Blog post #218 – Measurable Goals (SMART Goals continued)

Blog post #218 – Measurable

As we talk about New Year’s Resolutions, we are going through a series on SMART goals:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Timely

Let’s look at measurable.  In some respects, this is simple – at the end of the specific (and timely) goal there should be a date – such as by March 1, 2018 I will weigh no more than 195 pounds.  That is measurable – yes, I made it; or no  I did not make it.    

You maybe came close – and you can be happy with that; but close is not reaching your goal.  Last weekend there were four NFL playoff games.  Of those only four times reached their goal of winning.  For example, New Orleans lost in the last seconds of their game with Minnesota.  They could say “We were ahead until the last seconds”; we almost won; we looked great in the second half; we had an amazing comeback.  But, ultimately, in the final measurement of winning and losing; that team lost.  

Coming close is nice – but reaching the goal is the ultimate.  I’ve read of climbers who came close to getting to the top of Mount Everest, only to turn back for one reason or another (and … generally very good reasons like a colleague is sick and they must get him down to safety and healing).  But, in the back of their minds must be the thought “We didn’t quite make it.  We didn’t reach our goal”.

I have academic friends who started a PhD program but didn’t complete it.  Doing the research and writing a dissertation (let alone defending it) is a significant effort.  I’m glad I did it and I’m glad I reached that goal.  And, I’m sure these friends who have the designation of ‘ABD’ – all but dissertation wish things would have worked out for them.  

Sometimes it isn’t you that keeps you from achieving the goal and that is understandable.  Maybe like the climbers, where a higher priority came into play – saving a person’s life.  Maybe like the academics, they were out of funds and took a position thinking they would still finish it off – but inertia occurred and they didn’t finish.  

It something is worthy of being a goal; then it is worthy of the of the effort to reach that goal.  You do you need to work harder to get there?  Is the roadblock to your goal one that can be overcome?  Is there another path to your goal?  Have you re-evaluated your goal and found that it doesn’t fit you anymore?  

But, don’t just walk away from your goals.  Examine your goals and examine yourself.  Create new goals.  Work towards them.  Follow your dreams (but make those dreams into goals).

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Blog Post #217 SMART goals and change

Blog Post #217 SMART goals and Change

Let’s look more at SMART goals:

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Timely

There are wants and there are goals and things in-between like “that would be nice”.  

There are things I can change and things I can’t change.

Last weekend in the National Football League playoffs, the Minnesota Vikings made an amazing comeback in the last 30 seconds of the game, scoring a touchdown to win.  So, my goal for the next month is for the Vikings to beat Philadelphia and then to be the other team and to win the SuperBowl!!  (Great goal – but definitely not attainable).

I have no control over the Minnesota Vikings.  The most control I have is whether to watch them on television or not. 

There might be a slight control factor (really beyond my reach).  I know friends who were praying for the Vikings to win.  Did that help?  I don’t know.  While I do believe in prayer; there were probably as many praying for the Vikings to win as those that were praying for the Saints to win (and … hey – Saints might have a better chance with God!!!).

What can I change?  Myself, my environment, my attitude.  What can’t I change?  The rest of the world.

There is an old story of the couple.  The man announces that he is in charge of major decisions; and his wife is in charge of minor decisions.  When questioned, the man says – “Yes, I am in charge of major decisions like what to do with North Korea; what to do about the weather; what Congress and the President should do.”  Then he adds “And my wife is in charge of minor decisions like where we live, what we eat, how we raise the children, how much money we need, how to spend our money and more minor decisions.”

The reality is pretty clear – if changes are going to be made, I can’t expect my wife, my doctor, my employer to do it – only I can really do it.  

We look for magical solutions.  I believe the Atkins Diet will work or the Keto Diet or Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or others.  But it isn’t until I make the decision to change that things change in my life.

Now, I can help other change.  I can vote.  I can write letters to my congressmen (or congresswomen).  I can express my opinions on Facebook or Twitter.  I can organize some groups for change or join existing groups for change.  But down inside I can only change me.

Even if I want other change (let’s say some governmental policy like healthcare).  Changing myself won’t make it.  But working the grassroots and talking to people and working with others with a similar mindset might eventually cause change at that level.  

So, in this new year, what are you going to change in yourself?  Are you complacent?  Are you in a rut?  Do you REALLY want change in your life?  Then make that a consuming fire – see the change in you; work on the change in you; make the change happen with passion!!!

Questions?  Comments?  Email me at:


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Post 216 New Year Resolutions: SMART Goals

Blog post #216 – New Year Resolutions and SMART Goals

Background:  In October 2017, I had opened my blog for others to make comments.  Within a day, the blog was ‘taken-over’ (I’m guessing with a lot of Russian users).  I couldn’t get on my own site!!

Steven – our web / network guru – and his crew fixed that.  Now I’m back on.

I will continue in my style – some blog posts on aging, some on motivation, some on life issues, some on technology, and others at my whim!!!  


But to get us started today, talking about motivation.  New Year’s Resolutions and SMART Goals

I set goals all the time – short term, medium term, long term (like living until at least 98!!).  New Year’s Resolutions are a way to approach the new year with resolve – setting goals, envisioning the future.

Goals as we know should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.  Many people who are not used to goal setting do try to do New Year’s Resolutions.  They tend to be vague, non measurable, achievable (maybe), realistic and timely.  These might be like:  This year I will lose weight.  Good idea.  How much weight?  Maybe something like by March 1st I will weigh no more than 195 pounds.  That is specific (number), measurable (did I make it or not – and in this case, you may want to put in intermediate values – by January 15, by February 1; by February 15 with specific numbers); achievable (depending on your starting value – if you are 300 pounds, getting to 195 by March 1 is not achievable; if you are 205 pounds getting 1o 195 by March 1st is achievable); the goal is realistic and timely.

You can (should) pair your goals with imaging.  Taking the losing weight example, think of new clothes you can wear, or how your pants that have gotten tight will no longer be tight, of the double chin going away, of smiling at your success.  

Another goal many have for New Year’s Resolutions is to exercise.  Something like “I will exercise more this year”.  Nice thoughts – but not SMART.  

Or … this year I will stop smoking – vague – maybe by March 1st, I will totally be a non-smoker.  I will visit my doctor by January 4th to talk about smoking cessation methods; by January 15th, I will have worn non-smoking patches for a week; I will also have been to my first non-smoking group session, etc.  

Then make it real:  Put post-it notes on your bathroom mirror – so every time you look in the mirror you see your note.  Put a post-it note on the refrigerator; on your steering wheel; let your spouse, friends, family know – so if the see you eating junk food / smoking / being a couch potato they can help you get back on track.

The take-away from today’s blog – make SMART goals and hold yourself accountable.

Comments:  Send me a note at:

Have a great 2018!!



(Maybe one of your goals will be to have a motivational speaker for your company.  Contact me and we’ll set something up!!!)

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Emotions and Career Change

Emotions and Career Change


Think about that – You – by your choices – are your own boss. If your brain has checked out of your job, your work is pretty much worthless. If your brain is stimulated and excited about your work, you will do your job with PASSION and ENTHUSIASM.

You originally choose your job and career. You may have gone to college in a particular major to be ready for a career in that field. You went through research, applications and interviews for jobs. You had job offers and you got to say “Yes” or “No” to accept or reject the job. You choose your job.

You went to your first day of your first ‘real’ job maybe a little scared and probably very excited. You had high expectations and looking forward to a long career.

At some point that excitement became humdrum – your expectations lowered and you wanted to get through the days. You looked forward to the weekends and the vacations. You didn’t get up on Monday and say “WOO – YES – I get to go to work!!” You did what you needed to ‘get through it’. If you are like some people, you started to come in late and leave early. You complained to your spouse

We have talked ATTITUDE many times – and here again – passion, enthusiasm and attitude.

Recently Southwest Airlines on their ads on NFL football has a military situation and the general (or commanding office) needs to give his password to the technician to stop the situation. His password is: “ihatemyjob1” – that is an ATTITUDE problem. (by-the-way, I can’t imagine a commanding officer having such an attitude problem!!)

Your career is too important to approach with apathy!!!

If you approach your career as casually as getting a glass of water from the tap, you are not going anyplace – and you might the next one to use the “ihatemyjob1” password.

Work for others – tell your story to the world – be assertive, be ambitious. Find your passion and go for it!!!

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Garbage in / Garbage Out

Garbage in – Garbage out

In computing, we have an adage “Garbage in, Garbage out”. (GIGO). In computing that means (generally) if you have bad data, you’ll get bad results. It also means what are we collecting?

I had subscribed to a magazine some time ago. Somehow the magazine got my first name as “Burce” instead of “Bruce”. I got some other advertisements sent to “Burce White” – as this magazine sold my name and address to other advertisers.

I contacted them and said “Hey, my name is “Bruce””. But, to no avail. For the year that I got this magazine, I was “Burce”. When it came time to renew, I did not renew my subscription – not that I didn’t like the magazine (it was okay’) , but for poor customer service and for getting my name wrong.

Working with two other professors, we were doing research on teaching online classes. We had a great survey instrument that we sent to many professors. The results were interesting and we were preparing the survey data with other research data when we noticed that 100% of the professors surveys said they would NEVER again teach an online course. Wow – we had a significant result – professors who had taught online saying they would never teach online again. But, as we checked farther, the survey asked “Would you teach online again” and the screen display said “Yes” “No”. But the underlying code had “1” and “0”. Our data was worthless – garbage in, garbage out.

Our brains are also like that – garbage in, garbage out. Our self-talk can help overcome that – telling ourselves positive thoughts – “Yes, I can do it”; instead of “No, I can’t do it”.

Taking that another step; what else are we putting in our brains? Are we ‘sharpening the saw’? Do we spend some time reading and enlarging our knowledge? Do we practice speaking and listening? How about improving our soft-skills and management skills?

I like to multi-task (especially when driving). I have downloaded podcasts to my iPhone and can listen while I’m driving. Or good stuff in; good stuff out.

I can multitask while watching television. (I really don’t watch much television). I love to watch my favorite football teams (college – Texas Longhorns and Nebraska Cornhuskers; Pro – Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys). But, while I’m watching the games, I’ll be on my laptop, reading articles, doing planning and improving my brain. Even when I’m in the restroom, I’ll pull out my affirmations / goals card and reread my goals and my affirmations to keep them fresh in my brain.

So … how might you keep garbage out of your brain? How can you feed your brain with success, career goals, positive thinking?

How might you use your time to multi-task?

Think about it!!

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Self Preservation


It seems like for many of us, we get into our thirties, have a job, a wife, children, house (with mortgage), cars (with car payments), insurance (and maybe braces or other major problems), leaky roofs, bad plumbing, grass to mow, appliances that go out – and we opt for self-preservation.

What do I mean by ‘self-preservation’? The desire to keep our heads above water, the desire to give up goals, to bypass any risk taking in our careers – to that we keeps the income going. We might decide to just ‘hang in there’ on our jobs. Sure – we’re making enough income to keep going. We’ll sacrifice challenges, even promotions as we know we need to keep food on the table and gas in the cars.

We look at our goal cards and affirmations in our billfolds and tear it up – and sigh, “That was just wishful thinking”. “That wasn’t going to happen”.

We compromise something deep inside us to keep going. We shut down in order to survive.

Does this have to be true? Do we have to put our dreams away for self-preservation?

Let’s think about this. We all know people that even in their thirties, forties, fifties plus keep going; maybe they jumped from company A to company B and took on new risks – and still make the home life fit in; maybe they found they could keep their goals and affirmations going.

I have a close friend that at age 42 quit his ‘job for life’ working for a major technology company to go with a start-up. He has a family and two children that he dearly loves; but he hated to be stuck in a ‘job for life’ position. He was to maintain a problem (that he was instrumental in creating in the first place); tweak it, improve it, but basically keep it running. The benefits of the major company were very good, he was up to 4 weeks of vacation; great health benefits, opportunity to travel for conferences and to be a part of this major company.

He said “no”. The start-up technology company is small – about ten people – and he is in the trenches, working on the architecture, doing coding, setting the parameters for a new project that could be a million (or billion) dollar idea – or could be a flop on the market. He has enough confidence in his skills that the products out of the start-up will be viable and he knows that the market adoption is not in his hands. Underneath, he also has the confidence that such the start-up fail, he’ll be able to land a new job and keep the income going.

He is putting in long hours, working on a very tight knit team (with ten people, it would have to be a tight-knit team). He has a passion for the project and company – a passion that was not present in his ‘job for life’ position.

I left a tenured full-professor position to take another position at another university. Some thought I was crazy – “Why are you giving up your ‘job for life’?” In the academic world, tenure basically means you cannot be fired (other than distinct moral / legal issues). To me “tenure” was a term – I valued my skills and ability with confidence and stated publically (and maybe even more importantly – privately) that if I was not doing the job (even if tenured), I needed to be fired. I ‘needed’ to have the challenge of a new experience and working my way back through the system to gain tenure at the new institution.

For you that might be stuck in the self-preservation situation, take a day (or a week) to reflect. Have you let your skills slip? Have you forgotten your passion? Do you still have goals and dreams? Or … have you given them up – as a compromise to keep a steady paycheck?

Continue your reflection with thinking about ‘In a perfect world, I would be doing ’. Take some long walks, get your brain and your heart into dreaming again.

Mark Twain wrote about consistency: “There are those who would mis-teach us that to stick in a rut is consistency–and a virtue; and that to climb out of the rut is inconsistency–and a vice.”

I remember a poster with a man asking “Am I in the groove or in a rut?”

What about you? Are you in a groove – moving ahead with passion – or stuck in a rut? Can you get your attitude, goals, image and self-talk adjusted – or are you going to just abandon goals in favor of self-preservation?

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Stupidity – the things we do and shouldn’t do


These lessons have been coaching and mentoring for college success. Even lesson 10 on failure is learning how to ‘fail forward’. Today’s lesson is about stupidity.

Scenario 1: Lexi (or any student really) is off to college. She is away from home and away from her parents. She can set her own hours; she has a lot of freedom to explore life that she didn’t have at home. Early in her first semester, some friends invited her to a party. There was an abundance of alcohol and Lexi got drunk. She also found friendship. Since then two or three times a week Lexi binge drinks – she is drunk at least two nights a week. She is studying less and is drinking more. Lexi is being stupid and her actions can lead to less studying, poor grades and not reaching her goals.

Scenario 2: Charles (modelled after a previous student of mine named Charles) was an average student in high school. In college he is enjoying his computer classes and math classes, but hates his English class and those other general education classes. He finds a part time job for a computer company – it pays well. Charles is also concerned about money. His parents divorced when he was eleven and money for college is an issue. He doesn’t want to borrow for college. The part time job pays well. His boss likes his computer work and offers him half-time work or 20 hours a week. It pays fairly good for half-time. He will have enjoy having money saved for second semester if he keeps this up. But, with twenty hours a week, something has to go, so he drops his English class. Weekends are spent catching up on his computer courses and his calculus class. After mid semester he finds that his calculus grade is a B minus. He knows he could do better, but he has to keep working. He drops the calculus class on the last day to withdraw from a class. For spring semester, he registers for calculus and English and again drops them. After his first year in college, he has completed eighteen credits. He decides it is not worth it and takes a full time computing position. He is abandoning his goals.

Scenario 3: Daniel also finds he likes to party in college. At one party, a friend gives him some marijuana. Soon Daniel is smoking pot frequently and lately has started using cocaine. He enjoys getting high. His classes also are suffering and his bank account is going down quickly. He finds he can sell some marijuana and cocaine to raise the money he wants and needs for more partying. He is abandoning his goals.

Scenario 4: Kasey has joined a sorority and is doing well. Her grades are very good as the sorority requires study hours and there are older girls who mentor her in her classes. She likes the social events that the sorority sponsors and soon has a boyfriend and soon she finds out she is pregnant. She is on the verge of abandoning her goals.

No one comes to college with a goal of living under a bridge by the time they are 30 with a paper bag holding a bottle of wine – but it happens.

No one comes to college with the goal of getting married and divorced three times before he/she reaches 40 – but it happens.

No one comes to college with the goal of becoming an alcoholic, or drug addict, or a sex slave or a college dropout – but it happens.

It is stupidity. DON’T GET TRAPPED!!!


Research and write a two paragraph paper in your journal on why students drop out of college. While poor grades might be the ultimate factor, dig deeper and find the underlying factors.

What temptations might you expect in college? How might you avoid them?

What are your thoughts on college life – and the very real ease of getting alcohol? Is social drinking okay with you?

How do you learn to say “NO”?

Today’s quote – from the Christian prayer Lord’s Prayer also known as the Our Father – “And lead us not into temptation.

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Freshman Year

Lesson 21 Freshman Year

For the next five lessons, we’ll look at some specific things to do each year (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior and Graduate School). Some will overlap.

Freshman Year:

Yay – you have been accepted to college!!! You have done the previous lessons, you understand that the competition is world-wide now; you have set goals including Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG); worked on your attitude; decided to go for GREAT, not just good; find ways to be remarkable; know about traps to avoid; worked on your self-talk and motivation; you are picturing yourself successful and imaging about what your world will be like in several years; worked on networking and finding a mentor or mentors.

So, so specific things for freshman year.

First – learn to say “NO”.

When I went to college, I was scared I’d flunk out. My first semester, I spent at least three hours for every hour in class. I read my books, I did my assignments, I did extra assignments. I “knew” the material quite well. And … I learned how to say “NO”. When somebody on my dorm floor came by to say “Hey, let’s go for pizza”, the answer was NO; when there is a dance / speaker / program / event at some location, my answer was NO.

I created a calendar (it was on paper, these days, Excel would work. I scheduled classes, studying, meals, sleep and not much else.

To be honest, I was boring. While the adage is “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” maybe be true, in my class, “all work and no play” helped me to get great grades that first semester. I did learn how to slack off after that semester, but I was set a high level by getting strong grades that semester.

Second – learn how to study.

Okay, you have been a student, from Kindergarten through High School. You know how to study don’t you? The reality is probably not. You ‘kind of’ know how to study.

Sure, you go to your room at (say) 7:00 p.m., turn on the TV or music, check your email, Google some information, check out the latest YouTube videos or Facebook posts, and read your textbook. At 11:00, you put down your books and congratulation yourself on four hours of studying. You maybe did an hour.

The suggestion is to get rid of distractions. No TV, and it might be okay for music – like soothing Bach string quartets!! Don’t go on the Internet (unless you absolutely need to); don’t go to email or Facebook.

There are many great concepts available for you. I’ve been looking at: and and many others.

Take time to read and really understand studying.

Your campus probably has a Learning Center (or similar). Go there before classes start and find a class, seminar on “Studying in College”. Even if you have to pay something, it should be worth it.

Third – Plan / Plan / Plan your Schedule and your Time.

As mentioned before, develop a schedule – AND STICK TO IT.

Allow some down time – time for some exercise, a jog around campus, maybe even a basketball game or activity. But, the reason you are in college is to learn and to get a degree. Playing a pickup basketball game might be fun and a stress reliever, but does it help your learning and degree goals?

Socializing is good, but watch your time. There is an old expression that is probably true (not true for all, of course) that college is the best four years of your life. After all, you get to live away from home, away from parental supervision, setting your own time – and (generally) letting somebody else pay the bills. I remember after my first semester, one of my best times of the day was after dinner in the cafeteria. A casual group would get a cup of coffee (which is where I learned to drink coffee – but it could be water or anything) and just talked.

Saturday? Sunday? Yes – you study on BOTH weekend days. “But there is a big home football game this Saturday” – okay, then get up at 7:00 and study before the game. “OH – my favorite pro team (in my case, the Green Bay Packers) are on Sunday night football – I have to watch!!” To be honest you don’t “have to watch” it. You might enjoy it – and if you allocate your time, you can take some time to watch the game – but if not, you can take a break every hour and check the score – and get back to studying.

Fourth – tests

Depending on the class, tests will probably be the main component of your college work. When the professor announces a test (and it should also be on the course syllabus), start them preparing for the test. What has the professor emphasized in class? What important concepts are in the textbook? Are there study questions at the end of the textbook chapter? Do them – all of them. Get another textbook from the library (and yes, they should have similar texts for all classes) and go through the study questions and review questions.

I remember being so ready for my math classes tests. I did all the assignment in the textbook, including ones the professor didn’t assign. I pictured myself (imaging) knowing all the questions, I walked into the classroom so prepared that I could almost have taught the class – AND – created the test.

Again, go to the Learning Center and get help on test studying. Essay tests will be different than multiple choice tests.


Read (and read and read) and take thorough notes on how to study in college.

Find where the campus learning center is and make an appointment (you can probably make an appointment online even before you get to campus).

Start reading your books. Write down your notes. The kinesthetic process of reading (eyes) and writing (hands) help the learning become stronger.

Set up a schedule.

Start practicing saying “NO”

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