Tag Archives: failure

Do You Fail To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions?

You’re not alone. Research shows that the majority of all resolutions fail within 6 months. So why do we bother?

I think we make resolutions because we want to be better people. We see weaknesses and want to fix them. There’s nothing wrong with this impulse but  there’s a better way of going about it than making resolutions.

The other day I came across an article by Chris Brogan, My 3 Words for 2012.  I was intrigued. Chris’s approach is to dig deep and find three words that’ll act as your polestar as you navigate the new year.

To me Brogan’s  idea of “3 words” is similar to resolutions but acts more as a mantra – a way to remind yourself on a daily basis to hold  your course.

my 3 words for 2012

  • Simplify. I will clear out the physical and mental junk that holds little value or relevance in my life. This means tossing out, recycling, or donating stuff that’s filling useful space. I intend to be more mindful of thinking that isn’t helpful and let it go. This includes thoughts of scarcity, dread, and perfection. I will look for ways to simplify my work.
  • Play. I am by nature a somewhat serious guy with a touch of melancholy that comes no doubt from my Irish heritage.  I will learn to take time to cavort, dance, rejoice, and mess around. In other words, have some fun.
  • Accept. I will learn to accept that things often happen regardless of what I do or don’t do.  I will accept the hard times along with the good, the sad with the joyful, and abundance with scarcity. And I will try to do all this with equanimity.

Achieving success

Having 3 words  is a start. You can assure yourself greater success by doing the following:

  • Make your words public.  Put your 3 words on facebook, twitter, or your blog. Let your friends and family know how you’re doing. Going public will motivate you to succeed. I’ve  made my list public and already feel an obligation to report to you on my progress. Stay tuned!
  • Post your words. Type up your 3 words and stick them where you’ll see them every day. It might be on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or on your bedside table. I’ve pasted mine on my computer monitor.
  • Work on one word at a time. Your chances of success are greater if you apply yourself to changing one thing. I’ve chosen play as the first thing to focus on.
  • Make it a habit. Research shows that it takes on average about 60 days to develop a habit so that it becomes automatic. This means that each day for 60 days you need to practice the one behavior you want to achieve.  I’ll set aside 30 minutes each day for the next 60 days to engage in a playful activity that isn’t something that I’m already doing.  Once a week I’ll take an hour to “mess around”. At the end of two months I’ll chose another word while at the same time holding on to my newly acquired habit of play.

What are your 3 words?

What are the 3 words that’ll guide you through 2012? Why not share them here.  I’d love to hear from you.

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Do You Want To Be a Successful Personal Historian?

Why do some succeed and others fail? In a word – persistence.   It’s that ability to get knocked down, pick yourself up, and keep going. Success of course is entirely in the mind of the beholder. Success to one person is failure to another.

Increasingly people find their way to my blog looking for the key to a successful career as a personal historian. I don’t have a magic formula. But what I do know from years of experience is that without persistence  nothing of real value can be achieved.

There are plenty of obstacles on the road to becoming a successful personal historian. I’ve selected four. Your success will largely be determined by whether you persist and overcome these obstacles .

 The Isolation Obstacle

Your home office can be a lonely place. This is especially true if you previously worked in a business where you socialized with fellow employees.

There are ways to minimize the isolation. You can network through social media, join professional associations, and participate in service organizations. But the truth is that a good part of your personal history work will be spent alone.

Failure to overcome this isolation and persist can give you second thoughts about being a personal historian.

The Fear Obstacle

This is the biggest obstacle to your success.

There’s so much to fear when starting a new personal history business. There’s  the fear of marketing yourself, the fear of doing the wrong thing, the fear of not having enough money to live on, the fear of being a competent interviewer, and on and on.

Fear can paralyze. An ability to keep going in spite of  your fears spells the difference between success and failure.

The Cash Flow Obstacle

If you’re used to a regular paycheck, get ready for a shock. For the first couple of years you’ll  find  more money going out than coming in.

In order to persist through the lean times you’ll need to be able to call on all your financial ingenuity.  If you don’t have a reserve of funds, or a part-time income or the support of friends and family or the thriftiness of a Scotsman, you may not be able to continue.

The Experience Obstacle

Personal historians come from a wide range of professions but no one comes to the business fully experienced.   It’s the kind of work you learn over time and largely by doing.

There are a host of basic skills you need – marketing, interviewing, editing, project management, and sales, to mention a few. Being able to clearly identify your business shortcomings and showing persistence in overcoming them spells the difference between success and failure.


Let me leave you with these inspiring words on persistence by American naturalist and author, Edward O. Wilson.

You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.  

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From the Archives: 12 Ways to Ensure Your Personal History Business Fails.

12 Ways to Ensure Your Personal History Business Fails. [A tip of the hat to Laura Spencer at Freelance Folder for inspiring this post.]

Ever get a “teensy” bit tired of all those gung-ho blogs dedicated to productivity and success? It’s time for some balance. Let’s talk about good old-fashioned failure. For all you personal historians who are  run off your feet with  clients’ demands, here’s your escape plan. Follow these 12 tips and you  can’t help but fail successfully. Do you have some great … Read More

12 Ways to Ensure Your Personal History Business Fails.

[A tip of the hat to Laura Spencer at Freelance Folder for inspiring this post.]

Ever get a “teensy” bit tired of all those gung-ho blogs dedicated to productivity and success? It’s time for some balance. Let’s talk about good old-fashioned failure. For all you personal historians who are  run off your feet with  clients’ demands, here’s your escape plan. Follow these 12 tips and you  can’t help but fail successfully.

Do you have some great failure tips? Let me know.

  1. Don’t listen to clients. This is perhaps the most important step. You’re the one with experience, not your clients. Forget what they think they want. You know best. The sooner you turn a deaf ear to their wishes, the quicker you can lose them and fail.
  2. Keep clients waiting. You don’t want to look too eager. Leave that e-mail reply and return telephone call until you feel in the mood. It’s less stressful and gives the impression you’re too busy to get back to them. Remember the longer you wait, the better the chance of failure.
  3. Stop marketing. It’s not fun anyway. If people don’t know about you, then you won’t be bothered by pesky clients. Failure is guaranteed.
  4. Enroll in courses, workshops, and seminars. The trick here is to load up your plate with as many educational opportunities as you can squeeze into a day. This not only makes you terribly busy but leaves absolutely no time for clients.
  5. Rate yourself with other more successful business owners. Nothing can make you feel more depressed than comparing your own efforts with successful entrepreneurs. The more despondent about your own business, the quicker you can give up.
  6. Watch daytime television. Who says there’s nothing on daytime TV? It’s jam-packed with entertaining shows. Better yet, find a few programs with an educational bent. You know, the ones about home makeovers and cooking. That way you can convince yourself that you’re gaining valuable knowledge while glued to the set for hours on end.
  7. Fake competence. Assure clients that you’re capable of delivering on any type of personal history format their heart desires.  Never produced a video biography? No problem. Never created a book? Piece of cake. The results  will inevitably disappoint your client and ensure that bad word of mouth will drive others away.
  8. Fail to meet deadlines. People are much too obsessed with deadlines. Not to worry. You’ll deliver when you can. No need to add stress to your life. As a bonus client killer, don’t bother returning their calls. They probably just want to find out when their project will be delivered.
  9. Spend your day on Facebook and Twitter. It’s so important to keep abreast of your friends’ activities and let them know your latest news. Working on your client’s project really eats into important social networking time.
  10. Attend to household chores. Working from home allows you to see what needs to be done. Your office calls out for a major clean-up. The kitchen could use a new paint job. Put your client’s work on hold. After all, your needs are just as important as theirs.
  11. Over promise and under deliver. Clients can be far too picky.  When you told clients they could include as many photographs as they wanted in their book, you didn’t literally mean that. Really, it just takes too much time to scan all those images. Select a sample of ten photos. This is sure to disappoint your client.  Bingo! Someone else who’ll help drive people away from your services.
  12. Don’t ask for referrals. Why do you want more clients? You need time to work on your hobbies and household chores. There’s no room for more clients. Besides, asking for referrals just seems so needy.

Photo by James Jordan

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