achieving your goals Archives

What do you do when things don’t go as you planned? 

At the end of last semester, I became swamped. Grading student papers took a full week. My students’ papers were so excellent, my initial plans to just dash through them fell by the wayside as I read their heartfelt summaries of what they had gained during the semester.  The good news is that they inspired me tremendously. During the week or so that I read through their papers, I saw clearly why this work is important, why I do what I do, and how it can foster personal achievement and success.

After grading was finished, I planned a hiatus during the Christmas holidays. I even had the audacity of imagining myself staying in bed all day reading whatever I wanted and getting clear on my goals for 2012.

But…as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.”  Life for me came in the form of computer and cell phone breakdowns, family and personal illnesses and upsets, and my own thwarted determination to dejunk piles of papers that had more nostalgic benefit than current utility.

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Preface: Martin Prouix, President of Pyxis and an organizational coach, posted this article on his blog,, this past fall. For years, I have asked students, people I coach, and sometimes even myself whether they would rather be right or effective.  Martin poses essentially the same question by asking, “is it better to be right or to be helpful.” His example on what can go wrong when trying to build effective relationships is worth sharing.


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Most people I know feel time-pressured and I’m no exception. Because of this, I continuously seek out tips for organizing my work to increase my sense of personal achievement and success. Here it is near the end of the semester – only two more weeks of classes — and I find that yet again, I am spending my time mainly on what’s urgent rather than on what’s most important to me.  It has happened for me this way every November-December for the last umpteen years as the crush of end of the semester school work takes up more and more of my time. Case in point: this is my first blog post in two weeks even though it’s important to me and I enjoy it.

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Preface: In an earlier post, I continued the series on Napoleon Hill’s application of the Law of Attraction as explained in his 1928 book, Law of Success. This post is Part 2 on “the habit of doing more than paid for,” one of Hill’s principles for personal achievement and success. For Part 1, click here:

Hill describes two important periods that people who wish to be successful must go through. The first is learning and organizing knowledge about our field of work. This in itself requires tremendous effort.

The second is the period in which we must convince others that we can do the work. During this second period especially, Hill advises that every time we give our services, we gain another opportunity to prove to others what we can do. This is where the habit of doing more than is paid for becomes especially useful. As Hill explains:

“Instead of saying to the world, ‘Show me the color of your money and I will show you what I can do, reverse the rule and say, ‘Let me show you the color of my service so that I may take a look at the color of your money if you like my service’” (p.695).

Once we do more than is paid for, what Hill calls the Law of Increasing Returns kicks in to deliver our benefit.

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Preface: Does it make sense to do more than we are paid for? Napoleon Hill says yes, that the habit of doing more than we are paid for is key to our personal achievement and success.

This post continues the series on Napoleon Hill’s application of the Law of Attraction as explained in his 1928 book, Law of Success. The book provides fundamentals for achieving success for those who enact them. Hill developed his compendium of traits (with the help of Andrew Carnegie) based on interviews with over 500 successful men and women of the time.  In these posts, I discuss how Hill’s theory – and the Law of Attraction – is supported by behavioral science theories. For prior posts in this series, click here and here.

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Preface: A participant in one of my workshops on Reframing Change sent the essay below to the other participants and me. It comes from the web site of John H. Lienhard who hosts the highly acclaimed PBS radio show, Engines of our Ingenuity. As the participant explained in her e-mail to us, “[The essay] puts together many of the things we’ve learned as a group in ‘Reframing Change’.”

Her cover e-mail emphasized several phrases which I have bolded below because I agree with her emphasis.

I am reproducing the essay with permission of the author, Megan Cole, and John Lienhard as radio host. After the essay, I add a few comments.

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Preface: The previous post described how I came to view “the law of attraction”as a voluntary behavioral modification technique. Recently popularized in the book, The Secret, the law of attraction holds that our thoughts determine what we attract into our lives. I decided to blog about this after reading the beginning of Napoleon Hill’s (1928) The Law of Success.

To continue from the previous post…..

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For most of my adult life, I have believed in “the law of attraction” as a voluntary behavioral modification technique. The law of attraction holds that what we think about determines what we attract into our lives. It may be encapsulated in the phrase, “thinking makes it so.” Or, a common catch phrase is “as you believe, so you will receive.”

A few years ago, the “law of attraction” caught fire when the movie, The Secret, came out and was featured on the Oprah Winfrey and Larry King’s shows.  Both talk show hosts asked those who had appeared in the movie variations of these questions: “Can you really think your way to financial riches and success? What about people who have serious health issues? Can they really think them away? Are they to blame for their illnesses just because they aren’t positive enough?”

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Are you among the zillions of people who seek out tips on getting organized to reduce your stress at work? I certainly am. One stressor in particular is self-inflicted: procrastination. We/I procrastinate and procrastinate and then kick ourselves/myself for unwarranted delays.

So if I know that, why am I still doing it? In my defense, I will say that I have infinitely improved in this area over where I used to be. I keep collecting new tools and tidbits and slowly over time I have become more productive. But old habits sometimes still sneak in — unbidden and unwelcome.

So what next? I just found another useful rule of thumb to help out. First some background.

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Employee motivation is a recurrent problem creating stress at work for managers, employees, and just about everyone who works with people. In this post, Professor Jeffrey Ford, an expert on personal leadership effectiveness, succinctly describes how to delegate a task to ensure clarity and increase motivation.

As an added bonus, readers of Reframing Change will recognize that these are a great set of questions for testing assumptions about expectations – whether you are the delegator of the task or the person to whom the task is assigned.

I am grateful to Professor Ford for giving me permission to reproduce this gem of a post.


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I am on a constant search for time management tips. I may try out a new technique and it works for a while, but eventually, the idea grows stale and I let it slide away. So when I had dinner with a friend Wednesday evening, I was ripe for more ideas to try.

My friend, Sherra Aguirre, is head of Aztec Services, Inc., an industry leader in facility services.

The company is expanding into property management and she’s committed to maintaining their high quality, environmentally responsible level of services. In a word, she’s busy. I wanted to know how she juggled her workload since I know worklife balance is also important to her.

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Preface: It’s difficult to increase employee motivation when we don’t know how to motivate ourselves to achieve our own goals. A steady theme in this blog is about motivating ourselves to do those things that we want to do, but are finding it difficult to actually get done. (See, for example, How to achieve your goals despite yourself.) The article below by Marshall Goldsmith attracted my attention because he has an interesting take on how we can motivate ourselves — by harnessing our “mojo” or positive spirit. Learning to do this will decrease our stress at work and increase our potential for joy, or at least satisfaction.

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When you see the phrase “motivators at work”, what do you think? Most people may think of things like pay or time off from work. These are external motivators. Others may think of personal characteristics such as work ethic or drive for success. These are internal motivators.

In previous posts, I described the lessons in integrity, self-regulation, and deferred gratification that Morgan, my seven-year-old granddaughter, is learning. She is developing these internal motivators through her participation in National Lemonade Day, a national event designed to teach children entrepreneurial skills and help them develop positive character traits.

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Last year, Morgan, then aged 6, participated in the National Lemonade Project, a program established to teach entrepreneurial skills to kids. I described what happened in a previous post, Morgan’s Lemonade Day Project: Integrity as a successful character trait.

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Why on earth would someone change their behavior just because you said so? And what  can you do about it?

Week after week, a manager complains to her staff about missed project deadlines. Usually, only one or two completely finish the tasks they were assigned. The others make some progress toward their weekly goals or none at all. She lectures them about taking personal responsibility for the team’s success.

An instructor gently chides students in his class for not participating more in class. As he stands in front of the classroom, looking at the 20 students clustered in rows in front of his desk, he says, “This is such a small class. We could have excellent participation if only you would talk more about the readings. If you want to advance in your careers, you need to learn to take more individual responsibility.”

A parent yells at her kid for dumping his books, jackets, and lunch box on the floor right by the door when she comes home from school every day. “This is your home,” she explains with exasperation in her voice. “When are you going to learn to take responsibility for how it looks?”

The concept of “leading consciously” implies individual responsibility — people willingly assuming conscious awareness of thoughts, emotions, and actions. Yet, individual responsibility alone won’t get us where we want to go if situational factors work against us. And lecturing others about individual responsibility is equally doomed to failure if their environment is compelling them in another direction.

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