Personal Improvement

How many people does it take to sell a house?

Or another title – “At which point in the “I’m going to buy a house” cycle should I get excited?”

Author’s note:  This post is not a complaint – I love what Heather & I do here at The Phoenix Agents.  But I do find myself missing the excitement which used to come with every phone call…

I meet a lot of people who are “ready to buy (or sell) a house.”  But only about 1 out of 5 of these homebuyers actually get into the car to look at houses (or invite me over to talk about selling their home.)  Once they get in the car, probably 3 out of 5 of them will actually write an offer on a house (or list their house for sale), eventually.  For those who write offers, 4 out of 5 of them will get accepted and open escrow, and 4 out of 5 of these escrows will eventually close. *

So let’s do the math:

1 person “ready to buy”

x 20% chance of getting in their car to view homes

x 60% chance of writing an offer

x 80% chance of getting offer accepted

x 80% chance of closing escrow.

* These are *very* rough estimates, and probably too conservative.

= each person “ready to buy” has a 7.68% chance of closing escrow.  Or, put another way, for every 13 people I meet who are “ready to buy”, 1 will close escrow (and remember, Realtors only get paid when the escrow closes.)

I don’t mind the long cycle or the low percentages.  In fact, I’ve built my entire business model on the principal of “it doesn’t matter whether it takes 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years, when you’re ready I’ll be ready to help.”

The problem is.. I like to get excited – to feel that rush of happiness, exhilaration, achievement, and helpfulness – about meeting new clients.  I want to feel that way from the first phone call all the way through to the closing table.  But I’m finding it more of a challenge these days, knowing that 12 out of 13 of them won’t actually complete the process.

I miss my early days in the business, when I was naive enough to get excited about every phone call…

Your self-reflecting to find his inner child Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Big Gulp – the most expensive product in history?

an Op Ed piece.

New products hit the shelves every day.  Some of them introduce a new fad, fashion, or function to our society; others are trying to cash in on a current fad.  Some are improvements to things we already have; others change the way we live our lives.  For example, plasma TVs and DVDs are great, but it was the old fashioned TV which changed America, and the Video Cassette introduced the home-movie industry.

I don’t think a product has been introduced in my lifetime (I was born in 1969) which has had a more profound effect on our society than 7-Eleven’s Big Gulp.

I remember playing YMCA Basketball as a kid in elementary school.  My dad was the coach, and after every practice half the kids on the team would jump into our van & Dad would treat us to a soda or slurpee at the corner 7-Eleven.  I remember Scott Herr being the first kid I knew who could chug an entire can of soda in one gulp, and I remember arguing with Jay Chapman that Coke tasted better than Mellow Yellow.  But my most vivid 7-Eleven memory is my first look at the all-new Big Gulp, sometime around 6th grade.

The Big Gulp was HUGE – unlike anything I had seen before.  32 ounces of Coca Cola heaven.  Drinking a Big Gulp was like pulling one over on Dad, who said I could have “a pop”, but this was more like 3 pops!

Well, it wasn’t long before the Super Big Gulp (44 oz), the Double Gulp (64 oz), Circle K’s Thirst Buster series, and every other store following suit.

Today the 32oz fountain drink is the standard size across the country, and holding anything else in my hand feels sort of tiny.

So, that’s a nice story, but what does it mean?

Well, 7-Eleven introduced the Big Gulp in 1980.

Today I read an article at AOLHealth.com about the effects of High Fructose Corn Syrup compared with Sugar, and I found this part interesting:

“Sugar-sweetened beverages are the main source of added sugar and the leading source of calories in our diet. When added to drinks, all sweeteners -- including natural ones like brown sugar, sugar in the raw, agave syrup and honey -- contribute empty calories. Since 1980, calorie intake has increased by an average of 150 to 300 calories per day with about half of those calories coming from liquids -- sugar-sweetened beverages in particular. During the same period, there has been no change in physical activity levels. Simply put, Americans are eating more and exercising the same.”  (emphasis mine)

So, at the conservative estimate of 150 calories per day, Americans are consuming 4,500 more calories per month.  Since it takes approximately 3,500 calories to gain (or lose) 1 lb of body fat, we’re gaining over 1lb per month (until we get angry enough to do something about it!)  And since chronic diseases (some of which are driven by the obesity epidemic) are a major cause in health care premiums soaring…

(image courtesy of the Bally Total Witness blog.)

The 7-Eleven Big Gulp, introduced in 1980 and the drink which became the standard in America, is a contributing factor to my health insurance premiums being astronomical.  This might turn out to be the most expensive 69-cent product in history!

Your drinks too much soda but otherwise healthy Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Goal Setting – Achievements vs Habits (re-visited)

I wrote a series of posts last year related to goal setting (and achieving); today I wanted to re-visit the difference between an Achievement-Goal and a Habit-Goal, based on my personal experiences with training and exercise over the last few months…
Achievement-Goal
On January 29th I committed (and set a goal) to run a triathlon with a couple of friends on May 29th.  This would be an achievement-goal, with lots of hard work & commitment leading up to one big event.
I found that pushing myself during training was physically and mentally challenging, but the motivation to workout was easy.
First I was motivated to complete the race – the pride & exhilaration I would feel at the finish line, and the dejection and embarrassment I would feel if I couldn’t finish, was more than enough to get my butt out the door!
After a month or two I became more confident in my ability to finish the race, and I started to think about beating my friends to the finish line (yes, competition can be a great motivator!)  During a good training session I would envision passing my friends on the running course; on a rough day I would envision how bad I would feel if they passed me, and then I would push myself a little harder!
During the last month of training I started to get a feel for what my times would be like in each leg of the race, and then I got very focused on an overall time I wanted to beat.  At that point my training sessions (both the motivation to train and the will to push myself harder during training) came from my desire to beat my time.
Result:  I finished the race (yea!), I beat one of my friends, and I missed my goal time by a few minutes (my bike and run times were great; my swim turned out to be my weakness.)  Overall I was very happy with my achievement, and I have a baseline for what to improve for my next race.

Habit-Goal
My race is over, now what?  Well, I’ve set my sights on another race in November.  I’m going to start event-length training sessions about 10 weeks prior to the event, but between now & then I want my training to work on strength, flexibility, efficiency of motion, and increasing my speed.  I’ve scheduled more frequent workouts, but each one will be a shorter duration.
What I’m finding is I don’t have the same motivator I had at the beginning of my last cycle.  Today I know I can complete the event, but I’m 3-4 months away from hard-core, event-length training sessions.  At the same time, these shorter, highly focused workouts are new to me, so I don’t know what to consider a “good stretch” or an “efficient run”.
The last week has been very difficult, both to get myself into a workout (will it really matter 6 months from now if I miss one small workout today?) and to push myself to the limit during a workout.
I expect it to get easier in the coming weeks, because I’ll have my previous efforts to measure against, and the event itself will become a motivator again as it gets closer.
To those of you out there working on Habit-Goals, getting yourself to the gym (or the book, or the piano, or whatever habit you’re working on) is 90% of the battle, but you still want to give the actual habit your best effort while you’re doing it.  I’m curious to hear what you do to motivate yourself to give your new habit your best effort…
Train hard,
cb
Original Post, published January 14, 2009
Part 3 in a series. I've written about Consistency Counts and Quitting vs Achieving previously.
(Part 4 was titled Time Considerations.)
 goals and resolutions
When setting goals, it's important to realize the difference between achievements and habits. They're going to require different strategies and motivations, and you'll be more successful if you approach your new goal with the best possible game plan.
Achievements
Achievements are one-time events you're trying to accomplish. Most of us are willing to endure some pain in order to get what something we want. (Heck, even my 4 year-old will eat his vegetables if he thinks he has a chance at getting dessert!) This concept can help us achieve greatness - by setting a goal for something we desire greatly, and then subverting everything else we do to that goal.
Examples of Achievement Goals include:
  • Running a marathon
  • Losing 20 pounds
  • Saving money for a specific purpose (taking a vacation, buying a computer, paying off a credit card)
  • Writing a book
  • Learning a new language
  • Learning to play guitar
Once accomplished, you will always have that ability or experience. 30 years from now you can tell your grandkids about the marathon you ran, or you can pick up a guitar and strum a few chords.
Because these goals come with an endpoint, I'd encourage you to set them high, and then to go after them with passion - don't let anything stand in your way from achieving your goal!
Habits
Habits are changes to your lifestyle - your very being, who you are. Habits don't have a specific endpoint; they're for the rest of your life! This concept helps us to become better people. Examples of Habit Goals include:
  • Exercising 3 times per week
  • Eating healthier
  • Saving money (either for retirement, or simply being thriftier)
  • Reading, writing, or otherwise learning - rather than watching TV
  • Being friendlier to strangers
  • Quitting smoking or drinking
Because these goals don't have an endpoint, it can feel like you never get to "win". This causes frustration and leads many people to give up. I recommend not setting these goals as high as your achievement goals, and then modifying them as you develop the habits. Over time you'll make gigantic changes in your life, but there will always be room for improvement.
For example:
  • Maybe start by exercising for only 10 minutes 3 times per week. Once you get into the habit of actually doing the work, you can increase to 15 minutes, then 20 minutes, etc.
  • Start by cutting back (not eliminating) your worst-offending foods. Then wean yourself down to one or two bites of that cheesecake. Then start working on the next type of food.
This becomes a process of continuous improvement, so no matter how far you've come there's always room to go further. In addition, it's ok to have setbacks once in awhile - just pick yourself up and keep moving forward.
Achievements Become Habits
What you'll find is that once you work so hard to achieve something, you won't want to give it up completely. Who wants to get soft again after getting into rock-belly shape? Or start smoking after quitting? Or get back into debt after paying everything off?
Once you complete a major achievement, which you did with fanatical devotion, you can scale back on your intensity and continue to do it for the rest of your life. You don't have to run 14 miles today to train for an upcoming marathon, but you can still run 3 miles to be physically fit!
So go ahead and do it. Set yourself a major Achievement Goal and then go for it! Set yourself a modest Habit Goal and then do it.
You're on your way to becoming a better you! Your working on one Achievement Goal and a few Habit Goals (slowly but surely) Realtor,
Chris Butterworth

Great packing, moving idea

color coded strapping tape from UHaul

Color-coded packing tape marked with the name of the room the stuff goes in. This is so cool!  U-haul.com sells this stuff, $2.95 for a 30yard roll.


Frugalista bargain-hunter anal-retentive tightwad that I am, I wondered if I could do better on pricing.  I looked around online and found that OfficeMax sells ‘paper tape’ for $3.49 for 500 inches. Who measures tape in inches??


Of course, now I need a measurement converter to figure out if 500 inches is more or less than 30 yards. If you are reading this shouting out “I can do that in my head!” I officially hate dislike you. <Chris, I’m lookin’ at you>


I might be able to convert 500 inches to yards in my head but it would hurt. So I checked the lovely folks at Math.com and their length converter. Five hundred inches is 14 yards. So the U-haul tape is the better deal.


I checked Overstock.com, OfficeDepot, and Target and couldn’t find anybody selling packing tape that’s color-coded. Readers, can you?

Money Tip for the New Year

A few days ago I heard a financial advisor** speaking on NPR and one thing he said made a lot of sense. I’m implementing it immediately and thought y’all – our readers – might like to hear it: Maintain 2 checking accounts.


Use the 1st checking account to deposit your paychecks and pay the Big Bills – mortgage, car payment, insurance, etc. You should always have a ballpark idea how much is in the account and it should never go into overdraft status.


Use the 2nd checking account as The Allowance Account for the little stuff and play money. Fund this account with a set amount every month. Here’s the important part: ask your bank to remove the Courtesy Overdraft Protection. That way, when it’s gone, it’s gone and you can’t spend any more that month. “Courtesy Overdraft Protection” is really bank-speak for “we’ll let you spend more money than you’ve got but we’re going to whack you a big fat $35 fee for doing it”. Get rid of that “protection”. You need it about as much as you need protection from the Mob.


This seems brilliant in it’s simplicity!


You can individually decide what qualifies as A Big Expense and gets paid out of the Big Account. Grocery money? You choose whether it’s A Big Expense or comes out of the The Allowance Account. Same thing with dinners out, prescriptions, gasoline, gifts, etc.


Readers, I’d love to hear your reactions to this money strategy. Or other tips you use to keep your spending in line and under budget.



**When I went to find the link to the guy’s audio interview,
I realized he’s a finance reporter for MSNBC.com.


Bob Sullivan is the author of
Stop Getting Ripped Off: Why Consumers Get Screwed and
How You Can Always Get a Fair Deal
.
Sullivan blogs for MSNBC at
The Red Tape Chronicles.

Click to hear Bob Sullivan’s Fresh Air interview with host Terry Gross.
(39 minute audio interview)

Treating People like People

<Personal rant coming>

Some people/businesses treat their clients like they’re walking dollar signs.  It drives me crazy.

Frustration.

I had something out of the ordinary happen this week, which required actually going inside my local bank branch (gasp!); I needed a little personal assistance in tracking down a potential problem.  I didn’t get the help I was looking for.

Now to state the obvious:  I’m a Realtor.  This means, almost by definition, I don’t carry the same banking balances I did a couple of years ago.  We’ve become quite thrifty to say the least.

The part that bugs me is that a couple years ago I would have had personal bankers falling all over themselves to help me.  I guess I already knew banks were all about the money, but it was disappointing to see it in action first-hand.

We’re Different.

I’ll let you in on another little inside secret:  Here at The Phoenix Agents, we make more commission when we sell a $1,000,000 house than we do on a $97,000 transaction.  (gasp again!)

But ask our first-time buyer-clients, who closed on their $97,000 dream home earlier this month, how we treated them, and they’ll tell you we treated them like a $1,000,000 client!

We try really hard to treat people like people, regardless of the price tag.  We wake up in the morning, give the day our best effort, and prepare to do it again tomorrow.  We’re not perfect, but we try.

Why we do it that way.

My parents gave me a picture a long time ago; the caption read:

“When the day is over, and you’ve done your best, wait the results in peace.”

I love the feeling of being proud of the face in the mirror, and of sleeping with a sound conscience.  I believe a good reputation is earned one interaction at a time, one decision at a time.

I’m not sure some of the people at (unnamed) bank feel the same way…

</ end rant>

Your gearing up for the weekend Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Now Serving Number 42. why a waiting list might work…

I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, but I’ve never had the (insert your own term here) to implement it officially…

What would happen if a Realtor capped his number of active clients, and asked any additional clients to wait until he had enough capacity to service them properly?

Common sense (and personal experience) tells me that whenever I give my clients Best Customer Service, I end up with life-long clients who become friends, who also tell everyone they know about how great I am.  Isn’t this critically important for our business?

I also know that whenever I get overbooked, my service level falls, and I become Good (instead of Great…)   Good is enough to close a transaction successfully, and to have clients think you know what you’re doing.  But Good is NOT enough to have clients rave about you.

How’s this for a thought:  What would happen if you had 50 former clients who RAVED about you?  What if each of those clients referred somebody to you at the snail’s pace rate of 1 friend every 2 years?  That’s 25 referrals PER YEAR!!  So I ask again, isn’t this critically important for our business?

Our time gets divided between Clients In Escrow, Active Listings, Clients who are Actively Looking at homes, and longer-term Prospects who might buy or sell in the future.  What would happen if we put a cap on the number of current clients we’re willing to work with at any given time?

If a Prospect decides they’re ready to get serious, and we’re at full capacity, could we say:

“We offer the best service available in the industry, but that takes time, and we currently don’t have time to take on any new clients.  If you can wait until we have a spot open, we’d love to offer you this same level of service.  Otherwise we’d be happy to refer to you one of our colleagues who can help you achieve your goals.”

Heather & I are talking about implementing this as a part of our business, by design.

Thoughts, ideas, suggestions..?  We’d love to hear your opinions!

Your striving for improvement Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Customer Service Reminder follow up

I wrote a couple weeks ago about how NOT to do customer service (special thanks to Howard & Blum for providing this fine example.)

Today I want to follow up with the rest of the story…

I was in between appointments one day and had a few minutes to kill, so I poked my head into W R Williams Fine Jewelry in Arcadia, on the northwest corner of Indian School Rd and 48th Street.  My goal was the same as before – switch the two watchbands on my same-sized, same-manufacturer watches.

By now I had been carrying the two watches around in my car for too long, and I just wanted it done..

I asked if this was something they could do for me, and Mishell responded with a smile on her face - “sure – give me 10 minutes.”  I told her I would run next door to get a sandwich, and that I appreciated her help.

I came back 20 minutes later, and Mishell handed me both watches.

Mishell:  I think they look better this way.  Also, it looked like the black one had some water damage, so I opened it up and gave it a good cleaning, then tightened the seal as good as I could.  Hopefully it’ll stay water-tight for you.

(she made no motions towards the register or a receipt or anything like that.)

Me: Thanks.  (reaching for my wallet)  How much do I owe you?

Mishell:  Nothing – my pleasure.

Now, both jewelers lost out on their $12 repair fee.  But one jeweler also lost out on all future business and received a bad write-up online.  The other jeweler gained a customer and a referral source.

What can customer service do for you?

Your happy to see people doing it right Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

A Customer Service Reminder

Sometimes we get a reminder to show us what customer service is all about.  (or not about, as the case may be…)  Yesterday I had one of those reminders.


I have a couple of watches where I wanted to switch the bands from one to the other.  Same size watches, same manufacturer – should be an easy task, right?



lacking customer service

I stopped by the local “fine jeweler” yesterday to see if he could do it for me.  (Howard & Blum is next door to The Java Grounds – a great coffee cafe near my house.)  The conversation went something like this:



CB: Can you switch these two watches’ bands for me?

H&B: Maybe.

CB:  What do you mean, maybe?

H&B: I won’t know until I take them off & look at them.  It’ll cost $12.

CB:  Wait – I have to pay the full price, even if you don’t switch them?  (at this point I’m just fishing; who knows what he’s going to say, right?)

H&B:  Takes me the same amount of work.  You don’t work for free, do you?

CB:  laughs.  Sometimes. – I’m a Realtor.  I work my butt off & give everybody my best effort, all the time, and I only get paid if or when a transaction successfully closes escrow.  So I only get paid for successful results.

H&B:  Pauses and looks at me for a minute with disdain.  Then pushes the watch back across the counter at me and grimaces before muttering “fix it yourself” and walking away.



Thanks, Howard & Blum.  I needed that little reminder of How NOT to Win Friends and Influence People.


Your stunned and shaking his head Realtor,


Chris Butterworth

Actions and Consequences - One More Drink

I met a woman this week who's interviewing contractors (AGAIN) to do some remodeling to her home.  She has equity in the house, and although she would prefer to move, she doesn't want to sell at the market's bottom; instead she's taking this opportunity to add square footage to her kitchen and family room and to upgrade her flooring, fixtures, countertops and cabinetry.

She interviewed and received bids from four different contractors.  One of them blew her away with his vision and references.  He wasn't the lowest price, but he wasn't the highest either.  She hired him to start on Monday three weeks later.  She spoke with him the week before he was to start, just to confirm they were still on.

Monday morning came to her front door, but the contractor didn't.  She grew concerned, and at about 10:00 gave his cell phone a call.  His wife answered.

Turns out our contractor was in Tent City, picked up over the weekend for a DUI.  He won't be able to work on her house at this time.

Think about that for a minute - what would that do to your career, your family, you bank account?  Think about it again the next time you're the designated driver..

Your thinking of another reason to live on the light rail line Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

 

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Have you run 125 miles yet?

It's mid-May; getting closer to summer and almost half-way through the year.  I thought I'd follow up on a New Year's Resolution post I wrote back in January, Consistency Counts, to see how you're coming on your goals..

jogging

If you had been jogging 2 miles a day, 3 days a week, you would have already clocked 125 miles so far this year.

The miles alone would have burned about 15,000 calories, depending on your weight.

The cool-down after each run would have burned another 15,000 calories - more or less depending on your weight & exertion.

Your body's recovery would have burned additional calories.  I'm not sure how many; let's say another 15,000.

In addition, you're metabolism would have sped up, so that you'd be burning more calories throughout the day.  And you would probably have been a little more conscious about what you ate, since you wouldn't want to undue what you've worked so hard to do.

Remembering that approximately 3,500 calories equals 1 lb of body weight, you could have lost 10-15 pounds already this year!

The good news is it's never too late to start.  If you haven't been as productive on your goals as you'd like - there's no better time than today to move forward!

Your slowly but steadily winning the race Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

 

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Winners and Losers in today's economy

Our recent economy has been tough - probably the worst since the Great Depression.  I've talked to scores of people who have lost their homes.  I've also talked with dozens of people who are using today's low real estate prices to buy investment property.  The strange thing is it's virtually impossible to tell the difference between the two, at least on the surface.

What's the difference between "winners" and "losers" in today's economy?

Education?  I don't think so.  I've seen various levels of education in both groups.

Income?  Obviously a huge loss in income will be hard to recover from.  But I've seen winners and losers spread across all income levels, so I don't think this is the driving factor.

Personality?  Not that I can tell.

Expenses - Yes!  People with smaller monthly expenses are better able to withstand reductions in income.  In addition, they've probably been able to save more money along the way, which they can use to invest in today's market.

As an example, I talked with 2 people over the weekend about car payments.  One of them is proud of the fact he hasn't had a car payment in over 10 years.  The other one says it kills him every month when he has to make his $800/mo SUV payment!  Today they're both surviving just fine, but who do you think is in a better position should anything change?

Expenses run the world, drive retirement, and determine winners and losers.  Too bad it took an economy this bad to make most of us realize it.

I'm going to write more about this topic over the coming weeks, looking at specific examples and personal finance - let me know if you have a particular point of interest or a personal story to share..

Your cutting back so many expenses his arms are tired Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Hand-written still matters

Remember back in the dark ages before email and the internet?  We used to send and receive letters and cards.  And you could easily tell the difference between a hand-written, one-of-a-kind note and a Dear Blank mail-merged letter.

The same holds true today.

Personal, individually-typed emails are night and day more powerful than a copy & pasted template.

I have a couple of friends who send emails out each day to their new clients.

One spent a lot of time crafting the perfect thank you letter.  It's eloquent, well-written, polished, and says exactly what he wants it to say.

The other spends a couple of minutes typing out each client's email from scratch.  His emails don't always flow very well, they have occasional typos, and half the time he thinks of something else to say after he hits the send button.

Wanna know a secret?  The 2nd guy gets about a 90% response rate!

Your happy to email because he can barely read his own handwriting Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Have Fun Today.

I bought a quarter-pound of sliced turkey today to make a sandwich.  The woman behind the counter asked what I wanted, then went about her business of slicing, bagging, and weighing the meat.  Then she did something different.

As she handed the turkey to me, she smiled and said, "Have fun today."

She could have said any one of a dozen standard responses:

Have a good/nice day.

Thank you; come again.

Enjoy.

Come back and see us.

But she didn't.  She reminded me to have fun today...

...and I did.

Your having fun Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Goals & Resolutions - Time Considerations

Part 4 in a series.  I've previously written about:
Consistency Counts

Quitting vs Achieving

Achievements vs Habits

Given unlimited resources, we could accomplish unlimited greatness.  Unfortunately time is a limited resource, and for many of us it's our most precious resource.

Emotion plays a big part in successfully accomplishing your goals.  Many people give up on an otherwise important goal simply because they feel over-committed - stressed out, physically tired, and emotionally drained.  Once they quit, they not only feel bad for quitting, but they become intimidated by the goal, and trying it again in the future becomes more challenging.

image

Time Considerations

Considering how much time you have available, and how much you're willing to commit to accomplishing your goal(s), will go a long way towards determining your success.

There isn't a right or wrong in this area, but here are some things to consider as you craft your goals:

Achievement Goals will require a dedicated amount of time for a specific duration.  Once completed, however, you'll get that time back.  Training for a marathon and learning a new language are great examples of this.

Habit Goals might require a time commitment for the rest of your life.  Examples include exercising three times a week, or reading a new book each month (or week).  Where will this time come from?

Quitting Goals shouldn't require a time commitment; they will probably give you additional time back.  Time-suckers like watching TV, aimless internet surfing, and smoking (if you go outside to smoke) are common ideas that come to mind.

Where will you find the time needed to accomplish your goals?

Can you wake up earlier to work on your goal?  Can you go to bed later?  Can you work on your goal during your lunch break, or on the weekends?  Can you reduce the amount of TV you watch, and redirect that time to your goal?

Are you a morning person or a night owl?  Fitting your goals into your most productive time can mean the difference between success and failure.

Personally, I'm a morning person by nature.  I've found that I'm more successful with tasks needing mental energy or bursts of physical energy if I attack them in the morning, even if I have to get up extra early.  Reading, researching, writing, deep thinking, and strenuous workouts are things I try to hit in the morning.  At night I can do things that don't require me to be quite as proactive - things like answering emails, processing digital photos, and cardio exercise are great for me at night.

The adage "Plan your work, then work your plan" is an oldie but a goodie; working your plan will require some time management considerations.  I hope this helps you as you attack your goals & resolutions this year!

Your wishing there was more time in a day Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Goals & Resolutions - Achievements vs Habits

Part 3 in a series.  I've written about Consistency Counts and Quitting vs Achieving previously.

goals and resolutions

When setting goals, it's important to realize the difference between achievements and habits.  They're going to require different strategies and motivations, and you'll be more successful if you approach your new goal with the best possible game plan.

Achievements

Achievements are one-time events you're trying to accomplish.  Most of us are willing to endure some pain in order to get what something we want.  (Heck, even my 4 year-old will eat his vegetables if he thinks he has a chance at getting dessert!)  This concept can help us achieve greatness - by setting a goal for something we desire greatly, and then subverting everything else we do to that goal.

Examples of Achievement Goals include:

  • Running a marathon

  • Losing 20 pounds

  • Saving money for a specific purpose (taking a vacation, buying a computer, paying off a credit card)

  • Writing a book

  • Learning a new language

  • Learning to play guitar


Once accomplished, you will always have that ability or experience.  30 years from now you can tell your grandkids about the marathon you ran, or you can pick up a guitar and strum a few chords.

Because these goals come with an endpoint, I'd encourage you to set them high, and then to go after them with passion - don't let anything stand in your way from achieving your goal!

Habits

Habits are changes to your lifestyle - your very being, who you are.  Habits don't have a specific endpoint; they're for the rest of your life!  This concept helps us to become better people.

Examples of Habit Goals include:

  • Exercising 3 times per week

  • Eating healthier

  • Saving money (either for retirement, or simply being thriftier)

  • Reading, writing, or otherwise learning - rather than watching TV

  • Being friendlier to strangers

  • Quitting smoking or drinking


Because these goals don't have an endpoint, it can feel like you never get to "win".  This causes frustration and leads many people to give up.  I recommend not setting these goals as high as your achievement goals, and then modifying them as you develop the habits.  Over time you'll make gigantic changes in your life, but there will always be room for improvement.  For example:

  • Maybe start by exercising for only 10 minutes 3 times per week.  Once you get into the habit of actually doing the work, you can increase to 15 minutes, then 20 minutes, etc.

  • Start by cutting back (not eliminating) your worst-offending foods.  Then wean yourself down to one or two bites of that cheesecake.  Then start working on the next type of food.


This becomes a process of continuous improvement, so no matter how far you've come there's always room to go further.  In addition, it's ok to have setbacks once in awhile - just pick yourself up and keep moving forward.

Achievements Become Habits

What you'll find is that once you work so hard to achieve something, you won't want to give it up completely.  Who wants to get soft again after getting into rock-belly shape?  Or start smoking after quitting?  Or get back into debt after paying everything off?

Once you complete a major achievement, which you did with fanatical devotion, you can scale back on your intensity and continue to do it for the rest of your life.  You don't have to run 14 miles today to train for an upcoming marathon, but you can still run 3 miles to be physically fit!

So go ahead and do it.  Set yourself a major Achievement Goal and then go for it!  Set yourself a modest Habit Goal and then do it.  You're on your way to becoming a better you!

Your working on one Achievement Goal and a few Habit Goals (slowly but surely) Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Goals & Resolutions - Quitting vs Achieving

Part 2 in a series.  I wrote about Consistency Counts earlier this month.

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Many of the most common goals and resolutions people make involve quitting something.  And while there are similarities between successfully accomplishing a "quitting goal" and a more traditional, "achieving goal", there are many differences as well.

Quitting

It is oftentimes much more difficult to successfully quit a bad habit than it is to successfully begin a good habit.  There are 2 primary reasons for this:

  1. Even though we know the habit is not in our best long-term interest (hence the reason for wanting to quit), it is something we enjoy immensely in the short term.  (smoking, drinking, excessive eating, sweets, frivolous spending, and half-caf mocha lattes all come to mind..)

  2. Opportunities for failure will present themselves throughout the day, everyday.  Unlike a traditional "achieving goal", which requires you to muster enough motivation and energy to do something, probably once during the day, these goals require constant energy and motivation, all day long, everyday of the week.


Here are a few ideas you can use to help you successfully quit.

Tangible Financial Reward.  Some habits are more expensive than others.  If your vice is costing you $5 a day, you stand to save $150 PER MONTH for being successful - that's a lot of cash!  You might find it motivating to keep the savings right in front of you.  Each day you successfully avoid your bad habit, put $5 cash into a box/drawer/pot on your desk or table.  You'll be amazed by how fast the money adds up, and you won't want to spend your newfound pile of dough on your old crutch.

Motivation.  Why are you quitting?  For example, many people quit smoking because they want to be around to watch their kids graduate college.  This is a very powerful motivator, but it's also very distant.  Remind yourself about it each time you feel the urge to smoke.  Place a picture of your kids in your wallet, or anywhere else you'll need to reach before you fall off the wagon.

Larger Picture.  Maybe you're quitting something as a small part of a larger goal.  For example, you might be quitting sweets, or junk food, as part of your goal to lose 40 pounds this year.  Think about that.  Talk about that.  Remind yourself about that.  Every extra bite you take is moving you away from 2 goals, not just one!

Proxy for Success.  It can be difficult to see how hard you're working on your goal, and how much success you've had, if you're simply trying to ignore cravings as they come up.  This is especially true if your quitting-item isn't costing you $5 a day.  Give yourself a penny, or a poker chip, each time you successfully avoid falling down on your goal.  Stack the pennies up at your desk at work, and tell everybody what they mean.  But if you slip up, you have to pull the entire stack down and start all over.  This works great if you have lots of opportunities for failure during the day or week.  Take pride in watching the stack grow; it shows just how hard you're working on your goal.  And the larger the stack gets, the more you're going to resist the urges and pulling the entire stack down!

Reward Yourself.  Spend a little of that money you've been saving on yourself once in awhile - maybe a manicure/pedicure or a new tech-gadget.  Or, if you're doing a great job stacking pennies, do something you enjoy but don't do very often once you've collected a pre-determined number of pennies (100, 250, 500 or more!)

How Bad do you Want It?  We all have different motivations for wanting to quit.  Regardless of the motivation, YOU made a decision that YOU wanted to quit that habit.  You know it's not going to be easy.  Sometimes success comes from wanting something so badly you're able to walk away from that little devil who pops up on your shoulder and tells you "come on, you know you want it, and nobody will know the difference - one won't really hurt you anyway."  Be strong out there.

Your would much rather attack a new goal than quit an old habit Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Note:  this article is not meant to be a substitute for a "12-step" program, or any other professional help organization.  If you have an addiction which requires more help than what I'm outlining here, please seek professional guidance.

Goals & Resolutions - Consistency Counts

It's that time of year again - I can't turn on the TV without seeing an ad for a diet or exercise program, and the local gym is packed.  New Year's Resolutions are here!  I'm a big believer in setting (and achieving) goals, and I want to share some of what I've learned along the way.  This will be the first in a series of posts dedicated to this important topic..

goals and resolutions

Consistency Counts!

There's a reason why there are so many different sayings which all say the same thing.

  • A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.

  • How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

  • Inch by inch, anything's a cinch.

  • Move one stone at a time and before long you will have moved the entire mountain.  (OK, that one's mine and not quite as popular as the others, yet...)


Any goal worth achieving is going to be difficult, and is going to take some effort over an extended period of time.  You can't lose 40 pounds, read a dozen books, write the great American novel, or train to run a marathon - in a weekend!  These are all worthwhile goals, but they'll probably take all year long.  Work on them a little bit at a time, and let time help to magnify your efforts - there are 365 days again this year, plan on using them all.

If you lose 1 pound a week, you'll blow away your stated goal of 40 pounds for the year by over 25%.  Now, to lose 1 pound this week, you only need to lose about 2 ounces today.  That's it.  You won't even notice it on the scale.  But keep after it, a little bit each day, and the results will speak volumes.

Here are some other examples where time can magnify your effort:

  • Can you do 36,000 push-ups?  You can if you do 50 each morning and 50 each night.

  • Want to read more?  How many books could you devour reading for 8 days straight, without stopping for food or sleep?  Reading for 30 minutes each night will give you the same results, without depriving you of sleep!

  • Learning a new language, or trying to play a musical instrument?  That same 30 minutes each day will be the annual equivalent of practicing your new craft as a full-time job (8 hours a day) for more than 3 weeks.


So go ahead and move that mountain.  One stone at a time (and remember to lift with your legs!)

Your raising the bar on goals Realtor,

Chris Butterworth