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One of the skills that is a requisite to success, and yet many times is not even considered, is the skill of setting goals and priorities.

Sometimes, it is taught somewhat in Time Management. It might even be part of Critical Thinking, as one has to analyze and determine what is important to accomplishing a task or goal.

Decision Making is an integral part, too, as one's goals and priorities require good decisions to become a reality.

Few people really know specifically what they want out of life. And even fewer take the time to set specific written goals tied to a 3 month, 6 month, 1 year, 5 year plan.

Few businesses even do this strategic planning.

We are busy handling the crisis of the moment. We let life go by like a river, and we are on a raft and go wherever the current takes us.

The truth is that sometimes life does hit us and we must just go with the flow.

However, we can always choose our attitude as we go along and many times, too, we do have the power to choose our course.

We can make life happen. We have choices. We can be prepared and have a paddle ready to help us realign our course.

The things we spend our thoughts on, our time on, our resources on...are the things we we make happen.

One of first steps to scheduling or time management or goal setting is to: analyze your use of time.

Keep a journal or a log for a day, a week, a month. (you can do this with food or money, too, and it is extremely enlightening. Several years ago, I did it with money and learned several ways to cut back. I had no idea how much I had been spending on books.)

Then you go back through the days, the week, the month...a business can shadow an employee to see where waste is in tasks or procedures.

Try to see where you are currently wasting time.

Find more efficient ways to use the time. Am I on a bus or train? Can I use that time to read something important instead of surfing, twittering, or social networking?

Do I have time between classes or meetings? Could I be using that time to make marketing calls? Check emails at work?

Do I spend too much time on the computer? Watching sports? Playing video games? Partying?

This is where goal setting and prioritizing comes in. Is my life where I want it to be?

One of my favorite quotes is:

Sacrifice is giving up something you want-

For something you want more.

What are you willing to give up, to get what you really want.

It is seldom, that good things just happen.

It is usually because of planning and hard work.

Think about it. Most great vacations, weddings, parties, careers, businesses, raising children, retirement, anything in good or successful as the result of planning and hard work...not just because they just happened.

Have you made plans on how you will raise your children? How you will make it through school? How your business will prosper in the next 5 years?

Set goals.

Write them down.

Create the steps that will allow you to reach the goals.

Some questions to ask:

  • Do I need a specific set of skills to accomplish my goals?

  • Do I need specific information or knowledge to complete my goal?

  • Do I need assistance from someone to reach my goal?

  • Do I need resources?

  • Is there a stumbling block? How can I overcome it?

  • Have I made too many assumptions?

  • Is there a better way to reach my goal?

Talk to someone who has reached this goal before you to see if you are on the right track.


Goal Setting: Creates The Finish Line

Goal Setting is more than setting specific, measurable and time targeted objectives. Each of our ReadySetPresent video products has a series of quotations set to music with high-resolution poster qual...


Lisa Gilmore, Garland County Family and Consumer Scienes, shows you how to set SMART goals to help you achieve your New Year's resolutions.

Zig Ziglar Setting Goals 1 of 3

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Identity, Priority, and Blessings

Some people on life’s journey forget who they really are and what is really important. Without sure identity and priority, blessings that matter most are at the mercy of things that matter least.

An understanding of the interrelationships between identity, priority, and blessings can help anyone deal better with life’s challenges.

It is important to know who you are and who you may become. It is more important than what you do, vital as your work is. You pursue an education to prepare for life’s work, but you also need to prepare for life—eternal life.

I emphasize this because some people on life’s journey forget who they really are and what is really important. Without sure identity and priority, blessings that matter most are at the mercy of things that matter least.

Many people are now—very busy and very frustrated.


If the Lord were to speak to you, He would urge you to understand your identity—to know who you really are.

Whether married or single, you will all have work to do. I hope it will be enjoyable. It’s nice to bounce out of bed each morning eager to enjoy a day’s work, and it is especially gratifying when we can bless the lives of others.

But please remember: You work to sustain life; you don’t live to sustain work.

Your life will be a blessed and balanced experience if you first honor your identity and priority.


Unending principles that govern happiness apply equally to all. I doubt that the Lord cares much which honorable vocation you pursue. But He does care if you love one another and serve one another.

And He cares that you have the obedience and self-discipline needed to maintain your identity and honor your highest priorities.

Through thick and thin, my wife and I have merged our identity and fixed our focus on our highest priority, our marriage. Through the prolonged period of education and later medical practice, she could have complained about my schedule, but she never did.

Our children did not feel they were deprived of their father’s time, simply because my wife never murmured. Their attitudes were shaped by her attitude.

Every moment we were together she seized as an opportunity to provide a little bit of heaven on earth for me and our children.

Sustain your spouses in their important work, and don’t be selfish in your expectations. Let your husband or wife return to a home of affection, not contention. Meanwhile, learn truth and teach it to your children.

Your first objective should be a happy marriage, followed by the rearing of a good family. Education can better equip you for the realization of those ideals.

Be cheerful. Take life one step at a time and do the best you can each day. Life passes so swiftly. We do not know how many years we may have together here in mortality.

Real love is not measured in terms of moonlight and roses, but in terms of who will care for you when you are old.

When mortal life is over, each of us will return to God, who gave us life. In a judgment interview, I doubt that He will ask a surgeon, “How many operations did you perform?” or “Do you wish you had spent more time at the hospital?”

But no doubt He will carefully scrutinize my record as a husband and father.

Connecting Identity, Priority, and Blessings

The Lord reveals our identity, inspires our proper priority, and will fulfill blessings as promised.

How do you discover your identity? First, remember that you are a child of God.

How do you determine your priority? Ask yourself, What do I really want most of all?

A husband’s highest priority is to love and care for his wife, to bless her and their children. A wife’s highest calling is to love her husband and nurture their children.

How do you obtain blessings? With your identity preserved and your priorities properly honored, blessings will flow to you.

May you know your identity, who you are and who you can become; may you establish your priority, held high and protected from erosion; and may you qualify for blessings of the Lord to be with you, to bring joy to you.

An edited version of a talk given by Russell M. Nelson given at a Church Educational System Fireside at Brigham Young University on 10 September 2000.

Official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

© 2011 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Are You a Slacker? --- The Perils of Wasting Time at Work

By Robert Half International

Warning: Employers are cutting slackers less and less slack.

Recent reports indicate that companies throw away billions of dollars annually in lost productivity. The average worker admits to wasting more than two hours each workday, on everything from making personal phone calls to socializing with co-workers to simply "spacing out." The cost to U.S. businesses: up to $759 billion per year.

Employers have taken notice and are cracking down on disengaged workers. While most workers don't purposely put off their priorities, those who frequently mismanage time should be aware that their actions -- or lack thereof -- could cost them choice assignments, promotions or even their jobs.

Following are five of the most common productivity killers in the workplace and tips for avoiding them:

Productivity killer: Chronic tardiness

Why it's a problem: The old adage "Better late than never" doesn't hold water in the workplace. If you're always the last one into the office, colleagues and managers may question your professionalism and be upset by your lack of respect for the team, even if you're staying late to compensate. After all, they might not be aware of your night-owl tendencies. Equally problematic, you may be frazzled and unfocused when you finally get to your desk.

The solution: While everyone is tempted to hit the "snooze" button in the morning, tardiness is a major bad habit. Luckily, it's easily remedied. To overcome this problem, determine when you have to be out the door to make it into work on time. Then aim to leave five to 10 minutes before your "must-leave" time. Carpooling with someone else who works in your office may also help you become more punctual. Be sure to build extra time into your commute for unexpected delays.

Productivity killer: Cyberslacking

Why it's a problem: The "harmless" 15 minutes you spend here and there surfing the Web and e-mailing friends adds up over the course of a full workday. In fact, research by Robert Half International indicates that, on average, employees spend nearly an hour a day on personal Internet use while at the office. According to Websense, Inc., this could cost American corporations more than $178 billion annually in lost productivity. You're also leaving an electronic trail of your non-work activities that might come back to haunt you.

The solution: If you're a celebrity-gossip junkie or sports score-checking fanatic, break yourself of the habit of scanning the Internet while working on projects. Although taking the occasional mental break to look up something online is part of modern-day work life, save the majority of your in-depth news and blog reading for home. You'll stay focused and get more quality work accomplished. And don't forget that your office computer is actually the employer's equipment. What you do on that computer is, in fact, the company's business.

Productivity killer: Post-lunch lethargy

Why it's a problem: You feel fatigued and your productivity dips immediately after lunch. Plus, the boss likely notices your sluggishness and the resulting lack of output. In a recent Robert Half International survey, executives said noon to 2 p.m. is one of the least productive times of the day for employees.

The solution: Eat for energy. Healthy, wholesome lunches -- not a candy bar, soda and bag of chips -- can help you combat the dreaded mid-day slump and aid attentiveness the entire afternoon. If you feel your energy draining, head outside or take a walk around the office to get your blood flowing again.

Productivity killer: Distraction attraction

Why it's a problem: When you're easily sidetracked by chatty co-workers, latte runs and excessive snack breaks, you're more likely to miss deadlines and scramble to finish projects.

The solution: While it's beneficial to your career and overall well-being to have good relationships with your co-workers, job duties should never take a backseat to socializing. Complete your work first, then take some time to chitchat. Your cube mate will be around for a while; your deadline won't.

Productivity killer: Errand-running

Why it's a problem: Successfully balancing personal and professional commitments is important, but doing so does not mean using work hours to run private errands. Allowing personal obligations and tasks to consistently interfere with your job is a surefire way to damage your career.

The solution: It's simple: Focus on work when you're at work. Save the shopping, pharmacy trips and dry-cleaning runs for your off-hours. Whenever possible, schedule routine dental or medical appointments before or after work, or ask for permission to take a long lunch break instead of trying to squeeze in an appointment. If you have extenuating circumstances, such as issues involving childcare or an elderly parent, discuss the situation with your manager. The two of you may be able to work out a more flexible schedule.

Production and concentration are keys to professional success. While we all occasionally get sidetracked, the aforementioned tips will help you get back on task, stay motivated and engaged and prepare for success.

Robert Half International Inc. is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 330 offices throughout North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. For more information about our professional services, please visit

This is part of a letter I wrote to a manager at a company where I was ask to do some consulting...I thought it might be useful as these principles apply to all organizations...remember to be careful what you set as your priorities:

William Edwards Deming was an Americanstatistician, professor, author, lecturer and consultant. He is perhaps best known for his work in Japan. There, from 1950 onward, he taught top management how to improve design (and thus service), product quality, testing and sales (the last through global markets) through various methods, including the application of statistical methods.

Deming made a significant contribution to Japan's later reputation for innovative high-quality products and its economic power. He is regarded as having had more impact upon Japanese manufacturing and business than any other individual not of Japanese heritage.

Deming taught that by adopting appropriate principles of management, organizations can increase quality and simultaneously reduce costs (by reducing waste, rework, staff attrition and litigation while increasing customer loyalty).

The key is to practice continual improvement and think of manufacturing as a system, not as bits and pieces."

Basically, Dr. Deming's philosophy is summarized as:

(a) When people and organizations focus primarily on quality, defined by the following ratio,

Quality tends to increase and costs fall over time.

(b) However, when people and organizations focus primarily on costs, costs tend to rise and quality declines over time.

This is exactly what has occurred at Company X, except, in my opinion, their number one focus is on production. Safety, quality of product, customer satisfaction, quality of life of their employees, reduced waste, and such are second priorities.

The following points will show how this has occurred:

· Orders are sent out that QA has a hold on.

· QA does not have final authority and is routinely overturned.

· There are no delineated lines of authority. It is routine for one manager to overturn the decision of another. Therefore, managers, the lower managers and in turn, the leaders under them, are afraid to make decisions. They feel they have to constantly call someone above them; and if they take responsibility and make a decision: whether it is to fire someone, change a process, find missing items, make a change to the schedule because they do not have all the items needed to produce something- they are reprimanded, overturned, and so on.

· There are few organizational processes in place.

· There are no designated flow and process procedures.

· Training is haphazard and almost non-existent. New workers, line leaders, managers are all “thrown in” the water and then they either sink or learn to swim.

The company is in crisis mode and the managers operate as firefighters, not leaders.

They simply run around trying to find their employees shovels, clean gloves, lids for a product they were to already be working on, ink for the date machine, product they need from the warehouse, finding someone who can operate a forklift so they can move the older product from the top instead of using the newer product on the floor, and on and on.

· Many times an hour or two is spent just getting production going because there are missing labels, not the right container, the product is not where production can get to it. Workers are poorly trained and the manager has to go from station to station to teach each person.

· The workers are tired, over-worked, frustrated, skeptical, and are fervently waiting and hoping for a glimmer of hope.

The workers are treated as though they are machines and not as human beings with families that they love, want to be with, or have a responsibility toward.

· There is an atmosphere of fear, discouragement, blame, and crises.

Items of suggestions for improvement:

1) QA should be a separate entity and have complete and final authority as to the safety, quality, consistency, and accuracy of all products. (Perhaps, they should be in complete charge of the ingredients and the mixers…I KNOW if I were in charge of the outcome…I would want to be in charge of whom is mixing the batch).

2) A cost and benefit analysis of products offered to measure each product’s profit margin should be conducted. Are the small orders profitable? Are the hand-packed orders profitable? Are the odd shaped packaged items profitable? Could more products be packed in the same packaging to eliminate so many skews? Should the large size X be eliminated as they are of greater concern for core temperature issues en route and could pose a future liability because of bacterial growth?

3) There must be delineated lines of authority. Before accountability can occur, there must first be trust.

The upper management must trust their supervisors and line leads to run their respective lines.

The leaders should be allowed to hire/fire their workers, run their lines as they see fit (within company guidelines) and be accountable for their own areas of responsibility.

4) A complete organizational overhaul must occur. There needs to be organizational charts, strategic planning, training, job descriptions, delineated job tasks, lines of authority, priorities established, decision making processes, designated areas of authority and work, set procedures and processes.

5) Flow and process procedures must be developed, determined, written down, and put in a training manual and training must be established and be a continual ongoing process. Deming’s simple Plan, Do, Check, Act—would be a simple start to improving efficiencies.

6) Workers must be treated as assets, not disposable commodities. Scheduling must be changed to:

a) Hire more workers; create more teams, etc., so Each worker only works 40 hours per week. (Current overtime is killing profits…this also shows how production has high jacked profitability).

b) Hire part-time permanent workers that managers can use for: bathroom breaks, 15 minute breaks every 4 hours, while training a new worker, for sick or vacationing workers, and so forth.

c) Close the plant completely on Sundays. The employees need to be sent a strong clear message that Company X sees them as human beings with families and a life beyond work.

This measure will actually improve productivity and loyalty as the employees will know that they DO have at least one day free. It will also increase machinery life, lower repair costs… (machines need breaks, too).

Currently, there is an extremely high (again UNprofitable) employee/manager turnover simply because this is not a third world country and they can find another $8 an hour job where they are not required to work 15 hour days/7 days a week, work on weekends, sacrifice vacations, given no breaks, no time off, and so on.

d) Research has shown again and again that tired (and discouraged) workers are less productive, have higher error rates, more accidents (worker’s comp has raised the UNprofitability), higher turn-over, more missed days, lowered punctuality, no company loyalty, are slower to learn and retain training.

In order to build an efficient Management System, the following must be observed:

  • Never set a spec that your process cannot deliver.

  • Set specifications (azd sales quotas) you CAN meet.

  • Let your specifications be dictated by your process- by what you can deliver.

  • Set specs- plus or minus (deviations)-must be written-- process validation.

Deming’s Key principles

Deming offered fourteen key principles for management for transforming business effectiveness.

The points were first presented in his book Out of the Crisis. (p. 23-24) Although Deming does not use the term in his book, it is credited with launching the Total Quality Management movement.

  • Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and stay in business, and to provide jobs.

  • Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.

  • Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for massive inspection by building quality into the product in the first place.

  • End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.

  • Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.

  • Institute training on the job.

  • Institute leadership (see Point 12 and Ch. 8 of "Out of the Crisis"). The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.

  • Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company. (See Ch. 3 of "Out of the Crisis")

  • Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.

  • Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.

  • a. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.

  • b. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.

  • a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.

  • b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia," abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective (See Ch. 3 of "Out of the Crisis").

  • Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.

  • Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's job.

"Massive training is required to instill the courage to break with tradition. Every activity and every job is a part of the process."

Seven Strategies for Highly Effective New Year's Resolutions

2013 is here. Most likely you will be asked what your resolutions are for the year ahead. Whether you like to make them or not, research has found that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.

Yet as we all know, it is not easy to keep our resolve as life returns to normal and our old habits of mind and action start testing our determination and pulling us away from the new goals we committed to make.

Change is difficult, yet as hard as it is, each of us has the ability to make and keep meaningful changes in our life, regardless of our age, or how deeply engrained are our habits.

Indeed, there is a science to success when it comes to achieving goals and making life changes – whether on January 1 or any other time of year.

Not because everything will go as you want, but because you be firmly at the helm of your own life – living by design rather than by default.

7 Strategies for Highly Effective Resolutions

1. Know Your Why. For a resolution to stick, it has to be aligned with our core values. We all want to look better or get richer, but our resolutions have to go beyond superficial desires and connect with what truly matters most to us. In other words, we have to “Know our why” and feel truly passionate about the goals we set for ourselves.

If not, then when the going gets tough or our alarm goes off at 5:30am, we will not have the resolve to stick to our plan. We need to connect our resolutions to those things that give us a deep sense of purpose and align with our core values. When our resolutions relate to a deeper sense of purpose, it compels us not to think small or play safe, but to dig deep and stay the course when the going gets tough – no matter how many hurdles.

2. Be Specific. Resolutions to ‘eat better, get fitter, be happier, relax more or have better life balance’ are doomed for failure because they lack specificity. The more specific we are, the more likely we will be able to succeed. Describe your goals and resolutions in ways that allow you to track your progress and measure your success.

For instance, if you want to build a better relationship with a family member, schedule and plan for a definite time or event. Likewise if you are committed to a better health and exercise regime, schedule how many workouts you will fit into each week. The more specificity; the better.

3. Don’t Just Think It, Ink it! A Stanford University study found that when people wrote down their goal, it increased the probability of them achieving it by over 70 percent. But do not just write down the specific goal; write down how you will feel when you have accomplished it.

When you have finished penning your desires, jot down on sticky pads the words that inspire you most about your goal and put them around your home/office to remind you of why you are committed to doing what it takes to bring your goal into reality.

4. Design Your Environment. Never underestimate the power of our environment to support or sabotage our success. Therefore, we should design our environment so that it is hard NOT to do what we resolved.

Create a progress chart, recruit a cheer squad among your family and friends, find someone to hold you accountable, hire a trainer, join a group, and create a blog. Likewise, if there are people or things in your life that pull you down or off track, address them directly and set whatever boundaries you know you will need up front.

5. Narrow Your Efforts. Trying to do too many things at once can make us so unfocused that we just bounce around like Tigger on Red Bull, not quite sure which direction we are going.

Set yourself up for success and start with JUST ONE MAJOR UNDERTAKING come January. Then break that goal down into small bite size steps. Small steps, strong start!

6. Focus On The Process. It is easy to get caught up in an initial wave of enthusiasm, only to come crashing down when our initial efforts do not produce immediate and amazing results.

So focus on the process itself, and develop a greater competence of the actual activity, habit or skill you wish to acquire. For example, if you want to become more fit, focus on being able to jog a little bit further every time you go for a walk, rather than being able to run 5 miles within a week. 


7. Forgive Your Failures. Our setbacks and failures do not define our success in the year ahead or any year. HOW WE RESPOND WILL. If you happen to mess up, lose your resolve, press the snooze button or revert to a familiar well-practiced behavior, do not beat up on yourself.

Okay, so you didn’t get to the gym like you’d planned. How about 5 minutes of stretching?

When it comes to slipping up and tripping up, you are in good company. It happens to all of us. Just do not let our mishaps, setbacks and failures mean more than they do. Reflect on the lessons they hold, make adjustments accordingly, then tap your inner John Wayne and get back in the saddle. Life rewards those who work at it.

This is an edited version: ForbesWoman12/31/2012 by Margie Warrell



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