5 tips for achieving your goals in 2014

Just over a year ago I came up with an idea to launch a goal setting app. I had no idea how I was going to do it or where to start, but I knew I had to do it. Well on the 14th December 2013, after months of hard work, my dream came true and I launched the app, Flourish Goals. I’ve learnt a lot through the process, obviously about building mobile apps but also some important life lessons. Looking back at what I’ve learnt, here are my top 5 tips for achieving your goals in 2014.

Have absolute clarity

If there is something that you really want to achieve one thing that is very important is to have a clear vision of where you want to get to. The SMART goals framework is a useful tool but I also like to ask myself – WHAT? WHY? WHEN? WHO? WHERE/HOW?

WHAT – What exactly is it that you want to achieve?
WHY – What are the reasons you want to achieve it and are they enough to keep you going?
WHEN – When do you want to achieve the goal by?
WHO – Who do you need to help you achieve your goal?
WHERE/HOW? – What are the steps you are going to need to take to achieve your goals and where are you going to find the time to commit to doing it?

Follow your passion

Anything that is worth achieving is going to require commitment and effort. Unless you feel passionate about what you are doing the ups and downs will be very difficult. There will be hurdles to overcome, you will get told ‘no’, you will make mistakes – that’s all part of the journey and every time you have to just pick yourself up and carry on. I knew that helping others achieve their goals would be a motivating factor to keep me inspired.

Get the support of your family

With any large undertaking you are going to need support to help you along the way. By getting the buy in of friends and family upfront they are giving you their commitment to reach the finish line. Be very clear about what sacrifices will need to be made to achieve the goal such as time and money. I got my husband involved right at the start of the app build, as well as supporting me he has provided some fundamental input into the development of the app that has been invaluable and it has ultimately bought us closer together.

Done is better than perfect

Perfection is impossible and sometimes it’s better just to get something to market and test it rather than delay a launch and waste time and money on features that may not even be used. I made sure I kept moving by being pragmatic about what would go into the first version. If I’d tried to launch a perfect app I’m not sure I would have ever got around to launching it.

Just do it

I had the idea for the app over a year ago but I didn’t really start doing anything about it until 6 months later – what a waste! I let the rest of life takeover and was also little paralysed by fear of the unknown and that what I would do might be a failure. As soon as I started taking action I started to feel more confident. I still have moments of self-doubt but this doesn’t compare to the regret I would have felt if I’d never done anything with the idea. An idea in itself isn’t of any value unless you do something with it.

So overall yes it has been a challenging journey, but I’ve learnt so much and done things I never thought possible. I’ve had my first radio interview and been published in the press. At the end of the day if nothing else I’ve created something that I’ve always wanted to use myself. Of course I hope it’s more than that and that I help many others achieve their goals. Whatever 2014 holds for you make sure you follow your dreams and do what you love – Happy New Year!….and sorry I haven’t been blogging – I’ve been building an app!

You can download Flourish Goals on the link below:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/flourish-goals/id775101914?mt=8

 

Posted in Change, Experiences, Family, Goals, Work, working mum

What is digital change?

the only constant in life is change‘Digital Change’ was the subject of my MBA dissertation and something that I am absolutely passionate about. What follows is an  explanation of this type of change and why you need to understand it:

Organisations and individuals need to change constantly, for all kinds of reasons, but achieving a true step change in performance is rare . Science and technology hold out a dazzling and almost unimaginable future. Huge leaps in technology, associated with increased global need and awareness mean that the opportunities presented by technology are becoming limitless. As such, the nature of individual lives and company-customer interactions is undergoing fundamental transformations with far-reaching implications. This requires businesses and individuals to undergo radical changes at an increasing rate as the rapid evolution of technologies and its declining costs are creating opportunities to transform and improve.

In today’s technology driven, globally connected world, the only constant is change. The only way to survive is to adapt. During recent years, there have been transformational changes in consumer behaviour and their use of technology, massive rise in internet usage, turmoil in the financial markets, and the emergence of new forms of digital technology. All of which put a premium on the ability to change continuously. Companies and individuals need to adapt fast – whatever your role you need to understand this type of change and how to use and navigate it.

Many companies are now exploring how digital tools can make their business more efficient, by improving customer service, enhancing quality and speeding up time to market. For most businesses, however, this represents only the first step in a process that may ultimately transform the nature of the business itself.  Yet there are still many failures as quicker and more agile companies make ground and the slower competitors are left behind. This means that the ability to cope with often dramatically altering contextual forces has become a key determining factor of competitive advantage and organisational survival. In this context, there is no doubt of the importance of this type of ‘digital change’ to companies and individuals.

A shift in vocabulary from “change” to “changing” is required for  to make us more attentive to the dynamic, changeful character of life.  The Changebytes blog explores how to lead and navigate this continuous ‘digital change’ in everyday life. How do you adapt to the continually evolving world?

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Stop talking, start building an app!

Last week I attended an event about developing your own app hosted by the Stylist Network at the fabulously innovative location of the WAYRA UK Academy. I’ve been thinking about developing an app to bring to life the goal setting method that I have been using successfully for several years. I was sold by the event header that said ‘The future’s bright, the future’s definitely a world bursting with brilliant, life-changing apps. There is no better time to become part of the digital revolution’. Most of the event was delivered as a Q&A with a really great panel of experts and entrepreneurs.  Here are the key 6 things I learnt from the wealth of experience on the panel…

“Learn to code – it will leave you digitally enlightened” Kathryn Parsons1. Keep it simple

Your idea needs to be easy to understand so that customers and investors ‘get it’. Your interface needs to be seamless and intuitive otherwise it won’t get used. Consider building a simple version of your app to start with so that you can test and iterate. Try and focus on the most appealing aspect of your original idea. Things will change as you go along and doing it this way will help you adapt to customer feedback.

2. Develop a prototype quickly

You have two choices here, learning to code yourself or finding a great programmer to do it for you. You have to weigh up the pros and cons of each. If you can’t already to code you need to learn, this will take time but it will give you more control through the process. Having an experienced programmer obviously has its benefits but it may cost more. Stylist has written a great article on app development that offers more detail on the options.

“I know that I’m strong and if things go wrong I can draw on that inner strength” Dale Murray3. It’s hard

Developing an app is hard work and is not for the faint hearted. Your passion must shine through to keep you motivated. If you give up after the first or second failure you will never see your goals realised. When things go wrong harness your inner strength and focus on what you can learn to move forward. Tenacity is an absolute must.

4. Build a Network

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you will be surprised at how many people are willing to share their time. If you have an idea that you really believe in your drive will come across and help gain buy-in. Perfect and practice an ‘elevator’ pitch you can use to quickly express your idea. The start-up community can be extremely supportive and your friends and family can also help expand your “Don’t be embarrassed about the mistakes you make – only be embarrassed if you don’t do anything about it!” Annie Parkernetwork. Identifying a list of individuals you think have a good fit with your idea and working out a suitable approach will also be useful. Always think about how you can help the other person in return and don’t forget the basics like saying thank you.

5. It’s not just about the tech

Once you have built your app you need to consider other factors like marketing, PR and operations. If you are building a team, think about the skills that you bring and how others can complement these. There is no point having three CEOs when what you really need is someone to answer customer queries. Building a team with the same values as you, who believe in your idea will help ensure you all remain focused.

“When we gave up our jobs that’s when everything started happening!” Giulia Piu and Emma Obanye, founders of Buddy Bounce 6. Just do it!

Stop talking, start doing! Thinking, research and planning all have their place but none of them beat actually just getting stuck in and getting your app created. Don’t be paralysed by fear, all of the women on the panel had experienced their fair share of ups and downs but were in no doubt that pursuing their dreams had been absolutely worth it.

I was lucky enough to get the chance to pitch my app idea at the event and the feedback has helped hone my idea and given me the confidence to go ahead and get my app developed – watch this space!

….and thank you again to Stylist Network and the wonderful speakers:

Dale Murray (@DaleJMurray) tech founder and angel investor; Kathryn Parsons (@KathrynParsons), co-founder of Decoded, which specialises in coding for the web; and Annie Parker (@annie_ parker), head of operations at Wayra Europe, Telefónica’s global start-up accelerator; Giulia Piu (@giulipi) and Emma Obanye (@eobanye), co-founders of Buddy Bounce a musical artist appreciation app.

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Posted in Change, Goals, Work

Why do I need a bucket list and how do I get one?

Life is shortIf you don’t already know what a bucket list is, the definition, acording to www.urbandictionary.com is

‘A list of things to do before you die. Comes from the term “kicked the bucket”.’

Creating a bucket list is a great tool to find out what you really value in life and why. It can also help form the basis of setting goals. There are some things you might want to keep in mind before you begin your own list. Here are some things to think about before you start

  • Commit to making an actual list. Write the list down where you can access it easily on a daily basis. Using your mobile phone is an option, or writing on post-it notes which you can combine later in a note book. Pinterest can be a great place to collect ideas too.
  • Don’t forget the little things. Buying your dream house would be amazing, but it’s also worthwhile thinking about the small things in life – reading that book you’ve been meaning to or trying that new restaurant in town.
  • Share your list with friends and family, firstly it will make it seem more real and by sharing your dreams you are more likely to achieve them.
  • Look out for ideas and inspiration in your daily life and ask other people to share their bucket list.
  • Your bucket list should serve as inspiration rather than a plan to live your life to. Goal setting can help you plan how to achieve items on your bucket list but always measure yourself by how far you’ve come, not how far you’ve got to go.
  • Once your list starts getting large try categorising it into different sections.
  • Keep a note of the things you have achieved, its good to take stock of the things you’ve done.

If you’re stuck, you can try asking yourself these questions.

  • What have you always wanted to do but have not done yet?
  • Are there any countries, places or locations you want to visit?
  • What are your biggest goals and dreams?
  • Are there any special moments you want to witness?
  • What would you do if you found out you had six months left to live?
  • What skills do you want to learn?
  • What are the most important things you can ever do? For yourself? For others?
  • What would you like to say/do together with other people? People you love? Family? Friends?
  • If you were lying on your death bed what are the things you would regret not doing?

I’ve been keeping a bucket list in various forms for about 10 years (although I didn’t always call it a bucket list) and I try and update on a regular basis.You can view my bucket list here.  And if you need more inspiration here’s a lady who has a huge amount on her bucket list with over 500 items http://mslistologist.com/my-bucket-list/. What’s on your bucket list – I need some more inspiration for mine?

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Posted in Experiences, Fun, Goals

What’s stopping you? How to start doing today

The biggest gap in your life is between what you know and  what you do. Why is it that we know exactly what we should do but can’t seem to make it happen? Like losing weight or starting that project you’ve been meaning to. We know how to do it, so what’s stopping us?

In the book The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action, authors Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton discuss why our actions often don’t match our ideals, and what we can do about it. The book is written from a business perspective but can be applied to everyday life. It describes the differences between attitudes and behaviours and raises the issue of the frequently large gap between knowing something is important and actually doing it, for instance the Association of Executive Search Consultants conducted a survey in which ‘three quarters of the responding CEOs said companies should have  ‘fast track’ programs, but fewer than half have one at their own companies’. So what can we learn from this in terms of achieving our own goals? Below I take Pfeffer’s rules for making things happen and translate them for your own personal  development:

1. Doing something requires … doing something!

In the internet age we have access to huge amounts of information and the potential for an infinite distractions. Whilst all of this information may be interesting it only useful if you do something with it. The reason some people have fallen into this knowing-doing gap is this: doing something actually requires doing something! It means tackling the hard work of making something happen. It’s much easier and much safer to sit around collate information, read books, scan websites – and never actually take action.

2. Doing means learning. Learning means mistakes.

If you genuinely want to move from knowing to doing, you need accept that you will make mistakes. You need to be able to try things, even if you think that you might fail. The absolute opposite mind-set is one where you will only try things if you know there is very little chance of failure. With the risks involved in everyday life this can apply to even small changes. But what about the risk of doing nothing? That guarantees that what you want to do is going to fail – do you really want to sign up to that?

‘I HAVE NOT FAILED I’VE JUST FOUND 10,000 WAYS THAT WONT WORK’ Thomas Eddison 3. Have no fear.

One of the most common emotions in our lives today is fear. The reason that there is so much fear is that we are told that failing is bad. Learning requires tolerating making mistakes. Learning requires tolerating inefficiency. Learning requires tolerating failure. Learning requires trying things that you’ve never done before, things that they probably won’t be very good at the first time around. The only way that you can learn is by doing things that you’ve never done before. If we do only what we already know how to do, then we won’t ever learn anything new. Thomas Eddison who invented the light bulb had a great view-point on making mistakes Edison failed over 10,000 times before he got the light bulb right, he considered all those failures the part of his path to success!

4. Talking is not doing

We often confuse talking with doing. We sometimes think that talking about doing something is the same thing as doing it! That planning is the same as doing. That sharing our ideas with a friend is the same as doing. That writing up our plans is the same as doing. Or even that making a decision to do something is the same as doing it.  Mistaking talk for action is worse than just a simple error: talk can stop us taking action. Whilst we do need to talk and plan we also need to make sure it is balanced with taking action.

5. Decisions, by themselves, are empty.

Don’t fall into the trap of confusing making a decision with making something happen. First, we become obsessed with making the right decision – which becomes a major obstacle to trying something to see if it works. Then we forget a simple fact: that a decision by itself changes nothing. A decision is the beginning of the process of doing, not the end of that process. And so we work at making good decisions. Did we make the right decision? Did we have all of the information that we needed to make the decision?  Well, it’s always better to make a good decision than a bad decision – but just making a decision doesn’t change anything! Did you take action on the decision? Did you actually do anything?

6. What do I do? When do I get started?

If you want the future to be better than the present, you have to start working on it immediately. Remember: What you want is ‘better than’, not optimal. Your job is to do something today that’s better than what you did yesterday. And to do something tomorrow that’s better than what you did today.

Buy ‘The Knowing-Doing Gap’

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Posted in Change, Confidence, Goals, working mum

Goal setting – what’s the best app for that?

In the digital age it seems there is an app for absolutely everything. I’ve had a look at some of the apps out there for setting and managing goals and reviewed three that I have tried so far. I’ve rated them on a scale of one to five stars. One star meaning that I’ll be deleting it from my phone and five meaning I’ll be using it every day from now on!

My Wonderful Goals ★★★my_wonderful_goals___to-do_note_for_my_daily_life-645854

Good for: Managing a daily to do list against categorised goals like reminding yourself to exercise daily. It also provides a calendar view.

Not so good for: Tracking and managing your high level goals.

What I liked the most: The lovely user interface and simple style used to categorise goals.

What I liked the least: Not having an overview of the goals I’m working towards with deadlines.

Goal setting ★★bettergoals-logo1

Good for: Creating a summary of your short, medium and long-term goals.

Not so good for: Tracking progress towards you goals although there is a notes section you could us but I’d like to see % progress.

What I liked the most: It’s very simple to start using.

What I liked the least: Not being able to tick off completion of goals.

SMART Goals ★★★Smart goals

Good for: Having s structured approach to creating SMART GOALS and setting key milestones that integrates with the calendar on iCal (the calendar on your iPhone).

Not so good for: Being able to break the goals down into daily actions, you could do it with the milestones but it could be quite hard work.

What I liked the most: Being able to have a view of my goals and monitor my progress towards them.

What I liked the least: This is probably the best app I’ve come across so far. If I was being really picky I’d like some kind of count down timer on the goals summary pages.

There are some really interesting apps here that make it easier to manage your goals on the go. If I was building my own there are a few tweaks I would make….now that’s an interesting goal to set myself! Are there any apps that you use that make goal setting and management easier? I’d love to hear about them…

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Posted in Change, Goals, Time Saving

A guide to setting SMART(ER) goals

Work smarter, not harderThe latest research indicates that the simple act of setting goals improves our  life experience and our performance. It also shows that we are happier when we are progressing towards our goals. Setting goals helps us focus on what we want.
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting is a powerful way of doing this by  motivating yourself and others. By using it as a structure it can help you develop goals that clearly articulate where you want to get to. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for the 5 steps of specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based goals.

Paul J. Meyer describes the characteristics of S.M.A.R.T. goals in his book Attitude is Everything.

Specific

The first term stresses the need for a specific goal over and against a more general one. This means the goal is clear and unambiguous; without vagaries and platitudes. To make goals specific, they must tell a team exactly what is expected, why is it important, who’s involved, where is it going to happen and which attributes are important.

A specific goal will usually answer the five “W” questions:

  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
  • Who: Who is involved?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

Measurable

The second term stresses the need for concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of the goal. The thought behind this is that if a goal is not measurable, it is not possible to know whether a team is making progress toward successful completion. Measuring progress is supposed to help a team stay on track, reach its target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs it on to continued effort required to reach the ultimate goal.

A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

Attainable

The third term stresses the importance of goals that are realistic and attainable. While an attainable goal may stretch a team in order to achieve it, the goal is not extreme. That is, the goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. The theory states that an attainable goal may cause goal-setters to identify previously overlooked opportunities to bring themselves closer to the achievement of their goals.

An attainable goal will usually answer the question:

  • How: How can the goal be accomplished?

Relevant

The fourth term stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter. A bank manager’s goal to “Make 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by 2:00pm” may be specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound, but lacks relevance. Many times you will need support to accomplish a goal: resources, a champion voice, someone to knock down obstacles. Goals that are relevant to your boss, your team, your organization will receive that needed support.

Relevant goals (when met) drive the team, department, and organization forward. A goal that supports or is in alignment with other goals would be considered a relevant goal.

A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
  • Are you the right person?

Time-bound

The fifth term stresses the importance of grounding goals within a time frame, giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps a team focus their efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the SMART goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in an organization. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency.

A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:

  • When?
  • What can I do six months from now?
  • What can I do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

Making your goals SMARTER!

Adding an E & R on the end of the acronym gets you to “Evaluate” and  “Reward.” The ‘Evaluation’ stage will help you appreciate how far you’ve come. You should also evaluate goals regularly and adjust them as needed to account for changes in family or job responsibilities or availability of resources. Not only do you need to have a consistent plan to see if you are on track with the other S.M.A.R.T. goal strategies, but you also need to have a “Reward” at the end. Perhaps reaching the goal in itself is reward enough but often having something specific in mind like treating yourself with a spa day or a new outfit can give you that extra motivation.

Goal setting should be an integral part of your lifestyle. It is the first step in achieving success: it establishes the road map for your journey. S.M.A.R.T.E.R. strategies allow you to build and follow a plan and will help navigate you to a successful destination – and Reward!

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Posted in Change, Confidence, Goals, positivity, Time Saving

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