What if it Were Up to You?

My dad was a wise man. Of the many gems he shared over my lifetime, one remains with me clearer than all others. He said, “Your job is not to change the world, only the piece of it you touch.”

That line has been remarkably helpful as I am aware of the extreme number of things in our lives that need attention. Global warming, country unity, personal respect and acceptance, resilience in tough times, racial inequality, political division – the list is overwhelming.

With an agenda this great, it is easy to inspire feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, leading you to throw your hands up in the air and say, “Why bother?” At least until you remember my father’s guidance.

His statement is as much a statement of purpose as it is mindfulness. It is our job to pay attention on purpose, noticing where we are at this moment, and asking the question, “What could I do to make this (whatever is right in front of me) better?” Not the whole world, but just this piece, right here, right now.

Supporting my dad’s perspective is the wisdom of the Chinese Confucian philosopher, Mencius. He shared that we would like the world to be stable and predictable. That good things happen to good people. But in fact, the world is actually more unstable and capricious. Tough things happen. Bad things happen to good people. We can be disappointed by this, or we can realize that in the presence of tough times, there is the opportunity for us to improve what is right in front of us – to continually make things better. Not that we each have to be responsible for making everything better, but rather just the things that cross our paths. And these improvements can activate the performance and commitment of others.

So, improving the world (because there is always something needing improving) is not up to you. However, improving your piece of this world (your relationships with people who don’t agree with you, your use of power and natural resources, your acknowledgement of others’ greatness, your appreciation for others’ diversity) is up to you and can make a profound difference. The goal is not to be discouraged by the lack of large progress, but to focus on consistent, local, small progress. That is yours to see, own and do.

We have a lifetime to stop and notice the things around us and make a commitment to improve them. And, as the flame of one candle can light thousands of other candles, your work to make things better in the piece of the world you touch can activate the same spirit to make the larger and necessary global changes.

Take Action
See the value in doing your part. What can you do today, right now to make the piece of the world you touch better? How will you not look at the massive scope of our challenges and problems and get discouraged?

Stop and notice the areas that you can influence today. Start here. Make a commitment to stop and notice yourself and your world, and continually ask, “What could I do to make this better?” Then go do it.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading How to Make the Most of Tough Situations

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60-Day Review – How is 2020 Working Out For You?

The best way to make things happen is to clearly define them and ensure you constantly track them.

As we approach the first 60 days of a new year, challenge yourself to stop and notice how things are going. Ask yourself:

  • Did you clearly define what you want to do, achieve or be in 2020?
  • What’s working in your actions to achieve what you want for 2020?
  • What’s not working in your actions to achieve what you want for 2020?

Each month can serve as a great review point to help you assess your progress. When things seem to be going well, take the time to applaud yourself for your successes. When things feel stuck or not moving as fast as you’d like, take the time to make any realignments or changes necessary to achieve your goals.

Let’s look at an example to see how you can apply this to your specific goals and actions.

Let’s say that your focus for the first 60 days of 2020 was to listen more effectively to your employees.  Your specific goal was to look at the people you work with when they talk to you to get better at comprehending the information they are sharing while also improving your connection with them. You want to increase your attention by looking at them instead of trying to do several things at once. Good goal.

60 days into this goal, how are you doing?

Before you can confidently state that you’re doing well or not, create a list of what’s working and what’s not working.

Review what is working in the way you are listening. List the changes or improvements you are making and the impact on your communication with others. Why are they working? How will you keep these going?

Then, review what is not working in the way you are listening. Select something from this list and brainstorm ways to improve it. You may consider leaving a note on your computer that reminds you to stop working and look at your employee. You may consider sharing with employees that you want them to remind you when they see you are not present and listening. You may consider making it a requirement to repeat back or paraphrase what employees say to you as means to force yourself to pay closer attention. From this list of options, select one, build a plan and go implement it.

Then use the next month end (or sooner if your goal is more urgent) to review your progress.

Use this approach to check-in on yourself for any goal you identify. If you decided it was important enough to create a goal in 2020, it is important enough to create a review process to assess your progress.

Most of the time, we miss our goals is because our old habits take over. Interrupt your habits by creating a stronger and shorter review process so you are clearer about your progress and faster in your review to be able to do more of what is working or to realign if necessary.

Take Action
Create a goal follow-up process to be sure you are making progress. Celebrate successes. Brainstorm new approaches to missed goals. Know your progress and you will rock your goals in 2020, whether personal or professional.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading You Can’t Improve on Something You Don’t Measure

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Try This Instead

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

You make a commitment to get to the gym early each morning, but in the last two weeks, you only made it there twice.

You make a commitment to do a better job with your spending habits, but in the last week, you impulse bought four items that will take a few months to pay off.

You make a commitment to lose 20 pounds before an upcoming trip, but it’s now a week away and you haven’t lost any weight.

For some, these examples may raise questions of commitment. For others, it makes you wonder if the goals were too large or unrealistic for a specific time frame.

When your goals are well-intended but your achievement plan is unreasonable, you increase the likelihood of failure. And, for many, once you hit the failure wall, then the goal gets abandoned. Over my career, I’ve heard a number of people say, “be stubborn about your goals, but be flexible about your methods.” That applies here.

To set yourself up for success, consider the phrase, try this instead. As you look at your goal, break it into smaller parts. This helps you make incremental, but consistent, movement toward your goal, helping you achieve it.

When you feel yourself wandering away from a meaningful goal, ask yourself: what is something smaller I could do instead?

When you feel like your energy for the goal is waning, ask yourself: what is something I can do instead to get me energized and back on track?

When you feel like your progress isn’t in line with the effort, ask yourself: what should I try instead so I get the results I want?

Setting goals in both work and life is important, but be sure they are realistic. Then, constantly assess the effectiveness of your approach as you work on achieving your goal. If you find yourself missing your goal or getting disappointed, down or disengaged, progress will stop. When this happens, recalibrate your approach by asking yourself, what can I try instead? Smaller, more reasonable steps may be just what is needed to keep you moving forward to achieve your important goals.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What goals do you have that need rethinking or recalibrating?
  2. What areas do you aim to overachieve in yet actually find yourself underachieving?
  3. Think about a goal that never seems to be achieved. What could you do instead – as a new approach – that will help move you forward?

Coaching is another way to help you stay on top of your goals. Coaches provide guidance, support and accountability, all things that can help you define your goals and stay on track to achieve them.

Talk to a certified professional coach to help you build goals and plans that are achievable.


Consider reading Create a Personal Report Card.

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Create A Personal Report Card

By Jay Forte

So many people have good intentions to make a change in their lives. They think about it. They talk about it. They actually start to do something and then, for many, it falls apart. Why does this happen?

  1. They lack goal clarity. Basically, they aren’t really sure what they want to achieve. A clear goal is required to know which direction is forward, sideways and backward. Clarity is key.
  2. They lack an accountability partner. Sometimes, you need someone to lean on or to help you stay committed to your commitments and goals. This is why many people look to gym buddies at the start of a new workout plan. Whether it’s a workplace coach, a friend or a family member, consider sharing your goal and ask them to help keep you committed to your achievement plan.
  3. They don’t measure or keep track of goals and progress. How will you know what progress you are making if you use generic and non-measurable terms like “do better,” “improve,” “work harder” or provide no metrics or measurements at all? Measurement is critical to the achievement of all goals. It allows you to assess whether your progress is at, ahead or behind expectation.

Before you start to move forward on making any change in your life, think about creating a personal report card to keep you moving forward on your goals.

A personal report card could include a spreadsheet of goals and your current progress or performance on each, tracked on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule. For example, you may have a goal of meditating and taking time to do some self-discovery work every day, so your goal is 30 days for the month. Seeing that you completed this 12 times in the month creates a review point for you. If you only did it 12 times, how important was the goal to you? If it was important, what stopped you from meeting your goal of 30 days?

Regularly comparing your progress against a goal provides information about what’s working and what’s not, giving you information from which to make wiser and better next decisions – to do more of what’s working and to improve on what’s not working.

When it comes to goals, measurements matter.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. How can you create clear and measurable goals?
  2. What method will work best for you to measure your progress on your goals?
  3. What is one thing you can do right now to make progress on your goals?

As poet Mary Oliver asks in her poem, The Summer Day, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” How can creating clear and measurable goals help you have that “wild and precious life?”

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