• Highly visual and easy to understand.
• Uses simple templates, so you can create a highly personalized improvement plan.
• Provides a logical road map for achieving goals.
• Goals can modified as your needs change.
• Encourages you to immediately begin applying key concepts in each chapter.
• Shows shortcuts for achieving goals to save time.
• Helps to more effectively resolve personal conflicts.
• Helps balance goals to avoid becoming stressed and frustrated.
• Provides a useful framework from which to organize your life's activities.
• Enables you to lead a more satisfying and successful life.
In summary, as you read this book, you will have a much clearer idea of which personal goals are important for improving your life. The 10-Step GAP process will also help you make sense of the complexity that surrounds your life. Complexity tends to inhibit personal success by distracting people from identifying and achieving the things important to them. You also learn how to create realistic plans for achieving important goals. Don't be surprised if, at the end of the book, your final goals are different from the ones earlier ones. This approach for achieving personal goals will help you lead a more productive life. This is what successful people do differently!
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Read an Excerpt
Doing What WorksWhat Successful People Do Differently
By James William Martin
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 James William Martin
All right reserved.
Chapter OneKnowing your goals is the first step
Step 1: Identifying your personal goals
Without some goals and some efforts to reach it, no man can live. —John Dewey
To meet our needs, we need to achieve goals. Although each of us may have different goals, there are some common goals everyone has at one time in their life or another. These include improving your spirituality, relationships with family, friends and colleagues, helping the greater community, improving living space and working conditions, obtaining education and leisure time, improving personal health and ensuring that your wealth is sufficient to meet your needs. Goals are important because they encourage us to create plans and spend our time and resources on the things that matter most to us. It is important to identify the goals which are right for you rather than goals which others force you to pursue.
Planning for personal success
What is personal success? In this book, I use the simple relationship shown in Figure 1-1 to represent success at a personal level. This relationship implies personal success depends on identifying and setting the right goals and creating plans to achieve them. By the right goals I mean ones that are consistent and measurable. Consistent and measurable goals enable you to create simple plans to achieve them. Figure 1-1 also encourages you should take time to reflect on what you need and value to ensure that the goals you pursue will be the right ones. It is important to get your goals right the first time because to achieve them requires scarce time and resources. In other words, if you poorly define goals, the result will be work that needs to be redone. As we move through the ten chapters of this book, I will discuss several related topics and present tools and methods to help you to identify, balance, prioritize your goals and take the necessary actions to achieve them.
What are your personal goals?
People have personal goals which may or may not be well defined. In fact, because of poor goal definition unimportant goals may be pursued to the detriment of more important ones which may never be achieved. To help you get started in defining your personal goals, Figure 1-2 describes twelve common goals. Your goals may not exactly fit this listing, but, that's no problem. In fact, it will be great if you have more relevant personal goals. You can insert goals more appropriate for your personal situation. But, I will use these twelve goals to provide a common point of reference to discuss goal achievement and how it can help meet your needs. I will also show you how to prioritize goals in ways that will enable you to more efficiently achieve them. The standardized definitions are shown in Table 1-1 will also be important for our discussions. You will be surprised at how useful it will be to work out plans to achieve personal goals once they have been properly defined.
Improving your spirituality
What is spirituality? Its definition will depend on who you talk to. But, to keep the conversation at a simple level, let's use a standard definition such as the one which is contained in the Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Dictionary. It defines spirituality as being "connected by an affinity of the mind, spirit or temperament; showing great refinement and concern with the higher things of life". In my view, the phrase "showing great refinement and concern with the higher things of life" is the key concept of its definition. However, some people consider spirituality to be a vague concept having little meaning or usefulness. But, I disagree. At its basis, spirituality, as we define it at a personal level, is our reason for existing. It depends on respect for others, respect for the environment and a belief that we should be constructive in our actions. In other words, to do no harm to the people and things around us since we are passing through life only as temporary occupants of this world. Spirituality helps us to make sense of our personal journey through life.
In our quest for spirituality, religion may become a part of a person's belief system. For many people, spirituality is intertwined with their core religious beliefs and their expression. It must also be admitted there are people who belong to well established religions who lack spirituality. And there are other people, not part of an established religious community, who are spiritual. Spirituality is a personal belief system which should influence a person's behavior. To begin defining your spiritual beliefs, try to write down three beliefs that are important to you. Then ask yourself a simple question, "How well have I adhered to these personal beliefs?" In other words, "Has my behavior been consistent with my personal beliefs? Or is my behavior in opposition to the beliefs that I consider important?" If a dichotomy exists, the result will be hypocrisy. Hypocrisy occurs when; a person makes "the false claim to or pretense of having admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings". People find themselves in this uncomfortable position through a variety of reasons which are either self-induced or caused by external circumstances beyond their control. It always a good idea to sort out in advance differences between our beliefs versus behavior to avoid circumstances which test our spirituality. In other words, we don't want to be hypocrites. Spirituality also depends on culture, religion and a person's life's experiences. In other words, only you can define spirituality as a personal goal.
Improving relationships with family
The relationships that people have with their families range between very close and happy to distant and violent. In this section, we will review the concept of family relative to creating personal goals to help achieve goals. The Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Dictionary defines a family as "a group of people living together and functioning as a single household usually consisting of parents and children". Because there are many different types of families, this definition fails to capture the diverse conditions in which families exist and function. What makes a good family? One important characteristic is that its members should be able to achieve their personal goals with either help of other family members or at least without obstruction from them. In contrast, within dysfunctional families, personal failure is a common occurrence and in extreme situations, family members may be overtly abusive or violent. A person's family relationships may need very little improvement or be unsalvageable. A decision to improve your family relationships depends to a great extent on your family's history relative to respecting your priorities and personal boundaries to meet your personal needs. Interpersonal issues occur when family members prevent you from achieving personal goals. In other words, you should improve relationships with family members to the extent you value them.
Improving relationships with friends
It has been said that everyone needs friends. But, some people need friends more than others and for different reasons. The Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Dictionary defines a friend as, "somebody who trusts and is fond of another; somebody who thinks well of or is on good terms with somebody else." A friend is closer to you than a work or school colleague because there is trust and affection present. These conditions are not necessarily required of work or school colleagues. Another characteristic of friendships is that these relationships usually take a long time to develop. The trust associated with friendships is difficult to cultivate and maintain since it requires an ongoing commitment of time, emotion and resources. There are also different forms of friendship in that friends may be very different. As an example, friends may have different religious, political or cultural values than we do. A common characteristic of friendship is the existence of mutual trust. For this reason honesty is always important for a healthy friendship. As an example, if you find yourself lying or making excuses to a "friend" then your relationship is not one of mutual trust. In fact, a lack of honesty will eventually lead to a breakdown of a friendship. Ethical behavior is also an important characteristic of a healthy friendship. Friendships also require personal boundaries since people have competing goals which at times will have a higher priority than their friendships. Good friends understand these situations will occur.
Improving relationships with work and school colleagues
Colleagues include our superiors, subordinates and our peers. A colleague is defined by the Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Dictionary as, "a person somebody works with, especially in a professional or skilled job". Good relationships with colleagues are important since we need the support and cooperation of others to do our work. Working relationships also depend to a great extent on interpersonal behavior and organizational policies, culture and the ethics of the people within a working environment. As an example, organizations usually have personal policies and rules which define what is acceptable versus unacceptable behavior to ensure people work well together. Organizations have an obligation to maintain a working environment which is free of harassment, threats and other conditions which impinge on a person's workplace rights.
Unfortunately, there is a great degree of variation relative to personal behavior of our working colleagues since some people are well adjusted whereas others have personality disorders or emotional problems which impact interpersonal relationships at work. Perhaps the most difficult working relationships are those in which a superior exhibits aberrant behavior which negatively impacts an employee's work performance. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that some organizations do a poor job identifying and controlling such negative behavior. In fact, they usually reward this behavior. Negative behavior includes yelling at employees, embarrassing them, lying to them, falsifying their records including performance reviews, requiring they work longer hours relative to other work groups, forcing them to agree to arbitrary goals and objectives or not providing them with the guidance and resources necessary to do their work. This behavior is unethical and it may even be illegal. If this behavior occurs it will negatively impact an employee's ability to achieve personal goals.
In order to achieve personal goals, you must improve working relationships with colleagues. An honest dialogue with working colleagues will always be useful. Interpersonal issues may be due to misunderstandings caused by the different perceptions of the participants in the relationship. From this perspective, once you understand why certain behavioral patterns occur, ways can be found to prevent or mitigate their occurrence. To be fair, you may be the cause of a problem rather than your colleagues. It is always important not to internalize a problem within yourself. But, rather consult with others to determine the beat course of action to improve a poor situation. In other words, do not take decisive action without consultation. Consultation may include obtaining the help from your organization's personal department, friends, your manager, governmental agencies or perhaps an attorney. Alternatively, finding a job in another part of your current organization or perhaps a different organization may be necessary to improve your working conditions to appoint where you can effectively work toward your goals.
It is also important people have the necessary training to facilitate their working relationships because colleagues have diverse personalities, perceptions and working styles. If you are a manager, both you and subordinates should meet commitments. A fair commitment implies that goals and objectives are accepted by all parties and supported with the necessary resources. Personal development plans should also be created to enable employees to expand their work experience. In other words, you're working conditions should help to support your personal goals and objectives rather than inhibiting them. Interpersonal relationships with peers are also important for achieving goals because a significant amount of time is spent working with them on projects. They also provide expertise, time and perhaps even resources. As a result, good working relationships with peers are important for your success. But, as you most likely know, working relationships vary between poor to excellent. Common causes include personal jealousies regarding pay, promotion or job status, rude behavior by either you or your colleagues and other issues. In these situations, poor relationships should be repaired to restore mutual trust. The most direct way to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships with your colleagues is by being courteous and helpful to them.
Helping the greater community
It's interesting that helping others i.e. volunteering is perhaps the most effective way to help yourself and provides several personal benefits. When we help others, we learn new skills and form new friendships. Helping also supports other personal goals. Consider a situation in which a person becomes isolated from others. If this person needs financial or emotional support they must rely on their own resources. In contrast, being part of a volunteer group immediately provides emotional support for a person by others within the group.
Volunteering also provides a useful way to help you achieve other personal goals. One reason is you're associated with a very select group of people who want to help others. As a result, they are very likely to want to help you or know ways you can be helped by others. You also gain new skills by helping others. New skills may enhance your work resume or college application. What types of useful and translatable skills can you obtain from helping the greater community? Perhaps volunteering in a hospital's admission department may lead to an administrative job in the health field. Or if you organize a large group of community volunteers perhaps this experience will lead you into a management position. The advantages from helping others are endless and exciting. As a result, volunteering is an exciting and useful ways to help others and is one goal everyone should embrace.
As we discuss helping the greater community in subsequent chapters of this book, it will be useful to define it in advance. A community is defined by the Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Dictionary as "a group of people who live in the same area or the area in which they live; a group of people with a common background or with shared interests within society". I would like to expand this definition to include groups of people not necessarily collocated physically, but, rather, connected by an idea or through technological means such as the internet and its various user groups. This expands the concept of helping the greater community. As an example, many people work in virtual teams to do work or exchange information.
Improving your living space
The Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Dictionary defines a home as "the place where a person, family or household lives". This definition allows for a wide range of living preferences. In addition to providing shelter from the environment, your living environment is important for supporting other personal goals. As an example, some people enjoy a city lifestyle with continuing activities whereas others enjoy a slower rural lifestyle. Others rent apartments and don't own a home. People also have different preferences as to how they live. Some people prefer to live with others whereas other people prefer to live alone. Other people prefer to have extra living space; but, others do not. In summary, there are many different preferences regarding living space.
It is important that you understand your personal living preference. Also, remember your preferences may change over time. Second, you may need to works towards interim goals before achieving your ideal living arrangement. Expectations will need to be managed in this regard. As an example, if you currently live in a city; but, would prefer a rural setting, why not list out all the advantages of living within a city. Examples may include being close to your work, your favorite restaurants, nearby education institutions, friends and leisure activities. However, also create a plan to purchase or rent a home in the future.
Excerpted from Doing What Works by James William Martin Copyright © 2011 by James William Martin. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Knowing your goals is the first step Step 1: Identifying your personal goals....................1
Chapter 2: Understand your needs for success Step 2: Defining your personal needs....................19
Chapter 3: What you value gets done Step 3: Defining your personal values....................33
Chapter 4: Balance is necessary for a happy life Step 4: Creating your balanced scorecard....................49
Chapter 5: Work smart not hard Step 5: Comparing personal goals....................61
Chapter 6: Visualize your goals Step 6: Mapping personal benefits....................71
Chapter 7: Understand how goals are related Step 7: Comparing different personal goals....................83
Chapter 8: Align goals to achieve them easier Step 8: Creating goal convergence....................101
Chapter 9: Focus on high priority goals Step 9: Defining important goals....................111
Chapter 10: Planning will make you successful Step 10: Creating your personal improvement plan....................133