Category Archives: Discipline

Published Goals Require Execution

I love to execute. I love to jump into something where I know how it works, I know what’s going to happen, I see it through and get the results I expected. I love to execute. But what about when I’m executing something new? What about executing a goal I’ve had for a few years and I’ve failed just as long? Execution on tasks like this is a different bird. Execution is uncertain. If I’m honest, execution doesn’t even get a fair shot.

So what needs to change? I’ve published my goals for 2014 and I know they are important. They will get me where I want to go. They not only benefit me, they benefit my family. As it sits right now, I’m motivated to make these goals a reality. The reality, though, is that some of these goals are pretty big. Big enough that I failed in the past. I don’t want that to happen again. What do I do differently? execute

Instead of the mountain of a goal in front of me, I need to think about President Jed Bartlett. What? You’ve never heard of him? He’s the main character from the West Wing, a show that enjoyed seven seasons of Emmy award-winning honors and a cult following. President Bartlett was famous for saying, “What’s next?” He had big decisions in front of him, he had big meetings to conduct, big conversations to navigate. But he understood that the fundamental question to ask when big things need to happen is this: what’s next?

This week at church Matt Metzger was talking about living our lives in such a way that we pursue rules for Godly living. This is not a religious post, though. It’s a post about taking steps. Watch this video from 32:55-36:22.

Step one of this blog series was to identify the big goals for the year. Step two is to understand that we reach these goals by executing a number of small steps. What are those steps? I can’t launch my wellness program until I survey the employees to determine their interests. I can’t compete in an olympic triathlon until I train for a certain number of days in the pool, on the bike, and in my running shoes. Every project, every goal has a next step. Not a finished product, a fast track. But a next action step (as David Allen would call it) to move closer to the end game.

It’s a big task, but this week I’ve drafted every project (all the big ones, most of the small) and figured out the next action step on each project. This helps focus our daily efforts which in turn helps us conceptualize our place in the bigger picture of accomplishing these goals, finishing these projects.

As Jim Collins says, great work requires great discipline. This week I’m finishing a disciplined process to convert my big goals into manageable next action steps.

Published Goals for 2014

Goals have gotten a bad reputation. That’s why I like drafting them early in the year and publishing them in the next couple weeks, so we avoid the emotional “conquer the world, do a 180-in-life” kind of commitment. It’s a negative thought to begin this blog post, so let’s get away from that. Let me paraphrase my favorite quote about goals: If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it every time. If we do not have clear goals, what can we really expect in 2014? On the other hand, if we plan now, execute all year, how will we fill in the middle of December?

I argue that well-crafted goals, a disciplined routine of execution, and a support staff or inner circle will guarantee 2014 to be the most productive year ever. Big statement, I know. The reason I can make this claim is because very few people follow through with their resolutions and goals. That’s just a fact. Many will read this and put it away, move on to the next Facebook update. Some will participate in the comment section, some will participate alone at their desk. Cool! I’ve done this for quite a few years, I’m ready to take it to the next level. How about you?

(The following goals are in no order of importance.) 2014 Goals Hans Schiefelbein

Wellness program shipped

I will have an functional wellness program for small businesses by March 1. I will done the research, I’ve done the homework, I’ve even worked out some of the kinks with small businesses already. But I’m working towards literally publishing a manual for how to implement a wellness program for small business. I also have a goal in the number of companies I want to work with this year, but I’ll keep that goal internal. Here’s the thing – March 1 is on the calendar because it aligns with a current client and relationship that’s already in place. It will evolve throughout the year and with the subsequent clients, so there’s lots of work after the third month of the year. But the goal is March 1, wellness program.

Exercise is Medicine

I will double the number of doctors I work with for exercise prescription. I think (again) it’s wise to keep numbers to myself right now. Trust me, there’s an inner circle that’s well aware of my numbers goal, and failing to reach those numbers – I take that very seriously.

Correspondance project

I was talking with Katie the other day about when email came into my life. Do you remember your moments? I had an email in high school, I think I was the only one. But when I got to college, it was required. It immediately made communications (basic letter writing) simple. Painfully simple. I always new in middle and high school that I should write more letters. I loved in English class when Mrs. Curtis made us have pen pals with 4th grade students (mine was Katie Ruffel). But in reality, I never made writing a priority. Now with email – it was easy, it was fast, and with pictures it was fun. I want to bring that back. I want to write people more often. I’ll go public with this goal. My goal is to write one person a personal email (or FB message) each week. Relationships are important (more about this coming later in this post). This correspondence project will force me to slow down and improve the quality of my relationships dramatically. I’m especially excited about this goal.


My spiritual goal for the year is to finish Eat This Book. This is the third (!!) time attempting this goal. I’ve failed in the past and I’m not giving up. Not much else to say. I think the Bible is an excellent book, certainly worthy of the first 20 minutes of my day. Talk to me around the 4th of July, I hope to be on pace. Then the week of Christmas you can check in again, it should be just finishing up.

Keep Tri-ing

Last year I became a triathlete. This year I want to continue that and take it to the next level. My goal is to compete in an Olympic distance triathlon and also improve my time in the sprint distance.

Summary:  Your mileage may vary. You may have more detail, you may have less. You may have more goals, you may have one. Please consider having at least one goal by the end of the week. You don’t need to conquer the world. You don’t need to do a complete 180 with your life. But let’s set ourselves up to succeed this year in new and exciting ways. Today was about publishing our goals. Later this week we’ll talk about a plan for executing them. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Preview of Goals Project for 2014

I think the best time to set goals for a year is right about now. The emotion and energy from New Year’s Day is gone, but still lingering is a sense of promise for a better year. We’re still looking at 2014 with only twelve days behind us, so many ahead. We can make our plans, set our goals, take our aim at things with a sober mind. So obviously I need to ask: what’s it going to be?

Two of my favorite people on Twitter (Shaun and Mike) made concerted efforts in the last few weeks to focus on the importance of goals. They created programs where people could sign up and be mentored by these guys and be part of a community to help achieve these goals. I’m leery of crafting my goals in a context like this because it feels too emotional. But I respect these two gentlemen so much that I really considered each one. I retreated from the invitations to my home office to think about goals and execution. I thought about what it would feel like to hit my goals. And then of course my next thought was what it would feel like to miss them. It’s that mentality that proves that I have a lot of growth to do in this area. Maybe you feel the same. Maybe you’re afraid to fail just like me. Maybe we could take this journey together. Just a thought.

Back to the goals. It’s not too late to work on a goals project for the year. I’ve been crafting my 3 Words (version 2010version 2011, version 2012 version 2013) for the last couple weeks. I heard a great message by Matt Metzger that got me thinking about goals and taking small steps towards a goal. I’ll share that post later this week. For now, we need to establish some goals. There’s actually research that says people who set goals and focus on execution are more successful! Well that’s enough for me!

So this week I’m getting bold. I’m posting three days this week on this subject of goals. Of course I’d love for it to be a discussion, taking place in the comment section. But if you message me privately that still counts. If you keep it to yourself that’s good too but please consider going public on some kind of level. We’ll all grow if/when that happens.

Here’s to goals affecting 2014!  See you this week.

Routines to Increase Freedom and Flexibility

Last week I met Jon Swanson for the first time in person.  We’ve been friends over Twitter for a couple years.  Yes, those relationships can happen, yes they can be good.  This one is a home run.  About a year ago, he started talking about the importance of routines.  He even wrote about a book about routines.  I’m very fond of conversations and initiatives that involve routine, discipline, planning and the likes.  After my meeting this morning I jumped on to Twitter and came across a tweet from John about working from home.  The post by Joelle was a great read.  It reminded me that routines aren’t he enemy.  Don’t hold freedom and flexibility so high that we think routines will get in the way.

Joelle medium blog post

I’m traveling the same road as Joelle, trying to figure out my daily routine when some days I have meetings, some days I work at my favorite Starbucks, some days there’s nothing like my home office.  But it’s worth examining how routines fit into our daily or even weekly flow.

Year in Review for 2013

It was by far by best year of blogging. Reviewing everything I wrote and posted this year, I am filled with joy at the memories I created and captured. Blogging for me is a way to process and a way to remember. It’s also turning into a way for me to plan; more on that at the end. Blogging is about creating a web log of what you do, but to be successful (intentionally leaving this undefined) you need to do this with some sort of routine. That’s where I’ve always struggled, and that’s where I started my year 2013.

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Am I Willing to Think Differently?

Am I willing to think differently? Am I willing to act differently? Are you?

I have never worked the week between Christmas and New Year’s. In the tree care industry, it’s always been a down time for the crew and frankly people don’t really want tree work done during those seven days. So it’s not like I’m a top exec that’s always taken that time off, but work mostly dictated the nature of the break. And I’ve loved it. This year is not much different.

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My Current Toolkit

Inspired by the one and only John Saddington, I took a few minutes this morning to review the tools I use I a daily basis to get work done.  Interesting timing since I just wrote a post last week about doing work that matters.

evernote toolkit

Evernote: I can say enough about this app. It took me awhile to fully understand it’s power and efficiency. In the old days, I had Word documents for everything. But they’re not searchable and not nearly as readily organized as Evernote notes. There’s a premium version but I’m still on the free one! 2,000 notes and counting. I take all of my work, all of my personal projects, all of my home records and organize them in Evernote, so of course they’re with me on all my devices. I store critical emails, meeting notes, drafted blog posts, tutorials, work logs, and even recipes in Evernote.

Dropbox: The original, and in my opinion still the best. Remember that “Documents” folder on all computers? That thing collects dust now. Every document of mine is in Dropbox so that (as with Evernote) I can access any document at any time from any device.

Sparrow: My email client of choice is Sparrow because it’s simple and it’s popular. I expect it to die soon since Google purchased it, but that was over 18 months ago. I’m going to give Apple Mail another good look since Michael Hyatt speaks so fondly of it. If he can be a power-user on Mail, it should work for all my needs.

Moleskin: Anyone who knows my knows that I’m digital first. To be fully honest, I’m a hoarder. Cloud storage has allowed me that capability. But even in front of my computer, with my iPad next to me as a second screen, I still have my Moleskin open to scribble notes, draw concepts, and remember how pen-to-paper has felt for as long as I’ve been a student. I’m fully digital, but can I still hold on to analog?

Briefcase:  Mountain Hardwear Sentinel Messenger Bag has been over my shoulder for years. It holds everything I need for a work day, plenty of pockets for organization, and I can commute via bike with ease and comfort, knowing everything will stay dry.

mountain hardwear sentinal

Computing: The MacBook Air is simple the best machine I’ve ever owned. I know people get sick of the Mac/PC debate. I’ll save it. Best purchase ever, though. I love my iPad and over the last few months I’ve realized I can get 98% of my work done on iPad. And with Evernote and Dropbox installed, I have my entire office, my entire graduate experience, and all my reading material on this little device. BAM! And of course iPhone 5 is always in my pocket.

This is my toolkit for any given workday. I have some other tools that certainly have a place in my workflow. I’ll discuss those next week. I’ll go over some of my favorite apps for productivity and for entertainment (and no, there will be no games mentioned. I have one game on my iPad and I’ve never played it).

Mark Batterson: Why I Write

Mark Batterson was one of the first folks I followed as a blogger.  When I realized I wanted to write, he was doing it already and he was doing it well.  Now just about everyone blogs.  Not true.  But it feels like I connect with very influential and motivational people who all blog.  There’s something to be said for processing life, events, thoughts through words.  The transparency and the discipline are beautiful.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about family and legacy.  I’ve been thinking about the next season of my life.  That has included a lot of story-telling, as husband & father and as an education consultant.  Then I stumbled on this short vignette from Batterson: Why I Write.


Boy, is it tough to work without a system.  I should know because I’m well versed in the process.  Here’s the problem: I’m a digital hoarder.  I just can’t say “no.”  A free ebook?  Yes, please?  Free report on the latest fitness trends?  Of course!  And with Dropbox and Evernote on all my devices, I can have all these resources with me at all times.  I love reading but this is where the rubber hits the road.  I have essentially an endless amount of information, but what am I doing with it?  How am I processing what I read?  What am I creating from what I’m consuming?

What I loved about college was organizing my courses each semester.  I loved getting a brand new three-ring binder, putting that syllabus at the front and loading up on blank sheets, ready to take notes in lecture, collaborate with students in discussion, and eventually finish with a passing grade on all the exams.

evernote and dropbox

I’ve taken that approach to organizing my business endeavors.  Imagine your filing cabinet at home.  Each has a folder, it’s well labeled, and it’s probably in alphabetical order.  Now I probably don’t go in the file cabinet nearly as often as I should, so that is where the system starts to break down.  It needs another component, a glue to make it all work on a daily basis.

Enter Evernote Remindersevernote reminder

I have found that adding a simple reminder to a particular Evernote Note has been a great prompt for me to begin each morning in the right place, with the right note.  From there, the system takes care of itself.  I look over what I’ve done earlier in the week, I look at my goals for the week, and I write this all down in my work log.  I’ve written about Evernote in the past, but I’ve never fully shared how I have mine organized probably because I’ve known that the system wasn’t fully complete.  It’s interesting how when you add more and more responsibility that you are forced to add more and more levels of organization, and in this case a simple reminder to get started on the right foot each morning.

Sorry if this post was a little vague.  As always, I reserve the right to blog about moments in time that are reminders to myself how I’m moving the ball forward.  But I hope that something here today gets you thinking about how productive you are, how reliable your system is.  Collecting information is easy.  Keeping it organized so that you can access it at the drop of a hat is a step towards professionalism.  And when you take all that information and create something meaningful on a regular basis, and you can tell about it, then you’ve become a pro.  For me, that’s the goal.

Three Reasons I Blog

I started blogging in 2006. Wow! That was 13 years ago. I remember walking to the coffee shop and writing that first post. Sure, my writing has changed a lot but I’m happy to report that this initial set of thoughts are still very applicable today.

I wrote about having a game plan, reflecting on life, learning from successes and failures, and growing stronger for the sake of my family. I still have a long way to go, but I appreciate the journey that I’m on.

Today I read a Facebook update from Michael Hyatt asking why we blog.


The post inspired me to reflect on why I blog.  Interestingly enough, John Saddington recently tweeted a similar thought:


So in this line of thinking, here’s the three reasons I blog.

Process life with words
I’ve always kept a journal. I process so much of my life when I take time to be disciplined in thought and reflect on things that have happened, thoughts or ideas I’ve had, and the results which occurred. I believe being an active thinker and reflected are essential to being successful in life. I don’t think I’ll ever stop blogging for this reason alone.

Telling a great story
People are looking for encouragement, purpose, and connection. I do not have a huge following on social media or my blog, so this is not a humble brag. I believe our story needs to reflect God’s story. I am a part of that story and I want my blog to demonstrate it. I want to help people pursue a healthy and disciplined lifestyle. Those are biblical principles; it’s the narrative God has given me. Blogging helps me tell the story, then I want the story to continue and build after a post goes out, so the process becomes cyclical. I want the posts to become a living narrative and thus a significant source for inspiration to live a great story.

Digital Coaching
I have always coached. I’ve always had a leadership role or mentoring relationships. As I’ve grown my professional life, that coaching has continued and my blog is my home base for this. To be clear, my blog is still evolving and I need to continue to prune away and develop my niche. But part of my thought process in writing on my website is to create a resource of people to help them lead a healthy, active, disciplined life. As I said – people are looking for all kinds of motivation and step-by-step guides. They want a project. Healthy living is my project, and I thoroughly enjoy creating this content for people to consume for themselves and hopefully share with others (hint hint).

Question :::  Have you ever thought about blogging?