little early this year

Well, here she is! Our newest lady of the Miss Roxy!

Remember the comment I made last summer about our series of family conversations about having (or not having) a pet? Well, fish turned into turtles, which then became a puppy! Ava turned 6 in November and while visiting a pet store to buy a water turtle, the girls pulled out the puppy dog eyes and declared, "We want a puppy, not a turtle!"

All was doomed - no one could talk about anything else for weeks. We took online dog-matching tests, searched for dogs online, visited humane societies and went back and forth on many issues (rescue, breeder...). We finally found the girl for a pet store, no less!

Yes, we broke the cardinal rule and bought our dog at a pet store. Yikes! You should see the looks you get at the vet when you share that statistic in the waiting room! I was very reluctant, but unfortunately it was a battle I was going to lose...decidedly. My husband stopped in the little neighborhood pet store after picking up a few grocery items I asked him to pick up one afternoon. I'm not sure what drew him in, and he isn't either. He was met with a, "What the heck were you doing in there?" when he came home and told us that he had found our puppy.

He brought our two oldest girls to see the puppy. I kept making an excuse for not seeing the puppy thinking this would blow over and we'd resume our "proper" search. The longest week of my life then ensued. Day long conversations with different children, including bedtime begging and prayers for mommy to "let us get this dog." Finally, after watching my husband make every argument and emotional plea in the book, I realized that the rest of my family was in the same rescue boat and I was stubbornly on shore...all by myself.

I began to feel like they knew something that I didn't and that somehow I had missed the signs that they were clearly able to see. Somehow, I realized that my part in all of this was to now have faith in my family. That even if I wasn't feeling the same emotion or attachment to this dog, that I had to trust them that I would.

And what a treat it has been. Not only did we add a beautiful, loving, sweet and mild-mannered member to our family, but I learned a lesson in having faith. Faith is easy when you rely on what you can see or feel, yet faith can be most powerful when you decide to trust what other's know in their hearts and inspire you all the same.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Spreading her wings

I know it's been a while since I last posted. Rest assured that I HAVE been writing, yet just haven't felt inspired to post. Maybe it's been because of having such a hectic Fall with three kids back to, or beginning, school. Who knows!?

What I DO know is that inspiration has struck. And now I know why.

I just came from coffee with a friend. Our kids met in pre-school and they are now kindergartners at the same elementary school. We've all been running in different directions and I have been looking forward to catching up with her for such a long time. I was excited to finally sit down and visit...just the two of us!

This fall she opened her own art gallery. She's been running galleries part-time for years and the opportunity to leap into ownership fell on her lap last spring. She took quite a bit of time wrapping her head around taking on this journey. The timing, the money, the fears of failure, the stress on her family. The list of obstacles goes on.

Yet as I sat there with her I was overcome with how proud I am of this inspiring mother. She considered all of the critical challenges and has maintained her priority on family.

She has been patient through the years, raising two boys now in elementary school, supporting a loving husband, and has found her time to leap. And what a beautiful site it is...a journey that many will witness and take pleasure in treasuring as inspiration to take their own leap in life!

Congratulations, my friend, for not only following your dreams, but for also showing fellow mothers how to take on the world with your family right there by your side.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Funny Friday Returns

Well, I wasn't expecting this long of a hiatus...August proved to be jam packed with a few last minute trips and getting ready for school to begin.

We headed to NYC to visit my youngest brother and his girlfriend - we stayed with them (yes, all five of us) in their apartment in the quaint neighborhood of Nolita. It was so much fun that NONE of us wanted to come home. Although I'm not sure my stomach could handle any more, gelato, croissants, crepes, korean, curry, hot dogs, OH MY!!

We then headed to Michigan to visit friends who have a lake cottage and had a blast! Our youngest daredevil didn't hesitate a moment before hopping on a tube for a wicked ride around the lake. Are you kidding me, she's 3!! Thank goodness Daddy and sisters were riding with her. I have dozens of pictures of the crew grinning from ear to ear.

Funny subway story:
One of my favorite experiences the girls had in NYC was the exposure to different people! From ethnicity, clothing (or costumes), hair, street performers, dog walkers - WHATEVER - I loved watching their attention be drawn to something they have never seen before.

We were on the subway (fantastic people "gawking" opportunities, of course) and at one stop a young woman walked onto the subway and sat down next to Sydney (8). Sydney took notice of her hair and just could not keep her eyes off of her. Mind you, this woman's afro was HUGE and cut in a bob style, but was just crazy and gorgeous mixed together. Lots to take in for our little gal.

When we got out of the subway I leaned down to Sydney and whispered "If you keep fighting with us about brushing your hair every day, THAT's what its going to look like." Here eyes bugged out of her head and from that day on she has volunteered to brush her hair without our begging and dictating!!! Yahoooooo!!

Ok, so this is not my shining mother moment, but I did have fun teasing her. And we did have a follow up conversation about the woman's hair, explaining her choice to have her hair styled in that way and that it was not caused by perpetually not brushing her locks!

Have a wonderful and fun Labor Day Weekend! Parts 2 & 3 for Career Management will be posted next week - sorry for the longer than expected delay.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Funny Friday - Yummy Snacks

Happy Friday! I can't believe summer break is in its final much to do (fun and not so fun) and yet I can't believe September is around the corner.

Early in the summer I stopped at my mom & dad's house to pick up the kids. They had spent a few hours eating lunch and playing while I had an appointment.

As I walked into the kitchen Calley (3) says:

"OOOOH, Mommy. These jello jiggler thingies are super duper yummy!" And with that a huge, squinty-eyed grin covered her face...kinda like this one!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Career Management - Part 1: Planning

Let's chat a little about managing your professional life. Part 1 will address the essentials of planning, Part 2 will focus on career change and Part 3 will open up the subject of re-entering the workplace after being home with your family.

Part 1: Planning

Whether you are looking to the future within the context of your current profession or employer, dream about owning your own business or see some time off with your family in your future, you absolutely have to start with a plan.

I've worked with hundreds of employees and job-seekers and when it comes to career management I'm amazed at how many times people don't have a written plan for their future. Forget your resume for a moment, I'm talking about some type of document, poster...something...that addresses what you see for yourself in the upcoming working or family years.

In the case of the job-seeker, if you don't start with a plan, your search will take AT LEAST TWICE AS LONG COMPARED TO SOMEONE WORKING FROM A PLAN!! Dreams usually stay dreams unless you put some ink around them, set some milestones for decision making and track your progress along the way.

Let's talk about some planning basics that you can find in many life/career/project management publications. I don't think any of these will be totally new to you, but hopefully I'll shed some light on how to help you embrace these essentials in a way that works for how YOU work.

Understand your planning style: Arm yourself with the tools you need to create a living plan document. This may be an electronic document, or several, created on your computer. Neat, tidy...and always edited and up to date. Or maybe it's a poster-size document, hanging on your wall in the house somewhere. Handwritten, colorful... whatever! How about a notebook - yes, a good old fashioned notebook, where not only do you keep your plans, but you also jot down ideas, accomplishments and contact information for anyone or thing related to your career development. Don't limit your planning skills with how you've planned in the past. Knowing your style will help you keep the plan alive, up-to-date, motivating and top-of-mind.

Begin with your priorities and values: Identifying the most important things to you in life will help bring order and peace into your world. I'd compare it to holistic medicine. If you break your life into disconnected pieces (health, fitness, career, family, spirituality, friendship) they'll stay in silos and compete for your time. If you plan to integrate them from the beginning, you'll treat the source of your condition, not merely suppress errant symptoms. Write these important beliefs down and define what they MEAN TO YOU. Don't just write down your priorities, RANK THEM!!

Create a Project Plan: You may not know every step you'll need to take to go from today to getting that new job, but start with what you know and fill in the gaps as you learn. Project plans are fantastic tools because they can fulfill the role of an accountability manager! Capture key milestones with basic tasks that will need to be accomplished in order for the milestone to be completed. The milestone then allows you time to pause and make decisions about moving forward OR prepares you to take the next step. Sit down with a calendar and map it out...on excel or a piece of paper...remember your planning style!

Gain Perspective: GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD FOR THIS ONE!! The last thing you want to do when you create a working plan is to lock yourself up and work alone. Yes, you'll need think time and research time, but make sure you engage a learning perspective throughout the process. Have coffee with friends, old colleagues, attend an event that might feature a speaker or topic that is of interest to you, make inroads with someone who might help you gain knowledge on a particular can even pull together a small working group of moms who also need to nail down a career plan and work together. You can touch-base regularly (weekly, monthly) and work through the process as a team. Group/team work can have outstanding results - lots of support, creativity and motivation come from a healthy team environment.

That's a good dose of planning for now...remember, wisdom's greatest enemy is fear. Don't let your fears of failure, inadequacy, rejection or criticism prevent you from developing an inspiring, actionable plan about your professional future. You're only stuck if you want to be stuck.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Funny Friday!

Ok, so I can't even believe we caught this moment on camera!

It was Fall '08, Calley was 18 months, Ava was almost 4 and Sydney was 6. We were on our way to a local farm to go pumpkin picking. The drive was about 40 minutes and the older two girls were starting to get antsy, which usually starts a roller coaster of bickering.

We turned around to discipline Ava and Sydney only to find out that Calley had found a cure for listening to her older sisters' annoying chit chat. HA HA!! Once again, we are impressed with the youngest sister's sense of balance and need for peace!!

Have a wonderful week will start a three-part series on career management. Get ready!