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Hear what I said about Problogger event…

You may have already read some of my impressions and lessons from the problogger event in Melbourne earlier this month.

And I intend writing more about various aspects of the weekend and things I learned and am implementing.

Now, thanks to John of the Young Digital Group, you can even hear what I thought of the event, and a little background of my writing services, too.

John has set himself the challenge of interviewing 30 bloggers who have been influenced by the event. He was a pleasure to talk to and the process was simple (although I apologise for sitting in front of a window and thus having my face shadowed a bit too much).

I have to admit to being nervous about watching and listening to myself on a video – but I pushed myself to talk to people at PBEvent and now I have raised the bar higher for myself.

Side notes: John is interviewing both attendees and virtual attendees to the event so let him know if you want to share your experiences, too. If you haven’t yet grabbed one, you can still get a virtual ticket, listen to some sessions and then talk to John!

Goals from problogger event

One question I knew John would ask was ‘what key goals have you set as a result of attending problogger?’ so I spent some time that morning thinking about specific goals – and goals that were big picture enough to be interesting and challenging.

The answer I gave John is nothing like what I had thought of saying!

One goal I do have is to find ‘sparks of energy’ as Darren called them.

He was referring to the things that I enjoy posting about and am energised by plus the things that my readers are energised and interested by.

So my goal is to sit and reflect on what topics and posts I find the most interesting to work on so I can keep my momentum going and not burn out.

The other side of my goal is to also determine which posts and topics give the most value to my readers (that is, you!) so I can help you as much as possible with your communications and writing projects.

So what does energise and interest you? Are you more interested in reading about blogging or how to manage communications projects? On learning little grammar details or how to develop consistency?

What topics do you want me to write about that will spark ideas and better communications for your business?

Hearing about energy sparks

I started this post to share John’s video.

I ended it asking about your preferences. That wasn’t planned!

Yet announcing that goal is important so I’m glad I did John’s interview to concrete that idea for myself.

You’ll have to watch the video to hear another goal of mine 🙂 And that will force me to get moving on it, too.


We must not be defeated…

We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.
Maya Angelou

I came across the above quote in the December Design Lines and liked it – I also thought it might be inspiring if you are reviewing 2008 as part of your goal setting process. No matter what happened in 2008, you can choose to make 09 bigger and better!

Goal setting process

I have previously posted about SMARTY goals and rewarding yourself when you achieve goals, so I thought I would add a little about the process of setting goals.

There are a number of ways of setting goals (brainstorming, asking a coach/mentor/friend for help, breaking down bigger goals, adding onto previous achievements, doing workshops or workbooks or just following the SMARTY acronym for example.)

I have found some recent examples of goal setting processes which you may enjoy reading:

Belinda Lindhart has recently gone through the process of setting business, artistic and personal goals for 2009. She has posted about her process in her blog and I think it is a great process that she is sharing.

Chris Brogan has a very different goal setting technique – he uses three specific words to keep him on track for the year.  It is actually a very challenging thing to do, but has a lot of potential – I think I will try this one myself! I also love the words equip and armies that Chris has set for himself – he probably wouldn’ t mind if I copied them as it is my aim to equip people with clear communications (through my tips and own writing) and environmental consciousness, and I would love armies of people to push for clear communications and more respect for our planet. However, I will sit down and see what words I come up with myself.

Ali reminds us that goals should be fulfilling as they happen, not just for some mythical future happiness. While not every step of a goal will be fun, it will ideally have some reward for you along the way – and certainly be something you want rather than what you ‘should’ do.

“A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step” said Confucius. Apparently, the Japanese system of kaizen has a similar meaning and I agree with Emma that taking baby steps is the way to achieve anything – and I loved reading that she used this system for breaking a habit like smoking as it is exactly how I think such habits can be broken!

Some years I ago I used a list of questions (out of a book originally but I can’t remember it’s title or author now) to review the previous year and start the new one. The questions were things like ‘what did you learn this year? what was your biggest achievement? which goals did you reach? which people influenced you this year? what was your biggest challenge this year?’ and then repeat them for the upcoming year (so what do you want to learn next year? what do you want to achieve next year? how will you overcome/avoid those challenges? which old goals need refining?) It was an effective exercise in choosing a direction and goals which I could then write out.

So what process do you use, or will you now use, to set 2009 up as your best year so far?

Rewards and acknowledgements

I spoke at a workshop this morning on goal setting – we worked on SMARTY Goals, business values and setting challenges.

As part of setting goals and milestones, it is important to notice the work you have done and the progress made even if you haven’t fully reached the original goal (as Melissa, wrote in her blog, aim for the moon as you’ll at least reach the stars.) Having small rewards for yourself is one way to acknowledge what you have done, which makes it easier for you to move on and do the next step, and the next, and the next…

Rewards can be anything that you gain pleasure from (booking a massage, eating a doughnut, taking time to read a book, buying a book or magazine, seeing a movie, taking your family on a picnic, sitting in a spa, and so on.) You can keep the reward to yourself, too, so don’t worry about what anyone else would think of the reward.

My guidelines for rewards are:

  1. make it a reward for you, not your family or coach or whoever
  2. make the reward match the goal in size – a doughnut for a year’s worth of hard work is not much reward, but a two week beach holiday is probably a bit over zealous to reward sending out one newsletter!
  3. if you promised yourself a reward, make sure you get it when you’ve earned it
  4. keep a reminder of the reward with the goal – maybe a photo next to your computer, light a coconut candle to think of a tropical holiday, or stick a car key on your mirror

And don’t be afraid to share your achievements with others, either. Even small achievements can be shared and acknowledged by friends, people you network with or a coach.

How often do you reward reaching a goal? Do you give yourself acknowledgement of work you’ve done and how far you’ve come, even if it wasn’t actually a goal?

A rose by any other name…

Have you ever noticed how changing one word can totally change a document or someone’s understanding?

I don’t mean where the wrong word is used accidentally (for example, a typing error changing boy to buoy) but where an appropriate word doesn’t work as well as intended.

Sometimes the word doesn’t work because of the audience. For example, I have seen Australian children (and adults actually!) struggle over American books when they write about pacifiers (dummies) and diapers (nappies) – that’s life if the author was aiming at American children, but bad judgement if the author was aiming at Australians.

Often, however, a word is used that has hidden meanings that can detract from what you were actually aiming at.

I recently had a discussion about the word therapist versus counsellor. While both words can describe a person you talk to about issues and (hopefully) get some insights and direction from the sessions. However, people perceive the two words in different ways – do you? Personally, a therapist implies someone who will help fix a problem (compare to a speech therapist or physiotherapist) but a counsellor is more about working through ideas or situations. So which word is best will depend on what message you are trying to give.

Another example is calling goals or targets ‘milestones’ instead of goals. Michelle of Shel Design was struggling with the concept of setting goals – to her, the word goal implied a final step whereas setting milestones was easier as they were just part of her business process and development. In this case, the word goals was appropriate but had certain hidden meanings for people like Michelle – when writing, those hidden meanings are important to consider, too.

When reviewing your writing, consider your use of words – are some of those words going to mislead some of your readers? Are there hidden meanings you haven’t considered?

Use your words wisely!

SMARTY goals

As promised in my New Year’s message, I wanted to explain what SMARTY goals are – and why they are better than other goals.

SMARTY Goals are:

follow your path across water

Setting goals will keep you heading the right direction







And now for an explanation…

Specific – the more specific the goal, the easier it is to see your progress and feel some achievement. For example, ‘loosing weight’ or ‘getting fit’ may be common resolutions, but they aren’t specific. Much better to say ‘I will lose 5 kilos’ or ‘I will train so I can run 10km’

Measurable – make it so you know when you have reached it, and see improvement along the way as well. For example, ‘I will make $x more this year than last year’ is easy to see how close you are to $x and achieving your goal.

Achievable – you must be able to work on the goal. Setting a goal of running a marathon next week is unlikely if you currently get puffed walking to the letterbox, but a goal of walking for 10 minutes every day is achievable. Of course, part of being able to work on the goal means your attitude, too – you need to be willing to work on it and allow yourself to grow your abilities along the way.

Relevant – your goals must fit in with where you are, what your values are and your big life goals. Following someone else’s goals may not be relevant for you (e.g. don’t try to lose weight if you are underweight), and you may need to set different goals at different times in your life. If your values are to help people, then ‘I will volunteer at the community centre 3 hours a month’ is a relevant goal.

Timed – goals without a deadline are just wishes really. A deadline makes you take them more seriously and to act on them now rather than tomorrow. Deadlines need to be realistic to keep your goal achievable, but they also need to be tight enough to keep you motivated and working towards the goal. So a timed goal is something like ‘I will read a business magazine a month’, ‘I will sell 10% more this year’,  ‘I will exercise 4 times a week’ or ‘I will lose 6kg by 1 August’.

whY– you need to have a reason to aim for your goal. The reason will keep you going even when it is hard and you don’t seem any closer to the end. And I’m talking about the real, deep reason for your goal. For example, ‘my doctor says I should stop smoking’ will only motivate you on a good day. On a bad day, you will need to know ‘I want more energy and don’t want emphysema like Uncle Jim so I will not light a cigarette now’. So what is your real reason (and there can be more than one) for setting this goal?

So let’s go back to our first examples – I want to lose weight and I want to get fitter. Now, let’s word them as SMARTY goals:

I will lose 1 kilo a month until I reach 60kg so I can fit into my favourite dress and keep up with my kids in the park.

I will exercise four times every week to be fit enough for the fun run in September. I want to show John that I can compete at his level and I want to feel proud of myself.

So what are your SMARTY goals for the next six months?