Tag: plans

5 Tips on How to Make Plans

Photo by Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

Photo by Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

“You can never plan the future by the past.” – Edmund Burke


Looking toward the future is an exercise many are afraid to do, principally because they’re held captive by the past. With so much baggage carried forward, is it any wonder that plans sometimes get cast aside for fear they’d turn out to be failures, just like so many did before? This is shortsightedness in the extreme, for no momentum or traction can be gained when your eyes are firmly planted on the past.

“You are not today who you were yesterday.”

It takes a certain amount of courage to pull down the door on the past, particularly if those memories are recent, disastrous, and painful or one more in a long line of failures. But this is an important point to keep in mind: You are not today who you were yesterday.

Hopefully, you’ve learned from what didn’t work so

that you don’t endlessly repeat those mistakes. Having a good support system is also critically important as you draft plans for how you’ll go about completing goals you consider worthwhile.

But do give yourself some credit for having the tenacity to slog through some incredibly hard work. It’s rough going through failure and disappointment. It stings, saps your immediate energy and definitely puts a temporary damper on plans for the future.

You are here today, however, living testament to the restorative power within you. It’s time now to move ahead, look for new opportunities to get involved in, an interest that fires you up and you just can’t wait to pursue, and people whom you haven’t yet met who may provide that added spark that you need to take action.

What you really want to know, however, is what can you do now. Here are five tips on how to make plans – and stop thinking and obsessing over the past:

  • Adopt a hopeful outlook.

Instead of condemning yourself to repeated failure, reverse that trend. Tell yourself that this is a new day and you are moving ahead with excitement and purpose. You may need to repeat this mantra daily for it to begin to take root – and it will, it you allow it.

  • See the lesson in everything.

There’s always something valuable to learn from everything you do, regardless of the outcome. If you train yourself to find the kernel of wisdom in all your actions, you will boost your self-confidence and feel more empowered.

  • Share what works with your network.

Even when plans don’t turn out to be completely successful at first, there are some aspects of your action that does work. Be willing to share what works with those in your network who support your efforts – and listen to the suggestions they offer. You might learn something incredibly valuable that will further your own efforts.

  • Embrace change.

You may be fearful of change, likening it to past disastrous outcomes, but the truth is that life is filled with constant change. Without change, there would be no growth. Instead of fearing change, make it a point to embrace it, to eke every last bit of knowledge and opportunity from it and make it your own. When you are in charge – and you are – change doesn’t look as formidable. That’s because you’ve put change in your go-to bag and are running with it.

  • Use the building-block approach.

A house doesn’t get built without going through many stages of construction. Similarly, achieving a successful outcome when working toward a goal almost always involves a number of steps. It isn’t just point A to point B. You may need to accommodate layers and a building-block approach. Capitalize on what you’ve learned and apply it to the next stage of development of your plan.


* * *

To automatically get my posts, sign up for my RSS feed.

Want to get my free newsletter? Sign up here to receive uplifting messages and daily positive quotes in my Daily Thoughts. You’ll also get the top self-help articles and stories of the week from my daily blog and more.

I also invite you to like me on Facebook, facebook.com/suzannekane.net follow me on LinkedIn,  on Twitter, @SuzanneKanenet and Google+.



How Do You Get Ready for the Day?

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Photo by Ryan McGuire

It may seem like a simple, even inconsequential question, but how you get ready for the day sets the stage for everything to come. While advance preparation isn’t all that difficult, it does require a mindset and diligence to ensure you do it every day.

Here are some of the best ways to ready yourself to greet the day – any day, not just work, school or special occasions.

  • Get a Good Night’s Sleep – This is absolutely paramount. You can’t run on empty, and going without sufficient sleep is like trying to coax extra miles out of a gas tank that’s already on fumes. Whether you believe you can get away with 4-5 hours of sleep or less, you’re only kidding yourself. Aim for a good 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night and you’ll awaken well-rested and ready to take on the world.


  • Put Some Nutritious Food in Your Body – Just as adequate sleep is a prerequisite for tackling the day ahead, so is making sure you eat nutritious food before you set out. This doesn’t need to be a full breakfast, but simply downing coffee won’t cut it. Aim for some protein, fruit and whole-grain product. That will keep your energy up and tide you over until lunch. While you’re at it, make sure you hydrate throughout the day. Water is the body’s best friend, so drink plenty of it.


  • Remember to Take Your Supplements – While eating well-balanced meals is a good practice, the fact is that you may need to take additional vitamins and minerals or other supplements to get what your body needs. Women, in particular, need folate and everyone can use Vitamin B-12. Whatever your supplement regimen, be sure you’re consistent with it.


  • Plan Ahead – If you know you’ve got a big presentation to make the next day, put the appropriate amount of time in beforehand. Ditto if you’re about to go on a long trip. Trying to take care of last-minute details, well, at the last minute, will only add stress to your day, increase the likelihood of forgetting something important or cause you to rush through details that shouldn’t be compromised. On the other hand, carefully planning out the day will help you feel more organized and on top of things.


  • Schedule Free Time – If what you’re anticipating is a solid day of nonstop tasks or activities, that’s going to wear you down very quickly. Even if the day is routine, consisting of nothing out of the ordinary, it’s important that you bake in or schedule time to do whatever you like. Meditate, go for a walk, read a chapter in a book, tend to your social media or chat with a friend. Everyone needs a little down time, especially when life tends to get in the way.


  • Be Sure to Pace Yourself – Even with a plan for the day and schedule free time, the tendency to overdo it is always there. You want to hurry through this or that project or task so you have extra time for yourself. Or the boss is demanding that you take on yet another hot project and you need to leave on time to do something with your family. If you go at a breakneck speed, however, you’re going to falter, make mistakes, not finish on time, or disappoint yourself and others. Factor in the necessity to pace yourself and you’ll get where you need to be in one sane piece.


  • Be Willing to Say No – You don’t need to feel obligated to say yes to everything others ask of you. It’s not that you don’t want to help out or that you’re selfish, but have some self-consideration. There are times when you will be able to lend a hand, and say so, but this may not be the time. Be willing and firm enough to say no and mean it.


  • Adopt a Hopeful Outlook – You can’t predict what’s going to happen during the course of the day, but you do have the power to choose how you deal with what does. To this end, it’s helpful to adopt a hopeful outlook. Whatever happens, you’ll find a way to deal with it, proactively and effectively. How you view life is how life will treat you. Be positive and optimistic and you’ll be rewarded.


  • Surround Yourself with Like-minded People – If you want to really sail through the day, easily overcoming obstacles and vigorously pursuing your goals, another tip is to be with people who share your ideals, interests and other commonalities. There’s nothing like group enthusiasm to encourage creativity, getting things done and finding a sense of purpose and fulfillment.


  • Begin (and End) the Day with Gratitude – We each have a limited amount of time on earth. Whatever that turns out to be is an unknown, which can be scary if we let it bother us. What we can do, however, is be grateful for each and every day we have. That’s why it’s important to say thanks and acknowledge our gratitude each morning and again at night. In each instance, gratitude sets us up for the day ahead.

* * *

Sign up for my free newsletter. I post highlights from my blog, my Daily Thoughts and more.


8 Tips to Help Decision-Making

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Do you agonize over choices or waffle back and forth before finally settling on one? Even if you don’t think you have much difficulty arriving at a decision, everyone can always use a few pointers, right?

Here are some suggestions on how to make the decision-making process a little easier, less stressful, and a lot more satisfying. 

Get organized

To get started, you need a clean and clear space. A cluttered desk, sloppy workspace or no space to sit comfortably do not help you do anything productive – least of all make an important decision.

Take the time to put things where they should go, wipe up spills, toss out unused and unwanted items or trash, and for the files and materials you will need, arrange them neatly on your desk or work area.

If the project or task that requires your decision involves specific files, folders, artwork, renderings or other items, keep them front and center. 

Eliminate distractions

When it’s time to think about a decision, you can’t afford any distractions. Simple tips to eliminate them include:

  • Turn off your cell phone or let it go to voicemail.
  • If you’re in a physical office with a door, close the door.
  • Turn off email notification sounds on your computer.
  • Better yet, get out of your email client for the time being.
  • Let co-workers and your boss know you’re working on a project and are trying to concentrate. (It helps if this is something you’re on deadline to do, as the boss will likely understand.)
  • Avoid the tendency to doodle, no surfing the Internet to kill time or game-playing just because you think you can.

Clear your mind

Now it’s time to get down to the business at hand. In order to begin the process of decision-making, it’s necessary to clear your mind. This is often one of the hardest things for people to do, especially in today’s non-stop world.

Since it’s next to impossible to completely wipe out extraneous thoughts, the best way to deal with them is to acknowledge their presence and allow them to go away on their own.

You need a bit of time for all the “noise” in your head to die down, so don’t be in a rush. Gradually, your mind will quiet and your thoughts can become better focused. 

Focus on the goal

Speaking of focus, once you’ve cleared your mind it’s the right time to focus on the goal. What do you hope to achieve? What’s your optimum outcome? Are you trying to solve a problem, brainstorm ideas, come up with a creative approach, make a tough choice involving conflicting ideas or options?

Knowing what you want to achieve as an outcome will help you in selecting various avenues and possibilities to consider.

Analyze the pros and cons

The things that come to mind will each have plusses and minuses that you’ll need to take into account. To get through this part of the decision-making process involves the ability to envision what might happen if you choose option A over option B or C, and so on.

Really take the time to think this through. Jot down into columns what the potential outcomes or ramifications for each choice might be. When you can look at these pros and cons on paper, the decision you need to make will be easier, if not obvious.

Sometimes, however, the decision you make will need to be the lesser of two negatives. Always strive to select the choice with the most positive outcome.

Finalize the approach

By now you’ve probably narrowed down your choices and selected the one that you think will serve your needs and help you arrive at the goal you intend.

You’re not done yet.

This is the time to fine-tune your approach, adding the various elements that will make it stand out and shine. You want it to be the best you can do, to reflect your strengths and talents and the benefit of your experience.

It’s possible that you’ll want to make use of one or more facets of other approaches or solutions you were considering. If it helps solidify your ultimate choice or gives it a better chance of success, by all means add it to your approach.

Factor in follow-up

Once you zero in on your decision, the final step before taking action on it is to spend some time figuring out what you’ll need in the form of follow-up.

Will reports help determine the success or failure of your decision? How will the choice you make affect others in the workplace? What benchmarks are important to achieve in order for the decision to be considered effective, valuable, repeatable or industry-first?

Follow-up is one aspect of decision-making that many overlook; yet it is critical to the success of any major decision.

Make the choice

This is the final stretch in decision-making: actually making the choice and beginning to take action. There’s no turning back now. If you’ve gone through the process in a thoughtful and purposeful manner, the decision you make now reflects your attention to detail, your creativity and vision.

Go ahead. Make the choice. And feel good about your decision.


* * *

While you’re here, take a moment to sign up for my newsletter so you never miss a blog post or Daily Thoughts.

Can You Name Your Top 5 Goals?

blog 3

Chances are you want a lot more out of life. And you’re well aware that success requires ongoing effort, a plan and willingness to do what it takes.

So, why are you floundering? Or are you just confused, unclear or unmotivated?

When the thought occurs to you that you’re not where you want to be, the next question to ask yourself is, “What are my goals?”

This basic self-query is essential to achieving anything in life, whether it’s success in business or career, at home, school, in relationships, and in finding happiness and purpose.

Goals are the key.

With this in mind, can you name your top five?

If not, all is not lost. Here’s help to get you back on track.


What All Good Goals Have in Common

Goals are as plentiful as grains of sand on a beach. They’re also as unique. Your goal for achieving success at work is different from mine, from that of your friend and co-worker, the neighbor across the street, your best pal in high school.

Yet good goals have a few characteristics in common:

  • They’re meaningful, highly desirable to the individual.
  • They can be separated into smaller, specific goals for different parts of your life (such as career, relationships, health, self-fulfillment, hobbies, etc.).
  • They’re realistic.
  • They’re achievable.
  • They generate inner excitement.
  • They spark enthusiasm and drive to achieve them.


How to Understand What Really Matters

Everyone’s heard the story about the patient who learns she has only six months to live. What will she do with that remaining time? A lot gets clarified in a hurry when time is short.

Translate that to your situation – and that means putting yourself in the life and death scenario. Think about the people and dreams that are most important to you. Are you making progress toward doing what makes you most happy and fulfilled?

Suppose you always thought that having $100,000 in the bank would be a sign of success, that this was a worthwhile goal. Is the bank statement showing you’ve got $100,000 in your account a manifestation of what you believe is truly important in life?

Will it sustain you and bring you comfort over the next 180 days?

Granted, it’s painful to envision the end of your life. Yet this exercise may help you drill down to the essence of your values and beliefs. It may be easier to strip away the nonessential and hone in on goals that really do make a difference.

These will be the goals that are meaningful, can be broken into workable parts, are realistic, achievable, exciting and motivating.


Step-by-step Process to Achieving Goals

After you’ve completed your self-awareness analysis and gotten to the crux of what means most to you, you’re ready to begin work on goals.

Specifically, this is an eight-step process to achieving goals:

  1. Identify goals. Remember the various aspects of your life that matter? Take the time to write down goals that affect your career, attitude, health, relationships, financials and more.


  1. Prioritize goals. Assign a number to each, from most- to least-important. Do this for each category.


  1. Create sub-goals. While you have already identified primary goals, each of these need to have sub-goals that you create. A sub-goal is a goal that must be achieved before you can succeed in attaining the primary goal.


  1. Develop intermediate goals. Take each goal category and list what you feel you need to achieve in several timeframes: a month, six months, one year, five years and 10 years. Make these intermediate goals specific. Write them down.


  1. Do a present status assessment. Next, figure out where you are today relative to your goals. If you find that you’re far short of where you need to be, consider what you need to do to either change your circumstances or reconstruct your goals. This isn’t giving up on your goals. It’s revising them to acknowledge the constraints you’re experiencing while still giving you the opportunity to achieve them.


  1. Get used to achieving goals. You want to become familiar enough and comfortable with attaining goals. Once you succeed, instead of considering that you’re done, revise the goal again to the next level up. As you gain more self-confidence with continued goal achievement, you will experience continued growth.


  1. See yourself being successful. A crucial part of goal setting and achievement is actually visualizing yourself a success. Engage in a little daydreaming here to see how that success looks, sounds and feels.


  1. Set a timeline and plan. Having gone through steps one through eight, you’re not done yet. Now it’s time to put down a timeline and a specific plan in order to achieve each of your goals.


The more you go through this process, the easier it will become. After a while, it’s going to become second-nature. Instead of struggling to figure out where you’re going from here or not knowing what really matters, you’ll have an instinctive blueprint.

You may not end up with five top goals. You may have only three, or you could have 10. The number isn’t important. What matters is how these goals help you to live a vibrant and purposeful life.

If they don’t, are they really that important after all?

*  *  *

Stay connected. Sign up for my free weekly newsletter here.