Memorial Day 2016, Danville, IL

Yesterday we attended the Memorial Day service at the Danville National Cemetery. It is the first time I’ve attended a Memorial Day service. It was a very respectful and moving ceremony. I’m glad we were able to go with my father-in-law, a Korean War veteran.


One of the things that really sunk in yesterday was how so many men and women have given their lives for their country. Not all entered the service willingly. Even more, I’m sure, didn’t necessarily believe in the reason for the wars they died in. But they went and fought and died.


What they did believe in, what they died for, was their country. Their country was bigger than the cause, bigger than the conflict, bigger than the risks. They believed in our country – one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.


I can hear many readers now. “But where’s the liberty and justice for all?” Where has it gone? Did we ever really have it? If you’re honest, no, probably not. And it’s probably not going to happen soon. But you don’t give up striving for it. You don’t quit. You stand up for it and for the country that yearns for this for its people. We may never completely achieve liberty and justice for all. But we are (or should be) closer than in the past.


Thank you to all who have given their lives in service of our nation. Thank you to the families who have sacrificed so much. Thank You, dear Father in Heaven, for the hope you give us each day to carry on and continue, for picking us up when we stumble, and for blessing us with so many who were and are and will be willing to serve our nation.    TLS-124

Goals & Objectives, Strategies & Tactics, Task Analysis – Getting things done!

feminine-38Do You Have Goals?

We pretty much all have goals, whether we realize it or not. I have my business goals and my personal goals. Some are short-term; some are long-term. Some are very-short-term. For example, last night my goal was to get up early this morning, no later than 6:00 am. And, yes! I achieved my goal! How I did it – my ‘action plan’, was to go to bed early with my earbuds and an Audible book and to just be ‘lazy’ till I went to sleep. And do you know what? It worked! I woke up early, found the place in the audiobook where I fell asleep, lay in bed listening to a little more of the story (had to get to the end of the chapter!), and got up a few minutes after 6:00 am.

I could have written out my goal and objectives (the measurable steps to get me to my goal). I could have even written out a task analysis if I didn’t feel comfortable about being able to complete any of the required steps. But I didn’t. I just did it. That’s how many of our goals are accomplished. Just doing it. And how many more of them are lost on the wayside. Just thinking about it and not doing it.

Recently I’ve been hearing a lot about S.M.A.R.T. Goals. At the beginning of the New Year, I couldn’t log into any Social Media platform without reading or hearing about goals. And, no doubt, the New Year is the perfect time to start thinking about new goals. If you’re a teacher or student, the beginning of the school year might be the best time for you to really focus on your goals. If you own or work for a company whose fiscal year begins at a different time (July 1 is common), then the month before the fiscal year begins might be when you want to look at your goals. But, seriously, whenever you want to and are ready is the best time for establishing goals.

I first studied creating Goals and Objectives when I was in college studying to teach Special Education. Each of our Special Ed. students had IEPs (Individualized Education Plans). An IEP is a legally binding document that dictates what is taught. Most of the activities that take place in the classroom are directly tied to the goals (always S.M.A.R.T.!) and objectives included in the IEP. The IEP also includes Present Level of Performance, beginning and ending dates, frequency, location, duration of services, and a requirement for progress reports. Individualized Education Plans are reviewed and revised annually (minimum) or more often as needed.

When I started looking at goals for my business, I realized that what I probably really needed was an IBP, and Individualized Business Plan. I still haven’t developed that plan, but now I have the framework to begin. These plans can also be applied to other areas of your life. The seven areas discussed in the book “Oola: Find Balance in an Unbalanced World” would be a good place to start. Start with the area of your life that is most out of balance and create a plan to bring balance back into your world.

But let’s talk about goals first. What is a S.M.A.R.T. Goal? It is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Specific: That sounds a bit obvious, but maybe it’s not. Let’s say I want to work on fitness and my goal is to ‘get into shape’. That’s not really a goal. It’s a wish. In order to be a goal, I have to define what we really want my outcome to be. A goal might be to “be able to participate in a 5K run in September”.  That is specific.

Measurable: Is my goal to “be able to participate in a 5K run in September” measurable? Yes, you can measure 5K.

Attainable: Is my goal attainable? Yes, it is. If my goal was to participate in a marathon, it would not be attainable. Not for me, anyway. I know my physical limitations and know what is required for a marathon. I have never been marathon material. Now, I fully know it’s not a reasonable goal.

Relevant: Is it relevant? For me, yes. Though I’ve never been crazy about running, it is something I would like to be able to do. Walking is more my style, but for the fitness benefits, running would be a great option. If I have friends also participating in 5K runs, the fellowship or relationship factors would make it even more relevant.

Time-bound: Yes, my goal is time-bound. Indicating that I want to participate in a particular run held in September makes it time bound.

Please remember that your goals can be for any area of your life. The fitness goal was just an easy example. The areas that might be more difficult to develop goals for (for me, anyway) would be Friends, Family, and Faith. Those areas would require a bit more thinking on my part. For you, those may be the easiest.


What Are These Objectives You’re Talking About?

Objectives break down the goal into workable, progressive steps – just like eating an elephant, one bite at a time. This brief article explains the difference between goals and objects pretty well.  Objectives can be broken down into even smaller steps, but try not to get too nit-picky.

In the first paragraph, I mentioned my very short-term goal of getting up no later than 6:00 am. A long-term goal might be to sleep 7 hours per night, 6 nights out of 7 per week, by July 1. For anyone who has had a sleeping problem know how difficult this can be. Anyway. That would be my goal. Now I need to come up with objectives – the steps I must take to achieve my goal. It might look something like this:

Goal:  I will sleep 7 hours per night, 6 nights out of 7 per week, by July 1.


  1. Drink only water or decaffeinated beverages after noon each day, 6 out of 7 days per week, for 8 weeks.
  2. Turn off all electronic media no later than 9:00 pm each night, 6 out of 7 nights per week, for 8 weeks.
  3. Pray, meditate, or read for 30 minutes, 6 out of 7 nights per week, for 8 weeks.
  4. Set my alarm clock to wake me at 6:00 am, 6 out of 7 mornings per week, for 8 weeks.

To measure or track my progress with each objective, I would create a chart or checklist to record the days that I complete the task involved with the objective. I would also record the time (approximately) that I fell asleep and the time that I woke.


Strategies or Tactics

It’s possible that I’m not able to master the objective because I don’t have the knowledge or skills required. When that happens I might need to do research or learn a new skill. For example, if I wasn’t sure about which beverages have caffeine and which don’t, I would need to do some research and start reading labels. If I didn’t know how to set my alarm clock (and no, I don’t – Lewis sets the alarm clock), I would need to find the owner’s manual and learn to do that. (By the way, I do know how to use the alarm clock on my phone and I often do. But since I let the battery die pretty regularly, it’s not very dependable.)

But I think you get the idea about the strategies and tactics. These are the skills and information required to complete your objectives.


Task Analysis

If you find you’re not able to complete your objectives, you might need to take another look at your objectives to determine if they are appropriate and then at your tactics to determine if there is a missing skill. Task Analysis is an activity that helps you find those missing skills.

Task analysis breaks down an activity into the simplest steps required to complete the activity. When I did this in college as part of my coursework, I would break down the activity into each step. Then I would look at each individual step. Could it be broken down more? Mentally going through the steps, I would ask myself if there was a step omitted. And then, do I have all of the skills required for each step? What do need to do to be able to complete a smaller step in the activity? This information was listed, going down the page, in order that it occurred for the activity.



Triggers are what happens before the activity occurs. Taking a good long look at what is happening and what you want to happen can help you find triggers that will support your reaching your goal or that will sabotage this. For the sleep example, I may look at my current routine and find that I check email or one of my favorite social media sites right before bed. Since this may be a habit that is interfering with going to sleep at my desired time, I may want to avoid that trigger – triggering ‘stay awake’ rather than triggering ‘go to sleep’.

Then I can think back to a time when I did go to sleep easily and slept through the night. What was I doing then that is different from now? What were my triggers then? As a child and teenager, I didn’t have a specific bedtime. But with 5 people in the house (I was the youngest) and one bathroom, routines were important. That’s how we all got ready for bed with the least amount of interference with one another. I might think back to my particular routine and see how I can adapt those activities to my bedtime routine now.  “Bath, pajamas, brush teeth, turn out lights” may be a trigger that I can rely on now to help me fall asleep quickly.

There is much more to goal setting and reaching them than I could include in this article. But this will get you started. My challenge to you this week is to write down two goals, one personal and one business or career related, and write out the objectives required for you to master the goal. Remember that two people could have the same goal. But because of their own different skills and abilities, the objectives required to reach the goal would be different. You can briefly describe this in the comments and then let us know how you’re progressing. I love to see people reaching their goals!

Do You Oola?

Are you familiar with the Oola Guys? I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here. You can learn more about them on the Oola website.

I discovered Oola about a year or so back. The Oola Guys, Drs. Dave and Troy, teamed up with Young Living because the principles of the two organizations are so closely aligned.  When you see me posting an Oola graphic, this is where it originates.

Oola YL Challenge Day 15

I highly recommend the Oola book. We purchased two copies last year when they were BOGO (Buy One, Give One – really buy one, get one free, but being Oola, giving one makes sense.) We ended up giving both. And I’m ok with that. We also purchased the audio version and listened to it when we made a road trip to Delaware with my father-in-law. Anyway. The OolaBook is now half off with the coupon code: liveoola at checkout.

If you have read the book, please post in the comments the area of your Oola Life that you are currently working on. I’m working on my Field – my job and business.

Fake It Till You Make It

Have you ever heard that expression? I can’t imagine anyone old enough to read this hasn’t heard it. But have you thought about what it really means?


Many people interpret ‘faking it’ as a negative behavior and they would ‘never do that!’  But is it really negative? I don’t think so. I’m a big believer in FITYMI (“Fake It Till You Make It”). I see FITYMI more as practice.

  • If you want to be a dancer, you’re going to have to dance – even before you know how.
  • If you want to be a singer, you’re going to have to sing – even before you know how to make the right sounds.
  • If you’re going to be a writer, you’re going to have to write, even before you know how to organize the story so it takes the reader down the path you intended.
  • And if you want to be successful in your field or business, then you’re going to have to start acting like a successful person in that field or business, copying what others do who are successful, practicing what you should be saying and what you should be doing.


I’m not talking about lying or misleading yourself. You still have to be honest – especially with yourself. But if you don’t practice being successful – ‘faking it’ – then how are you ever going to learn?

FITYMI goes a little bit farther than just practicing or rehearsing. It involves believing. When you FITYMI, you begin to believe that you are the dancer, singer, writer, whatever that you’ve been practicing (faking it) to be. Little by little, you can begin to see yourself in that role. You become that character. And then you realize it’s not a role. It’s not a character. It’s you. And it’s your life.

What are you ‘faking till you make it’?

To-Do Lists: What Works? What Doesn’t?

I’m a list maker. And I’m a journaler. And I like to write things down. Sometimes I write down too much. Then I can’t find what I’m looking for. And important stuff gets lost among the not so important stuff.

The topic of to-do lists came up in a business Facebook group this morning and this link was posted. It’s all about getting things done based on whether it’s urgent or important. And what I got out of it is that what’s important is important to you. What is urgent is important to someone else. I’ve got to learn to say no to or delay what is urgent (important to someone else) so I can do what is really important.


And this also reminded me of a system I used in the past that worked well for me. It involved a simple yellow legal pad. As I mentioned above, I’m a list maker, journaler, and I like to write things down. I also like to write those things in fancy journals. Or in simple journals that are neat and artsy. Or in something that’s just special. But, you know what? For actually getting things done, that yellow legal pad worked way better than any of the other planners or journals or whatevers that I’ve ever used.

When I was teaching, there were always things that came up during the day that had to be done. These were things other than writing lesson plans, teaching, whatever classroom activities that had to be done. My to-do list was things like consult with other teachers, calls to parents, reports to write, etc. If it was something that wasn’t routine, it went on the list. As each task was accomplished, it would be crossed off. There were few days in which I had ever item crossed off at the end of the day. There were items that would get carried over. Oh, and this was an un-dated to-do list. I may use the same page for almost a week, depending on what was going on at the time.

When I started getting to the end of the page or if the page started getting too messy, I would transfer the items not crossed off to a new page and start working from there. If I was at the bottom of the page and most of the items weren’t crossed off, I got busy doing what was on the list so I could get the crossed off and could start a new page. Because who doesn’t like starting a new page?!