Tag Archives: goals

Small Steps, Big Impact

I have lost my enthusiasm for setting audacious elaborate goals. Setting learning goals is a prime example. My professional college would like me to follow a SMART goal setting exercise to set learning goals. I have tried this method and I find it artifical.

My learning happens more organically. If I try to set a big goal to learn a skill or knowledge, I find it hard to do. It seems like too much work. I can break it down into smaller bite size pieces, but even that exercise feels wrong. I end up doing a fair bit of rework during the process.

My approach is to use real life problems from practice. It just works better for me. I reflect on my day, think about what I could have done better and the information I could have used. From there I can determine what I need to learn so I can apply it next time. It is real time learning based on a practice need.

It is a small step approach where I build on my foundations and grow professionally as a result. Small steps lead to a big impact.

Cheers, Catherine

Today is My 3-Year Anniversary

Today is the 3 year anniversary of leaving my 9-5 job. It’s a significant milestone.

I remember when I first made the decision to leave. It was more than a year before I actually left and it was as if a light bulb had gone off. The “aha” moment was as sharp and clear as a well-composed digital photo. So, why am I still here in this job where my ideas are not valued, my work duties are slowly being eroded, and my work is being marginalized by people who do not have the training and expertise that I have? It may have been a case of being in one place too long or maybe I was just tired of the hypocrisy I witnessed everyday. If I sound bitter, I was, and I was exhausted. Something needed to change and I knew then that I would leave.

In preparing to leave, I had a vague concept of what I might do and I even wrote a business plan. That business plan was okay but was born at a time where I was still thinking like a manager and an indentured servant. My plan was to be a consultant which was another way to become an employee again, only now, I would have many bosses instead of one. I knew that I would make a living doing consulting, but in the process I was ignoring my true calling.

I worried about money and making ends meet. I worried about what my friends would think. I was particularly worried about my family especially my husband. Could he support me, spiritually and financially, in leaving a well-paying job to follow my passion? I even worried that I would be homeless in a few years. Doesn’t every entrepreneur have that homelessness worry at least once a month?

The one thing that kept me from chickening-out and staying in that job was this overwhelming desire for autonomy. I no longer wanted to write a script for someone else and have my words become swallowed in the corporate morass. I wanted to write my name at the bottom of all my work. I wanted to have the say on what I published. I no longer wanted to maintain programs and structures that were ridiculously bureaucratic. I wanted to dream, teach, entertain, tell stories and do interesting writing projects that allowed me to continuously learn my craft. I wanted to be crazy and explore ideas that seemed impossible. I wanted my work to be fun again.

So I have become an artist who uses words as my medium. Despite the doubts I have and the fear that I will someday starve, I still get up every morning excited to sit down at my computer and write.

Three years ago today, I left my 9-5 job and I became writer.

Cheers, Catherine  Location: Saltspring Island, BC
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The life [simplified] letter: Transitions

The latest edition of the life [simplified] letter: Transitions published on January 1, 2015 is now available. Enjoy!

The life [simplified] letter is written for my email subscribers. The email letter is my weekly musings on lifestyle design focusing on simplicity and ease where I share my successes and my tribulations.

Every once in a while, I send little goodies that are only available through the email letter.

If you would like to get your own copy of the letter delivered right to your inbox, please subscribe. It’s free!

Cheers, Catherine   Location: Beautiful Saltspring Island, BC, Canada

The One Month Frame

Some time ago, I wrote a letter about the one inch frame, a concept that I borrowed from Anne Lamott, an author that I’ve come to idolize.

As I was planning the relaunch of my email letter for January 1, 2015, I started to think about the one inch frame. Anne Lamott’s concept is that when the writing task seems overwhelming, just start by writing only what you can see in a one inch frame. Maybe it is a short description or a tiny little bit of dialogue that will get the writing mind relaxed enough to keep writing.

My idea was to take the one inch frame and expand it to a concept of the one month frame and use it for managing projects. I tend to have illusions of grandeur when I start planning a new project and believe I can do so much more than I actually can. I’ve been known to plan out months in advance on some projects. In hindsight, I’ve come to understand that no one can predict the future so far in advance. Inevitably, I can’t meet my unrealistic goals, get frustrated and usually quit.

I’m not good at working without a goal in mind. I need some structure and I need to do some planning. I’ve tried to work without any goals or plans but what happens is I get distracted and the next thing I know, I’m watching Elementary on streaming video from my computer or wandering around FaceBook reading cute status updates.

Even though I need some kind of plan and a goal at the end, I can hold the plan lightly and only plan a few weeks ahead. So much of what I do doesn’t have a hard and fast deadline. I can create deadlines but I don’t find it necessary to get the work done.

The one month frame seems about right. I can set up some challenges for myself, a goal, that can reasonably be completed within a month. For example, I can challenge myself to finish 30,000 words for the email letters by the end of the month. If I write every day, that is only 1,000 words per day and I can reasonably handle that amount, maybe even get ahead by having a few days where I write 2,000 words. I’ve set up a method to track my results in an excel spreadsheet chart. The visual representation is really helpful.

I’ve also built in rewards along the way. At the 15,000 word mark, I might reward myself by buying a new e-book to read. I can also create a reward after I finish my daily quota. Instead of using the streaming TV video as a distraction, it becomes the reward AFTER I finish the daily word count.

I’ve also come to realize I need one additional feature in a one month frame. At the end of the month, I need to assess where I am. Did I succeed in completing what I set out to do at the start of the month? I can also review what worked well and what did not work at all.

As I look ahead to the next month and start the planning process all over again, I can start with a fresh challenge. Maybe I didn’t quite reach my 30,000 word goal. Maybe I only wrote 28,596 words. No matter, I can start again and reset the timer, so to speak. I’ve decided that since I work for myself, why not? I’ve still accomplished something in the previous month and I can have a fresh start for the next month. Besides, I’ve found there is always a next month.

What do you think of a one month frame for project planning? Share your thought in the comments.

Cheers, Catherine  Location: Saltspring Island, BC

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Thanks for reading! If you found this information useful, informative or even entertaining, please share. I really appreciate it!

my little experiment – follow up

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was trying a little experiment. The idea was to try to live my life without any goals or any tasks preplanned in advance. Each day I would wake up and just follow my instincts about what needed to be done that day. I got the idea from Leo over at Zen Habits. Continue reading

my little experiment with no goals

This week I’ve been experimenting with a concept. I’ve been trying to get along in my day with no task list or any goals. Now, for a women who has been the queen of lists all her life, this is a big step. Continue reading

preparation meets opportunity

in the news!

Before I start today’s post, I thought I would let everyone know that tomorrow I will be premiering the first issue of my newsletter! Yay! The newsletter contains content that is quite different from the blog and what is available on this website. I’m working hard to make every newsletter interesting and valuable. I plan to include in-depth information on topics of interest to those looking to redesign their lifestyle. There will be useful links and references. The newsletter is exclusive to those on my subscribers list so be sure to sign up today if you haven’t done so already.

now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast… 🙂

For those people who know me, they may be surprised by my decision to start this blog and website. However, when I was thinking back over my career there have been a number of things I’ve done that have prepared me for this moment. Continue reading

how to set intentions

I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. – Anais Nin

New Year, new start


The New Year is usually a time for new resolutions. I chose this quote because it resonates with me. I’ve set New Year’s resolutions more times times than I count. Perhaps you have too. Unfortunately, at least for me, I have a difficult time keeping them. Then I beat myself up about them.

I often say that language is important. My trusty Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines a resolution as “an intention.” It seems to me that this meaning describes a different tone for setting resolutions. Normally, I would make lists of goals and priorities each year. Then I would spend hours figuring out how to make them just right. Some stuff got done but not a great deal. I believe now that the reason I was not “successful” is that these lists created expectations that were too rigid. Continue reading

Happy New Year! and what’s to come

“All glory comes from daring to begin.” – Eugene F. Ware

January 1 seems like a good time as any to start something new. I’m launching a website, this blog and an online business as the first step towards my lifestyle redesign. Pretty cool. I’ve been working hard over the last few weeks to get the website up and running. Talk about a learning curve. It has been worth all the struggles though.

In the next few posts, I’m going to talk about how I came to this place. It has been a long journey here. I know it will be an ongoing journey.

Continue reading