Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Finding a Calling

Do Callings call?

I'm wondering that because I'm still digesting through the backwash of my last year and my review. Simply put, the take away lesson was no matter how hard I work on tasks that keep daily operations going it is irrelevant: only so much as I do what others feel need to be done is there any method to success.

I cannot begin to relate how debilitating this has been to my work day. I am simply sapped of energy from before I leave the house until well after I arrive home. Work has become a grinding exercise in covering myself and slowing down to the point that I can be well assured I will not accomplish everything I know I will need to do - and in the knowing, I am even more dispirited.

But the most alarming thing happened yesterday as I was going about my business making copies to insert in a binder. I suddenly had the feeling that I was completely drained of my personality, myself: that I was little more than an extension of the company, that I was no longer myself.

The frightening thing was that I was too numb to care.

And that's why I ask: do callings call? I've no idea myself - I don't know if my brain if fried, but it simply cannot fathom the fact of doing something else other than what I do, even though I dislike what I do.

But I fear what another 2 years, let alone 20, of doing this will look like. Would I even recognize myself at the end, or will there simply be a shell, waiting for someone to tell it what to do?

Monday, January 30, 2012

What to Write?

Trying to find something to write about this morning. For some reason, the words are really not flowing.

At least not on electronic paper. They're swirling around in my head, of course - big words, portentous words, words that mean things, words that betray the inner workings of my soul.

That's one of the problems of writing in a format like this. Sometimes the problem is simply that I don't really have anything to write about. Other times is I have too much to write about, or at least too much that is too sensitive to write about.

Sensitive? Or painful? It's not as if I should be worried about how the information is received. The people I do know that read this will already know the issues; the people that don't know me personally would not recognize me from anyone else walking down the street with issues.

It's a different sort of sharing, I suppose - not the random sharing of Facebook where the passing events of the day are shared (as my pastor pointed out, most Facebook accounts are Life as we would like it, not life as we are), but the sharing at one or two levels below, the sharing of emotions and feelings and goals.

How much does one communicate to others (even the unknown readers on the Internet)? Does there ever come that moment when you've communicated too much? Or is it even really possible to those who are interested?

Words swirling around in my head, like the residual ground swirl in my coffee.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Goals versus Tasks

Goals versus tasks.

This concept has recently risen its head up in my life. I'm not quite sure what to do about it.

I understand the importance of goals. They give us things to work towards, things of value to ourselves. At the same time, "goals" do not account for a great deal of the day to day tasks that I (at least) have to accomplish. If I only worried about "goals", I would find myself quickly not accomplishing anything that I had to get done in the day.

Or do we rank goals over goals? If one goal is to accomplish something, but another is keep day to operations working, which goal is more important? And how do you present that argument to others? They look at the 20%; you do the 80% that needs doing.

I haven't quite figure out how to resolve this in my own mind. Goals without attention to tasks creates dreamers that never finish anything. Tasks without goals create dull daily slaves who never lift their eyes up from the ground.

How do I reconcile the two?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stripped Away

This is the hard part. The part at which you realize you have erred -badly. The part at which you realize that you alone are responsible for your own errors, that there is nothing and no-one which they can be put upon.

One could make the argument that this is freeing in a way, that "we only see clearly through the lens of pain". Our excuses and our illusions are stripped away, our fantasies and appearances whirling into the maelstrom of reality, leaving only the reality of a situation for us to ponder and act upon. In some semi-mystical way which I don't fully apprehend, we must be deeply confronted before we will deep confront ourselves. For most of us, that can only occur through the painful application of the error and lessons learned.

The great challenge, of course, is remembering: remembering what we have learned when the pain is not so fresh, when the mistake has mellowed in our memory to that of a minor error, when we simply feel "okay" about things. Feeling okay and mellow are not crimes within themselves - so long as we do not forget.

For if we do, the experience is waiting for us around the corner yet again, hovering for the one error that will unleash the flood of self-realization and self-reflection until, at last, we finally learn that which we need.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Control

How much are we willing to make ourselves bear?

I've contemplated both the general day to day level of unhappiness I often feel in my life events and circumstances. As I was thinking on the issue, I suddenly realized that a great deal of what I endure are things which I pile on myself.

The reality is that there are a great many things that I cannot control in my life, in some cases things which greatly impact my day. For some reason I got the idea that if it does impact me, I should be able to control it.

Where this leads is down a road where one becomes bitter and angry because events, circumstances, people, etc. are never able to be controlled. I can't control others or how they act, I can't control (to a large part) the circumstances and events that come to me. But I think I should be able to, so I spend my time bearing around a weight of unhappiness because things aren't working the way they should. I become angry, bitter, and eventually hopeless.

Perhaps there is a better way - focus on the things I can control.

I can't control circumstances and events, but I can control how I react to them. I can't control people, but I can control how I react to them. And every circumstance or event, there are things I can control. I need to focus on those, and leave the others behind.

In a way that sounds silly as I write it. After all, the things I can't control are usually the more impactful on my life; the things I can control are the small things that don't seem to matter. But if I shed worry and anger by not worrying about that which I can't control, that makes the small things not so small at all.

And who knows - maybe by addressing the small things, the bigger things will make themselves available for addressing as well.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Visit with Anger

Anger was waiting for me when I went for a walk last night.

I sighed as I saw him at the end of the court, but was resigned to the fact because my choices were either turn back and disappoint Syrah the Mighty in her walk or carry on and have the companion I was not expecting.

"I see you're walking early tonight" he said pleasantly enough as I turned the corner with Syrah sniffing along the edges of the sidewalk for past visitors.

"Getting it out of the way early" I responded. "What brings you out?"

He laughed to himself gently, at a joke I could not here. "What brings me out? Have you listened to yourself lately? It's not 'What brings me out?' - it's 'Why haven't I come out before now?'"

I sighed as we turned yet another corner and headed east. "Okay, I'll admit I've been a little frustrated of late." At Anger's snicker, I inserted "Fine. A lot frustrated at late. But it's not like I can just start ranting and raving at people."

"Oh, I know" said Anger. "That's why the alternative is so much more fun - to have you mumbling under your breath, to have you screaming in your mind. It's lots more entertaining than you just letting loose on people."

I spun to look at him. "That's not fair. It's not as if I can just start speaking my mind. You know that words, once loosed, cannot be recalled."

Anger was smug. "Oh, don't I know it. But I'm patient - you'll slip up sometimes soon, saying something to someone you'll regret too late. You're so angry all the time now - it's only a matter of playing the odds.

I stopped dead in the street. Anger started to walk past me, then waited, looking at me quizzically.

"What if I just stopped?"

"Stopped?"

"Yes, stopped. Just stopped being angry altogether. If I'm not angry, I'm not going to slip up - right?"

Anger looked at me like I was crazy for a moment, then stuttered. "S-stopped? But you can't stop. You've many frustrations in your life - and you can do nothing about them. Anger is the one emotion you have that will propel you to do anything at all. Those are your choices, you know - be angry and talk some kind of action, even if it's bad, or be accepting and do nothing. People that have accepted are people that do not accomplish."

I looked straight at him. "But can't I accept and take action on those things that I can take action on? That's taking action - maybe not on so many things and maybe not as successfully, but at least on things that maybe I can change."

I thought again. "You know, most of things I am angry at right now are things I can't change - people, circumstances, that sort of thing. Can't really do anything about those. But there are things - maybe small, but things - that I can do. Maybe I'll start with those and go from there."

I smiled at Anger again, still standing there in the street. "Syrah's pulling the leash, so I've got to go. Thanks for the walk. Maybe we can make a date of it?"

And with that I dragged off down the street following a dog intent on the scent of something, Anger still standing in the sodium lighting of the street looking for all the world as if something had just hit him.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Work Dream

I had a dream about starting a business last night. It was the strangest thing.

It was all the stranger for who was involved ( a cousin of mine whom I used to work for but haven't seen in years) and where it was (originally the old convenience store I worked in, but then a warehouse) and what it was (my current industry).

I suddenly "wake up" in my dream to find myself in what was obviously a manufacturing facility, which apparently was an extension of the convenience store I worked at in college for my cousin. The floor was not up to manufacturing requirements, but the sense was definitely that it was on its way. I went into one room, where Fear Beag was working on some piece of equipment (presumably for fermentation or milling or some such), where we talked for a few minutes about how it was going, then went out through a door which lead into a fairly large, empty warehouse.

In the warehouse were Fear Mor and An T-Saor, who were engaged in the process of assembling some sort of environmental units. I asked some random question, and An T-Saor pointed up to the back wall where he was assembling something. I left both of them working on the equipment as I walked through the rest of the facility which was essentially a shell with basic rooms.

I remember three thoughts as I woke up. The first was that whatever this was, it was a work in process and for some reason I was not entirely worried about the money. The second thought was that there was a real sense that success was here: that the four of us had found a niche in manufacturing that was small, desirable, and could be done by ourselves. The third - directly related to the second - was the sense that this was right, that this was going to succeed, and that I was enjoying myself doing something I apparently liked with people I liked.

It was a trio of delicious thoughts that followed me into waking up. Seldom - and surely not in the last 7 years - have I had such a dream about work that left me refreshed and ready to get up in the morning.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

RIP

"Sic transit gloria mundi" (Thus passes the glory of this world) - Thomas A' Kempis

My parents called last night to let me know one of the guys I went to school with - Kindergarten through 8th and high school - passed away this week.

An odd thing. Someone I don't think I had spoken to for at least 20 years. At one time (in grammar school) we were great friends. In a small school with 25 kids in your class, you tended to be friends with everyone and passed through the years together. There was, in that day, not quite the separation that seems to occur now between children and their activities. We did sports or Scouts or 4-H - but not the exclusion of seeing each other at school and participating in each other's lives.

We began to lose touch after high school, that wonderful time when children begin to flex their wings and find their own way. We went different paths - and in a much larger school, different paths means little if any contact. After the great "hurrah" of graduation, things drifted apart even more quickly. The last time I remember seeing him was at about 23, when I went over with another friend to his apartment. After that, the nothing of two busy lives.

And now, suddenly, he's gone.

I'm not quite sure how to process it. There's a vague sort of grief - certainly a sadness for his family - but not the sense you would find of a close friend; after all, one announcement does not make up for 20 years of silence. At the same time he's my age. The hint of mortality nicks at one's mind as the thoughts roil through.

It certainly puts the things of the day - projects that must be completed, deadlines that are "critical" - in perspective. Death is that one great appointment on our calender - unknown to most of us - that we will not miss, yet strangely never blocks itself out on the Outlook calendars of our digital age.

My greatest memory? Being at his house, playing electric football: lining up the players, the quarterback with the cotton football, and then throwing the switch and hearing the horrid "buzz" of the motor and watching the players bounce all over the "field" in what was supposed to be an approximation of a football play.

Requiscat in Pace.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Complicators

I've got another in my list of people types that prevent useful work from getting done: The Complicators.

Complicators can be a version of The Assigners as they share some of the same characteristics: they are known for giving work away that they don't or won't do themselves, and they certainly are not always useful in getting additional resources. The difference is that when Assigners are done with their damage, they at least go away; Complicators do not.

They hover; they yell. They make commitments to what they will do, then after it is done the renege on their consent - in some cases, they even don't remember that they agreed to it in the first place. They believe in the quality adage "Inspect what you expect", but fail to recall that they failed to communicate their expectations in the first place. They bend rules they tell others are inviolate if the circumstances require it, yet hold they standard for everyone else. On the road of meeting requirements and accomplishing tasks, they are the quicksand.

I continue to be amazed how corporations and companies which otherwise proclaim their wanting to succeed and do good often show myopia about the individuals who truly move things forward in their companies - and the individuals who do not.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Learning From Last Year

Jeffrey Gitomer - A business speaker and author whom I've read and enjoy - posted an article today about learning lessons from last year - not just that we boldly go forward into the New Year, but that we consider what has happened in the last year, rate them, and what lesson we learned from each of them.

It's a good idea - a great idea actually, coming from someone who is becoming more and more haunted by the fact that I continue to be stuck in the same place.

As I look back over my planners (I have them going back to 2003), what I realize is that most - or all - of the goals I continue to carry forward are the ones that I have had from year's past. In fact, with a few exceptions, if you looked at my earlier goals, you'd really wonder what year they came from.

Perhaps this one fact, more than any other, explains the feeling I've had of late that in a great many ways, my life is stuck on a treadmill, not really moving ahead but very slowly, almost imperceptibly, falling behind.

Great. So what am I going to do about it?

Two things. The first (which I can't do until I get back home from the audit) is to review 2011 in detail by what was intended, what was accomplished, and everything else that happened. It won't be a perfect review, but it will at least give me a sense of what did (or didn't happen).

The second thing I've actually started at work and will start for my personal life as well is a mistake log.

A mistake log? A simple worksheet with four columns: the date, what happened, the root cause of why it happened, and what I will do to correct it. It's a simplified version of a process that I use every day.

Is it working? I've already got three errors in it, three things that I actually always had issues with but have now recorded to remind myself not to do again.

Sometimes it's not that we lack the knowledge we need, it's that we fail to force ourselves to use it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Results and Roses

The man who wants a garden fair,
Or small, or very big,
With flowers growing here and there
Must bend his back and dig.

The things are mighty few on earth
That wishes can attain.
What e'er we want of any worth
We've got to work to gain

It matters not what goal you seek,
It's secret here reposes.
You've got to dig from week to week
To get results or roses.

- Edward Guest (1881-1959)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Morning

I sit looking out the window this morning on a cold Friday. The earlier glories of the sunrise I could see between the rooftops and the tree lines - a deep, almost scarlet red - has been displaced by the more orange-gold glow of the sun. If I angle my head just so, I can see one shaft of twinkling light hit my eye.

The sun has shed its reflective light on the clouds that are overhead. They are wispy white things, small in number with one lower gray twisted cloud that lays across half the sky like a snake. Unlike many of the clouds I've seen in my time here, these clouds do not seem to be in a particular hurry to go anywhere and are contented in hanging in the early morning light, as if to soak up as much heat as they can before they move on their way.

The yard below me is still in the dusky greens and browns of the pre-morning. The oaks have shed most of their leaves and are standing as bare sentinels in the yard over the profuse growth of greenery which magically appeared in the yard after our summer of drought when the rains came. Other than clover and the occasional grass blade, I could not give a name to the profusion of low lying plants in the yard. Both trees and grass seem to be yearning for the sunlight as well as if to prepare themselves for the colder night to come this evening.

Simple things: Light, trees, sky, clouds, plants. But they are here every day, ready for my eye to take note of the beauty that is literally in my own back yard.

The light is brightening now and the colors become more distinct. It is time for me to slip away from this window and backyard to continue its quiet, patient job of simply being.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Night Watch

Winter's midnight watch,
trees dance in leaf-whipped fervor:
cold front blowing in.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Drain

I constantly am surprised (I don't really know why) how much work crowds the rest of my life out.

I make my goals at the beginning of the year, carefully crafting each for a particular aspect of my life. I make my daily task list, so that I can insure that things that are important to me get done on a daily basis. I try to include in my reading something which will inspire me towards greater efforts.

And then work happens.

It surprises me how much work can drain out of your life. By the time I get home, more often than not, I am beaten. The energy which one had hoped to pour into every other aspect of one's life has been routed into work, leaving the pickings for one's spirit to try and motivate.

No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I aspire to do otherwise, this is the way it always seems to be.

Is the problem with my work - that I simply expect too much out of the thing that supports myself and An Teaglach? Or is it that I expect too little out of myself - or too much? Am I fool to set so many aspirations and goals, only to see them constantly crash against the rocks of my employ?

I am confused - how do I correct this imbalance within my life?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Blinding Flash

There comes a tipping point multiple point in our lives.

It's that tipping point when we realize something about ourselves, or remember it. It occurs when we suddenly find or discover something about ourselves - something that comes in the flash of an instant and then just sits there in the light of self discovery.

We have to rediscover it because most of use (okay, let's just say me) consistently have to be awakened from the slumber that we mentally and spiritually put ourselves into. We say we want one thing, but after a while we convince ourselves that we are really content with less than was what we wanted. We can continue like this for a while - sometimes years - but something will happen and that original desire floats to the surface. It's at that moment - the moment of self realization - that we are suddenly confronted by the gap between what we want and what we have settled for.

What do we do with that gap?

Typically one of two things, never correct. The first is that we tend to bury those feelings beneath the casing of duty - which just moves them down the road, where they erupt with greater intensity. The second is that we suddenly "freak out" and immediately follow our desires without thinking. This, too, seldom ends well.

Am I saying do nothing? Not at all - because (as I've learned to my pain) doing nothing makes nothing go away, it just compounds the issue for later. Nor am I saying immediately act on every desire and feeling. That's the act of an adolescent, and most of us seldom have the time or resources to remake a life the way a 17 year old does.

What I am saying is to act - but act with wisdom. It's not denying that those desires do not exist - indeed, unless addressed they will continue to come to the surface and create anxiety and anger in our lives, which is not wise. It's admitting that they exist and then saying "How can I incorporate these in my life in such a way that the disruption is minimized?"

It's the least easy of the three courses of action. But it stands as the only course of action that will produce the results of the desire that we cherish so greatly - and having integrated that one moment of self discovery, we can move on to find others hidden still more deeply.

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Crow and the Cormorant

Once upon a time there was a crow.

The crow was along river one day getting a drink when he noticed a black cormorant floating in the stream. The cormorant would effortlessly glide along, then suddenly dive down and come up with a tasty morsel of some kind, which it extended its beak and long neck to swallow. It would then continue on its effortless glide through the water, until it climbed out of the water to stand on a rock and hold its dark wings out to the side to dry them.

"How beautiful" said the crow. "It's so different from my life. I have to constantly fly around seeking insects and rice grains from the fields, constantly in threat from farmers and cats and bigger birds."

He looked down at himself. "I'm a black bird too!" he suddenly realized. "There's not a reason in the world why I, too, cannot become a cormorant."

So decided, he hopped off his rock perch and jumped into the river, expecting to settle along the top just like the cormorant. Instead, to his surprise, he sank like a rock. He struggled to keep his beak above the water, and barely managed to keep it up as the current of the river washed him ashore none too kindly. He sputtered and shook himself as he crawled back onto the rocks, wet and bedraggled and surely lacking the fish he had seen the cormorant catch and eat with ease. Suddenly he realized that his wet feathers would prevent him from flying if danger approached - and he certainly couldn't swim. He slunk to the edge of the river, hoping the warm sun would quickly dry his feathers.

Crows, he realized, were made to fly high and be clever and dodge farmers and cats and other birds and collect rice and insects - which suddenly sounded like a feast to him. They were never meant to swim.

U no mane suru karasu (The crow imitating the cormorant) - Japanese Proverb

"A crow imitating a cormorant cannot swim, and so will nearly drown. In the same way, every man should be true to his own craft or, in swordsmanship, his own talents and training. Musashi would have us be the cormorant if we are the cormorant, and the crow if we are the crow." - William Scott Wilson, The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi

Friday, January 06, 2012

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Trapped!

Why does business waste so much time in meetings instead of accomplishing?

I have been trapped in more meetings than I care to admit in which the point of the meeting was accomplished (or could have been accomplished) in 10 minutes - but the meeting had to run another 50 because a) the sense is a short meeting is not a successful meetings; and b) meetings are more about individuals being heard and showing themselves as important as it is about actually solving issues.

The reality is that too many work environments, work is seen as something which is as much about catering to the egos of individuals as it is the accomplishing of actually work - and the vehicle for this is the meeting, where individuals get to demonstrate their worth in front of higher ranked individuals by talking about how much they know or "demonstrating" their decision making abilities. The result? More meetings where less and less gets done, where people begin to find reasons not to go because it represents valuable time which is being poured down the drain for the purpose of making people feel important.

Meetings have a place - as long as they have a purpose. And the purpose is not and should never be "To make someone feel important" or "To show we're doing something". Work is for work, not the building up of or catering to egos. And if something needs to be done - do it. Don't have a meeting where no-one is accomplishing anything on the task because we have to talk about the task.

I would love to see meetings start out with following mantras:

1) What decisions are we here to make? Here's the list.
2) We are here to make those decisions. We are not here to make anyone feel important or better about themselves.
3) When we have made these decisions and assigned action items, we will leave.

Will this stop pointless meetings? I'm afraid not - too many people are wedded to the meeting as a way to self-validate their importance and self justify their position. But there is a chance that at least one other person will see what you're trying to do - and be grateful.

Perhaps they'll celebrate by having one less meeting.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Tyranny of the Assigners

I am coming to greatly resent those who Assign.

I don't mind those who are Assigners yet work. They are fellow workers in the trenches, not only setting the policies of the future but willing to work alongside to execute them. They make the decisions -but then crawl down to the ground to make them happen.

No, what I am speaking of this morning are the Assigners who do nothing but assign. Those who create work without any thought as to how it will be executed. Those who create empires only to assign the work to others, while they "oversee" the work, while they "project manage" tasks that they have no idea how to complete themselves.

You can recognize them by their habits: building teams only to assign work, or just being by themselves, always finding ways to assign the critical tasks to others. Not informed of the projects they manage, they constantly seek updates and offer their assistance to "do what it takes" to get the task done - yet too often when assistance or resources are sought, they suddenly find themselves unable to negotiate to get such things.

But they have no problem negotiated the tasks down - indeed, they can often become benign (or not so benign) despots, constantly seeking updates and putting pressure about why things are not accomplished more quickly while scarcely paying attention to the other ongoing tasks which need to be accomplished.

If there is success, too often they take credit; if there is failure, too often they redirect the blame.

In my more idle moments I wonder to what extent resources and time are wasted (yes, I use the term advisedly) on people who make tasks and "assign" things yet don't really do any work - and why so many organizations don't see such things more clearly.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Sleep: An Act of Faith

Sleep is an act of faith.

Oh sure, I know it's a physical necessity and if we don't have it, our functionality drops off dramatically (The Romans supposedly killed the last king of Macedon, Perseus, by denying him sleep for a year). And there have been long scientific discussions about what the real purpose of sleep is, and do we need it, and could we do without (some can: one teacher I had could function well on 3 hours a night).

But sleep is an act of faith as well.

To sleep means that we are letting things out of our grasp. When we sleep, we can actually do nothing at all - except dream, and rebuild our cells. All our plans, our goals, our worries which we work on find our effort on them completely denied as we lapse into unconsciousness.

Some of us (me, for example) fight back by denying ourselves of sleep. We figure out ways to cram more into our days - mostly at the cost of sleep. 8 hours goes to 7, then 6, then we are trying to see how long we can go at 5. The fact that we stumble through the day as zombies and by Thursday are unable to really generate excitement about anything or that we sleep 10 hours a day on the weekends seems to mean nothing.

But in the end, do we accomplish that much?

I'm confronted with this myself. One of my resolutions is to get more sleep. At first I thought this would be an easy exercise: after all, I have no problems sleeping over the weekends. So into bed I go - and wake up. At 12:00, 2:00, 4:15, and 5:10. Each time I have to consciously lay there and decide I will not let my mind get agitated or active, that I will go to sleep, that waking and going will not really solve anything.

By adding sleep, I am surrendering control. I am choosing to act on the premise that sleep in more important than whatever "activity" I would be doing.

And an act of faith? By choosing to sleep, by forcing myself to do so, I am essentially admitting to God that I am finite - and He is not. He can accomplish all that He wants or needs me to do with my sleep or waking. "It is vain" says the Psalmist "That you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to His beloved sleep" (Psalm 127:2).

So tonight will find me like last night, undoubtedly popping awake for what I could being doing - and then, in a supreme act of faith in the providence and omnipotence of God, closing my eyes and going back to sleep.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Goal Setting

Confession: I've never been very good at setting goals.

I'd like to think I'm better. Every year, I start out with the best of intentions: things I think I want (or need) to accomplish, which I interpret as goals. And then, at the end of every year, I tend to look back, wondering which (if any of them) I accomplished and where the year went anyway. So last night, as I sat trying to work over my 2012 goals with varying results - mostly "What am I trying to really accomplish?" - I started going through my collection of books that deal with subject.

Enter Goal Setting 101 by Gary Ryan Blair. It's a short pamphlet really - 40 pages or so - but actually quite as useful as books three times its length. Mr. Blair has a short and succinct definition of a goal, something that works well for my simple way of working. A goal is defined as "An end toward which you direct specific effort" and consists of:

1) An accomplishment to be achieved.
2) A measurable outcome.
3) A specific data and time to accomplish the goal.

That's it. And that's pretty easy.

It took me a bit of time to adjust myself to writing them in the fashion. I'm used to doing them more in the form of what I'd like to do, not as a specific 3 step outcome. But what I found as I continued down this path is that things started to be put in a fashion and sense that I could understand. I not only identified what I wanted to do (I always seemed to do that), but also what that would actually look like (the outcome) and what time frame I wanted to accomplish it in.

I'm starting small this year doing this process (another issue I have, a separate one, is maybe trying to put too many things on my plate). And I've today to work on the ones that were not so easy for me to do last night, the ones that are either more personal or have greater implications.

Still, at least for this moment, I begin the year feeling more confident that I will see some of the results of the end of the year I want to - more confident than I have in years.