VOLUME TWO, ISSUE 1

3 Human Elements  My partner and I spent New Year's Eve with friends, as we often do. We went out to dinner, saw a film and then went back to another couples' place to ring in 2010 with champagne, noisemakers and Ryan Seacrest. Before the ball dropped in Times Square, conversation turned inevitably to New Year's resolutions. I'm not making any this year. I encourage you to do the same.                                     
     I'm not sure who came up with the idea of New Year's resolutions. The concept is most often traced back to the Babylonians 4000 years ago. Their tradition typically involved returning any borrowed farm equipment before the start of the planting season. I'm pretty sure I didn't bogart a neighbor's rake or plow any time last year, so I see no reason to keep that tradition alive.
     I did a little research around New Year's resolutions and here's what I found out. About half of us make them. By February, a lot of us are already falling off the resolution wagon and by December, close to 100% of us have given up. Why?
     According to psychology professor Timothy Psyche (no, I didn't make up that name), a lot of our resolutions are what he calls a form of "cultural procrastination" - simply an effort to reinvent ourselves. According to him, a lot of us use resolutions to motivate ourselves into changing habits. (Those of you familiar with McClelland's research on motive drive already know why that won't work.) The other big reason so many of us fail in our New Year's resolutions is that we simply don't know how to set realistic goals.
     So here's a thought. Let's forget about making resolutions  at New Year's and instead commit to setting realistic goals throughout the year.
     What do you say?
Jennie Ayers
President, Challenge It Now 
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"A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other."
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"Turn Dreaming Into Doing"
     by Jennie Ayers 
"Goals are dreams with deadlines."
I don't remember where or when I came across that quote but it stuck with me because it makes me feel empowered to know that I can turn my dreams into concrete goals. We can all do this...provided we set effective goals.
I thought I had a pretty good handle on the process until a business colleague hooked me up with a critical goals worksheet she created. Using this tool made setting effective goals a more challenging process than it's been in the past. It's also given me greater clarity with regard to setting goals and increased my confidence that I'm going to achieve them. I'm so jazzed about this process I want to share it with you.
The first thing I needed to do was come up with a Goal Statement: This one's obvious. Most of us know goals need to be stated in specific terms. But this worksheet asks that you use descriptive words that would be tangible and clear to a third party. If a third party read your goal statement, could they accurately describe the outcome?
Goal Need: "WHY" do I need to accomplish this goal? Sounds simple enough to answer. But when I wrote down the "why", I discovered that I was sometimes pursuing goals I thought I should be pursuing rather than ones I felt passionate about. I had to "own" my "why".
Measurable: Nothing new here...except the tool uses the third party concept again. If someone else observes the end result, how would they know the goal's been achieved? Thinking of it in these terms strengthens clarity.
Resources: What resources are needed to achieve the goal? Who/what will help? Hinder? In the past, I've focused more on the skills I already have or need to acquire, without giving full reign to people resources. And while I certainly consider the hurdles I have to clear to make my goals, too often I overlook the "people hurdles" unless they're obvious.
Attainable: We all know we set ourselves up for failure when we overshoot. I like to think I'm objective when it comes to assessing my own capabilities and financial resources. But I wasn't in the habit of reviewing circles of influence; not doing so often leads to "magical thinking" that somehow we'll heroically achieve our goals. It really is vital to be realistic about what's in our control - what we can influence and what we can't.
Realistic challenge: Did I anticipate success or potential failure? I never considered the "f" word (failure) much before when setting a goal. But for most of us (including high achievers), it can be motivating to articulate how we'd feel if we fail to achieve our goal. The more painful we imagine it would be to not attain the goal, the more likely it is that we've chosen a goal that's truly meaningful.
Time Phased: Like most people, I tend to generalize (I'll start working this goal in mid-January and complete it in 6 months). This tool asks you to fill out a detailed action schedule, listing specific tasks that support goal achievement as well as specific dates. For example, if one of your goals is to set up a blog, each in a series of actions (choosing a template, designing a banner, integrating banner and graphics into your landing page) would be assigned a specific completion date, rather than assigning a completion date to the goal of "launching a blog". Dates can be re-set as needed but it is eye-opening to see the schedule you lay our for yourself - you gain excellent perspective on how tasks can be time-managed.
In all, I completed 5 Critical Goals Worksheets over the past couple of months. It's more work than I've ever done around setting goals - I even found myself complaining a couple of times when I was doing it. But then I asked myself - if it isn't worth my time and effort to commit these goals to paper (in detail), then how worthwhile is it to pursue them?
So now they're written down...which is basic. And they've been shared - with my business partners and a few other trusted colleagues. Sharing our goals with others helps keep us accountable. I expect my colleagues to hold my feet to the fire...and I'll be doing the same with my own coaching clients. Who'll be holding your feet to the fire?
twitter social icon
Social media grew like gangbusters in 2009. According to Nielsen Online, Twitter alone registered more than 7 million visitors in the U.S. for the month of February alone. Facebook continues to outpace MySpace. Social media is going to grow in the new year, but what trends are we likely to see? According to an article in Harvard Business Review, there are at least six that we can anticipate.
(1) Social media begins to look less social.
Niche networks become more popular. Users start to filter out those sites that simply aren't beneficial to them and "hide" their hyperactive updaters that appear in their Facebook news feed.
(2) Corporations leverage social media to provide customer service.
Up to now, few companies have used social media beyond one-off marketing or communication initiatives. Now they're going to look at building custom media systems that put employees in contact with customers to provide support.
(3) Social business becomes serious play.
Businesses will look to reward customers for higher participation and encourage a little "friendly" competition with other social media outlets.
(4) Companies will create and enforce social media policies.
If companies don't already have rules with regard to how it views social media and an employee's participation in it, they'll adopt them. And if there's already a policy in place, it's more likely that it will be enforced.
(5) Mobile becomes a social media lifeline.
Almost 70% of organizations currently ban social networks on office equipment. It's no surprise that the sale of smart phones is on the rise and it's likely that employees will seek to feed their social media additions on their mobile devices. What used to be "cigarette breaks" will turn into "social media breaks".
(6) Sharing no longer means e-mail.
The New York Times iPhone recently added sharing functionality, which allows a user to easily broadcast an article across networks like Facebook and Twitter. It will become more and more common for people to share with networks what they used to do with e-mail lists.
The times they really are a-changing. Are you staying current? 
3 Human Elements
Challenge It Now focuses its energies on a common goal - through consultation, coaching and facilitation, we help professionals in business organizations create and sustain a workplace climate where the positive experience of work is optimized, engagement is enriched and performance potential is maximized.
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