Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Goal-Setting? Piece of Cake (One Piece at a Time) - Part 2

Last time, I shared with you the "setting-up" stage for setting your goals. I want to share with you my practical tools to make progress toward your goals.

Get your head in the game. So often, we get stuck in the planning stage and never move on to the actual doing stage. It is just a matter of jumping into it and making the decision to do something today.  

1. Write it. I am an advocate of writing everything down. Writing down your goals is the first step in make them a reality. There is something mystical about putting a heart's desire, vision, plan on paper. It is a commitment to yourself. Like a contract, once you have set pen to paper the things you are planning to do, you have set things in motion. You have made yourself a promise. Writing it down not only clears your thoughts, but gives you a clear vision of what you are working toward.

2. Use a calendar. I tend to be time-oriented, always marking how long it takes me to drive somewhere, to write a blog, to read a book, etc. Marking your goals in a calendar, is again a visual tool to help you stay on your mark, and it also helps you to adjust, if necessary the reality of your goal being met. Perhaps  your 20-year high school reunion is a year away, and you want to get into shape. Putting your goal-markers on your calendar will help keep you in line with your exercise and eating program. And if you reach your goal early, that's a feat! And on the flip-side, if you've experienced a bit of a set-back, you can modify your goal end-date. 

Use whatever type of calendar system works for you. Maybe it is a planner, a year-long wall calendar, or perhaps you are a techie and prefer an online calendar or the smart calendar on your iPhone or Blackberry. Use the tools that suit you and your personality. 

3. Seek a partner to motivate you. Some people need a coach, a trusted friend, or a pacing partner to help them stay focused. An accountability partner will keep you on track, and help you when you feel stuck, get frustrated, or are tempted to throw in the towel. A friend who cheers you on toward your goals will help you stick to them. For example, having a business mentor or coach can help an entrepreneur navigate the waters of business, providing tools, resources and connections that may help you stay on track with your business or enterprise. 

Goals are not meant to be faraway, someday fantasies. They are also not scary, insurmountable tasks that we keep putting off. Achieving our goals is truly life-changing! Not only do they bring us closer to those things we seek or are dreaming about, but they also build our character and work/ business ethic.

What are you goals for 2011? Just because it is not the beginning of the year is it too late to set some in place. 

Let me know what some of you are working toward!

Looking forward to hear from you. 

Press on! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

10 Words That don’t Mean What You Think They Do

This was originally posted on by Mark Nichols. 

As English evolves, word meanings shift and turn, sometimes reversing themselves altogether. These 10 words have shifted their senses over the years.

In some cases, we are wise to likewise be flexible; in others, we relax our vocabulary at the expense of useful distinctions:

1. Decimate 
The literal meaning of this word, as all you lovers of Latin (not to be confused with Latin lovers) know all too well, is “to reduce by one-tenth,” supposedly from the punitive custom of selecting one out of 10 captives by lot and killing those so selected. But the senses for this rhadamanthine Roman policy have proliferated, so that now it means “tithed,” “drastically reduced,” or “destroyed” as well.

2. Disinterested 
Commonly employed to mean “not interested,” disinterested has a precise, useful meaning of “neutral, unbiased.”

3. Enormity 
Some people would reserve this word to mean “monstrously wicked,” but it is properly invoked to refer to anything overwhelming or an unexpected event of great magnitude, and thus it need not be invariably corrected to enormousness.

Refrain, however, from diluting the word’s impact in such usage as, “The enormity of the new stadium struck them as they approached the towering entrance.”

4. Fortuitous 
This word means “occurring by chance,” but its resemblance to fortune has given it an adopted sense of “lucky.”

For meticulous adherence to the traditional meaning, use fortuitous only in the sense indicated in this sentence: “His arrival at that moment was fortuitous, because her note had not specified the exact time of her departure.”

Nothing in the context qualifies his arrival as fortunate; the sentence merely states that he arrived in time without knowing that he would do so.

The informal meaning is expressed here: “His fortuitous arrival at that very moment enabled him to intercept the incriminating letter.” In this sentence, the time of his appearance is identified as a lucky stroke.

5. Fulsome 
This term originally meant “abundant, generous, full,” but that sense was rendered obsolete when the word acquired a negative connotation of “offensive, excessive, effusive.”

Conservative descriptivists rail against the use of fulsome in a positive sense, but the cold, hard fact is that this sense has been increasingly resurgent for many years, and the adulatory meaning is now much more common than the condemnatory one.

If you wish to stand fast before the tsunami of inevitability, be my guest, but fulsome as an exquisite insult has been consigned to the dustbin of history. Some commentators recommend that because of the word’s ambiguity, it’s best to avoid its use altogether. If you insist, make sure the context is clear.

6. Ironic 
The impact of ironic has been diluted because many people use it to mean “coincidental,” when its traditional definition is “counter to expectations or what is appropriate.” For more coverage on the improper use of "irony," read here.

7. Literally 
Some folks get exercised when this term is used in place of its antonym, figuratively. However, in a hyperbolic sense, that meaning is justified. Unfortunately, that sense is literally overused.

8. Notorious 
This term is occasionally used in a neutral sense. That’s not an error, but the word literally means “known.” However, its dominant connotation is that the fame is a result of infamy.

9. Peruse 
This victim of definition reversal literally means “to use thoroughly,” and its first sense is that of careful steady or attentive reading.

However, many writers (myself included) have employed it as a synonym for scan—enough writers, as a matter of fact, that its second sense is “to look over or through in a casual or cursory manner.”

Unfortunately, these mirror meanings mean that if you use the word, I advise you to support it with context that clarifies the intended sense.

10. Plethora 
Plethora originally referred to an excess of something, but that usage is rare now, and more often the sense is simply of abundance. The medical meaning of swelling caused by an excess of blood is all but unknown.

A version of this story first appeared on

Friday, May 6, 2011

Goal-Setting? Piece of Cake (One Piece at a Time) - Part 1

I know - that's a very heady headline, but how many often do we go through life putting off goals and end up floundering because we don't take the time to organize and set goals?

This is part 1 of goal-setting. This speaks about my own experience with goals and my to-do list, which I have found very helpful for me over the years. 

As a fairly organized person, I realized that once I started my business, I had to bring the art of organization and goal-setting to a new level. This is a task that is fairly easy once you begin to look at it as parceled segments.

The process of goal-setting can be in three phases:
1. Declutter - Throw everything out that you do not need, have not touched, or looked at for the past year. Simply put, this means tossing the previous years' to-do and goals lists so that you can start fresh. Getting "stuck" in a goal or a task that you never got to will give you a headache. It is best to crumple that piece of paper and throw it away. A fresh start gives you a fresh perspective, and the energy to start anew.

2. Divide and conquer - Break down your tasks and to-do's into bite-size chunks:
Things that require immediate attention or things that you need to do right now. If you just started a business, your immediates would be: file your business name with the registrar's office, set up your website, order business cards, set up your home office, etc. The "preliminary" aspects of whatever is your Big Audacious Hairy Goal/ Dream is simply getting down to the basics.
Things that can wait another month or so for you to tackle. For your business, these are things like purchasing all-new office equipment. Whoa, tigeress! Before you get uber-excited about looking like a "legitimate" entrepreneur, first assess the needs of your business. Maybe you can do with your current laptop and cell phone. You also do not need to be on every single social media tool out there. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, Vimeo - these are amazing tools and resources. But does it make sense for your type of business? Get your feet wet in your new venture and "test" what works or doesn't. You will save yourself a lot of needless set-up and purchases if you give yourself a one-month grace period to tinker and toy with your business needs.
Things that you can work toward for the next 6 months. Education, networking, researching, connecting are all moving parts of your business that can you do not have to jump into at the onset, but with deliberate planning, are vital aspects of your business goals. Planning out what you will attend, what group to become a part, and who you are willing to align yourself with takes time. Do not think that you should do all these things in the first month of your goal-setting. That is guaranteed burn-out, and send you reeling in frustration and not accomplishing any real thing.

3. Execute - Once your tasks and ultimate goals are compartmentalized into smaller doable tasks, it is time to start doing the work. This can be the hardest part. There is sometimes a long, rickety bridge between wishing something and actually doing it. Just like exercising, you just have to throw on the shoes and go outside and start running! And at the risk of sounding cliched, as Nike so aptly put, "JUST DO IT!"

Stay tuned for part 2 next week!

If you have any feedback or comments, I would love to hear from you!