What Makes a Good Goal?

So what does make a good goal? My employer requires everyone to go through a performance management process where everyone defines goals at the start of the year and then each person is held accountable against those goals at the end of the year. Since its time to create my goals (I just started a month ago), I started doing a bit of reseach on defining goals and here are the 4 common components of a good goal:

Measurable Outcome
Specific Actions to Reach Said Outcome
Why the Outcome is Important / Purpose

Granted, these 4 items are a bit slanted towards performance management, but I thought they might be good to share since they can still apply to personal goals. Even if you dont state each of those items in your personal / life goals, youll still need to think about them. If you cant measure your progress against a goal, then how will you know what to change (or even if you need to change) in order to hit the goal? Perhaps you dont know what actions you should takebut if thats the case, you should figure them out (perhaps thats another goal right there) because if you dont know the next steps, how will you ever take them? If you cant say why the goal is important to you, then youre probably not going to be motivated to follow through with it. Finally, if you cant put a timeframe on it, then youre probably not serious about doing it. I used to think that I never had time for anything – then I realized I had to make time for the things that were important to me. Having a timeframe helps you commit to making that time and using it to work towards your goal.

The digital voice recorder – an underutilized productivity tool

About a year ago, I purchased a little digital voice recorder at the suggestion of one of my professors during the MBA program at Alabama.� He originally suggested it as a tool I could use to improve my public speaking abilities (I dont enunciate as clearly as I shouldanyway).� When I purchased the device, I decided I would get a decent one that had digital storage (yes, tape ones still exist) and had a way to export to a PC (in this case, via USB).� Now devices with these specs will run $40-$80 usually (at least they did about a year ago) – mine was somewhere in the $50-$60 range.� Seeing as how I spent a nice chunk of change on the thing, I decided I would try to make as much use out of it as possibleand its been great.

The two main things I use it for that are really helpful are listing off TODOs and keeping track of ideas (usually new business ideas).� I realized these types of thoughts seem to pop into my head at completely random times – usually when Im not even thinking of anything related to them.� But if I didnt write them down, Id either forget them or worse – keep thinking about them over and over so I wouldnt forget them.� If youre a David Allen follower (the author of Getting Things Doneif you havent heard of it, look it up on Amazon – great book), you know that the main thing he advocates is getting this type of stuff out of your head and into a place you can trust which frees you to move on to other, more productive, things.� Well, this little voice recorder has been the perfect solution for me.� Im not a big fan of paperI just dont like re-reading notes for some reason, and Im usually not near a computer when I need to write this stuff down, so the voice recorder has proven itself to be quite a handy little tool.

Ive recently been trying to use it to help get to sleep.� If youre like me, you have tons of ideas and random thoughts going 1000 miles an hour through your head when youre trying to go to sleep – for whatever reason my brain just doesnt like chilling out if there is something else to think about.� When I get some idea stuck in my head and have this problem, Ill just use the voice recorder to capture it and any other thoughts Id like to continue with the next day – after that, its much easier to fall asleep.� Its quite strange, but it works.

So – the next time you have too much on your mind, you might want to think about picking a digital voice recorder up.� Even if you dont buy a dedicated device, many cellphones and most PDAs have a similar feature built-in so why not give that a try?� It might be just the thing youre looking for to make you that much more productive.

Oh, and by the way, most of this post came from my recorder – so they even help with blogs!

Why dont more people have high yield savings accounts?

I know Im not the first one to mention this (as I see the topic at least once a week in the blogsphere), but why doesnt everyone have an online high yield savings account? I have one with ING and recently started another with HSBC Direct. Now I know some banks require you to open a checking account that may include additional fees – but the two I just mentioned (as well as a third, Emigrant Direct) dont charge any fees at all for a basic online savings account. Its just amazing to me how many people are more content to let money sit in a standard checking account instead of earning 4-5% in interest on the same money. Sure – it takes a couple of days to move the money around so you have to plan ahead slightly (HSBC even gives you an ATM card if you want one to make this easier) – but you get 5% interest on your money instead of 0%. It just seems like such a no-brainer to me – I know some people simply dont know about the interest rates and others will say they dont have enough to save right now. I believe the first excuse is semi-valid for those that arent really into personal finance and the second excuse can certainly be a problem sometimes. Beyond those two excuses though, I just dont see why people dont do it. I have several friends that know these accounts are out there, they have the money to save, they have the desire to save, but they still dont open the account – I just dont get it. Plus, ING gives you a $25 bonus if you just open an account with $250 or more (youll need someone with an account already to send you a link – otherwise you wont get the bonusplus it gives the other person $10 too so its a win-win – if you dont know anyone, e-mail me at abyram.at.gmail.com and Ill send you one). HSBC will give you a $25 Best Buy card if you sign with them (I didnt do this deal, so I dont know exactly what the requirements are for it, but Im sure its simple too). The point of all this is that now is a great time to get started saving – the rates are great (and FDIC insured usually), its simple to do, and you can get a bonus with 2 of the three accounts these days. So, why not give it a try?