Monthly Archives: December 2009

The Antidote To Resolution Guilt

I love thinking about New Year’s resolutions.  January 1 is a clean slate and I give myself plenty of time to consider the previous year and how I could have done things better, faster, easier.  Well, you know, so I can make plans for a better outcome.

This year I have been thinking about resolutions in general. Why I keep making a lot of the same ones and why it’s so easy to have them fail.  Sheesh, part of the resolution culture demands our intentions fall by the wayside and then we get to feel guilty…which allows us to not feel guilty.

Then it hit me.  Change generally occurs when the need is immediate and there is some sort of pain involved.  Everyone knows the woman who stopped smoking the second she discovered she was pregnant or the alcoholic who started AA when his family left him.  Do you think Tiger Woods is calling anyone other than his wife?!

Last year I had “lose weight” on my list.  It wasn’t until I hit a number that I could not live with that I actually went into action.  Four weeks later I was down eighteen lbs.  I had “keep house organized” on my list.  It wasn’t until I set a timer and discovered that 15 or 20 minutes was all that stood between me and neatness that I was no longer able to say it was too much after a long work day.  I don’t have to write that down again.  I wrote “have a successful business” in late 2008.  I did okay until I signed a lease for an office.  When being successful includes having a few hundred dollars a month available for rent the first of every month it’s amazing how much higher I set the bar for myself.

So here’s the anti-dote to resolution guilt: Don’t make any you aren’t willing to take on right now. You can’t feel guilty about something that doesn’t exist. Life is challenging.  Don’t make it harder.


Who’s In Your Vortex?

A vortex is a spinning, often turbulent, flow of fluid (including air).  The speed and rate of rotation are greatest in the center and it decreases at it moves outward.  Was that true for a person or a business?  And if it was how would I move forward in the next year?

I decided to map one out for myself.  I put myself in the middle of an imaginary vortex and then drew lines for different groups that had contributed to my income this year.  I ended up with ten including my mastermind group, family, former clients and so on.  Each group received a + or a – depending on how each group overall had contributed to my success. A couple were neutral.

I had to decide if I wanted to be rotating at a higher rate of speed or did I want to slow down.  Oh yeah, definitely faster.  That was the only decision I was able to make right away.

Were there more positives than negatives? Yes.  Assuming negatives slowed down the vortex did I expend any energy trying to move them up to at least neutral or did I just let them go?  What could I learn from the attributes of the negatives that would help me avoid them next time?  Should I be “burned once, twice shy” about a particular group?

By the same token what was the sequence of events that led to positives?  What would it take for that group to become neutral or negative?

Finally, I am really interested in knowing whether I hold the same negative or positive position with these groups.   What would those conversations sound like and do I have as much courage as interest to find out?  I hope I do because if the vortex gets stronger I will be spinning to my heart’s content!

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The Top Ten Reasons Santa Is A True Role Model

It’s all over the newsSanta is overweight.  Wow! Who knew? (He also smokes a pipe which I had totally disregarded because, well, he always has.)

Obesity is one of the last acceptable bastions of prejudice.  Of course it’s a health issue and shouldn’t we only have good role models for our kids? Absolutely!  After all if Santa hadn’t developed and delivered all the video games, TVs and DVRs that litter most rooms in our houses our kids wouldn’t be in danger of obesity themselves. And the cookies, candy and occasional spiked coffee waiting at every stop?  Outrageous!  Any child can tell you that Santa cleans up! Of course it’s only once a year and most obese kids eat that stuff (except spiked anything let’s hope) every single day.

But I digress.

I believe Santa is a wonderful role model…if we can get past his appearance.  Here’s why I would like to see kids – and plenty of adults – follow his lead. Please consider that Santa

  • works all year.
  • understands a deadline and doesn’t stop until every single item is delivered even if it takes all night.
  • manages a large diverse workforce that is extremely loyal even though they are stuck in snow and ice year round.
  • doesn’t hire a PR agency or handler when misrepresented in the media.
  • isn’t afraid to use old technology like, oh say a sleigh and reindeer, if that’s the best solution.
  • listens very closely to his customers.
  • doesn’t promise more than he can deliver.
  • treats all requests with the same amount of respect and dignity.
  • has a stable home life and is scandal-free.
  • is a marketing genius (who can’t come up with at least one “magical” Christmas memory?).

I don’t care about Santa’s appearance or fret that our kids would be better off if he were 30 lbs. thinner.  Taking commitments seriously and not stopping until they’re fulfilled – now that’s something I could get excited about!

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Dreams Die Hard Especially When They're Not Yours

My 18 year old daughter has taken a very difficult road to adulthood.  In the last three years I have been introduced to the juvenile and adult justice systems, rehab, closed bank accounts because of ongoing thefts, Medicaid, WIC and people I would have previously crossed the street to avoid.

Radical thinkers on one side think Ashley and I are blessed to teach each other about love and acceptance.  Radical thinkers on the other side think I should tell her it’s been swell but I don’t want her in my  life anymore.  To be honest I’ve been on both sides.  I always end up somewhere in the middle though.  She is my child and it is my lifetime job to be her mother.

I had such big dreams for her.  I never cared what she decided to be when she grew up.  I did think she would have lots of friends and get decent grades in school and get a job so she could make her own way.  A couple pretty bad things happened to her when she was little and she never got over the shame of being “given away” by her birth mother.  Still I didn’t see all this coming.  Lord knows I would have moved heaven and earth.

Ashley did graduate from high school and she has had jobs.  She has had lovely friends from very nice families.  But she is not fulfilling my dreams and that’s hard to take even as I know while writing this it’s not her responsibility to do so. The rocky path continues and I often run into people who ask how she’s doing or need to refer to notes because their  children are so accomplished.

I am not alone or so I’ve been told.  A prosecutor told me last summer I am that rare parent who refuses to cover up for their child and let them bear the consequences of their actions.  Perhaps that’s the one degree that will make the difference for Ashley. I’ll let you know.

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When Is Enough Information Enough?

I listed forty geek terms on one of my websites today.  They’re pretty interesting and I love that geekiness is becoming a compliment rather than a slur.

I enjoy reading blogs and clicking on links in Twitter.  I could spend all day just learning.  In fact there was period in my life, okay a looong period, when I felt there was no limit to the knowledge I needed to gather.  Certifications and accreditations don’t exist for the work I do.   It’s more like an independent study but clients are always looking for credentials and I just hate it when someone less qualified gets work because of arbitrary letters after his/her name.

So I tried to fight it by becoming a vortex of information and facts.  (Honestly that’s much harder than it sounds when you consider the information learned right now will be outdated in about two years.) If I didn’t know the answer to a question I asked my partner.  He usually knew or knew where to find it.

How valuable is that? Considerably if you’re an encyclopedia.  Otherwise, not so much.

I realized one day, out of the blue, that my clients (and potential clients) were looking for solutions to problems I could solve.  They didn’t care if I could explain Google‘s algorithm change of the day or the value of a bookmark  over Digg.  What they really wanted to know was if I could help them increase their sales or their client outreach or profitability.  My life changed that day. So did my profit and loss statement.

I haven’t stopped learning.  I just close the browser a lot more often.  I take what’s already in my head and put it in a form my clients can use.  If I don’t have all the information I need I get it from other people.  The sum of the parts is truly greater than the whole.  And that benefits everyone.

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Time Is On My Side

Schrödinger equation of quantum mechanics (1927).
Image via Wikipedia

I think about time a lot mostly from the quantum physics view.  Is what I’m doing in the present also happening in the past and the future?  I think so although it’s hard to wrap my head around it.  How do I apply that concept to make my life better as opposed to simply considering it a grand idea?

It’s easy to become oppressed by time.  If you have a regular job then you probably have set times to arrive, eat, go to the restroom and leave.  (Unions have take this to the nth degree and this explains why their members are often derided as clock watchers. But I digress.) It does keep order and if there is a production line it makes sense to be as efficient as possible.

Here’s the thing.  How many of us are still on a production line?  How many of us run a production line? Unless I’ve missed a major news story in the last few days most of us are in the information or services business and most of us are entrepreneurs or small business owners.  We are not bound by the old way of operating.

Am I saying we should throw out all the clocks and simply do what we feel like when we feel like it? Most people call that a vacation.  But I wonder what my day might look like if I did.

I would only do the things I really wanted to do.  For example am I committed to my weekly networking group?  When would I blog or Twitter?  Would I spend hours on Facebook?  How would I schedule meetings with customers?  What tasks would I do simply because I thought they were fun?  Would I seek new business?  Could I generate enough enthusiasm to make sure I had enough income to pay the rent and cable bill?

Most importantly what are the things that are so valuable to me that I don’t feel oppressed by artificial time constructs?

Of course I have a system that reminds me when I get to meet with someone or I have committed to the end of a project.  I don’t mind – time is not my enemy because I take pleasure in what I do and what I have to offer.  But a rigid schedule?  Nope.  That’s for people who aren’t passionate about what they do.

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When Did We Decide Not To Work In December?

I plan every day starting with the three most important tasks that simply must get finished before the end of the day (you’re looking at one right now) that contributes to my business development.  Then I write down the big giant to do list every business owner has and slog through as much of that as possible.  I reset the counter and start over the next day. It’s a technique I learned from Mark LeBlanc and it works pretty well.  My business has been getting better and the contracts larger.

Then I hit the wall.

Who decided that December was not a work today month? It’s the “get ready for 2010” month.  Yes, instead of focusing on what could be accomplished on December 3 or 17 or 29 I know a lot of businesses that are so excited about the prospects of the New Year they won’t spend 10 seconds on this month. Besides, they tell me “Oh no business gets done during the holidays”.  Sigh.  I know it’s always more fun to start something than finish it but a year?!

Funny though…my rent is still due.  Cable still needs to be paid.  My family and that of my business partner’s would love to have a little pile of gifts under the tree.  So I’ll be working all twenty-one days.  Need to get something done? Call me!

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