Goal Setting for a New Year

goal_imageI used to belong to a women’s group where each January, the leader of the group would pass around a bowl of cardboard angels cut out from old Christmas cards. On the back of each colorful angel was a single word, the word that was the special word for the recipient for that year. Sometimes the words would imply action, like persistence or fortitude or adventure. Sometimes they would imply a gift such as gratitude, love or family. But the word, she assured us, was specially chosen for each of us that year and as we watched throughout the year, sure enough, we often saw our word take shape in our lives.

As I sit here, this dark, chilly January day, I wish for a cosmic hand to offer up to me the perfect words to direct my goals for the coming year. Where do you look for inspiration when the idea of goal setting leaves you dry and unimaginative?

Perhaps the first place is to review a few basic goal setting questionnaires, just to get the ideas firing. I like http://www.smart-goals-guide.com/free-goal-setting-worksheets-forms-and-templates.html for its general focus on your whole life, not just the work portion. Searching out those other life goals might provide some guidance about what would complement in your work life goals. Spend some time considering why you entered the career you chose. What made you passionate about your work? What kinds of challenges fed your enthusiasm instead of draining it? What do you offer others through your work? Why is it important?

Martin Seligman, a professor from University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center wrote a bestselling book in 2011 called Flourish. In it, he describes his PERMA model, outlining 5 elements existing in a person experiencing a state of well-being. It also provides some clues for us to consider when we are developing our goals.


In order to remain in a state of well-being, Seligman asserts, we need to be experiencing some form of positive emotion. This could occur in many forms, as gratitude, excitement, love, intellectual curiosity, or any one of a number of different positive emotions. One of the ways for many of us in the academic community to feel a positive rush of feeling is to find ourselves totally engrossed in pursuing a topic of personal interest. Reaching a state of flow, where we lose track of time and place as our attention is totally focused on our present pursuit of knowledge is a good illustration of Seligman’s second step of Engagement. What areas of academic pursuit allow you to reach this state of engagement? How is this pursuit represented in your annual goals?

Seligman’s third point is the importance of Positive Relationships. Who in your personal or professional life inspire you? How might you be able to interact with them more in the coming year? What common interest might you be able to work on together? Surrounding yourself with positive relationships helps you lift your own emotions and energizes your work.

Why do you work in the field that you are in? What Meaning does it have for you? What inspires you about your work? Is it working with students? Personal research? How can you fit more of what you most love into your annual goal setting process?

As we have considered the positive Emotions, areas of personal Engagement, positive Relationships, and Meaning of our work world and how they might fit into our professional development and goal setting for the new year, we reach the final letter of Seligman’s PERMA model: Accomplishment. Hopefully, by aligning our goals with the other aspects of the PERMA model, we already have a good idea of several areas in which we can focus for the coming year. Identifying and listing specific accomplishments for the coming year in each of these areas gives us the focus and incentive to make the coming year one of great personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

For more on goal setting and discovering your purpose in life, in addition to the resources previously mentioned, I can also recommend Michael Hyatt’s podcast: How to Create a Life Plan.

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039: Why Joining a Mastermind Group Will Benefit You [Podcast]

It happens to all of us: we want to grow and succeed, but on our own, we are often left frustrated and disappointed. Being involved in a mastermind group may be the perfect solution.

039: Why Joining a Mastermind Group Will Benefit You [Podcast]In this episode of The Portfolio Life, my co-host Andy Traub and I talk about the benefits of mastermind groups and how they have the potential to shape who we are.

When encouraging people to grow, I have often suggested finding a mentor. Turns out that wasn’t the best advice to be doling out. While having a mentor isn’t a bad thing, it’s not necessarily the best use of our time. It often leads to high expectations followed by frustration.

Instead of finding a mentor, becoming involved in a mastermind group is a better first step to help you develop personally.

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. –Jim Rohn

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below. (If you’re reading this via email, click here).

You can also listen at iTunes or on Stitcher.

Show highlights

In this episode we discuss:

  • What a mastermind is and what it is not
  • The benefits of a mastermind group
  • Healthy parameters for starting a group
  • The growing popularity of online mastermind groups

Resources mentioned in the show

  • How to Start a Mastermind Group by Tyler Ward
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (affiliate link)
  • The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki (affiliate link)
  • Zoom — a video conferencing tool

I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. If you know someone who would benefit from it, feel free to download and share it. We’d also appreciate it if you would leave a review on iTunes.

Danny Iny is hosting a free live training tomorrow: How to Build and Launch a Blockbuster Product…Every Time! Register here

Are you a part of a mastermind group? Share in the comments.

Goins, Writer

7 Lessons That Surprised Me After 7 Years of Marriage

Today, my wife Ashley and I celebrate seven years of marriage. I’ve learned so much about life and relationships from this woman, so much of which has surprised me.


Photo credit: Jimmy Rintjema 

Over the weekend, Ashley and I went out to eat at a super-fancy place thanks to a gift card from a friend. While gorging ourselves on every appetizer, entree, and dessert we could stuff in our mouths, we reflected on our life together and what we want the future to look like.

Afterwards, I was struck by the fact that marriage did not turn out the way I thought it would. It ended up being much, much better.

Here are seven somewhat surprising lessons I’ve learned from my marriage, and these apply to a lot more than just matrimony:

  1. You were not meant to be alone. I don’t think everyone needs to or even should get married, but I do know that life happens best in community. And having a partner by your side is essential to staying encouraged and staying sane. I used to think that you needed to learn to be okay on your own before getting married (and there’s some truth to that), but now I know that we were meant to need each other.
  2. You can’t make someone else happy. But you can help them find their own happiness. You can drive yourself nuts trying to fix someone else. It’s better just to love them and do what you can to guide them to where they, not you, want to go.
  3. You have to celebrate the good but remember the bad. No one should live a life of regret, but remembering the moments when you’ve failed will help you not repeat the same mistakes later.
  4. You don’t think things can change until they do. A friend who’s been married 25 years told me the one thing he wished more people would realize is how much a person can change. There’s hope. In spite of what we often believe and say, people do, in fact, change. They just get stuck sometimes in familiar patterns and don’t know how to break out of them. Ashley has taught me so many things about being a grownup, things I thought were impossible to learn… until I did.
  5. You should never apologize with the word “but.” Apologies do not come with exceptions or rationalizations (I am still learning this). And “I was wrong” sounds a lot more convincing than a halfhearted “I’m sorry.” This was hard for me, because I fear not being heard, but I now know that an apology with a reason for why I did what I did is really just an excuse.
  6. You should always have something to look forward to. Anticipation can break the monotony of familiarity. That’s not to say that the daily routine can’t be a beautiful thing; it can be. But we all get bored sometimes and need a goal to aim for. Hope produces joy.
  7. Your quirks are what make you lovable. It’s not true that opposites always attract, but it’s also not true that you should marry someone just like you. Or partner in business with them, for that matter. The truth is we need each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies — in life and relationship. Our differences don’t divide us. They make us need one another.

So whether you’re married or have a best friend you couldn’t part with, what’s one surprising lesson you’ve learned from a long-term relationship? Share in the comments.

Goins, Writer

038: Tips for Making a Good Decision: Interview with Jeff Shinabarger [Podcast]

Part of being a creative person is dealing with all of the opportunities that come your way. Some invitations seem good while others are great.

038: Tips for Making a Good Decision: Interview with Jeff Shinabarger [Podcast]

The challenge comes in learning to differentiate between the two. How do you learn to say no to the decent opportunities so that you can say yes to the best opportunities?

In this episode of the Portfolio Life, Jeff Shinabarger walks us through his process of making decisions and teaches us his two steps to making better decisions.

Listen to the podcast

Listen to the show in the player below (if you’re view this in email, click here)

You can also download it at iTunes or Stitcher

Listen as Jeff gives us suggestions on making good decisions and learning from bad ones.

Interview highlights

  • It is the intersection of the moments of tension and the moments of transition that change lives
  • The best way to make decisions is to identify all of your options and invite those you trust into the process
  • What is the most important decision you can make today to promote your personal life or move your business forward in some way?

About my guest

Jeff Shinabarger refers to himself as just some guy in East Atlanta Village who’s trying to be a good husband and a good dad. Yet in that process he’s introducing social entrepreneurship and changing his entire community.

Jeff (who’s got a great name) likes to solve problems. He notices things that are broken and feels a responsibility to fix them. This passion is allowing him be the change he wants to see by being involved in community and learning to love his neighbors–even the neighbors who didn’t have homes.

He wakes up every morning and asks himself: What is the most important decision I can make today to promote my personal life or move my business or this vision forward in some way?

If this episode was helpful to you, feel free to share it. We would appreciate your decision to leave a review on iTunes as well.

My book, You Are A Writer, is available as an audiobook. You can get it free when you sign up for a free trial of Audible.

What is one step you can do today to move your project forward? Share in the comments.

Goins, Writer

Links Roundup #27

Happy New Year!Calendars

Organize with Smart Calendars is an App Smart video from the New York Times Technology Section on three useful calendar apps: Sunrise (iOS and Android), Cal (Android and iOS), and Tempo (iOS).  Cal is put out by Any.do, a task management software, and integrates with it.  Sunrise puts your Evernote reminders into the calendar automatically if you connect the two.  This tip comes from Nicole Hennig’s email newsletter on mobile apps for education.

Citation Management

How to Manage a Research Library with Zotero is a blog post by Alex Hope in his Dr Sustainable blog.  It discusses his workflow, and citation management software he has used and why he prefers Zotero.  Be sure to read the comments – other researchers chime in with their reasons why they have chosen a particular reference manager. Have just started following this blog and it looks very useful.

Ebsco has integrated EasyBib into its databases, so that users can select an article and automatically open Easybib to add the citation information to their account.  EasyBib works on a freemium model, and a lot of undergrads, among others, really like it.

Computer Programming

Hour of Code, a post from Profhacker by Anastasia Salter, discusses the usefulness of coding in higher education (and resources for learning to do it) aimed at non-professionals.

Educational Gaming/Apps

2014: 5 Games to Learn From is a Profhacker post by Anastasia Salter.  She has written a number of posts on using games to improve learning and teaching, so if interested in this topic check out her other posts.

Nearpod is a very interesting-looking product for creating instruction sessions.  It allows adding slideshows, audio tracks, video, images, quizzes, polls, and various other types of material.  Works on a freemium model, and the free version looks useful for most teachers.  There is a school edition for which you have to call for pricing.

Wiz IQ is similar to Nearpod, though at first glance seems to have fewer features.  The site has a 19-page PDF on creating videos, annotations, and presentations for your class.

Best Educational Mobile Apps – 2014 Edublog Awards lists 25 Apps chosen by Edublogs and has a description of each.  While many are aimed at K-12, some are applicable to the academic community.


How to Keep Course Files Organized is another useful post by our friend Bonni Stachowiak in which she talks about folder structure for both email and computers.  Her method could be applied by non-teachers, since it has some useful general tips.


The Android version of Evernote now has the business card camera and LinkedIn integration that the iPhone version has had for some time.

Crystal brought my attention to the fact that OneNote now has a blog for education and a site for teachers.

Grovo is a site that produces short clear tutorial videos on many apps and social media tools.  They often put together several of them to create a “course” on the most popular tools.  A recent edition is a useful brief introduction to the new web version of Evernote.

Using Evernote (the Right Way) is a post on Medium by Thomas Honeyman. His way is to use a small number of notebooks and a lot of nested tags.

In Penultimate Update Adds Multi-page Editing and Better Writing, Evernote discusses the most recent updates to Penultimate (an iOS only app).  The title is descriptive of the article.

How I Use Evernote to Remind Me of Everything is a new post by Jamie Todd Rubin discussing his system for using reminders, linking notes together, and integrating Evernote reminders into the Sunrise calendar app.

Questions and Answers about Context is an Evernote blog post about using the Context feature, showing content related to the note you are working on.

How Evernote Can Help You Achieve Your Goals in 2015 is a post by well-known writer Michael Hyatt.  In the post he lays out a details format for setting up your goals.  The method sounds very much like one similar to David Allen‘s Getting Things Done (GTD) program.


The Big List of IFTTT Recipes: 34 Hacks for Hardcore Social Media Productivity is a post on buffersocial by Kevan Lee.  It discusses IFTTT recipes for managing social media.


How to Start or Improve a Podcast is a Profhacker post by Jason B. Jones.  It provides links with discussion which should get the podcast newbie a great start.


Note-Taking in Graduate School is a Gradhacker post by Justin Dunnavant, which discusses his personal system for taking notes for classes, books, and journal articles.  He still relies on paper for some tasks, and the discussion is valuable in part because he does show that getting to 100% digital is still difficult, even with all the advances in technology.  One link that I thought particularly valuable is the synthesis matrix for organizing a literature review – after taking part in a major lit review last summer, I really wish I had known about this!


Presenter’s Toolbox: Apps and Gear for a Successful Presentation is a post by Scott Schwertly, a well-known business consultant, on tools he uses to create, present, and follow up after presentations.


One of our perennial favorites on this blog is Jill Duffy, who does a weekly Get Organized column for PCmag.  A recent post lists her votes for Best Productivity Apps of the Year.  The apps she mentions are Timeful, Mailbox, Johnson & Johnson Official 7-Minute Workout, Asana, Evernote, and Easily.do.

Best Software and Productivity Apps for iPad Air or iPad Mini is a post from Cindy Grigg, author of About.com‘s page for Office Software.  She discusses some information and pricing about the machines, which apps come with it, and other best productivity apps.  She has related posts for the iPhone and iPod Touch, for Mac Notebooks, and for Mac Desktops.  On the Android side, she has articles Office Software and Productivity Apps for Android LG Tablets and Smartphones, Office Software and Productivity Apps for Your New HTC Android or Smartphone, and Office Software and Productivity Apps for Android Sony Tablets and Cell Phones.  And, finally, Top Android Productivity Apps for 2014.

Get Your Ideas Out of Your Head to Start Improving Them is a Lifehacker post by Eric Ravenscraft in which the central idea is that writing your ideas down is essential to being able to judge their validity.  Does not mention, though I think vital, that writing something down helps clarify what can be a vague thought.  Lifehacker, by the way,  is full of such productivity tips… far too many to cover in this blog.  You can subscribe to see more of them.


#TAGS: New Home Page for Twitter Archiving Google Sheet is a Profhacker post by George Williams discussing using TAGS to archive tweets based on Twitter search terms.

Video/Audio Production

Cheap and Easy Audio for Videos is a post by David Lee King discussing equipment and techniques he uses that are cheap and provide good quality audio for any videos you produce.


The Best Software for Writing Your Dissertation is a Gradhacker post by Lesley McCollum discussing the problems with Word and options such as LaTex, Lyx, and Scrivener.  Links to other useful blog posts.



The post Links Roundup #27 appeared first on Personal Knowledge Management for Academia & Librarians.

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15 Money-Saving Strategies for Couples

ways for couples to save money

If you and your partner have big plans coming up, whether it’s a vacation, marriage, new house or even a child, finding ways to pinch pennies can sometimes be difficult. However, there are some simple ideas to stretch dollars and cut corners in order to help you meet your financial goals. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are 15 money-saving tips to get you started.

1. Go on Dates That Cost Next to Nothing

While going out to classy restaurants, concerts and sports games can make for amazing dates, they can also run your bank account dry. If you’re trying to save money, coming up with inexpensive date ideas is key. Having a dinner and movie night in, going to see a local band at a free event, or even going for a hike are fun and cheap.

2. Sign Up For Free Customer Rewards Programs

Taking advantage of free rewards programs can help you cut corners easily. Many media services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Redbox offer free trials that can help you receive free movie rentals or get you waived shipping fees. Other types of rewards programs, which are through supermarkets or gas stations, can help you save money every time you shop.

3. If the Time Is Right, Move In Together

If you don’t already live together and are considering it, sharing a living space can save a huge amount of money. Not only do rent and utilities become easier to manage when you split the cost, but many other expenses like food and gas become cheaper as well.

4. When Furnishing A New Place, Buy Used

buy used

If you’re moving into an apartment and need furniture, buying new tables and chairs and everything in between can add up fast. Instead, bargain hunt at thrift shops, yard sales and flea markets. With a little TLC and a coat of spray paint, a coffee table or lamp can look like new. Or even better.

5. Consolidate Whenever Possible

To make the most of your money, consolidate expenses with your partner whenever possible. Easy things to consolidate include cell phone bills, magazine subscriptions and digital subscriptions.

6. Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies

cleaning supplies

Spending money on items you don’t necessarily enjoy purchasing, like cleaning supplies, can be a bummer, especially when those expenses start to pile up. Instead, buy natural ingredients and make your own.

7. Get Rid of Unnecessary Subscriptions

Magazine subscriptions, cable bills and online media subscriptions are often the biggest culprits when it comes to hidden expenses.

8. Make the Most of Grocery Shopping

Buying groceries is a huge drain on money, unless you do it right. Buy necessities (toilet paper, baking items and frozen food) on sale and in bulk. Also, before shopping, make an airtight grocery list so you don’t purchase anything unnecessary.

9. Take Cheaper Vacations

When possible, make your own meals and snacks instead of ordering out when you vacation. Also, look into camping instead of pricey hotels, or try to find a Groupon or other discount available.

10. Combine Your Finances

combine finances

If you and your partner live together and share expenses, creating a joint account can help you create a budget for the items and expenses that you pay together, and save money in the process.

11. Have Frequent Discussions About Your Goals

When making any savings plan, it’s key to account for what your future goals are and what you’re actually saving for. By gauging what you want to have and what you want to accomplish in the future, you can adjust your savings plan as needed.

12. Adjust Your Insurance Policy

If you pay high monthly insurance bills, you understand how much of a drain this can put on your finances. You’re not the only couple feeling this, as 1.7 million people declared bankruptcy in 2013 because of medical debt alone. To help ease this load, look for ways to adjust your insurance plan so that it’s more affordable.

13. If You Have A Credit Card, Don’t Use It

credit card

If your goal is to pinch pennies and save money, stop spending with your credit card. While it may seem like a harmless way to boost your credit score, using this piece of plastic and becoming a little to trigger happy with it, can come with serious financial consequences.

14. Make A Debt Plan

If you and your significant other are currently in debt, making a plan to help you overcome it efficiently is all too important. By assessing your debts together, you can more comprehensively determine the best repayment plan to reduce expensive interest and get out of debt quicker.

15. Re-Finance Your Student Loans

Going to college wasn’t cheap, and you’re likely left with the student loans to prove it. If you and your significant other both have a plethora of student loans, do your best to consolidate.

Saving money can often feel like an impossible challenge. However, by making simple changes to how you and your partner spend and save, you can grow your savings at a faster rate.

Images by jarmoluk, PublicDomainArchive

Featured photo credit: Michael Pollak via flickr.com

The post 15 Money-Saving Strategies for Couples appeared first on Lifehack.


Get Your Message Shared with This Simple Tactic

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Daniel Decker, who specializes in helping authors build platforms, launch books, and turn their messages into sustainable businesses. Follow him on his blog and on Twitter.

If you are on Twitter, Facebook or any other form of social media, then you know how it feels when you post something that gets shared, especially when it gets shared a lot.

Get Your Message Shared with This Simple Tactic

Photo Credit: jrhode via Compfight cc

It’s a good feeling, isn’t it? Not just for the validation of your message, but also for the increased reach and impact you know you are having.

Now, imagine how you would feel if you could get your message shared more. You can. There is a simple tactic that you could implement today to get your message shared by many more people.

Here it is: create a share page for your blog or website.

Simply put, this is a page that has pre-created messages that people can easily share. It can be a mix of some of your most engaging thoughts, quotes, or posts in the form of embedded tweets, shareable image quotes, and other content. It’s a makeup of messages you feel people will gravitate towards most and want to share with others.

These are not “promotional” messages necessarily; although, they can be, depending on the use. They are primarily messages with content that people find valuable and want to share. As a result, your reach expands and so does your impact (for your core message or whatever it is you are trying to bring attention to).

A share page works well with a launch

You can use a share page specifically around a book or product launch.

See an example here of one bestselling author Jon Gordon used when we launched his book The Carpenter. Not only did it include embedded tweets and images for downloading and/or posting to Pinterest, but it also included sample blog and email copy that fans could use to promote the book.

In Jon’s case, content messages such as this one below were shared a lot:

“You aren’t a true success unless you are helping others be successful.” –@jongordon11 #LoveServeCare www.Carpenter11.com

Since the messages also included the link, the book site received a ton of traffic which then resulted in increased book sales, new email subscribers, and social media followers.

Imagine 50, 100, 1000 or even more of your fans utilizing the messages you provide in the timeframe you suggest. The concentrated impact combined with the reach is phenomenal. And the results can be exponential.

It doesn’t have to be exclusive to a launch

A share page can be a page on your site that you keep as a resource for fans and new visitors. It can be in your site navigation as a link or a link in a thank-you email someone gets after signing up at your site.

It’s a place where people can engage with your best material and share it with others, simply because they find it valuable.

See an example used as a promo page after someone signed up for our recent Author Platform Summit here. The page is very simple, but it asked for people to click links to tweet at their favorite speaker. It worked amazingly well.

If you decide to create a general share page on your site, I’d also suggest adding simple SHARE THIS SITE links at the top of the page to make it easy for someone to click and share your site. Then proceed with the rest of your content-driven shareable messages down the page.

Take a look at a sample share page for Jeff Goins to illustrate how simple it can be. It’s also a great example of how you can utilize the power of pre-created content to encourage increased sharing.

Why does a share page work?

A share page is the easy button. When you have pre-created content with share links, it removes friction by making it easy for people to share. When it’s easy, people take action.

Pro Tip: If you are on Twitter, you can go back and see a your most popular tweets by using MyTopTweet.com. It’s free and useful.

You might start by posting some of your most popular content on your share page because you already know that it resonates. You can also type in other Twitter users’ names to see their top tweets (which could then give you additional content ideas that you might want to utilize because you’ll know the messages resonate with others).

Sounds good, right?

"You can outlast those who are lucky and outwork those who are lazy."

Now, how do you create one of your own?

Here are four steps:

  1. Create a SHARE page on your website. Follow the framework of examples cited above.
  2. Create embedded tweets using ClickToTweet.com. You can copy and paste your tweet it will create a custom link for your message. You can then just copy that link into your “TWEET THIS NOW” line.
  3. Create custom shareable images. It’s best if you get images professional done by a designer or use a service like 99designs.com. I typically make images in 612×612 pixel format so that they work well for most forms of social media (from Instagram to Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter). Or you can create optimized images for each medium. You can also use text overlay apps like Wordswag. Embedding the image and Pinterest button on your SHARE page is a little more advanced, so you may want to get a web designer to help you. Here is the link to create your Pinterest embed button. You can find one to do it quick and affordably from Elance or any number of places.
  4. Add any other additional content and you’re set.

Do you now plan to create a share page on your site? Share in the comments.

Goins, Writer

May Your Holidays be Blessed with Joy

May your holidays be blessed with joy, love, health, and prosperity, and may the New Year bring you the same – regardless of your religion or lack thereof. Scroll down to see pictures to put you in a holiday mood.

We will return with a post on January 5th.


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Looking Back (Honestly) at the Past Year

In case you haven’t been on Facebook lately, you may have missed that everyone and their brother is sharing a photo collage of the past year.

Facebook: Year in Review

Facebook: Year in Review

One friend pointed out that hers was entirely inaccurate, though. “No photos of me crying on the kitchen floor over another failed recipe,” she said.

I love that.

There’s this sense, I think, that we ought to be showing our best selves online. And maybe we are missing the point when we do that.

  • On Instagram, we display well-edited versions of our best moments.
  • On Twitter, we post our pithiest remarks and save the stupid things we say (hopefully) for offline chatter.
  • On Facebook, we share what we want with whom we want to see it.

We are not living our true selves in front of the world, much less in front of those who matter most. We are curating memories and moments as if they were pieces of art to be hung on the walls while the rest gets stuffed in the basement.

Why do we do this?

I think it has to do with fear. We hide because we are afraid of being known. Because at our core many of us believe we are unlovable. If people really knew me, I often think, they wouldn’t like, much less love, me.

But maybe we have this all wrong. In his upcoming book Scary Close Donald Miller points out that our shortcomings are what make us lovable. If we were perfect, there would be no need for grace to fill in the cracks of our inadequacies.

It’s a beautiful thought. We spend all this time trying to reach perfection. But what if all this effort wasn’t actually leading us where we thought?

The “real” me

Recently, I’ve been reconsidering my priorities.

Do I really want to become more popular? Do I really need to be famous? Or would I rather just be better than I was yesterday? “There is no fun in being famous,” Frederick Buechner once wrote, “unless everyone is famous.” I’m starting to agree.

If my life were a movie, I think right now it would be anticlimactic. An artsy drama with a killer soundtrack and believable characters, but nothing too gripping to keep you in your seat.

The protagonist would be a sarcastic hero who never really breaks out of his bad habits. You’d like him but never see him grow into who he was capable of being. The credits would roll, and you’d find yourself feeling frustrated.

Is it any wonder these are the kinds of movies I am attracted to? Understated but beautiful flicks like Garden State and Dan in Real Life? There is a certain poetry and artistic integrity to unresolved conflicts, but are these the stories we want to be living? I’m not so sure.

Currently, I’m working through Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever course, and one of the first exercises is to reflect on your past year. Instead of looking at my Facebook timeline, I’m asking myself three hard questions.

Question #1: Where have I settled?

Looking back, I can count many successes from this year:

  • I made more money than I ever had in my life,
  • I met new and interesting people,
  • I traveled to interesting places like Italy and Africa.

But in many ways, I still feel like I played it safe, like I wasn’t fully realizing who I was born to be. So the question must be asked:

Have I settled?

I think maybe I have. Maybe I’ve settled for a life that is mostly about me, one in which my self-worth is measured by how many people leave a comment on my blog or by how much money is in my bank account. And — I don’t know — that just feels a little off-track.

Which brings me to my second question…

Question #2: Did I measure the wrong things?

Measuring your success can be healthy. Goals can be good, and metrics help you focus. But for me, constantly checking the numbers has become ammunition for beating myself up.

Too often this year, I’ve sought out criticism not out of a genuine interest to grow, but as an excuse to confirm my insecurities. But the truth is I’ll never be good enough, never measure up to my expectations. Because I am always changing those expectations, always wanting more.

And as the target moves, I keep flinging arrows and cussing under my breath when I miss the mark. “If you keep that up,” a friend told me, “you will become a miserable old man.”

He’s right.

I can’t continue moving the target without taking time to adjust my aim. I have to redefine what success looks like (more on that soon). But that’s not to say you can’t learn from failure. Or that you shouldn’t acknowledge your shortcomings.

Which brings me to my third and final question…

Question #3: Where have I failed?

In spite of some success, I have failed this year. Quite a lot, actually. But not in the most obvious, share-it-on-Facebook ways. Continually, I have missed the mark in one major area: relationships.

In particular, I have failed to love in these three areas:

  1. Loving my wife. I’ve not been the husband my wife deserves. I don’t know that I’ve been a “bad” husband and doubt Ashley would characterize me as that. But I know that I’ve played it safe here, that I haven’t been as bold and audacious as I could have been. I want to change that, want to be someone who is interested in others as much as he is in himself. And that begins with my bride.
  2. Loving my readers. I love the work that I do, but at times I’ve made my job too much about my own success and not enough about helping the most people. I don’t think making money or growing your business is innately bad, but I’m starting to get bored with focusing too much on the bottom line. I want impact to be my most important metric.
  3. Loving myself. I mentioned to a friend that I wanted to lose about twenty pounds, and he said to me, “Do you need to lose weight?” I think I do, but more than that, I want to. Getting into better shape would give me more confidence and make me feel more comfortable. Which is a major theme for next year: self-care. I’m intentionally investing in becoming a healthier person — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose himself in the process?

You can really beat yourself up with this question of “where have I failed?” But for me, it’s about addressing the areas I’ve avoided because I know they’re going to reveal my shortcomings. I tend to not want to do things that I won’t be any good at, and sometimes, that’s just not an option.

Looking forward

Now that I know these things, what will I do about them? I want to do more meaningful work, reach more people, and live a happier life. I want to love well the people that matter the most.

I want to feel like George Bailey does at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. When I’m on my death bed, looking back at my life, I want to know that I ran the race well. Not that I was the most famous or most successful, but as Harry Bailey puts it in the very last scene, “the richest man I know!”

Of course, he means rich in relationships. And now, as the cold wind of winter finally creeps in to my part of the world, I wonder if there is any other kind.

If you want to make this next year your best year ever, I encourage you to not just look at the things that are easy to share, but to dig deep and ask yourself the tough questions. Not just with what you’re willing to post on Facebook. You might be surprised by what you find.

Have you ever done an honest yearly review? Get started by going through these free videos from Michael Hyatt.

How would you answer the above questions? Share in the comments.

Goins, Writer

Attributes and Procedure of Getting CPD Accreditation Status

The term Common Professional Development (CPD) is a well organized approach to acquiring the pre determined specialized education, knowledge, practical training practice for pursuing a certain profession that is mandatory in many countries including the UK. CPD requisites can pertain to several professions such as medical, judicial, research and fellowship programs, logistics and transport etc. as per the regulations in an institution or governmental laws. For instance, according to the CPD rules in practice in England and Wales, a legal executive or solicitor executing full time legal practice in the country (working 32 hours or more in a week), needs to complete at least 16 hours of CPD every year that will earn them 16 CPD points.

Obtaining CPD Accreditation

There are several authorized organizations that offer CPD accreditation programs. Before you proceed to acquire your accreditation it is mandatory to complete your CPD program with minimum attendance fulfillment, participation in several activities as a registered college/university candidate etc. Completing this formality will bestow the recognition of an accredited CPD provider status. More or less the following procedures are adopted by all major organizations that offer independent CPD accreditation to a professional.

Application: The first step is to register and apply for an independent CPD provider accreditation status. While applying the candidate will have to submit proof of attending the CPD program, details, of participation in activities, hours completed etc.

Review: The institute awarding accreditation will take about a month of time to review the certificates and credential submitted to verify the authenticity of the documents before processing the application to the final stage where the accreditation awarded to the CPD provider.

Accreditation Awarding and Conditions: The final stage is the accreditation awarding when the candidate is assigned a particular date when he will receive the status of accredited independent CPD provider and gain the privilege of promoting himself in the professional domain to set a milestone in his career. He will then have the facility to approach potential clients or join any institute as an accredited member. To ensure that the accreditation remains valid for lifetime, keep updating it as and when there are any changes in the terms and conditions introduced in the regulations of the particular profession.

  • Gain better client prospects as an established accredited professional
  • Beat the competitors in the professional world and get exposure to premium career opportunities
  • Explore the new job opportunities for which you meet the criteria of accreditation requirements
  • Build a network of clientele with whom you can keep pursuing your profession with peak high progress

The CPD obligations are formulated in accordance with requirement of the essential and advanced skills and education to pursue any said profession with complete accuracy. Many organizations have strict codes for CPD fulfillment of the all the recruits. However the independent professionals not yet associated with any organization or enterprise, in their own interest can opt for taking CPD to ease out their way to getting hired and setting firm foot in the professional world.

Apprenticeships are also another route you can go down and with Gordan Franks Birmingham apprenticeships it is easier than ever before.