28 December 2013

Out with Resolutions and in with Goal Setting

Resolutions – the first of the year is fast approaching and I’m taking a different approach this year. When we start out with a plan, we have to deal with the reality on the ground. I’m disciplined and I know how to design a plan but when it comes to certain areas, like health, I’m great at ignoring the plan.

I’ve made resolutions only to abandon them before we even get into week two of the new beginning. This year, I’m making a complex plan and I’m going to work the plan. I’ve got a burning desire, a plan in hand and an accountability partner. Here’s to new beginnings.


I set a goal in each area where I want to make a change including areas such as health, relationships, finances, etc. There are all kind of formulas that go along with the acronym SMART but I ignore all of that because I use a bit of common sense instead. It has to be something  I can work up to accomplishing considering my own tendencies, quirks and foibles. I set goals that can work for me if I do the work. This year, health is a high priority. I’m a woman of a certain age and I knock on wood that I’ve gotten this far without any health concerns but carrying extra weight puts me at risk.


My goal is sensible and one that I can reach in a year. I’ve given me lots of wiggle room to enjoy the good life but a goal worth striving to reach. I map out the year with sub-goals and check points. I don’t want to measure my success 12 months from now. I may need to tweak the plan along the way and deal with contingencies.

I have a big desk calendar and I’ve written in the special occasions that I know about so that I know where the pitfalls are and I’ll develop strategies along the way to deal with them.

Success for me will be measured by lifestyle change and with that comes weight loss and general overall well being.


I may need a little nutrition information so I’ve made a plan to get that. I’ll shift my daily eating patterns and I’ll read stories about what has worked for others. Education is key in change and I’m good at doing research.

When I reach milestones, I plan to celebrate them. They may not always be at the scale. Maybe it will be a full week of eating breakfast or maybe I’ll celebrate when I’ve exercised for 4 weeks in a row.  Celebrating success is important and being grateful is always beneficial.

Let’s play word association. When I say fitness, you think……gym. I am not a gym person. I am a person who enjoys fitness in disguise. My friend mentioned tobogganing this morning and I got real excited. I love the rush of racing down the hill and the the social aspect and look at that….you get your heart rate racing and the fun produces endorphins – now that’s fitness in my books.


Mind mapping and tracking are two tools that are key to success in any area. I’ll track my eating and my goals and I’ll use creativity with crayons and whatever works to get it down on paper. It’s all about remaining motivated and committed. Get the paper out and make it work for your style.


I need an accountability partner. I also know who it is going to be – she knows that I’m persuasive and she’s not afraid to give me the goods. She can talk me down form that mountain of mint pistachio that I’m about to consume or maybe that I have already consumed.

My partner never tries to make me feel guilty – she knows I want this and I’ve given her permission to speak to me in a way that works for me. She always reminds me that I make the decisions and I have to be able to live with them.

I’m a great planner, list maker and I logically know what I need to do. I’m also very good at telling others what to do. In the past, I’ve not been great at working the plan but this is a new dawn of a new day and I’m getting back on the wagon. Wish me luck.

19 December 2013

What will they think?

Have you ever heard a little voice inside your head say “Who do you think you are?” or better yet “What makes you think anyone would want to listen to what you had to say?” Well I have to say that more than once in my life I have held myself back because I wondered what they would all think.

I have no idea who the “they” are that I might be worried about. There is no group in particular but there is that resistance. I have learned to push through it and take responsibility for what happens. Lately I’ve been listening to people like Seth Godin speaking about waiting for someone’s permission. There really is no need to – we’re at a time where there is room enough for all of us to be creative.

This is what I’ve decided – I’m going to do whatever it is that I plan on doing and I’m going to do the best I can. If my best is not good enough or if I fall flat on my face, I will learn from that. In spite of that I’ll probably try again. I’m no stranger to failure – the only people who are strangers to failure are the people who did not take risk at all.

Who do I think I am? Well, I’m someone who loves to learn and try new things. I like to give the world a piece of my mind lately and I love to have fun. That’s it and in spite of not being anyone famous or special, I’m going to take risk. I’m going to speak at the conference and I’m going to try new things. What about you? Ready to get out there and maybe fall flat on your face. Who cares what they might think?

8 December 2013

5 Steps to Effectively Ask for What you Want

1. Decide what you are asking for. Know what your problem is and ask for a specific thing. Don’t be ambiguous. If your car is broken and you need $300.00 to get it fixed – ask for that amount. If you need to speak to the bank about missing a mortgage payment, ask for that. Don’t pussy foot around.

2. Ask the right person. Don’t get in the habit of assuming that someone will help. Ask the person who not only has the means but who is most likely to help you out. If you think that your brother ought to help you out but he never has been that helpful, don’t put yourself through the grief of asking. Ask a reasonable person who has the means and is likely to say yes to a request. It is also best to ask the person who has he authority to make the decision.

3. Be open to alternative suggestions. There is more than one way to solve a problem. Don’t let stubbornness get in the way of a solution that will work. If you ask a friend to pay for car repairs, he may suggest that you use a friend of his. Maybe a mechanic friend owes him a favour – be open to an alternative solution.

4. Ask again. Maybe the alternative suggestion won’t work. Maybe his buddy can’t fix the car until Wednesday but you have to drive your child to a volleyball tournament on Tuesday. If the original request is the best one, be clear about that. Explain your concern and clearly ask again.

5. Close the deal. It is tough to ask for help but if you are taking this tough step, you need a clear response. Maybe will not get your out of your jam. Don’t ask an open ended question. Be clear in the final closing question. Will you help me out? Yes/No. Get the details of how it will unfold. Will we run to the bank now? Can you write me a check? What time will I drop the car off? Don’t leave these details hanging and do not walk away from the conversation without a clear response. It may be a “big ask” in which case the person may have to consult with another person. In this case, ask to set up a time to meet again for the final approval. Don’t leave the ball in their court.

It can be tough to ask for a favour from someone but if you have found the courage to ask, do it well.

17 February 2013


It has  been an exciting couple of weeks. Entrepreneurs are accustomed to the ups and downs of business. It can be feast or famine – which is why diversifying is often a good thing.  I was asked by a friend in the tax business to teach a couple of classes. As an adult educator, designing productive and interactive programming is exciting regardless of what the topic. I welcomed the opportunity to teach outside of my area of expertise. Taxes are intriguing, thought provoking and intellectually challenging. My kind of topic. I haven’t felt this engaged  with a subject since I was at Law School. I welcomed the chance to learn and grow.

Training went well but little did I know that it was the beginning of a fun time together. After the training was done, he made me an offer that I could not refuse. He wanted to set up shop in a new location and wanted me to help manage the store. I jumped at the opportunity and accepted his offer on the spot. I could see a learning curve on the horizon and I welcomed it.

This past week we opened the TAXMAN’s newest location at 556 Sackville. Yours truly will be found there most days helping people navigate the murky waters of tax preparation.

What I have learned is that it isn’t necessary to have all of the answers to try something new. We just have to have the desire to give it our best and the things we need will show up. I’ve learned amazing lessons even in this short period that will benefit me in my business. Negotiating a lease, hiring contractors and marketing are just a few of the skills I’ve acquired.

I’ve had a great mentor and teacher whose calm support helped me along the way. Next time you’re given a chance to try something new, jump at the chance and you’ll surprise yourself.

23 January 2013

Do Something!! It’s Your Happiness...

Getting stuck is a natural part of life. Getting unstuck can be difficult especially when we don’t know what change might bring. Maintaining the status quo seems to often be a better option than jumping into the unknown. But is living a miserable life a better option? I don’t think so.  Having been on both sides of the fence, I’d choose living to coasting any day.

Tell me more, you say. Well in order for things to be different in your life, you’re going to have to do something different. You can’t do the same old thing and expect a different result. You need a new variable. Some of us are ok with taking major steps but I suggest starting small and building on that success. Once you survive a small change, you may amaze yourself. Control may not be front and centre in your mind – happiness can take priority.

Take Jane for example. Jane was tired of her job and really didn’t enjoy her neighborhood. She sometimes allowed herself to dream but then she worried about where the money would come from, what would her family say and how could she start over. Instead of taking a step toward change,  she did what we all do. She told herself a lie.

“Things aren’t that bad. There are people worse off than I am. Life is hard. I’ve got it pretty good. She may have convinced herself but she did not convince anyone around her. Jane started to wonder why people were avoiding her. No one called her to go out and she would often hear of a get together after it had taken place.

If you asked her friends their side of things, they would tell you that Jane was painful to be around. She was miserable and she was making everyone else miserable. Jane was a wet rag – given an opportunity to rain on someones parade, she would do it. She found it difficult to share in someone else’ joy because she was so miserable herself.

We’ve all been Jane at one time or another. Think about what got you out of the Jane mode?  For me it took shaking things up a bit. It meant kicking myself in the butt and going out on a limb. It meant taking risk.

Going out on a limb can mean different things to different people. For some it may mean joining an organization or moving to a new department at work. For others, it could be quitting your dead end job and moving halfway around the world. Yes, you may upset the apple cart and people around you may not support your change. But once you take charge of your life and start doing more of what you love, you’ll grow.

This advice isn’t for the naysayer who has no desire or courage to change. This note is for you – if you’ve ever looked at your life with boredom or wanted more than what you have. Take the wheel. You don’t get to control the road but you are the driver.  Where are you driving today?