Yesterday was the first day wearing my watch in almost two years.  This watch had been sitting dormant because of its need for some major repairs.  For most people, a watch is just a way to keep track of time, but this watch is something different (or at least it was supposed to be different).  This watch and I have been together for 20 years.

A few short days after graduating from high school, I woke up each day in the Navy. Every day was planned, structured, and dictated by someone else.  Days were long, routine, and blended together and I never wore a watch.  There was never really a reason to wear a watch when each day was someone else’s and you were just along for the ride.

But as my four-year journey was coming to an end, I began to think.  Maybe spending all that time at sea gives you time with your thoughts that the average person doesn’t normally have in life…or maybe it was just breathing all that salt-filled air.  My thoughts were filled with plans, ideas, and goals for life.

One of the first things I did upon my return (besides rushing down to start dating the woman who would ultimately become my wife) was to buy myself this watch.  It took a while to find the right watch.  Something nice, but not too nice.  Something that would last, and stay in style.

Eventually, I found the watch I was looking for and in an overly ceremonious way, purchased the watch.  After unwrapping it, and placing it on my wrist, I told myself something as it rested there for the first time.

“Your time is now your own, and this should be a reminder to make the most of it.”

This reminder helped me through harder times ahead, through college exams, moving and changing jobs, and periodic failures in life.  The reminder was present at amazing times of our wedding, kids, first houses and jobs, and establishing a life together.

Yesterday as I drove to work, sat in meetings, went to a parent-teacher conference, shopped for school supplies, and came home, the watch was there.  Periodically while glancing down at the movement of the hands, I was reminded of my words to myself so long ago.  It was as if for a moment, I was receiving a reminder and a challenge from my 22-year-old self.

“Your time is still your own, are you making the most of it?”

Your Story

Ever considered your life as an epic journey or story?  Have you ever wanted a live a great story?  Maybe deep down we all want to live a great story, but get sidetracked along the way.  Hope this video inspires you today to get out there and create a story worth reading.


When Dreams Don’t Work Out

Let’s face it, not all of our dreams work out.  We set goals, we have a vision of the future and something derails, delays, or simply denies it from happening.  What do we do in the face of this failure?

I suppose we have a choice to make.  We can choose to pick up the pieces, see what we could have done better (maybe), and start to aim towards another dream or goal.  Or, we can become tainted, cynical, and hardened.  Yes, those seem like two extreme views, but by not consciously picking the first, we tend to end up in the second even if we do not realize it.

Life can at times be harder than we imagined.  When I think about life, there are way more long-periods of monotony with brief moments of excitement (good or bad).  What seems to break up the daily routine of life is a dream.  The strange little hope that you can make a difference, do something great, and alter your story and the stories of those around you.

So the next time that dream starts to become just a faded light in the rear-view mirror, stop looking back, look forward and find the next dream…and the next…and the next. Make the choice, and don’t let the hardening of disappointment in…dream instead. 

Collective Challenge Day 5

At this point, we have this first week in the bag.  Only a few more days left in Week 1 of our collective challenge.  Enough about me, I would like to hear from you.  How are things going?  How does your world feel?  Are you feeling better?  Worse?  Stir crazy?

Did you find a way to be generous?  Was there a creative way that you inspired hope to someone else?

Are you starting to dream big?  What is that thing you would really like to do?  This one can be hard.  Our lives periodically seem to adjust into autopilot and just cruise along maintaining what we already have.  What did you want to be when you were growing up? Was there something you wanted to do?  Someplace you wanted to go?

Keep up the challenge, you can do it!  Don’t be afraid to share your progress, it may just encourage the rest of us.

The Benefits of Yearly Goal Setting

The results of the Poll are in.  Thank you for participating.  It appears that most (almost 80%) are not formally sitting down each year to set clear, concise, and attainable goals.  For the 20% who sit down, reflect and set goals, this may seem more like a review.  Of the majority, about 15% set some sort of goals, and almost 60% have an idea of what to accomplish and press towards it.  This leaves the 7% who are just winging it out there.

Until recently, you could have put me into two of these camps.  I jumped between winging it and having a general direction or idea.  Was this effective?  I guess so, I somehow managed to accomplish things and provide a roof over our heads.  But there were always ideas, dreams or projects that seemed to just hover out there in space and never actually become reality.

Two things happened.  

1.  I was sitting next to a very successful person for a few days in training.  During one of many discussions, they asked me what my goals were for the next year, and what was my plan to accomplish those goals.

I struggled and stammered to find a response.  A combination of embarrassment and frustration filled that space.  I think they could tell I needed some help, and provided the much-needed relief.

“It is okay you know.  Maybe a simple worksheet would help.  Let me send it to you.”

2.  A friend called me out.

“I have heard you talk about that same goal year after year, and yet you have not made any progress.  When are you going to actually do it?”

These two events made me realize my lack of setting actual goals, left those big ideas or dreams just floating out there from year to year.  Periodically, I would try to make progress and tackle some part but it would seem overwhelming and I would stop.

During this same period of time, numerous requests came my way to help senior teams and organizations set goals.  As I stood before them, facilitating their long-term vision and strategy my own lack of a plan began to make me feel like an impostor.  For no other reason, I wanted to make sure if they asked me about my own goal setting I had an answer.  I took the advice and the worksheet and began to set some goals.

The process of setting the goals was more helpful than I ever imagined.  Setting goals required me to think about and choose between various conflicting visions and dreams.  Once created, the list provided me with the focus and accountability I needed to make actual progress.

As the new year approaches, maybe a simple worksheet will help you as well.  It can be overwhelming, but take the first step.  Maybe the best place to start is with Your Sentence. I hope that process provides the vision you need to set that first goal.

Managing Your Energy & Goals Worksheet

Normally, I would tell you to get out there and tell someone about your goals, but Derek Sivers at TED.com made me think twice about offering this advice.  Perhaps after setting your goals, you should keep them to yourself.  Or maybe start with one person ONLY if they will push you on the hard work necessary to actually accomplish that goal.

Now get out there and set some goals, 2012 is going to be great!