Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Setting goals improves mood
Stress for Success
January 26, 2010

“What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is,
in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence
is what we do.” -- John Ruskin, 19th Century English social thinker

What do you talk about accomplishing? Do you put your money where your mouth is? You should because by regularly setting realistic goals and accomplishing them you’ll improve your moods and self-esteem and lower your stress.

Author of Finding Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says, “ . . . we often walk through our days ... out of touch with our emotional lives. As a result of this inattention, we find ourselves constantly bouncing between two extremes: during much of the day we live inundated by the ... pressures of our work and obligations, and during our leisure moments, we tend to live in passive boredom.”

To avoid this uninspiring lifestyle he encourages creating goals on which to focus. “ ... goals shape and determine the kind of person you become. Without them it’s difficult to develop a coherent self.”

Working on objectives also improves your moods. Csikszentmihalyi says that when your attention isn’t focused on goals your mind wanders and settles on the negative, causing stress and leading you to miss what’s going well. This leads to distracting yourself through passive leisure activities like TV, drugs, etc. Setting and accomplishing goals that stretch you prohibits distracting thoughts and negative feelings because your attention is so focused on accomplishment. Minor aches and pains also drift to the background of your awareness.

In addition to defining your vision, writing a SMART goal and an action plan, covered in previous articles (see previous articles here at http://stressforsuccess.blogspot.com,) here are some final tips to reach your goals:
* For each goal set specific and realistic start and completion dates. If you’re not meeting your deadlines revise them since unattained goals increase stress.
* Identify the people who can help you. For my goal of marketing my newly published book I truly need the help of marketing people, my husband, and hopefully a college intern.
* Assess your current skills that can help you accomplish your goal. For marketing my book/keynotes my present skills include:
o Communicating my message;
o Organization for contacting radio/tv hosts/producers and speakers bureaus; follow-up persistence to secure interviews/dates;
o Calmness during interviews;
* Identify the skills that you need to acquire and develop. For my goal there are too many to list here.

Finally, know what’s in it for you to accomplish your goal. For me, this includes:
* Increased income;
* Shorter speeches vs. multi-hour workshops, diminishing vocal-chord strain;
* Spreading the word regarding the bad news about stress (it makes you vulnerable to illness and disease development) and the GREAT news (schedule more rest away from it to protect your well-being);

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living,
the world owes you nothing; it was here first.” Mark Twain

You owe yourself the life you want. So make it happen, step by step.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is a speaker and a Stress Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at http://www.letyourbodywin.com/bookstore.html. Email her to request she speak to your organization at jferg8@aol.com.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Create an action plan to make your vision a reality
Stress for Success
January 19, 2010

“Any wind favors one who has no port.” Source Unknown

If you’re frustrated with your life but don’t know what to change, then any “wind” will carry you wherever it’s going, which may or may not be where you want to go.

Recent articles have been about “living a life by design, not by accident” and setting SMART goals to attain your vision. This week we’ll look at creating an action plan to initiate your movement, because,

“A goal without a plan is just a dream.” Source Unknown

Setting goals is easy. Anyone can do it. You’ve known others, yourself perhaps, who boast, “I’m going to do this …,” “I’m going to accomplish that ...” and seldom follow through. To create the life you want you must do the difficult work of creating a realistic action plan then making it happen.

To greatly improve the odds that you’ll follow through on your action plan write it down (be sure to have it in writing) and include:
* Specific steps;
* Deadlines for accomplishing each;
* Announce the goal to trusted others;
* Reward yourself for accomplishing steps along the way;

I’ll use the example of promoting my newly published book hoping that by broadcasting what I’ve been historically bad at – marketing – it will keep my toes to the fire.

My vision:
* Getting out my book’s message to help counter the national epidemic of obesity, diabetes, cardio vascular disease, digestive issues, etc., through national keynote presentations and tv/radio interviews, selling my books along the way;

My SMART goal:
* Specific: to book 8 national keynotes/year and at least 7 interviews/month b7 January, 2011;
* Measurable: the numbers above make it measureable;
* Action-oriented:
o Send book to all speakers bureaus listed on-line by February 15, 2010, with a minimum of 5 follow up calls to each;
o Secure a marketing intern student;
o Contact at least 30 radio/tv producers/hosts/month to book a minimum of 7 interviews/month starting now;
o Upload to my website recorded radio/tv interviews I’ve done and interviewer endorsements by January 20, 2010;
o Finish my next book by December, 2010;
o (There are many more specific steps but my column has a 500 word limit.)

These actions are Realistic and the Timing is possible, satisfying the final two components of a SMART goal.

As the months progress I’ll track each contacted radio/tv producer and completed interviews, speakers bureaus contacted and speeches scheduled to make sure I’m on target. My first assessment to make sure I’ve done all I’ve committed to is April 1, 2010. If I haven’t I’ll re-work my goal and action steps.

My reward for quarterly milestones accomplished will be a full day off to play with no connections to work (email, etc.)

So, now that I’ve told you all of this it places pressure on me to carry out my plan. When (not if) successful it will be the first time I’m ever followed through on a marketing plan! Wish me luck.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is a speaker and a Stress Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at http://www.letyourbodywin.com/bookstore.html. Email her to request she speak to your organization at jferg8@aol.com.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Let your goals take you to desired destination
Stress for Success
January 12, 2010

The beginning of the year is symbolically a great time to rethink the direction of your life. Are you on target for where you want to be? Do your action-steps need to be tweaked or do you need a complete redo?

“Where your energy goes, results show.” -- Jack Canfield

“To live your life by design, not by accident,” put your energy into setting and accomplishing goals that will lead you to your desired destination.

In past weeks I’ve addressed setting goals with “the end in mind.” And last week I shared an activity that can help you define your vision, your “end.”

This week, let’s consider the process of writing goals.

To increase the likelihood of accomplishing your goals, write (be sure to put them on paper) SMART ones.
* Specific: don’t confuse goal setting with stating a desire. E.g., “I want a job that allows me to spend more time with my family.” How much time is more? Twice the time? How much time are you spending with them now? Unless it’s specific, you won’t have a target to shoot for nor can you know when and if you’ve reached it.
* Measurable: include numbers, percentages, deadlines, etc., to measure your progress. For example, your goal is to find a job that allows you to be home by 6:00 p.m. daily and travel a maximum of four days/month.
* Action-oriented: this is the heart and soul of setting goals. Whatever you’re shooting for requires taking action. What must you do to find and get a job that allows you to be home by 6:00 p.m. most days? You’ll need to:
o Research jobs in the area;
o Know each job’s requirements;
o During the interview ask enough questions to pin down the interviewer about travel and realistic work hours;
* Realistic: you must research your parameters of being home most evenings and limited business travel to find out if they’re realistic in the present job market. Would they be perceived by a potential employer as a drawback and make you a less desirable candidate?
* Timing: Are your parameters realistic with the timing of needing a job? When doing research, does it seem that there are so few jobs right now that you need to take anything that comes along? For how long can you go without a job without jeopardizing paying your bills, including your mortgage?

Keeping these five steps in mind, it’s time to write your SMART goal:
* E.g., To find a job by April 1 that has regular work hours allowing me to be home by 6:00 p.m. the majority of days with a maximum of four days of travel a month.
* (You can expand your SMART goal by defining the kind of job you want, as well. Be specific.)

Now that you have your goal written you’ll need to develop an action plan, my topic for next week because, “A goal without a plan is just a dream.” Source unknown.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is a speaker and a Stress Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at http://www.letyourbodywin.com/bookstore.html. Email her to request she speak to your organization at jferg8@aol.com.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Decide what you want, then make it happen
Stress for Success
January 5, 2010

“Live a life by design, not by accident,” said Dr. Rick Brinkman, a former colleague. What would the life you’re meant to live look like? Can you create it?

People tell me that I’m lucky to love what I do. I respond that luck has nothing to do with it; I read a book in 1979 (I guess I was lucky to come upon it), filled out the assessment (below) and voila, it pointed me toward what I’ve been doing ever since. Making it happen came from hard work, persistence, and most importantly, the belief that I could make it happen. If you don’t think you can improve your life, then you won’t even try.

If your life isn’t what you wanted what needs to happen to create a more appealing one? By “following your bliss” as Joseph Campbell said your life will be much more meaningful and less stressful.

Last week I wrote about creating New Year’s goals with the “end in mind” and briefly referred to the exercise that led me to my life’s work. If you’d like to reshape your life follow these directions. With patience you can discern your bliss, your “end.”

Directions (from “How to Put More Time into Your Life” by Dr. Dru Scott)
1. Consider your personal, professional and social lives, for each:
* What do you want/need more of?
* What do you want/need less of?
o List 20 – 30 items under each question. There will be cross over between the lists, for instance “more money,” “less debt.”

Listing 20 - 30 items isn’t easy. Keep at it. Listen for the implied “more/less of” desires in your complaints. Like complaining about commuting may imply you want “less driving,” “more working out of your home.”

2. Next, regarding your personal, professional and social lives, what do you hope your lifestyle and accomplishments will have been by the time you die?

Fill out these four lists many times over the next few weeks. Whatever repetitively shows up is forming the outline of your desired life. What reappeared in my lists included more:
* Travel;
* Money;
* Presenting workshops;
* Flexibility;
* Independence;

* Traditional work hours;
* Bureaucracy;
* Commuting;
* Politics;
* Dead-end work;

* A great marriage;
* World travel, adventure;
* Make more money/hour and work fewer hours;
* Author books;
* Self-employment working out of our home;

This exercise made it crystal clear that I wanted to start my own speaking business, travel the country and world presenting programs on topics that fascinated me and help people make desired changes. Once I started working toward this vision my considerable job burnout instantly started melting and gave meaning to everything I did in pursuit of my desired lifestyle. It has been my passion for 30 years.

Lily Tomlin once said, “I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.” Don’t let life just happen to you. Take control and figure out which somebody you want to become. Then little by little make it happen.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is a speaker and a Stress Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at http://www.letyourbodywin.com/bookstore.html. Email her to request she speak to your organization at jferg8@aol.com.