Setting Goals: When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

finish line

Last week I shared how circumstances got in the way of one of the goals I set this year.

Today I thought I’d share another example of my goals being interrupted by life and events outside of my control. But in this case, it almost immediately turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It’s easy to say, trust that this is for the best. It’s a lot easier to swallow when that payoff comes within days, instead of weeks, months, or years.

Regardless, it was still a bump in the road on the way to my goal.

And, another reason I have to be careful about setting goals, because I tend to get a little too attached to my timing. This leads to frustration when things don’t happen within that timeframe. It’s especially frustrating when the circumstances causing the delay are completely out of my control. While I’m working on being more flexible (it can take some time to break a 50-year-old habit!) I was grateful the payoff came so quickly this time.

What happened…

One of my goals this year was to create my own online marketing training academy. I began teaching marketing via online video training courses last year, as a test. It went well so I decided to take the next step this year and create my own online marketing academy brand, The Business Stylist Marketing Academy. I realized if I really wanted to do this right, I needed to re-brand my existing courses. And really, how long could it take to change out the front- and back-end bumpers on all my training videos?

Well, it turns out a lot longer than I expected!

A project I thought would take a couple of weeks, turned into a couple of months, for a variety of reasons. First, while I never really realized how slowly my computer was processing videos when I was creating my courses, when trying to re-output videos for four courses it became painfully obvious. But, I kept muddling along because it needed to be done.

Then, while updating my second course, my hard drive died. Just up and quit on me. A quick trip to the Apple store and a new hard drive later I was back in business. However, it still seemed like I was spending more time staring at the rainbow wheel than actually working.

Then, when I began updating the videos in one of my courses I realized what I really needed to do was re-produce the entire course. I had never been 100% happy with the quality because I had rushed to complete it (another lesson about timing!), but I hadn’t given it a lot of thought because people were enrolling in the course and enjoying it. However, I knew I couldn’t just slap new bumpers on it and feel good about featuring it in my own academy.

Re-producing the course would take a lot more time.

It felt like I was never going to get my new academy up and running.

All of these circumstances created a little voice in my head that kept whispering, maybe it’s time to invest in a new computer. As I’ve shared repeatedly on this blog I’ve spent the past few years trying not to spend a lot of money. However, after careful consideration, I decided it was indeed time to upgrade my computer to one more suited for video production work. After all, it’s a big part of my business these days. Not the case when I purchased my laptop nearly four years ago. That computer was ideally suited to my business at the time, which included a lot more travel and primarily telephone-based consulting work.

A reminder that it’s important to have the right tools for the job.

When I got the new computer home I was excited to fire it up and test it out. It was a Mac and they’re pretty turnkey. But that was not to be the case this time around. I ran into a few hurdles trying to get it set up and get all my files transferred over. After spending the better part of a Saturday on the phone with Apple support (they were pretty baffled by the problems I was experiencing, too!) we finally got all the issues resolved.

I figured I’d be able to fly through the rest of my video updates.

Turns out my wings weren’t quite ready! My new computer came with the latest update of iMovie, which I had not used and I discovered works quite differently from the version I was used to. Where I used to be able to move about the program very quickly, I now found myself not knowing how to do even the simplest tasks. It took some time to get up-to-speed in the new version. Once again, delaying my timeline.

It was beginning to feel like the Universe didn’t want me creating my own marketing academy!

In my heart I knew that wasn’t the truth so I kept plugging along.

And that’s when the blessing appeared.

Now that I’m up and running on my new iMac, and I’ve figured out how to use the updated software, I’m much more efficient. Videos that took forever to import and render now complete in a matter of seconds or minutes. In fact, while it took about a week to update just one course on my laptop, I was able to update my last course in just one day on the new computer. And I’m able to do it without the constant frustration the Apple rainbow wheel causes.

I’ve noticed other efficiencies as well.

Additionally, while I had been considering all sorts of platforms, software, and plugin options for hosting my own online academy, by the time I finally got around to building it, the solution was crystal clear. Had I jumped into creating the academy back in December, or even in early February, I can tell you I would have chosen a different solution and I would not have been as happy. I have plenty of colleagues who have been trading stories about platforms, software, and plugins they’re using, and what’s working and what’s not.

Because my timeline was stalled, in essence everyone else did my research and testing for me, allowing me to easily choose the best solution.

And, where it took me several months to get my courses updated, it only took me a couple of days to get my new marketing academy set up.

I will achieve my goal, just a little later than planned.

In terms of realizing my original goal, and building my own online training academy, I will achieve it. Just not as quickly as I originally envisioned. And, as typically happens, once I began to accept that, and I let go of my expectations, I was able to see my computer hurdles as a blessing in disguise. I can also see that I’m much more adequately prepared technology-wise to do the work I need to do going forward. And, I’m a lot less frustrated and stressed every day because I’m not fighting with my computer. I’m enjoying my work again and that helps me focus less on the finish line and accept that I’ll get there when I get there.

If you missed last week’s post about letting go of a goal, you can read it here.

photo credit: jayneandd via photopin cc


Debbie LaChusaAfter spending 25 years in the marketing industry, MSH Blog Creator and Chief Blogger, Debbie LaChusa became so frustrated with its “be more, do more, have more” mentality that she began speaking out about it. She wrote a book entitled Breaking the Spell: The Truth about Money, Success, and the Pursuit of Happiness, created The Money Success Happiness Blog, and reinvented her business as The Business Stylist®, vowing to help service professionals learn how to Package, Brand, Market, and Sell their services with integrity and without hype. Her mission is to help people wake up and stop chasing money, success, and happiness and instead discover the true path to a happy, healthy, wealthy life.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Read More of Debbie’s posts

The Biggest Loser Controversy

The Biggest Loser Rachel Frederickson

The weight-loss reality television show, The Biggest Loser, just crowned it’s latest winner.

24-year-old Rachel Frederickson lost 155 pounds and took home the honor of being named The Biggest Loser.

By all accounts that should be measured as a success, should it not?

After all, she joined the reality show to lose a massive amount of weight… and she did.

Like all participants, her goal was to win… and she did.

She earned the title everyone else was seeking.

She lost the most weight, and she took home $250,000.

But is it really a success?

Over the past few days, social media have exploded with comments criticizing Frederickson for losing too much weight, and the show for supporting this extreme weight loss. Posters are saying she went from one extreme (overweight) to another (underweight). That she looks anorexic. That she couldn’t possibly be healthy. And, that she is setting a bad example for young women. Some are even saying the show has gone too far.

Frederickson says she is thrilled with her results, is proud of the way she lost the weight, and that she followed the advice and had the support of the show’s medical team.

I’m not saying I approve, or disapprove, of her extreme weight loss.

I will say this: I don’t care for the show and therefore I choose not to watch it. I don’t support the extreme methods employed on the show because I don’t believe they are sustainable. I have my opinions about whether or not the methods used are healthy, but I am not a doctor and they are simply my opinions as someone who has worked in the health and fitness industry and has been a fitness enthusiast pretty much my entire life.

What I do think is people are forgetting this is a TV show.

A show that publicly celebrates extreme weight loss week-in and week-out (and has been doing so for 15 seasons). And, that it is a competition with a $250,000 prize.

It’s easy to judge her by the way she looks. However, nobody except Frederickson and her doctors know whether she is healthy or not.

The sad part is, she was likely judged before the show for being too heavy, and now she is being judged for being too thin.

What this really illuminates is the impact of reality television and social media on our society.

 

Reality TV

According to TV Guide, here are the most-watched shows of the 2012-13 TV season. Consider how many of them are reality television shows (indicated in red).

1. NCIS CBS 21.6 million

2. SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL NBC 21.0 million

3. THE BIG BANG THEORY CBS 19.0 million

4. NCIS: LOS ANGELES CBS 17.5 million

5. PERSON OF INTEREST CBS 16.2 million

6. AMERICAN IDOL (Wednesday) Fox 15.1 million

7. DANCING WITH THE STARS (Monday) ABC 15.0 million

8. AMERICAN IDOL (Thursday) Fox 14.8 million

9. THE VOICE (Monday) NBC 14.4 million*

10. THE WALKING DEAD AMC 14.3 million

11. DANCING WITH THE STARS (Tuesday) ABC 14.0 million

12. TWO AND A HALF MEN CBS 13.9 million

13. THE VOICE (Tuesday) NBC 13.5 million

14. BLUE BLOODS CBS 13.3 million

15. ELEMENTARY CBS 13.0 million

16. MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL ESPN 12.9 million

17. MODERN FAMILY ABC 12.7 million

18. CRIMINAL MINDS CBS 12.6 million

19. THE OT Fox 12.5 million

20. CASTLE ABC 12.5 million

21 DUCK DYNASTY A&E 12.4 million

t. 60 MINUTES CBS 12.4 million

23. VEGAS CBS 12.0 million

24. THE FOLLOWING Fox 11.9 million

t. SURVIVOR: PHILIPPINES CBS 11.9 million

t. CSI CBS 11.9 million

Clearly we love, and support, reality TV.

These shows would not be on the air year after year if millions of people weren’t tuning in every week. So, on some level, we have to take responsibility. We (or at least the millions who watch these shows; I am not one of them) are choosing for this type of show to continue.

Last year, I wrote about how competitive reality TV shows often inspire winning at all costs. When so much money, or the dream of future fame and fortune is on the line, people often act in ways unbecoming and do things they probably wouldn’t do in “real life.”

 

Social Media

With social media, it’s now possible, and apparently very popular, to crucify people publicly. We’re quick to judge based on what we hear and see, often without knowing all the facts.

Do I believe Rachel Frederickson was successful?

If I’m basing my answer on whether or not she achieved her goals, then the answer has to be yes.

Am I more concerned about what this incident says about how we pursue and measure success, and the role reality TV and social media play in encouraging and amplifying negative, and often unhealthy (mentally, emotionally, and physically) and unsavory behavior ? YES!

Watch Rachel’s reveal on The Biggest Loser below.


Debbie LaChusaAfter spending 25 years in the marketing industry, MSH Blog Creator and Chief Blogger, Debbie LaChusa became so frustrated with its “be more, do more, have more” mentality that she began speaking out about it. She wrote a book entitled Breaking the Spell: The Truth about Money, Success, and the Pursuit of Happiness, created The Money Success Happiness Blog, and reinvented her business as The Business Stylist®, vowing to help service professionals learn how to Package, Brand, Market, and Sell their services with integrity and without hype. Her mission is to help people wake up and stop chasing money, success, and happiness and instead discover the true path to a happy, healthy, wealthy life.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Read More of Debbie’s posts

Goal Setting: A New Approach

goal setting

I was raised to set goals.

I think most of us are. Goal-setting was also advocated by many of the success gurus I used to follow. I remember one in particular—Mark Victor Hansen, of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame—who suggested we ought to have 100 goals and carry them with us wherever we go. For years I set goals, maybe not 100 of them, but I had goals, and they were S.M.A.R.T., too: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

After all, if you don’t clearly identify exactly what you want to achieve or what you consider a success, how will you know if you accomplish it? This is the reasoning behind goal-setting. It makes sense. And, I’m sure it’s helpful for many people.

For me, however, setting goals ended up being a double-edged sword.

You see my goals were always specific and centered around how much money I wanted to be making, how many clients I wanted to have, how many people I wanted to get on my email list. Metrics that would measure the success of my business. Sure, these goals provided me with something measurable to shoot for. They helped me create plans-of-attack to achieve them.

There was only one problem with those goals (and I didn’t see it at the time).

The accomplishment of them was outside of my control.

Yes, I could take steps to try to achieve them. But so many other factors outside of my control played a role in whether or not I would achieve them. In many ways I was setting myself up for disappointment, and often through no fault of my own. As I shared in my book, Breaking the Spell, I’m the type of person who will do whatever it takes to make something happen. The challenge is, we really can’t make things happen. At least things that involve other people or factors outside of our control. Because those other people have a say in the matter, too. And no matter what we do, we can’t control the behavior of others, or the marketplace. We can only control our own behavior.

So I stopped setting goals.

I got tired of working so hard and doing everything I was taught, told, or could think of and still not getting there. Or, the other side of the coin: achieving the goal and then immediately setting a new goal without taking time out to celebrate my accomplishments. It became a recipe for burnout and frustration.

The past few years I’ve been following a different guidance system.

I call it following inspiration. It’s all about getting back in touch with your heart and paying attention to where it’s leading you. And, listening for that little inspired voice telling you what to do (I share a lot about this on my other blog, Following Inspiration, and in my book).

I have to say the journey my inspiration has led me on has been a wonderfully successful one. Not only have I gotten back in touch with what’s important to me, and what I enjoy doing, I have accomplished more, more easily, than I did when I was setting all those big goals and working my fingers to the bone trying to achieve them.

I have also received the gift of clarity.

Going with the flow or letting go and trusting (my mantras and really just another way of saying “following inspiration”) has guided me onto a very clear path, both personally and professionally. So much so, that this January I was very clear about my goals for this year. Only this time the goals are different. They’re not about hitting specific milestones of success. And most importantly, they don’t involve other people. They rest completely on my shoulders. And in many ways, I view them as intentions more than goals. They are things I want to DO this year. Not things I want to ACCOMPLISH. May not seem like a big distinction to you, but there is a huge difference between setting out to DO something vs. setting out to ACCOMPLISH something.

We can DO anything we want. Doing involves taking action.

We can’t always ACCOMPLISH anything we want. Accomplishment involves reaching a certain level that may or may not be possible, given our own limitations, the marketplace we operate our business in, and economic and other factors beyond our control.

Here are my goals for this year.

I’m sharing them to illustrate how they are different from S.M.A.R.T. goals. And so you can see that if I am committed to them, and taking action on each one, I will achieve them. I realize the goal gurus may not approve and I don’t care. They work for me and that’s all that matters (this is an important point if you’re allowing others to dictate how you should do things or what you should do!)

One other thing I’d like to point out: these goals are much more balanced across my entire life than in the past. In the past all my goals centered around my business and becoming more successful. Now, I view my work as something I do in between, or alongside, the other things in my life. My life is like a pie with equally sized and important (and enjoyable!) slices.

Goal #1: Run the Rock and Roll San Diego Marathon 

Goal #2: Build out The Business Stylist Marketing Academy

Goal #3: Work toward Therapy Dog Certification with my puppy, Hope

Goal #4: Learn more about SEO

How I came up with these goals.

I did not sit down on January 1st and brainstorm a list of goals for the year. These goals came to me (they were inspired). And, they’re all the natural evolution of things I was already doing last year (running, creating video training courses, training my new puppy, and taking classes/reading books, etc. to learn new and interesting things).

They are all things I plan to DO this year, and enjoy the process of doing. That’s another big difference with these goals. They really are more about the doing—the journey toward the goal—than the end goal itself. And, for the most part, while I want to focus on these activities this year, there is no hard, fast, deadline for any of them. Well, except for the marathon which has a scheduled date.

For me these goals feel very different from any goals I’ve set in the past.

I don’t have a fear of “what if I don’t achieve them?” There’s no sense of having to accomplish them so I can prove something to myself, or anyone else. Instead, they are more of a menu of activities for 2014. They help me plan my days and weeks and decide how I want to spend my time.

Do you set goals?

Has the way you set goals changed over the years?

I’d love to hear your perspective. Please post a comment and share!

UPDATE MARCH 2014: Want an update on how my goals are going? You’ll find one here.

photo credit: angietorres via photopin cc


Debbie LaChusaAfter spending 25 years in the marketing industry, MSH Blog Creator and Chief Blogger, Debbie LaChusa became so frustrated with its “be more, do more, have more” mentality that she began speaking out about it. She wrote a book entitled Breaking the Spell: The Truth about Money, Success, and the Pursuit of Happiness, created The Money Success Happiness Blog, and reinvented her business as The Business Stylist®, vowing to help service professionals learn how to Package, Brand, Market, and Sell their services with integrity and without hype. Her mission is to help people wake up and stop chasing money, success, and happiness and instead discover the true path to a happy, healthy, wealthy life.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Read More of Debbie’s posts

Reality TV vs. Reality

Top Chef Stacey Poon-Kinney

Last summer we watched a reality TV show called Food Network Star.

I’m not usually a fan of reality TV shows, however, I do enjoy shows that showcase people’s talents. Although I could do without all the drama! One of the contestants in this particular show was from San Diego, where I live. We didn’t realize it at the time, but she owns a restaurant in the neighborhood I grew up in, called The Trails Eatery. We had actually tried The Trails (before we saw the show) because I was told they offer an extensive gluten-free menu. After trying the gluten-free pancakes I was hooked, and we’ve been back for breakfast many times.

So, imagine our surprise when we discovered this was the restaurant owned by the San Diego Food Network Star contestant, Stacey Poon-Kinney. Apparently she was shooting the show when we visited the restaurant so we never saw her there.

Last week we took my parents there for dinner.

The show has long since wrapped, and to our surprise Stacey delivered us our dinner. She also took the time to chat, and offered to send out any dessert we wanted, as she noticed we were celebrating some birthdays. She was bubbly, friendly, and seemed very genuine. I couldn’t help but think back to the way she was portrayed on the show. She was not made out to be likable. Rather, she was often criticized by the judges for coming off as fake and too “canned.” After meeting her in person, I think she was probably just being herself. She clearly loves running her restaurant, and serving people. She was all smiles the entire time she spoke to us, even when she relayed a story about a series of misfortunes in her restaurant, and her disappointment in not winning the show (although she also said in hindsight it was a blessing).

More proof reality TV isn’t real.

This encounter further solidified for me that the people and situations portrayed on reality TV are manufactured. They’re designed to create a good story line. To create drama. To create “characters” for us to love, and even some to hate.

While Stacey told us she’s glad she experienced the show, she also shared it was one of the hardest things she’s ever done. I imagine part of that difficulty must have been watching herself being portrayed as disingenuous when she was just being who she is.


Debbie LaChusaAfter spending 25 years in the marketing industry, MSH Blog Creator and Chief Blogger, Debbie LaChusa became so frustrated with its “be more, do more, have more” mentality that she began speaking out about it. She wrote a book entitled Breaking the Spell: The Truth about Money, Success, and the Pursuit of Happiness, created The Money Success Happiness Blog, and reinvented her business as The Business Stylist®, vowing to help service professionals learn how to Package, Brand, Market, and Sell their services with integrity and without hype. Her mission is to help people wake up and stop chasing money, success, and happiness and instead discover the true path to a happy, healthy, wealthy life.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Read More of Debbie’s posts

Miley Cyrus: Train Wreck or Marketing Genius?

miley cyrus

Like many people I’ve watched the Miley Cyrus circus unfold over the past month.

I can’t say I like what I’ve seen. Especially as a mother of a young woman myself. Quite honestly, I didn’t expect to be giving her media exposure, because I know that’s exactly her goal, and I don’t want to support her actions. However, after sitting back and watching for a few weeks, as a marketer and someone who writes about money and success, I have to comment.

Media Manipulation

While many of us may not approve of Miley’s theatrics, there’s no denying she has successfully manipulated the public relations machine. It’s been difficult, if not impossible, to turn on the TV, open a magazine, or spend time on the Internet in the past few weeks without bumping into a story about Miley.

And, while there is an entire category of media dedicated to celebrity news, Miley has gone beyond coverage in the Hollywood tabloid media. I learned of Miley’s controversial “Wrecking Ball” music video on CNN.com.

While we may not like what we’ve seen, and we may have all sorts of personal opinions about whether it’s right or wrong, about how her parents can allow this behavior (she is, after all, only 20 years old), about whether she’s objectifying herself, or even having an emotional or mental breakdown right before our eyes, I believe Miley is laughing all the way to the bank.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

While we (you and I) may not approve, the collective we has pushed her latest album to the top of iTunes in 70 countries. The album is also expected to top the Billboard 200 album chart. I believe Miley knows exactly what she’s doing. Not only that, I believe it has all been part of a strategic plan to reposition her from her squeaky clean Disney image of just a few years ago, into an adult artist. From the skimpy clothes and punk haircut, to the tattoos, drug references, twerking and suggestive tongue. They’re all strategically chosen tactics to change how we see Miley Cyrus.

We may not like it but plenty of young adults seem to. If we don’t approve, clearly we are not her target market. In fact, if we don’t approve it probably serves her purposes even better. How many parents approved of Elvis? Isn’t it cooler if your parents or teachers object?

Miley is not the first.

And she surely won’t be the last.

The path to superstardom is often controversial. Artists have to do something to stand out. And plenty have in the past. Like it or not, it works.

Think about…

  • Madonna
  • Britney Spears
  • Lady Gaga

It’s almost a formula.

We really shouldn’t be surprised. Have you opened up a women’s magazine lately? Seen a Carl’s Jr. TV commercial? Sex sells. We are a celebrity-obsessed society.

It’s our fault (again the collective our, if not you and I specifically). We are the ones tuning in. We are the ones buying.

While Miley’s antics may look like a train wreck, I don’t believe they are one. She knows exactly what she’s doing and it’s getting her exactly what she wanted. As long as these tactics work, stars will continue to use them. Only we as consumers have the power to stop this. We have to stop rewarding this behavior. And the only way to do that is with our eyeballs, ears, and wallets. Because as long as this type of marketing gets results (and big results as we’ve seen in Miley’s case) it will continue to be used.


Debbie LaChusaAfter spending 25 years in the marketing industry, MSH Blog Creator and Chief Blogger, Debbie LaChusa became so frustrated with its “be more, do more, have more” mentality that she began speaking out about it. She wrote a book entitled Breaking the Spell: The Truth about Money, Success, and the Pursuit of Happiness, created The Money Success Happiness Blog, and reinvented her business as The Business Stylist®, vowing to help service professionals learn how to Package, Brand, Market, and Sell their services with integrity and without hype. Her mission is to help people wake up and stop chasing money, success, and happiness and instead discover the true path to a happy, healthy, wealthy life.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Read More of Debbie’s posts