Goals! You either just jumped for joy or groaned at the thought.
When I talk with or coach people trying to grow their businesses and we get to the topic of goals, I ask them to get specific on what they are wanting to achieve. While some people can easily synthesize goals (usually they have been in a line of work in their past where they developed this skill like healthcare or corporate business), most people know they struggle with boiling down what they wish to achieve in written goals or they are confused about what makes for a good written goal. Here are some commonly stated business hopes.
“I want to make _________ in a year.”
“I want to expand my offerings.”
“I want more engagement on my social media.”
There is nothing wrong with these statements, except they are not goals. They are aspirations, and aspirations are great! Everyone should have them. The problem with these statements is that they have no feet attached to them to make them move or to make them measurable.
Cue Auld Lang Syne. Think of the New Year’s “goals” we exclaimed and clinked to on the eve of 2020. The ones you wrote out a plan for and have revisited, you probably are well on your way to achieving. The gym goals, all the books you were going to devour, learning something new… Did they vanish as soon as your New Year’s hangover was relieved (Won-ton soup by the way is a great cure!)? So, how can we make an aspiration into a goal you ask? Here’s the goal recipe.
1 part more specific behaviors; 1 part a time component; 3 parts words to define the manner to achieve by way of objectives (define at least 3 objectives to make the goal easier to bite off in small steps)
Let’s take the social media goal as an example and give it some love, so it becomes achievable.
Goal: Over the next 6 months, I want to increase my social media followers on FB to ________ organic followers who represent my ICA (Ideal Client Avatar).
Objectives: 1. I will post 5 times a week. 2. I will develop content buckets based on reviewing my engagement analytics to see what most interests my ideal clients. 3. I will create 10 branded templates using Canva to facilitate consistency and ease of posting. 4. I will increase my lives to 2-3x a month. 5. I will present 4 in-person or online workshops and script asking people to connect to my page.
Now, the goal has feet and can take off running! If you wrote this goal, you could revisit it over the period of the 6 months weekly to check your progress. You could even break this goal down into week by week tasks to make it happen using paper and pencil or an app like Trello. What’s a goal of yours that could use a little sprucing? How could you equip it to move?
If you live on planet Earth, you’ve faced a huge possible fog ahead of your 2020 goals in the huge changes we’ve all experienced the last couple months. You can still know where you’re headed even if there’s a storm threatening to make you forget your destination.
Today, I want to talk to you about your dream. When I was younger, my mother often told me to “Get my head out of the clouds.” Usually, she was referring to me thinking about boys or my social life or what she saw as potential threats to my academic or personal success. Sometimes, though, my daydreams were not about marrying Jordan Knight from New Kids on the Block but were really about my heart visions.
Much of our lives and often by people who really care about us, we’re conditioned to live in the practical, and I believe as we get older, we forget how to dream in vivid color. We forget the inner child who could take a box and with a little glue, some paper, and some markers create a time machine. We literally slow thinking outside the box and dreaming in vivid color.
In this time where life has taken a sharp shift for us all, through discussions with friends in business and further sparked by some recent reading, I’ve really been contemplating how to tap into my 10 year old self. She was old enough to know she couldn’t become a Disney princess when she grew up but kept her head in the clouds enough to imagine influencing the world. She wrote tons of vivid dreams in her Little Women inspired diary (remember the ones with the lock and little key?) visualizing her dream home, thinking about the type of healthcare provider she wanted to one day become.
Today, I’m telling you and myself, “Get your head in the clouds.” Give yourself time each week to contemplate the ideas you have for your business or personal development that make your heart jump. Don’t think too much about how to get there. Your kid brain never started making a list of all the reasons the dream wouldn’t work, so don’t go there. Sit in the joy of the colors of your dream and remind yourself that whatever is bubbling up is there in your mind and heart for a purpose- your purpose.
I’ve found as I’ve permitted myself the freedom to dream more recently that the goals have become clearer. The things that were muddy for a while are cleaner and brighter. My goals have new life breathed into them.
So find a hammock, porch, shade tree, or beach to sit in this week and have a talk with your 10 year old self. What would she be telling your adult self about your goals? Which dreams would she have? I bet that child could reveal a thing or two to you.
What is it? How can you take the ordinary “box” you have of your business or personal life and turn it into something extraordinary? Dream away…
If you are a business owner, you sell something- product or service. At the end of the day, if you make sales, you have business. No sales=no business.
Businesses all over our country, both small and large, are facing tough times. People are carefully spending feeling unsure of their own personal finances. If you own a business, you may feel unsure of how to sensitively sell in these times.
Here are some tips to help you communicate during the time of COVID-19.
1. Revist your ideal customer’s pain points. They might be the same as before this virus, or perhaps they need to be tweaked. I don’t need certain items for the same reasons as I did before- work clothes, jewelry, makeup for instance for the purpose of looking professional in the workplace, but sellers of these items might be able to sell me on using this time to clean and refresh my wardrobe, send gifts for important occasions partner with them on some kind of charitable giving through my purchase, or an occasional purchase as “self-care” stress relief shopping.
2. Focus on soft sell strategies. Find ways right now to educate on your product’s features, tell about your history with your company, and build value through mini-workshops or live events. People don’t want to be sold to right now. They don’t want to be sold to ever, but especially right now. The sell is easy when the potential client decides to choose you- there is a feeling of, “I chose to buy that. This use of my money is good for me,” versus, “I felt guilty to not buy from my friend or local small business,” or “She pushed so hard I bought a little something to make her stop messaging me.” Let people choose you, because what you give is so much more than what they feel they feel they will give.
3. Resist the urge to jump on every new social media page popping up to support local businesses to showcase your brand. Fight to stop splattering your links across every outlet that will permit it. Quite often, when we do this, we’re forgetting WHO we are really for. Who do you champion? Who are you the hero or heroine for with your skills and products? Community pages are great to showcase businesses in our local communities, but focusing a lot of effort on these pages where everyone is trying to also show their brands is not likely energy well spent in terms of ROI. When this crisis passes, these pages will likely see stalled traffic. Ask yourself if the traffic on the page you feel you should post on are your people. If you can’t yell and fistpump a “hell yeah!” then stop and go find where your people are. Work on building your social media page, your website, or your email templates. Spend some time on items 1 and 2 above and then outline a purposeful plan to move strategically through the next few months.
☔️Oh rainy day. How I love thee. If you’re in the Tampa Bay area, it’s been a wonderful stormy day…not the piddly rain that is just enough to make the Florida air soupy once the sun steams the streets, but the thunder rumbling, air cleansing, sit and read or write kind of day all day storm.
I have a question for you and for me, too. I’ve seriously been contemplating the opposite of many posts I’ve seen. Instead of what will I do first when life reverts to some parts of its old self, because the answers are easy anyway- Disney and beach, I’ve been asking,
🤔”What do I not want to return to?”
You see, we have had the chance to reset and rearrange. I can take my life back however I wish. I can let go of whatever I now see I am better to release. You can too.
Early on in this quarantine journey, I had visions of tackling the calligraphy learning set I gifted myself for Christmas, beginning to make Christmas wreaths, and picking up my guitar and hanging with YouTube tutorials. I was going to do these three things and a few other projects before reentering the world. I’m sure you also had some gangbusters plan of all the productive things you’d do. But here’s the realization I had- we don’t have to shove these pursuits into quarantine time. We can do them whenever, because we get to decide what’s meaningful to life moving forward. We can pick up the heavy overpacked suitcase of our past lives or unload some of the weight.
My time is what’s heavy in my suitcase. Lugging heavy time luggage is par for the course sometimes in life, but I no longer want to pull time out of my sleeve like a magician with a neverending scarf. It’s either there or not. I either have it or I don’t. Even if I have it, it’s mine to do something of my choosing based on what I know I need to be my best self. Some days Disney is going to win over volunteering and a beer with one friend over an event I “should” be at. Other days, my best self is when my cup is full, and I can effectively pour into others.
My goal is that people and causes dear to me will never be in an unknowing affair relationship- you know when you have to cheat time mentally from one event or person to give to another? I’m ok with making those choices every once in a blue moon, but I don’t want to return back to feeling like I’m “dating” 10 obligations at once all while trying to convince myself the “one” I’m currently investing my time is the most important while I really just want to be sipping a champagne flight in France at Epcot🥂.
There’s my truth. What is it you want to leave behind?
“BUT WHY DO AMERICANS HAVE TO TALK TO ME IN THE ELEVATOR?”
“WHY DO YOU ALL SPEND SO MUCH TIME TALKING ABOUT NOTHING OF SIGNIFICANCE?”
My accent refinement clients have often commented to the chit-chat style that is All-American. We like to talk about nothing and everything, and we don’t really always want to know the details.
🤷♀️🤷♂️How is a transplanted non-native speaker supposed to know what to do or say to a common greeting such as, “What’s new?” Ummm… My watch? I got a pay raise? Oddly, if you listen to enough American English greetings, you’ll find out that there really is a script and the respondent generally says something like, “Not much” or “Same old, same old.” You might ask yourself what the point of the question was if there was really no answer per se. Well, plain and simple…connection.
🔮In a magical world where a genie could grant the ability for you to make your accent turn on and off at will, you might think you’d won the communication lottery. Advancements await. Repeating yourself on the phone ends. The fear of wondering whether you pronounced “sheet” like “sh*t” would be a thing of the past. Only one thing…If it was all about how you say words, you’d be golden, but you might hope that genie has one more wish to grant- the gift of something we call small talk.
Only, there is nothing small about it. It’s a big deal in the US communication culture. It has nothing to do with how you say words but rather how you develop bridges to communication, because it’s also about how you USE words and other subtleties of communication that help one really blend into a non-native culture.
💲☕As Americans we have a need to fill silence as well as a need to ease into business deals from taking your money at the coffee shop for your latte to making a contract deal in business. In fact we call it awkward silence when there are pauses of silence…awkward meaning weird. Something must be resurrected in that space, or the common American often feels generally like something is “off” in the communication transaction. The awkward silences or lack of small talk for greeting may leave the native American English speaker feeling everything from a feeling of someone being too abrupt, unfriendly, or in the healthcare arena that a provider has “poor bedside manner.”
“Hey, man! How’s it going?” “What’s new?” “Is that rain coming?”
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MAKE SMALL TALK PART OF YOUR TALK? ✔Listen and learn: Pay attention to the person in front of you at Starbucks and to native American English speakers at work or even on television. Watch and learn some of the common greetings and salutations. Walking away abruptly without saying, “Have a good one” or “Take care,” might be perceived as either rude or that you had a bathroom emergency about to happen!
✔Practice Makes Perfect: As odd as it feels to utter such informalities at a work social function such as, “Are you from around here?” or “What a great venue for a party!” the more you engage the art of small talk, the more natural it will feel and the more you will see how American speakers will warm up to you. Small talk builds rapport and trust, so it’s vitally important for business casual talk that might lead to a deal.
✔ Don’t mistake friendliness for friendship. No need to fear that all these people who you may engage friendly talk will want to be your BFF (best friend forever). Americans like to be friendly and have a strong sense of egalitarianism or the need to show everyone as equals, so to be invited into a small talk conversation or for you to initiate that conversation shows that one does not perceive himself above anyone else. I promise most people won’t be asking to come to your house after a quick exchange of banter, and remember this type of conversation is to stay light, so you talk about likes, weather, food, the World Series…and that brings me to.
✔Keep up with current events in the general culture. Perhaps you hate American football, but if it’s Super Bowl week, you can say something like, “Do you have Superbowl plans?” If you play your small talk cards right, you just might end up invited to a Superbowl party to “hang out.” Sometimes an American’s friendliness may lead to an interest in building an acquaintance relationship, but remember we don’t take declined invites too seriously either. A simple, “I won’t be able to make it but thanks for the invite,” will do just fine.