What Fires You Up?

kickupheels2I was checking in recently with my accountability partner on progress toward our goals. (We talk every Monday about our goals for the week and performance over the prior week.) She is making major changes in her life and is in that in-between stage of still working full time for a company while she readies herself to launch her own business.

Despite the long hours she is putting in, she commented that she is “so freaking excited” about working toward her dream job that she jumps out of bed early every day eager to make progress on her goals! We should all have that same level of enthusiasm while working two full-time jobs!

When we give ourselves permission to do work that resonates with our heart, we have the potential to have the same kind of enthusiasm. Certain work that I do gives me this level of excitement. There are also quite a few projects filed away in my brain that have the potential to spark that level of excitement. How can we bring these projects to the forefront, especially when time is at a premium?

I frequently hear people talking about what they will do “when they have time.” What I have learned is that time seldom materializes in large blocks. It is important to learn to take advantage of small bites of time in order to make gradual progress toward your goals and dreams and put my friend’s level of excitement into your workday.

– What if just one morning a week, you spent 30 minutes on your project?
– What if you gave up watching one sporting event on TV to work on your project?
– What if you spent an hour before breakfast one day each weekend?

If you do all three of these, you’ve just created four hours of time each week to accomplish something important to you!

Take Action Challenge: Consider where you can find small bites of time in your schedule to make progress toward a project or goal. What ho-hum activities are you willing to give up to get to the level of excitement my friend has?

© 2009 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC


Do You Really WANT to Get Out of Your Box?

set your imagination freeBeing “Out of the box” is something that many of us aspire to. It is associated with innovation, creativity and freshness. A quick search on amazon.com uncovers dozens of books with out of the box in the title. What is it that actually creates a box around us? In what ways does the box serve us and in what ways does it become limiting?

Truth be told, most people stay nested safely inside not just one box, but many boxes for most of their lives. Can you identify your boxes? A box can be a routine. A box can be a job. It can be a relationship. It can be a mentality. Some boxes provide safety and comfort, while others limit our thinking and the possibility of becoming a closer version of who we are intended to become.

My job as a writer and graphic designer requires creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, but it can be a HUGE box. It is a box that I usually love with a passion…but when I find my backside parked in a desk chair for 8, 9, 12 hours, I start to feel the walls of my box a bit more and I wonder about ways to feel less confined and more inspired. Photography and art directing photo shoots is a nice beak from my desk “box.” Sometimes I ask myself, Why do I have to sit at my desk all day long? What if two mornings a week, I worked from the café or at the picnic table in the park? Why do I have to work 9 to 5? Maybe another schedule would suit my body better and I’d actually be more productive in fewer hours?

I know quite a few people who are concerned about keeping their jobs during these troubled economic times. Some of these people may even have a dream tucked away to do something really big, like take time off to write a book, or travel the world. If you lost your job tomorrow, would carrying out your dream be possible? Or would you feel so bare without your box around you that you would spend your days panicked and searching for a new box? Clearly finances can put us in a box. I challenge you to think about what you would do if your current boxes were suddenly stripped away. Would you have the courage to go in the direction of your dream and try it on for a while?

I have been asking myself that question this week. I anticipate that my business will be off by about 25% in 2009. What will I do with that extra time? Should I spend it looking for work that simply may not be available at this time due to client budget constraints? Or should I view it as a gift of time to work on the book of photography that has been in my heart and mind for the past two years?

Take Action Challenge: Think about the boxes that you are in at this time. What keeps you there? Is the box a comfort or a prison? If you removed fear and panic from the equation, could you leave your box behind?

© 2008 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC

GOALS 4: Well What Did You Expect?

New Year’s Resolutions. Right around this time, after the excesses of the holidays, many of us decide to become a better person. We want to take better care of ourselves by eating right and exercising more. And we don’t stop there. We are going to reunite with old friends. We are going to grow the business, or take that class we’ve been meaning to take in order to build our skills. Each one of these resolutions is completely doable IF we are willing to make changes.

Today while I was swimming my laps, I thought long and hard about the huge banner that hangs over the pool at my club. It says, Before you can accomplish something, you have to expect it of yourself. This is an exceptionally easy statement on the surface, but over the years that I have seen that sign, it has given me much to think about while I swim. That statement applies to my business, my exercise, my relationships – everything.

But let’s stick with the exercise example. I love to swim, When I swim, I feel better. I look better. It is in line with my goals. I know it is the right thing to do for my body. I am very keenly aware that when you don’t have good health, there is little else that matters in life. Still, in the last few months I let myself fall out of the habit of swimming. Work was exceptionally busy. I am a single parent and have significant demands on my shoulders. But quite frankly, these are excuses. Very lame excuses. I find time to eat. I find time for social activities. And you better believe that if I had a heart attack, I’d find the time to go to the ER and could rearrange my schedule for visits with the cardiologist. The truth is that I CAN find 60 minutes three or four times a week to spend at the club. I simply wasn’t expecting it from myself.

Take Action Challenge: How does the above statement apply to you? What is it that you want to accomplish, and in what ways have you (or have you not) expected it from yourself? What do you have to change or give up to make time for what really matters… for you to start living the life you expect for yourself?

© 2008 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC

GOALS 2: Habits Create Your Success

When you are trying to reach a goal, such as growing your business or writing a book, consistent daily actions are what it takes to get you there. Consistent daily actions are HABITS. You don’t even think about climbing into the shower in the morning. It is an ingrained habit. And I bet you find yourself standing in front of the mirror before bedtime brushing your teeth and you didn’t have to add it to your day timer. Habits help us to function more effectively.

So how does this apply to your goals? Here are some examples:
Writing a book seems like a daunting task. But writing just one page is not too scary. If you write one page a day five days a week, at the end of the year you’d have a 260-page book! So, what if BEFORE you check your email or start Twittering in the morning, you wrote just ONE page? You may have to remind yourself not to check email with a sticky note on the computer for a few days, but after a while, it will feel funny if you DON’T write that daily page. It will become a habit. And my guess is that one page might just turn into two or three pages.

Here’s another idea. If you want to grow your business you need to reach out to people by networking and making phone calls. What if, before you eat lunch, you make a commitment to contact three people about work? Those three contacts = 15 a week. And 15 a week = into 780 a year! Can you see how good I am at math? If just one percent of these contacts leads to business, you’re looking at nearly eight new clients. But you have to make a deal with yourself. NO LUNCH until the task is done.

Take Action Challenge: What one habit can you add to your daily routine to fuel your acceleration toward your goals? Post a comment telling us what you currently do or plan to implement to achieve YOUR goals

© 2008 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC

Creating an Environment for Success

What does the physical environment in your office say about you? Do you equip yourself for success with the right technology? Or are you limping along with a printer that jams and outdated software? Does your office inspire you when you walk into the room, or do you look at your desk with dread because of the piles of unfinished work? Having the right environment will help you to achieve your goals. (If you don’t believe that, consider the difference between hanging out at the gym four times a week versus the local donut shop.)

I just spent a week renovating my office environment. I had become complacent about maintenance. The carpet was looking shabby. The walls were dark and depressing. I was trying to hold off replacing my computer and software just a few months longer. The armrest on my chair had broken. The gas fireplace was a little quirky, sometimes not working at all. These little things I had been tolerating were all draining my energy. My office had become a demotivating place. I wasn’t feeling excited about going to work. Would these feelings be apparent to my clients? I recognized the need to invest in my business and myself by improving my office environment.

The old carpet was replaced with a teak hardwood floor and the walls are freshly painted. The fireplace has been fixed and the latest software upgrades are on order. Now when I walk in my office, I feel a touch of excitement at the newness of it! I feel a revamped sense of self worth because I finally took the time out of my busy schedule to focus on me, which ultimately translates into giving my best self to my clients. I am no longer irritated every time I notice one of the things that needs fixing. I have done them! My office environment is now more supportive of my business success!

Take action challenge: What one thing can you change in your office environment right now? Can you take an hour, put on music and clean out your in bin? Can you replace the broken stapler or order the software upgrade? What can you commit to doing every day for a week to continue to improve upon that environment? Can you devote 15 minutes every day for a week to catch up on filing? Feel the energy boost as you gradually eliminate tolerations and improve the environment! Use the comments section to share and congratulate yourself about your successes!

© 2008 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC