Goal setting is one of my favourite topics to talk about.
(Probably because I like to think I am pretty good at it)
Most of the goals I have set myself so far I have achieved.
But.. more importantly (and the key point of this article); they are the goals I actually want to achieve.
We are all well aware that goals are important; everyone talks about them and goal setting is drilled into us from an early age.
But we don’t get told what a real goal actually is.
The Usual Suspects
When people set goals without really thinking, this is what they will come out like:
– “I want to be rich”/”I want to have $1,000,000 in my bank account”
– “I want to marry a beautiful woman/man”
– “I want a big house by the sea”
– “I want to run a successful business”
– “I want a great career”
– “I want 3 happy children”
– “I want to lose weight”
They seem like good goals to achieve right?
That is, until you reach them and realise you had everything upside down.
Crucially they don’t consider what it actually takes to get there, whether it is something you really want or what it actually feels like to achieve that goal.
They are not just vague; they are completely lacking in a touch of your real personality.
Let’s break some of these goals down:
Money – Getting money is, for most people, always possible. We can work hard, work smart, learn more, push harder and we can get to that goal.
But at what sacrifice? And why did you want that money in the first place?
If you wanted it so you can travel the world, then most likely you are now to busy to do so. So what was the real end goal?
A beautiful husband/wife – I know a few beautiful looking girls who would drive me coconuts if I had to spend all day, every day with them.
What do you really want here? Maybe it’s somebody your attracted to, who laughs at your stupid jokes, who supports you when you feel down, who shares some of your interests and is loyal to you.
Imagine your perfect day, week, month and year with your life partner. That is what you really want.
I want to lose weight – This goal really needs tearing apart..
Why do you want to lose weight? Are you training for a sport? Do you want to look good in a dress? Do you have health problems?
If so, your real goal is “Running the London Marathon in 2017” or “Curing my diabetes”.
That is achievable and it really gets to the bottom of what you want.
Now while these common “goals” are not really your true goals, they still matter and they can still play a part.
The cogs in your Goal Machine
Goals like losing weight and earning a million dollars still have a place… just not as goals.
They are part of the bigger picture. They are your essential machine parts and engine oil that work together to get you where you want to be.
Do you want to live in a mansion by the sea with your own boat? Your going to need some money for that.
Do you want to be able to play sports with your kids? Losing weight can be part of achieving that goal.
The key is recognizing and focusing on the goal that you actually believe in. A goal that makes you happy to think about. A goal that comes from you and your personality.
A true goal.
Finding your true goals
You already know what your true goals are, but they might be buried deep down.
Underneath the expectations of others.
Obscured by that hulking figure of “realistic expectations”.
Crushed by the lack of real belief that it can actually come true.
You might also be looking at other people, thinking they “have everything” and setting your goals based on that.
You got to find your own true goals.
I don’t have the map for you but I can share with you how I find out mine.
I ask myself questions about my perfect day, my perfect week, my perfect year and my perfect lifetime.
The trick is to keep an open mind, have fun and don’t limit yourself.
Get in touch with yourself and enjoy the daydream of what your life will be like.
The perfect day – What do I see when I open my eyes? What is my house like when I get out of bed? Who is there with me? How much time do I spend working? What is the weather like? What am I going to do that day?
My perfect week – What did the week look like? Who did I spend it with? How much exercise did I do? Did I play any sports? What did I eat? What did I do for work? Where am I? What am I doing next week? Do I have routine or is it spontaneous?
My perfect year – What new skills did I learn this year? Where did I visit? How much time did I spend with my family? Did I make any new friends? Did I stay in touch with old friends? How many parties did I go to? Did I teach anybody? Did I give any money to charity? Did I start a business? Did I close a business?
When you ask yourself these questions (and your own questions) something will come out that you probably didn’t expect.
I started writing every day in The Five Minute Journal.
This is my experience and review of The Five Minute Journal after using it (pretty much) every day for over a year.
What is the Five Minute Journal?
You write in the journal every morning when you wake up and every evening before you go to bed. It takes less than 5 minutes after a few days of practice.
In the morning you write three things you are grateful for and three things you want to achieve that day. You also write a positive affirmation about yourself or your life.
In the evening you write three great things that happened that day and 1 thing you could have done better.
Every day you get a new quote, and once a week you get a challenge like “Go for a 30 minute walk on your own” or “Watch this TED talk”.
The journal also includes about 40 pages of instructions, examples, details on why this works and how it will benefit you.
Ok… but why?
This is about finding appreciation, peace, happiness, a more positive mindset and helping to achieve our goals.
Studies show that practicing gratitude boosts our general mood and gives health benefits including stronger immune systems and decreased brain aging.
There are also links found between the amount of gratitude expressed and the risk of depression or anxiety developing (i.e. reduce your risk by expressing more gratitude).
How long have you used The Five Minute Journal? Does it work?
I started using this journal around April 2015 (1 year prior to this review).
Yes, it works. I feel calmer, more appreciative of what I have in my life (instead of focusing on what I want), I value my friends and family more, I sleep better and I feel more in tune with what I really want.
I look forward to writing in it, I take it everywhere with me and I rarely miss a day.
BONUS FOR TRAVELERS: I travel a lot and week to week my life can be very different. Having this journal keeps me grounded and gives me that little sense of routine.
Is there anything you don’t like about it?
At $23+ it is quite expensive. If you are not in USA then the price is even more prohibitive; add another $20+ for shipping to the UK.
EDIT: It looks like they have cheaper shipping rates now and to the UK you have a $9 option. Check the “shipping calculator” in your shopping cart.
I would like to see an extra section for the end of the day writing; a request to my subconscious. When you are sleeping you are decompressing the day, making sense of thoughts, recharging and recalculating.
Quite often I have woken up with answers or better perspectives on situations. Having a place in the journal to request something like “Why am I worrying so much about X?” or “What is the best way to solve Y?” would be really beneficial.
They also have an App, but I feel that it really defeats the purpose. Physically writing and taking the time away from your phone/tablet is crucial to this process.
Any other tips or advice?
If you are not sure if this is for you, try it out with a normal notepad. However, be careful.. spending the money will give you a real psychological commitment to follow it through.
Use the coach.me app to form the habit of writing in this journal and ask questions to the community of people also using The Five Minute Journal.
This makes a great spontaneous gift for an open minded friend – this is the kind of simple thing that can really spark a big positive change in your life.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
– Bill Gates
Here is something I have fixed recently.
Every evening I make a todo list of what I want to achieve the next day called “Today”. It includes my work, my personal life, fitness, reading and everything in between.
For as long as I can remember I have never completed the entire list.
Every single evening I was postponing tasks and convincing myself that I would do them the next day.
(along with even more tasks)
It got pretty ridiculous.
Some tasks sat on my “Today” list for weeks.
The result? A constant feeling that I was never doing enough. Very rarely did I feel that my day was a success because I didn’t reach the unachievable goals I set myself. I found it hard to switch off because I had so many open loops.
I push myself very hard in my personal life and in my business. But this was too much and was having a negative effect.
So I made a simple change and it made a world of difference.
I only put on my “Today” list the things that I absolutely had to do today. Only the things that I absolutely must do or the world will end.
Everything else is on a normal project todo list and prioritised. I start them only after doing my Today list.
(I won’t preach to you about how to organise yourself.. it is a personal thing. My only advice is keep reading, keep tweaking and keep looking for something that works for you).
I now achieve everything on my Today list and it feels good. I am motivated to work on the other tasks and am making more of my time.
Sometimes it is hard to see what is right in front of us. Constantly analyse what you are doing, why you are doing it and how you can do it better.
If you do any kind of business online then the way you communicate is absolutely crucial.
In this world of the typed word, emotions can be misinterpreted and messages can be misunderstood.
I am going to list my key principles in communicating with customers below but let us consider this mantra first.
(we have all heard it before)
The customer is always right
Do you agree?
This is a statement wide open to interpretation. Just like Christians can make any bible passage prove a point, business experts will twist these 5 simple words into exactly what they want.
If I sell software to my customer and they demand a refund after 7 months because “I was never able to access it” are they right?
The hidden message in this statement is “Always make the customer right”.
Here is my answer to the customer who wants a refund.
“I am sorry that you were unable to access your software and this absolutely should not happen. Unfortunately our policy only allows a refund after XX days but if you did request a refund during that time I will happily honour it.
Otherwise I will be more than happy to help you access the software and guide you through getting started. Please let me know exactly what happens when you try to access your account and I will get this sorted for you ASAP.”
They key is to make your customer wanted (because they are), make them feel important (because they are) and respect them (because they deserve it).
My Rules for Talking to Customers
1) Always be polite
I follow this rule in life but online it is especially important.
It is easy to skip off a “please” or a “thank you” but if you do then you run the risk of your messages being interpreted the wrong way.
2) Be formal.. or at least be grammatically correct
I like to be mostly formal in all messages to customers. When I do this I find that my words are taken more seriously and I am less likely to receive an emotion driven response.
It shows that you are professional, you take this seriously and you are to be trusted.
Your method might be different and a less formal communication can help your business/marketing in different ways. However, I do urge you to at least be grammatically correct.
It also helps to use a proper greeting and sign off. It shows your recipient that you are taking the time over the message and taking it seriously.
3) They are not as smart as you
This is not an insult; it is (or should be) a fact.
If you are offering a service to your customer then it is expected that you know more than them.
You are the expert in this situation.
They are going to do or say things that seem ridiculous to you.
These “stupid” things are going to be repeated over and over again with your other customers.
My message here is simple but very important; stay calm, stay patient and remember that they don’t have the luxury of being as smart as you.
4) Don’t get emotionally involved
Especially where support or disputes are involved.
It is bad for your health.
Deal with every problem and dispute in a calm, methodical and efficient way.
If your recipient is completely unreasonable then don’t break character. Keep your messages concise, polite, unemotional and to the point.
Customer: “I have been waiting 8 months for you to add this feature and now you are telling me it won’t be in the next version?? What kind of joke operation are you running? Honestly, I have bought more tools than I can remember and this is the ABSOLUTE WORST I have come across. Your last version was utter crap and crashed my PC and if I hadn’t spent the money on your junk then I would have bought (COMPETITOR) a long time ago….. etc. etc.”
What you want to say: “Your feature idea is absolutely ridiculous and wouldn’t benefit anyone except yourself. We are not here to be your personal developers. The only reason your PC crashed is because of the spyware you caught from porn sites. Go and use (COMPEITOR) instead and don’t come back crying to us when it isn’t as good”
What you should say: “Hi (CUSTOMER),
I am really sorry to hear that you are not happy and I want to do everything I can to help you out.
Unfortunately we develop new features based on the popularity from all our other members and your feature request didn’t get enough votes. We completely respect your decision to use (COMPETITOR) if you choose but I would like to help you figure out how to achieve what you want to with our software.
What is it exactly that you would like to do? I will hopefully find a better way for you to do it or look at how your feature request can be modified to benefit everyone.
Easier said than done?
Try it and you will sleep better at night.
5) You are not friends
Ok, you might become friends with your customers (I have) but that is a rare exception.
“How are you doing?”, “Did your wife get that job?”, “What about the football last night huh?”.. it seems like harmless chit-chat but it wastes time. It means that you and/or your customer will put off responding because you have somehow created an unwritten chit-chat rule that can’t be broken.
Again this might be part of your marketing strategy and general business attitude.. but be aware that it can easily come across as you being sleazy and fake just to get a sale.
6) Make sure your customers know what to expect
Set your stall out early in what your customer should expect in terms of response times.
In a support desk this is crucial. In some companies, 24 to 48 hours is normal. In others you can get under 1 hour responses. Your customers will have no idea what to expect and will get mad easily.
If your selling then remember that your response times at this stage need to be consistent. If your replying to your customer withing 20 before they hand over money, don’t drop it to 3 days after (unless they are made aware).
7) Stick to your rules
We need to set rules in how communication is made so that it is handled efficiently.
If your customer somehow finds you on Skype and asks you a simple question, should you respond?
They will do it again next time. Then your Skype will be off, they won’t get a response and they will be mad.
Keep all communication through your official channels so you can optimize it, scale it, outsource it and automate it.
After over 4 years of supporting software and hosting customers, plus over 10 years of general supporting customers in the software industry, I realised (eventually) that communication makes a BIG difference.
Monitor it, change it, tweak it and make it better.
It will make your life easier, it will make you happier in general and it will make you more confident to teach this to others in your business.
Do you agree or disagree? Do you have any other rules for communicating? Let me know below!
An affiliate is somebody who recommends you a product and takes a commission (or reward) when you purchase it.
An affiliate is like an online version of a salesman.
Just like a salesman, affiliates are sometimes treated with suspicion and contempt.
Many affiliates, just like many salesmen, will do everything they can to push a sale. That means being dishonest, being pushy and betraying the trust of their audience.
Some affiliates, just like some salesmen, are extremely successful. They are experts at helping their audience, giving them the right information, engaging them properly and supporting them after purchase.
Don’t get me wrong.. becoming a successful affiliate requires that you know how to be persuasive, how to maximize sales from every customer and know how to turn someone who is vaguely interested into an enthusiastic buyer.
But that doesn’t mean you have to be dishonest and you can still keep two strong principles at heart: