Goals that actually work? Base them on action

soccer kick photo“To achieve an outcome, you have to take action, and that action should be your goal. You can’t directly choose an outcome, but you can always choose to take action.” ~ Pete MichaudAsk anyone about how to get to success or a successful life and one of the first things they’ll say you have to do is to set goals. Everyone knows to set goals but we don’t do enough or the right ones so we're not successful…. or we’re doing it wrong.I think we’re setting goals wrong.When we set goals, the first thing that comes to mind is the thing we want.We want 10,000 visitors per month to your website.We want to lose 20 pounds.We want $5,000 to pay for the trip next year.The problem with those goals is they are outcomes. Those outcomes are great to keep in mind but they are not what you should think about on a daily basis to complete your goal.You need to think about actions.Blogger and Tech Writer Pete Michaud says it best, "To achieve an outcome, you have to take action, and that action should be your goal. You can’t directly choose an outcome, but you can always choose to take action.”When you set a goal, write it down. Then ask if it’s an action or an outcome. Actions are things you can do yourself right now. Outcomes are things that happen as a result of what you do.Writing blog posts is an action. Getting 10,000 visitors per month to your website is an outcome.Running 45 minutes per day is an action. Losing 20 pounds is an outcome.Doing 1 hour extra paid client work per day is an action. Getting $5,000 to go for your next trip is an outcome.

Can you control it?

Another test I use to see if something is an action or an outcome when I’m setting goals is to ask myself if I can control it. If I can control it then it’s probably an action. If I can’t directly control it then it’s an outcome.I’m very competitive when I play sports and it’s hard to let go of fact that I can’t control whether we win or lose. Winning or losing is the outcome. I play a part in it, for sure, but a very small part. I can control how much I train and how well I play but I can’t control any other players or the weather or the referee. When I’m setting sports goals or looking how I did, I focus on what I can control. How well did I play? Did I train enough? Did I do everything to the best of my ability? Past that, it’s anyones guess as to who is going to win.So the next time you sit down to go through the goals you are setting, ask yourself if they are actions or outcomes. If they are outcomes, you’ll want to rewrite them as actions instead. You’ll be much happier with the results.

Finding Flow: Just 4% Harder

mountain bike photoIn The Rise of Superman, Stephen Kotler talks about finding the sweet spot of flow. Not too easy, not too hard. Just right.The state of flow he’s talking about is that “in the zone” state people talk about when they’re extremely engaged in what they’re doing. Creatives talk about it with writing, painting or drawing. Athletes talk about it when they’re surfing, skiing or mountain biking. Hours can fly by in what feels like minutes. It can happen anywhere and any time but there are a few requirements that have to be in place to make it happen.One of the requirements is the difficulty of what you are doing has to be just right. What does he mean by just right?I’ve heard this one called the goldilocks principle of being just right. It refers to the difficulty of the task being hard enough so it's not boring but not so hard that it’s frustrating. It’s in the zone down the middle.Of course it changes over time as you get better at what you do. As you engage in something at a level that increases your skill (not so easy it’s boring) then you’ll get better at it. That will raise the level of difficulty that you need to really engage your interest.If you are a skier that loves black diamond runs, then black diamond or a bit above that is going to be engaging for you. It’s going to require a lot of focus to not crash but it’s still a lot of fun. Where as if you were going down a green run, that’s probably way to easy for you and you’ll get bored.It can be hard to gauge where exactly you want to be so your engaged without getting frustrated. Stephen says to go no more than 4% higher than your current skill level. Any higher than that and you’re going to hurt yourself or get frustrated.I’ve been there myself. Surfing with friends that are far better than I am, they look for waves and conditions that are interesting to them. What’s great for them is going to be too much for me. I’ll get throttled in waves they have fun in. Instead of being 4% higher than my current skill level, they might be 20 or 30%. That’s going to hurt.Stephen tells his own story about mountain biking with a  bunch of pro friends. They were amazing downhill riders, flying through the trails, getting huge air and nailing everything. Stephen spent a year trying to learn and keep up but just couldn’t do it. He was just injured all the time.Taking a step back, he realized he was too far above his 4%. He started riding by himself and with friends that were at a similar level. He gained more experience that way and was riding with his pro friends within a year. He had to reduce the skill level jumps to less than 4% and then his learning really picked up.Instead of being frustrated (and injured) when he was trying to ride too high for his skill level, he toned it down and rode within his 4%. He found more flow and learned faster at the same time.

You Just Need the Trailhead

Planning a hike can be a big deal. You need to know how long the trail is and how much you'll need to take. You might need a map and compass or GPS to figure out where you're going. You might need extra gear to get through obstacles like cliffs or rivers to get to your goal. When it all comes down to it though, you really only need to know one thing about the trail to start.Where the trailhead is.You can forget your gear. You can figure out where the trail goes when you get there. You can improvise when you get to obstacles when you get there. But you can't start hiking until you know where the trailhead is.There are a lot of projects sitting in my Google Docs and Evernote. I haven't started them because I don't know the way through. I don't know what obstacles I'll hit or where exactly they'll end up. But I have the one thing I need. I have the trailhead. I have the starting point in that Doc or note. I want to know exactly what path the project will take and what it looks like at the end before I even start. But I can't know.Just like Google Earth and photos on Facebook and hundreds of trip reports won't tell you exactly how you're hike will go, there's no way to know exactly how a new project will go.You can't know. That's the point.It's an adventure.And that's why we do it.

Training Mindset vs the Competing Mindset

Heidi Grant Halvorson talks about the Be Good mentality vs the Get Better Mentality.When you are in the Be Good mentality you have to look better and smarter than others. You are validating and proving your skills.The Get Better mentality is where you are learning and testing and focusing on improvement.Most of us are stuck in the Be Good mentality every day.Working out at Crossfit there is a visible like between these 2 things.When Training you are in the Get Better mindset. You are practicing and experimenting and see what works, how things feel and how far you can go. Your goal is to learn as much as possible.When you are Competing in a timed Workout of the Day or in an actual full-on competition, you are forced to get into the Be Good mindset. Your goal is to look perfect.In daily life the Training or Get Better mindset is going to benefit you in the long run far more than the Competing or Be Good mindset will.photo credit

Remember Hormesis When Doing Something New

Wikipedia says hormesis is "the term for generally favorable biological responses to low exposures to toxins and other stressors".2 examples of stressors that we endure regularly in our lives are flu shots and exercise. We get a small dose of something that is actually harmful to us and then we come back stronger. We get get a small dose of the flu and then our immune system ramps up it's response in preparation of a full on sickness. During exercise our muscles rip and tear. Rest repairs those muscles and brings them up to a state stronger than before.Travel is similar. It can be tough the first few days in a new country but each day it gets easier. We get used to it. Then when we go home, life is a little bit easier.Any time you're building a strength in one area it's going to affect all others. The only way to build that strength that is through hormesis. Initially it's going to be hard. You're not used to it. Realize that until you've done it a few times, it is going to be harder. Train and rest, train and rest. Push to the next level, and the level below will feel easy.In the arena,Ross

Why Photography is Not Simple

It's not. Just not just the point and shoot kind of thing that most people think it is.Take Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO for instance. Three things that most people haven't even heard of. Yet they're the basis for the process of getting an amazing photo. One of the reasons most people don't see them is because they can't change them on their camera. Point and Shoots can't do advanced things.Aperture is the hole the light goes through in your camera to hit the sensor, the digital thingy that has taken the place of film. In automatic modes you can't change the settings of the aperture, they are set by the camera. In more advanced cameras you can play with the aperture settings, making it bigger or smaller when you take the shot. This will increase or decrease the amount of light that hits the sensor.Shutter Speed is just that, the speed of the shutter. When you click the button, it goes opens the shutter, letting the light through the aperture to hit the sensor. When you have a slow shutter speed, you let a lot of light in. When you have a fast shutter speed, you let less light in. When things start to get blurry in low light or because they're too fast, it means your shutter speed is too long for the movement that is happening and the available light. The answer is to decrease and shutter speed and increase the light. You can increase the light by using lights, a flash, or by increasing the ISO.ISO is the "speed" of the sensor to capture the image. In film days you got a roll of ISO 200 film and took what pictures you could with that. A higher ISO means that the picture is exposed faster on the film meaning you get the exposed photo in less time. The tradeoff is that when you expose things faster the image gets grainy. It's not very noticeable at low ISO's but as you get higher, it gets grainier. Higher ISO's do come in handy in low light situations, like shooting during the evening or shooting a band play inside. If you can use a flash to get the light you need but it might no be appropriate then a high ISO can help.Between shutter speed, aperture and ISO you can some crazy things with photos. If you want  freeze action, you'll want a fast shutter speed, but if you want things blurred you can slow it down.Sounds easy right? Well not always.There are a lot of other variables that affect how the photo ends up. There's the lens you have on the camera, the distance from you to your subject, the distance from your subject to the background, how fast they're moving, the intensity and direction of light thats hitting the camera and subject and a whole host of other things to think about.Needless to say, it ends up being a intensive process to get the experience required to think of a photo, set it up and get the exact photo you want. And for it to look good.A friend told me that your first 10,000 photos are gonna be junk when you first start taking photographs. Remember, I'm thinking ones with excellent light, color, and composition not your party shots from last weekend.I think I'm photo 492? 

Mapping with Drupal Review by Thomas Turnbull and Alan Palazzolo from O'Reilly Media

Thomas Turnbull and Alan Palazzolo have put together a great book on Drupal's mapping features, appropriately called Mapping with Drupal.I found this book at the perfect time. For my outdoor site, PureOutside, I've recently installed Drupal and am building 2 new sections to the site that both include mapping. I knew that Drupal had some capacity to do maps but wasn't sure what exactly that was. I knew there was going to be a lot of research and scouring the internet for the information I needed, first on what was possible and then how to implement what I wanted. I wasn't looking forward to it so I put it off as long as I could, and then I found Mapping with Drupal.Meet the authorsBoth Thomas and Alan have years worth of experience with Drupal, building and maintaining website as well as module development. I was happy to see both authors were involved in module development because they'll have the inside track on information. They'll be informed of upcoming developments on the modules as well as the recent history of them. Many people these days can tell you what's happening right now but to make good decisions with your Drupal websites module roadmap information can be very important.What is Mapping with Drupal about?Drupal is a great Content Management System that runs websites. It's incredibly flexible and can do almost anything with the help of contributed modules from the large and growing Drupal community. Members of that community develop and maintain modules that give you the ability to build and display maps and geographic data. There are many different modules and they all do different things. Mapping with Drupal is a very clear step by step roadmap through the jungle of information about Drupal mapping. I've referred back to the book while building the soon-to-be-released mapping features on PureOutside.com.What's good?Casual ToneThe tone of the book is great. It's like you're sitting down with the authors having a chat about how to build a map on Drupal. That's exactly how I want it to feel. I don't want to be talked down to like I'm a little kid or have no idea what I'm doing on a computer. I felt they explained everything at a very good level for my skills.Well laid outThe flow of the book was easy to follow. The text moved back and forth from explanations to tutorials and back. This may not be the best layout for you if you don't want to do the tutorials throughout the book but that's really the only way to retain any information from the complicated process of setting up maps on Drupal so it worked well. The book refers back to previous sections where you set up other parts of the tutorials so may have to refer back to them if you don't read it in order. I needed to find out everything I could about Drupal and the mapping options so I read it from cover to cover and then went back and referred to the tutorials when I implemented anything on PureOutside.Very up to dateThe problem with a lot of Drupal information these days is that it's out of date. With the recent release of Drupal 7, it can be hard to find current information about the newest release. A lot of the tutorials or questions and answers out there refer to Drupal 6, even though it may not specify. I was getting frustrated trying to find Drupal 7 specific information. Mapping with Drupal is specifically for Drupal 7 which is impressive because it's so new. For me it would have been almost useless if it had been for Drupal 6 because so much has changed for 7. When there are big changes between 6 and 7, Alan and Thomas point them out and provide tips for moving between the 2.Clear tutorialsOne of the best parts of the book aside from the clear explanations of the main layout of the Drupal mapping modules is the step by step tutorials throughout the book. Without those tutorials I wouldn't have been able to implement my own maps so fast. I would have been stuck in OpenLayers configuration hell (OpenLayers is one of the not-so-simple map modules I'm using now). With the explanations and tutorials I was up and running in a day. The tutorials go through how to use the GeoField, OpenLayers, GMap and Location modules to get maps on your websites.PitfallsThroughout the book the authors have included small boxes of additional information to help you avoid the pitfalls that can helping when implementing new maps on your Drupal site. These are handy to know and will help you steer clear of bad decisions before you even have to make any.As a little aside there was a bit on how to manage maps as Features. I didn't know even about Features before reading this book. Features are one of the ways to bundle settings to use on a different site, in a different environment or share with other developers. I use my own "Ahhh" rating after I've read a book. I rate them by how many times I go "ahhhh, yes, that's exactly what I wanted to know." The more the better.Bad things?One example throughoutI was hoping for more examples throughout the book. Every section builds on the original example of mapping Drupal user groups. This is great and it was the reason I was able to implement my maps so fast but I think it could have used a little more. Perhaps they could have included more examples right in the book or have a companion website to include more examples. The benefit of this would be that if you're map configuration was different than the basic one they did the book, there would be an example for it. I learn really well through learning a concept and then seeing many different examples of it in action so I can spot the differences. Only one example makes this tough.Very technical for a new Drupal userThis isn't necessarily a bad thing about the book but possibly a disadvantage for new Drupal users. I doubt a first-time Drupal user would be diving straight into maps but they might try. I would highly recommend against that. This book (and setting up maps in Drupal) isn't exactly for new Drupal users. They could definitely do it but knowing more about Drupal Modules and Views are requirements for reading this book. I've been a Drupal user for the last year and there were some things that were over my head. Luckily the incredible Drupal community has made it very easy to find out anything you need on the internet. If you are like me, you will probably need to read this book near internet access so you can look up anything that comes up.Final VerdictIf you are looking information on the current state of Drupal mapping and exactly how to implement maps in Drupal 7, this is your book. They tell you the details and get you up and running fast. If you're looking for a light and fluffy read about the ideas in Drupal, or how to get started with Drupal from scratch, this probably isn't your book.With the tutorials, clear explanations and inside view of the drupal mapping module world, Alan and Thomas have put together an excellent book to get you show you the way to mapping with Drupal.