The Ruby Freelancers Show 042 – Planning For The New Year
Panel Eric Davis (twitter github blog) Charles Max Wood (twitter github Teach Me To Code Rails Ramp Up) Discussion 01:18 - Planning For the Year New Media Expo Consumer Electronics Show MountainWest RubyConf Rails Ramp Up 06:57 -...
[Are you a busy Ruby developer who wants to take their freelance business to the next level? Interested in working smarter not harder? Then check out the upcoming book “Next Level Freelancing - Developer Edition Practical Steps to Work Less, Travel and Make More Money”. It includes interviews and case studies with successful freelancers, who have made a killing by expanding their consultancy, develop passive income through informational products, build successful SaaS products, and become rockstar consultants making a minimum of $200/hour. There are all kinds of practical steps on getting started and if you sign up now, you’ll get 50% off when it’s released. You can find it at nextlevelfreelancing.com] [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at bluebox.net] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 42 of the Ruby Freelancer Show! This week on our panel, we have Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello! CHUCK: And I'm Charles Max Wood from devchat.tv. Real quick at the beginning of this, I'm just going to plug my own product. I'm going to be teaching a Rails course, Ruby on Rails course, starting in March. It's an 8 week course - get lots of access to me and lots of help while you're doing it. So if you wanna go sign up, go sign up at railsrampup.com. Alright! Well Eric, this week we were talking before the show and we kind of decided to talk about planning for the next year since this episode will probably come out on like the 3rd. I'm a little bit curious, do you do much planning for the year? Or how far out in advanced do you usually plan? ERIC: I used to plan out the entire year. I'd actually do kind of small business plan each year. Like in the past year, plan out like in this case [inaudible] 2013, and then maybe glance at 2014. But, I've actually stopped doing that I think either one year or two years ago. I just -- I got tired of doing all the stuff on forecasting and then halfway through the year, stuff changes so much that the forecast doesn't really matter. So I do more -- I do a very lightweight planning and idea like what's my plan for the next quarter or kind of where do I want to take my business in this next year. But those are like sentence, 50 sentences; it's not like -- not a lot of heavy docs or actual calculations or anything. CHUCK: Yeah. For me, I was never really much of a planner so as planning ahead. But this year, it's really kind of begun to be that. I mean, I have a ton of stuff going on, I've got people asking me to be at a whole bunch of different places. So just for example, at least for the next 3 or 4 months, I have a pretty solid indirect plan of "these are some of the things that I'm going to be doing". So for example, I'm going to be speaking at "The New Media Expo" which is for podcasting, blogging, all that stuff. I'm also going to be attending CES which is the -- our "Consumer Electronic Show" both of 'em are in Vegas and both of 'em are in the same week. So I'm working that out. And I'll be going to SPRESS and I'll be covering a bunch of stuff that people can program toward if they wanted to things that offer API and stuff like that. Because a lot of a cars and stuff out there, they offer, like Ford Sync. I've seen the Chevys have their own little in-dash system, so you could connect with that from different devices. I'm also planning on attending "Mountain West Ruby Conference". So I'm planning conferences, and then I have the Rails Ramp Up that I'm going to be doing through March and April, and I have some other courses and ideas that I want to do toward the middle or end of the year that I haven't finalized on. But for the most part, I have a general idea of "these are the kinds of things that I wanna be doing in the next year" and then just figuring out how to get to 'em, and kind of setting tentative plan to get both done. So it's not like a solid "on this date, I will have this done and on this date, I will have this done" because that never really works for me. But just in general saying, well by the end of February I really wanna have this together, or have this going. So for example, I've thought about starting another podcast. And I bought the domain, I'm starting to look for panelists for it because it's the same format as this and my other shows. And so, in fact I may as well just mention it on here, I've been playing around with iPhone IOS and Cocoa Development. And so I'm going to put together podcast focused around that and bring in some experts that can talk to that. So I'm not completely sold on the name that I bought the domain name for, but I figured it was a $10 investment in something that I'm interested in. So anyway, I'll probably be looking for panelists and try to get something together by the end of January. And so a lot of these products that they're going to be showing off at CES will have APIs that you can connect to from your smartphone. And so I think you could do some cool stuff with that if you're interested. But anyway, so that's kind of the idea. So I start picking conferences, I wanna go these ones, I wanna try and speak at those ones, I'm going to put a course together on Rails and I've already got that planned, and then I'm going to put another course together on something else toward the end of the year, so what I think I'm going to do. And then start selling digital copies of the sessions and allowing people to sign up for courses related to those videos and things like that and build some other digital products to run those. And then, the other plan is just to beef up my podcasting network and podcasting efforts so that that can provide a significant amount of income to me so that I don't have to contract as much and I can focus more on the podcasting which is something that I really, really enjoy doing. So that's kind of the idea. So I got this general direction and I've got a list of the things I wanna get done next year. Does that make sense? ERIC: Yeah. I mean, it's kind of like mine. I mean, I have like "these are the areas I wanna improve and work on" and then the differences you have more like advanced search you're going to -- where it's on a calendar this time it's blocked out, where I don't have that. I might try to go to one conference next year but I don't know which one or when it is. That's kind of just a -- more of a "I have a desire to, I might not actually do it". CHUCK: Yeah. And that makes sense, too. I mean, you definitely need to make it work. But as far as like which clients I'm going to be working for and what kind of work that I'm going to be doing, I mean, there's not a great way of knowing that. Even if the client that I'm working for now renews the contract for six months or a year, you just -- you never know down the road if that's really what's going to happen. So you just kind of take your best guess and go for it. If you try and set solid plans, I found that in a lot of cases you just -- you're writing something that's likely going to change out from under you. ERIC: Yeah. I mean, what I usually do each year is get a spreadsheet of like financials and it's broken down by month like "this much in revenue - these kind of expenses", and then just some guesstimates of what they would be based on last year's. So like whatever hundred dollars on software, maybe $30 on eBooks each month, and then throughout through I fill it in with the actual values. But that's something I do and it's mostly good for me just to watch overtime and kind of see if expenses are trending one way or the other. Like last year, I found that my software and my training expenses shut up and couldn't be free up. Why? And then I noticed I had a bunch of servers sitting around, weren't doing anything, and I was still sign up for stuff I wasn't using. And so I ended up axing all that, but that's some plan and I guess I do. But the numbers for it are basically just what it is every month. It's a -- yeah, I figured out a long time ago I guess this is how much I should be spending on things and I just keep carrying those over from year to year with there are few changes. CHUCK: I think I need to do that. I mean, I've got my books back the last couple of years since I started freelancing and I really like the idea of sitting down and saying "Well, I should be spending about THIS MUCH in my business and it should be going out in about this percentages to these things or this [inaudible] to these things. And yeah you kind of plan your financial, approach up that way, too, and see where you spending money, where you shouldn't. I really, really like that and should probably go back through my book so I'm just getting idea of where all the money went. ERIC: Yeah. And that like I mentioned before I've, to my books basically every week, and then part of that on the commissions every month I do a monthly review where I -- it's typically a week after the month's done so like the "7th to the 10th" just to give stuff enough time to clear. And basically what I do is, close out my books, figure out exactly how much I made, how much I spent for that month, put into the spreadsheet that I have and it basically will calculate how's my income. At expenses, it calculates my gross profit, and then it take out my salary, and then it has a calculation that says "given my tax rate, I should put aside X amount of dollars for taxes from this month". And so basically after I put all enough those numbers in, it will tell me like "okay I need to transfer say a thousand into the tax savings account", and I check my checking account and if there's extra money in there, I send that over to actual -- my emergency savings. That's the kind of clean up for the month financially and the intention is, when I'm done and if I have taxes put away, I have everything in savings that I can, I know I need to check some expenses if like they shut up in a month or two or they trending up. And it also kind of gives me a way to look back over the year of "this is how stuffs looking so far". CHUCK: Right. I'm curious how your, like from month to month, how you expect that income to breakdown? I mean, do you usually expect the most of it to come from consulting? Or do you expect the certain amount of it to come from products or eBooks? Because I know you do that. How do you usually figure out what you're going to expect to be come from? Do you just look at past months? ERIC: Some of it is kind of a gut feel. I've pretty much figured my 3 eBooks get between $500 and $1000 a month, it depends on a month - some months it's higher, some months it's really low. But it seems to almost always average out if you look over a couple of months, so I have that. I don't really consider that as part of the revenue I've planned for just because it fluctuates so much. I'll take like…I think I have 80-90 hours of availability each month for client work. And so I'll guesstimate like I'm in a book this many hours at my billable rate, that's going to make me this much revenue from consulting services. And that's basically how I forecast my income. Most of the time, it's going to be higher or lower based on how booked I get and also based on how accounts receivables happen - if something's coming in that 30, I might do the work in March but I might not get paid 'till June if they took their time. But, that's kind of how I forecast my income. The expenses, like I said, I basically have a breath idea and just guesstimates based on I guess the past six months', what I typically do. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. Now, do you usually try and plan in, for the year for example, do you try and plan in vacations or other events? I don't know how many conferences you go to, for example [inaudible]... ERIC: I don't go to any conferences. I've gone to a few. For the most part, like I said, I have (and it's not the exact number) it's like 80-90 billable hours a month. In actual already, it's more than that. But if you say like June, say I have -- actually 110 hours I bill, well to lie I might only bill 70 because I took a week of vacation, or there's a conference I went to and lost a week there. And so I kind of have like "I just shift for the average", and I just know that some month's going to be higher, some months going to be lower, and it's going to balance out at the end. CHUCK: That makes sense. So you don't try and plan these things for specific times during the year? You just -- you go where you need to be? ERIC: Yeah. And I mean, it gets more flexibility like if I say "Oh, really wanna go to Micro Conf or whatever this year", as long as I don't have any commitments, I can just go. Like if it's going to be a good thing for my business, I'll go and just basically adjust around. And then when I do my review, my finances, I'll just be like "Oh, that's the 1000 MicroConf" which is why it comes down, expenses are up. And I just have to kind of re-adjust it the next month. And the other side of it is, I actually don't plan for like capital expenses. Like I'm actually getting a new laptop and so I didn't plan for that capital expense, it's kind of built in to the budget and just -- when I need stuff like that, it'll just come out. I found that trying to figure out exactly when you're going to need to upgrade equipment or get stuff like that, the amount of time you put in to that versus the amount of kind of information and help you get in your business, it's just not worth doing. It's usually just a, kind of get a base line and give yourself on a firmer set, if you do need something it's there. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. So do you do any like quarterly planning or monthly planning or anything? Or do you kind of approach that the same way? ERIC: Financially, no. I did the plan for the year and it's broken down to month and I'll just leave it like that. For actual like doing stuff, kind of what you're talking about earlier, I'll -- it's not an annual goal, but I'll set a goal of like "I wanna do X". And so, in order to get to X, I may have to do a couple smaller things first. And depending on how that ends up I might say "In the next quarter or the next 3 months, I wanna do the sub-call". And then maybe break that down so maybe this month I needed to do with the first part of it or -- basically break it up as I need it. I don't try to be too strict on myself because I found the more -- I'm a very heavy planner, and I always try to plan something as much as I can. And so I purposely don't let myself over-analyze stuff and try to force myself to just to have a very loose definition of things. And then that way my natural tendency kind of balances that out and I end up planning, adjust enough, and not wasting time. CHUCK: Yeah. You're definitely the opposite of the way I approach things because generally I just "fly by the seat of my pants". I mean, I have to get my books done so I can give a report to my CPA so I can get my taxes done. And in general, it seems like a lot of the stuff that I have, I have that I needed to get done. It's stuff that I sort of put off until I have to do it and then I'll get a roll to it. And every once in a while, I'll have a period of productivity where it's "they don't necessarily have to get this done, but I'm going to do it anyway". And so I get stuff done and I deliver in that way but -- yeah, actually planning ahead is something that I'm usually not very good at. In fact, I'm speaking at a "New Media Expo" and that's in like 2 weeks, 3 weeks, and I still haven't got my talk on it yet. So, I just kind of tend to put these things off. And I really need to sit down and do a little more preparation, a little more planning. ERIC: Yeah. And I mean that's just -- I found if someone wanted me to or would let me plan everything, I would have everything planned out, too, with a penny for the next year. And I mean, before when I was in college I have like a 5 and 10 year plan. And I've realized over the years that stuff changes too fast, and it's great to go through the effort of planning, but your plan really -- it's not really that valuable as a final document. You need more flexibility than like a business plan can give you. And so I have my stuffs set up so that I build in flexibility and know that, like I said, my personality would kind of help fill in the details and kind of put a little bit of a push on me to get stuff done before there's like a two week deadline or something. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. Do you have any recommendations for somebody like me where I tend not to plan ahead as far as managing that stuff? I mean, I kind of done "GTG" off and on, but I don't really have a solid system that's kind of an ingrained habit for planning that stuff out. ERIC: It's hard because that's not who I am so it's -- I might have read books that would be helpful, but I don't remember any of that data or any of the information. One thing I would say, and it's probably good for everyone, is to try to do a heavy plan like plan out the entire year than plan out what you're going to do each month and then what you're going to do each week of the year. And you don't have -- it's still like you can see every step of the way to get to a goal. Try that and maybe start off like a 6 month plan. Try that and see how that works for you. It's a very intense plan but sometimes people need that kind of like "checking stuff off" and that could actually help you get out of how -- your more lousy fare about stuff. CHUCK: Yeah, I like that. So this is kind of gone into planning a little bit, are there any other tips that you have for long-term planning like a year? 5 years? 10 years? Because I know of some people who are way into that - in long-term, where am I going to be? ERIC: I mean, I have some, kind of it's so much to do this, I have a list of things like that I wanna do my lifetime, kind of like overarching calls of who I wanna be, what I wanna do. That's kind of like the forty-year type plan, but some of the stuff I'm actually doing now, so it's kind of like how do I want my life to be. And then I also have a list of things and in there are, I think you call 'em dreams or whatever, but those are kind of like specific things that I wanna do like one is run a 30-minute 5K, another is like visit Egypt and see the pyramids, kind of more event type stuffs. And so basically every time I do my monthly review, I kind of review all of those and see if there's anything I can like actually do like say for the Egypt one, there's like a Ruby Conf in Egypt, maybe I should go and try to go to this conference and actually visit Egypt. So actually you cannot get that thing off my list. But I don't really -- I don't found the value of planning too far out just because, like I said, things change. I mean my life 2 years ago or 5 years ago was drastically different than how it is now. And so you really can't predict where you're going to be and with that being able to predict for me of this, it's really hard for me to sit down and plan stuff. CHUCK: Yeah. One thing I wanna add to that is just, for me things are really really complicated a lot of times. So for example, one of things that I wanna do is I want to eventually take my wife back to Italy that's why I served my mission - I'm a Mormon and so Mormon young men, if were in good standing in the Church, it's kind of expected that we go and be missionaries. And so my wife has always wanted me to take her back because I speak the language and I generally know how to get around and know some of the cool things to go see and things like that. And it's more complicated for me than just maybe finding another excuse to be out there. I mean, I need to be able to afford it, I need to be able to take the time off, I need to be able to do all these things because if we're going to go to Italy, we're going to spend like 2 weeks because we're going to see all of the stuff and where all of the stuff that you can see in 2 weeks. That means that I have to get my financial life more in order and I have to get some other things more in line. And so some of the things that we're doing now that kind of informal are things like I just bought -- I bought us the Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace University Home Study Kit". Because we could never find the time to say, "Okay we're committing for 9 weeks to be at a place every Wednesday night or whatever," because we have so many other things going on. So setting goals like that where it's okay, we're going to do the Dave Ramsey, get out of debt, and we're going to -- we're going to sit down and we're going to figure out a budget every month and do all those kinds of things. And those get us to those longer term things, we wanna do. But as kind of a short-term, easier to focus on thing that gets us to a place where we can do that kind of stuff. And so, I think the longer term things are definitely things you want to consider, but I definitely agree with you not to spend a ton of time figuring out how are you going to get there. Because inevitably, some things are going to change and that whole plan may just go out the window. You may still be able to get there, but it'll be other things that get you there. ERIC: Yeah. And that's why I look at it every month. I mean most of them I'm not going to do. I mean, what will I think it's like to travel to space? And so, to ask that actually coming up and civilians can probably get up there in next few decades, but I'm not going to be able to do that this weekend. But probably if you and that I know "okay it's in there", maybe in 3 or 4 months I'll look out in deck. You know, "let me see what's changing and check out the news" and maybe I can see that you can actually get a ticket for whatever, quarter million dollars or whatever. Now I have something that I can attach to that goal and much to do and says "Okay, in order for this to happen, I need to get quarter million dollar in cash!" And so just the fact of reviewing it-- it kind of refreshes of like what I wanna do with my life. Why I'm here? And it kind of-- in the background like in the subconscious, it's kind of processing and I can kind of notice things more and more. And so it's nice to do, but I don't try to sit down and plan it like you said. I mean, do baby steps and if there's something that's going to improve in my life now or in the near future, I might take that. More of the intention of improving stuff now than actually improving it for the goal. CHUCK: Yeah. One other thing that kind of comes into this is, a little bit shorter term goal for me, something that I think I can probably get done within the next year or year and a half, maybe 2 years, is that I really want to build up this podcasting network to kind of go beyond my own handful of shows and bring in maybe a few other folks who have successful shows, help them succeed and things like that. And it's both to generate income and to be involved in something that I enjoy doing. And so I can sit down and I can start figuring out now "Okay well, why would they want to join my network? What can I offer them and at the same time, what am I going to get out of it that I want?" It's a longer term thing but at the same time by answering those questions like you'll really start to answer what's the next step by understanding where I want to be in that shorter term of the year, too. And I really like the idea of what you brought up and that is reviewing those goals every month and making sure that they're: A. relevant and B. what the next step is and have things have changed enough to where I need to really re-think my plan for this. ERIC: Yeah. I mean for example, this year I've had a goal to run a 30-minute 5K for I guess 2-3 years now, and this year I was like I'm kind of in my prime. And realistically you can kind of get trained and do that in less than a year, so I actually made that kind of like "I'm going to focus on this goal". And so I ended up running everyday and the problem was actually I got injured and knocked me out for 2-3 months at the very end of the season but, still being injured, I almost hit that goal. I think I was like 20 or 30 seconds off from hitting that goal. And so now even though I hadn't finished it, I know like yeah, I can come back 2013 and probably knock it out and work on a different goal since then I've had it like I wanna run a marathon. So being able to review that like if I didn't review it, I wouldn't have seen that and probably wouldn't have to start running this past year and realize that I can actually get pretty close to that goal. CHUCK: Yeah, that's actually pretty amazing. I would love to be able to go that fast myself. I kind of want to get into this, what makes a good goal? I mean, you keep hearing like smart men or you remember what all of 'em stand for, but there are different things that make a goal a good goal or not a good goal. ERIC: Yeah and it depends on your definition of goal. Like one of, like I said earlier, I call 'em my "life goals", one of those is actually write. Like that's all it is - it's write. Another one is teach computers. That's either about computers or about programming or something. And these are very vague and they're meant more as like a guideline principle than an actual goal to work towards. But I guess the shorter term goals that I have is, like I said, run a 5K in 30 minutes. Well, I have basically on condition in that says "did I meet the goal or not?" which is the time. I have what it is which is run a 5K and there's a few other things I might be missing like I kind of get all smart acronym, but that's kind of a good enough thing that I can put on a wall and actually like "okay, this is what I'm going for, this is where I'm at now" and I can measure my way towards it. And so I'm like, like I said, visit Egypt or another one I guess it's visit Japan, like those are -- it's two words, it's not very detailed but when you travel like fly in Japan you've technically visited it so that's all you need. And so you can be kind of flexible about how detailed you wanna be for a goal. I have some that it's like a couple of cents it's because they're harder to describe and more vague and I want it to kind of pin down exactly what else working towards. CHUCK: Right. So it has to have a good completion criteria as what you kind of gone after? ERIC: Yeah. And it has to be good enough for you. I mean, it doesn't have to be at all some standards, but as long as you can understand what it is and at least recall what you want, like that you can look at it in 6 months time and decide like "oh yeah I know exactly what that is". That's pretty much all you going to need. CHUCK: Yeah I pulled up the smart acronym thing and it says "specific" and then one of the questions it has is, "can you go be broken down into smaller steps?" But ultimately, specific is what you're talking about so if flying into the airport and Tokyo is good enough even if you're there for a layover, then fine. But if your goal is, well I want to go and actually see Japan and I want to go see, maybe specific things to see in Japan or just be there and kind of take in the culture, yeah whatever your criteria is so that you're satisfied with the outcome, then I think that's specific. The next one is motivational. I think, when we were talking about the beginning of the year, people make New Year's Resolutions. And I think this is the one that people really screw up because since it's emotionally charged, you don't have the energy to carry out the goal. And for me, that's really it is. It's that something that you really care about because people, they set it lose weight, which isn't specific, but at the same time --- ERIC: Well if you wanna get specific, then say like "I wanna lose 20 pounds" CHUCK: Right. And a lot of times, specific as far as time as well, so "I wanna lose 20 pounds in 3 months", or reasonable amount of time. That's sounds reasonable to me, 3 months, 20 pounds. Anyway, but if you don't have the drive to do it, then after a month of going to the gym you're just going to give up. And so it's got to be something that you really want. Something you're really willing to work for. ERIC: Yeah. And the other side of it is, some of like goals that I have are more of event-based like visiting Japan, like that's -- you do it, it's done. That's an event, it happened. Whereas like losing weight, you might have hit it but with weight, you can always go back. I mean, that's the whole fluctuating diet stuff that happens. And so that's the other thing I think about. I'm trying to look for mine, I mean one of mine. It's kind of health related and it's basically like...oh yeah and so it's "live with good health benefit body". It's very vague but I have my own definition of that. And that definition is flexible to change overtime. And so if I lost 20 pounds and then gained it back, well that's actually not a fit body, that's me fluctuating on a fad diet. And so I actually won't it consider that goal complete. CHUCK: Yeah, but at the same time depending on what your health issues are, or if you don't have any whatever, yeah you can take that however you want. That was one thing that, I did the weight loss contest, it was one thing that really kind of made that hard for me was that, I did the weight loss contest I think over the course of 6 months I loss like 12 pounds, it was all I lost. But at the same time my diabetes numbers came way under control like to the point where they were looking at me and saying "Yeah your numbers are what we expect for a person without diabetes" even though I was still 60 pounds overweight. But the way lost contest was all about the weight and the fat percentage measurements and stuff like that, and I didn't do great on those. And so, I had the goal to lose the weight, and even thought I was better off, I wasn't completely satisfied with it because it wasn't why I wanted. And so sometimes you have to figure out what it is that you really want; because what I really wanted was to be healthy and what I really got was to be much healthier. But it turns out that I became so focused on the wrong thing that I didn't get the victory that I wanted out of it. ERIC: Yeah. And I mean, to take it back to business, that's something to be careful of us. If your goal is to make six figures a share whatever, you can do that in like a sustainable where you have high rates or you work for hiring clients. Or you can do that like in unsustainable way by doing 80 hours of billable work a week and basically destroying everything else in your life: your health, your family, and your kind of sleep pattern. You can get to that goal but was your intention of the goal just to get the money or was it actually to be at like a level of success or some other thing? And so you kind of have to take a look at that and figure out like "here's the goal and here's the metric I'm going to need to track it, but this metric is just an indicator of the actual thing that I want". CHUCK: Yep. So the next one is accountable on, I guess that's what we were kind of putting into specific as well is, can your goal be tracked or accounted for? So in other words, can you measure it? ERIC: Yeah and I think that's also used a lot where -- if I have a goal I might tell you about it and then you kind of help hold me accountable. That could be the kind of thing but that's like a week of meeting where I tell you the "how much revenue I made this week or whatever". And you can say, "Well at that rate, you're not going to hit your goal. You need to kick it up a notch." I see that used by a lot of people, and for the most part that works so as long as psychology behind it. CHUCK: Yeah. And I've heard things about Mastermind Groups that kind of do that where they sit you down and they help you. In fact the Mastermind Group that I'm a part of, it's like "Hey! What's your goal for the next month?" and we actually do say something and explain how are we going to get it done over the month. And then the next month, we come and report. And everybody's really hoping that you're coming back and saying "Yeah, I had a victory!", "I won!", "I did this!", and "It worked out!". Or "I did this and I learned this lesson" or whatever. But, everybody wants to see you complete that and have that kind of -- I keep saying victory, but it's that feeling of having or accomplished whatever it was that you set up to do. And it's easy; it's nice if you have that. In fact, that ties into the next one which is "responsible" with (well, kind of). It says respect from family, things like that. Well it calls your friends, respects your family, your integrity, easy to respond to changes if required. But you also have that responsibility to people that you tell about the goal to push to get it done so you can tell 'em that you completed what you committed to. ERIC: Yeah, and that the responsibility is kind of like, what as we're talking about where, if you basically kill your personal life and only sleeping two hours a night to hit your 6-figure a year goal, it's not really doing. You're not doing it the right way. You're not -- your goal is pushing too hard and you should re-adjust something. CHUCK: Yep. Yeah, absolutely. Because if you win at your goals and lose at life, then it's a net loss. So, definitely not worth it. The last one is "touchable". It says what will you have to hold is a completed result. I'm trying to decide if this is like, for example, if you lose weight you don't really have something that you can hold. I mean, you have a healthier life, you feel better, that kind of stuff. But I don't know, do you ever build like a reward system for this? Or do you just -- is finishing it enough? Or what? ERIC: I used to do rewards. The problem I had with goals is I would say, whatever my goal like let's say X amount of money and revenue with this month, and a promise that I'd spend half the time thinking, trying to figure out a good reward that is going to have to motivate me, but not going to demotivate me. Not going to cause a lot, but it's going to be enough that it's like a coffee or whatever which were pretty insignificant. And so I ended up realizing that for myself rewards just don't work. That's myself, that's my personality. For some people they do -- maybe what I do is actually -- maybe my goals have kind of the intrinsic reward where by hitting a certain revenue goal, I'm going to have extra cash to do things that I wanna do of my business stat. I wanna be able to otherwise, and so the goal is kind of the reward in itself. CHUCK: Yeah. Yeah for me my problem is that if I try and set up a reward, if I complete this goal and have a reward, what usually winds up happening is if I don't complete the goal, I usually have the money to give myself the reward anyway, and so then I have this battle with myself over whether or not I actually get it. And sometimes it's something that I could really actually use that would save me time, money, or effort in another way, and so I wind up playing this mental game with myself over it. So most of the time, I just have to pick a goal where the outcome is something that is a big payoff for me. ERIC: Exactly. And then you answer the problem of like say your goals to get $10,000 while if your reward is to spend $5000 of that, it kind of defeats the purpose, too. So that's why I just gave up on it, I was like I'm not going to put any rewards. And like I said my personality, I have enough internal motivation to do things that I can kind of get stuff done if I need to. CHUCK: Yeah I usually do as well. It just depends on how tired I am for one, and then also just how bad I want it. And so I have to pick things where I see the outcome and I get excited. ERIC: Yeah. And I mean personally, I don't like the smart way of planning goals. I think if you are really new to it, it might be a good way to guide. But there's like a panel of each of these kind of acronyms, so there's a problem or something new to think about that the -- these smart way doesn't actually handle or you have to kind of go outside at the boundaries. So if someone wants to set goals, you can try using this smart stuff to kind of get an idea, but feel free to break those rules if you need to and like experiment because everyone's different. CHUCK: Yeah absolutely. And especially, I think a lot of the stuff in smart applies well to shorter term things that you can really get your hands around and really specify what it is that you're trying to get out of it and what it's about. With the longer term things like visit Japan or even just get into certain level of physical shape where it's hard to specify what that is, it's still a meaningful goal but at the same, it doesn't fit the smart criteria. Now you can set a next step that might, but at the same time it doesn't always work in every situation. And I definitely agree that if there's something important to you that you can't specify under smart, then just set a goal to do it anyway. ERIC: Yeah and makes it the whole point of goals is to change kind of the environment. Like change either who you are, what you doing, or what's happening outside you. And for the most part, you have this idea on your head that this is how the ideal environment would be, this is how the environment is now. So the goal is to kind of shift the "what it is now" more towards the ideal. And most goals you're going to basically know when you've done enough of that. And so you can kind of fudge on some things you don't want to specify too detailed and for the most part, if you say "I wanna get two steps closer", if you got 3 steps closer, one step closer, those are still closer. It might not be the exact criteria of the goal, but it's going to be better than that was. And you can just kind of incrementally work on it or like I said in my case, lots of a --that happens is stuff changes so that, like this ideal environment that I had, actually it wasn't the ideal environment. The ideal environment is this other thing way over here, and so I kind of have to pedal and change my direction. CHUCK: Yep. Are there any other aspects to setting goals or planning out the year that you wanna go into that I may not have thought of? ERIC: One thing I found is when you're planning, it's almost always better to set aside like a day or a week, like a chunk a time than try to do like an hour here or an hour there. It just seems like it takes a little bit to kind of get out of the day to day stuff that things around on your brain before you can start thinking a little bit longer term. And so that's why every weekend I do kind of a weekly plan, and then every month, typically like it has to take a whole day on the weekends and I still like kind of the monthly planning. And for the past couple years, I've -- not the last year, but the year before when I did kind of the more "what am doing this year's stuff". I actually would take like the last week of December to do on that planning and basically if those plans are not going to work with you. I have to focus on some business planning, do all the accounting stuff and all that at that time. CHUCK: Yeah. I like that, I definitely like that approach. And I tend to do better if I can dedicate the whole chunks of time to anything as opposed to just doing it a little here and a little there. Alright, well let's go and wrap up the show and get into the picks. Do you have any picks this week? ERIC: Yes, I have two blog posts that I found. There's probably more, it's by IttyBiz. She's written quite of everything the past couple of weeks, so I'm going to post two of them but there's probably about 4 or 5 if you'll just kind of go through the archives and some of them are actually linked internally so you can find them that way. The first one is called "How to Double Your Revenue and Profit Really". Basically, she outlines 5 different things that you might be doing that screwing up your revenue and this isn't kind of like any scammy stuff or the stereotypical raise your rates. It's like "Are you actually trying to work as hard as you think you are?", "Are you losing money like say your website is not converting?", or "you're leaving money on the table on negotiations." Very psychologically -- very psychological stuff. I thought that was interesting. And then another one she talked about is called "How to Take the ICK Out of Selling" which is especially for developers, I think this is a great read. Basically it talks about how business is, and how commerce is, and how you really shouldn't feel bad or feel scammy or anything like that if you're trying to sell something. It's interesting because I've known this and I felt this way like before, but she kind of reverses it and makes you think about it as a buyer. You really don't feel that "icky" buying things and you're probably buying dozens and sometimes even hundreds of things each week. So the fact that each time you're buying, someone else is selling, so you as a business shouldn't feel "icky" about selling to people who need what you have. So it's two blog posts, there's like I said probably 3 or 4 other ones kind of around this two that are links that are really interesting - it's kind of look like as little serious she's starting. CHUCK: Awesome. Alright, well I'm going to get two picks. The first one is something that I'm sitting on right now. I don't know if you -- ERIC: Your butt?! [laughs] CHUCK: No, I'm not going to pick my butt. I had this office chair that my wife bought me for Christmas last year; it was a Black Friday sale deal. And what happened was, I've been sitting on this chair for about a year and a couple of weeks ago I was sitting back in it. And they broke and dropped me on the floor [laughs]. I was lying on my back on the back of the chair and the seat of the chair was still up where it was. And the way that it was put together was it had these plastic arms that bolted into the back of the chair and bolted into the seat of the chair, and that's how it stays connected. And me leaning back on it, it basically snapped up plastic. And I've had a few people online that also got on and said "Yeah, I have that same chair and had -- did the same thing to me", so I know it's not just because I'm fat. But anyway, so I wind up getting a new chair and I just looked at my wife and I said "You know what, the last two or three office chairs I've had in there just didn't work for various reasons. I wanna get a nice chair that I can sit in for hours on end that's going to last me for more than a year that I don't have to worry about it breaking or squeaking or whatever". And I talked to her to letting me get a "Herman Miller Aeron Chair". I am super happy with this thing and I've been sitting in it for the last day or so. It's really comfortable; I got a headrest for it so I can just put my head back on it. They don't have to hunch my neck over which I do all the time. And it's way nice. The other thing is that it has a 12-year warranty on it, so if something breaks on it, all I have to do is call 'em up or whatever and then they just send a technician that'd come and fix my chair. So I'm super happy with that. The other thing that I'm going to pick, it's slightly got a political charge to it but really the reason I like it is because it's people doing something about a problem. And that is that's here in Utah, one of the Gun Advocacy Groups basically offered a concealed carrier or concealed weapons permit class to over 200 teachers here in Utah. And the Federal No-Gun Law for Schools has a provision then that the states can never write it. And so Utah Law has overwritten that and allows concealed weapons on school campuses. And it also -- that way the teachers can carry a gun if they so choose. In fact, anyone walking on those school campus can carry concealed weapon if they so choose. I'm not saying that this is the or the only solution to some of the things that happened this month, but it is heartening to see that people are doing something about it. One of the things that made me crazy was right or wrong, as soon as the shooting happened, a lot of people hijacked the conversation to be about whatever it was that they thought about guns or mental health and it doesn't really matter who's right because ultimately, I felt like we just, as a nation, need a time to grieve and didn't need time to fight over this stuff for a week or two. And it would've been nice to not worry about it. But now that that time's past, it's nice to see that there are groups out there that are actually doing something about solving at least part of the problem. I don't think this is the complete solution but it's at least part of the problem that we can solve. And so anyway, it's an interesting read and definitely something that I think people can at least think about whether or not you agree with that particular approach. So anyway, those are my picks and I'll go ahead and wrap this up. Go sign up for Rails Ramp Up or go buy one of Eric's eBooks and we'll catch you all next week. ERIC: Take care!