Archives For Goals

With the New Year here, many are setting out to change their lives. As ubiquitous as New Years resolutions are, they almost universally fail.

There are at least three approaches to New Year’s Resolutions. Some better than others depending on what you hope to accomplish.

The Goal

Most people confuse a goal with an intention. For instance “I’d like to lose weight” is an intention. “I will loose 10 pounds by eating 2 healthy meals a day for the next 60 days” is a goal. Use the tried and true framework “SMART” to help you articulate a goal you can succeed at:







Unlike a goal, a habit is a change of lifestyle. Examples of habits include “exercise daily” and “never check email before 9am.” The best way to learn a new habit it to subvert an existing one.

In The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg, talks about how he broke his mid-morning cookie habit. He realized that what he enjoyed was not the chewy chocolate chips, but the opportunity to move around and socialize. He replaced his cookie break with a short time to walk around the office and socialize. The cookie was hardly missed, and he even lost a little weight.


We all have abilities we’d like to attain, like speaking a foreign language, learning to paint or write code. While mastering a skill may take 10,000 hours, basic competence can be achieved in only 20 hours.

According to Josh Kaufman,

[Rapid skill acquisition is] a way of breaking down the skill you’re trying to acquire into the smallest possible parts, identifying which of those parts are most important, then deliberately practicing those elements first.

The amount of time it will take you to acquire a new skill is mostly a matter of how much concentrated time you’re willing to invest in deliberate practice and smart experimentation and how good you need to become to perform at the level you desire.

Kaufman’s 10 Principles of Rapid Skill Acquisition are:

  1. Choose a lovable project.
  2. Focus energy on one skill at a time.
  3. Define your target performance level.
  4. Deconstruct the skill into sub-skills.
  5. Obtain critical tools.
  6. Eliminate barriers to practice.
  7. Make dedicated time for practice.
  8. Create fast feedback loops.
  9. Practice by the clock in short bursts.
  10. Emphasize quantity and speed.

How do you want to change in 2014?

Dreams can be daunting. They seem so far off, or even unachievable. When I compare my life today to the ideal I wish I was experiencing, it’s easy to get depressed.

Plans, on the other hand, are actionable, achievable and exciting. We know how they will be executed, how many steps are required and when it will all take place.

The difference between a dream and a plan is knowing what to do next.

The good news is, all you need is to turn your dreams into plans is a Time Traveling Staircase. You don’t need a flux capacitor or a DeLorean, just a good notebook, a quiet place and some time to think. Construct your Time Traveling Staircase with these three steps.

1. Articulate the dream.

Continue Reading…

How To Go to Sleep at Night

Chris —  February 28, 2013

When I set my goals for 2013, I made “Become a Morning Person” a top priority.  Let me be clear: I am, and have always been a night owl. I love the long conversations in the dark and the quiet loneliness that gives me space to do the silly things I’d never do in the sunlight.  However, to reach my other goals of 2013, like finishing the MAGL and improving this blog, it was going to take a new level of discipline.  After a few early mornings where no amount of expresso seemed to be doing the trick, it became clear that I was going to have to sacrifice a few things.

Man Waking to Alarm Clock

For the time being, I’m trying to say goodbye to hours of surfing the internet after sunset.  I’ve stopped sticking around to close down parties that have already been stale for a few hours.  But that’s easy part.  Actually going to sleep is the hard part.  Here’s seven tips I’ve picked up that have helped me get a good night’s rest.

  1. Go to bed tired.
    There’s no better feeling than a good night sleep a hard day’s work. But that’s hard to get if you’re a 21st century knowledge worker.  Part of the reason I have trouble sleeping at night is that my body isn’t always tired.  So, during the day, do whatever it takes to get out, and wear your muscles out.  You’ll feel better the rest of the day, and sleep better at night.
  2. Make a list.
    Ever lay in bed worrying about what you have to do the next day?  Just as you start to drift off, the next thing, floats into your head.  Part of the reason is that we have so much going on that we can’t keep track of it all.  So, to get this under control, take a few minutes to create a list.  Take a glance at it before you call it a night, and congratulate yourself for all the things you accomplished.
  3. Clean your room.
    The world around you shapes what’s inside you.  Take a moment to pick up your socks off the floor and make your bed.  When the end of the day comes around, you’ll lay down in a peaceful setting.
  4. Hide your electronics.
    Our gadgets are addicting.  I will surf for hours and not even realize I’m doing it.  Just having the gadgets in my room will make me want to use them.  Put your laptop and iPad in places you can’t see.  If you don’t (yet) have the discipline to stay away from them, leave them in another room when you call it a night.
  5. Create a peaceful setting.
    If you live in a city, or share your space with family or roommates, chances are, they’ll be making noise that will distract you from drifting off.  To cover the noise up, I use Songza, because of it’s sleeping playlists and sleep timer. If you share your bedroom, you might consider purchasing some sleep phones to keep from distracting others.
  6. Relax your body.
    Unless you’re naturally laid back or some kind of yogi, you probably are storing stress and tension in your muscles.  When you lay down, you have trouble staying still, breathing and relaxing.  Invest some time and money in learning muscle relaxation and breathing techniques.  It’s amazing how quickly you will feel better.  Despite it’s cheesy name, I’ve found Christian Relaxation tapes to be a great way to calm down and reflect on scripture.
  7. Pray.
    So much about going to sleep at night means being at peace.  To the extent you can, this includes being at peace with God.  The prayer of Examen is one of Ignatius’s, whereby you review your day and present it to God.  If you’ve never done the Examen, this audio file will walk you through it.  You’ll learn a lot about prayer and feel more at peace with God and the world.


No Goals in 2011?

Chris —  January 4, 2011

I was kind of thrown for a loop when I saw this video in on Michael Hyatt’s blog.  But it really makes sense.

I had big ideas for 2010.  Some of them panned out.  Some didn’t.  I’m not sure if talking about it here helped or hurt.

Instead, my hope is that 2011 will be less about doing things, and more about becoming a type of person.  That means more focus on developing practices, and less on accomplishing things.

The question for 2011 is “What kind of person do you want to be?”  I’ll share my dreams soon.  What are yours?

At the beginning of each month I’m sharing about some plans I’ve made, with the hope it will hold me accountable.  What are your plans this year?

1.  Read the whole Bible. Progress was slow this past month.  I’ve got a lot of catch up to do.

2.  Run a full marathon. Still need create new fitness goals.  I’m struggling to find motivation post-marathon.

3.  Climb a 14,000′ Mountain. Although I hate to give up on any of my plans this year, I don’t see this as a financial possibility in 2010. :(

4.  Visit somewhere I’ve never been. See numero 3.

5.  Find a full-time job. Got an interview coming up!

6.  Take at least one graduate course. This is looking more and more likely.

7.  Read 40 books. I’m somewhere in the 20s now.  Right on track.

8.  Volunteer at least 1 time a month. I volunteered a lot for my church community this past month.  Good times.

9.  Pay off all debt, except school loans. I’m pretty sure I can do this by the end of the month.

10. Share my faith regularly. Slowly having more and more opportunities for this.  A key I’m learning is to be unbelievably counter-cultural.

11. Begin leading and/or hosting a regular gathering for skeptics and Christians to study the Bible. It takes a long time to build the relationships necessary for this one.  I need to pray more regularly for it.

12. Write daily, including journaling, blogging and working on a book. Slacked off a bit this month, however I did revisit a book proposal I’ve been working on.