Category Archives: Goals

Are You Ready For A Breakthrough?

If you are feeling stuck or unfulfilled, it may be time for you to put together a plan that will help you break through the barriers that are holding you back.

I have heard many say that they do not set goals or make resolutions. They give a variety of reasons for not doing so only to have the same wishes on their “to do someday” list year after year.

I believe that the process of setting goals is made far more difficult than it needs to be and that excuses for not making them only satisfy the person who makes the excuses.

Setting goals, in my opinion, not only prepares you for success, but it guides you to the place that you envision as your ultimate destination. It is like looking at a roadmap, deciding where you want to go and then determining the route that you want to take.  It sets you on a path and helps you determine when you are getting off track. It is your choice whether you want to take the direct or the scenic route.   However, the strategy for getting started is the same:

  • Determine where you are now
  • Decide where you want to go
  • Plan for when you want to get there

Make a Plan and Write it Down

Goal Planning Worksheet

Identifying where you want to go and what you want to achieve sounds simple but my experience shows that many people get stuck at this first step.

Think Big. The quote, “start with the end in mind” is appropriate here.

If your vision is limited, your life will be limited to your vision.   Most people only set goals based on what they think they can accomplish rather than what they are really capable of doing.   Thinking big requires dreaming, visualizing, and stepping out of your comfort zone to tap into your true potential.  Think about what you are able to do and what you are willing to do.  Then break big goals down into small actionable steps. Pay attention to your limiting beliefs and negative self –talk which is often a cause of self –sabotage. Fear, frustration and limiting beliefs can keep you from identifying and setting goals that will move you forward.

Do a personal assessment

Conduct a self-audit. Recognize who you want to be and why, rather than what you want to do. Compare the person you are now to the person you will be when you accomplish your goals.  Examine your circumstances.  What do you need to do or to get in order to move forward?  What are the obstacles that have been holding you back?  Be honest. Starting with inaccurate information will lead to inaccurate decisions about what needs to be done and inaccurate timeframes to achieve results.

Create a supportive environment

Identify or create a support network.   Make a list of people and things that can help you move forward.    Those not in harmony with your goals should be removed or kept to a minimum.   Let’s be clear here –  things that take up your time but do not fit in with what you are trying to accomplish should be purged.    Ask yourself if the relationships you have are serving you well.  If not, stop sharing your valuable time and information with naysayers.   Instead, surround yourself with positive people who inspire you and that you can learn from.  Your personal growth will result from the people you hang out with. Look for others who are successfully doing what you want to do. I once heard a quote that says “It’s hard to soar with eagles when you are surrounded by turkeys”.

Make a commitment to yourself

This is where your big goals are divided into small manageable steps that take you closer to your big goal.  I suggest that you write down 1 -3 things that you will do each day/week and refer back to the list in order to stay on track and stay.  Developing due dates helps you to hold yourself accountable, helps you to identify what has taken you off track and encourages you to celebrate accomplishments.  Seeing yourself moving forward will motivate you to continue taking positive steps.

The three obstacles that usually come into play here are Time, Money and Fear.

Time:   How much time can you honestly devote to your goal preparation each day/week?  Whether it is 10 minutes or 10 hours is up to you.  However it is imperative that you decide on the amount of time you will devote and then stick to that amount of time as a minimum.   Sometimes it may be as simple as writing a note or making a call, sometimes it is doing research or writing an article. You make the choice. There are 1,440 minutes in each day.  It is for you to decide how you will wisely spend them.

Money:  Review where you spend money now and what you are willing to give up or spend less on.  This can be as small as making coffee/tea rather than buying it or putting more in savings or your 401K each payday.  Every penny counts and growth does not come without some sacrifice.  Decide what you are willing to sacrifice to get and stay on track.

Fear:  It has been said that more people are afraid of success than of failure.  However, once you get emotionally attached to your goals in a positive way, opportunities being to appear.  Your emotions are the engine behind your thoughts.   A positive attitude leads to positive thinking which leads to positive results.  Rather than be fearful, be humbled by the chance to move forward and experience something new.

 Get started  

There is no better time than now to get started and focus on the things that are important to you. Having goals help you to identify what/when to say Yes or No and they help you be more selective in what and who you give your attention to.   Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it, establish your priorities and then get to work.
Start doing what you need to do today so you won’t have to say “if only” tomorrow.

Click here for a Goal Planning Worksheet to get you started. 

Expand your vision.

Enlarge your dreams.

Elevate your expectations.

“Ask Marsha”: 5 Ways To Build Your Network In 2013

The beginning of the year seems like a good time to contact people who I might be interested in working with in the future. But how do I connect with them without coming across like I’m using them?

There is no bad time to connect with people who you want to build a relationship with, but contacting people only when you want a favor is definitely inappropriate and will send the message that you are a “user.”

Remember that networking is about building and maintaining a relationship, as well as sharing information.

Several suggestions I make to clients include:


To rekindle a relationship, send a note to let a person know that you are thinking of them. Although no special reason is required to keep in touch, a congratulatory email, a thank-you note, a birthday or holiday wish or an article that may be of interest are good ways to build relationships.

If you’ve been listening, you know something of interest to share. If you cannot think of anything to share, do some research and start listening for clues that will help you learn of the interest of those you want to network with.

Emails and text messages are convenient ways to keep in touch; however, a hand written note or a personal phone call from time to time can, and usually will, set you apart.

Sending a note telling someone that you’re thinking of them, thanking them for their support, guidance or friendship will always be well received. If you know the person reasonably well, think about something they have told you about themselves that you can add to the note showing that you have been listening.

You might also include an article, a book or some other small token of interest. For example, if you know someone likes cooking, send an interesting recipe or a link to interesting cooking gadgets. This small token allows you to be a resource without asking for anything. Your note might just say, “I saw this recipe and thought of you and how much you enjoy cooking new dishes. I hope all is well. Let’s please keep in touch.”


You may have to step out of your comfort zone for this one, but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by reaching out to those that you admire, whether personally or professionally.

Try connecting with someone who is successfully doing some of the things that you would like to do or something you want to learn more about. An example might be if you eventually want to start your own business or you would love to be better at social media, reach out to people who are doing these things well.

I suggest you have a few key questions prepared so that you are ready if the opportunity to speak with them presents itself.

Let the person know what you admire about them and why. You might be surprised at how much your positive words will be appreciated.

It should be noted that when sending email or social media messages, online etiquette is mandatory. There is nothing more annoying than getting a generic LinkedIn message (I call this the “lazy message”) from someone I don’t know asking me to be part of their network with no indication of how they know me or why we should connect.


The sharing of ideas with others who have something to offer is another great way to build a network.

A mastermind group allows participants to learn from one another. Participants may be of a different age group, race or gender and the group may be structured as formally or as informally as you like. Meetings can be in person or via phone and can be held as often as decided. This exchange of ideas allows for great networking relationships to be formed.


Although technology makes it easy to stay in touch, it is also important for you to be visible. Therefore, don’t rule out attending traditional networking events where you can meet like-minded people. This means attending events that are not only within your work field but also events within your other areas of interest.

When attending an event outside of your work area but one that you know and care about, you’re more likely to be viewed as one-of-a-kind and better able to demonstrate your uniqueness.


The biggest reservations people express about networking is that they are uneasy about contacting people because it feels like they’re asking for a favor.

My response is: Don’t ask for anything, share something instead. Make it a point to build relationships and then make a habit of following up.

The best time to develop your network is when you don’t need anything and now is a great time to start.

“Ask Marsha”: How To Jumpstart Your 2013 Goals

There are so many “success” strategies I read about to help my career, and they sometimes become overwhelming. What is the one thing that I can begin to do today in my plight to advance my career?


In my book, The Little Black Book of Success, my co-authors and I suggest starting a Personal Leadership Notebook (PLN) to document your personal and professional accomplishments, and refer back to it as needed. Your PLN should include sections that are relevant to your personal and professional growth.

Many times we take our accomplishments for granted including the roles we hold in our communities, schools and churches with the assumption that our skills are not transferable to the workplace. Too often, we do not remember them or let others know about them, especially when we don’t believe they are work related. And it’s sometimes difficult to share our accomplishments without feeling like we are bragging.

In her book, Brag!, author Peggy Klaus suggests coming up with your own “brag bites,” which are snippets of impressive information about your best self, expressed in a brief, quotable manner. Start by writing down some of those things you are most proud of and keep track of the things you do well and enjoy, your goals and those areas you want to learn more about.

In addition to your “Accomplishments” section, I also suggest having a section in your PLN to track your networking — who you know, who you need to know and who needs to know you.

Now is a perfect time to refer to this “Networking” section and send a note or make a call to those you haven’t touched base with in a while. Remember those people who have helped you along the way, and be generous with expressing your thanks to them.

Another section that I personally have in my PLN is an “Ideas” section. I don’t know about you, but I come up with great ideas in unusual places but they can be lost if I don’t jot them down. Leave space to expand upon them later.

Without becoming too overwhelmed, tracking your successes in your PLN can act as a starting point for moving forward with purpose.

“Ask Marsha”: How To Handle Workplace Shakeups

The department I work in is constantly in flux, there has been quite a bit of turnover in the last year and positions have been shifted around. How do I move forward with my own career goals in such a tentative work environment?


The first thing is deciding what it is that you want. Do you want to be promoted within your current department/company? Are you looking only for more money or is your goal to take on additional responsibilities? Are you ready for the changes that you are looking for? Have you demonstrated that you can and will rise to the challenges of the new role? It’s a soul-searching time and conducting this self-audit can be difficult but imperative to your growth.

You may have been working hard, but hard work alone does not make you unique. Many of us grew up thinking that if we put our heads down and work hard, we would be recognized. However, there are other things that must be done to be recognized and if you are not strategic or have a plan that goes along with your hard work, you will get stumped every time. Putting your head down also means that you are missing things that are going on around you. Just working hard doing your job could mean that you are too tired to take those necessary steps to help you move ahead. If you are only working hard at your tasks with no time for other things, people may perceive you as one-dimensional. It is important to be viewed not only as a hard worker, but as an interesting person as well.


As we all know, change is inevitable. But change does not have to be negative. It can be the gateway to incredible opportunities if you are well prepared.

The good news is that when a company is undergoing shifts, there is often an opportunity for you to take on additional assignments and show what you can do. Make those changes work in your favor. You just have to position yourself for the change rather than fight it.

All companies are undergoing some transition. But if you believe that your current work environment is just too much for you to handle, prepare before you leap. Think about the type of job, industry and work environment you work best in. Research companies you would like to work for and make efforts to connect with employees of those companies to learn more about the company culture and work environments. Chances are, these companies are also undergoing some change. Determine what the company values and how you can best demonstrate what you have to offer.

In your current company, you might try the same approach. What do you have to offer that would be of value during this time of change?

You can be angry and negative because of the changes or you can be flexible and show what you have to offer. Often times, your attitude will determine your altitude … it’s your choice.

Pay attention to who has been hired or promoted during this time of flux. Looking at what these employees have brought to the table (experience, attitude, relationships, etc.) will give you insight into what the company values.
The key to moving forward with your own career goals in any work environment is to be flexible, be strategic, know what you have to offer, and build relationships that will help you now and in the future.

Have you made your New Year’s resolution yet?

If you haven’t, then don’t…at least not yet!

I am a big fan of goal setting.  I strongly believe that setting goals, making plans and writing them down is a powerful process that helps you think about your future and gives you a road map to follow.

However far too often, plans are made and goals are set without much forethought about how to follow through or realistic dates by which they will be realized.

As a career & life coach, I suggest a few pre resolution setting exercises that can help you to stick with the goals that you set.

First, allocate some quiet time to reflect.  I know that this in itself can be a challenge but you owe some quality time to yourself.

  • Conduct a year end review – devote some time to think and write down those things that went well for you over the past year or several years and what you would like to do more of in the future.  If you have never been through this process you will be amazed at how much you can learn from past experiences and how you can make the new year even better.
  • Be honest with yourself – you will only complete resolutions and goals that really matter to you so think about what you really want to accomplish this year. Think about what success will look like and what it will mean for you. What do you want the end result to be? Then identify goals to help you get there. Also think about the consequences of not making the change.  It is your choice.
  • Set or reset your priorities – This is a Big One!  Time is usually the biggest excuse for lack of follow through. So before you start, pay attention to how you spend your time now.  Do you spend more time on something that may be fun but that is less important to you?  If so, and you do not want to give up the fun, divide your time between the two.  An example might be if you spend an hour a day on the internet and your goal is to increase your networking, take ½ hour of your internet time to reconnect with someone you want to network with.  A short email, note or phone call can prove to be very beneficialOr if exercising is a goal but you cannot miss your favorite TV show, bring the exercise mat or weights with you and exercise in front of the TV or during commercials.
  • Prepare and practice – decide beforehand what you will need to get started.  A journal to document goals, ideas and progress; equipment, dedicated space, etc. and then try to make daily, or at least weekly progress.  Major goals can be overwhelming so start by building up to the change.  Try to do something, no matter how small that moves you toward your goal.  Remember that things that are done consistently become habit. Don’t let minor slips discourage you, just pick back up and continue.  It is never too late to regroup.

With these tips in mind, review a few things that you would like to accomplish this year.

Set dates during the year,  at least monthly, to review your progress and celebrate your accomplishments.

You have a choice to chart your own course.

Make this year the best that it can be by making simple shifts and setting goals that you can stick with.

Happy New Year.