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happy girl

Many of us go through an annual ritual of setting personal goals, or setting business goals at the beginning of the year. We call then New Year’s resolutions and we have every intention of realizing these goals, but somehow they end up falling off the radar screen and before you know it you’re back to your old, familiar habits.

This is nothing new, but as we begin this New Year and new decade maybe you want to try something new. Maybe this year you would actually like to achieve your goals.

The great painter, Pablo Picasso once said, “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and
upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

With that being said, let’s look at some tips and strategies for taking those goals off of the paper and into your life where you can vigorously act upon them.

You can find goal setting workshops in most personal development programs; you can find free goal setting software and websites online. It does not really matter what kind of goal setting strategy you use. Once you have compiled a list of personal, spiritual and financial goals, your next step is going to be writing out why it is crucial that you achieve those goals within the specified time frame.

If you don’t convince yourself of why you must achieve those goals you will not have enough of an emotional investment in accomplishing them. Simply making a list on paper is easy to do and also easy to discard when things get challenging.

Now we are going to bring those goals into your daily life by breaking them up into small chunks and adding them to your daily to-do list or task list.

Take one of your goals that you would like to accomplish within the next six months. Let’s say you’d like to lose that last ten pounds. You will now backwards engineer your goal and break it up into tasks that you can add to your daily calendar. Here are some of the things that you might want to do in order to lose weight:

• Clear the junk foods out of your house

• Choose a weight loss program that fits your lifestyle

• Hire a weight loss coach or counselor

• Buy a weight loss journal

• Re-new your gym membership

You would make a list such as this for each of your goals and then take the time to add them to your calendar. If you’ve got an iphone or another smart phone you can download apps that will support your setting and achieving your goals. At the end of each day you will be able to tick off the things you completed and move forward those things that you were unable to complete. Keep track of your victories and celebrate when you achieve them. This will cause you to want to continue to strive towards your goals even more.

• Keep your goals where you can see them every day.

• Create a vision board

• Create a slideshow video using images that represent the achievement of your goals

• Build in rewards for when you achieve minor and major milestones.

• Be accountable to someone for your goals.

• Listen to motivational and educational programs that will encourage you to achieve your goals.

• Believe in yourself and your ability to get from where you are to where you’d like to be.

• Encourage someone else who is struggling.

So, now you have some ideas for taking your goals and putting legs on them. Pick one of these ideas and implement it right now. Interact with your goals every day until you achieve them. Focus your laser-targeted attention on your goals and they will become a reality.

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Goal Setting

2009 was a fantastic year for me in my business. As I end this year I am taking the time to create a deliberate intention for how I plan to move my business forward in 2010. I have been using a variety of tools to accomplish this task including one of Tony Robbins’ goal setting workshops to set some global goals that cover all aspects of my life, I am using Khama Anku’s DVD program, How to Build Your Business from the Ground Up, to put the finishing touches on my new business plan, and I am using La Shanda Henry’s, Create Your 2010 Action Plan to reflect on how my business went last year and how I would like to see it grow and move to the next level in the year to come.

It’s been fascinating to look at the numbers and really see where my business saw growth and where things could use some help. I’m also updating my marketing plan to include more of the marketing strategies that worked for me and some new ideas that I’d like to try in an effort to expand my reach and my visibility online.

If you have not yet created your 2010 action plan there’s still time. You can visit, to download your free copy of Create Your 2010 Action Plan. Because I have an affiliate relationship with La Shanda Henry, if you follow this link I’ve provided and you purchase any of the other excellent products that she has available, I will receive a commission. This is just one of the ways that I generate revenue in my business.

I believe that if you want to achieve a goal, the first step is to create a plan for how you will achieve it. I applaud you on taking the first step. So, here’s to an even more exciting 2010!

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The word resilience is defined by Merriam Webster’s Dictionary as, “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Is resilience a skill that you were called upon in the year 2009 to display? I think of resilience as the ability to bounce back, to get back up again when you fall, to call upon strengths that you never knew you had and use them to carry you through.

As we come to the end of 2009 I am pleased to say that I have indeed been more than a conqueror. I have shown resilience in the face of a lot of adversity and I have come through. I am pleased to say that my business not only survived, but it is thriving and growing despite a recessionary economy. Most of all I am pleased to report that despite the passing of my beloved father and grandfather barely six months apart this year I am happy and blessed and thriving in my spirit.

2009 has been an amzing year full of challenges, but also full of joy. I learned many valuable lessons this year about business and about life. I thought that I’d take a moment nad share a few of them here.

Lesson #1: Be Me
There is tremendous value in presenting your true, authentic self. I make a difference in this world just by being myself and presenting my gifts, strengths, skills and talents to the world who is waiting to receive them.

Lesson #2: Value
The more value you create for others in this world the more value comes back to you exponentially. (pressed down, shaken together running over. . .)

Lesson #3: Energy
Everything is energy. Everything I write, say and do is infused with my energy. No one else on earth possess my energy. It is what makes me unique. My energy is what draws my clients, my friends–my good into my life.

As I stride confidently towards this new year and shiny new decade I wish nothing but the best of everything to all of those who I am privileged to come into contact with. It is my desire that you find a way to share your unique value with the world and that you are richly rewarded for it as I have been.

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I’m working on a manuscript in my ‘spare time,’ which, as a work-from-home Freelance writer/single mom is a bit of a misnomer. My goal is to make progress on it each week, and I will not give up until I have it finished.

This morning, I saw this email from Julie Isacs in my Inbox. It inspired me so much I wanted to share it with you:

Book Cover

Book Cover

At the beginning of a book, or other long writing project, it’s
helpful to create a vision board or some other visual “touchstone”
to keep you inspired, focused, and moving forward on your writing

Your visual touchstone could be:

* A vision board of your book to put on your wall, or on your
computer as a desktop background or screen saver.It can include
your book cover,”NY Times bestseller,” or any other words or
images that excite you about your book.

* A mind movie: A vision board turned into a video, inspiring
thoughts and images moving to the beat of an uplifting song. You
could even record a voice-over talking about how you’ll feel when
the book is completed, and how it’s going to affect the people who
read it.

* Your book cover: If you don’t have your book’s official cover,
you can create a rough draft (it doesn’t have to be perfect) that
has meaning for you. Besides using the book cover on your computer
as your desktop image or screen saver, you can print out the cover
and put it on your refrigerator or near your computer. You can also
put your book cover on a 3-ring binder, paste it on a book-sized
diary, or create a physical mock-up of your book in some other way.

* Your book’s back cover: Put this where you can see it, or
combine it with the book cover described above to create your
“book.” Be sure to add a couple of testimonial “blurbs” to the back
cover copy saying how wonderful your book is.

* Your book’s table of contents: Print your TOC in a nice sized
font, so you can easily read the chapter headings. Put it where
you’ll see it often.

* A picture of the ideal reader you want to educate, inspire, or
entertain through your writing. It can be someone you know, or a
clear representation of your ideal reader (age, gender, etc.).

* A picture of something you’ve promised to buy yourself when you
finish writing your book. There’s nothing wrong with a little
incentive. Writing a book is a big commitment, and completing it is
a HUGE accomplishment. Celebrate the many little wins along the
way, and when you’re finished do something big and wonderful for

* Or some other image that has meaning for you. It could be an
author you admire and want to emulate, or someone (or something)
that inspires you to do your best.

To keep me inspired as I write “Brainstorming Your Blog,” I’ve not
only created a book cover, I’ve put it on the front of a 3-ring
binder, created chapter dividers, and will be printing out the
book’s pages as I complete them.

The reason I’m doing this is four-fold:

1. To encourage me to finish each of the individual sections that
I’ve outlined.

2. To help me feel more connected to the book, and, therefore,
more committed to going all the way to a completed manuscript.

3. To get a visual and tactile sense of accomplishment as the
completed pages of the book grow.

4. To help with the editing, as there is something about having a
piece of paper to edit that helps me see things I might not catch
online (I don’t know why this is true, but it is).

Do you use any kind of visual touchstone? How has it worked
for you?

by, Julie Isac from the Writing

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it has such a simple and pure message and intent. It’s not religious, there is no gift-giving requirement, and there is no costume required. All you have to do is take a moment to express your gratitude for all of the blessings that you have received over the course of the year. Gratitude is magical because when you are grateful for what you already have you make space to receive even more.

I love Thanksgiving because I love to cook. It is my opportunity to show those around me just how much I love them be preparing a beautiful, delicious, healthy meal. This year, for the first time in recent memory, I won’t be preparing the meal. I will actually be a guest at a home that I’ve never been to before, so I am looking forward to trying some new foods and making some new friends.

Because this is a time that we express our gratitude, I wanted to take a moment and thank my readers. The Productive Pen blog has grown this year even as my Freelance writing business has taken off. I am thrilled to have a thriving business doing something that I enjoy doing, and I have the priviledge of doing it from my own home office. I am grateful for all of the positive feedback and support that I have received from my readers.

I hope that each of you has a happy and safe Thanksgiving. I hope that you take the time to express your gratitude for all that you have been blessed with.

Here’s a poem that I saw that I wanted to share. Enjoy!

Be Thankful

Thanks for not having
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Thanks for lacking knowledge
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Thanks for difficult times
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Thanks for limitations
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Thanks for challenges
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Thanks for mistakes made
Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Thanks for exhaustion
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made the effort.

Thanks for setbacks
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.

Thanks for troubles
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

~ Author Unknown ~

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When I embarked on this journey to start creating my own products so that I could begin to start generating some passive income streams, I came up against an obstacle right away. I totally suck at graphic design. I’ve been seeing some very sexy looking, 3-D eBook covers and I wanted my products to have those, but since I’m operating on a shoestring budget here I was determined to find a way to do it myself.

After spending more time than I should have searching, I came across this product called, Create Your Own eBook Covers with Free Software. It sounded intriguing so I took a closer look. This product is basically a step-by-step eBook that walks you through creating your own professional looking eBook covers. It’s literally click here, do this, do that and voila! you’ve got your own eBook cover. The ebook also comes with a series of instructional videos and design templates, so you are literally ready to go as soon as you download the product.

I made a quick video to show you how I created my first eBook cover using one of their templates and following the instructions that came in the package:

A bonus that is included in the product is a series of instructional videos that show you how you can make money by offering this product to your website visitors or email subscribers in the same way that I am sharing this fabulous find with you.

So, to recap, when you purchase the Create Your Own eBook Covers with Free Software product you will receive an eBook that walks you step-by-step through the process of creating your own professional looking eBook cover using software that won’t cost you a dime, ten instructional videos that walk you through all of the steps, a set of design templates, and bonus videos that show three different ways to generate some income with this product.

Given the fact that I successfully used this product and I can attest to the fact that it does what it promises, I recommend it to you to try when you just can’t afford to hire a graphics person to create your eBook covers for you.

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I purposefully used the term mindful productivity to distinguish between being insanely busy and being thoughtful and deliberate about the work that I do and the projects that I take on. As a bustling solo-preneur, I wear a lot all of the hats in my company. I am a freelance writer creating website content for several clients, I am a blogger who manages a portfolio of blogs in different niche topics, and I’m also a marketer, an artist, a mom to three daughters and a woman who supports several non-profit causes.

With all of these things on my ‘plate,’ I must be deliberate and mindful about everything that I do. I am quickly approaching the point where I will no longer be able to do everything myself and still maintain this pace. What is the solution? The solution for me is going to be to hire someone so that I can regain some of the time that I spend doing tasks that must be done, but can easily be done by someone other than me. This will free me up to focus my time and talent on my core strengths.

Since I am not quite to the point of being able to hire an assistant, what I have begun to do is to carefully consider every item that gets added to my ‘to-do’ list. After prioritizing the order in which the tasks need to be completed, I mark down whether that is a task that I could hand off to someone else. Then as I do those tasks, I write a quick procedure guide for it if necessary. I may even start recording quick instructional videos to make this process quicker. So, by the time I am in the position to hire someone, I will be able to use the instructions that I have written up to get them started and save me the time of explaining it each time.

My plan is to first hire out the obvious time-sucking chores that don’t require any specialized knowledge such as laundry and housework (some of it). Then I would find a good VA to handle some of the marketing tasks, and website maintenance tasks. As a recovering perfectionist, I will have to learn to let some things go and have confidence in the fact that I don’t have to do it all myself.

So, if you’re a solo-preneur who has almost reached the limit of your capacity, consider the tasks that you do each day and start designating which ones could potentially be outsourced to free up your time and energy for more important tasks. Mindful productivity is all about balancing time–which is your most precious resource–and energy. Do what you love, love what you do and find someone else to do the rest.

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Google Analytics

Google Analytics

All bloggers know that without website traffic you are not in business. But in order to make the most of your website traffic generation efforts, you must put a process in place to measure and track the visitors to your website, where they are coming from, what they do when they land on your site, how long they stay and how many of them make a purchase. In this article we are going to look at how to use Google Analytics on your WordPress blog to track your website’s traffic and create reports.

What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics for WordPress is a free plugin that, “. . .automatically tracks and segments all outbound links from within posts, comment author links, links within comments, blogroll links and downloads.” It also allows you to track AdSense clicks, add extra search engines, track image search queries and it will even work together with Urchin.” It was developed by Joost de Valk of, a Dutch WP developer who has authored countless other WP plugins and tools.

First, if you do not already have one, establish a Google account.

Go to: and sign in using your Google account username and password.

Enter your website address and fill out the contact information to create your Google Analytics account. You will see a new screen telling you that you need to add a snippet of code to the footer of your website pages. Using a new browser window, log in to your WP dashboard, click on Presentation, then Theme Editor, footer.php.

Paste that snippet of Google Analytics code into the footer.php file on your WordPress blog before the closing body tag that looks like this: “” Finally, hit the ‘Update File’ button and you’re good to go.

Back at the Google analytics page, you will find a button that says, “Check Status.” Click on that so that GA will start talking to your WP blog.

Google Analytics Reports
Now let’s use Google Analytics to generate a report. You might want to create such a report for your advertising clients so that they can see how effectively their advertising dollars are being spent on ads at your site.

After you have set up your GA account and you have given it a few weeks to track your website’s traffic you can go in and generate reports.

Once again, go to: and sign in using your Google account username and password. If you have more than one website in your account, choose the one you want to create a report for from the drop-down menu to the right of the ‘View Reports’ tab at the top of the window.

The dashboard will show you at a glance the number of visitors to your site by day, week or month, your visitor’s site usage stats, traffic sources, and a content view of the most popular pages on your site in order of page views. You can click on any of these dashboard items to view a more in-depth report of that item.

You can export a copy of the standard report by using the ‘Export’ tab near the top of the page. You can export in a .PDF format, email or XML.

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I was on youtube the other day when I saw this video. I’m all about product creation these days, and I like what this man has to say. So, take a look and see if you’re not inspired as I was.

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Creative Writing

Creative Writing

Using creative writing prompts can be a fun way to flex your creative muscles and break out of any writing ruts that you might have found yourself mired in recently. As a website content writer, I find that I need to occasionally focus on my creative writing skills in order to feed that part of my brain that loves to work with the written word as a sculptor works with clay.

I poked around in my bookmarks and did a bit of research to come up with a few sites where you can find some really fun writing prompts to try. Take a look at these and get your creative juices flowing. It will be fun but it will also help you freshen up your professional writing style.

This site provides a new prompt each week to inspire you to write a short piece in response.

This website has been around for almost ten years providing daily writing prompts. While it is geared to school aged writers, the prompts are still very good and an adult can easily find some that spark their interests.

Writer’s Digest provides several pages of prompts to inspire writers.

This fun website provides just one word prompts and gives you 60 seconds to write a response.

Here are a few writing contests if you are interested in trying your hand at submitting your work. I will give the caveat that I have not investigated these contests in advance, so each writer is advised to do her due diligence before spending time or money pursuing these contests.

Here you’ll find a huge list of writing contests with information about the various deadlines and how to submit your work.

Writer’s Digest also has a list of their own contests that writers can participate in.

More writing contests can be found here.

When you have a down moment, take a look at these sites and get out your journal and your favorite pen. You never know what is lurking in your subconscious mind waiting for you to bring it to life on paper.