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Posts from the ‘Social Media’ Category

The Power of Three (3)

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If you’re like me, you set aside time at the end of last year to review your 2015 goals and set new ones. It’s now February, and you’re either moving closer to your goals or you’re discouraged and wondering: What am I doing wrong?

I understand, because I used to find it hard to achieve my goals. That’s until I stumbled across a strategy that transformed the way I think about my life—and work. I call it the “Power of Three.”

It all began when I started looking for a new day planner. My old one was okay, but I didn’t use it consistently. I wanted one that would not only keep me on track, but also be fun to use.

That’s when I ran across Donald Miller’s Storyline Productivity Schedule (a free, downloadable PDF). Like me, Miller struggled with procrastination and focus and had difficulty sustaining mental energy.

“I went from writing a book in six months, to writing a book in a year and then it began to take two years then three years and so on. I thought for a long time the problem was me, in my inability to write. But in researching writers block and procrastination, I realized the problem was in how I was structuring my day.”

– Donald Miller, NY Times bestselling author and founder of Storyline

After he had created the productivity schedule, he finished his next book in four months. Yeah, that got my attention, too.

I downloaded the schedule and used it for 30 days. In the process I realized what I’d been doing wrong. I’d been making “to do” lists with more tasks than I could possibly accomplish in 24 hours. This new schedule allowed for just three goals a day, with a separate “to do” list. The goals were my biggies—working on my book, blogging, daily social media posts—non-negotiables. My “to do” list consisted of just, well, things I needed to get done if I had the time after my top three.

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This new method was revolutionary. After three days of focusing on just three goals, I was working in a new way. I was happier, more rested, and more productive. I quickly came to believe that setting just three goals a day was the key to a more productive life.

Action Point #1: Write down your goals

Platform author Michael Hyatt says, “A goal without a deadline is little more than a dream.” He also say the reason so many people fail to reach their goals is because they fail to write them down.

If you haven’t already written down your top three goals for 2016, take time to do so. If you’ve already written down your goals, take a moment to review them. Are you making progress? What’s working? What could you do differently?

A written plan is essential. But you also need to be specific.

Action Point #2: Be specific

Instead of setting a vague goal like “finish my memoir” why not say “work three hours a day on my memoir or write 1,000 words a day?” Specific objectives are measurable, so there’s a greater probability you’ll actually finish what you set out to do.

Action Point #3: Set a deadline

Lastly, make sure you set a deadline. Without an endpoint, there’s less likelihood you’ll accomplish your goal.

I know I work more efficiently when I have a self-imposed deadline. Whether it’s a smaller period of time like “walk 20 minutes each day” or a larger time frame like “run a 5K by May 1,” having a deadline minimizes procrastination and keeps me on task.

Keep track of how much time you spend on your goals each day. That way, even if you don’t meet your daily goal, you’ll know you made progress. And that counts for something.

What tools have you discovered to increase your productivity? Please feel free to share in the comment section, below.

Author’s Note: A big thank you to Michael Hyatt and Don Miller for introducing me to these tools and inspiring this post. 

Defying Small: A Manifesto

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I have spent the past two months writing, editing and designing my Defying Small manifesto, a free, easy-to-read, 22-page, downloadable e-book. In it, I share ideas about how to defy small, embrace small, and begin living your biggest, most passionate life.

I hope you will:

– read it (click here)

– share your thoughts below

– share it with anyone you think might enjoy it

– share it on Facebook and Twitter (using the hashtags #defyingsmall    #defyingsmallmanifesto)

– consider exploring the principles of Defying Small in your daily life.

I hope Defying Small encourages you to take that first (or next) step. I enjoyed writing it and am excited about sharing it with you.

After you read it, please let me know what you think. I’d also appreciate hearing your stories of how you are Defying Small. To those have already done so, thank you! If you haven’t and you want to get in touch, my email is defyingsmall@gmail.com.

I am now getting back to work on my book Defying Small, Embracing Small: How to Live Your Biggest, Most Passionate Life. If you’d like updates about my book, as well as inspiring articles, blog posts, and quotes, please join me at Defying Small (Facebook) and Twitter (@defyingsmall).

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Presents? Or Presence?

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The Whitfields: Jimmy, Annie Laura, Horace, Laura, Lawrence

School is out, my girls are home, things have slowed down a bit, and my thoughts have turned to presence. That’s right. Presence, not presents. While everyone else is rushing from one thing to the next, I’m thinking about the importance of being present. Here. Now. I know, the holidays are upon us with all of their crazy scurrying about. But, perhaps, that is when we need to be present most of all.

I got an email on Friday that kicked me in the solar plexus. No need to elaborate, but it could have ruined my day. I was about to begin Morning Meeting with my kindergarteners and wondered just how I could do that with composure. I took a deep breath, lifted a Help! prayer (Anne Lamott-style), sat down in my teacher’s chair and began.

First, I took a moment to look at the faces staring back at me. I pondered what I loved about each face, each personality. I drank in the fact that they were sitting there, literally looking up to me, waiting for me to reveal some new truth or teach them some new thing. My thoughts drifted for a moment back to the email. “Be present,” I told myself. “Don’t go there.”

santa3And, so, I did. Stay present, that is.* And I began to read Santa’s Favorite Story. It’s the book I read at the birthday parties for Jesus we held in our home each December when my girls were young. The story goes like this: Some animals find Santa sleeping in the forest on Christmas Eve and are worried that there isn’t going to be any Christmas. Santa tells the animals that Christmas doesn’t have anything to do with him, and he tells them the story of the first Christmas. He finishes by saying, “It’s my favorite story because it reminds me why we are so happy at this time of year. Love was the gift God gave to us on the first Christmas, and it still is, you know. And this love is far better than any presents I can deliver.”

There’s a lesson or two (or three) here, people.

One: Being present means taking care of yourself. The Big Guy is taking a nap on Christmas Eve. It’s his busiest day of the year and he’s practicing radical self care. Whoa. When you’re overwhelmed, stop and listen to what your heart (and body) are telling you. Then do at least one thing to take care of yourself. It’s amazing how it will energize you for the tasks ahead.

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Our Christmas tree

Two: Being present means focusing on the people around you. As many of you know who follow me on Facebook and Twitter, I’m addicted to social media. I could spend hours tweeting and posting and forgetting about everything and everyone around me. But my three beautiful daughters are here for a brief visit this week and I’m aware that our time together is precious. So I close my computer, turn off the ringer on my phone, and sit down with them to watch “Elf.” In minutes, we are laughing and quoting lines and being present with each other. I look at them sitting on the sofa, heads in laps, all beauty and light, and I fall in love with them all over again. So love the one(s) you’re with. Which brings me to my third, and last, point.

jan48xmas_largeThree: Being present means opening your heart to loving and being loved. I know, we’re all in pain. Someone we love is sick or dying. We’ve been wounded by our parents or our spouse. Our children are ungrateful. We’re out of money, time and patience. We’re a mess, we’re feeling vulnerable, and to heck with everybody. “I’m not going to let one more person in just to let them hurt me,” we mutter to ourselves. And right there is the very reason we should. We need love and we need to practice love. It’s what we were created to do.

Oh, yeah. That photo at the top? That’s a picture of my family taken at Christmas when I was about three. Of the five of us, only my brother, Horace (left) and I are left. I miss Mama and Daddy and Lawrence, especially at Christmas. But missing them reminds me of who I do have in my life and how rich it is and how blessed I am. And that is being present. And it’s the best gift ever.

*  It turned out to be a great day.

Are you part of the 10 percent?

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We all know about the 47 percent. But do you know about the 10 percent? According to a 2012 study, only 10 percent of people look forward to going to work everyday.

That doesn’t really surprise me. When I ask people what they do for a living, the majority of them say, “It’s a job. I’m thankful to be employed.” or “I hate my job, but it’s a living.” Very few say, “I love my job. I’m really passionate about what I do.”

poke-e1299671325504-150x92-1What’s that about? It’s about poking the box. Pushing your limits and doing the thing you’re most passionate about. Social media guru Seth Godin, in his book by that title, describes it like this: “Poking the box demands that you stop waiting for a road map and start drawing one instead.”

I’ve been poking the box all my life. And this is what I’ve learned: You have to do what you love to know if you love doing it. I’ve known since I was 10 that I wanted to be a writer. But I didn’t know if I loved writing until I started writing.

I was the assistant to the president of an ad agency when I realized I wanted to be a copywriter. I approached him directly and was told, “You’re great at what you do. I want you to stay where you are.” (Not exactly in those words, but you get the idea.) So I networked with the VPs and tried to get my foot in the door that way. No go. That’s when I knew I had to poke the box and break out on my own.

Picture 6I’ll never forget my first freelance job. I got a call from a client asking me what I would charge for writing a simple brochure. I’d never written a word of copy in my life. But I had read every Communication Arts I could get my hands on. I’d hung out with the copywriters at work and watched them produce award-winning ads. I knew I could do this. So I gave him an estimate and I wrote that brochure. That was the beginning of a freelance copywriting career that lasted eight years.

I didn’t know how to tweet, but I’ve been tweeting (and loving it) for the past two years. I’d never been a teacher, but I’ve been teaching now for thirteen years. I’d never been a mom, but I’ve raised three daughters to adulthood.

You learn by doing.

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What’s your passion? Are you pursuing it today?

If the answer is no, then why not?

Working a full-time job is not an excuse. In fact, I’ve learned that if I pursue my passions while working, even in a job I don’t really love, then I’m happier and actually enjoy that job more. Simply because I’m doing something I love.

screen-shot-2013-01-14-at-8-59-57-amAnd as you do the thing you love, you gain knowledge and expertise that may someday launch you into a new career, either as an entrepreneur or working for someone else.

Are you part of the 10 percent?

I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below or email me at defyingsmall@gmail.com.

The Power of Connecting

To my readers: I recently wrote this guest blog post for Jacqueline Boone at 6 Months to Live http://6monthstolive.me. Jacqueline is a connector and an adventuress who lives each day defying small! Enjoy. Laura

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Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. ~ Brene Brown

A lot has been written about the power of connecting. And if you move in the world of social media, like I do, you begin to believe that connecting means this: more Facebook followers, more blog hits, more retweets.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

You see, connecting isn’t just about numbers. It’s about joining with others to accomplish something you’re unable to accomplish alone.

2a3f6f0385a5e16ca220c33ae84d91cbConnecting sharpens us. I’ve been writing professionally for twenty-seven years, but I’ve only been tweeting for three (you can read my life-changing Twitter story here). Over the past few years I’ve learned a lot about blogging. But I still have to seek out marketing experts to help me with SEO, RSS, and HTML. By connecting, I can be even better at what I do best.

Connecting inspires us. What I love most about connecting is seeing other people embrace their gifts and passions and live their biggest lives. When I connect, I not only have allies helping me reach my goals, but I have the joy of helping them, too. People like Jacqueline, alias “Cheerleader of the World,” who is also writing a book this summer. And Torre deRoche and Evan Sanders, who just launched theirs.

The beauty of connecting is that every connection is as unique as the two people themselves. Sometimes connecting is just a brief interlude. At other times it is a life-altering catalyst that sets you on a path of change and growth.

Connecting transforms us. One great example is this blog post. I recently took an online blogging class through Skillshare called “Build Your Blog’s Unique Brand & Audience.” Jacqueline was my teacher.

Not only did I learn how to make my blog more appealing, I also met a kindred spirit and made a new friend.

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Carl Jung said, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” I’ll never forget something Jacqueline said to me the first time we spoke on the phone. After a few minutes of chatting she laughed and said, “You’re a connector!” I already knew that about myself. But being recognized as a connector? That was life-changing.

It was that connection (and a series of others) that birthed the idea for Defying Small, an online community I founded of visionaries who want to live bigger, more passionate lives.

Connecting requires vulnerability. I love connecting because I am an off-the-charts relational being. I am also an introvert. I need time alone to think, work, and refuel. Connecting requires stepping out of my own world and into another’s. It means self-disclosure and vulnerability (risk). If we’re going to connect with others in a deep and genuine way, we must be vulnerable. And that means being our true, authentic selves.

Daring Great author Brene Brown has researched and written extensively about vulnerability and the profound impact of connection. Here’s a TED Talk she gave on the subject:

“They had connection as a result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be, in order to be who they were.”

How are you connecting with others? How has connecting changed your life? I’d love to hear your stories. Please leave a comment below.

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