Breaking a Goal Down into Manageable Pieces

breaking-goals-into-bitesSome goals are best broken down in reverse order; others in a natural progression.

Examples: annual income you want to achieve; fitness goals you want to achieve

With income, it’s common to want to earn a particular amount by the end of the year. Let’s keep things simple and say $100,000, you bill hourly, and plan a 5-day, 40-hour week.

To break the goal down into manageable chunks (or at least a realistic perspective):

  • $100,000/52 weeks = $1923/week
  • determine number of non-working days for the year and remove them from your equation (if you plan 2 weeks of vacation: 100,000/50 weeks = $2000/week)
    • how about holidays? Most years there are 10 federal holidays observed. In 2017, there are 11 because Inauguration Day is a federal holiday every four years.
    • how about sick days? days off for kids (or elderly parents) being sick or needing to be driven somewhere? There’s no set way to predict the number of days, but you should throw in an estimate and get those days out of your total. Let’s say 9 sick (other) days to keep the math simple.
    • 11 holidays, 9 sick (other) days = 4 more weeks off the work calendar. You now have 46 weeks which turns your weekly income goal into $2174.
  • What is your billable rate? How many hours do you need to bill a week to attain $2174/week? (i.e. @$50 per hour, you’d have to bill out 44 hours/week)

There are so many variables at play with the income per year scenario. You need existing clients – finding and ramping up new clients takes time. If you bill a mix of hourly and per project, the formulas change.

If you want to lose 60 pounds in 12 months, that’s 5 pounds a month. You can figure out the best process (count calories, or work with calories and exercise) to reach the goal.

For a general overall fitness improvement goal you start with where you are today instead of working backwards and work to improve.

I find different ‘challenges’ for fitness to be quite beneficial — they are 21 or 30 days long and help you build up incrementally and naturally. You can do a Google search on “fitness challenge” (or be specific about the type of challenge) and find plenty of ideas.

  • For whatever activity it is, measure where you are now – total pounds you lift for weights, # of pull ups you can do, how long you can plank, how fast you can run a mile, and so on.
  • Then you work at those activities at least a couple of times a week and consistently measure your improvement.
  • You can also track calories and keep a food diary (so many online apps nowadays, I use MyFitnessPal) to learn how to make better food choices.

Are you ready to break your ‘big’ goals into smaller manageable chunks and get them into your weekly and daily plans?

lisajjacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Friday Fun – What’s your starting point?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: 

If you don’t daydream and kind of plan things out in your imagination, you never get there. So you have to start somewhere.

Robert Duvall

We’ve talked about goals for the coming year and the importance of breaking them down into steps and discrete actions – what is the starting point of your writing goal this year?

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wendy-shotWendy Thomas  – I’ve polished up my manuscript and my query and I’m working my way through the Guide to Literary Agents 2017. My starting point is to send out at least 5 queries a week until I’ve either gotten a nibble or run out of agents’ names (at which point I will revise and start all over again.)

lisajjacksonLisa J. Jackson: I have a goal to submit short fiction this year. My starting point is to find markets for my short stories, and actually I’m thinking I might find more markets for my non-fiction than fiction as I keep getting ideas for those markets in my e-mail! We’ll see. But this year, I definitely want to submit and publish fiction, and having a market gets me started on a path.

At the end of the Long Trail, 9/8/2016.

Deborah Lee Luskin: Great question! I don’t have an answer. I’m in the middle of several projects, both teaching and writing in addition to my regular commentaries and blogs. I’ve got a good rhythm going. It feels as if I’m already in second, ready to shift into third.

Lee Laughlin CU 7-13

Lee Laughlin – I’ll tell you next week. LOL. It’s been a slow start to the year due to illness and travel. My goal for this weekend is to work through my annual goal planner (Susannah Conway’s Unraveling the Year) and figure out what my next steps are.

Top 5 Writer’s Weekend Edition Posts of 2016

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m having a little trouble getting back in gear after the holidays. It’s the start of a shiny New Year, but I’m not quite all the way into the swing of it yet. Though part of my malaise may yet be due to holiday hangover, I think I must admit at this point – nearly two weeks into 2017 – that it’s also partly due to my continuing struggle to process and deal with all the crazy things happening in the news … in my country. The results of last year’s election have awakened my inner activist, and I find that I am frequently distracted by the latest developments on the political scene. (Those are words I never thought I’d write.)

That said, I am a writer, and I must write. So, while it may take me some time to adjust to being consistently productive in this new environment, that is what I will do.

For today, however, I would like to share the top five Writer’s Weekend Edition posts from last year. I’ve selected them based on the number of comments they received, because I figure if someone likes something enough to take the time to comment, that is the truest measurement of how much that piece of writing has done its job.

Looking forward to another great year of sharing my random (and not-so-random) thoughts with you, and hopefully once again having the privilege of engaging in dialog with you about those ramblings.

_jamie sig

 

 


Number 5: Stillness, Solitude, and the Practice of Writing

Retreat HesseWriting is a solitary act, but being a writer is not.  We live in the Real World with everyone else, and our lives are just as full and noisy and chaotic as the next person’s. We have friends and family to care for and enjoy. We have day jobs (with meetings and emails and conference calls) and households to manage (via negotiation and sometimes bribery). We are subjected to the same onslaught of news, social media, and sundry other local and global communications as every other non-luddite member of this hyper-connected human race.  [Read more …]

Number 4: 3 Steps to Your Perfect Writing Life

Image from megankatenelson.com

Image from megankatenelson.com

Do you remember the first time you wrote? I don’t mean the first time you formed the letters of the alphabet or wrote your name. I mean the first time you sat down alone and wrote something all your own. Do you remember what  you wrote, why you wrote it, or what it felt like to put words – your words – down on the page? Did you have any idea then that you would keep writing – day after day, year after year?

Today marks thirty-nine years, one month, and thirteen days since I wrote my first journal entry. I was seven years-old at the time, and the words I chose for the first page of my first notebook were not my own. They were Shakespeare’s.  [Read more …]


Number 3: Why Writing Matters (How to Justify Your Passion)

free diverSometimes, the gravity of real life threatens to pull me out of my creative orbit. The inescapable responsibility of being human weighs heavily – the “Real World” of work, relationships, and surviving on this fragile planet crushing in on me like pressure on an ascending deep sea diver. The closer I get to daylight, the further I am from the intimate, interior depths of my creative endeavors. That inner life disappears into the darkness below as I’m drawn toward the surface, my tenuous connection lost until I dive again.

Above the waves, my belief in the importance of the world below fades.  Submerged in the process, my work felt real and worthwhile. [Read more …]


Number 2: A Writer’s New Year

Like the years, the days are each part of a continuum.

Like the years, the days are each part of a continuum.

The New Year is a time to reflect and plan. It’s a time to reevaluate our priorities and our progress toward our goals. Midnight on December 31st marks the seam between the old and the new; it is the boundary between the past and the future – the threshold over which we must step in order to enter the next phase of our lives.

Damn. That’s a lot of pressure.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of a fresh start. I also relish poring over the old year’s journal entries looking for thematic patterns in my thoughts and dreams. I love the creative process of finding the perfect word to embody my intentions for the year ahead, and the more arduous work of drilling down to discover exactly what those intentions might be. I love the myth and magic of the many New Year’s traditions that help us whisk away the old and ring in the new. [Read more …]


And the Number 1 Writer’s Weekend Edition Post of 2016 (based on number of comments): What’s Holding You Back from Your Writer’s Life?

Don't be scared of paper tigers.

Don’t be scared of paper tigers.

I’m in need of a writer-to-writer pep talk today, so I’ve decided to give myself one.

This isn’t going to be easy. I’m realizing, to my chagrin, that being optimistic and upbeat comes much more naturally when things are going well. Who’d have thought? Maintaining a good attitude is a bit more challenging when you’re stuck at the bottom of the proverbial well with no rope and no ladder (and a creeping suspicion that something malicious may be lurking down there with you, just waiting to jump out from the shadows and give you a nasty bite, or worse). [Read more …]


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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. In addition to my bi-weekly weekday posts, you can also check out my Saturday Edition and Sunday Shareworthy archives. Off the blog, please introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Fake News is the STD of Free Press

A few weeks back I put up a post about fake news. It included a list of “news” sites that typically dealt in conspiracy and fake news.

Last night Buzzfeed (an entertainment, but fairly respectable organization) published a 35 page U.S. Intelligence report that outlined several areas in which Trump has direct conflicts with Russia. The article indicated that some of the instances in the report could not be verified.

Again, this report originated from our United States Intelligence, it has two U.S. Senators (McCain and Graham) names attached to it.

It’s that little caveat “unverified” that kept responsible journalists from reporting on this *even* though many of them had held copies of the report in their hands for weeks. Verification is the standard of all trustworthy reporting.

The Intelligence report is bad. It lists many instances of collaboration between Trump and Russia. In its more salacious section it also details an account where Trump paid for prostitutes to urinate on a Moscow hotel bed where the Obamas had once slept.

Do I believe the report? There are some sections that detail very specific encounters and situations that are difficult to ignore. I also, unlike Trump, trust our Intelligence agencies. Do I think that Trump paid for prostitutes to pee on a bed in front of him?

Probably not. But here’s the thing, if it turned out to be true, based on previous reports and actions, I wouldn’t be that surprised.

Once Buzzfeed hit the Send button respected news agencies like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post started reporting on the fact that Buzzfeed released the report. Although these agencies use “alleged” in their articles, the fact that they reported on it gave the subject some of that very important verification.

What was Trump’s reaction? A very mature and dignified tweet:

FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!

Someone, somewhere is lying big time and at this point, things are so muddied that we don’t know who is doing all the lying.

It leaves us in a very precarious state. Do we go ahead and trust our free press which has been a cornerstone of our democratic freedom or do we instead trust a man/team who has no problems with lying outright again and again.

Because of the constant lies and the cyber bullying (as an aside Melania’s “platform” when she becomes First Lady is going to be cyberbullying – good luck with that) we no longer know what is the truth and what is fabrication. Even when the big news agencies report.

Fake news is the STD of free press. Once there, it’s very difficult, if not impossible to get rid of.

If you want to hobble a nation, hobble the credibility of its free press and its freedom of speech.

The #GoldenShowerGate story is not just a story about FAKE NEWS. It’s a warning of clear and present danger to our press and how we will be getting and perceiving news in the future.

 

***

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

Practicing Personal Cyber Security

Deborah Lee Luskin

Practicing personal cyber security is better than having your data kidnapped or stolen.

If the US elections can be hacked, so can your data. Are you protected?

I took my concerns and my computer to Steve West at Fearless Computing to see what I could do to keep my data safe.

MAC v. PC

“You’re already using a Mac,” Steve said, “which puts you way ahead of the curve.” This makes me feel a little better about spending significantly more for a MacBookPro than a run-on-the-mill PC. But truth be told, my first computer was a Mac. I bought it in 1984, before the internet was a way of life.

Well that’s changed, and so have the cyber threats that come along with connectivity.

RANSOMWARE

According to Steve, ransomware is probably a bigger threat than malware. Ransomware is malicious software that blocks access to computer data until a sum of money (usually in untraceable bitcoin) is paid. But if you’ve backed up your computer securely, what the kidnappers took is worthless, because you still have your data in another location.

Even back in the days of floppy discs I was meticulous about backing up my data. I kept three discs and backed up to a different one each day, so I always had the last three versions of my work. With Time Machine, I just have an external hard drive, which Steve says is not enough. He recommends I also back up remotely, to the cloud, and that’s on my “to do” list for this week.

back up, back up, back up!

Since I have more data than most freeware will cover, I’m going to spend $5/month on Carbonite, which buys me a year’s unlimited storage for one computer. I was initially skeptical of cloud storage, but Steve convinced me that since security is what Carbonite sells, they have a vested interested in protecting my data and their reputation.

firewalls & vaccines

I also spend $30/year on NetBarrier and VirusBarrier by Intego. There’s freeware you can download to keep a firewall between you and cyber infections, but you have to remember to run it. Mine is on all the time my computer is on, and am I ever glad it is. I’m currently judging a statewide writing contest, and one of the submissions launched malware when I opened it up. VirusBarrier blocked it. Whew!

Protecting financial data

Of course, it’s not just my work on my computer anymore; it’s also my business and my household accounts. In this modern age, I do most of my banking and bill-paying on-line, and a certain amount of shopping, as well. Without getting too fancy, there are a few safeguards that help protect your financials.

  1. First, use a password protected wireless area network. Better yet, connect via Ethernet.
  2. Next, when signing in to a financial institution or shopping site, look for the “s” in “https,” which stands for “secure.”
  3. Finally, use strong passwords that include upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t use the same password, and change them from time to time. And really: don’t stick passwords to your computer with post-it notes!
passwords

To limit the number of passwords I have, I make on-line purchases without logging in or creating an account. When that’s not an option, I use 1Password. This is yet another security program; this one’s designed to keep track of my passwords – and it does. All I have to remember is the password that unlocks it; the program does the rest. I chose 1Password on my brother’s recommendation and after a thirty-day free trial. It costs about $36/year.

disclaimer

There are other programs out there, including free ones. These recommendations are what I use. I don’t work for any of these companies, and I have nothing to gain if you use their products. So ask around. Do some research. Find the security programs that work for your budget and your needs. And then stay safe: practice good cyber security.

What do you do to protect your data?

One of the most life-affirming things I've done in 2016 is hike Vermont's 272-mile Long Trail.

At the Canadian border on 9/8/16 after hiking Vermont’s 272-mile Long Trail from Massachusetts to Canada.

Deborah Lee Luskin posts an essay every Wednesday at www.deborahleeluskin.com

New Year, New/Revised/Rebooted Plans

succeed-in-2017As 2016 came to a close and  I flipped the page to 2017, I reflected on my goals and dreams of 2016 to summarize the year.

It’s always a fun exercise to filter 12 months of sweat and labor down a few pages of one liners, but it’s also fruitful.

I noticed (as I do every year it seems) that I start out with a lot of gusto and have yearly goals written out, and have the first month broken out to weekly and daily tasks. I manage to keep the effort going, but the momentum slows by the end of the 2nd quarter (about June). In 2016, I barely had anything written down in October or November. Then I sputtered to life a little in regard to writing weekly goals, a little bit in December.

There are several resources on the Internet for how to review your prior year, and each year I like to seek out some new ways to answer the same questions.

This year, the question that struck a chord with me the most was “What were the things you wanted to do but didn’t?”

I found a similar question: “What goals did you blow off or fail to achieve?”

And what set me on a course of thought for a good stretch of time was the follow-up question: “Why?”

It’s one thing to take note of what you goals you missed, but it’s entirely different to pause and seriously consider “why” you missed those goals.

So many excuses can come to mind – life got busy, the kids, the laundry, night school, the weather, illness, not enough work, too much work, and so on.

But to make strides, you have to acknowledge the excuses for what they are – excuses, not reasons. Looking into each goal/plan I missed, I realized that the reason I didn’t achieve them is because I chose to not put in the effort. I failed to achieve because I chose not to plan, not to strive, and not to push myself forward.

I missed my fitness goals because I chose to not:

  • show up to races I’d paid for
  • get off the couch and get out for a walk
  • watch the portion sizes of the meals I ate

I missed some business goals because I didn’t put in the time and attention the tasks needed. It’s a harsh realization, but I can work with the truth.

In 2017, I already have new accountability and am working with a couple of mentors to build up a couple of areas of my business. I’m revising and rebooting some goals, letting others go.

Have you reviewed your 2016 goals versus accomplishments? If you missed any of your targets – do you know why you missed?

I’m wishing all of us a prosperous, productive, happy, and healthy 2017.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Getting Back in Gear After the Holidays

snowflake

It’s snowing today – many, many, MANY of these falling from the sky and making me feel SO cozy. Love it!

How long does it take you to get back into the swing of things after the holidays? How much time do you need to find your usual groove and get all the gears turning smoothly again? We are seven days into the New Year, and I’m only just starting to ease fully back in to my usual routines.

I was fortunate enough to be able to take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off. I didn’t turn my computer on once. I spent time with my family, especially my daughter and my beau. We watched a LOT of movies (mostly chosen by  my daughter, so there were many superhero movies in the mix). On the Thursday after Christmas, I had the loveliest day, all to myself. I had a great riding lesson, wrote in my journal in the morning, read a beautiful illustrated book about faeries by Charles Vess and then a novel called A Wolf in the Attic, which was the perfect magical, gothic tale for a day of solitude in the lull between holidays. Later that night, still alone, I watched the not-so-great-but-still-lovely movie adaptation of one of my favorite books, Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale. Did I mention it was a lovely day?

I had the best intentions to use the week’s “down” time productively. I meant to do some organizing and administrative work. I was going to get a head start on some proposals and follow up on some existing leads. I was going to (finally) deal with the massive to-be-filed pile of paperwork that I had shunted into a drawer while cleaning for the holidays. But, I did none of those things, and – honestly – I should have known better than to believe for a moment that I would.

You see, I’ve known for a long time that I have two speeds: 100mph and standing still. I’m usually going at 100mph, juggling multiple client projects, personal projects, running the household, raising my daughter, and trying my damnedest to also put some effort in to taking better care of myself (journaling, yoga, meditation, etc.), while still finding time for pleasurable pursuits (mainly reading). But, when I manage to carve out some time to relax, I really relax. The first two days after Christmas were spent sprawled on the couch with my daughter, binge watching movies and series on Netflix. I already described my blissful Thursday, and the rest of the days in that week were subtle variations on those two themes. Translation: I did next to nothing. If it weren’t for my beau coaxing me out for walks in the woods, I might not have left my house at all.

··• )o( •··

I did feel a little guilty about my complete lack of activity. Mostly, I felt guilty for not using this precious free time to do some writing. I am, after all, forever lamenting my lack of available writing time. And here I was with the better part of a week at my disposal. But, sometimes, you just need a break. Sometimes, before you can do any creative work, you need to give your mind and your muse time to unwind and unfurl.

I know it kind of sounds like an excuse, but it’s true.

You’ve probably heard the expression about “replenishing your creative well.” That’s what last week was all about for me, and it’s a valid (I’d even go so far as to say “non-negotiable”) part of the creative process.

After months of being mostly away from my morning pages and feeling uninspired when I did sit down to write, I was thrilled to feel the hum and whir of my creative machine coming to life as my pen raced across the page, scrawling lines that felt like poetry after a long period of mostly dull accounts of daily activities. It made my heart race a little to know that I still had this kind of emotion inside me, looking for a way out. I was relieved to discover that I hadn’t been sucked completely dry by the challenges of 2016.

··• )o( •··

While I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, I do tend to be more open to change in the month of January. So far, the changes I’m making are small, but that doesn’t mean they are insignificant.

For instance, earlier this week (as part of my effort to get back into the groove) I took my own advice about using Trello to organize my writing projects, and am very pleased with the results. I’ve even created a couple shared boards to use with clients and am finding them to be super helpful on the collaboration and communication front.

I also deleted a couple self-improvement apps off my phone. One was meant to encourage and track my efforts to form positive habits, and the other was a collection of games meant to improve brain elasticity and speed. In my week of enjoying the unstructured nature of down time, I realized that these apps, though designed with the best intentions, were really just creating more stress in my life and taking up time that could be better spent reading or writing or simply staring off into space and letting my mind wander. Seriously.

··• )o( •··

The point of all this is that it’s okay to cut yourself some slack. Take a break. Ratchet things down to zero miles per hour. Do nothing. It’s a necessary part of the creative life, and if you deprive yourself of these times of rest you will feel depleted and uninspired.

You will get back into your usual groove soon enough. I promise. I can already feel myself sliding back into the familiar routine. It’s taking a little extra time, but I’m not worried about it. I’ll get there. Right now, I’m actually more focused on making sure I remember how to give myself the gift of unstructured time off so that I stay tapped into my own creative energy. The routines will always be there. I need to practice a little free falling.

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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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