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BossWoman eNews – January 2005
Combining prosperous work lives and balanced personal lives

Welcome to the January 2005 edition of Susan Robison's free e-mail newsletter for women business owners, executives, and professionals.

Our goal is to bring you news, insights, and information about leading a balanced and prosperous life while making a difference. If you are on this list you have been a client, an advocate, or attended a workshop. Pass this newsletter on to others who might be interested. This e-mail list is not sold or exchanged. Details on subscribing (and unsubscribing) are at the end.

In this issue, you'll find:

  1. Your Best Year Ever
  2. BossWoman coaching
  3. Up and coming workshops
1. Your Best Year Ever
This past year I had my best year ever. I learned a lot in the process that I want to pass along to my readers and clients.

Less Is More
In order to build a relationship with our Texas grandson, my husband and I decided to see him about once a month. Between visits with him and his parents and the usual business travel, we were away from Maryland for 13 weeks. I anticipated that my work life would have to take a back seat for awhile to accomplish this important goal. Surprisingly, my income not only did not decrease across the year, but increased instead. There are many contributing factors including the long-term effect of various business strategies but the biggest factor is that bi-locating forced me to focus on only the most essential activities, the ones that directly served my clients. Maybe some of the questions I asked myself to make this best year possible will help you this year:

  • What if you had to miss a quarter of this year, maybe because of an overseas business opportunity or maybe because of a family obligation, what could you pare down to?
  • What are some of the most essential tasks that enable you to serve your clients, customers, or patients? As I reviewed the items in my procrastination piles, not uch is essential. I have eliminated some professional memberships that were no longer relevant to what I am currently doing. My incoming mail shrunk and made up for the slight messiness of the procrastination piles. I took an hour one Saturday to call irrelevant catalog companies to get my name off their lists thus cutting down my mail to more essential items and cutting down the time it takes to sort through the mail.
  • What could you stop doing and still succeed in living your essential purpose?
  • What could you delegate or outsource?
  • How could you use little pockets of time to get things done? When I get on the airplane, I have 3 ¼ hours to get some fun work tasks done. I can read a short book in that time or write a draft of a newsletter. And I nap, powernap actually – never so deep as to wake up groggy, just enough to push the reset button on the brain. Toddler chasing takes energy.
Tally Your Brags and Nags
Are you a list maker? Most successful women love to make lists – well not so much to make the list but to cross the items off the list when they are completed. Are you one of those people who even writes down the things that you did that weren’t on the original list and then cross them off? Your secret is safe with me. That crossing off thing is so addictive, isn’t it? What if you saved the lists? You are thinking, “Susan, there is medicine for that much compulsivity.” But really, saving the lists long enough to categorize the done deeds begins a “brag” list, one that you can look back on at the end of the year to see how the year went. Admit it; By December you are never going to remember what you did in January and that’s a shame because you will miss some of your best accomplishments.

When I was a full time professor, each department compiled annual reports of faculty accomplishments for the Dean at the end of each academic year. I couldn’t remember what I had for breakfast, let alone what I did the past September. I could remember the spectacular highlights if there were any and of course all the low lights. But other than those, each year seemed about the same. I was beginning to ask myself, “Is this all there is?” So I started keeping running lists by setting goals, crossing them off and categorizing them. Not only could I write my part of the report quickly and with details, but I also experienced other benefits.

  • Nag list. Items not crossed off became my “nags” and them I asked myself which ones really mattered and which ones needed help to complete. A lot more important stuff got done and the unimportant got dropped.
  • Memory improvement. The brags could be reviewed quickly at a glance in a weekly, monthly, or quarterly time frame. These data allow you do trend analysis on seasonal demands, work habits, and values. It is easier to write and review a mission statement when you can do an instant look back to what you do well. The review also helps integrate memories so you develop a more comprehensive view of your year.
  • Emerging themes. Leadership research from the Gallup organization has shown that the ability to play to your strengths is an essential leadership quality. The brags tell you the strengths to develop and the nags tell you what you need to delegate, ignore, or outsource. No one is good at every task but someone could do your weaker tasks for pay or for trade so that you can concentrate on your strengths. This is true at home and at work.
  • Use a simple word processing table as a tracking device with the projects labeling the rows and time units such as weeks labeling the columns. Type in the subgoals in the cells and highlight when they are done. Strip off each column as the week past highlighting the brags and cut/paste the nags one cell over. The stripped off column can be archived so you can do a quick annual or quarterly review. Add a new column to the back end of the table.
  • It is important to milk the lessons of the past year. Most people set New Year’s goals in motion before they do a review of the past year. You can also use a “rolling year” as your time unit. For example, if you work in an academic setting, you could use September to September as your year. You could also do a quarterly annual review asking, “How did I do since last April (July, October, January)?”
  • Reviewing your accomplishments at the end of the year gives you a great feeling and motivates you on the bad days filled with interruptions and temptations. It doesn’t seem like you are accomplishing much from day to day, but at the end of the year, you will be amazed. Many action oriented leaders are on to the next task or deadline and fail to enjoy and celebrate accomplishments. One of the findings of the positive psychology research is that happy people savor their good experiences. What nice thing has happened in the last few days that you need to pause and celebrate?
Group Your Goals with Your Roles
Goals are not just about work tasks and losing weight. They should encompass your other roles as well. For example, what kind of wife are you? Would you want to be married to you? What role is most important to you this year? While the grandmother role was most important for me this past year, I continued setting goals in my other roles as well. I taught a graduate course in leadership, took three continuing education courses, did a lot of presentations, traveled with my husband, danced weekly, and quilted a little. It is easier to spread your energy around to your other roles when you know where it is centered.

If you had to list your current roles, what is needed in each for the coming year?

  • Professional
  • Spouse
  • Parent
  • Daughter
  • Community
  • Hobbyist
  • Spiritual person
  • Athlete
  • Other
Dream Big; Think Small
Dream big about what you would love to see happen but know that you can only set goals on items you can control. For example, a dream might be to grow your business but a goal would be to send out a targeted mailing. That tangible goal is something you can do in steps like writing content, hiring a graphic designer for artwork, buying a mailing list, etc. At the end of a year you can evaluate whether your goal led to your dream being realized.

A year is a long time especially in times of uncertainty. So think in more manageable units of time. Maybe this is the year to make quarterly or monthly goals. Keep track of the monthly goals and you will have 12 accomplishments at the end of the year, even though you didn’t start out with all those dreams. Maybe this year you have a watershed experience coming such as the birth of a baby or a graduation or a move and can’t predict what life will be like once the water cascades down the other side of the big change. So this year set goals prior to the watershed and then set new goals after the watershed.

Think of smaller subgoals. This is especially helpful when those “nags’ carry over from list to lists. Presuming they are things you really want to do, break them down into 15 minute subgoals and whittle them down. The time management experts refer to this trick as “eating the elephant, bite by bite.” (Why those experts use that analogy is a mystery to me.)

Have Yearly Theme
A great book to set your best year into motion is “Your Best Year Yet” by Jinny Ditzler. One of her many helpful suggestions is to have a theme for the year. After you decide what role you are emphasizing, and what goals are most important, create a theme that serves as an instant reminder that coalesces your energy into a bumper sticker reminder. Instead of the Chinese years like the “Year of the Dragon,” you might have the “Year of Earning What I am Worth.” Last year for my husband and me was “The Year of the Grandson.” This year it is the “Year of the House.” After being away so much we need to clean, purge, and freshen. We have been neglecting this house too long. It looks like the “before” picture in one of those house extreme makeover shows. While some young couples buy a “fixer-upper” and turn it into their dream house, we bought a brand new house and turned it into a fixer-upper.

Your Best Year
Even a year with some bad luck and misfortune can be a good year if you are proactive about how you want to handle all that happens. Our grandson was born 30 days after my father died. It was as Charles Dickens wrote, “the best of times, the worst of times.” Deep loss and grieving were mixed with incredible joy.

Last March, the anniversary month of my father’s passing, I was playing with my 11 month old grandson. We were sitting on the floor rolling a ball back and forth. Since it doesn’t take much concentration to roll a ball to a baby, my mind was drifting, thinking of my Dad and how much I missed him. Mark suddenly put down the ball, crawled over to my lap, pulled himself up until he could stand tall with his arms around me and buried his face into my neck. He said, “Lovey, lovey.” It’s easy to see why I call this past year my best year ever. What can you do to make this your best year ever?

Have a great year, whatever it brings.

Susan Robison

Jinny S. Ditzler. (1994). Your Best Year Yet: A proven method for making the next twelve months the most successful ever. New York: Time Warner.

Marcus Buckingham & Clifton, Don. (2001). Now Discover Your Strengths. N.Y.: The Free Press.

2. BossWoman coaching
About the publisher: Susan Robison, Ph.D. is a professional coach, speaker, author and seminar leader. She loves to coach women who want improvement in:

  • work-life balance,
  • career transitions,
  • building your business or practice,
  • time management,
  • increasing productivity.
If you are feeling stuck on the way to your ideal life, give Susan a call for a complementary half-hour coaching session.

She provides keynotes and seminars to business and organizations on the topics of:

  • leadership strategies for women,
  • relationships,
  • work-life balance,
  • change.
She offers her audiences a follow-up coaching session because she knows that workshops don’t work.

Contact Susan for your coaching, speaking, or seminar needs at Susan@BossWoman.org or at 410-465-5892.
3. Up and coming workshops
Leadership and Management in Non-profits for the master’s program at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. February – May 2005

Topic: Happiness Is An Inside Job:
Creating Lives of Joy, Hope and Grace.
Date: February 25, 2005 6:00 dinner, 7:15 Presentation
Place: St. Joseph Parish, Sykesville, MD
Contact: Andrea Springer, 410-552-5402 or 410-795-7838.

Topic: Permanent Whitewater:
Dealing with Change and Transitions
Date: March 29, 2005, Part of an all day conference for women in federal government

Topic: Working Successfully with Couple Clients:
Staying Sane in Insane Places.
Date: May 12, 2005 Part of an all day conference for financial planners.

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BossWoman e-Newsletter is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Coaching should not be construed as a form of, or substitute for, counseling, psychotherapy, legal, or financial services.

© Copyright 2005 Susan Robison. All rights reserved. The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site without the publisher’s permission.

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