Small Changes, Big Impacts

Me and Anjali! She's such an inspiration!

Me and Anjali! She's such an inspiration!

This morning, I had the opportunity to talk with superstar entrepreneur, Anjali Varma's Modern Mompreneur Meet-up group about one of the beliefs I hold most dear.

Small changes make big impacts.

I find this to be true in both business and life in general. Dreaming big while keeping your planned actions small helps fight overwhelm, keeps you focused, allows you to switch things up when something isn't working, and makes your day easier instead of more stressful.

As just one example, I heard that a tiny change like eliminating sugar in your coffee could add up to 10 pounds lost in a single year. After trying this myself and feeling better just a week in, I had to ask myself- what other small changes could I make that might pay off big?

Since then, I've applied this to networking, community building, and writing. The result? I'm spending less time battling my tendency to over complicate things and my days are a bit easier.  All of this makes me want to continue towards my goals and resolutions- instead of throwing in the towel a month into the new year as I might have in the past.

So, here's a brief video followed by a recap of what I shared today with Anjali and the rest of the AWESOME mompreneurs there.

Things I believe to be true about goals

  • Goals should be specific and measurable
  • Small actions have a big impact
  • Right for right now
  • Stretchy, but with some built-in flexibility in what success ultimately looks like
  • Integrated into the rest of your life
  • Aligned with your strengths
  • Within your direct control
  • Yours, not someone else’s goals for you

Things I believe to be true about planning

  1. You don’t have to be able to see all of the exact steps to infinity in order to start
  2. Shorter planning windows are WAY more effective
  3. Plans can have flexibility and opportunity built in

So, how might you put this in practice for yourself?

Consider adopting a 21-day cycle to build a series of good habits that move your towards your goals.  Here's a worksheet to get you started.

A big thank you to the ever-lovely Jessica McFadden for the photos and video!  So great to see you!


far out

Absolute distance makes the reaching the goal harder. Running 26 miles is more difficult than 1. Perceived distance makes reaching the goal harder too but for a different reason.

Our perception of distance can make us believe a goal is farther out than it really is. This perceived distance can be hugely demotivating. It can prevent us from taking the first step and getting started simply because we believe it’s going be too hard to find our way or even worse-- because it's going to take too long.

Physically, mentally, emotionally moving towards something that we want but that seems really hard or not fully understood goes against our most hard-wired survival instincts.

Shortening the distance between ourselves and our goals—even by a single step-- brings sharper focus and might even spark an idea for how to take the second step. A journey of a thousand miles…. Right?

Do one scary thing today. 

worry along for the ride

With all of swirling talk of resolutions and goals, I worry. My goals are set and vision board cut and pasted. With those critical first pieces done, now I worry some that my goals aren’t big enough or that they’re too big. I worry most that this year will be just like last year. I worry that if I don’t make some magical things happen this week- or today- that any chance of reaching my goals will evaporate. That an achingly slow start out of the gate will cause me to lose interest and motivation with every call not immediately returned, with every unretweeted tweet, and every mile that isn’t faster than the last. 

There is a certain amount of cooperation from the universe needed to pull this shit off. I need clients to do certain things, readers to respond in certain ways, colleagues to step up, and people I haven’t even met yet to appear. It’s a choreographed circus. All. About. Me. Right? You see, I don’t want to be disappointed. So if everyone could just show up and play their assigned part, that’d be just awesome. Thanks.

Setting goals is energizing. It’s exciting. I enjoy suspending my skepticism for a couple of hours and allowing myself the time and space to dream. While goal-setting sparks a lot of positive feelings, two negative ones follow. Fear (that I can’t do the hard work needed to achieve them or won’t do it) and self-centeredness (me, me, me) are a part of the package.

Goal-setting dredges up old fears and gives my companion fears (those always hanging around) an invitation to speak. When I’m really reaching, I’m able to create some new ones to add to the collection. Goal-setting also amps up how much attention I’m paying to myself—to the exclusion of other people and events.

Both of these conditions suck mightily but can be managed. First, I have to acknowledge that they’re happening and second, take action that moves me towards the positive goal.
The acknowledging part is simply noticing and (not so simply) re-scripting the dialog in my head. Recognizing a fear is easy enough but it’s not a “check the box” kind of event. I often need to remind myself on a weekly—sometimes daily- basis that those thoughts that are telling me to slow down, stop, or turn around aren’t typically helpful warnings. They’re little fears popping up that need to be acknowledged then consciously ignored or stamped out.

The taking action part is where my plan comes in. One thing I know to be true about myself is that I can work a plan. When something is written down step-by-step, I got it. I might change the steps along the way but I have a plan. For this reason, creating a simple little plan to get me started on each of my goals is critical. Without it, I can give you the probability of success right now and it’d be zero.

A note on self-centeredness: I couldn’t talk myself of anyone out there out of being self-centered. It’s who we essentially are and, alas, is the point of setting personal goals to begin with. The issue is when we set a self-centered goal that cannot be achieved without another person’s action. These goals don’t serve you in any helpful way and typically are just a setup for disappointment. An example would be me setting a goal to increase my twitter following by 100 people. It’d be nice but there isn’t anything I can personally do to make people click “follow.” I can, however, write tweets that are amusing or helpful to me and believe they will be for other with similar interests. So the goal really is about writing fun tweets and letting go of how other people respond.

I hope you did or are planning to write down goals for 2016. I believe the process is absolutely critical—though not free from its own pitfalls of fear and self-centeredness. By paying attention to what’s going on in my head, I feel better able to do the hard work needed to bring this year’s set into reality.

Welcome back!

Welcome back!?! I say that in part as a greeting and part as a little personal pep-rally.  The buying, wrapping, cooking, celebrating, honoring, remembering, and forecasting-- it's all done for 2015. I'm both a little sad and immensely grateful that "things" will be getting back to normal this week. 

How were your holidays?  Great, I hope. The Christmas part, frankly, seems like a distant memory at this point. We had the kids home for the last four days. I'm obligated to say how wonderful that was-- and it was, of course-- but it's all-consuming and has the effect of erasing my short-term memory.  What were we talking about? Oh yeah, the holidays... 

So what's true for me about the ups and downs of the holiday season is that a perfect storm is created with the over-buying, over-eating, and over-self assessing.  All of this is done just in time for New Year's Resolutions. We're all feeling pretty icky so it's no surprise that most of us spent a little time over the last couple of days coming up with a couple of goals or, at least, acknowledging that last year's resolutions are still undone so they can just be dusted off for 2016.

Goal-setting is something I look forward to each year. I have a lengthy process that includes a lot of google image searching with some Pinterest pinning breaks (for recipes and outfits totally unrelated to whatever I'm trying to accomplish.)  This year was the mostly the same. I'll be serving my existing clients in new ways and working on winning a couple of new ones along the way.  I'm really excited about that.  I'm finetuning my writing to focus on the audience most near and dear to my heart-- younger, professional women facing many of the same challenges that I did earlier in my career. So, I'm really excited about that too. I have the common ones around health, finances, and personal relationships that are really more reminders of my values instead of out-in-out goals.

There were a couple of things I found interesting and helpful this year. This blog post about writing your goals in the past tense-- as if it were a year from now-- came from my wonderful author coach, Angela Lauria.  It's an interesting way to think about it.  After I read hers, I rewrote a portion of mine and was surprised about how easily the words spilled out. And I don't know about you but I'm dying to see the pictures of her upcoming Medieval Ball wedding!

If you're still on the fence about whether or not writing goals down is for you or not, my question would be this... if nothing changed next year, would that be ok? Most everyone I know is interested in some kind of continuous improvement. I'm a big believer in personal goal-setting and this quote from Zig Ziglar sums up why..."With definite goals you release your own power, and things start happening.”  

So get after it! Your 2016 is waiting!