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goal setting

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How not to run a blog

The most successful blogs have the following elements - no particular order - in common: 1. Clearly defined audience In this case, I'm writing for expats, lovepats, accompanying spouses, international students, sojourners, military families, global HR department officials, type enthusiasts, coaches, trainers, research participants, and anyone interested in personality and culture.

Guess I could be a tad more specific, huh.

2. Purpose Simon Sinek calls this the "why". In fact, he says everything starts with "why". I started my blog and everything that led up to my business, because I love being an expat. Have loved it since 1997, right up until 2006, when I became an accompanying spouse with an identity crisis where a work permit used to be.

Strong words, and at the time it felt more like a period of funk and "what's wrong with me?" But hindsight is awesome, so now after much coaching and learning I know what was going on. THAT kind of insight into the emotional challenges of international relocation is what I want to share, so others don't fall into the same hole, or at least learn some strategies to climb out of it faster. I also found that becoming aware of our cultural and type differences opens channels of non-threatening and non-judgmental communication, which in turn help celebrate diversity, foster conducive work environments, and loving relationships.

Is that clear from what I'm writing? Please let me know! I do have a tendency to ramble and get side-tracked. In person that can be quite charming, just think of Billy Connolly and his tangents, how he always finds his way back to his point eventually, laughing at himself and the absurdity of life in the progress. But on a blog... Your time is precious, you don't want it wasted, right?

Where was I?

3. Quality content Not only should posts be written well, grammatically correct, and with flawless punctuation, they should also address the readers' needs. Am I doing that? I think my style may be a bit too lecture-heavy, although I do try to tell stories from my own experiences. Normalizing is a big part of my work, letting people know that what they're going through doesn't make them freaks of the universe. Again, please let it rip and let me know what you were hoping to find when you clicked over here, that would mean and help a lot!

4. Frequent updates The range goes from multiple daily updates to weekly posts to monthly feature articles. The consensus seems to be not about what the frequency is, but that there be one.

I'm doing weekly posts here (have been since 2007, check the archives), but know that I was severely lacking in the frequency department over on my research page. Which is why I'm taking Danielle's advice and consolidating the two. To make it easy to find, I've added a Research category for those of you who are only here to learn more about how personality type affects cultural adaptation in expats.

5. Involving the tribe Providing a space for discussion used to be the prerogative of any blog's comments section - now Facebook has earned the privilege. Have you liked my page yet? No? Probably because I haven't been posting specific items with alluring photographs and catchy headlines to draw you in. I've recently disconnected the Twitter stream not to appear there anymore, because it did get overwhelming.

Hey! I know, this is almost turning into pity-party. In case the title didn't give it away, I am scolding myself here. And by scolding, I mean using a coaching technique that I know to be effective: public goal-setting.

My goals are To provide value to expats and their accompanying spouses To share what I've learned along the way To use this forum for the good of celebrating diversity in type and culture

Will you help keep me accountable?

Thanks to Stuart Miles for the free pic!

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Preparation approaches

mountainroadThis is the end of week six of the new year, and I was wondering how you've been keeping up with the resolutions you've formulated, the goals and objectives you've set for yourself. Are you still on track?

I spent the better part of this week writing a handbook on how I started my coaching practice. It will be the basis for the speech I will give at next month's FIGT conference and provides information ranging from "what's a coach like" via "how to write a business plan" to "get started and meet clients". I'll be refining it some more, but am happy to make the handbook available as a PDF download after the conference, just send me an email to let me know you're interested.

Here's a taste on how to approach business plan writing. These strategies fit for general goal setting as well. Which way works best for you? I look forward to your comments and feedback!

Forward Planning You can go through the each segment of your business plan and answer the questions one by one to get an idea of what your future business is going to look like. This option will be more attractive to you when you prefer working with facts and realities, basing your plans on your past experience, and applying it to the here and now. If you tend to think in a linear way and feel comfortable with familiar ways of doing things, planning forward will allow you to pay attention to the details and get things done. Still, you may surprise yourself at what result actually manifests itself!

Example: you know Valentine's Day is on the 14th of February. If you call your honey now, you can arrange a date for that evening. You should probably call the restaurant tomorrow to reserve a table, because you know they fill up on "holidays" like this one. When you go out the day before, and buy flowers, chocolates, exquisite shaving cream, or a personalized iPod and present your honey with it, you can be pretty sure there'll be happy faces.

Reverse Engineering Another approach is to visualize the end result before you start going through the questions. Can you see yourself sitting behind your desk in your future office, taking care of business, giving presentations, holding successful client interviews? What does it feel like, what colors are your folders, how do you see yourself? If you are a creative, imaginative person, and tend to think future-oriented about what could be, this option may be more attractive to you. It allows you to focus on connections and potential, taking imaginary leaps without being bound by empirical proof. You still have to pay attention to detail in your vision of your goal, because those details will help you figure out the answers to the following questions.

Example: you imagine your honey's face break into a big smile, maybe some happy tears, and definitely hugs and kisses. Hugs and kisses and the feeling of romance and connection are your goal for that evening. In order to get to this point you'll have to have put some strategic wheels in motion. Before you get your honey to even smile, you'll have had to buy or prepare something. In order to have time to buy or prepare something, you'll have had to set some time aside to organize it. Got it? Unless you're in the kind of relationship where smiles, hugs and kisses ensue for no particular reason, you lucky, lucky person. If that's the case, do share and leave a comment!

Until next time, have a good one!

Thanks to Constantin for the free image.

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Effective goaling

bballhoop*goaling = pondering over, setting, achieving, and generally working with GOALS.

Welcome to the first of three blog articles on effective goaling. Right in time for the looming new year's resolutions that you might be tempted to make, or indeed for any other goal you want to set yourself. This is an invitation for you to take some time for yourself to make your life better than it already is. Set a goal, organize the necessary steps and support, learn how to deal with setbacks and obstacles, and celebrate your outcome. May I suggest you subscribe to my posts' RSS feed (available in the top right-hand corner) and you'll receive a convenient notification when the next installment arrives. Make this your own personal coaching alert, your own private "How to plan for success in 2009"- online course.

Last week we talked about being thankful for what we've achieved this year, now it's time to set some goals for what's ahead. Whether you want to learn a language, lose some weight, start a business, get married, or become the mayor of your hometown, you won't know how to get there if you don't know where you're going. First thing: set your goal. In case you haven't heard of it yet, one way of making sure your goals won't turn into regrets is setting them up the SMART way.

S - specific. "I want to lose weight" is too vague for your brain to kick into gear and actually help you achieve it. "I want a BMI of 25" or "I want to fit into a size 10" is better, because you'll definitely know when you've reached that goal. Same with, "I want to be more balanced" or "I want to be happier". "I want to remain calm next time my boss yells at me" is more specific. Find a way to describe your goal in your own definite terms. These should be terms that feel right and that your subconscious or your values cannot argue with.

M - measurable. The weight-goal is an easy one to quantify, e.g. gain 10 pounds, or lose 5. If you can't put a number on your specific goal, the question to ask yourself is, "How or when will I know that I've achieved it? How would my friends or any outsiders know?"

A - attainable. "Aim for the moon, because even when you miss you'll be amongst stars." W. Clement Stone said that, and I agree. I also think that it's better for the self-esteem in the long run if a couple of your goals actually do come true. In part this plays into knowing yourself, your strengths, and your limitations. Even Superman has his kryptonite, so there's no need to feel bad about them, and by acknowledging your challenges you'll save yourself arguing with reality. If you're unsure of what your areas for improvement might be but really want to know, don't be afraid to ask your co-workers, friends, and family for feedback. It's only natural we have blind spots, so it will be easier for other people to notice something we may struggle with. For best chances of success, make your goals attainable in a way that makes use of your strengths while stretching your comfort-zone a little. You'll be all the prouder for reaching it if there's a challenge that's not too easy. The other part attainability plays into is regarding the involvement of other people. Can you alone make this goal a reality, or would somebody else have to change in order for you to reach it? I'm not saying you have to do it all on your own, of course you can involve people and other resources to help, as we'll discuss next week. But if your goal is "Have Adam propose by Christmas", you might get disappointed.

R - relevant. Take a moment to listen to your inner self-talk. Is there a "should" involved in your goal? "I should set up a regular cleaning schedule and do the dishes every night" sounds to me like that's really a goal someone else might have for you. In fact, that sounds alarmingly like my mother! ;-) I'm not saying you don't want to live in a clean and sanitary household, and if that's your goal, you will find a way to make it reality. But it's also ok to take as long as necessary to question the goals you have and identify which of them will actually serve to make your life better, and which would serve the purpose of getting somebody else off your case. And that is another set of goals that may be achieved in different ways. Another - in my opinion - interesting tangent that you may want to explore is what your goal's good intentions are. What are you ultimately hoping to improve or achieve? Could it be that the goal you are working on is really a placeholder for another, superficially hidden, purpose? Talk to your coach about underlying beliefs and cognitive restructuring, you may find out some pretty interesting stuff!

T - timely. Or time-boxed, or time-limited, whichever you prefer, as long as you put a deadline on it. "I'll travel to France" is a great goal that will remain a dream until you actually set in motion the chain of actions and events that will get you there. By when do you want to reach your goal? When will you take your first step? When will you call that person who can help you? Check back next week to see what to do if your time-line isn't working out. And again, this is where working on your goals with a coach comes in really handy, because they are the best accountability partners. Did you know that WeightWatchers members who go to meetings lose 30 % more weight on average than members who follow the program online? Your coaching appointments will do the same thing, they help keep you on the straight and narrow, and your coach will call you or send you emails and ask you how you've been getting along.

There are many ways to aid your goaling, e.g. you can write affirmations every night, make a wishing board, a scrapbook, even go all out and buy one of Jack Canfield's "dream big" products - the imagery will serve as motivation and reminders to keep your goal fresh in your mind. However, keeping reminders, looking at pictures, even knowing exactly and SMARTly what you want to achieve isn't going to get you there. Just like when you go on a road trip, you'll need a map to figure out how to get to your destination, plus actually get in the car and drive. Check back next week for more tips on how to do just that.

Til then, have a good time!

Thanks to Raycan for the free image!

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