Forming New Habits

So, what’s the secret formula to form a new habit?

Creating a new habit  can be seen as creating a path of worn grass in a public lawn. If you walk through a path once, it won’t do anything to the grass. If you walk for 5 days, you might get something that resembles a path, but if you stop doing it, the lawn will quickly recover and your path will disappear. What if you walk through the same path, everyday, during a month? You’ll probably create a permanent “worn grass” path!

The key is repetition: you have to repeat the behavior consistently, until the pathways become etched in your brain. Avoid skipping, you should do it on regular basis.

How long should it take to get a habit?

It takes time, and you should be patient.  Again, back to the grass analogy, you can’t create a path by stepping on it just once. A week is not enough either. Maybe two weeks?  I’m pretty sure you can do it in three weeks!

What else can you do to facilitate the process?

Reward yourself. Associating some form of reward  during your habit formation will make the process much easier. You can be creative and setup any kind of reward you can think of.   For example, allow you to browse your favorite websites, play  your favorite video game, eat your favorite snack, only after you’ve performed your daily dosage of your “new habit”.

Keeping track of your progress is also a form of reward, it gives you a sense of control. Write down a list stating your progress “Day 1…Day 2…Day 3…” and post it somewhere  in the house where other members of the family can see it. Making others aware of your accomplishments can be a valuable reward.

The Power of Habits (the good ones)

Think about something you can do very well without thinking. How about breathing? Isn’t it amazing? You can breath slower, faster. You can breath deeper, shallower. But even if you don’t think about it, you can still breath. You can read a letter, eat, talk to your friends, drive a car, watch a movie…and still breath.

Imagine if you had to think about breathing all the time: “OK, now I’m going to breath in..OK I’m done, now I’m going to breath out.”. This would be so time consuming that you wouldn’t have time to do anything else. How would you pay attention to a movie if you had to think about breathing in …and breathing out….breathing in … breathing out…. How could you drive cars, read letters, eat, talk to friends… it would be almost impossible. Imagine how exhausted you would feel by the end of the day.

Breathing is not a “habit”, but it is very close to being one. It shares the same properties. A habit is a form of learned behavior that you do without thinking. Breathing is also an automatic behavior, which you can do without thinking. The only difference is that it is innate (you don’t need to learn how to do it, is already hardwired in your nervous system when you are born).

So, a habit is a behavior you learn, which can work the same way as breathing. How powerful that is! You have the power to do it, so take advantage of it. Use it for you own benefit, this feature is sitting there in your brain, waiting for you to program it. Creating good habits could save you so much time and release your brain to do much more interesting things.

Goalenforcer Cloud

The Goalenforcer Cloud is here! This is an important new feature of Goalenforcer, which will allow full integration of the upcoming iPhone, iPad and Android versions of Goalenforcer, coming early next year (Goalenforcer Mobile).

GoalEnforcer Cloud

With the new Goalenforcer Cloud you can now have:

• Access to your GoalEnforcer projects any time, any place.
• Auto-backup and auto-sync.
• Safe encrypted cloud connection.
• Real time information on your hands, anywhere you go.
• One central project location, multiple access. No more need to carry a USB drive.

Check for more details at:

http://www.goalenforcer.com/goalenforcercloud.html

Timeboxing Can Improve Your Time Management Skills

Timeboxing (or Time Boxing, Time-boxing) is a simple productivity improvement technique that sets a specific amount of time to do a job. Time is such an abstract concept that we have a hard time seeing it as a limited resource, like water in a tank or money in your pocket. A Time Box can help you visualize time as a limited resource and retrain your brain to make the most of it.
Here’s how Timeboxing works: Time Box

1. Pick a task you want to work on.

2. Set a specific amount of time to work on the selected task.

3. Stop working on it when the allocated time has elapsed.

4. Re-evaluate.

It sounds simple, but you can learn a lot by following this four-step process. The last step, “Re-evaluate,” is the most critical and you should pay careful attention to it:

• If you finished your task, great, you are done. Reward yourself with a break and then move on to the next task.
• If the allocated time wasn’t enough to complete your task, spend some time re-evaluating and try to understand what went wrong. Ask yourself:

Did I allocate reasonable time to execute this task?

Was my estimate wrong? Why?

Did I waste too much time with distractions? Which distractions? What can I do to avoid them?

Did I try to do too much? What should be eliminated? How can I trim my task?

Was I too perfectionist? Should I be more realistic?

See how you can learn a lot and tune yourself to be more productivity with this simple 4-step process? It’s just a matter of realizing that time is a limited resource and you have to learn how to make the most of it.

GoalEnforcer Hyperfocus 2012 introduces a new built-in Timeboxing Timer control that can help you visualize a “Time Box” and easily implement the 4-step Time Boxing method mentioned above. In order to activate the Time Boxing control, navigate to the Hyperfocus Zone and click the Time Boxing button on the bottom toolbar.

Download a free GoalEnforcer Hyperfocus demo and start playing with the Timeboxing Timer today!

Time Box Timer

Keep Yourself Motivated By Breaking Up Long Term Rewards Into Short Term Rewards

It’s well known that successful people have the ability to stay on track and focus on long term rewards.

However, it’s less known that successful people also have the ability to break up long term rewards into a sequence of short term rewards, and enjoy the ride to success.

Long Term Reward vs Short term Reward
Long Term Rewards can be split into a sequence of Short Term Rewards. Which one makes more sense?

 

A common mistake people make when starting a diet/exercise plan is to look at themselves in the mirror after the very first week. They then get frustrated because they can barely notice any change.

What about looking at the calendar and verifying that all days of the first week have been check marked as successful exercise days? Isn’t that joyful?

Or suppose you have just started your own business and you feel like you won’t be happy until you see one million dollars in your bank account.

How about celebrating after your sales reach $2k a week? Or even better, how about celebrating when the current week sales has been better than the previous week?

The process is easier than you might think; it’s just a matter of breaking up your long term goals into short term sub-goals.

You have to be on track, but the ride should be fun too.

Goalenforcer DownloadGoalEnforcer: Break your Goals into Sub-Goals Today

Managing Multiple Projects

Goal setting information overloadRunning multiple projects at the same time can easily overload you if you don’t use the right approach. The basic successful principle is to keep focus on what matters and make sure that things keep moving forward. In order to do this you need to be able to overview the status of all your projects and quickly pinpoint the critical items that need immediate action.

Imagine this scenario. You are called into an emergency meeting and are requested to explain the status of your projects. You print 250 pages of status reports and now what? Where do you start?

You start skimming the report pages using your pencil as pointer. Thirty seconds have elapsed and you couldn’t find your critical items yet. One minute, two minutes, three minutes. Now you start going back and forth through report pages. Definitely not good, your blood pressure is going up and your heart is pumping faster. You are damaging your health. Looking around at the impatient faces just makes it worse.

GoalEnforcer Hyperfocus now offers a new feature that can make multi project management and presentation much easier. The new Multi-Project Navigator allows you to overview all your projects and quickly identify the ones that need immediate action. You can then navigate further into those projects and use the Map View mode to pinpoint the critical items. Click here for more details on how the Multiple Project Navigator works. Enjoy the power of Visual Multi Project Management made easy!

Generate a Nice Status Report in Word with a Single Click

It’s late at night and you are not ready for your presentation tomorrow. Your boss asked you to present a status report to the group, showing your accomplishments and future task plan (broken down into tasks and sub-tasks). But the hours go by and you are still fighting with Word, trying to get your report nicely formatted.

As a last resort you go on the Internet trying to find a tool that will do it for you. You download a bunch of software trials, but none can generate a nicely formatted status report, showing proper indentation for tasks and sub-tasks. None can give you that perfect final paper layout you’ve been looking for. You also find a lot of Word status report templates, but they are not flexible enough for you. Changing and reordering tasks involve a lot of retyping, cutting and pasting and, once again, formatting mess.

With GoalEnforcer Hyperfocus version 2009 R1 you can now do that with a single click!

Start by composing a work project plan. While working in Map View Mode you can create and freely move tasks and sub-tasks around. Updating the status of your sub-tasks will automatically calculate the status of parent tasks. Moving tasks to different sequence position or levels will cause parent task status info to be automatically recalculated for you.

Once you are ready to generate your Word report, click the software integration button on the bottom toolbar (third button from the left). Then select “Export to Word” and you should see your Status Report open in Word within a few seconds. As simple as that!

Export Goalenforcer to MS Word

Last minute changes? No problem, just add/remove or rearrange tasks, and generate a new report in a few seconds.

Goalenforcer MS Word Status Report

After all bosses like to be kept well informed and that’s your chance to make a good impression!

GoalEnforcer 2009 R0 Released

Being highly adaptive is a great advantage in today’s world. As unexpected challenges and new obstacles arise, you have to be able to quickly modify your plan in order to accommodate the new changes. As a project becomes bigger and more complex, changing task Start Dates and Due Dates can become very time consuming. You have to go through each task and edit its dates, and there might be tens or even hundreds of these tasks, depending on the complexity of your project.

GoalEnforcer Hyperfocus 2009 R0 introduces a new feature that will make your job easier. The new “Adjust Multiple Dates” feature allows you to select a goal and modify the Due Dates and/or Start Dates of all its sub-goals at once. You can delay or advance your dates by selecting a forward or backward time shift. You can shift by days, weeks or months. If you shift by days you can choose to include or exclude weekend days. You can also choose to apply the time shift to Due Dates, Start Dates or both.

Two other highly requested features were also added to his version. “Move loose items to Clipboard” will push all floating goals (not connected to a central goal) into the Clipboard Area. “Clear Clipboard” deletes all goals located in the ClipBoard Area. These actions make it convenient to move several goals to different levels, or erase several goals that are no longer needed.

All these functions can be accessed from the new “Actions” button, located on the lower toolbar, to the right of the “Mode” selector. All described actions are enabled when in “Map View” mode.

More actions to come in later releases. If you have suggestions, we’ll be glad to hear from you. The new upgrade is freely available for registered users.

Setting Goals For Your Dream Job

Are you miserable at work? Well, you’re not alone. According to a 2007 survey conducted by The Conference Board, less than half of all Americans are happy with their jobs. For young adults below the age of 25, the numbers are even more striking: only two out of five people in this age group are satisfied with their careers. Like it or not, you spend 40 hours a week or more at work. Most people see those 40 hours of misery each week as just another fact of life. But what if you could change it? What if you could do something else, something you actually wanted to do? Even though it may seem like you’re stuck right now, you’re not. By using an organized process of setting goals, identifying what you need to accomplish to meet those goals, and acting on your objectives, you can break free from your current job and land the job of your dreams.

Things You Like
First, you need to figure out what you want to be doing instead of your current job. Obviously, your dream job is going to be something that you enjoy. You may think that getting paid to do something you enjoy is impossible, but in reality almost anyone can find a career that they like if they look hard enough. In fact, you’re much more likely to be successful if you enjoy your work. The easiest way to pinpoint your dream job is to use visual aids, like a list or a mind map (goal mapping software is a great option). It doesn’t matter whether you use a pen and paper or a computer program – getting everything written down where you can see it will help you get a clear picture of your job goal and what you need to do to get there. So, start by listing the things you like to do. What interests you? What do you do in your spare time? What is your passion?

Your Skills
Next, you need to identify your skills, the things that you’re good at. Are you a whiz at math? Are you the person people call when their computer breaks down? Everyone has their own personal skill set. Start thinking about the things you do well and make a list. Don’t forget to include skills that you’ve developed in your current career. However, don’t limit yourself only to skills that you have formal training in, either. Once you have a list of skills, try to identify which of the skills on the list you are best at. If you’d like, you can assign each skill a number, using “1″ for your strongest skill and going from there. Now that you’ve identified what you like to do and what your strongest skills are, look over the two lists to see if there’s any correlation. Then, find a job that involves doing something you like using the skills you are strongest in. If you’re stuck, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook can help you get a sense of what’s out there. A job that you enjoy doing that capitalizes on your natural talents — now doesn’t that sound like a dream job to you?

Specialize
Now that you’ve identified your dream job, what do you need to do to get there? It’s time to start identifying the objectives you need to accomplish to achieve your goal. Most careers require a specialized skill set. Even though you should have the basic skills and aptitudes to be successful in your dream job, chances are that you don’t yet have the specialized knowledge that the field requires. So, think about what you need to do to get that knowledge. Do you need to go back to school? Do you need to attend a training seminar and get a certification? The first objectives you set will be related to obtaining the training and skills you need to succeed in your dream career. This is where getting your dream job can start getting stressful, because it takes real effort to learn additional skills when you are already working a full-time job. However, if you stick to your guns, you will eventually be rewarded. Make a list of what you need to do to get those specialized skills, and start creating objectives and deadlines for yourself. For example, let’s say you’ve decided your dream job is to be a pilot. Here’s what a list of objectives might look like:

Save money for flight school/investigate financial aid options: within the next six months.
Enroll in flight school: within the next year.
Apply for pilot’s license: within the next year and a half.

If you identify what you need to do to become qualified for your dream job, break it down into a number of smaller tasks, set deadlines to complete these tasks, and follow through, then sooner or later you’ll be ready to take the next step forward.

Create a Proven Record
The next set of objectives involves creating a convincing résumé for yourself, so that employers will feel comfortable hiring you for the job you want. You should start working in your field as early as possible, even if it’s only part time or volunteer work. The more experience you have when you actually apply for your dream job, the better off you’ll be. Depending on the job you’re going for, you may be able to start working or volunteering in your field while you are still obtaining the necessary education and training.

Stand Above the Average
What else do you need to do to snag your dream job? As soon as you can, you need to start creating a demand for yourself. If you’re working part time or volunteering, don’t just put in your time and go home. Make yourself stand out from the crowd by doing an above-average job. Whenever you are given an assignment, complete it to the best of your ability, and don’t be afraid to take on additional work if you see an area where you can make a difference. However, even while you are “wowing” people in the field, try to maintain a cool attitude. Don’t try too hard to please — it smacks of desperation and will make people think that you lack confidence in yourself. Putting in extra effort early on will pay off when it’s actually time for you to go for the gold and start applying for your dream job. You’ll be armed with an above-average résumé that demonstrates to potential employers how hiring you will benefit them. After all, that’s what companies are interested in when they hire new employees: the benefits that the candidates will bring to the company if they are hired. A good personality helps in an interview, but nobody is going to hire you just because you “seem nice.”

Social Networking
However, there are times when knowledge and experience can only take you so far. Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? Sometimes, that really is the case. Having a strong social network can give you an “in” on your dream job. If you know people with good connections, they can help you get your foot in the door and even help you find out about job opportunities before anyone else. To build your social network, you have to build social links, or connections, between yourself and other people. If you have a friend who knows someone in the industry you’re trying to break into, have your friend introduce you to that person. Another way to meet people is by going to professional conferences in your field or joining professional associations. Also, it’s important to advertise yourself a little bit when you meet new people. Just make sure you know when to stop talking about yourself — you don’t want to seem self-centered! However, you do want to make sure that people know what you are good at and where you’re trying to go. That way, if they’re ever in a position to help you get your dream job, they’ll think of you. It’s also a smart move to print off some business cards. They are a convenient, professional way to give potential contacts your phone number. Of course, social networking is about more than effective self-promotion. In order for it to actually be effective, you have to make people want to help you. The best way to get help is to give it. Why should anybody try to help you if you’ve never done anything for them? By taking the time out of your life to do something unselfish for someone else, you’ll give that person a reason to do something unselfish for you later. As the saying goes, “One good turn deserves another.” To expand your social network even further, consider the Internet. It’s not hard to set up your own Web site, and there are companies that will host your site for free. Knowledge of HTML is helpful, especially if you want to create your own site from the ground up, but don’t be intimidated — it’s certainly not necessary. Many companies have templates you can use and customize when you set up your site. The same is true for blogging. There are plenty of easy-to-use sites, such as WordPress.com, that will host your blog free of charge. The Internet offers unlimited social networking potential, but it’s up to you to take advantage of it.

Now Get to Work — That You Love!
The most important thing to remember about getting your dream job is that it won’t happen overnight. It won’t necessarily be easy, either. You may have to be willing to wait and work hard to get into the career of your dreams. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though. Plan for the long term, but don’t procrastinate when it comes to getting started. The first steps you take toward your goal are often the hardest, but if you don’t start moving, you’ll never get anywhere. So, what are you waiting for? GO!

Setting Career Goals: Taming the Monster

Setting a course that leads you to, and through, a great career is one of the most important tasks you will ever take on. The mileposts along that course are the goals and objectives you set. Choosing the right ones is clearly critical to your success.
Everyone wants to be successful. But what is your definition of success? Is it only a matter of making a lot of money? Does it also require spending your working life doing things that matter to you, that you love, that nourish your heart, mind, and soul? Several recent surveys of working Americans (e.g., Taleo, 2/08) say essentially the same thing: about six out of seven hate either their job, their boss, or both. Does that sound like success to you? Think you’re stuck with it? If you do, read on.
The popular view in the developed world, and probably beyond, is that hard work at something you may not enjoy is the key to success. The problem is that it just doesn’t fit the facts. Here is some evidence to support that assertion.
Srully Blotnick did a study with 1,500 business school graduates, following up with them 20 years later (from 1960 to 1980). In the beginning they were each asked which of two career approaches they would use. Category A (1,245 graduates, or 83%) advocated making money first so that they could enjoy it later in life. Category B (255 graduates, or 17%) favored doing what interested them most, what they loved, in the belief that the money would follow.
In a follow-up survey 20 years later they found that of the 1,500 participants, 101 became millionaires. Only one of them was from Category A. The other hundred were from Category B. In other words, among those in the study, those who did what they loved were 488 times more likely to become millionaires within 20 years. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
The author of the study observed that “the overwhelming majority of people who have become wealthy have become so thanks to work they found profoundly absorbing…Their ‘luck’ arose from the accidental dedication they had to an area they enjoyed.”
Clearly it is critically important to choose your goals well, and choose them on the basis of what you are most passionate about. Start with one grand vision. What would you just love to be doing by the end of your career? Initially, forget how you are going to get there. An ounce of passion is worth more than a ton of discipline, because you will do things for your passion that you would never do by forcing yourself.
“Divide and Conquer” is a well established and successful method used by the business and technical communities. It means that any project, no matter how extensive, can be broken down into smaller sub-projects. And these in turn can be further broken down. By following this process, you eventually arrive at tasks which can be done right now–today! Having practiced this approach in a wide variety of situations, I can say without a doubt that it really, really works. What seemed overwhelming at first, once broken down far enough, becomes simple and manageable. Career building is certainly no exception.
Start by finding the heart of the matter: where do you want to be at the end of your career? Then backtrack and list the things that will have to happen before that is possible. Then, starting at the earliest point, break each of them down into smaller and smaller increments, prerequisites if you will, until you arrive at tasks that can be put on a schedule and accomplished more or less immediately. When you have finished those, you will be ready to go after the next level. When you have done it all, guess what? You’re there!
For example, say your true love is floral design. You want to be a highly regarded expert with your own TV show. A lot will have to happen to get you there. Let’s look at just one part of one sequence: knowledge. You might take a 2-year course from a local Community College. That begins with finding a school, then registration, then completing the coursework. Each of these is a sub-goal leading to the final goal. If you want your own TV show, you will need to learn about visual presentation, public speaking, etc. As always, just break it down until you can schedule it.
Although it is not always possible or practical, it is very helpful to express your goals in terms that are measurable in some way. What will you need to know? How much cash do you need to accumulate? How much education will you need? With measurable goals, it is much easier to know when you have successfully met them.
The larger the project–and crafting a career can be pretty extensive–the more you need good tools and a command of their use. In the 21st Century, many of the tools will involve computers and software. Basic skills like typing, good written communication, online research, facility with spreadsheets and word processors are among them. When it comes to creating things, like a career, there are also specialized tools designed to facilitate creativity and organization. Spend some serious time collecting the tools that best suit you and learn to use them well. It will be more than worth the effort.
Whether you are just out of school, or a grizzled old veteran, career building is a virtually lifelong process. The skill you develop in this pursuit will cast a long shadow over your entire life. Take it seriously, but don’t forget to have fun, too. In important ways, your life depends on it.