Category Archives: Discovery

Setting goals: first things first

Goals can be daunting. Setting a goal plan even more challenging the more complex the goal.

What actions can you take to get you started and move the register to begin starting on path to accomplish larger goals?

Begin with a relatively easy goal you have in mind.

On a separate sheet of paper or online tool, write down every possible action you can think of to help you achieve this goal.

Include any tasks you can give yourself, any obstacles you can identify to your actions and tasks and the resources you would need and person that could help you around obstacles or help you with tasks.

Ultimately, you are responsible for completion and accountable to yourself.

As you begin working on your goal, more action items may emerge. Incorporate them to your original list.

Ask a friend or accountability buddy to help you think about your list and brainstorm action steps.

Decide how many hours per day and many days per week you want to allot to working on your goal. A good rule of thumb is two hours per task!

Implement and revise if needed.

Note that if you change your mind about starting toward your goal more than three times, you’ll need to reevaluate how important that goal was – no matter how small – and how committed you were.

Start small. Reach your goal. Learn and build your self confidence along the way.

Call Joe the Life Coach for more help at 202.328.7414 or Skype at sandpdc.


Setting goals: 13 questions before starting out

Before setting any goals for yourself, go to a quiet place to think. Make it sacred by your solitude. Ponder to gain understanding. Ask yourself these questions:

Is the goal your own?

Is the goal based on your values?

Is the goal achievable based on your personal strengths?

Is the goal attainable based on current skills you have or do you need other skills?

What does your inner voice say about your goal?

How do you see yourself reaching that goal?

How will you feel when you reach that goal?

Where will you write or announce your goal?

How will you share the vision of your goal and with whom?

How will you track your progress in reaching your goal?

How will you adjust when you need to change course or face obstacles reaching your goal?

When will you know you’ve reached your goal?

How ready are you to make your goal SMARTER?


Where does your compass lead you?

Where is your compass – physical, mental, emotional, financial, moral – pointing?

Back in the late Nineties, I worked for a company that managed U.S government projects in developing counties to increase their agricultural output – promoting export-led growth in countries where agriculture represented, and still does, the largest portion of economic activity and gross domestic product. Products like the quinoa on your supermarket shelf; once a nutritious staple for Andean folks who now can’t afford it or can’t buy it.

The company’s logo was a crude plowing field shaped into its corporate initials. As it grew, a designer revamped the logo into a stylized compass rose, which combined the creativity of a Spirograph design and the Arab influences of a region that would later produce a company president and chief financial officer.

The compass, with a big letter C, had a curiously placed little triangle pointing up – North. In development, North always seemed better. Post-industrial. Modern. Developed. The South, a host of isms and a proverbial game of catching up or leap frogging. Oddly this north-south distinction applied within Western economies where North is industrial, faster paced, progressive. The South, agrarian, traditional and slower paced in language and thinking.

About the same time I had undertaken a spiritual exercise in the first decade of new century, I had a rare opportunity to view a world map compiled in 1602 by Jesuit missionary to China, Matteo Ricci. Displayed at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the 400-year-old map was being shown publicly for the first time in North America after fetching a purchase price of USD1 million, the second highest price ever paid for a rare map.

Ricci’s map included pictures and annotations describing different regions of the world; Africa is noted to have the world’s highest mountain and longest river. North America mentions “humped oxen” or bison, wild horses and a region named “Ka-na-ta.” Ricci was the first Westerner to visit what is now Beijing in the late 1500s. Known for introducing Western science to China, Ricci created the map at the request of Emperor Wanli.

The map measured 12 feet by 5 feet and was printed on six rolls of rice paper.It showed Florida as “the Land of Flowers.” For the first time, China was placed at the center of the world map – thus displacing Jerusalem and the Holy Land from their primacy.

Later, after joining a global men’s organization championing integrity, accountability and self-awareness, I became acutely aware of the importance of the compass as each session of our group peer counseling began with the NEWS: a physical and verbal recounting of the multicultural importance of the cardinal points. In opposition to each other. East is East and West is West and never the twain…

And now in every man”s hero or warrior journey, does North-South axis represent highest and lowest points of journey and East-West the separation of the ordinary and special world of the journey?


Planning: a tool that’s right for you

Planning is an extraordinary tool.

Yet it often takes a lot of effort in the initial phase since you are basically starting to “initialize,” “reprogram” or “reboot” your brain to respond with behaviors that move you closer to your goals.

Imagine if every self-help, motivational and diet book came with an easy goal plan to do whatever’s recommended in the book, you would be a better manager, employee, people-person, entrepreneur, leader, leaner, thinner, healthier and better dressed, groomed, grounded and balanced.

Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals and “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently,” the most popular and commented on Harvard Business Review blog post in 2011, suggests contingency or if/then planning – is a successful way to reach your goals.

Connecting the if – situation you’re going to act on – and the then – specific action you’re going to take – duplicate the language of the brain, “if z, then y.”

When added to SMARTER goals, contingency planning contributes to succeeding in short-term goals and establishing a foundation for other successes.

How do you define success?

Why are you pursuing the goals you are pursuing?

How are your goals really satisfying your basic human needs for belonging (relatedness), competence and autonomy?

Let Joe the Life Coach help you with transitions, important life aspirations and goal planning! One step at a time. Call 202.328.7414, Skype to sandpdc or tweet @aprayerdc.


Act today and look toward tomorrow

Tolerance may be a good thing. Complacency may deter you from your goals.

Tolerating something – an aggressive coworker, a runny toilet or a squeaky wheel – continually drains your energy, like filing a cup upon which someone has made little holes.

Does continuous tolerance or complacency keep you from being yourself and evolving quickly as a human being?

How often do you distinguish between your activities that are incomplete, unresolved and require resolution or those that are unfinished, still needing work and require action?

In your life, how many things are unresolved or infinished?

Here are two simple exercises to help you break those negative reinforcing loops of tolerance and complacency.

List five unresolved issues or situations (large or small) that are draining your energy. Circle one that you can complete today.


List five things (small or large) you’re putting up with or tolerating. Circle the one that you can eliminate TODAY.


What’s the one big change that would make the most difference in your life?

What’s the first step you will take in the direction of that change?

When will you do this?


Planning, complacency and motivation

Earlier this week, a client reminded me of the importance and contradictions of planning and complacency.

Himself a brilliant story teller, he shared a story of two priests who took a vow to be itinerant monks for life. They promised to do good works and help the poor, disenfranchised and desolate wherever they went.

To avoid being bored or becoming complacent, the two monks would prepare ever year for a trip saying they would go at the end of the year.

Each year, when their detailed and minute planning was finished and the year came to an end, they would say to themselves that they would go next year and then spend all of that next year planning to go on a trip.

They repeated this process every year until they died, motivated yet neither resolved nor finished.


Are you a good judge of people?

The most critical choices we make relate to people.

Being a good judge of people, however, is difficult – particularly when you throw in eons of biological prejudices or cultural biases, stigmas and discrimination.

How do you get better at sizing up first impressions?

Do you focus on extrinsic markers?


Integrity for today’s man

Recently, Catholics celebrated the feast of Saint Alberto Hurtado, a modern saint born in Chile.

A man ahead of his time in his approach to social issues, Fr. Alberto insisted “injustice cause[d] far more evil than [could] be repaired by charity.”

Today, how do you advocate for integrity and justice?

Do you take upon yourself the hard tasks of reading, analyzing, planning and acting on your choices and plans?

How do you deepen that contemplative look, taking in the whole world and seeing how things truly are?

Remember, as Ellie Wiesel once wrote, “one person of integrity can make a difference.”

Today, make a difference in your life or someone’s life.


Photo courtesy of Carlos Mendez.

Are you aware of the environment?

The environment is all around you.

How aware are you of its beauty?

How do you acknowledge and affirm your duty for stewardship?

Do you have affection for the sun – when it rises it benefits all?

Are you tempted to be a socially conscious consumer advocating for fair trade, organic production and local markets rather than just consuming less?

Here are some simple steps to discern and guide your actions.

Become aware.

Pray and reflect on the duty to care for the environment and protect the poor and vulnerable.

Learn about and educate others on the causes and moral dimensions of climate change.

Understand how you, your families and friends, communities of belonging and other affiliations contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption and waste.

Act to change your choices and behaviors to reduce the ways you contribute to climate change.

Advocate for integrity and compassion and wholistic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially those which have an effect on the most vulnerable.

Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun and I say
It’s all right.

George Harrison

How do you love?

Is your love intimate?

Is your love physical?

Does your love defy?

Does your love make you feel ashamed?

Does your love prefer adventure?

Do you feel the spirit that unites?