Your 90 Day Game Plan to Crushing Your Goals this Quarter

Are you happy with your current level of productivity? If not, I want to deliver over to you a life-changing, business-altering plan you can begin using today.

The one single factor that has contributed the most to my productivity is the 90-day goal setting process. If you are not accomplishing everything you’d hope to, it comes down to two reasons: lack of clarity and daily broken focus.

Clarity for me comes through setting out in a very clear direction for the next 90 days. It’s hard for us to get clear on two and five year goals. In fact, it’s even harder to get clarity on our life’s purpose and calling. Setting 90 day goals gives me clarity on the path that’s already been illuminated before me.

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Focus is what allows you to be productive in the moment. It’s easy for me to know how I should spend my time today if I’ve already established a few 90 day goals. The #1 enemy to you not accomplishing your dreams is broken focus.

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If you are new to setting 90 day goals, then I want share with you a simple model you can use to get started. I’d encourage you if at all possible to find a day (maybe even two) to get away and establish your 90 day goals.

Step #1: Break away from your routine to evaluate, think, and plan

A few of the reasons I love the 90 day goal setting process is the opportunity to hit both the pause and restart button. Have you figured out yet that things change rapidly? Our long range business and personal goals are guesses at best.

The ones who move ahead do so by evaluating, thinking, and planning every 90 days. Doing so will allow you to ask a few important questions:

  • Is what I’m doing now giving me the results I had hoped for?
  • In light of the happenings of the last 90 days, is there something I should give more attention to?
  • What’s working that I should do more of?
  • What’s not working that I should stop doing all together?
  • Where’s the bottleneck in my business or personal life?

1. Evaluate – Look over your calendar for the past three months. Are you spending your time in the right areas? Look over your financial records for the past few months. Are you spending your money in the areas that support your goals?

2. Think – We are often so busy we never make time to just think. It’s amazing how the answers begin to come to us when make space to think. I also like to think out loud on a whiteboard so I can see my thoughts.

3. Plan – After you have evaluated the last quarter and given space to think, now you can plan for the next 90 days.

Step #2: Establish your 90 day game plan

If you are just getting started in setting 90 day goals, then just set 3 to 5 goals and go for it. If you want to take your goal setting to the next level, then use the model I learned form Todd Herman, the creator of the 90 Day Year Program. The following tips are a combination of Todd’s advice and my own experience.

  • Choose less than five outcome goals – When I first started setting 90 day goals, I set 10-15 goals. Honestly, it was way too ambitious for a 90 day time period. I recommend you keep it down to 3-5 goals at most. Also, be sure they are outcome driven. In other words, they achieve a desirable result in some way. My outcome goals go on a whiteboard so I can see them daily.
  • Set a few performance goals for each outcome goal – You have probably heard “what gets measured, gets done.” This is what a performance goal establishes. Keep it simple here, but set a few performance goals that allow you to see how you are doing in achieving your outcome goal. I have a handful I check every Friday. My performance goals go under my outcome goals on my whiteboard.
  • Brainstorm process goals (tasks) that support your outcome goal – Who is going to do what, when? This is the process level. You have achieved ultimate focus when what you do daily connects directly back to your outcome goal. My process tasks go in my to do system so I know what still needs to get done.

Step #3: Spend the first hour of each workday on your 90 day game plan

I’ve written about my morning process before in a blog post called Do Creative Work First. The basic summary is you should spend the first hour of your day doing your creative work. Creative work is what only you can do that drives your business or projects forward.

Many of us start our day in social media and email. Doing so pulls you into reactive work.  Reactive work is when we get pulled into other people’s agendas and pulled away from our most important goals.

[Tweet ” Reactive work is when we get pulled into other people’s agendas and pulled away from our most important goals.”]

You will be amazed and what you can accomplish when you have clear 90 day goals and a morning strategy for moving those goals forward.

How about you? Do you manage your productivity through 90 day goals? I’d love to hear your tips!

5 Principles for Working Less and Living More

Is there a danger in loving your work too much? It wasn’t unusual for Thomas Edison to work 20 continuous hours during a 24 hour period. Many times, his 4 hours of rest came in the form of a nap on a couch where he worked. There’s even one recorded time period in which Edison worked for 72 straight hours without rest.

Therein lies the tension. When work feels like play, why choose to do something else with your time?

[Tweet “When you don’t have anything more compelling to do, you’ll always choose your work.”]

While I’m a huge believer in loving your work, I also believe there’s more to life than just work. What’s the answer then for those of us who love our work? I think it starts by defining the term workaholic.

A workaholic is someone who has found their sole identity in work alone. I’ve written about this before, but anytime you place your identity in something that has the potential to let you down, you’ll be disappointed. When work becomes the most preeminent thing in your life, everything else begins to take a back seat.

[Tweet “A workaholic is someone who has found their sole identity in work alone.”]

I know this first hand because I’m guilty of it. If you’re an entrepreneur like me, then you know first hand the kind of effort that goes into making a business successful. But here’s what I’ve been asking myself lately: “Is the Thomas Edison way the only way?”

After all, the reason I chose the Lifestyle Business Model was to have more freedom in general. If you remember my story, about two years ago I sat down and wrote out my big WHY. It was four simple statements that formed the word L.I.F.E. (You can read about them here: The Secret Ingredient to Building a Business and Life You Love).

A few months ago, while searching for books to read on my Kindle, I came across a book from Tina Forsyth called: The Entrepreneur’s Trap: How to Stop Working Too Much, Take Back Your Time, and Enjoy Life. I enjoyed the book so much that I challenged my own mastermind group to go through the book. For the last few months, we’ve been sharing insights weekly one chapter at a time.

While Tina delivers many great tips, I want to share with you five of her principles for working less.

  • Principle #1: Get clear on your NON-working hours – There are no right or wrong choices here. This is a personal choice. But when would you like to establish non-working hours?
  • Principle #2: Step away from your computer – Since I work from home, walking away from my work can be a challenge. One daily practice that has helped me is to close my home office door when I’m done working for the day. This is my way of closing down my business each day.
  • Principle #3: Do not have email delivered to your phone – One of the biggest reasons email overwhelms us is because we “check” email without “processing” email. The worst offender for me is checking email on my phone. Since I often can’t take action on that email on my phone, it just stays in my inbox.
  • Principle# 4: Learn how to say NO – I’m a people pleaser and it’s hard for me to say no. What I’m learning to do more of is to delay a decision until I can think about it without the emotions attached.
  • Principle #5: Have something more compelling to do – This has been the biggest AHA moment for me personally. Since I love my work, I’ll always be drawn back to it. I think it’s healthy to have a few other things in my life that are just as compelling as my work.

How about you? Which personal policies are you going to put in place that allows you to live more, and work less? 

Let me start. Even though I have a million things I want to get done today, I’m shutting down my work at noon. I’m driving my two kids to summer camp this afternoon. Life is short and I don’t want to miss out on these moments.

Why You Need Both Discipline and Freedom to Do Great Work

If I told you discipline and freedom go together nicely, would you believe me? If not, get ready for a mindset shift today. The truth is if you want to do great work, you are going to need both discipline and freedom.

In the bestselling book Business Secrets from the Bible, Rabbi Daniel Lapin talks about the two meanings of the word “engraved” when referring to the 10 Commandments.

  1. Permanent or restrictive – The first meaning is “engraved or marked in a stone.” It is permanent and no eraser can remove it.
  2. Freedom – The second meaning is “freedom,” which appears to be the exact opposite of engrave.

What gives? Which is it?

To best way to understand this principle and how it can apply to your work, you need to first understand a bit about how the Hebrew language works. Hebrew words can often take on more than one meaning. The key is to find where the two meanings intersect.

Freedom is the Opportunity to Be Creative

First, let’s take a deeper look at freedom. Many of us desire freedom in our lives. It’s another way of saying we want to be in complete control of how and where we spend our time. But freedom is only the “opportunity” to be creative. It’s a subtle but powerful distinction.

Have you ever had an entire day to yourself with no other agendas? That’s freedom, but without discipline you won’t get anything done.

Discipline Focuses Our Freedom to Do Great Work

I used to fight against discipline. I saw it as only stifling my creative freedom. But slowly over time I noticed something. Those who want to always keep their options open, commit to nothing.

[Tweet “”Those who want to always keep their options open, commit to nothing.””]

Nothing gets done. Ideas collect dust. Dreams expire on the shelf. If you want to do great work, you must combine freedom and discipline. Rabbi Daniel Lapin expresses it this way:

“The more we restrict our freedom by setting rules and limitations on ourselves, the freer we are to actually be productive. The idle person who leaves himself free to do what he likes when he likes has the potential to accomplish anything, but he actually accomplishes less than the person who rigorously restricts his freedom in order to focus in on what he wants to accomplish. It is he who carves his life and time, his schedule, into granite who is genuinely free.”

“That sounds great Jonathan, but how do you practically live this out in your work?”

Glad you asked. Here’s what works for me:

  1. Create a year long focus calendar – I created my first year long calendar just over a year ago. My business has doubled because of doing so. For me, I created a year long marketing calendar (you can read about it here). This allowed me to let go of future ideas and narrow in on the first deadline on my calendar.
  2. Set a few 90 day goals each quarter – A second discipline practice I’d encourage you to do is set less than five 90 Day Goals. This will give you incredible focus. The deadline is much closer and you’ll need to focus to get them done.
  3. Do creative work first every day – Every morning I have a simple discipline. Before I check email or social media, I do creative work first. Creative work is where you work best and make the most contribution. It’s your genius work zone. Being a full-time blogger, my creative work is writing, recording podcasts, or making videos.

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How about you? How do you combine freedom and discipline in your work?


The Hidden Danger That Just Might Destroy Your Dreams

What if I told you there was a hidden danger that has the potential to destroy your dreams? It’s a subtle danger. It’s not the type of danger you anticipate when watching movies (which my son calls the “jump scare”).

This danger is subtle like a slow, moving tide. It’s subtle like when you close your eyes on the lazy river at the water park only to open them to be surprised at how far you’ve travelled. You wake up one day and realize just how far off course you really are.

What is this hidden danger?

It’s the hidden danger of subtle laziness. 

King Solomon, an ancient Jewish king, was well-known for the wisdom beyond his years. One day, while walking along an overgrown, abandoned vineyard, he had an epiphany. I’ll let him explain what it was:

I walked by the field of a lazy person,
the vineyard of one with no common sense.

I saw that it was overgrown with nettles.
It was covered with weeds,
and its walls were broken down.

Then, as I looked and thought about it,
I learned this lesson:

A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—

then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

Proverbs 24:30-34

Here’s the principle: Subtle laziness leads to sudden scarcity. 

[Tweet “Subtle laziness leads to sudden scarcity.”]

The scarcity is sudden because the negative results of subtle laziness are not immediately seen. For the owner of the vineyard, everything appeared “good enough” day after day. After a few months he may have even justified some of the flaws or negative results he viewed.

“Well, it hasn’t be raining all that much and I can always get to it next week,” he rationalized.

I used to have a post-it note on my computer screen that simply read: “Excuses are just lies you tell yourself.”

[Tweet “Excuses are just lies you tell your yourself.”]

So, what then is the key? How can we apply this principle to our daily lives? Here are a few insights to consider.

We are in a drift of subtle laziness when:

  • We stop investing in our own growth – Being a former Executive Recruiter, I saw this scenario often. A sudden layoff opened the eyes of the individual to the fact they had done very little over the past few years to invest in their own growth. To avoid subtle laziness, you should always be growing.
  • We allow our unique gifts or talents to go dormant – Many of us are guilty of placing our talents on the shelf. One of the main reasons this happens is due to some negative feedback we’ve received along the way. We simply gave too much power to one person’s opinion. Starting today, you have permission to pick that talent back up off the shelf.
  • We stay in our comfort zone for far too long – In Bruce Wilkinson’s classic book The Dream Giver, he talks about the danger of the comfort zone. In the story, a fictitious character named Ordinary had settled into his comfort zone. The comfort zone wasn’t necessarily a good thing.  His comfort zone included waking up every morning to go his Usual Job (work he despised) and spending every evening staring at the Box (his television set). The way out for Ordinary was to pursue his Big Dream.

How about you? Can you see evidences where you’ve allowed subtle laziness to creep in?

The Top 7 Ways I Use Evernote Everyday

Have you downloaded Evernote, but have no idea what to do with it? My hope is for you to change that today. Have you ever stopped to think how much time you waste every week “looking” for things?

In a few simple steps you can make Evernote your “external brain” which will allow you to stress less and get more done. While I have much to share about how I use Evernote, I want to start by explaining the top seven ways I use it everyday.

If you are new to using Evernote, it might not be best to start out with all seven at once. This is a big picture overview of some of the larger “buckets” I use to organize Evernote.

The Top 7 Ways I use Evernote Everyday

1. Reference Cabinet

The Reference Cabinet for me is a catchall of anything I want to keep. It is a notebook in Evernote. Most of the time it is something I want to be able to find later via the search function.

These are often miscellaneous items that don’t fit into one of my other buckets, but are still something I want to keep. I often will give the item a tag in Evernote and place it in this folder.

2. Content Creator Library

Since I’m a content creator (blogger, speaker, writer) by trade, this is my go-to library when creating any type of content. Inside this notebook you’ll find quotes, personal stories, surveys, statistics, illustrations, and more. When I want to spice up a blog post, book, speech or podcast, I go here for inspiration.

3. Learning Library

This notebook is for my own personal growth. As I come across great articles, PDFs, worksheets, videos, or ebooks, they all get categorized here. I use a tagging system to organize them into subjects inside the notebook. For example, if I want to spend time learning about list building, I will search for the tag “LL List Building.”

How I Use Evernote

What’s great about starting your tag with “LL” is that it auto-populates all the other tags that start with “LL,” making it easier for me to give the new note the right tag.

4. Goals (Quarterly & Yearly)

Thanks to Michael Hyatt and his Best Year Ever course for this tip. I have a saved search that allows me to review my yearly goals. I have each of my yearly goals in a separate Evernote note, but by clicking on the saved search I can review all of them quickly.

5. Journaling

I also use Evernote each morning for a quick journaling session. This allows me to calm my mind and get into “productive” mode. It’s so easy for us to get sucked into “reactive” work. A great example of this is email. Checking email first thing in the morning gets you going down the “urgent” path, which isn’t always that important.

I have a few trigger questions I use for journaling so I don’t have to stare at the blank screen. An example of a powerful question I ask is: “What would make today great?”

What I write down often becomes even more important than what is on my to do list.

6. Business Checklists

One of the many frustrations of being a solopreneur is all of the recurring tasks that fill your day. They can keep you from doing the things that move your business forward. The way out is to get ruthless about organizing what you are doing into checklists.

I use a program called Clarify-It. It allows me to quickly write down the steps of a process (with images if needed) and save them into an Evernote notebook. From there, I can share the notebook with other people who can help me get these tasks done.

7. Book Notes

I’ve written extensively on my book reading review system in the past. I read one book per week. Then I capture the highlights of the book in Evernote.

For a physical book, I create an index page in the front of the book with my notes. That then gets captured into Evernote so I can review it. See my process here for print books.

For Kindle books, I go to my highlights at and then I clip the page with the Evernote clipper. This allows me to review what I learned by using my book review system. See my process here for Kindle books.

New books I’ve just recently finished get tagged “daily review.” I will often spend 10-15 minutes every morning reviewing what I learned from these books.

As you can see, there are many creative ways you can use Evernote. If you are in a content creating role of any type, I’d encourage you to organize your work life using some of the tips above.

What are some creative ways you are using Evernote?

How to Have a Bright Future When Your World Seems Dark

I was barely able to walk under my own power to receive my high school diploma. 

Do you remember what it was like to be a graduate? Whether it was high school or college, there was a buzz in the air. It was both a feeling of accomplishment and an anticipation about the future.

A new chapter of your life was beginning. A new hope, a new challenge, a new future was all awaiting you. The day before my high school graduation, the doctor released me to walk without crutches. 

Four months earlier, I was on the basketball court fighting for a chance to win the state championship in Indiana. Little did I know in the third quarter my life was about to change forever.

While going after a loose ball, I broke both bones in my lower right leg. The break was so severe it required a metal rod and two pins in my leg. In an instant, my bright future turned into a dark wandering. 

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My hopes of a college basketball scholarship was gone in an instant and I faced an uncertain future. My new goals in life became super simple.

I just wanted to walk without crutches to get my diploma for my high school graduation.

Maybe your life has had its own twists and turns. Sudden, unforeseen events send you in a whole new direction or no direction at all.

What are we to do in times of darkness to return to a bright future?  

The only answer is to pursue wisdom.

It may sound abstract but pursuing wisdom is the most practical thing you can do today. 

In Andy Stanley’s book The Best Question Ever, he offers a practical question you can use in your everyday decision making. 

“In light of my past experiences, my current responsibilities, and my future hopes and dreams, what’s the wise thing to do?”

When you answer that question in a positive way enough days in a row, your hopes will not be cut short and you’ll have a bright future. We can also say it this way:

[Tweet “When you pursue daily wisdom, your hopes will not be cut short and you’ll have a bright future.”]

How can I be so confident that this is true and will come to pass in your own life? Because this principle is rooted in Jewish wisdom and Biblical teaching. 

Prov. 24:14 states: “If you find wisdom you’ll have a bright future and your hopes will not be cut short.”

So today, if you feel as if your dreams have been crushed and your hopes dashed, while you may not know what direction to go from here, you can be confident of your next step.

Pursue wisdom today.

How to Pick Up and Dust Off Your Broken Dreams

Broken dreams. Broken goals. We all have them. We desperately want to see change in our lives, yet we remain the same year after year.

What if I told you there is one contributing factor as to why you haven’t changed?

This factor is simple in concept, but difficult in practice.

You’ve probably heard it before, but never noticed the incredible power it holds in your life. It’s the reason you haven’t seen your breakthrough or inflection point.

The principle is simple. In fact, I invite you to write this next statement down on paper and carry it with you for the day.

“You cannot pit real pain against imagined gain and expect to win.”

I learned this principle from Rabbi Daniel Lapin in his latest book, Business Secrets from the Bible. It’s a book stocked full of timeless truths.

At the end of the day, if you have any hope for change, there must be something more than a dream or goal. You must make a deeper and more present commitment.

If you don’t believe this principle to be true, then why do so many people commit and recommit to losing weight never to see any results? Their “imagined gain” is that they want to lose 30-50 pounds this year. But when that goal is matched up against the real pain of saying no to extra dessert or yes to running a mile, imagined gain loses everytime.

“Imagined gain is not the best self-motivator when change is so painful and immediate.” Rabbi Daniel Lapin

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What then is the answer?

The answer is to equalize the struggle.

You must make the imagined gains attractive enough and real enough to overcome the pain of taking action. The imagened gain must exist in the present moment.

While I don’t have all the answers, here are a few tips I’ve learned on how to pull imagined gain into the present moment.

1. Redefine what is a “win” for you. 

When I used to work as an Executive Recruiter, I would often become discourged when deals didn’t close often enough. The fees of closing a deal are in the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars, but it was unrealistic for me to show up every day thinking I was going to close a deal that day.

What revolutionized my business is when I redefined my “win.” If I placed a new networking call, I redefined a win as getting an email address, having a great conversation, learning something personal about the contact, and even actually getting someone on the phone.

[Tweet “To accomplish your goals, redefine what a win is for you.”]

2. Measure your activity not your results. 

I think many of us give up on our goals and dreams because we doubt the activity. When you doubt whether the activity will help you reach your goal, you won’t act. For some of us, it’s not the activity, we simply doubt ourselves. We don’t see ourselves as athletes, so how can we run three times a week.The way through this is to measure your activity not your results.

[Tweet “When you doubt whether the activity will help you reach your goal, you won’t act.”]

3. Break your big goals down into 90 day projects.

I’m all for setting yearly goals. But I only see yearly goals as the first step. I think you need to pull those yearly goals into the present moment to have any chance to getting them accomplished.

I do that by setting 90 day goals four times a year. It helps me hit the restart button when needed and pull my imagined gain into the present moment to equalize the struggle.

You can do this. You just need to equalize the struggle.

What’s one creative way you can equalize the struggle today? Comment below. 


The Biggest Secret to Becoming a Successful Achiever

As a Senior in high school, one of our class assignments was to “shadow” someone at their workplace for a day. I’d always admired my Grandfather’s business so I decided to learn from him for a day.

He owned a few small hardware stores in rural parts of Indiana. I still remember that day vividly. He taught me how to put together an “end of the row” sales display. He showed me how to use the “pricing sticker gun” and most importantly he taught me how to price a product for profit.

I was only 17 at the time, but I took his advice and applied it to my baseball card selling business. We now understood how to reinvest some of our profits to buy more inventory and how to mark up merchandise for a profit.

In the midst of a world that highly values education, we often forget the power of a mentor.

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Success Magazine asked their most successful achievers a very simple question. What’s been their biggest secret to improving their results?

  • 37% Learning From Other Achievers
  • 22% Waking Up Earlier
  • 22% Making a Plan
  • 16% Writing Down My Goals
  • 3% Delegating

Writing down your goals, having a plan, and waking up earlier are all great practices, but regardless of what level you are – you need a mentor.

Are you actively learning from other achievers?

1. A mentor can be found in a specific skill set. 

You don’t have to chase down a mentor who’s super successful in every area of life. A mentor can be found in someone who is better than you at a particular thing. If you desire to traditionally publish a book, find someone who has done it and learn from them.

2. A mentor can be found in a mastermind group.

If you’ve been around this blog for very long then you know how much I value mastermind groups. I meet with mine once a week online and once a year in-person. It’s been the single greatest reason for my success in the past two years.

I’m so passionate about mastermind groups that I put together an entire online course on how to launch your mastermind group.

3. A mentor can be found in anyone if you’re willing to unlearn.

I believe there is a core genius to be found in everyone. Each person has a gift lined with gold nuggets of wisdom that we can glean from. The reason we miss most grand lessons in life is because our first response is: “I’ve already heard this before.”

The ability to unlearn and sit at the feet of your peers is how you get to the next level.

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Are you actively learning from other achievers?

The Day They Laughed at Walt Disney for His Dream

Walt Disney had a movie executive laugh out loud at his dream. Early on in his business to bring cartoon animation to the movie theaters, Disney had what felt like an opportunity of a lifetime. Through much hard work, he had negotiated an appointment with one of the largest movie industry executives at the time.

Walt’s plan was to show him his seven minute Mickey Mouse cartoon in hopes that he could secure a contract and have his short films shown in movie theaters across the United States. Walt was especially optimistic about this special meeting in the movie theater that day. He just knew that he had invented something revolutionary that everyone would want.

What happened next surprised him. 

The movie executive didn’t laugh at the cartoon, he laughed at Disney’s dream. The executive went on to tell Walt all of the reasons why his dream would never work. “Kids are afraid of mice and moms don’t love them all that much either. No one is going to pay to watch a silly mouse. This would never work,” said the executive. With that the executive laughed and stormed out of the theater.

Has anyone ever laughed at your dream? Has anyone ever given you the blank stare when you told them what you were going to do with your life? If we ever hope to keep the dream alive, we need to develop fortitude to move forward anyways.

Not everyone will understand your dream

Most of the greatest accomplishments in our lifetime once seemed impossible to many. Yet, there were a few who believed in the dream. They believed that a man could walk on the moon. They believed that you could hold a device in your hand and talk with anyone around the world. Don’t allow one person’s opinion to shut down your dream. Not everyone will understand your dream.

[Tweet “Not everyone will understand your dream.”]

Believe in your dream even when others don’t

What if Disney had given up on his dream that day? What if he would have allowed one person’s opinion to become his reality? There would be no Mickey Mouse and there would be no Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Who can imagine a world without that? Getting negative feedback should not be a reason to pack it up and go home. You are going to need to believe in your dream even when others don’t.

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Focus on those waiting for your dream to become a reality

What then gets us through the valley when our dream takes a direct hit from others? Your dream survives when you place your focus on those waiting for your dream to become a reality. You have people waiting for you and your dream. They need your advice, perspective, solution and product. Whether you change someone’s day or change someone’s life, you need to make your dream a reality. We are waiting for you. There is a dream that only you can fulfill.

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Surround yourself with other dream catchers

While it seems noble to charge ahead alone with your dream, the truth is you’re going to need dream catchers along the way. These are people who catch the vision of what you are trying to do. For Walt Disney, he had his brother Roy. Roy’s talent was in the financing of the business. He was in the background, helping to finance the dream while Walt focused on the creative side.

There were also employees of Walt who caught the vision. In the early days, he had animators work without pay because they believed in the dream so much. They worked nights and weekends in an afford to get the cartoon done. They were lost in their passions and Walt had inspired them. Eventually, it paid off for these animators, but in the early days they were there in total support of Walt’s dream.

[Tweet “Surround yourself with other dream catchers.”]

How about you? Are there dream catchers in your life you’ve taken for granted? Take a moment today and thank them for being a part of your dream.

The 80-10-10 Principle about Critics, Praise, and People

When I was a young boy, my dad would share nuggets of wisdom with me. These life lessons have shaped my worldview today. If you have kids, they’re never too young to learn important life lessons from you. Not a week goes by that my two kids don’t here me say, “You know, there is an important life lesson in this and here it is…”

How about you? Do you ever take the time to look at the big picture? There is a life lesson in almost everything we encounter in life. But we have to be willing to rise out of our current circumstances in order to see them. These life lessons can help us to put things in perspective, where without them we’d just shut down. One example is the 80-10-10 principle my father taught me.

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The 80-10-10 principle in life

Do you struggle with criticism? Does it shut you down for days when someone says something negative about you, your life or your work? Or are you on the opposite spectrum? Do you bask too much in the praises of other people? Do you find your worth from those who always sing their praises to you and your work?

The real question is how do we find a balance in all of this? The answer is the 80-10-10 principle. When I was a young boy my father would often say, “Jonathan, 10% of people will dislike what you do no matter what and you can’t change them. 10% of people will love what you do no matter what you do. It’s what you do through serving the other 80% that matters.”

I’ve never forgot those words. I still let them guide me today. Whenever I receive harsh, unfounded criticism where no truth can be found, I remind myself they are a part of the 10%. When I receive praise from those who admire me the most, while I’m thankful, I’m reminded they are a part of the other 10%. This grounds me and helps me to continue to serve the middle. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

10% of people will dislike what you do no matter what

Whether the exact percentage is true or not, knowing this delivers you from being a people pleaser. It doesn’t mean we think we’re better than other people. We just recognize the criticism for what it is. If there’s no truth to be found in it, we see it for what it is. The 10% of those we can’t make happy. And we’re okay with that.

10% of people will love what you do no matter what

We all need cheerleaders in our life. Those amazing people who are for us no matter what. They walk in the door when the whole world is walking out. They believe in us and in their eyes we can do no wrong. While I’m so thankful to have people like this in my life, there is a danger we must be aware of. If we live in those praises, we don’t stretch and grow. We are blinded by areas that need improvement. We can live off of yesterday’s mountain top, while there is still another important hill to climb today. Be grateful for these people in your life, but keep them in perspective.

What you do with the other 80% matters

How well do you serve the other 80%? Remember, it’s not about being a people pleaser. It’s about serving others well. The other 80% are neutral and impressionable. Your character, integrity, and heart to serve them will move them into the positive percentage. Your lack of people skills, pride, bad reputation, and sole desire for wealth above all things will move the majority of this group into the negative. They can be persuaded one way or another but it’s ultimately determined by you. Your actions matter.

How are you doing today at serving the other 80%? 



The Secret to Getting Ahead According to Mark Twain

Are you frustrated by the lack of progress on your goals and projects? Are you the type of person who doesn’t like to set goals because you secretly think you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment?

Mark Twain was one of the most successful authors of his day. When asked how he had been able to accomplish so much in his career he said:

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”

[Tweet “”The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain”]

The Secret to Getting Ahead

It seems so simple doesn’t it? But often the simple things are not easy in practice. Let’s break down Mark Twain’s advice into practical steps we can take today.

Step 1. Break complex projects into manageable tasks.

Do you find yourself procrastinating on big projects? The reason you procrastinate is because you haven’t broken down your big project into smaller bite size tasks or sub-projects. When our mind is only focused on a large, overwhelming goal, we lack clarity on what to do in the present moment. Break down your big goal into smaller tasks and then just focus on the first task.

[Tweet “The reason you procrastinate is because you haven’t broken down your big project into bite size tasks.”]

Bonus tip. Once you break down your big goal into smaller goals, go ahead and place some deadlines on your smaller goals on your calendar. I do this with a to do manager I use called TeuxDeux. You can read more about how I use it here (The Power of a Calendar To Do List). Since it’s a calendar-based to do list, I can easily drop my small goals on a date in the future.

Step 2. Start on the first one.

Once you’ve broken down your goal into smaller parts, only focus on the next action that needs to take place. Don’t allow your mind to get overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. Procrastination sets in when we think too much about all the details. Just focus on the first task. When you focus on just completing the first task, you’ll begin to create some momentum. You’ll also feel a sense of success so celebrate the small wins on the way to your big win.

If at all possible, do your first task, first thing in the morning. Make it a priority and avoid any other type of distraction. This is essential if you are going to move your goal forward. You need to see everything else as a distraction. Period. This is what the most productive people do. If you admire someone for how much they seem to get done, then you’ll probably find them to be ultra selective on how they use their time.

For me, I protect my mornings at all cost. It’s when I am the most energized and creative. I push all appointments, business matters, and networking tasks into the afternoon. How I structure my day is pretty simple. I have “maker” mornings and “manager” afternoons. Since I work for myself, I have both the worker hat and the boss hat I need to wear daily. Anything related to creating value in my business is done in the mornings. Managing my business must wait for the afternoon.


[reminder]How about you? Which of the above tips do you need to work on the most?[/reminder]



The Power of the Calendar To Do List

If it’s true that what gets scheduled on the calendar gets done, then why don’t we treat our to do list this way? Most of us are aware of the appointments and events on our calendar, but our to do list often collects dust on a list or software we don’t review often enough.

You can change that by implementing a calendar to do list. One simple way you can do this is by adding your to dos on your calendar. Crystal Paine from does this with her Google Calendar. If you already live by a calendar, it’s a great place to start.

The Power of the Calendar To Do list

For the past year, I’ve been using a software that combines the calendar and the to do list. It’s a simple software and app called TeuxDeux. It enhances your to do list by adding the power of a calendar. Here are at least four reasons why this system works well for me.

[Tweet “To get more done, use a calendar to do list!”]

Helps me focus on what needs to get done today. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I like to create a “must” do list every morning. This allows me to focus on what’s most important today. Inside of TeuxDeux, you have a to do list under each day of the week. While I might have many tasks spread out on dates in the future, I can just focus on what needs to get done today.

Keeps my unfinished tasks in front of me. Didn’t finish all of your tasks yesterday? TeuxDeux has you covered there was well. Any unfinished task gets pulled to the current day. You might be thinking this could potentially be annoying as unfinished tasks keep piling up on you causing overwhelm, but I see it differently.

First, it helps you to be more realistic with your time. We often think we can get more done in a day than we actually have time for. TeuxDeux helps you to be realistic with your time.

[Tweet “Most of us think we can get more done in a day than we have time for.”]

Secondly, it forces you to make decisions on tasks that sit on your to do list too many days in a row. I’m able to drag and drop that task to a future date when I have more time available to get it done.

Allows me to push items to a future date. I love this feature of TeuxDeux. When my current daily list gets too long, I begin to drag tasks into the future. This helps me to mentally let that task go, while knowing I won’t forget about it. Also, certain tasks come up that I don’t need to do today but maybe next week. I go ahead and place that task on the day I want to be reminded. This is also a great feature for scheduling out milestones to a bigger project you are working on.

Able to schedule recurring tasks. We all have recurring tasks that we want to be reminded of. Maybe it is exercise, daily Bible reading or journaling. You can easily schedule recurring tasks so that they show up as often as you’d like.

Whether you choose to use a service like TeuxDeux or just use a Google Calendar, I urge you to consider combining your to do list with your calendar. What gets scheduled, gets done.


How You Start Your Day Matters When You Work for Yourself

Mornings can be hectic to say the least. Most of us battle the morning rush, which includes getting the kids off to school and getting ready for the day ourselves. When you work at home, how you start your day matters more than anything else.

[Tweet “When you work at home, how you start your day matters more than anything else.”]

In fact, how the first few hours of your morning goes is how the rest of your day goes. If you start lazy and unproductive, it will carry into the rest of your day. When you work for yourself, lazy work days are not optional. You work on “event” time and not “clock” time. You don’t get paid by the hour, you get paid by results.

[Tweet “How the first few hours of your morning goes is how the rest of your day goes.”]

Work the system in your favor and you don’t have to work till five o’clock everyday. Work until your most important objectives are done. Let me share with you a few steps that will enable you to focus and get your most important work done early.

1. Start each day by answering these two questions.

I journal in Evernote every morning. It’s part of my morning success routine. I have a serious of a few questions (journal prompts) I ask myself each morning. Two of the most powerful questions are as follows:

What would make today great? This question allows me to look afresh at my work each morning. What’s on my existing to do list might not be the same as what I really want to get done today. This is an important question to ask each morning.

[Tweet “Every morning I ask myself, what would make today great?”]

What are my plans for today? Even though I have a written to do list, I like to ask this question as well. Typically, I will write down no more than five or six items that I consider to be my focus for the day. Sometimes it comes out of what I wrote in relation to the first question and sometimes not. Either way, writing down a new “must do” list each morning gets you re-engaged on what matters most for your day.

2. Select your top priority and complete it before doing anything else.

From the list of five or six items, I then determine which one is the MOST important one on my list. I then start my work day with what I call a “focus” session. This is usually a 60-minute, uninterrupted work session. I learned an important truth from Gary Keller’s book The One Thing, and it is this: Until I finish my ONE thing for the day, everything else is a distraction.

[Tweet “”Until I finish my ONE thing, everything else is a distraction.” Gary Keller”]

Notice that I’ve said nothing about checking email or social media. I have developed a personal policy that I can’t check email or social media until my one thing is done. Is it hard? Yes. Because we are often addicted to email and social media. Instead, make it a reward for getting your most important thing done first.

3. Take a break, check email, and social media.

Once your most important task is done, take a break. Get up and walk around for a few moments. Go on a walk in your neighborhood. You also now have permission to check in with the world via your email and social media. I can’t stress how important it is to wait on your email.

As Brendon Burchard has said in the past: “The email inbox is a convenient organizing system for other people’s agendas.” Don’t get me wrong. It is important, it’s just not the most important part of your day.

[Tweet “”The email inbox is a convenient organizing system for other people’s agendas.” Brendon Burchard”]

By putting in a few personal policies you can become a super productive person even when working from home. Remember, how you start your day is often how the rest of your day will go. Let’s start productive.



Please Take My 2015 Reader Survey

I want to make my blog better and even more relevant to you and your goals in 2015. In order to do this, I need to know more about you. I’ve put together a short reader survey that will take less than five minutes to fill out.

Would you please do me a big favor and fill out this survey? As you can see from my current blog tagline helping others matters a lot to me. My plan is to take your challenges, insights, goals, and desires and turn them into blog posts, videos, and podcasts that can help you get further faster.

The survey is easy to fill out. The survey results are completely anonymous. I can’t tell who said what. And it will only take five minutes of your time.

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Read. Review. Recall. A Simple Book Review System

Want to become the most resourceful person you know? Create a book review system that allows you to recall information, stories, quotes, and resources at a moment’s notice. If you are tired of reading good books only to forget all of what you read, you can change that.

In a previous post, I talked about the power of the spacing effect. It is a proven psychological phenomenon that works in our favor to recall what we’ve read. The spacing effect teaches us that we more easily remember items that are studied a few times spaced over a long time span. This is when the power of a book review system comes into full effect.

I’ve written several posts on each individual part of my book review process, but now it’s time to put it all together into an easy to follow system.

A Simple Book Review System – Read. Review. Recall.

Once you get this system put in place, it’s not hard at all to follow it. Let’s walk through each step so you can set up your book review system.

  • Step 1. Put together an amazing book reading list. If you have a goal of reading one book a week, you’ll need to have a book list to keep you on pace. I’m an Amazon Prime member so I get 2-day free shipping. I generally try to order a book by Wednesday so I’ll be sure to have time to read it the following week. I also have a Kindle so that makes it super easy to get a book fast as well. You can read more on my post about creating a book reading list.
  • Step 2. As you read books, highlight and index them. I won’t go into great detail here as you can read how I do this with physical books here and kindle books here. Basically, for physical books I use a blank page in the front of the book as an index page. I add the page number and a brief description of the highlighted passage. Regardless if it is a physical book or a kindle book, my book notes go into Evernote.
  • Step 3. Add finished books to your book reading system. Once I finish a book it goes into Evernote, I add a tag of “book notes” and then “daily” to start off with. That way I can easily change the tags to move my book through my review system. If you want to see an example, you can read my post here.
  • Step 4. Review each book daily for four weeks. Every morning when I first sit down to work, I pull up Evernote and click on my saved search labelled “Daily Review.” I typically have four books to review daily. This takes me about 15-20 minutes to complete on average. Reviewing your book notes on a regular basis help to burn the quotes, stories, and principles into your memory. Each book gets reviewed daily by me for four weeks. To see examples of my daily book review, go to my post My Daily Book Review System in 15 Minutes or Less.
  • Step 5. Move daily review books to your weekly review. I keep track of where my book is in my review system at the bottom of each Evernote note. Once I reach four weeks of daily review, I change the Evernote tag to “weekly” and it gets moved to my weekly book review. I do my weekly book review every Saturday morning and it takes about 15-20 minutes to do so. You can read more about my weekly review process at How to Do a Weekly Book Review in Evernote.
  • Step 6. Move weekly review books to your monthly review. After four weekly reviews (one month time frame), the last step is to move to a monthly review. This happens on the first Saturday of every month. I’ll review these books four times which comes out to four months.
  • Step 7. Become the most resourceful person you know. If you have tracked my system, each book gets six months of review. If you commit to a system like this or similar, you will be amazed at how many times a story, quote, or answer comes to you while in conversation with other people. You will also be amazed at how much of what you’ve learned is integrated into your life and the way you think.

If you want to be resourceful, you have to be intentional about your personal growth. One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Jim Rohn which states: “Your level of success, will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.”