What are your professional/personal development goals for 2013?

image of my journals

30 Years of Journals

Since I was in elementary school, I’ve kept a journal. I’ve written about everything from crushes on boys to having a baby to the joys and tears that come with moving and having a new job. Every year on New Year’s Eve I write about the past year and remember the good, the bad, and sometimes even the ugly. Then I write goals for the next year. This year I was so tired on New Year’s Eve I went to bed early, and I must confess I haven’t set a goal yet. New Year’s Day is really an arbitrary day and we could pick any day of the year to take stock, assess, and reassess.

I already know in my head what my goals are. I’ve brainstormed them at random times for the past month. But there is something about putting that goal down on paper and signing your name to it that makes it real, makes it a contract. So this year I’m skipping my paper journal and sharing my goals here. I hope that this will not only make me more accountable but that it will also inspire you to do the same.


  • Focus on less. The Power of Less by Leo Babauta is an excellent read. I have too much physical and virtual clutter in my life. I’m archiving all 3,500 unread Gmail messages and starting over with 0. I’m archiving photos to DVDs and selecting only the best to keep on my hard drive. I’m deleting files I no longer need. I’m taking two days off work this week to finish unpacking and declutter my home. This weekend it will be my children’s turn to do the same in their rooms. I am tossing anything that does not have meaning, importance, or is something that I am not in love with.
  • Focus on myself and my family. My children are at ages, 5 and 8, where they want and need constant attention from me when I am not working. I’ve cut down on nearly all my outside commitments to focus on them. In a few short years they will want to spend more time with their friends, so I don’t want to miss a moment of this precious time when their brains and hearts are like sponges ready to learn, love, and be loved. I made the difficult decision to put off graduate school until my kids are older. I have no regrets and feel relived by my decision. As I’ve said in the past, we can have it all, just not all at the same time.


  • Make email a tool for me, and not let myself become a slave to email. Enough said! When I figure out how to do this I’ll let you know.
  • Connect with customers. Now that I’ve learned much about my organization and its products and met some initial short term goals, I’ll be reaching out to customers in my role as customer relationship coordinator. My job is to make sure customers are having the best possible experience with our products and maximizing use of their products. I will help customers succeed in their goals.
  • Just like my personal email, I’m clearing out my RSS feeds and limiting myself to 10 feeds. When I can manage 10, I’ll add 5 more, and so on. Having more than 500 feeds is counterproductive and causes me to be so overwhelmed I just don’t look at them.
  • Complete my Facebook best practices for professionals project. Look for an updated survey soon!

So these are my goals for 2013. What are yours?

Camera Shy? Get Over It

Whether you are a mom or not you can relate to this article by Allison Tate on the Huffington Post Blog, The Mom Stays in the Picture. I love photography and always have my camera out at events. It seems that most people cringe when I go to take their picture–even for a candid shot. I’m the same way. My husband takes pictures of me with the kids and I review them and delete ones where I look too fat or am at a bad angle. On the flip side I lost my aunt, uncle, and grandmother when they were way too young. The pictures I do have, I cherish, and not once do I ever look at them and think my aunt or grandmother was too fat or the picture was taken from a bad angle.

The only picture I have of me with my aunt. Extra special because she is also holding my son.

Do your family a favor and let them take your picture! As Tate says so beautifully:

I’m everywhere in their young lives, and yet I have very few pictures of me with them. Someday I won’t be here — and I don’t know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now — but I want them to have pictures of me. I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them. I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother.

Accentuate the Positive

This fantastic idea comes from Homestead Survival:

Start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen. on New Years Eve, empty it and see what awesome stuff happened that year.

A Year Full Of Blessings Remembered from Homestead Survival

I love this idea as a way to focus on the good things that happen in our lives. So often we focus only on the negative. If you are a trainer this would be a cool thing to do with evaluations. Clip out the good ones, then when you get the occasional bad one, look at this jar and remember all the good feedback you’ve received. You might find you need a bigger jar!

What are some other ways you could adapt this idea for your personal or professional development?

When is good enough, enough?

Just about every trainer, writer, creative person I know has shared that one of the biggest challenges faced is knowing when something is good enough. How many of you write blog posts that you never publish because it’s not good enough? How many of you work on digital images or websites that are never quite perfect enough?

There is a lot of time wasted on striving for perfection, and I would guess that most of us lack the time to achieve the level of perfection we strive for. Look at some of the most successful people you know. Do they strive for perfection for months and months until the idea is no longer relevant? Or do they accept good enough, collaborate with others to achieve something close to perfection, then move on to the next big project? Where would we be today if Steve Jobs had not released the ipod because it was not good enough?

Source: Productivity 501

Lately I’ve controlled my perfectionistic tendencies with strict, and I mean STRICT, deadlines. I plan my schedule carefully. I start by allocating every minute of my working day in my calendar. I schedule time to check email, attend meetings, then allow a few hours of time to respond to customer needs. On any given day that schedule could change in an instant!  When I am working on large projects I use a spreadsheet for project management and estimate time to be spent on each phase. Then I schedule that time on my calendar given realistic time available. Often there is not enough available time and that’s when the tough decisions come in to play. Can I delegate, change deadlines, adjust priorities, or do I need to change my own self-expectations?

Don’t get caught up in the trap of trying to perfect of time management so that more time is spent on planning and managing tasks and spreadsheets than actually accomplishing anything. This is another common challenge for perfectionists.

Perfectionists have a lot to offer to an organization, but they/we need to learn how to balance our need for perfection and decide when is good enough, enough.

How do you do to combat perfectionism?

Here are some quotes to ponder:

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Strive for progress, not perfection.”

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”
~Thomas Edison

“When you aim for perfection, you discover it is a moving target.”
~Geoffrey F. Fisher

Finding the Bathroom at 40

I’m about four and a half months into my new position, with a new organization, in a new city. It seems like a good time for some outward reflection. I started my first week nervous, excited, and open to new ideas. As it had been more than ten years since working for a new employer and many more since living in a new city, I told myself at least once an hour that every trainer/leader needs to experience this feeling more frequently. Granted we’ve all experienced what it is like to be new, but for some trainers/leaders it is so infrequent that that I think we forget what it is like to be overwhelmed on so many different levels. I spent years on the team for new employee orientation at my last job, yet I think that many times we forgot how overwhelming it is to be new. There is so much we take for granted after years or even months in an organization. Think about Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs. What do your employees need above all else before they can learn your mission statement and your policy on social networking? I’ll tell you what they want to know. The same thing our patrons want to know. Where’s the bathroom??!??

My office has not only a security code to get in to the office from the hallway, but there is a code, a different code, to get into the bathroom. Here I am trying to remember new passwords to a million new accounts, how to get to and from work, the names and faces of 60 different people, and for the first two weeks I struggled to remember this code to the bathroom. I remember thinking that if I can’t remember the code how will I ever remember everything else! But like all new employees, the day soon came when I not only remembered the secret code but had to teach someone else the code.

My first week at work consisted of learning the ins, outs, and behind the scenes of each of our products as well as learning the tools for supporting our products. The first month was about building relationships with my new coworkers–going through the group development process of forming, storming, norming. It’s fascinating to go through group development and recognize different phases of the process. It’s also comforting during the stressful storming parts to remind everyone that “this too shall pass.” Most of my time has been spent being a sponge and absorbing as much as possible while also trying to create and maintain relationships and define my role within the organization. I’ve worked on some exciting projects that I’ll write about soon.

My days at work were a piece of cake compared to the rest of my life for the first two months. Accepting a new job with only a few weeks notice, meant that I’d be living apart from my family during the week. Fridays and Mondays meant two and a half hour commutes between cities and the rest of the week meant nights alone or with my temporary roommate (my sister in law).

A few weeks into my job I turned 40! Turning 40 is kind of like high school prom or graduation. You have these big expectations but really it is just another day. I was so homesick on my birthday. But the ladies I work with took me out to lunch at an amazing restaurant and we had a fantastic celebration. My birthday cake looked like a flower with tiny candles that opened up to a gigantic sparkler. I feared the table would catch on fire. It was definitely a birthday to remember.

40th Birthday! Yep we almost set the table on fire!

Life went on like this for two months, and just as I settled into this new routine it was time to move. The week before my family moved, I received a phone call at work that a very close family member had died unexpectedly. In the middle of preparing to move, I dropped everything to go be with my family in Florida. Needless to say the past few months have been overwhelming and exhilarating all at the same time. I’m very thankful to my Facebook and Twitter friends who cheered me on providing both encouragement and comfort.

It feels good to be challenged in new and different ways. My family is settled. The kids are out of school. My husband is enjoying being a stay at home dad. If I’ve learned anything this year it’s that we are resilient. Just when you think things are tough enough, life throws another curve ball or punch to the stomach. It’s hard. It hurts. But we recover, learn, and are stronger for what we have gone through, and above all I know the secret code to get into the bathroom!