Achieve your career goals

Achieve your career goals

Clay Christensen is a Harvard Business School professor specializing in the future of work and how to set smart work goals. 
If you are have trouble finding your business niche perhaps his suggestions will help you on your way.

Before you set a goal

Dr Christensen suggests taking a step back. Most people start planning by setting goals. Dr. Christensen suggest that you cannot set realistic goals until you know your purpose in life. What is you calling?
I’m a conservationist. I want to help people live a productive, sustainable life. Hawaiians call it being pono and it means living in harmony with each other and with our earth.
Here are some of Dr. Christensen’s thoughts on how to live a productive life.
Understand your values. Values can usually be expressed in a word or two. If you value honesty, loyalty and caring for others those values will guide your purpose in life. 
Your calling must be consistent with your values.
When you understand your purpose, picking your niche is relatively easy, but for me it has not been that easy. I spent 30 years working for various federal and state conservation organizations. When I retired, I lost my way for 10 years while I tried to make enough income to survive in retirement in one of the highest cost of living states in the union.
During that time I had a variety of sales, computer and conservation gigs, but I lacked focus. Gradually, I realized that most people work to survive. The are drifting without purpose. Their only goal is to provide for their family and sometimes it isn’t even that.
This article is about setting goals, but goals without purpose are meaningless. 
How we spend our time determines what we do in life. Usually, we work for our bosses goals and our life goals overwhelmed by outside forces.

So what are the qualities of a well crafted goal?

My wife says I have to many interests. I’m sure she is right. When I try to do to many things, I get a little bit done on each thing and accomplish nothing. 
Try to focus your goals on those things that are most important to you and do not work on more than three goals at a time. 
Break you goals down into small measurable steps and put a deadline on each step. That way you will see progress toward your goal. Being able to mark off your progress helps motivate you to keep going. 

What matters is how you spend your time

You can talk about your goals all you like, but what matters is how you spend your time. Block out the time on your calendar when you will work on the most important thing in your life. Consider that time an appointment you cannot break.  I use block journaling to plan and record my life. It lets me see what I have accomplished and what I plan to do. It is old-fashioned pen and paper, but it works for me. I’m a computer guy, so I also use Evernote, Trello and Planyway. They integrate beautifully and providing all the planning capability most people need. I track my time using Toggl. Explaining how I use those tools will take another article, but you can Google them. 
Watch how you use your time and your money. If you are not working on your goals you are wasting your life. When the way you live your life is inconsistent with your calling, you are headed in the wrong direction. When you focus on your life purpose all your decisions will be much easier. Your purpose will guide your goals and your goals will determine how you live your life. On the river of life, if your boat looses its rudder you may get swamped in the rapids of life.
How do you know if your life is on track? Make a lot of little failures. People often develop a strategy for accomplishing their goals but fail to test whether the strategy is working. The result is by the time the figure out things are not working they are already facing catastrophic failure.
In summary: 
Know your calling.
Be sure what you are doing is consistent with your values.
Identify what you must do to accomplish your calling.
Break those goals down into measurable objectives that have realistic deadlines.
Watch how you use your time and your money.
Check often to be sure the strategies you are using are working.

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Are you living your life to the fullest?

Are you living your life to the fullest?

Smart Creatives don’t starve. In fact, with routine jobs being automated it will be the creative people who thrive.

Today the internet provides Creatives a way to cut out the middle man and sell directly to their fans. In fact, crowd funding platform allows Creatives to interact directly with their fans and provides a way fans can support their favorite creatives.

What is your calling?

What life do you want?

What life do you want?

The age old question of the human race is, “Why am I here?” What is calling you? What important things do you want to accomplish? Sometimes our calling comes to us in a flash of understanding. More often circumstances guide our lives. Only when we become seriously dissatisfied will we pause to take a look at our future. When we recognize our life is not going the way we want, understanding our calling will guide our future decisions. Our calling may change. I spent most of my life working as a forester. I will always work to leave a better world for my kids, but recently I have gotten more involved in community disaster preparedness. I soon recognized that it takes money to be prepared. That lead me to help people start internet businesses that can create the additional income they need.

Your re-evaluation can happen anytime in your life. It used to be called a mid-life crisis. Now it is called pivoting. When done right It can bring satisfaction and a sense of purpose to our lives. I think it is helpful to put our thoughts, experiences, and remembrances down on paper. Study your list for common threads running through your life. What do you like doing? What is just a chore? What accomplishment gave you the most satisfaction? At first your list may look chaotic, but usually, there will be a theme running through your life. Your evaluation can help you understand what you want to accomplish in life. That is your calling.

Creative people don’t do what they do to become famous or to make lots of money. They create because they must. The problem is a creative must earn a living. So here are a few suggestions.

Practice in public

The internet gives us a unique opportunity to share our creations with the world. Creating is about being the best we can be. You don’t become a writer until you start writing. You don’t become a photographer without taking pictures. And, you do not become a musician without playing your instrument. Practice your craft every day. That is my challenge to you. Practice your craft in public. That means you have to show your work to the world.

Traditionally, you would show your art at a gallery or hang it on a fence next to a busy sidewalk. Music might be promoted by cutting records and sending them to radio stations around the country. Books were published by publishers and movies were created by MGM, Disney, and RKO. Now we can use our computer to create our video and share it on YouTube, We can create pod casts and self-publish our books. The internet has opened a world of opportunity to Creatives.

You need a platform. A platform is simply a stage that allows you to connect with your audience. Tony Robbins may be the person whose platform first comes to mind. He has addressed audiences from stages all over the world. But he doesn’t stop there. He has a website, a social media following and even sells his work in Apple Store. You can learn a lot about your internet platform by studying his website. He even has an affiliate program that pays a 15% commission on sales from your website.

The simplest platform for you to set up is your website/blog, your social media and your email list of fans who have asked you to share your craft with them. Post your articles, your art work or your video to your website at least weekly. Many factors go into getting good search engine rankings and getting traffic to your site, but the most important by far is to keep your website fresh and interesting with helpful content. The key to a good blog is to be entertaining, relevant to your audience and helpful. Every page and post you write should end in a tripwire encouraging your reader to join your mailing list. For more information on using the internet as your platform click here.

Charge what you are worth

The biggest mistake a freelancer makes is not charging what you are worth. I recommend setting the price you want to receive. Be sure to recognize your need to pay yourself benefits. $150/hr is my standard fee. You won’t be able to fund your health insurance and retirement program if you charge much less. In prioritizing your time, do the things that will make you money first. Any pro-Bono work has to take a lower priority. I always ask what a potential client’s budget is. I set the absolute minimum I will work for. If it is a project I want to be involved in, I will negotiate down till I am within their budget. That will usually involve revising the scope of the project. If it is a non-profit I believe in, I prefer to contribute my work as a volunteer rather than cheapening my work by cutting my price. I can add to my portfolio, get a recommendation and do something worthwhile.

Build a portfolio of diverse income streams.

Successful creatives diversify their incomes. 30% of their income might come from sales of their book or movie. 30% from speaking tours and 40% from providing coaching in their area of expertise. Be generous. Give examples of your work away in return for getting their email in your opt-in list. Then sell your book. Then sell on line coaching. Then offer to work with a client in one-on-one coaching sessions. It is called a sales ladder, and it is a way to upsell your client while providing them valuable service. By starting with a giveaway and working up to progressively more expensive projects,  your client learns to trust in your ability to help.

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