Category Archives: Goal Setting

How Can You Make Your Resolution a Reality? It’s all in the Timing

“Timing: the alpha and omega of aerialists, jugglers, actors, diplomats, publicists, generals, prize fighters, revolutionists, financiers, dictators, lovers.”

Marlene Dietrich didn’t speak often, but in this instance it was worth waiting for.

I bring this up today as it is currently the time of year when we are fired with resolutions, goals, plans…. But while our New Year’s resolutions are at the forefront of our mind, our sense of purpose may already be tinged with doubt, dread, dismay, etc, as we realize that it’s not enough for us to want or need to re-shape our lives. We need to consider the lives of those impacted in order for us to be truly effective.

Why? Because although most of us pay lip service to the idea of “waiting until the time is right,” we also live in a culture of immediate gratification, which I believe has thrown off our sense of timing, and causing distortion in our judgment—ranging from the slight to the extreme—but inevitably causing an enormous amount of unnecessary push/pull within our relationships.

For instance, we send someone an email requesting their participation, reaction, decision, and because we know when we sent it, we have a pre-conceived idea about when we might hear back from them. When we don’t, we begin our internal storytelling, ‘He must be thinking this,” “She must be doing that.”

And while this might seem a small thing, it’s small like a hangnail: until it’s addressed, it occupies an inordinate amount of our mental space.

For example, we might call a long-term customer on the day his annual report is due, and take it personally when he doesn’t have the bandwidth to give us feedback on our new product offering, or we might take rejection personally when a new sales call tells us it’s not a good time, not knowing that he’s late for his anniversary dinner.

We don’t recognize that these are important plot points in the other person’s life.

So how can you begin to raise your awareness of the importance of timing in a relationship? One way is to watch a little more TV or a few more movies. (I bet you didn’t see that coming.) I recommend this because most of have heard of television shows and screenplays having ‘beats’: moments within their structure where we feel the need for something to happen. Beginning to think of a relationship having ‘beats’ is one way to step back from the particulars of the situation and look at the larger whole.

What’s an example of ‘beats’ with a movie? Well, screenplay calculator offers the following formula for a screenplay of 110 pages:

Opening Image: pg 1

Establish Theme: pgs 1 – 5

Setup: pgs 1 – 10

Inciting Incident: 12

Debate – Half Commitment: pgs 12 – 25

Turn to Act II: 25

Subplot intro by: pg 30

Fun – Games – Puzzles: pgs 30 – 55

Tentpole – Midpoint – Reversal: pg 55

Enemy Closes In: pgs 55 – 75

Low Point: pg 75

Darkest Decision: pgs 75 – 85

Turn to Act III: pg 85

Finale – Confrontation: pgs 85 – 107

Aftermath: pgs 107 – 110

Final Image: pg 110

As you can see, there are multiple moves within the narrative. Similarly, there are likely to be multiple moves within your relationship with another person. Learning to recognize these will help you to know when to show up with the gift, and when to withdraw the olive branch; when to hang back and let time go by, and when to lean in and ask for the favor, the money, the deal—could, in fact, cause you– when someone doesn’t offer you the immediate response you seek—to ask yourself, “Hmmm, I wonder where they are in their thinking/their day? Although I see this as an ‘inciting incident,’ they might be midway through ‘fun, games, and puzzles’ in another conversation; or contemplating their version of today’s ‘darkest decision.’”

Keeping these beats in mind is likely to ensure greater proportionality in the beats of your day, and your life— ensuring this year’s New Year’s resolution becomes a reality.




My new article on Maria Shriver’s The Women’s Conference:

Although “Innocent until proven guilty” is the law of the land, I find many women more than willing to judge—and convict– themselves of daily crimes of incompetence, inefficiency and general disorganization without ever hiring a defense counsel to speak on their behalf, much less consulting a jury of their peers.

I will take one of my typical days as a case in point. Even when I wake at five, take the dog to the park, lead a conference call, go to yoga, speak at a luncheon, prospect for new business, coach a client, and meet a friend for a drink, I will still come home and berate myself for not having stayed on top of my email, done the laundry and organized my speaking schedule. And if I’m anywhere near tax season, the holiday season, or bikini season, forget it.

It’s possible you’ve experienced these feelings.

If you’re one of the super women who also manage to commute to work, take your kids to sports practice and/or go on date night with your husband, I mentally—frankly—build an altar to you. I can’t conceive of the opportunities for personal condemnation these would provide for me.

That said, there are a few things I have slowly, painfully learned.

Contentment is a choice. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has said, “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” I’ve come to realize contentment is much the same: to accept that there will never be a day when my business is booming, my bills are paid, my hair is highlighted, my family is adoring, etc. One way Thay recommends to cultivate happiness and contentment is to build in pauses to notice what is working: When your alarm goes off, don’t jump up but lie still and take three breaths; When your phone rings, don’t lunge for it but take three breaths. You could even close your eyes and take three breaths right now.

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HOW TO MANAGE Your Expectations

My new article on Maria Shriver’s The Women’s Conference:

Over the years, one thing I’ve slowly, painfully, learned is the importance of distinguishing between someone letting me down and my assumptions about that person letting me down. The breakdown comes when I assume that the other person knows exactly what I need – without my ever having communicated it to them. The result is often an internal, or external, conversation along the lines of, “Well of course I thought you would do X/it never occurred to me you would do Y.” Later lucidity enables me to see that 1.) I am not the supreme commander of the universe (often as I think I should be) and 2.) people can’t read my mind.

It’s possible you’ve found yourself in a similar situation.

One of the cascade effects of an inability to make the distinction between when people actually let you down and when you haven’t given them the information they need to support you is a general sensation that since everyone is going to let you down, it’s easier to have no expectations – of them or of yourself — whatsoever. This construct generally ends with our talking ourselves out of doing anything—if we don’t try, we can’t fail. Therefore we will never be let down.

The trouble with this particular approach is that we stop managing those elements that actually are within our control. And when this particular element of managing goes out the window, and consequently we do fail, we provide ourselves with further evidence for the need to keep our expectations low.

I’m here to say, Stop the cycle. Manage your expectations; don’t allow them to manage you.

What does this look like? In my experience, it’s very helpful to write down every single thing necessary to accomplish my goal, and then ask myself what I – not others — need to do to ensure these things happen. If others’ contributions are integral to my success, have I stated the exact nature of my needs to them, and asked what they might need from me to accomplish these things?

As has been noted, despite Hollywood’s obsession with ‘soul mates’ whose love ensures we never again have to articulate our goals and dreams, no one will ever be able to read your mind—not your parent, not your partner, not your boss, not your assistant. It’s up to you to manage your expectations of others, and meet your own. And every time you do, you’ll find you can set your own bar a bit higher.

Brand Yourself for Promotion

By Chris Perry of

Communicating your unique and differentiating value doesn’t stop once you get a job.  Personal branding is important for all professionals across industries whether they are seeking new career opportunities or seeking opportunities for advancement within their current organization.

Here are 7 effective ways you can begin positioning yourself for movement up the corporate ladder:

Communicate Your Goals: Make sure that your managers and/or career stakeholders within your organization are aware of and kept up-to-date on your career goals.  You can do this by scheduling career discussions or lunches with them every few months.  This not only allows you to share with them your career aspirations, but also provides you an opportunity to solicit more casual feedback from them to better understand where you stand in their minds with respect to potential advancement opportunities. – Chris Perry,

Weekly Update: Employees often work hard at their jobs, but they do little to communicate to others what they’ve accomplished. Result: the perception is that they’re not that valuable. To avoid this oversight send your boss a weekly update on what you’re doing. Also, check with them to see if it’s OK for you to send a copy to senior management “to keep them up to date.” This 15 minute “Weekly Update” may have more impact on your career than any other report you write. – Jeff Mowatt,

Competency: I advise employees to demonstrate to the boss that they are capable and ready to be promoted. This may seem obvious, but employees should be able to show that they have mastered their current positions before they try to persuade the boss that they are ready for the next level. – Cheryl Palmer,

Volunteer: Assume or accept leadership positions on projects. The more you show your willingness (first) and then the results (second) to take responsibility in your organization, the more visible you become. Hiding in the herd will not get you promoted. – Erik Vermeulen,

Call with No News: Answering questions/solving problems is a daily activity. Sometimes, however, it takes us longer than we expect to find the answer/solution. Calling to say, “I don’t have that answer for you yet, but I’m working on it,” goes a long way toward inspiring trust and confidence in others. – Frances Cole Jones,

Network Internally: Get to know people and make sure people know who you are through socializing. Brazen self-promotion would likely have the opposite effect, but sharing your insights and experience in a non-threatening and informational way will allow others to see your benefits.  – David Kimmelman,

Stay clear of office politics: During the recession most companies have become breeding grounds for consistent complaint. Leaders are looking to retain and promote talent that will facilitate a positive workplace culture. –  Alexia Vernon,

Special thanks to everyone who contributed to this wealth of personal branding insight!

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing “generator,” a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer and Launchpad.

The All-Important Informational Interview

When I was thinking about switching professions, from teaching to publishing, I kept going on interviews and striking out, and I couldn’t figure it out. There had to be something I was doing incorrectly, but what was it? To discover, I began going on informational interviews—setting up meetings with people whom I would have loved to have as bosses, but who weren’t looking for help. This turned out to be how I made the jump.

The purpose of an informational interview is to find out both what companies in your field is looking for and—just as importantly—what they are not. Also, to discover what their concerns might be from looking at you, and your resume.

The fact that the interview is informational doesn’t mean you don’t have to prep just as carefully as you would if there were a job at stake. In addition to knowing your interviewer’s resume inside and out, you should have a list of questions you’d like to have answered:

  1. Are there any immediate red flags you see when you look at my resume?
  2. Are there any skills I should fine tune?
  3. Are there any new trends in the industry I should be aware of?

Additionally, information interviews are a great place to find out what not to say as well as what you should say—because every industry has one question you can ask, or statement you can make, that just drives people wild.

(For example, when I worked in publishing that phrase was, “And I know my book would be great on Oprah.” Aaaaauugh. I mean, their book might very well be great on Oprah—but getting your book on Oprah is a bit like getting struck by lightning. The effect of a prospective author saying this was only to make everyone in the room think, “High maintenance. Back away slowly.”)

Now it might seem that people in these positions don’t have the time or energy to give to these interviews. I rarely found this to be true. The people I know who’ve been shut down had opened with, “Let me take you to lunch.” While this is a lovely offer, people are busy so respect their time limits up front. Ask them, “May I come in to speak with you for fifteen minutes at the beginning or end of your day?”

Another benefit of this kind of interviewing is that if they are sufficiently impressed with you, they will have you in mind when someone in their field is looking to hire a new person for their team.

Informational interviews are a win/win/win—and all those wins are for you. You get the experience of interviewing, you get the information, and you get the future connection.

Frances Cole Jones

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The 8 Cylinders of Success and Good Excuse Goals

I am proud to announce two new books by my colleague, Jullien Gordon: The 8 Cylinders of Success and Good Excuse Goals. The first books helps you figure out where to go in life personally and professionally and the second book explains how to get there through community and goal setting. Jullien’s ultimate intention is to create the world’s most effective purpose-driven goals setting community.

The 8 Cylinders of Success addresses underemployment—the state of employment where an individual is working below their potential because they aren’t passionate about the work or their employer doesn’t bring out the best in them by allowing them to play to their strengths. Good Excuse Goals is new goal setting methodology proven to end procrastination and perfectionism forever through setting event-based goals in small groups every 30 days instead of date-based goals every year.

All pre-orders receive free shipping and will be delivered by December 15th, just in time for the holidays. Order one as a gift for someone you know and one for yourself. Thank you for supporting Jullien in his pursuit of his purpose as he seeks to help others find and align their lives with their purpose!