All too often, I find myself procrastinating on my computer when I’m supposed to be doing something else. I’m sure this happens to y’all sometimes too! So this month, I wanted a reminder to step away from the screen and make something! May’s desktop and iPhone wallpaper freebie is available for download over on WhimseyBox’s blog!Click here to tweet this quote.
Whimseybox is the original subscription for DIY and craft lovers. Each month WhimseyBox sends subscribers a box full of craft projects along with a project idea. If you sign up through this link, you’ll get $5 off!
Hey guys, I’m here today with a special post and giveaway from January’s featured sponsor, Jesse of NeuYear. I ordered their dry erase wall calendar from a Fab sale a while back and love it!
3 Steps to Planning & Accomplishing Your Goals
There is a reason why gyms and fitness centers see a huge uptick in memberships after the first of the year. Whether it’s wanting to lose those last few pounds, or a desire to live a more healthy lifestyle, “joining a gym” has become the quintessential New Year’s Resolution. The aspirations, however, don’t last very long. On average, most would-be fitness buffs back out of their commitment by March. Oops.
Resolutions, or goals, are powerful motivators–if you stick with them. Unfortunately, so many of us fail to set appropriate goals, or stick with them for such a short time, we never see the results. Books remain half-written, vacations never get planned, and new ideas die on the vine of mind, all because the goal-setting process gets short-circuited.
If you have ever felt the pain of a good goal gone bad, here is a three-step process you can follow to easily plan and accomplish virtually anything.
1. Pick Smart Goals
One of the most common reasons people or organizations fail at goals is because they aren’t smart. SMART goals look like this:
Specific. Smart goals have a specific end-game in mind. “Save the world,” and “cure cancer,” are all great goals, but they lack specificity. How do you want to save the world? “I want to reduce litter and pollution on the coastline by my house.” Awesome. What kind of cancer do you want to cure? “I want to help focus on children’s Leukemia at the Mayo Clinic in St. Paul, MN.” Now we’re talking. You need to have something to aim at. Being specific with your goals sharpens your sights and increases your chances at success.
Measurable. If your goal is to create buzz for an event, you’ll want to have a way to measure “buzz.” For instance, let’s say last year’s event drew 100 participants. A measurable goal would be, “We want to increase participation by 20 percent.” This, of course, gives you a number to measure your success with. Make it concrete. Quantify it. Make it measurable.
Attainable. Are you really going to lose 100 lbs. in 24 hours? Good grief, I hope not! Can you quadruple the size of your organization over night? Double your earnings with one tweet? The correct answer, barring an appearance on Oprah, is “no.” These goals are not attainable–they’re unrealistic and out of reach. Setting smart goals means that you keep your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground. Setting too high of a goal (i.e., unattainable) is a recipe for disappointment.
Relevant. Does your goal matter? Is it relevant to you, your organization, or business? The Guinness Book of World Records is filled with people doing extraordinary things…that don’t matter. Longest competitive handshake? Most chainsaws juggled at once? Longest time standing still? Interesting, but ultimately unhelpful to just about everyone. Make sure your goals are helpful and relevant to you and those around you.
Time-bound. Last but not least, your goals need to have an end date on them. Something like, “We’re going to complete the parking lot refinishing project by September 30, 2013.” We know what you want to accomplish and by when. Parkinson’s Law states that a task will expand to the time allotted to it. Giving yourself a timeframe eliminates procrastination and what I call “the weasel clause.” Put a time frame on your goals. Keep everyone accountable and informed.
2. How Do You Eat an Elephant?
Once you’ve got your SMART goals defined, it’s time to start taking action. I should warn you, the Land of Action is where goals go to die. I know, it’s heartbreaking and sad, but it’s reality and sometimes you need to tie Old Yeller up to the tree and, well, you know, end it. You’re going to be different, though. You’re going to move from goal creation to goal action. How? By eating the elephant, one bite at a time.
A friend of mine used to paint houses for a living. As you’d imagine, the task of covering 3,500 sq. ft. with latex paint, by yourself, was a bit daunting. But he did it each summer, sometimes knocking out a dozen houses in three months (for the record, that’s really fast). You don’t eat an elephant in one bite (figuratively speaking, of course) and you don’t paint a house in one brush stroke. The key to his productivity was taking one section at a time. First the west side, then the east side, followed by the south and then the north. The system worked by keeping his stress levels down and productivity up.
You’re going to approach your goals the same way. You may have some lofty aspirations for yourself or your organization. Let’s say you want to run a marathon. Even those unfamiliar to the world of running know you don’t just go and run 26.2 miles without training. Even if you’ve never laced up jogging shoes before, running a marathon is possible if you start early enough and pace yourself.
Walk one block. Then walk a mile. Now jog a mile. Then another. Gradually add tenths of a mile as you get more comfortable. Before you know it, you’re crossing the finish line with enough miles for a 25-minute car ride in the bag.
3. Practically Achieving Your Goals
Practically speaking, you’re going to need some help along the way. Setting goals and keeping a rhythm to achieve them is one thing, grinding through the day-to-day is another.
Here are some tools that will help in your quest for goal domination:
Pomodoro App. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in 25 minutes. That’s the driving concept behind the Pomodoro technique: focus for 25 minutes, take a five minute breather, repeat until the task is complete. It’s so simple, but this helpful timer keeps you on track when your mind wants to wander. Use it in an individual or team setting.
NeuYear Wall Calendar. Something near and dear to my heart is this full-wall calendar our team at NeuYear has created. It shows you the whole year at once, making it easier to layout long-term goals, set future deadlines, and quickly get a flow for the year. Added bonus? This beautifully-designed calendar has bigger squares so you can write more. Get 10% off when you use this link!
Basecamp. Out of the hundreds of project management software platforms out there, Basecamp remains one of the best. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles countless other platforms try and cram into their offering, but what it does have, it does well. Keep your entire team focused on the project-at-hand with message boards, file uploads, and document collaboration.
Like anything else in life, you get out of goal-planning what you put in. Give your goals the respect they deserve by making them SMART, actionable, and ensuring they make progress. How much different could your life be a year from now if you started on one of your goals today?
GIVEAWAY TIME! CLOSED
I wanted to share the NeuYear love, so Jesse was nice enough to offer THREE calendars to give away to three lucky readers! This calendar is seriously so awesome! It can be hung vertically or horizontally and gives you a view of the entire year. I am using mine for blog planning!
I bet a lot of you guys have heard of the Altitude Design Summit. If not, it is a conference for design-minded folks. Bloggers, lifestyle brands and the companies that want to connect with them — get together to network, discuss theory and love on all things design. If you’re obsessed with lifestyle, food and fashion blogs, fantastic images, smart ideas and great design inside and outside — all wrapped up with a social media bow — Altitude Design Summit is the place to be!
I’m sure many of you, like me, can not make the financial commitment to attend this event (as amazing as it would be)! So, in an attempt to meet the needs of those who cannot make the trip, Alt has added an Alt Channel to make Alt Summit available to everyone, everywhere, all year long! Mind. Blown. Each week you can take classes from blogging and social media experts, the same kind of high-quality topics and content that you’ve come to expect from Alt Summit! I have attended a few of these classes and they are absolutely amazing and only $15, yep!
Alt also has a new blog! They have been busy at work building great content about business, blogging, photography, design and all kinds of useful information to help you do better, what you do! Pretty much every post on the blog is super helpful but I’d like to share some of my favorites!
Your blog is constantly being visited by search bots (a.k.a. spiders, crawlers, robots). Their job is to read your content, and determine what you’re writing about. That information is then added to the databases of search engines, and pulled up in search results when relevant. Read more…
I’ve had a few readers ask how I developed a blog readership and for some advice on getting their names out there, so I wrote up this list with some tips and actions to take!
1 – Blog about what you know
I think the most important advice I can offer for someone wanting to grow their blog is to focus on what you love and what you are passionate about. Blogging about what you know insures that you will have valuable content.
Tips & Actions: - determine the purpose of your blog and stick with it - don’t feel the need to do it all or try to imitate somebody else - post quality content frequently - don’t post what you think people want to hear - teach a webinar or create a blog series focused on your talents
2 – Get personal / Be real
People want to know YOU, the person behind the blog. People will read your blog if they like what you have to say, that’s all there is to it.
Tips & Actions: - enjoy what you’re doing and don’t get wrapped up in the details - share something personal (this can be as simple as sharing your favorite book) - write the way you speak - don’t take yourself too seriously - be true to yourself and what it is you want to share with the world - add a photo of yourself to your about page - be accessible (either list your email address or add a contact form)
3 – Create a space worth following
Not only is your content important but your actual blog design is too! Maybe it is just the designer in me, but I am drawn to simple layouts with big pictures.
Tips & Actions: - have a blog design that you love and that feels like “you” - use images in your posts (preferably original imagery) - develop your own style and have a consistency to your design, writing style, content and photography - only have pertinent information in your sidebars (too much information tends to confuse readers and takes the focus away from your main content)
4 – Invest time for Online Networking
This is a huge one! Online networking allows you the opportunity to engage your readers in real-time conversations and let them get to know you a little better.
Tips & Actions: - get active in online discussion groups and chats (Better Blogger Network is a great community) - comment on other blogs (but only if you have something to add to the conversation). Those comments make people’s days, I speak from experience on that one! – respond to comments on your blog - never leave a mean comment (you would think this goes without saying but I have seen some mean things out there) - get to know your readers - blogging is a community – support one another, make blog buddies, have conversations and collaborate - participate in blog hops(also know as link ups) - try not to auto post – tailor your introductions for your post for each social network
5 – Learn from the best
This is something that I did in the beginning. I spent time researching my favorite blogs and I still make sure to follow other blogs that inspire me.
Tips & Actions: - don’t be afraid to ask others for help (but be careful asking other bloggers to post something on their site – this can put the person in a tough spot) - find 5 bloggers similar to you and study how they use networks and learn best practices from them - reach out to bloggers you admire
6 – Guest Post and Sponsor
“Guest posting” means writing and publishing an article on someone else’s blog. There are three main perks to guest posting: it introduces you to new communities, builds relationships with other bloggers and it’s great for search engine optimization. Guest posting gives you the opportunity to give new audiences a little sneak peek into your blogging style and content. Advertising (often called sponsoring in the blogging world) is also a great way to promote your blog to new people. Many blogs offer ad spaces in their sidebar and will introduce your blog to their readers throughout the month. Some bloggers even include guest post opportunities in their sponsorship packages.
Tips & Actions: - sponsor one of your favorite larger blogs - sponsor a few blogs with similar readership numbers (I recently switched my sponsoring over to Passionfruit and they have a great marketplace of bloggers using their network) - trade sponsor spots (this is a great option if you don’t have money to spend on advertising) - ask a blogger that you are friends with to guest post
7 – Give your readers choices
I think this is something that is easily over looked. You may assume that everyone reads blogs the same way you do, but that is not the case! For instance, I have never followed a blog through Google Friend Connect since I’m not on Blogger. I usually subscribe to an RSS feed (and read in Google Reader). Someone else may only follow blogs on Facebook, so you need to have these options available and easily accessible.
Tips & Actions: - give your readers more than one way to follow you and add easy to find links on your site - starts an e-mail newsletter - put links in your email signature and wherever potential visitors are likely to see it
8 – Network Offline
A lot of times we get so stuck on networking online, we forget that we can promote our blogs in real life!
Tips & Actions: - conferences are great for connecting with others who have similar interest - if you have extra time try to join a non-profit organization. A lot of small business owners/professionals are involved in them and you meet a lot of people out in the community - make sure you have business cards and hand them out when you meet someone new - find some local groups to join through MeetUp.com or start your own! - create an elevator pitch (a 30-60 second short summary to quickly and simply define your blog, business, what you do, etc.)
Great blogs are products of a passion for life and a lot of hard work! Don’t let others fool you, blogging takes time. If you write about what you love and grow yourself first, your blog will follow!
If you have any other tips please leave them in the comments!