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5 Quick & Easy Ways to Change Your Life

5 Quick and Easy Ways to Change Your Life

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In less than five minutes I’m going to give you 5 quick and easy ways to change your life. Do any one of these 5 things and I guarantee you’ll see your life improve fast. Let’s get started. But first, let’s enjoy these 5 dolphins. Nice. 

1. On a 3×5 card, write down one goal for each of these three areas: Relational, Physical, and Financial. That’s it, only three goals, no more (if you want to go deeper on goals, read this post on smart goals). Here’s some examples to get you started:

  • Relational: Have a date night with my spouse every Thursday night.
  • Physical: Jog 30 minutes three times a week.
  • Financial: Set a budget for this month.

Keep that card with you at all times.

(Estimated time: 5 minutes, 4 of which are spent trying to find a 3×5 card)

2. Every morning, rewrite your goals on a new 3×5 card. Most people fail to reach their goals, but it’s not because they don’t set them, it’s because they forget them.

(Estimated time: 1 minute)

3. Read a chapter in the book of Proverbs every day. It’s called the Book of Wisdom for a reason. If we all lived by principles in this one simple book we’d quickly eradicate debt, adultery, corruption, gossip, and a host of other crap. And with 31 chapters it’s like God designed it to be read daily. Hmm…

(Estimated time: 5 minutes)

4. Plan what TV shows you will watch each week. Oh the hours we’ve wasted in front of that stupid box. I was going to say don’t watch it at all but that would be hypocritical as Beth & I look forward to episodes of The Office and Shark Tank. But instead of mindlessly wasting time, all I’m saying is be intentional about it, so at least you know how much time you’re actually wasting.

(Estimated time: 2 minutes to decide your top 2-3 shows you’re going to watch. Estimated time saved: 8-10 hours a week)

5. Be Your Best Friend. Every time you catch yourself going negative (about anything, but especially about yourself), find something to be thankful for. So often we’re our worst critics. God calls us magnificent and we call ourselves worthless…that must break his heart. If you could only see how incredible you are. Yes YOU! Overweight, broke, insecure little you…you are a masterpiece….it’s time to start treating yourself as one.

(Estimated time: 30 seconds to make the decision to be your best friend…a lifetime of implementing)

There you go folks. A little shot of personal development espresso to get your week started off right.

-Wesley

In the comments, I’d love to hear ONE quick and easy thing you’ve done in your own life that has had a huge payoff for you!

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Smart Goals 101: You’re Dead Without A Deadline

 Welcome back! This is the final post of our six part series on Smart Goals. If you just joined us, be sure to check out the prior posts (one, two, three, four, & five).

Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law? It states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” As a practical example, everyday I shut everything off at 6:00 pm and spend an hour with my daughter before “night-night.”

Right now it’s 5:30 pm…so I have a goal of finishing this post in 30 minutes. I normally take 2-3 hours to write a post. And I guarantee that Parkinson was right – if I had two hours to write this post it would take me two hours.

 

When you apply this law to goal-setting the application is obvious. If you don’t set a deadline for the completion of your goal you will never complete it.

Urgency is Everything

Having a goal that is Time Bound means that it has a very specific deadline, and if needed, sub-deadlines. A deadline creates urgency. It forces you to stop procrastinating. It creates action – either the action of getting started or the action of changing the deadline because you missed it. Either way you’re working on your goal and that’s better than doing nothing.

Some people refuse to set a deadline on their goals because they don’t know how long it will take them to reach it. Here’s two suggestions I would offer:

1. A wrong deadline is better than no deadline. You have to start somewhere. If you’re stuck in indecision, just pick a deadline and go with it. You can always adjust it as needed.

2. Change your goal so that it has a definite deadline. For example, when our debt hit its peak in August 2009 at $119,000, I had no clue how long it would take us to pay it off. It would have been difficult to set a goal with a specific deadline for being debt free. I could either guess at a deadline (see #1 above), or I could change the goal.

So instead of saying “We will be debt free by _____” our goal was “We will create a budget every month and after tithe and expenses are paid, we will pay 100% of everything left on our debt, starting with the highest interest rate first.” At the beginning of every month I felt the urgency of our goal because we had to take immediate action (sit down and work on our budget together) or we were going to miss our deadline.

Comments & Questions

Setting a deadline is pretty simple stuff, so it doesn’t need a lot of explanation. However, if you’re having any challenges figuring out how to make one of your personal goals a SMART goal, please leave us a comment below. We’d love to help! We respond to 100% of our comments!

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

P.S. Parkinson was right! I finished by 6 with a few minutes to spare. It’s Macey Time!

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Smart Goals 101: The Right Goal at the Right Time

Welcome back! This is part five of our six part series on Smart Goals. If you’re just tuning in, be sure to check out the prior posts (one, two, three, & four).

We live about ten minutes away from Disney World. Minus the constant influx of tourists it’s a pretty cool place to live. I can usually tell what time it is based on when I hear the fireworks at night.

Anyways, at the beginning of the year I set a goal to run the Tower of Terror 10 Miler. It’s an almost half-marathon through Hollywood Studios…at night. Way cool. For years I have wanted to be able to say that I’ve run a marathon, and I saw this as a step towards that.

Who’s Goal Is It?

I don’t hate running, I just don’t like it…at all…ever. One morning in February, while I was diligently forcing myself to run I had a revelation: This isn’t my goal.

I wasn’t training for a marathon because I wanted to run a marathon. I was doing it because I felt like I should do it. Several of the guys at my church that I highly respect have run marathons. Two of my best friends have run marathons. This wasn’t peer pressure…it was just a goal that I gave myself simply because the people I respect have done it, and I wanted to be able to say I had done it as well. In high school you go to parties to fit in…I guess when you get older you have to run marathons.

Once I realized this wasn’t my goal, I stopped pursuing it. I let it go. I still exercise, in fact, Beth and I did a 5k in May, but that was my goal (and much more attainable I might add).

Relevant = the Right Goal at the Right Time

The Right Goal: For a goal to be right, it has to be your goal. It can’t be someone else’s goal for you, not even your spouse’s. For a goal to be relevant means that it connects to YOUR heart. Setting personal goals based on the expectations of others is a recipe for failure.

The Right Time: Never set a goal that isn’t directly related to your purpose for this season of your life (don’t miss that – it’s powerful). Having a goal that’s relevant doesn’t just mean that it’s your goal, but that it’s the right goal for this season of your life. The question here is, “is this the most important goal for me right now?”

A Personal Note About Purpose & Seasons

If I had to say what the one question of my heart has been for the past 20 years, it would be “what is my purpose?” It’s funny…I’ve never been given the answer. At least not in full. But I do get pieces of it, hints here and there. Purpose is like a puzzle. Some people get to see the picture on the front of the box. Others, like me, just get the next piece of the puzzle, along with the promise that God will direct my steps.

Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve had to learn about purpose. You can’t let your lack of understanding the big picture keep you from acting on the pieces of the puzzle that you do have. Like driving a car at night…even though you can’t see the final destination, you turn on the headlights and simply drive as far as you can see. Jesus calls this being faithful in the small things.

If your goal is not relevant to your purpose, whether that is your life purpose, or just the purpose for this season, it is a distraction. That last sentence is worth re-reading, or putting on your wall somewhere. If your goal is not relevant to your purpose it is a distraction.

Comments & Questions

We’re here to help! As you’re working through this series, let us know if you get stuck on figuring out how to make one of your goals a Smart goal. Leave a comment or question below – we respond to 100% of our comments. And remember…if it’s not a Smart goal it’s not a goal.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

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Smart Goals 101: If You Don’t Believe It, You Won’t Achieve It

If you’re just starting with us, this is part 4 of a 6 part series on Smart Goals. Click here for parts one, two, and three.

The rule of Attainability says that if you don’t really believe you can reach you goal, you never will. It doesn’t say that goals have to be easy, just that they can’t feel impossible for you.

In college I had a goal of having six-pack abs (is there a guy out there who hasn’t had this goal at some point in his life?). I fully believe it is physically possible for me to have a 6-pack, even now. That said, I had to come to grips with the fact that I don’t have enough time or personal discipline to achieve that goal.

I’m too busy with things that are far more important than my own vanity, and I just don’t have the committment needed to reach that goal. Unfortunately for my alter-ego, I had to move “6-Pack” from the goals list back to the “wishes and desires” list.

The Four Criteria of Attainability

1. Is this goal realistic? In 2008, while we had somewhere around $90,000 in debt at that time, I set a goal to be debt-free by September 2009. It was really a prayer more than a goal. At night, Beth & I would pray and ask God to help us be debt free by that date. This wasn’t wrong as a prayer. But as a goal, with our income at the time it was very unattainable.

2. Is this goal believable? I had a friend in high school who decided that he wanted to be an olympic diver. The only problem was that he was already older than most of the people competing in the olympics, he had zero training or experience, and we lived in small-town Missouri with no resources (maybe the “olympic” size pool at the local YMCA?). I feel kind-of bad now because I basically laughed at him when he told me. But…to be fair, was this dream believable?

I want to play pro-football with Tim Tebow, but if I set that as a goal do you think I would really believe that it was going to happen? If you don’t buy-in to your own goal, if you don’t firmly believe that it is possible (not easy, but possible), then your goal does not qualify as being attainable.

3. Is this goal within your control? “Fall In Love” was listed as #9 on the Top Ten New Years Resolutions list for 2012. Can you make someone fall in love with you? I guess it is within your control to fall in love with someone, but can you force the other person to reciprocate it? No way. So does “fall in love” qualify as a Smart Goal? Yeah…not so much.

4. Do you have the resources to achieve this goal? Resources can mean time, money, energy, and discipline. As stated above, my goal of paying off $90,000 in debt in less than a year was not a Smart Goal, because outside of a miracle I did not have the resources to achieve it.

Your Personal Goals Coach

If you have a goal that your working through and want some feedback on how to turn it into a Smart Goal, leave us a comment below (we respond to every comment)! We love helping YOU make the most out of your life, so don’t be shy! And remember, if it’s not a Smart goal it’s not a goal!

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

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Smart Goals 101: You Can’t Master What You Can’t Measure

Welcome back! This is part 3 in our series on SMART Goals. If you haven’t, be sure to read parts one & two.

We’re going to get personal in today’s post! The best way to learn something is to see it modeled, so I’m going to give two recent examples of goals that my wife and I have to show you how to make your goals measurable.

If you can’t measure it, you will never master it.

In the last post we shared the top ten New Year’s Resolutions for 2012, and that only 8% of people who make resolutions keep them. What an incredibly high failure rate!! With 92% of the people failing to reach their goal, do you think they’re doing something wrong? Of course they are.

Let’s take a look at the list again. How many of these goals are measurable? That’s right…zero. With just a little more thought into it, every one of these can be turned into goals that can be measured and tracked, so you can see your progress and how close you are to reaching your goal.

Personal Example: Wesley & Weight Loss

I’ve never really had a weight problem per se, but since finishing college, it’s something that I’ve always been insecure about. After graduating in 2000, the pounds started accumulating; I went from being 185 to hitting a peak of 230 about a year ago. Right now, I’m at a 223.

Weight loss is one of the most common goals that people have, and luckily, it is the easiest to measure (same with financial goals). Here are the steps:

Decide your target weight. Decide the end date. Figure out how much weight you have to lose each day or week to meet your goal (I prefer daily). Then simply track it daily.

I created a spreadsheet on Excel to track this. Every morning the first thing I do is weigh myself, then write down my weight for the day. I can see immediately if I’m on track or not, and doing this every day keeps me very focused on the goal. And I know if I blow it today that I’m going to see the results tomorrow morning, so it is incredibly motivating.

(If you want a custom spreadsheet like this for you, send me an email: wesley@debttolife.com)

Personal Example: Beth & Relationships

If you ask people what they want in life, almost everyone says “to be happy.” Well how do you measure that?

Here’s a similar example of a goal that my wife had, and how we drilled down into the goal and figured out how to make it a SMART goal. At the end of last year, Beth & I were discussing our goals, and one of her’s was to “grow closer in her relationship with God.”

If you have goals that are relational or emotional (be happy, love my spouse more, stop losing my temper, grow closer to my kids, etc.), the key is to ask this question:

What are doing when you ______ (feel happy, love my spouse, feel close to my kids, etc) the most?

Can you measure a feeling with a numerical value? No. But can you measure an activity? YES! So with Beth, I asked, “When you feel the most connected with God, what are the things/activities you are doing?” Her answer was spending time alone with God in the mornings reading her bible, listening to worship music, and reflecting through journaling.

Her answer made the goal crystal clear: “Spend an hour each morning from 7-8 am alone with God.” So instead of focusing on a “feeling” we focused on tangible daily activity, and better yet, I can even help her reach this goal by protecting this time for her.

Some people will avoid this because it feels like it’s making a relationship mechanical, or worse, something that is done out of duty. You just have to push past those thoughts and accept the simple truth that any worthy goal you have in life needs to be  numerically measurable if you really want to achieve it.

Comments/Questions?

We respond to 100% of our comments, questions, and emails. If you have a goal that you’re struggling with how to make it a SMART goal, leave us a comment and we can dialogue with you. I firmly believe most people don’t have goals, they just have wishes and desires, because they fail to make their goals SMART goals. This stuff really is life changing if you practice it consistently.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

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Smart Goals 101: Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

(This is part 2 of a six part series. Click here to see part one)

Think back through this past New Year’s Eve. If you’re like me, you probably gave some thought to the past year, and made some mental decisions on how the year ahead was going to be better. It usually looks something like this:

 Start this. Stop that. Be different.

Spend less. Learn more.

Be…better. 

The language of New Year’s Resolutions…such poetry right?

You Can’t Hit A Blurry Target

The first rule of SMART goal setting is that your goal has to be specific. If your goal isn’t crystal clear then it’s not a goal, it’s a desire. A study by the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology stated that only 8% of Americans are successful in achieving their resolutions.

Here’s a list of the top ten goals for 2012 (University of Scranton). If goals have to be specific, can you see why only 8% of New Year’s Resolutions are achieved?

In my opinion, “Quit Smoking” is probably the most specific on the list. I would call the other nine hopes and wishes, not goals. We’ll come back to this list again throughout this series, as it’s such a great example of how the average person sets “goals” and why it doesn’t work.

How To Make Your Goal Specific

The simplest way to make a goal specific is to ask the questions who, what, when, where, and how.

Let’s use finances as an example. If you’re reading this, your goal is likely to be “get debt free.” This goal is somewhat specific and measurable by the fact that it is defined by a specific number ($0 debt). But if you run it through all five questions, you can start to see the power of making a goal specific.

  • What is the goal? To have zero debt
  • Who is responsible for this goal? I am
  • When will this goal be accomplished? December 31st
  • Where (location*) will this goal be accomplished? Not applicable
  • How will this goal be accomplished? Strict budget, extra income

The result is that you take a vague goal of “get debt free” and transformed it into a specific, crystal clear goal: “I  will have zero debt by December 31st by keeping a strict monthly budget and working at least three extra shifts each month.”

*Location may or may not apply. An example of a goal with location would be “I will weigh 145 by my birthday by working out at Gold’s Gym at 7:00 am M-W-F and cutting out all soda and fast-food.”

Why Not “Why?”

You’ll notice that “why?” is not one of the questions to ask when setting your goal. The key to powerful goals is to keep them simple. You can see even in the examples above that it’s easy to get “wordy” on goals, so if you write down the “why” for each goal, then it’s going to be too long and you won’t take the time to review it.

On the flip side, if you don’t have a strong “why” behind each goal then you’re likely to run short on motivation and quit before you accomplish it. My suggestion is to write out all of your reasons for why you’re setting a goal at the beginning of the process (in a journal), and again anytime you feel your motivation waning. Strive for at least 20 reasons why. It’s a powerful exercise when you feel the need to refocus.

If you have a goal where you’re not sure how to make it specific, leave us a comment below and we’ll be glad to help you think through it and make it powerful and motivating for you! We respond to 100% of our comments!

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

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Smart Goals: Why Most People Fail To Reach Their Potential

One of my biggest passions in my life is helping people reach their potential. I love helping people “get a vision” and see what they can become. Because of that, it drives me insane to see people wasting their life.

You can tell just by looking at a crowd of people who has vision. It shows in how they dress, how they carry themselves, and in a large part by how they treat others.

When you understand that you have value, you treat people as valuable. You give more than you take. Have you ever seen someone with a high self-esteem involved in an abusive relationship? I haven’t.

You can also tell who doesn’t have vision or understand purpose. And sadly, this is the majority.

Why the Majority is Mediocre

The first ingredient for success is knowing your purpose. But you can know your purpose and still waste your life. So what does it take to actually fulfill your purpose? Clear goals and daily action.

Who out there hasn’t made a vague wish on New Year’s Eve? Too often, we confuse goals with desires, wishes, and dreams. Goal setting is a skill that you have to develop. But because most people don’t have this skill, they fail to reach the goals they do set. One solution is to just quit setting goals – why put yourself through the frustration if you’re just going to fail? And this is exactly why so many people settle for completely mediocre lives!

The Better Solution: SMART Goals

Are you tired of setting the same goals year after year but failing to reach them? Are you frustrated by your lack of success when you know in the core of your being that you can accomplish so much more? Are you baffled by seeing people with less talent and gifting than you accomplish far more than you? Do you want financial freedom? Do you want your life to matter?

If your answer is not an emphatic “YES!” then you’re in the wrong place.

Over the next two weeks we’re going to swim deep in goal-soup. I’m going to teach you exactly how to set goals, what the difference is between goals and desires, and how to track your progress. Goal setting is a skill that can be learned. And if you want to reach your potential it must become habitual.

We’re going to dedicate one post to each of the five criteria that define a SMART goal:

  • Specific: You can’t hit a fuzzy target
  • Measurable: You can’t master what you can’t measure
  • Attainable: It doesn’t need to be easy, but it has to be possible
  • Relevant: Is this goal married to your purpose right now?
  • Time-Bound: No deadline = No urgency

Apply these five criteria to your goals and combine it with daily action, and I promise that you will see tremendous progress toward reaching your desires. So few people actually do this that this alone will set you apart from 90% of the population. You want to make something out of your life? Track with us for the next two weeks and you will develop the number one skill needed for success.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

Let’s have some fun in the comments! Add a note about one New Year’s Resolution you made in the past that completely did not meet the SMART goals criteria.

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The Right Recipe for Success

(Before reading this post make sure to read our last post about the wrong recipe for success)

The first step to success is to know what it is. It sounds simple, but ask 10 people what it means and you’ll get a variety of answers. Most replies will focus on money.

So how do you define success? Endless wealth? Satisfying relationships? A career doing what you love? Personally, I don’t think there is a better definition than the one given by John Maxwell: “Success is knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.”

Now that it’s defined, how do you get there? I believe this is the right recipe for success:

Clear Purpose + Smart Goals + Daily Action = Success.

 Clear Purpose

I read about a very wealthy businessman who broke down crying at the end of his life, confessing how he would trade all his wealth just to know his purpose. Let me be incredibly clear: You can be wealthy without knowing your purpose, but you will never feel successful unless you have a grip on your purpose.

Smart Goals

Do you have goals? I don’t mean wishes…dreams…desires…I mean goals. Most people can’t even define the difference between a goal and a desire, but the difference is vast. We discuss goals in depth in other posts, but suffice it to say that until you develop a daily (or at least weekly) habit of goal-setting, you will fall short of your true potential. Don’t underestimate the power of goals.

Daily Action

Here’s where the true difference is between the successful and non-successful people. The average American can tell you what happened on Glee the last three weeks but can’t tell you what action they’ve taken towards their goals in the last three months (or years???).

I’m writing this post in a coffee shop in Orlando. We get a lot of retirees in this area, and for about the last hour I’ve been listening to these two gentlemen talk about their retirement. One of them made a statement about how his brother’s pension was 3 times higher than his because his brother had worked longer for the union. He made the following statement, “If I had only invested five more years into the union my pension would be better.”

IS THIS NOT A TRAGIC STATEMENT?

What if he had invested five years into taking action every day towards his goals instead of working towards someone else’s dreams? He wouldn’t have even needed to quit working…just small focused action every day will yield tremendous results over the course of years.

I’m convinced that most people are stuck in jobs they don’t love, working with people they don’t like, going to bed every night feeling generally like a failure. They don’t pursue their dreams because they either feel like it’s unattainable or don’t believe they have what it takes. Neither are true.

Purpose is like a jigsaw puzzle. Some people get to see the front of the box and they know exactly how the different pieces of their lives fit into the big picture. For me, I get a couple of pieces at a time, just enough to keep moving in the right direction. But the overall picture (the “finished product” of my life) is still hazy. I can move forward with confidence though because I trust that God knows the big picture and is helping me fit the pieces together.

So whether your have the full picture or just a piece of the puzzle, strive to define what your clear purpose is in this season of your life. Set clear goals which act as steps toward your purpose. And take daily action towards those goals. That, my friends, is a recipe for a life well-lived.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

P.S. We’d love to hear from you! Where are you at in the journey – still figuring out this “purpose” thing, working on goals, or trying to develop the habit of daily action? We respond to 100% of our comments!

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The Double Punch Principle: A Little-Known Secret to Reaching Your Goals

I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a doughboy. I’m working at it, but I can say from personal experience that losing weight is tough. But getting out of debt is tougher.

Both of these goals rank high on the most common New Year’s Resolutions list. However, studies show that only about 8% of the population that make resolutions ever achieve them. Why is that?

There’s a myriad of reasons, and a simple search on “goal setting” will provide most of the answers, but here’s a simple and powerful principle that you won’t find. I call it the Double Punch Principle. Here’s how it works:

 The Double Punch Principle

Step 1: Write down two of your top desires (goals are measurable, so “lose weight” and “get debt free” are just desires, not goals…yet).

Step 2: Find ONE measurable goal that will help you fulfill BOTH desires.

Example: Losing Weight and Saving Money

The best way to understand the Double Punch Principle is to see it in action. My wife and I are “hybrid” vegans. We eat very healthy at home, but when we go out to eat all bets are off (I recently had a full rack of ribs at 4 Rivers BBQ here in Orlando…yummy). So if my desires were to lose weight and save money, my Double Punch goal would be to eat out less, resulting in weight loss and saving money.

The challenge is that you HAVE to make goals measurable – you can’t master what you can’t measure (search “most common resolutions” and you’ll find that they are never measurable, which is why no one achieves them). So if we eat out three times a week, an easy goal would be to only eat out twice per week. I can cut out about 4000 calories and save over $100 a month just by doing this one thing. That is a “SMART” goal, but the power in a Double Punch goal is that it enables you to fulfill two (or more) independent desires with one goal.

Two desires…One goal. It’s so simple that people miss the power of this.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

Let’s dialogue: What are some desires you have that you can combine into one Double Punch Goal? We respond to 100% of our comments!

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