The Six Pillars of Writing Goals That Get Accomplished

how-to-write-goals-part-ii

Photo credit: 2pat.com

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs”

― Henry Ford

As mentioned in part 1, as far as how to write goals that get accomplished, writing on your list “Be happier” or “Be healthier” is not going to cut it if you’re actually serious about tangible results. If you missed it, and need some context, you can read my own personal journey of how I figured out how to write goals that get accomplished.

The recommendations in this article are a combination of what I’ve learned from reading books on the subject, as well as what truly played out in my life over three years of directed focus using a particular tool.

According to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, there is a list of 43 stressful life events that can contribute to illness, stress and anxiety are quantifiable.

That said, do you think there could be a quantifiable assessment of happiness, achievement, self-worth and well-being? I’d propose that there is, and with that a way to measure your own. To take this approach you have to be self-aware enough to know what brings you the most happiness, and then chunk those down into bite-sized, measurable pieces.

How to Not Rob Yourself of Accomplishing Your Goals By Using Self-Delusion 

You do not want to write goals that let yourself cop out – making them easy or vague enough to rationalize pseudo-accomplishment.

Some examples of happiness are feeling like one has: more freedom, autonomy, is loved, financial security, a sense of spiritual connectedness, is making an impact on others, and/or is in good health.  All of these can be broken down into sub-parts and/or a result, which is what you must do to make headway. Shoot for a result, not a cadence. “Work out three times a week” is not a result or milestone; it’s a cadence without an end goal.

You will become disillusioned or disappointed if you make cadence-style goals, because it’s very easy to “fall off the horse” early-on with the process. Doing this also becomes a non results-oriented  “how,” which is not what you want to focus on as a goal.

It’s much better to come up with a result as a goal, and then realize that you might or might not know what you will get to that result. It may be revealed to you over time, which is exactly how many of these goals will play out.

Furthermore, only make goals that are active, not reactive. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. For example, instead of writing down “Don’t drink too much coffee at work,” rephrase it to “Drink no more than one cup of coffee at work per day.”

This active phraseology puts your mind in the driver’s seat, with less “white knuckling” that makes you feel like you’re punishing or denying yourself.

By making your goals in the positive proactive position (not a judgement of good or bad, but a description of language), and factoring in that you may fall off the horse, you’ll avoid the “What the Hell Effect” ( a real phenomenon).

For example, if you wrote, “Don’t eat ice cream and sweets after 6pm,” for those times when you are craving, you’ll have “just a little bite”, and then go way overboard. You do this because you told yourself might as well, “If I’ve gone this far…” This is a real and proven psychological phenomenon. Avoid cadence and avoid the word “don’t.”

Take full responsibility for your goals by getting a firm grip on your internal locus of control. Make your goals dependent on you, not others’ actions toward you. Even if you’re not sure how you will reach them, your only work is identifying them and having a burning desire to achieve them.

Make Accomplishing Your Goals Inevitable

Find ways to make those goals happen inevitability. For example, if your goal is to eliminate a certain amount of credit card debt by such-and-such date, then your next step would be to automate extra payments where it’s completely paid off by your goal date. Automate that exact payment and forget about it. However, celebrate milestones. Make a Facebook post that says “Only $1000 left to go on my personal credit card debt.” All the congrats comments you receive will give you a small dopamine burst, and keep you going.

Focus on the feeling you’ll have when it’s all paid. Plan what you will do with that extra cashflow every month. Set up an auto-payment with your bank, write down and memorize your projected day of freedom. Then stop worrying about it, and move on to the next one. At the end of the day “getting out of debt” is not what most people want. They want the feeling of freedom and flexibility that not having debt affords him/her.

Another key, even if you haven’t achieved the goal yet, but it’s one that you have automated, add check marks to the goals on your whiteboard. If you missed the technique explanation on the 50 Goals Whiteboard Challenge and the psychology of why it works in this series of articles, go here.

If it’s a reasonable expectation that you’ll be reaching certain goals by automation, without unforeseen circumstances, check only those few off.  Leave them on the board list. This frees up psychological space in your mind to accomplish your other goals in less time.

How to Avoid Common Psychological Pitfalls

This is another huge key, don’t feel guilty, angry, or like a failure at the perceived passing of “too much time” between achieving these goals. Become detached from “the how” of the ones that don’t seem possible, once they are written.

If some seem insurmountable, you’re going to be frustrated, just realize it’s going to happen and deal with it psychologically now. It’s OK to erase certain goals or changes quantifiable numbers on goals judiciously. Just don’t do something silly, like wiping your board clean!

What if others see my goals displayed? So what. That’s great. This creates accountability, and causes your subconscious to try even harder to present your conscious mind with creative solutions. If you are embarrassed and not open about your goals, how are others going to help or feel compelled to introduce you to others that can help you achieve those goals?

The more people that know your “Think Big” goals, the more people you’ll find that want to help you (even those you don’t know yet).

Think BIG, Think VERY BIG

Simply by making “Think Big” declarations, there will be people, things, and opportunities that 
come into your life that you cannot even possibly predict . This type of goal setting is a seemingly contradictory; take full responsibility and control, while not knowing how it’s going to happen.

All great thinkers, inventors, business people, and scientists have done this one thing either consciously or unconsciously in his/her careers or personal lives that have led them to create history-changing accomplishments and innovations – had the confidence that it’s going to happen.

Do not underestimate the power of believing you’re creating your reality, without knowing “the how” of it happening. For more information on thinking big, read The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz. It will change the way you think and the limiting beliefs you may have. I’ve read it several times over the years. Although it was originally written in 1959, it has been updated and the information and advice is timeless.

Don’t Worry About “the How”

To reiterate, not all of your goals will be accomplished in a neat and orderly way on a perfectly timed schedule of milestones, all according to your prioritized chronological list. Some will take on a roller coaster effect where you may be nowhere near reaching it, when something comes out of the woodwork that propels you to surpass that goal. It’s truly magical.

Become Detached From the Outcome

Lastly, meditate and visualize yourself achieving these goals. Feel the feeling of yourself achieving each goal you’ve written down one-by-one. Lastly, let go. Don’t stress. Become relaxed and detached from the outcomes. Counter-intuitively, an indirect path can often become the most efficient path.

You don’t want this board to be a cause of pain in your life. Look at it as a fun exercise that could very-well make your life look much different three years from now. Don’t make these goals do or die; they are supposed to make your life better.

Summary: How to Write Goals that Get Accomplished

1. Be specific (not vague), and quantifiable
2. Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want
3. Set up circumstances so certain goals become inevitable
4. Think BIG, Very Big
5. Let the “How” reveal itself
6. Detach yourself from the outcome

That’s how to write goals that get accomplished.

Get more posts likes this when they are published via email, by subscribing here. 

– Neil

 

 

How to Write Goals that Get Accomplished

how-to-write-goals-that-get-accomplished

In the last post, titled A Simple But Powerful Goal Setting Tool that Rescued Me From a Personal Growth Rut, I explained one method, called the 50 Goals Whiteboard Challenge, that I used to meet and exceed many of my three-year goals.

When researching goal setting, I came across this piece of research experiment on New Year’s resolutions.

A comprehensive study commissioned by Australian comparison website Finder.com.au in 2014 of more than 2,000 people found that 42% of participants set themselves a New Years’ Resolution however, most failed at their goals.

In fact, the study showed that almost two in three people (62%) didn’t succeed with their resolutions. Interestingly, out of those who did achieve their resolutions three in four participants (76%) believed that sharing their goals, for example on a social networking sites, helped reach them.

The most common reason for participants failing their New Years’ Resolutions was setting themselves unrealistic goals (35%), while 33% didn’t keep track of their progress and a further 23% forgot about it. About one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.

A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning.

Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.

Now, do you see some of the problems with having a “New Year’s Resolution?” Every year people make New Year’s resolutions, and every year millions of people fail. Why? One reason is the foundation of how they are written. I want to get a little deeper into what I’ve discovered to be a better way to write goals.

As you can imagine, along with writing your goals in a specific way, your own internal psychological management is a big part of the goal making and achieving process. Here are some tools that will help.

1. Avoid the Big G
The big “G” are generalities. The first knee-jerk reaction you want to avoid is being extremely vague and general about your goals, by writing down objectives that are hard, or downright impossible, to measure (a.k.a. not quantifiable). Here are some examples of goals that are vague.

  • Be healthier
  • Be happier
  • More income
  • Make more friends
  • Date more
  • Spend more time with my spouse

2. Be Specific 
Avoid the “ier” and the word “more” when using modifiers for your goals. Use numbers or what I call merit milestones. What are merit milestones? These are non-quantifiable achievements that are recognized by yourself and others as reaching some sort of discerned effort and notable record of accomplishment. This is sort of it happened, or it didn’t. An example might be a college degree. It’s the college degree plan and academic board that decides how many credit hours it takes to get that degree. There is not much gray area. That’s merit milestones.

Here is a example of a goal gone wrong.

Goal: “Get good at tennis.”

If you use Malcolm Gladwell’s definition of mastery, 10,000 hours (often, ten years) is the definition of mastering a major skill. Just how “good” do you want to be at tennis? Good enough to win the US open, or just good enough to beat your best friend? If the latter, make the goal: “Beat ____ at tennis for ____ games in a row.”

What to Avoid During the Process

  1. Being all-or-nothing – erasing your list when you get frustrated or that one “special goal” isn’t being achieved fast enough. That’s why you have 50, to show progress to yourself for the ones that take less time!
  2. Making goals that are out of your control, depend on extreme odds, or based on one particular person’s acceptance (win the state lottery, marry Natalie Portman/Ryan Gosling).
  3. Using, or planning on using, this board for anything else other than its goal-setting purpose. Get a new board for other uses (like grocery lists) – they are less than $15 at Target.

Get my next post: The Six Goals of Writing Goals that Get Accomplished , where I’ll give you tools to help overcome some of the natural psychological hurdles to accomplishing goals by going here. Get more posts on
personal growth, career, entrepreneurship, success, lifestyle, and liberty. by subscribing here. 

– Neil

A Simple But Powerful Goal-Setting Tool that Rescued Me from a Personal Growth Rut

Photo Credit: Fubiz.net

Photo Credit: Fubiz.net

“There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.”
– Napoleon Hill

In early 2012 I was fed up. I seemed to be at a sticking point in my life. I was unhappy with the drudgery of my corporate job, sick and tired of consumer debt, depressed at my lack of savings, and inability, despite my best efforts, to save. I was angry at myself for my uncontrollable bad habits.

Lastly, at the time, I was dating, but I didn’t have the courage to seek out the specific types of romantic relationships that I knew would be more fulfilling. On that day, I was reminded of an “ah-ha moment” I learned from a college girlfriend, which led me to discover a simple, but powerful, tool that changed the way I tracked and kept up with my goals. I felt like I had snapped out of a multi-year cryogenic sleep, because over the next three years, I started accomplishing a whole lot more, and much faster.

So, what did I accomplish using this method:

“Big for Me” Goals I Accomplished in Less Than 3 Years Using This One Simple Method

  • Went from $XX,XXX to nearly $XXX,XXX (+17%) in yearly income.
  • Accepted three increasingly more interesting and better titled career-propelling positions.
  • Increased side consulting business from zero to +$10k in less than a year.
  • Organized and promoted a charity-focused arts event with 125+ in attendance.
  • Paid off $10,000 in credit card debt, owing nothing for the first time in 10 years.
  • Paid off a $13,000 car loan and didn’t apply for another (I will pay cash for my next car).
  • Invited to attend dozens of local food festivals, VIP events, and new restaurant openings.
  • Reached over 100,000 visitors in a 30 day period with my city-based arts/culture blog.
  • Increased year-over-year traffic by 78% for the city-based arts/culture blog.
  • Attracted over 30,000 Twitter followers and other growth for the same publication.
  • Hung with legends like Richard Branson, Francis Ford Coppola & cast(s) of DALLAS.
  • Co-Hosted an Internet podcast that received 14,000 downloads from 14 or so shows.
  • Took over and grew a marketing mastermind group from 100 to 650 members.
  • Became more prolific, purposeful, and decisive in dating potential marriage partners.
  • Gained a more purposeful life through discoveries of truth I could have never predicted.
  • Became closer to my family, plus dozens of other goals that are still in progress.

I don’t tell you these things to brag. There are literally millions of others that have achieved much more in less time using the same process, especially among my peer circle in the area in-which I currently live (Dallas, Texas). These are what I consider “Big for Me,’ and outside of my regular achievement programming.

How did I achieve these goals? The magic was in the method, and using it improved my speed and velocity of achieving some of my personal goals. These were big for me, not everyone. Also, they were on my list. They didn’t just happen by default. The secret is to let the subconscious mind work while you live your life deliberately. I’ll explain more as we go.

Life Wasn’t Automatically Easier 

Since achieving many of the goals I had my heart set on for three years, my life did not automatically become easy. I have had an extremely hard year-and-half, rocked hard with some expensive life lessons not just financially, but psychologically.

I will share those anecdotes at a different time. Despite having a tough time personally. professionally I’ve done well. More importantly, my spiritual life has become much more rich; my faith has increased greatly.

Sharing is Caring

As I mentioned in my stated mission with this site, I’m at a point now where I want to absorb less and share more of what I’ve learned in personal development, not to “speak down from the mountain,” but in order to contribute to others’ growth while continuing to work on my own.

One of my gifts is my story. May it inspire, teach, and/or entertain others – even if the inspiration comes from one saying “If he can do such and such, then I can” or “I don’t want to be like that guy, so I’ll keep reading to learn from his mistakes.”

This unpacking of stories and the lessons I’ve learned from a personal development perspective is going to take a certain degree of transparency, which I welcome.

Back to the subject at hand, goal setting. Before I tell you the method, let me first explain that I had considered myself a goal-oriented person before that moment three years ago.

For years, I had created long lists of goals. They were usually created out of a position of dissatisfaction, which is not the best place to create and architect a life of one’s dreams.

Setting Goals Verses Creating a New Year’s Resolution

I was never a “New Year’s resolution” setter, because I always thought a resolution was the opposite way one should approach a goal. I felt I should focus on the result, not focusing on what I didn’t want to do, or need to fix. My goal lists were generally long, specific, and time-based.

Even though I learned to focus on results and specifics years ago, what I realized in March 2012 was, that my goals were disorganized and out of sight, and out of the everyday working ram (memory) of my mind computer.

These goals were typed out on different computers, dispersed among dozens of digital notepad text files in desktop folders and half a dozen yellow legal pads. Ideas were strung about here and there. Many of them, in actuality, were hit or miss.

Power in the Pen, Power in Simplicity

So between the years 2005 – 2012, I would end up finding text documents or legal pads of to do lists and realize, surprisingly, that I had accomplished some of the big things on my list that had seeped into my sub-conscious. I no longer wanted this just to be a surprise. On that day, I wanted to create a duplicatable process.

I also wanted to create a teachable process, similar to the goal-setting gurus from whom I had learned some of these techniques. One of my longer-term life goals is, as it is for many, quantifiable contribution and impact. My hope being that I can best impact by personal anecdote and contribute with useful takeaways.

Returning to my anecdote, during the last part of college, I had a girlfriend that would put her “To Do”list(s) on large white butcher paper. She would hang them all over her apartment from her bedroom to the kitchen.

She claimed she did this because she would forget crucial things due to her ADHD. Since that time, I had considered doing the same, only for less every day, more intermediate goals.

I was timid about trying this at first because others would see my deepest aspirations plastered on my apartment walls, but in March 2012, I decided that I no longer cared and it was worth doing. I didn’t use butcher paper; I used a whiteboard. It turned our better than I could have imagined, as evidenced above.

What do I call this method? It’s called the 50 Goals Whiteboard Challenge.

Of course this isn’t the only way, or necessarily, the best way to reach goals. It’s just one way, or one tool for achieving goals. It combines several applied principles I have learned over the last ten years from writers, thinkers, productivity geeks, and self development gurus, much wiser than me. Mindset does play a big role, and we’ll get deeper into that later. Right now we’re just starting with brass tacks.

If you’re an achievement-oriented person and you have your own system, the simplicity and honestly of this exercise can work for you just as well, and add to your overall mix.

How to Take the 50 Goals Whiteboard Challenge

  1. Write down 50 of your three-year goals on a whiteboard (don’t type them on a computer).
  2. Think BIG, think VERY big. Make all goals quantifiable, or merit-based milestones.
  3. Keep the whiteboard of goals where you, and others, can see them everyday, at home.
  4. Make small, but high-leverage, actions weekly that lead you to accomplishing those goals.
  5. Set up circumstances that will tackle multiple goals automatically and simultaneously. 
  6. For the ones that can’t be automated, don’t worry about them at this point in the process.

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” – Earl Nightingale

As you can see, what Mr. Nightingale is saying is that even though you put a three year timetable on it, don’t stress about how long that sounds, or if it takes longer.

Three years is short enough to be understood by the conscious mind (you can remember where you were three years ago if you take a pause), but long enough to let the sub-conscious mind work to synthesize solutions to reach your goals.

There you have it, one powerful and practical tool for achieving your intermediate goals, the 50 Goals Whiteboard Challenge. 

Need a more specific, step-by-step formula for writing your goals? Get my next post: How to Write Goals that Get Accomplished when it’s posted, via email, by subscribing here. 

In the next post, I will take a deep dive into what might be the “elusive obvious” when it comes to settings goals. By crafting them a specific way, they are more likely to get accomplished.

– Neil

An Open Hate Letter to Consumer Debt

Succubus
Dear Consumer Debt,

Let the record show, on this thirty-first day of December 2014, in the year of our Lord, that you, Consumer Debt (a.k.a. personal credit card debt), have been irrefutably, legally, and legitimately paid off. As of a few hours ago, I owe you nothing, zilch, nada, absolute zero.

I have capitalized your name as a proper noun because personifying you helps stir the needed painful emotions to prevent me from ever inviting you into my life again. You’re an unwanted, filthy, and immoral house guest that has overstayed her welcome.

You’d think by addressing you formally in an open letter I would use a colon after the salutation, but you see this isn’t business; it’s personal.

After four years of monthly payments this last go around, and five years the time before, your insatiable blood-lust has been sucked from this human for the last time. You won’t be getting anymore monies from me.

I’m not a hateful person. I’ve never had a problem with rage, hate, or anger. However, after two stints of what I can only compare to paying almost a decade’s worth of alimony to a cheating harlot, I can honestly say I hate you, and I hope I never see you again.

Over four years, what did you temporarily take from me?

  • Willingness to spend money traveling out of the country
  • Some of my self-respect & identity for being a rational/logical/smart person
  • Confidence in applying for or taking on a condo or home mortgage
  • Flexibility in entertaining job opportunities potentially more fulfilling that paid less
  • Ability to pay more on my student loans, which is considered “investment debt”

You stole half of my 20s and a 1/3rd of my 30s. You’re a succubus, a lecherous whore, that creeps in and seduces in the night ever so slowly until one day your victim is emotionally overwhelmed by a state of learned helplessness, or worse, detached/disassociated apathy. You’re an addiction where the victim toggles from deprivation (frugality) to unaccounted for spending.

You’re a home wrecker. You break up marriages and cause people to end their own lives. Honest, hardworking people blame themselves in retrospect for letting you in at the point when you get “out of control” (relative). However, it takes two to tango. You didn’t play fair, and you never intended to, because your game is rigged.

You know my life. After working very hard in school, getting good grades, and having several “character-building” jobs, in 2006 I found myself with what I consider my first relevant career-building position.

In 2008, in the beginning of the third year at my first real job, I convinced my employer to give me a 32% raise. I then found myself and with a good amount of disposable income. I didn’t realize at the time that I was earning more than some do after a steady five to seven years in their career.

Over the next two years, I did as many Americans do and lived above my means. I was told it was “good to have and use credit,” along with lots of other consumerist propaganda.

I was laid off in 2009, and took a job that paid 16% less. After six months at that job, in 2010 I took a job that was an 83% increase in salary, and a 29% net increase from the one in-which I was laid off.

With this new prosperous opportunity, I found it odd that I was still late on my rent, wasn’t saving, and living paycheck to paycheck. This was Parkinson’s Law, and then some.

Freedom is one of my core values, and after linking the fact that you, Consumer Debt, rob us of our freedom, I got angry. This is why I am writing this harshly-worded hate letter to you now; so I never forget what you did to me.

In 2010, instead of being angry at myself for a second time, I decided to learn my way through the problem by consuming tons of personal finance books and acting within what I could control.

Four years ago, I severed the relationships with the slave masters that manage and disperse your growth. I mustered the long-term willpower to make a plan to pay your ransom. On that day, I swore to myself and my future family that I would never make the mistake of owing you again. With no help from you, tomorrow is the first day of a consumer debt-free life. Stay far away and don’t ever come back.

Worst wishes to you,

Neil

Entrepreneurs: No One Will Give You Permission, so Stop Waiting for It

“When you take charge of your life, there is no longer need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission, you give someone veto power over your life.”– Geoffrey F. Abert

No one will give you permission to create wealth as an entrepreneur, so stop waiting for it. No one will give you permission to combine and attract new resources in a way that will allow you to live completely free and autonomously.

You are not alone in seeking this, but you are the only one stopping yourself.

As a sovereign human being, you are entitled to have freedom and so is everyone else in this world. Even if you live in a developing country or are starting with little resources, the Internet leveled the playing field.   We live in an abundant world where having more does not mean others get less; there is more than enough for all.

Thinking you’re undeserving and needing permission has subconsciously caused you to reject or sabotage opportunities that have been handed to you because you thought they seemed too easy, or you skeptically thought they were too good to be true. Stop thinking you’re not good enough. Stop thinking you don’t know enough. By being a good receiver, opening your eyes, and giving extreme gratitude for everything that supports your growth, you’ll find The Universe lopping you layups [opportunities ripe for the picking] all the time.

The more means and resources you have, the more you can give and the more you can make incredible changes for your  family, employees, community, cause/non-profit/church,  society,  and yourself. Before giving this gift generously to others, you have to achieve it for yourself. For some of those you will affect, your monetary offering will be your gift, for others it will be your time, and for others it will be your story.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Chinese proverb

Wealth historically comes from creating extreme value for lots and lots of people. Period. Yes, if you want to be a mismatcher or find exceptions, you’ll find them, but haven’t you already been doing that? How has that worked out so far for you?

You may have your wealth engine/entrepreneurial muse already built.  Did  you stop putting  fuel in because you thought you didn’t have permission to stand out and create value?

There are people that might encourage you when you explain your dream or vision for your entrepreneurial venture, but if you’re looking for their approval –  just like you did for other major decisions in your life –  stop.

Be ready and be OK with not receiving approval or ongoing encouragement. When you share your ideas and dreams, often others’ values are called into question, and some may tell you all the ways your idea won’t work. By presenting your ideas to them you’re making him or her evaluate their own level of courage. Some people aren’t ready for that sort of self-reflection.

Who should you seek approval from for manifesting your freedom through creating wealth as an entrepreneur?

  • Not your mother, she wants you to be safe, secure, and happy. An entrepreneur’s life is risky with extremes such as extreme joy, extreme giving, and extremely hard work (for a time).  You won’t be “comfortable” (which can be a trap in life) for a long time.
  • Not your father, he doesn’t want you to move back in the house  if you “fail” [There is no such thing as failure, only feedback]. Secondly, he never was able to make his entrepreneurial wealth dream happen, so it must not be possible.
  • Not your boss, you’re high leverage to him/her. You get billed out at $300 an hour, while you make $40 an hour. He/she doesn’t want you to quit. It would make his life harder to find someone to replace you because you’re amazing.
  • Not your sibling, he/she’s “not interested in money” and thinks you’re “selfish” for wanting to make a lot. He/she’s skeptical and sees most wealthy people as unethical, sellouts, or dull and dumb.
  • Not your coworkers, misery loves company. Crabs pull other crabs back in the bucket.
  • Not your spouse, you already have an awesome, high-paying, prestigious job, he/she doesn’t know why you won’t just stay there and move up the ladder. He/she doesn’t want to have to explain to the friends (the Jones) what you do.
  • Not your grandmother, she doesn’t know why you don’t want to work for 30 years with the same company and retire with a gold watch like grandpa did before he died five years into retirement.
  • Not your friends, they think you’re weird for not wanting to “go with the flow” and crazy for wanting to quit your job “in this economy.” Why can’t you just relax.
  • Not other successful employees, they don’t think like successful entrepreneurs and will view your ideas and execution plans through a different lens.
  • Not the President, global lower and middle-class mediocrity and conforming to what the controlled media says makes you easier to manage and tax.
  • Not God, although there are plenty of sacred religious texts encouraging wealth and good stewardship, God’s not going to blatantly send an angel in a dream that says to you point blank, “Go forth my son/daughter and make bank, you have my permission.” -The Man Upstairs

Remember I said seek approval not approve of and send resources once you are making waves and creating value.  Mark my word, this will happen once you are  giving yourself permission. I say giving instead of given because it is an active process.

Do find self-made entrepreneurs to have as mentors who have been successful in a similar area.  Don’t seek their permission, only their encouragement once you’re doing things to make your dream a reality.

The greatness of it all is that you don’t need the permission or approval of the people I mentioned above. In fact, you may make some of these people uncomfortable and face opposition and negativity. That’s OK. Expect it and accept it. Keep your day job, but start your “side hustle,” until you reach freedom (enough passive and/or active income to live on). Once you’re free, then you can create some real wealth, and achieve what you’re supposed achieve with your God-given talents and reclaimed freedom.

Once you’ve made it and you’re helping all of these people and others with: jobs, inspiration, mentorship, personal development, business skills and spiritual thought processes that make them more money, manifest more love, ignite more confidence, and bring them more fulfillment, they will be glad you did what you did, they just don’t know it yet.

Neil Lemons is an entrepreneur, arts and entertainment magazine publisher, mentor, consultant, and motivator. Follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, and join his circle on .

A Quick Note of Gratitude from Your 30 Year-old Son

This is an email I wrote to my parents. To be successful in life, I recommend expressing gratitude on a regular basis to family, friends, significant others,  co-workers, teachers,  mentors, and the Universe.

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Date: Sat, Oct 29, 2011 at 1:55 PM
Subject: A Quick Note of Gratitude from Your 30 Year-old Son

Hey Mom and Dad,

I was just reading the book Master Your Money by Ron Blue,
a book Dad gave to me, and I found a note that was being
used as a bookmark probably 15 years old. It was in Mom’s
handwriting and it had listed “Aaron’s car $x,xxx” and “Neil’s
car $x,xxx.” It also had some CC balances. This morning, I
felt overwhelmed with gratitude that you raised my siblings
and I with love and support as we were growing up and
continue to now.

I talk a lot about marketing, success, my theories, business
stuff, and my future goals. You guys probably get tired of it,
and it probably seems like the only stuff I think about. It’s not.

Being 30 and in a different place than you guys and my siblings
were and are in life at this point as far as their own families go,
I feel like this subject is one of those things I feel most comfortable
in relating since you may not be able to relate to my current life.

(Mom, I know we tend to have more to talk about, and you seem
happier, when I have a current girlfriend.)

I wanted to let you know despite all the business stuff, without a
doubt, I value relationships and family above all. Also, I wanted to let you
know I am a very happy, well-adjusted, and balanced person.

I have so much to be grateful for with my family, friends, and my
freedom. I’m wealthy in this regard.

My finances are a work-in-progress and a lifelong work. We don’t
always have our families for all of our lives, so I wanted to express my
gratitude to you TODAY.

I read a lot of bios of business people and rock stars. Guns N’ Roses
are coming to town and I looked up the lead singer’s bio on Wikipedia. I
read how sad Axl Rose’s upbringing was with abandonment and abuse,
and again felt gratitude that I had such an incredible childhood with
great parents and a brother and sister.

Although, I’m always pushing in my life for growth, new experiences,
doing and considering doing unconventional things like: couchsurfing, world
travel, living by choice as an unattached bachelor, hypnotherapy school,
studying spirituality, psychology, the occult, and the Illuminati, despite
all this stuff that may seem foreign and weird to you, you have raised
a well-adjusted, happy, sane, somewhat-normal person, that’s doing
great in life.

My actions and words may also seem like unrest to you, but I assure you
I’m fine. At the end of the day, I’m a truth and experience seeker. Having a
wife and family will not change that, and it’s not for lack of that that I am how
I am currently in my life. My gift to my children someday
and the world at large will be my story and what I can
teach them, so I plan on making it a good one and having a lot to teach.

One thing I’ve learned about my personality type (like I didn’t already know)
from standardized psychological tests is, I have a verbally quiet, yet
adventuresome-in-action spirit. I seek thrills and spontaneity and my ultimate core value is: freedom/independence. Followed by these.

Freedom – Able to move about without bounds or restraints, liberty.
Truth – A verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like.
Kindness – Friendly, caring, liking.
Knowledge – Subject matter expert, education via experience or study.
Growth – Investing in lifelong learning, personal development, self-education.

I still have a child-like thought process that I can do anything and be anyone
I want. I am a dreamer (thanks Dad).

I’m extremely fortunate in many ways with all that has come my way with what
others have given. One thing I’ve realized is, some of the most successful people are
good not only as givers, but good receivers. That’s something which good, and even
Christian, people overlook and it can hurt them spiritually.

You have to accept and feel worthy of what others do for you, otherwise you
rob them of the feeling they get from giving and the energy force they are passing
along. Acceptance, even of substantial gifts, without guilt or feelings of obligation,
is fine as long as there is gratitude (override the unfounded feelings of guilt, obligation,
and the Law of Reciprocity).

As long as you’re always giving value to the world and aren’t worried about
getting back, you shouldn’t feel guilty when it comes back (it’s a Law of the Universe).

I’m fortunate to have the abilities you have passed on to me such as: being hospitable,
friendly, a connector, and having a strong character.

I know we fancy ourselves a creative family, but Mom your analytical genes have
helped me with logic and the business side of my life. I do more number crunching than
I ever thought I would do in my career, and I’ve learned to embrace it, because it stands
to represent something I’ve done that others value…results. Dad, your warmth and sincerity
in your writing style, which may have passed through genes and rearing (Nature & Nurture),
has been of huge help in my professional and personal life.

I always say in interviews, that I have both analytical and creative sides (which is
perfect for what I do), since my Father was a photographer and Mother did the books
(accounting) for him (among other things such as sales). My strongest suit in life is writing
with a purpose: teaching, motivating, and being persuasive in print and in person (sales).
Being good at all of these take both sides of the brain, analytical and creative.

Thank you for being there. I love you.

Neil Lemons

==== END of Email=====

How Expert Sourcing Makes Your Content More Sharable

Have you ever heard the buzzword “crowdsourcing?” It’s popular among bloggers and business start-ups that create tech products or content for mass consumption. Even Microsoft uses this method. Basically, they put out a beta version of whatever product they have created and then use the minds and input of 1000s of software engineers who volunteer to improve the product. Some may call this “the wisdom of crowds,” which is also the title of a book by James Surowiecki.

Developers and users of software may use the term “open source” for software that is free and is continually being improved by 1000s of volunteers, aka the “community.”

For every major piece of software or framework that has had a huge impact in the last 20 years (Windows, Adobe Photoshop, easy FTP programs, blogs, website builders) there is usually a premier open source alternative to the most popular paid one. The most popular content management (CMS) systems or website builders are open source, or free to those who know how to use them: WordPress, Drupal and Joomla.

The opposite would be having to pay a website company monthly for access to a custom CMS or proprietary system to manage content and create pages. For the slightly less technical, he/she may just generalize this to thinking they are just paying hosting fees.

How to Use Expert Sourcing to Blast off Your Blogging Efforts

How does this relate to improving your content? Content is currency on the web, which takes time, energy, and thought to create. You may have heard the more common term “user generated content.” Major social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter have this as their business model.

Only their framework would exist if users were not constantly adding content, and there would not be much value. The value AND the growth come from users propagating and interacting, by, you guessed it, creating content.

I remember hearing a joke a few years ago that went like the definition of a social networking website business is, “We create all the content, they keep all the money.”

I’m not a big fan of being considered someone else’s user generated content. Similar to I don’t like how a specialized expert or subject matter expert in business is called a “resource.”

I’ve coined a term in blogging and content creation which I hope will take hold. I feel is much more respectable for achieving the same results and more accurate. I call it Expert Sourcing.

In my method, EVERYONE benefits in a win-win for all parties: the blog owner, the contributor, and the audience. By targeting key people who have their own agenda or want to build credibility in their respective field and need exposure, writing quality content may be a small price to pay.

Five Types of Expert Sourcing that Make Your Content More Sharable

1. Email Interview with Experts
2. One Question, Multiple Experts’ Opinions
3. Collaborative Guest Posts
4. Article Augmented with Two or Three Quotes from Different Experts
5. A pure guest post

Why do these make your blog post more sharable? It’s simple. Value. There’s value in an expert’s opinion, there is a multiplier effect in having several expert opinions in the same article. This makes the article’s value greater than the sum of its parts. The higher value, the more likely it will be shared.

Case Study: Expert Sourcing for Blog Content Using Collaborative Guest Posts

Some of you may know, I am the Co-founder of a hyper-local digital magazine called ILiveInDallas.com, or ILIVE as I will refer to it for this example. Three months ago, I had the idea of creating a collaborative article. For every collaboration (or confabulation : ), there needs to be a story leading to why something was done.

Having a “reason why” is one of Robert Cialdini’s’s minor weapon of influence hypothesized and thoroughly tested in his book Influence:The Psychology of Persuasion.  Here was my story, which subsequently opened the article.

“It started with an email and a mission. After hearing the news that one local Dallas magazine had proclaimed that Bolsa was the “Best Restaurant in Dallas in 2009,” I had to do an investigative search of my own. When I realized Dallas has nearly 7,000+ restaurants I’d have to try, I thought a faster and possibly more accurate alternative to make my 2011 “have to try” list would be to ask five local Dallas foodies for their five best restaurants in Dallas. None of these foodies saw each others’ list before this article was collaborated and one restaurant made two of the foodie lists.

The article then proceeded to have five sub-articles written by the foodies. Key points:

    Each foodie had a blog, or a reason to want to participate.
    It was a fun, subjective, topic in which there could be several valid opinions.
    There was a team attitude about the whole thing, which made the participants feel like he/she was contributing to a bigger idea (and they were).

The organizer of the post takes on the burden of adding images, consistent formatting, and making sure all elements are in place (bios, author photos, links).

Side Benefits For Expert Sourced Articles for the Blog Owner

– Contributors or interviewees will promote the article to their own network outside of yours.
– You’re more likely to be asked to guest post, or to be interviewed by doing so first resulting in links and better SEO for your website.
– Constantly creating content is tough, you get to take a break for a day.

The first benefit mentioned above was one huge key to the success of the article. This article resulted in a the highest two day traffic rush from social media ever experienced on the site:

The Results

– 2500 visitors in 48 hours
– Over 340 Facebook Shares
– Over 100 Retweets on Twitter
-40 backlinks in two weeks

The article continues to bring traffic from keyword referrals/people finding it on search engines for Dallas restaurant-related terms. That’s the power of Expert Sourcing.

This post is a part of a series called Better Business Blogging & Audience Building Secrets you can get free by subscribing here. You’ll receive exclusive email & member’s only content on the latest audience building techniques. You’ll also receive updates on the state of search, social media, and Internet Marketing for more customers.  Neil Lemons is a Dallas Internet Marketing Consultant who has been blogging and creating  SEO content strategies for businesses since 2006.

How to Hypnotically Harness Your Blog for Better Search & Social Results

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Before you sell your expertise, recommendations, and time, you have to sell someone on consuming your media. It’s like dating before you ask someone to be in a committed relationship or for their hand in marriage. You wouldn’t ask on the first date would you? Your media could include blog RSS feed subscriptions through email or a reader, tweets on twitter, status updates on Facebook, or an email newsletter. The more touch points the better. This all starts with having compelling content. Social Media is merely the delivery method for content you’re already creating: blog posts, PDF whitepapers, videos. You should never practice social media marketing in a vacuum without inviting your audience commit to the next step: consuming your content on your website. This is a seduction process that takes time. Since blogging is one of the most foundational and fundamental activities for attracting business, I thought I’d start with some basic reminders.

    1. Spend More Time Crafting the Headline than the Content
    This is an old advertising rule reiterating headlines are crucial in capturing the reader and keep him/her reading. You have to capture the readers attention first. No matter how cliché they seem, lists work. All magazines from Time to Wired to Fast Company use top 10, even top 100, lists as featured articles to attract readers passing newsstands and online. List blog posts use two irresistible psychological triggers based on classic persuasion principles: specificity and authority. Here are ten more psychological triggers you should use in headlines borrowed from direct marketing industry masterminds: social proof, curiosity, halo effect, stories, a reason why, contrast, commitment & consistency, damaging admission, scarcity, and reciprocation. These headline writing tactics, based on rarely-changing persuasion principles and can have a hypnotic effect on your reader. Having an angle or slant commenting on recent national or industry news or “How To” articles also do very well, and play into the same principles. There are several other variables you should consider when writing your post headlines including alteration, flow, and SEO. You should just start with a brain dump and hone from there. What to avoid: Cutesy, self-indulgent, vague, or pun-laden headlines.
    2. Captivate Your Audience with a Compelling or Slightly Confusing Image
    A curious image at the beginning of every blog post can increase the likelihood someone will read it in the first place as well as the likelihood he/she will read the post in its entirety. Readers will read the whole post just to see why the particular image was chosen, like an Easter egg hunt. Picking a slightly odd or weird image, not just a reflection the title, causes a little more brain stimulation. By relating the photo to something in the middle of the post, it triggers a rewarding, “I’m smart” feeling in the reader when he/she finds the connection. It’s like when the name of a song or movie is mentioned in the middle, the viewer/listener goes “ah, hah!” Use Flickr.com and perform an advanced keyword search in the “creative commons” section for royalty-free images. If you use Google Images, at least give a photographer credit. Use at least one compelling image every time you write a blog post. What to avoid: Blasé corporate clip art, stock images, not crediting the photographer.
    3. Cite Internal Links Often
    Link to the homepage or interior pages once or twice in every post, and two to three to other authoritative sources. A good rule of thumb is one link per 100 words. When mentioning an article from the New York Times, use a linkback to the article. When quoting that article use the blockquote function on the backend of WordPress. Speaking of citation, you should always cite credible/authoritative sources, when making a blanket statement or using statistics. It not only helps persuade, there is a secondary halo effect, pairing you with the authority of your source. When mentioning a topic you’ve covered before, link to that post using juicy keyword-rich anchor text (the words that link). Once you’re written a dozen or so posts, add “Related Posts” at the end of every post to get three deep links to older posts. If you use WordPress use this plugin to make it easier: SEO SmartLinks
    What to avoid: Using non-descriptive anchor text such as “click here” when linking internal pages.
    4. Use Your Blog for Original Thought Leadership
    A blog is not the forum for selling or overt personal promotion. In order to build an audience, articles need to be engaging and offer extreme resource and citable (linkable) value to the reader. It should be something which has universal value to your specific audience in which he/she could not help but pass on to others on their networks. Only after the blog has a following should you make a soft sell. The purpose of a blog is not to sell but to be considered a thought leader and expert by displaying expertise in the field. Any press releases should be placed on “company news” section on your website. What to avoid: Posting company news, product specials & press releases. “Me too” articles. Rehashing news already covered by A-List industry blogs everyone has already read, rants or negative thoughts.
    5. Attract Links & Build Community
    Creating articles which get shared and passed along to others using social media goes along with this goal. In this day of attention economics, one has to earn comments on his/her blog . This is done by leaving meaty comments on others’ blogs without personal promotion. These articles link back to your posts in an unobtrusive way and you get on other blog owners’ radar. He/she may link to you or quote you from time to time. Find other relevant bloggers in the same industry and network online by leaving comments.What to avoid: Thinking of other blogs in your industry as competitors to be avoided.
    6. Write Evergreen Info Until You Have an Audience
    Evergreen topics are information users are searching for every day, all the time instead of time sensitive announcements. Create authoritative posts between 1000 – 4000 words answering and teaching in a verbose way detailing what’s important to your audience, step-by-step. Break up the copy with sub-heads which reflect a well-worded headline. Only after you have built up a loyal audience should you start posting commentary or your opinion on the latest piece of industry news. What to avoid: Doing a half-a** job, and being lazy. You’re not going to win if you don’t have the most authoritative article for a given topic.
    7. Research Topics Using a Keyword Research Tool Every Time you Write
    Blog about what’s in demand and shoot for a five to seven word long phrase for ranking every time you post. Make that phrase your headline with one or two buffer words before or after. What to avoid: Guessing based on what you think people are searching without doing the research & targeting phrases which are too competitive.

For half a decade, Neil Lemons has worked behind-the-scenes to help create exposure, traffic, leads, and sales through major search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing using . Lemons has also been involved in Social Media sites since 2001, networking, promoting and building community on : Facebook, Livejournal, MySpace, Friendster, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, and others. Calling upon his diverse background in copywriting, advertising, marketing, and sales, learning traditional SEO and SEM tactics implementing online marketing strategies since 2005.

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