Author: rick heyland

7 Steps to create a six figure Coaching and Consulting Business

7 Step Checklist to Create a Six-Figure Coaching/Consulting Business!


Without having 100K+ followers on

YouTube or Instagram.



  1. Validate
    1. Is there a business need?
      1. Market research
    2. Do people value your expertise?
      1. Feedback


  1. Business Plan
    1. Clear Value Proposition
      1. Who is your Avatar customer?
    2. Purpose – Your Why
    3. Marketing Plan
      1. Price
      2. Promotion
  • Products
  1. Distribution
  1. Funding needed?


  1. Business Logistics
    1. LLC
    2. Website
    3. Automation
      1. Email
      2. Products
  • Calendar


  1. Establish Your Authority
    1. Books
    2. Surveys
    3. Magazine Articles
    4. Social Media
      1. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok
    5. Podcast
    6. TV


  1. Deliver Extreme Value
    1. Over deliver
    2. Change people’s lives


  1. Multiple Streams of Income
    1. Book
    2. Courses
    3. Products
    4. Tests/Assessments
    5. Coaching/Consulting


  1. Promote
    1. Referrals
    2. Online promotion
    3. Click funnels




7 Guiding Principles for Growth:


  1. Don’t Rush and Don’t Settle. Quality is more important than timeliness. I rushed to market with my first planner and it was a tough sell. I took my time and sought out customer and design expertise on the second version and it was a hit.


  1. Don’t Skip a Step (but you can work sequentially). You might be tempted to skip the planning process and move on to making your offer. I promise you it will cost you time and money later on.


  1. Bootstrapping Works (but not on your core offer). You don’t need to have the most expensive website or the most expensive microphone. Deliver quality without top expensive. For example, my first course was done by a video professional. My second course was done by me on my computer camera and was a bigger commercial success. They key was the content – not the picture.


  1. Over Deliver to your ideal customer. Every blog, every product, and every social media message speaks to your ideal customer. My most successful course was to millennials, and it was about their money. I knew exactly what 22- to 38-year-olds needed and worried about in their careers and with their financial security.


  1. Trust Building Online. The online business is unique in mass customer trust building. In Business-to-Business consulting/coaching, you deliver a pitch F2F. Then you need follow-up meetings to establish trust and close the deal. For online sales, you aren’t always 1-1 with your customers. So, everything you say and do online must build trust and deliver valuable insight to your ideal customer group.


  1. Current and Past Customers are the best source of Future Sales. This principle has proven accurate in both on-line sales and b2b consulting sales. Those who know you best are your best source of future sales.  Referrals from current or past satisfied customers short circuit the trust building and sales process.


  1. Use Experts to help you Grow. You might be tempted to try and do everything yourself and save money.  This will cost you money and credibility in the long-run. Find “the best” and most trustworthy people to help guide you through the 7 steps.  Find a website expert, a click funnel expert, a book editing expert etc.  All these experts can be found through your social networks or websites like For example, I had a bestselling book inside of me but I was stuck in the writing process because I knew I wasn’t a good editor.  I hired a wonderful editor on  (Marinanne Thompson) and the book took 80 days to write and finish.  Experts save you time and money in the long-run!


For more details, let’s talk and apply these principles to your business.

Set-up a free assessment call at





Rick Heyland is the President of CI4life (Continuous Improvement 4 Life). Since 2018, he has been coaching and consulting online to small businesses and millennials. He is the author of the best-selling book: “Live Your Purpose: A Step-By-Step Guide to Living Your Best Life.” Previously, he was the COO of the Americas (North and South America) for RLG International. RLG is a productivity improvement (continuous improvement) consulting company that works with all major corporations in the energy business and other resource sectors. Rick led RLG through 5x growth during his last 10 years with the firm. He Has a proven track record in helping companies grow!

Personal Development

I already have Purpose. Do I really need to develop a purpose statement?





Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about developing a purpose statement.



  1. Why do I need to have a purpose statement?


  1. What makes up a good purpose?


  1. I have my daily plan/activities that bring me daily purpose.


  1. I am a father/mother and that gives me purpose. I don’t need another purpose.


  1. I believe in the afterlife. That is my purpose.


  1. I have a job/career that brings me purpose.



  1. Why do I need a purpose statement?


I have found over a dozen research studies that list the benefits of living with purpose. The benefits include a longer life, less hospital time, more fulfillment, an improved psychological response to setbacks, and being happier.


When setbacks and discouragement happen, it gives you Your burning why. That helps you to carry on. Having a purpose statement in writing gives you a reference point to go back to when you are at key decisions in your life. Here is a link to one study:


  1. What makes up a good life purpose statement?


A good life purpose is one that brings meaning to you. It should inspire you. It should give you direction on what projects/experience to say yes to and what activities to say no to. It is not a career or hobbies. A good life purpose identifies how you want to bring your best self every day. A life purpose can be enhanced from time to time over the years, but applies to all of your roles and your whole life.


  1. I have my daily plan that brings me daily purpose.


Yes, that is true. I call this small “p” purpose. Daily planning is a great way to have the benefits of purpose. A way to tap into even greater large “P” purpose is to set an overriding priority, focus, and values for your life. This overriding large “P” purpose gives you direction so that you know the best things to be planning daily. What if you came to the end of your life and found you were focused on the wrong priorities and that you didn’t respond to life experiences with the values you had hoped? Make sure your compass is pointed in the right direction when you plan your day. Choose the very best activities, not just busyness.


  1. I am a father/mother and that gives me purpose. I don’t need another purpose.


Yes, agreed. There is tremendous purpose that comes from being a parent. The sense of responsibility and purpose is great. Let’s delve deeper though. What happens when your kids move out? What will your purpose be? Isn’t your purpose bigger than your kids? Another question: How do you bring your best self to parenting? Answer: Being purposeful, Being intentional. Having an overriding purpose statement allows you to articulate How you want to be the best parent.


  1. I believe in the afterlife. That is my purpose.


Yes, and if eternal life is your goal and purpose, how do you plan to accomplish it? How do you bring your best self in order to achieve this goal? That is what an overarching purpose statement does for you. How can I bring my best self to my everyday living in order to accomplish my eternal goal?


  1. I already have a great career that gives me purpose. Isn’t that enough?


Yes, and then what happens after you retire? How do you want to act and behave inside of your purpose? A purpose statement gives you a reference point to go to when you retire. It also tells you how to act and respond while you are working in your wonderful career.




The big question is how to develop a purpose that can help you with all your roles and goals.


  1. The Triple 7 process. Go to and find a free pdf on how to develop your purpose.
  2. In Chapter 4 of my book, “Live Your Purpose-A Step by Step Guide To Live Your Best Life”, You will find the Triple 7 process in Chapter 4. You will also see how to connect your goals and daily activities to your purpose.
  3. New Piecemeal technology. I can send daily audio coaching notes to your phone that can help you clarify your purpose in 7 days. It can be found at:



Good luck on your journey to clarify and focus on bringing your best self to your everyday life.



Change ManagementPersonal Development

Live Your Best Life


Live Your Best Life



Everybody is seeking to be happy, fulfilled, and successful! I call that your “best life”. What that means for people can be quite different and personalized.


I don’t believe it comes from just a bucket list of things you want to do and places you want to see. This obviously can be part of your best life.


I don’t believe it necessarily has to do with being the richest, most popular or most powerful. We all know very unhappy popular, powerful, and rich people.


I don’t believe “best life” means that you are perfect with no mistakes or setbacks.


I believe being your ‘best self’ means that you were intentional and fully engaged in the process of enjoying life and learning from it.


Here is a model with detailed information for living your best life:


  1. Define your best life.
  2. Plan to live your best life.
  3. Enjoy the journey.



  1. Define your best life.


What exactly is my best life? For 30 years, starting with myself and then helping thousands of others, I have been advising people how to define their best life. This is what I’ve found. Research by end-of-life nurses and other experts tells us it is not about working more. People who are dying were interviewed and often say they wish they would have lived their best life, not the life somebody else expected them to live.


The Triple 7 personal purpose development process


I have synthesized the process into 7 questions and exercises over 7 days with 7 journal writing sessions. At the end of this process, you will have a 50-word (maximum) personal purpose statement to help you define your best life.


The process begins with this defining question and exercise: How do you want to be remembered? Imagine you are visiting your funeral. What do you want people to be saying about you? Journal what you would like them to say and then start planning and executing that plan each day.


Chapter 4 of my book, “Live Your Purpose – A Step by Step Guide to Live Your Best Life”, shares the entire Triple 7 process. The book is sold on Amazon. Alternatively, you can go to my website, for more resources and methods to live your best life.


  1. Plan to live your best life.


Many people have big dreams for life but lack the skills or the right processes to help them successfully accomplish those dreams. Or, many people work so hard for retirement and then expect to be able to accomplish their dreams only to be robbed by sickness, health, and other changes. Plan to live your purpose starting today.


Identify goals that will help you accomplish your purpose


Research shows only 20% of people accomplish most of their goals. Why? I believe that the majority of reasons have to do with not knowing the right process and having the right skills to live on purpose and live their best life.


Here is the 7-step process for successful goal accomplishment:


  1. Identify all the areas you want to be successful in; e.g., health, relationships, work/finance, and spiritual/emotional well-being.
  2. Pinpoint Specific and Measurable goals to help you live your purpose.
  3. Make action plans to accomplish those goals.
  4. Track those goals.
  5. Have a weekly planning session to review past successes and learnings and to make new plans.
  6. Establish Daily prioritized planning to accomplish those goals.
  7. Share this process and the results with a trusted advisor on a monthly basis.


How can you accomplish 80% of your goals? Identify what your purpose is and then develop this goal-setting process. Be prepared to be amazed!


  1. Enjoy the journey.


This may be the most important step in the entire process to living your best life. Real joy and happiness come from the process and the journey – not the arrival. I have heard people say, “When I graduate or when I get out of debt, then I can be happy.” Or, “When I lose 25 lbs. or when I go to Bali or when my son graduates…then I can be happy.”


I have known a Pilipino family for years that works very hard each and every day and doesn’t have a lot of extra money. What extra money they do have, they send home to their family back in the Philippines. They are the kindest, most respectable, and happy people I know.


Are you just born with this skill set to be happy, given any circumstance, or can it be learned?


I believe everything can be learned with the right mindset, skill set, and tool set. We may not be able to throw a touchdown pass like Tom Brady or drive a golf ball like Dustin Johnson, but with the right mindset, skill set and tool set, we can get better and develop any skill. We may not be able to be as content and happy as my Philippine friends, naturally, but with the right mindset, skill set, and tool set, we can improve.



What is the right mindset, skill set and tool set for enjoying the journey?


  1. Gratitude may not solve all your problems, but it is the first thing that needs to happen in order to get your mind right to learn and improve and live your best life. What happens if you are not naturally a grateful person? What happens if your brain focuses on what you don’t have versus what you do have? Start with developing the skill of gratitude. It is like any skill set; it can be learned and developed. I developed a CI4life planner to help people develop this skill. On every planning page, it has space for gratitude lists. Start each day with writing down what went right and what you are grateful for. After you have finished your gratitude list, you will have the right mindset to learn and plan to live your best life every day!
  2. Stay Present and Mindful. Have you ever gone through a day or week or year and it was just a blur because it was so hectic, busy or stressful? So have I. This is not the best situation or state of consciousness to live your best life. We get confused into thinking that busy is “best life”. That is not true. Being able to enjoy each day and be aware of your feelings and moments is how to respond and live your best life. Meditation is such a critical skill for you to stay present. Stop your mind from racing ahead or behind/past. Train your brain to enjoy the journey of each day through stillness and meditation.
  3. Learn from Mistakes. Along the path to your best life, you will still make mistakes, have heartaches, and setbacks. The key is to have the right mindset and realize that this is part of the journey. Have a learning mindset about your setbacks. What am I supposed to learn from this as I progress? You have a choice when trials happen. You can let your mind get discouraged or give-up or get mad. Or, you can take the mindset of a learner. What am I supposed to learn from this as I progress toward my best life? The latter mindset is way more fun, enjoyable, and fruitful. What can you do if you get stuck in a downward spiral after a setback? Get help. Ask a trusted advisor for guidance. Read a book or watch a YouTube video that gets you pumped up and back to the learning mindset.




How well are you doing at developing and living your best life? Where are you on the continuum? What do you need to do to take the next step in your happiness, fulfillment, and success?


1st step to Living your best life:  Take this 3-minute calculator quiz to determine your score and your next steps here.



Good luck on your journey. Enjoy it and you will look back on a fruitful life knowing that you did the best you could. It’s an incredible feeling of peace and contentment to know that you were intentional in executing your best life.



Rick Heyland



Change Management

We need more focus on emotional and meaning quotient at home and work

The January 2013 McKinsey Quarterly publication posted an article by Susie Cranston and Scott Keller called,Increasing the Meaning Quotient of Work. They argued that the most successful and best performing people have IQ (intellectual quotient), EQ (emotional quotient), and MQ (meaning quotient). 

“While IQ and EQ are absolutely necessary to create the conditions for peak performance, they are far from sufficient, the authors said. (When a business environment MQ is low, employees put less energy into their work and see it as (just a job) that gives them little more than a paycheck.

Executives interviewed in the study said that when employees and teams have IQ, EQ, and MQ, they are five times more productive. Furthermore, when asked to locate the bottlenecks to peak performance in organizations, more than 90% of them chose MQ related issues.

Let’s compare these findings with a survey I’m conducting on my website,, where so far, almost 1,400 respondents have completed it. The survey’s aim is to identify the habits and characteristics of the happiest and most effective people. You may find the parallels interesting.

Overall outcomes of the survey

My premise has always been that it is happiness – not productivity – that leads to a life of success. The survey identifies key findings, key outcomes, key characteristics, and the key habits for this group cohort. Here are the findings so far on those identified as happier people:

  • Personal productivity: 14% higher
  • Effective relationships at work: 20% higher
  • Job satisfaction: 45% overall
  • Income: Double for the happier group

It’s important to note that the data is suggesting that the happiest group earn more income, but that not more money means more happiness. It’s the characteristics and habits of the happiest that lead to more income – not the other way around.

This brings us to the next question: How and why does this happiness, productivity, and satisfaction happen? Let’s break it down.

What are the characteristics of the happiest people?

I only mention a characteristic if it is a majority vote and if it is at least 25% greater than the comparison group:

  • Forgive and let go: 43% higher
  • Life purpose: 34% higher
  • Let go of discouraging events more effectively: 45% better
  • Content with life: 78% higher

For example: On the key question of comparing the very happiest to the below average in happiness, we find:

Seventy-eight percent of the happiest people have a life purpose, and the gap between the below-average happiness group is 34%. So, this means that the majority of the (above average) happiest people practice it, and this is greater than a 25% difference with the below-happiness group.

Personal habits of the happiest people

The same variable applies as above (a majority vote and if it is at least 25% greater than the comparison group of below-happiness people).

The personal habits of the happiest are as follows:

  • Regular exercise: 27% higher
  • Daily planning: 30%
  • Reading for personal improvement: 27%
  • Regular service to others: 26%
  • Financial savings: 32%

All of the characteristics of purpose, forgiveness, letting go, and contentment are what the McKinsey article highlighted – emotional and meaning quotient items!

What can we learn from these findings and what should we do?

On a personal level:

  1. Understand that it’s a combination of habits that contribute to higher levels of happiness and improved life outcomes. It’s not just one habit.
  2. Pick one of these habits to start improving on. Set a goal, track it, share it, and improve it.

On an organizational level:

  1. We need more emphasis on an emotional and meaning quotient in personal development if you want employees with higher job satisfaction and effectiveness. More training and development in both areas is essential for businesses.

Let me share with you two application ideas for businesses.

  1. Leaders, when you pitch your vision, make sure you share the why. Make sure and share how this creates meaning to your employees and your community.

For example: 

My very first client as a young consultant was a sawmill supervisor named Greg. He was a great athlete and loved to compete and win. He and I spent a few night shifts at the plant trying to figure out how to advance performance there. Greg had worked at the plant for over 30 years and had advanced from supervisor to superintendent to plant manager. That plant went on to be one of the top performing sawmills of its category in North America. He did at least two things that were extraordinary: (1) He always had employee and management meetings. (2) He rarely skipped a weekly employee meeting and his monthly management business review in all those 30 plus years. Talk about consistency!

Everybody is always trying to create some stability and sustainability for performance in their business. Try learning this lesson from Greg. Never skip a performance review and business discussion. Become a great communicator on multiple levels of meaning (MQ). Greg talked to his employees about things that would draw them into the business and care about its performance. He shared the details of financial and production performance to the union employees on a weekly basis. As a result, the plant took great pride and meaning in trying to become the best sawmill. He tied in customer feedback into his meetings. He shared the good and the bad. He built pride, meaning, and loyalty to the site. I think it was one of the reasons he never left despite being offered other positions at other plants. My favorite line he ever said was in a weekly employee meeting when he passionately shared with his employees that they don’t just make lumber. They provided shelter for those less fortunate and he would talk about progress with the Habitat for Humanity project in the local town that the company donated to. He talked about how their product helped people live their dreams of being a homeowner. Greg established a culture of meaning and pride by connecting the company’s product to how it benefited society, the customers, and themselves.

  • Hire leaders with emotional intelligence. At RLG International, we do a lot of work with capital projects. All of our research including within the benchmarking firms called IPA (Independent Project Analysis) suggest we need more leaders with emotional intelligence to lead our large mega capital projects.  The track record for mega construction projects is not good. Research is pointing to the difference leadership makes, and particularly leaders who have emotional intelligence – those who are open and listening to all stakeholders’ concerns. Some of these senior project directors are running projects with 20-40 billion-dollar budgets. They have thousands of contractors working the projects. 

In one IPA study of 56 mega capital projects, only seven of the projects met project goals.  Of the seven key characteristics listed in those projects was great leadership. One of the key characteristics of great leadership was emotional intelligence. You can imagine when you’re working with seven to 12 different organizations and thousands of employees how much emotional intelligence weighs in. You have to be able to listen to various concerns and worries and deal with it in a mature and open way. But I know there are applications to all sectors and business, not just capital projects. The truth though is that we need more leaders from all facets of business with emotional intelligence.

I hope this has given you a few ideas on what you can do to work on your personal and professional meaning quotient and emotional quotient. Thank you to all of the respondents, and I’d love to get to 1,500 respondents and beyond. If you value this knowledge, please go to the website and fill out the survey. So far, the respondents have shared that taking the survey has given them ideas for their own personal development journeys.

Additionally, on September 15, 2020, my book, Live Your Purpose – A Step-By-Step Guide to Enhance Your Meaning, Purpose, Fulfillment, And Happiness will be online for sale at Please go to my website to subscribe, and I’ll send you a link to download the book for free.

Until next time, live a life of sustainable Continuous Improvement.

Planning for Peak Experiences

Peak experiences are events that compel us towards success and help us reach self-actualization.

Abraham Maslow describes peak experiences as such:

“The conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened, so that the subject was to some extent transformed and strengthened even in his daily life by such experiences.”

Abraham Maslow

What Is Self-Actualization?

In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow identified the now-famous Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow argued that beyond our basic needs of food, water, and shelter, our highest need is self-actualization. 

Maslow describes self-actualization as; “What a man can be, he must be, the highest-order motivations, which drive us to realize our true potential and achieve our ideal self. Purpose and compelling goals drive us to our true potential and our ideal self.  According to Maslow, one characterization of self-actualization is having frequent peak experiences.

Maslow describes a peak experience as involving:

  • Feelings of limitless horizons opening up to the vision.
  • The feeling of being simultaneously more powerful and also more helpless than one ever was before.
  • The feeling of ecstasy and wonder and awe.
  • The loss of placement in time and space.
  • The conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened, so that the subject was to some extent transformed and strengthened, even in his daily life by such experiences.

Sign me up for that! But how? How can we have frequent and intentional peak experiences?

Having a compelling purpose and compelling goals can help you have peak experiences and be self-actualized. Just like Chris Hadfield.

Becoming One of the First Canadian Astronauts

Chris Hadfield is a retired astronaut and was the first Canadian Commander of the International Space Station. When Chris was 9 years old, he watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin taking the first steps on the moon. At that moment, Chris set a goal to go to the moon. Everything he did in life was focused on achieving that compelling goal. 

As an early teenager, Chris joined the air cadets. After high school, he mapped out a plan to beat the odds and become an astronaut, but at the time, Canada didn’t even have a space program. Chris decided that becoming a fighter pilot and a test pilot would be the best path towards becoming an astronaut. So against all the odds, he made the fighter pilot program and strived daily to be the best he could be.

Years later, Chris saw an ad in the paper saying that Canada was taking applications for an astronaut program. He was among thousands of applicants for two available positions. Chris went on to be the space station leader for several months in 2012, and the first Canadian to walk in space. He also sang David Bowie’s (Space Oddity) from space, which quickly went viral with over 75 million hits. 

Chris’s entire life was focused on a compelling goal. Interesting to note is that his dream was to walk on the moon, but people haven’t been to the moon since 1972. 

Was it a failure that Chris didn’t accomplish his life’s goal? No, because he has spent more time in space than most any other person. Look where his compelling goal made him reach and stretch to. 

In 2019, I did a podcast with Chris on my Continuous Improvement 4 Life channel. Chris’s life is inspiring, and he’s accomplished so much because of a dream, because of a compelling goal. He is an author of 3 books, including An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. Chris was named the top test pilot in both the US Air Force and the US Navy and was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.

Chris shared a great revelation on the podcast,(We are not algae, we are not born under a rock, we are growing, learning beings that strive to become better and drive for continuous improvement towards worthy goals every day. Wow, if that doesn’t jack you up, what will? Chris Hadfield knows what it is to be self-actualized because of a compelling goal. The same goes for my former neighbor, Mike Schlappi.

Shot Happens

Mike was accidentally shot by his best friend when he was 15 years old. Mike was no longer able to play the sports he was so passionate about. He lost his legs, the ability to play sports, and his girlfriend due to the accident. As a teenager, Mike seemed to have lost his entire world. Mike talks about a few months later as he was starting to settle into life in a wheelchair, and then one day in the gym, he challenged his gym teacher to an arm-wrestling contest. Mike broke his arm as a result. So now he was stuck with permanent loss of his legs and temporary loss of his arm. He only had use of one limb, which resulted in a lot of circles in his wheelchair for a few days. 

One day, someone introduced Mike to wheelchair basketball, and he loved it. Playing basketball in the Olympics and representing his country soon became Mike’s compelling goal. 

After thousands of hours of practice and games, Mike represented Team USA in four Olympic Games, playing wheelchair basketball. He won two gold medals and two bronze medals. Mike later played for and now coaches the Utah Wheelin’ Jazz basketball team, who compete nationally as a member of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA). 

I’ve known Mike for many years now, and I’ve never seen him without a smile and a positive attitude about life. What impresses me more than the Olympic medals is how Mike conducts his life. He has overcome so many setbacks in life, including an unexpected divorce. Today, with his wife Tami, Mike lives a fulfilling life as a speaker, Wheelin’ Jazz Coach, parent and grandparent, and a faithful member of the community and church.

Mike takes his dog, Kitty, for walks almost every day with a smile on his face. When he was in the hospital as a teenager, he complained to his mom about being shot and the awful hospital food. His mom looked him in the eye and said, (Mike, don’t be a crappy Schlappi, be a happy Schlappi.

His mom’s advice has stuck with Mike to this day. He tells me he does have down days; everyone does. I have seen Mike accomplish 3 compelling goals in his life: winning 4 olympic medals, building an amazing marriage with Tami (Tami has also overcome the death of her first husband to cancer and is an accomplished and compassionate person with a great attitude on life), and becoming a self-actualized Happy Schlappi! 

Listen to my podcast with Mike here.

Achieving Peak Experiences Through Planning

Peak experiences don’t happen by accident. They need to be planned and prepared for. Chris Hadfield used his downtime to build competency and earn more certifications to be prepared for his many peak experiences. Mike took what he was given and ran (rode) with it. 

Do you want more feelings that something significant and valuable has happened so that you’re transformed and strengthened? Start with this application exercise:

What peak experiences do you want to plan for?

In the next blog, we’ll discuss how to set compelling yearly goals to accomplish more peak experiences.

If you want to read more, you can order Mike Schlappi’s book, Shot Happens, and Chris Hadfield’s book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. And if you’d like coaching on planning and achieving more peak experiences, sign up for a free coaching session.

Weekly Planning Is a Superpower

The time you spend weekly planning could be the most important 30 minutes of your week!

Dallin H. Oaks, former Utah Supreme Court Justice said:

“We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.”

Dallin H. Oaks

Have you ever felt like the day just flew by? 

Perhaps you were tired and overwhelmed; every minute seemed to be full. Days like this can feel fulfilling at the end of the day, but be careful. 

Ask yourself how many of those activities were empty calories? Or how many were good calories but not the best calories? 

Don’t let good activities rob you of great activities. When you look back on those busy days, how many of your goals did you accomplish? 

The need to be busy is one of the worst addictions of our time.

One of the biggest regrets people have when they’re dying is that they worked too hard and didn’t pay enough attention to their central relationships. The other common regret is that they didn’t live their best life.

One of the reasons people don’t live out their purpose or reach their long-term goals is that they don’t have a system to organize their schedule. Most people have trouble staying focused on the most important tasks and relationships.

The busyness and distractions of the modern-day world are powerful and plentiful. The constant call for meetings and never-ending notifications on your phone are tough to ignore. 

Marketing professionals and advertisers are getting more and more sophisticated. They are listening and sending you the ads that you’re interested in. These calls to action are also difficult to ignore.

So what do you do?

Weekly planning is a terrific way to stay focused on the important relationships and activities in your life. Planning your week is an opportunity to be intentional and get rid of the bad or even some of the good but not great activities throughout our day. 

Weekly Planning Is a Super Power

Develop your weekly plan during a commercial free, interruption free, and notification free period. This is the most important 30 minutes of your week. Treat it as such. 

Build in times during the week that you can go notification free so that you can focus on your number-one activities. Hide your phone, turn off notifications on your computer, and focus your mind on the most crucial task. You will feel an increased clarity and focus on what’s at hand.

I recommend investing in a weekly planning system to help you organize time around your purpose, roles, and goals. Doing so also helps you prioritize.

My weekly game plan tool

As you can see in the weekly game plan above, your purpose, roles, and goals are along the weekly game plan’s left-hand side. These remain mostly static during the year. Each week you will identify the weekly activities that help you accomplish the goals you’ve identified. You must find a consistent time every week to plan. Consistency trains your brain to be prepared and ready for a productive planning session.

Here are four steps you can walk through for your weekly planning session.

4-Step Weekly Planning Session

  1. Schedule your weekly planning session the same day and same time each week. For example, 7:00 p.m. each Sunday.
  2. Review the past week. Start with reviewing the highlights of your week. What were you most proud of? What were your big successes? What did you learn from setbacks or wins? How can you apply what you learned this week?

    For example, let’s say you planned your reading/studying time during the evening, and you had four interruptions during the evening that prevented you from reading. Those interruptions came from important family and friends. What could you do differently to accomplish your goals? Perhaps you could do the reading another time. This week you can try switching your timing to when there are fewer interruptions.
  3. Plan your most important activities. Look at your purpose, roles, and key goals and plan your key activities for the week. Plan the important non-urgent things. I never include scheduled meetings that are in my calendar unless they need a big planning component. If you include all of the urgent/planned things, you will overwhelm yourself. Plan to have 10-20 important non-urgent activities each week that are small steps towards your big goals.
  4. Schedule your weekly activities. Try to schedule your 10-20 important items into your week. Use your calendar to plan these activities. For example, if you want to start 30 minutes of aerobic exercises five days a week, calendar it in at 6.30 a.m. every weekday.

Follow up throughout your week with daily planning. Each day as you plan, look at your weekly plan. You should complete a 3-step process for your daily plan.

3-Step Daily Planning Session

  1. Put a checkmark next to the completed items. Have a mini celebration in your head for every activity you completed. Celebrating your wins gets some positive endorphins going inside.
  2. Check and see which weekly planning items are already planned. Mentally prepare for those important activities.
  3. Add items that were either not scheduled in or must be rescheduled because they weren’t accomplished earlier in the week.

Other Tips for Weekly Planning

To develop this productivity superpower you need to:

  • Plan during the same time each week and day.
  • Find a place in your house for planning. Train your brain that this is the planning space. You can train your brain to recognize the time and place, and it will respond with increased concentration and efficiency.
  • Put your most important activities during quiet times—the times when you will get the least interruptions. Do not be afraid to update your calendar in the morning or at lunch to include key non-urgent activities in your weekly plan.
  • Plan in time and activities with those most important to you. I am still surprised after 40 years of using this planning system how many “highlights of the week” come from relationship activities. For example, a good talk with my wife Cheryl during our Saturday morning run always makes my weekly gratitude list. Exercise and connecting with your spouse is a double endorphin hit!

Pitfalls to Avoid with Weekly Planning

You are about to develop a motivation and productivity superpower.  Be careful with your kryptonite:

1. Don’t over plan and get overwhelmed. Instead, start small. I believe that one reason people aren’t good at accomplishing goals is that they over schedule. 

As Dr. Bob Maurer says in his book, Small Things That Change Your Life -The Kaizen Way, he describes a breakthrough he had while working at a hospital. Dr. Maurer learned that taking small steps led to the task getting done and then his patients were able to work towards more ambitious goals.

One example highlighted in his book is a patient who came in several times with high stress, weight gain and unhealthy habits. The doctors previously recommended the patient start exercising to lose 20 pounds, but she wasn’t able to get started. When Dr. Maurer asked her if she watched T.V. when the kids went to bed at night, she said yes. Dr. Maurer asked if she could do jumping jacks during 1 commercial break at night, and she said she would.

She came back the next week and reported success with the small task. As the weeks went by, Dr. Maurer asked her to do jumping jacks during all of the commercial breaks and steadily increased the amount of exercise. In six months, she reached her goal of losing 20 pounds.

Dr. Maurer learned this technique from Japanese Kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese continuous improvement technique that trains employees to find small faults in their factories to continually improve. Dr. Maurer talks about how the limbic system gets fired up with fear when talking about big, daunting goals. But it stays quiet if you start with small goals. I highly recommend the book. If you want just a 30-minute version, you can listen to this podcast I did with Dr. Maurer here.

2. Be intentional but flexible. Little kids are the classic example of this. Kids don’t understand weekly and daily plans. Of course, you can coach them to honor your time, but you must be flexible and open to making changes. People are more important than tasks or efficiency.

3. Just because you are a super planner, your time isn’t more important than others. Please be careful with this one. Remember what and who is most important in your life. As you follow this plan you will become more focused, motivated, and productive. Close members of your family will see the pros and cons of this.

Just the other day my daughter Mackenzie reminded me that my time isn’t more important than hers. I was asking her to do a chore around the house so I didn’t have to worry about it and I could focus on writing this chapter in my book. “Dad,” she said, “it sounds like you’re saying your time is more important than mine.” I quickly apologized and thanked her for giving me honest feedback.

Do not let busyness rob you from doing what’s most important in your life. Don’t get sucked into the exhausting and empty calories that busyness can bring. Focus on what is most important in your life and then plan around it. A good weekly planning system can help you live with no regrets and live your best self! Start by accessing my free weekly planning system online, and schedule a free coaching session to help implement the system.

7 Steps using Eastern and Western Philosophies to Find Sustained Happiness

I’ve found that though the cultural philosophies of the Eastern and Western cultures are vastly different, they can coexist. If we take steps to bring these two philosophies together, we can find sustainable happiness. 

Because the two cultures are so different, we need to take steps to help them coexist in our life. 

Today I’m going to share about each culture’s values and how we can take the gold from each and apply principles into our life.

What does the Western culture value?

Western ideals can be summarized in three terms: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

Some of the central characteristics of Western culture include democracy, rational thinking, individualism, Christianity, capitalism, modern technology, human rights, and scientific thinking.

Western ideals lead to rugged individualism and the endless pursuit of happiness and success. We all know people who have climbed to the top of the career ladder, obtained massive success and wealth, but are still unhappy. 

What does the Eastern culture value?

Eastern cultures, specifically Chinese Philosophy,  draw from the teachings of several philosophical movements, including but not limited to Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism, Mohism, and Buddhism.

Buddhism, the most prevalent of the above schools of thought, is a religion, a practical philosophy, and arguably a psychology. Buddhism focuses on the teachings of Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who lived in India from the mid-6th to the early 5th Century B.C. Buddhism was then introduced to China sometime during the 1st Century B.C. 

The ultimate goal of Buddhist philosophies is Nirvana, which is a state of enlightenment one attains by coming to understand the Four Noble Truths: the inevitability of Suffering, the Cause of Suffering, the Relief of Suffering, and the way to end Suffering.

Another important value of Buddhism is mindfulness. Mindfulness derives from Sati, a significant element of Buddhist traditions, and is based on Zen, Vipassanā, and Tibetan meditation techniques.

Mindfulness is the process of bringing your attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness is developed through the practice of meditation and other training. 

Meditation is a fundamental technique in understanding the 4 noble truths and achieving greater mindfulness. The most important meditation practices taught by the Buddha are the Four Sathipattana Meditations. These meditations guide your mind to understand the reality of the mind and body connection.

How can the philosophies work together?

The Western ideals of dreaming big, working hard, achieving greatness, and individual success all have merit. But what happens when you don’t achieve your goals right away or when setbacks happen? 

What do we do then? Work harder? Manage our time more? 

All of these are good, but how do we account for so much suffering amidst the Western philosophies? Depression suicide rates are at record highs in many Western countries.

The Buddhist philosophies of mindfulness, staying present, and letting go all sound well. Who wouldn’t want to stop fretting about the future and losing sleep over the past?

How do we practically practice mindfulness and meditation in our busy world?  

Not many people have the time to attend a 30-day meditation camp, or become a monk.

What if we were able to add the teaching of mindfulness to our Western ideals of working hard and striving? 

What if we could have big dreams, live with purpose, manage our time effectively, and accept everything that happens, rather than judge or label everything a success or failure?

In my blog about Sustainable Performance Excellence, I share how these practices fit together. I recommend setting big goals, having big dreams, and planning for success every day. Then take time to sit back, observe, and accept everything that happens. Be grateful for the small blessings, and maintain a grateful heart, even before your goals are achieved. When we have setbacks, we can accept them, observe them, and learn from them.

Here is Noah Rasheta, a lay Buddhist teacher’s explanation of acceptance. He compares acceptance to a game of Tetris.

I want to be completely clear about the concept of acceptance and again clarify that the Buddhist understanding of acceptance does not encourage or condone in any way resignation or disengagement. If you’re in an abusive relationship, acceptance is NOT in any way an attitude of saying,(Oh well, I’m not going to do anything about this.) Or,(It is what it is.) Acceptance is simply recognizing,(Ok, this is the situation I’m in. Now what am I going to do with it?) It’s seeing the new Tetris piece and immediately recognizing,(OK, this is the shape I have, now what do I do with it?) If you don’t want to go through life in a state of constant reactivity (you know, yelling at the game(I don’t want this shape.)) then you need to learn to accept what is and then you have the freedom to respond. So acceptance is the key to having the freedom to respond. 

Noah Rasheta

Meditation is a great way to be mindful and full of acceptance. So many times, our mind gets worked up after a busy day with work and family. A simple 10-minute meditation in the morning and the evening is a great way to connect to your consciousness. 

This gives you time to ask yourself how you’re feeling, where you’re holding tension, and what you’re grateful for.  

I recently compared the top 3 meditation apps. I found the Calm app to be the best. I’ve been using it myself and give it a 10/10. The 10-minute meditations are fantastic to breathe, relax, and get grounded into how you are feeling. 

The other morning, my ten-minute check-in began with deep breathing and had a very timely devotional about acceptance. Tamera Leavitt is the primary meditation specialist, and I find her meditations to be very useful in helping you with a relaxed check-in.

You can order the Calm app here and get started for free.  

We don’t often don’t realize how easily we get spun up when something goes wrong. A short meditation can help you accept and recommit to your goals. After you accept the current circumstances and you connect with your emotions, you keep trying. 

You choose to learn from your mistakes and missteps. You are not a failure. You might have failed to hit your goal, but you’re not a failure. This is an opportunity to learn and move on. Get back up and try again. Stay fully committed to your goals and dreams.

Russ Harris, from The Happiness Trap, says it this way:

“You can accept your thoughts and feelings, be psychologically present, and connect with your values all you like, but without the commitment to take effective action, you won’t create a rich and meaningful life. This, then, is the final piece of the puzzle—the piece that completes the whole picture.(Commitment,) like(acceptance,) is a frequently misunderstood term. Commitment isn’t about being perfect, always following through, or never going astray.(Commitment) means that when you do (inevitably) stumble or get off track, you pick yourself up, find your bearings, and carry on in the direction you want to go.) 

Russ Harris

You can order The Happiness Trap here.

Eastern and Western philosophies can coexist. And we can learn from both teachings. 

Here are seven keys to achieving sustained happiness and success based on teachings from the far East and the West:

  1. Have big dreams associated with your values
  2. Live with purpose
  3. Manage your time effectively to accomplish your dreams and values
  4. Be grateful for small steps towards your goals and dreams
  5. Have emotional check-ins with meditation
  6. Accept what is and have the freedom to respond and move on and learn.
  7. Adopt a practice and training mindset. Stay committed to the process of getting better

If you want to learn more about this topic, schedule a free coaching session to talk about how to live using this formula.

Thriving During Undesirable Change (Like COVID-19)

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Dan Millman

For the past few months, we have been dealing with change in one way or another. I recently talked with three different people who were dealing with big, unexpected changes in their life. Today I’m going to share those stories and strategies that help us walk through change and thrive in uncertainty. 

I was coaching a COO as he was preparing for a big off-site meeting with his senior team. He had just reported to his investor group his quarterly earnings, and his revenue was down due to COVID-19. He was brainstorming how to get back on track. Together, we strategized about ways to help his team move forward despite the disruptions.

I was also coaching a CFO of a small start-up. He was in the process of selling his shares and moving to another company. The share evaluation came in lower than expected. He felt betrayed and at a loss of what to do.

I was having a conversation with my 85-year-old father recently. My parents were doing quite well through COVID-19. My brother and his wife were visiting and bringing the necessary supplies that would allow our parents to stay safe in isolation. 

My parents are missing regular human interactions, but are doing quite well with all things considered. Unfortunately, in the last three weeks, my father experienced significant, undiagnosed chronic pain in his knee and foot. He started using a walker, and his steps were slow and gated for the first time in his life. He was struggling to deal with the change.

What do these stories have in common? They’re all stories of transition and change. Most of us are experiencing significant changes personally and professionally during this pandemic.

Responding to Unexpected Change

What is the best way to respond to unwanted and unexpected changes in our life?

Some of us spend a lot of energy focusing on what we have lost. Of course, we all need time to vent and mourn our losses. But after the mourning, after the venting, what’s the best strategy to deal with unwanted or undesired change?

Is the best strategy to work harder? Is the best approach to meditate more? Is the best strategy to connect more with others? Should I exercise more? Should I give my team a big pep talk?  

All these suggestions are helpful, but how do I truly move on?

I love the Dan Millman quote I included at the beginning of the article. The best use of our energy is not to focus on the pains of change, or blaming the boss, your employees, the doctors, or God for the change. It might feel better in the short-term to complain or confess the sins of somebody else, but that won’t help you move forward. 

The best use of our energy is building something new. But how?  

The first step to moving forward is to accept the change.

Accept, Connect, Take Action

I highly recommend Russ Harris’s book, The Happiness Trap. He has some great tips to stop struggling with change and to start living. Russ shares,

“Once you acknowledged a story, that’s it—just let it be. You do not have to challenge it or push it away, nor do you have to give it much attention. Simply let it come and go as it pleases, while you channel your energy into doing something you value.”

The formula for effective change is:

  1. Accept
  2. Connect to your values
  3. Take appropriate action

When we have a challenging or negative thought, Dr. Russ recommends asking, “Is this thought helpful? Does it help me take action to create the life I want? If it’s helpful, pay attention; if it’s not, defuse it.”

How does this apply to a business that’s suffering from the pandemic?

The first step is accepting that the pandemic happened, and there are long-term changes associated with it. One of the saddest things I hear leaders say is, “I can hardly wait until the pandemic is over. Then I can fix my budgets, sales will go back to normal, and I’ll start hitting my goals.” Or individuals who say, “I can hardly wait until the pandemic is over, then I can finally be more successful, lose weight, and start working on my goals again.”

Some of the effects of COVID-19 are here to stay. If you’re waiting for things to get back to how they used to be, you’ll be waiting a long time.

With the COO I mentioned above, we discussed an approach that allows his team to vent about the effects that the pandemic was causing on their sales. After that exercise, he coached his team to move on. 

Then he asked questions like, How will this pandemic change business forever? How do we stay in front of those changes? How do we adapt faster than our competition? If our clients won’t meet with us in person, how do we become the best remote sales team in the world? How would the best remote sales team do things differently now?)

These types of questions and exercises helped the team move forward and make new plans rather than waiting for things to return to normal.

How does this apply to undesirable personal changes?

Accept the change. Try to observe what is happening, be an observer of your own story in your head. After a day of venting and a night of sleep, approach the change with a new mindset.  Accept what is. Find the learnings. Develop some small steps that will help you try new ideas to cope with the new reality. 

The CFO mentioned above, the one who felt betrayed by a low share evaluation did vent for a day or two. He got over the personal hurt and started focusing on the facts. He disassociated with the personal loss or any personal slight he might have felt and negotiated based on his values of integrity, honesty, and fairness. 

He shared the updated evaluation data with the other owners. He tried not to make it personal and eventually received an improved evaluation and an eye-opening lesson on change. If he held on to the feelings of betrayal, he wouldn’t have had the peace of mind to negotiate based on his value system rather than anger or hate.

My dad is also doing better. He kept trying new things to fix his leg. He came to grips with the idea that this may be here to stay. He got more comfortable with others helping and serving him (which is not an easy change). Eventually, they did find the cure, and the pain has subsided.

Change is hard, no question about it. Having a plan can help tremendously. Remember to take things one step at a time:

  1. Mourn the change and move on
  2. Accept the change
  3. Connect to your values on how you want to show up through the change
  4. Develop small steps each day to deal with the new reality

Develop your plan to deal with change. Be ready to spend your energy on the new. I believe there are always new opportunities to build something new and thrive in business and life.

If you want to learn more, set up a coaching session with me.

What Is the Most Important Habit?

Every year, people set out to reach new goals—earn more money, lose weight, grow their business, and more. I’ve found that the best way to achieve your goals is by committing to a new healthy habit. 

By definition, a habit is a regular tendency that’s difficult to give up. 

When you create healthy habits that are difficult to give up, you will inevitably get closer to achieving your bigger goals. 

Today, I’m going to talk about the most important habits that you can start doing daily. 

Are hard work and exercise the most important habits?

There is a good argument to be said that regular exercise is the most important habit. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, calls exercise the keystone habit. 

I agree that exercise is a cornerstone habit that leads to a better life. Even for a few minutes every day, a habit of exercise is a guaranteed way to become healthier and stay healthy.

On a similar note, people might argue that the best habit is hard work.

James Cash Penney, better known as the founder of JCPenney, once said,

“Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.

No doubt, being diligent is a crucial attribute for success and happiness.

The most important habit: planning your day

I would argue that making a plan, specifically, a daily plan is the most important habit. 

In 2019, I wanted to find out the characteristics of the most happy and productive people. I surveyed 500 people from across the globe. The results showed that 70% of those who said they were the happiest also said they had a habit of daily planning.

I’ve found that 15 minutes in the morning and evening to plan and review set up all other daily habits. It’s during the quiet planning time of the morning and evening that you plan your exercise, work, and all your other good and worthwhile activities of the day.

The ancient philosophers called the Stoics emphasized the importance of morning planning.

Marcus Aurelius proposes to remind yourself in the morning (of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

Epictetus advises to rehearse the day in the morning, and then review your progress in the evening. 

Here’s a four-minute video explaining the Stoic morning routine of looking inward, examining ourselves, and reflecting.

At daybreak, we should ask ourselves a few questions:

  • What do I still lack in order to achieve freedom from negative emotions?
  • What do I need to achieve tranquility?
  • What am I?, A rational being.   

The purpose of this daily routine is to get better and step towards our goals every day.

I found that a morning planning meeting with yourself can turbo boost your day. When you get off to a good start to your day, the rest of the day will follow suit. 

Waking up early to conduct your morning planning is essential because it’s quiet, you can be still and free from interruptions. Early mornings are a time where you can connect to your soul and listen without worrying about the business of life.

What should my morning planning meeting look like?

  1. Start with gratitude. Use your phone or a journal to list the things you’re grateful for in that moment and yesterday. This is a great way to start your day with positivity!
  2. Build your to-do list and calendarize it. Write your list in chronological order (as much as possible). A to-do list helps visualize the activities and helps with last-minute planning for each activity.
  3. Mentally prepare for how you want to show up. Build an intention for the day. How do you want to show up for your spouse/partner and kids? How do you want to show up under challenging decisions or issues at work? A morning meditation practice is a great way to prepare for the day ahead mentally.
  4. After your planning session, start your renewal activities. Build your emotional and physical capacity by planning and completing your exercise and spiritual practices. There are so many positive endorphins from morning exercise. Research shows that after exercising, you are highly productive for the next few hours. The spiritual/emotional activities after the planning session increase your emotional capacity. This is a time to set an intention for the day. Yoga, meditation, prayer, and scripture study are terrific habits to practice in the morning.

What should my evening review look like?

  1. Start building your gratitude list for the day. Gratitude allows you to not focus on the one thing that went wrong and train the brain to focus on what went right. The other day I had 18 things to do on a Sunday. I accomplished 17 things and didn’t accomplish my last goal of not eating sugar after 8 p.m. As I sat down for evening planning and preparation, I found myself focused on the one thing that went wrong. Has that ever happened to you? After my gratitude exercise, my mind started to focus on the 17 things I accomplished. The evening went so much better when I focused on what went right.
  2. Review what you learned. What did I learn today? What did I do well today? What can I do better? Write the answers to these questions down. I love thinking about what I learned each day. Many of my blog posts and podcasts come from my daily learnings.
  3. Practice acceptance. Acceptance of reality is a key that unlocks happiness. You can plan out your whole day, but usually it won’t go exactly how you’ve planned. Expressing gratitude for what went well, and accepting what didn’t go as planned is an attitude that leads to happiness. You will face success and blessings, along with disappointments and discouragement. We need to accept it all! I found a thoughtful article on acceptance from a psychotherapist and wellness writer, Megan Bruneau.

    “No one is suggesting you like, want, or support whatever it is that you’re accepting. But by struggling against the pain—by resisting and rejecting it—we create undue suffering. It doesn’t mean that you’ve chosen or endorse what you’re accepting. It doesn’t mean you like your anxiety, want your chronic pain, would choose your body, or support an injustice that’s happened to you or someone else. Rather, you’re choosing to allow it to be there when you can’t change it in that moment. To make space for it. To give yourself permission to be as you are, feel what you feel, or have experienced what you’ve experienced without creating unproductive shame or anxiety. The pain might still be there, but some of the suffering will be alleviated. Megan Bruneau, M.A.

  1. Start your to-do list for tomorrow. Get a head start on tomorrow’s plan. Carry over the items that you didn’t get done from today but start with the same physical, spiritual, and emotional practices right after your planning session.
  2. Finish your daily review with a short meditation session to relax your mind and prepare for sleep.

Performing these daily practices will help you to look forward to the sessions to reflect and learn. You will find an enormous amount of joy from checking off the items on your to-do list. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit how much I love checking things off my list.

When you build and maintain the discipline to plan every morning and every day you will accomplish your wildest dreams and aspirations. Step by step, you will be creating a practice of progress that becomes very self-reinforcing.

A Word of Advice

Remember to be patient with yourself, others and issues that throw off your plan. Relationships always take precedence over tasks. Be intentional in building relationships and connections as part of your daily routine! 

It’s an incredible feeling of productivity and success to be a good daily planner. I believe that daily planning is the most important habit for sustainable happiness and success!

If I can help you get on the right path for these kinds of practices, schedule a free call. And head over to Continuous Improvement 4 Life to find tools designed to help you accomplish your planning and goals.

Subscribe to my website and future blogs here.


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