FOCUS: Getting There from Here

Jennifer, a freelance financial advisor and a single mom with a six-month-old infant, could barely scrape together the money to cover her monthly living expenses. Looking back on that time, she says, “It was me against the world, with only a computer as my weapon”. Overwhelmed with anxiety and worry she put her head down and pumped out proposals for contract work with local businesses. Within 10 weeks she had signed up $10,000 worth of assignments. 20 months later she took a full-time job with her biggest client, pulling down a $100,000 a year salary.


Jennifer got SMART. She set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-defined long-term goals for herself: a $100,000 salary in her chosen profession within 20 months. To hit her long-term goal, she set a number of micro goals: send out 10 proposals over the next 10 days, make sure I have lined up enough work to keep me busy for 20 hours every work week.  You can do the same and here’s how.


Step #1: Learn how to set micro goals

The first thing to notice about Jenn’s story is it spans a year and a half in few statements. To attain the end job and income you want, or any other goal, you have to take small steps that add up to one giant leap. The key is to focus on micro goals. What are those? Micro goals are tiny goals that add up to a big life change. For example, research has shown that people who set long-term goals for weight loss are not successful with exercise. They don’t stick with it. The reason is that they cannot see results quickly enough to motivate them to continue. However, people who set micro goals or what are termed process goals are successful both short and long term with exercise. Process goals are short term, immediately based goals. For example, a process goal is “I will make five sales calls in the next two hours.” Successfully finishing that task makes you feel accomplished. It makes you feel as though you set a goal and reached it. By doing so, your mind is primed for success and you have taken one small step to big change. You might not get any new clients out of the cold calls, but you built your confidence and introduced yourself. The ability to set and execute micro goals leads to greater chances of success than simply stating large, elusive ill-defined goals.


Step #2: Get SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-defined)

Set Specific Goals

                A specific goal is stated in one simple sentence like “I want to earn my college degree in biology.” In contrast, I want to work in the medical field is not specific enough.

Set Measurable Goals

                A measurable goal is something that you can define and measure your progress in concrete terms over time like “I want to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks.” You will have to lose one pound per week which is doable and easily measured on the scale. An example of a goal you cannot measure is “I want to tone up.” We cannot measure “toning up”.

Set Attainable Goals

                An attainable goal is a goal that can be attained like “I want to purchase a new TV in six months. I will save $125.00/month to do so.” That is easily done. In contrast, I want to enjoy space travel soon is not attainable for most us.

Set Realistic Goals

                If you live in Hawaii and plan to be there for a while setting the goal of being an elite level downhill skier probably won’t work out well, but if you say “I want to learn how to surf within the next two months” that is realistic for you.

Set Time-defined Goals

                The single most important aspect of goal-setting is setting time limits and sticking to them! For example, to finish a Bachelor’s degree in four years most degree plans have you take an average of 12 hours or four courses per term for four years straight. Concrete time stamps are a good thing for reaching goals. They impose time management and time limits on you.

With the New Year quickly approaching most people will be setting goals. Make sure that yours are SMART and include micro goals to motivate you along the way.


Fitness Professionals: Solve psychological mismatch and see your business explode!

Rule #1: Clients want to connect.

People want to connect to each another. We are social. But the fitness industry is not using that to our advantage. Instead, we are over intellectualizing and under emotionalizing, and we have lost contact with the general public. Estimates place us reaching only 12% – 20% of our communities while 70% of Americans are overweight or obese. The psychological mismatch between fitness professionals and the general public is a factor reason. There is a mismatch between our expectations, goals, and values and theirs. What we see as important the general public does not. What we see as interesting they do not. What we see as motivating factors they do not.

The problem is that we rely on a connection with the general public for income. We have to figure out what the sources of mismatch are between us and them and how to solve the problem.

Common Mismatch Sources

Unreachable goals: Goals that we cannot reach because they are unrealistic. The fitness industry perpetuates unreachable goals! How many times have you seen staff promise unrealistic ‘weight loss’?

Rumination: people tend to go over and over things in their head. The thoughts of ‘what-if, should have, and would have’ drive people to depression and anxiety. If someone failed with fitness in the past, they are playing it like a broken record. It is a significant source of stress and an emotional roadblock to success that you must overcome. If you can solve this problem, a client will stay with you.

Emotional Toxins: people show up in gyms with toxic thoughts about fitness, gyms, and staff. You have to retrain their thinking about fitness and how-to change their lifestyle without them being aware.

Align Expectations, Goals, and Reality

Over my 30 years academic and field career the number one problem that I have seen trainers struggling with is setting realistic goals and then alignment of those goals with the sessions and program. This is the number one most important skill a trainer must have, and it is the number one source of mismatch. Goals must reflect the client, not you. Ill-conceived goals and poor goal alignment will cause disconnection between you and your client faster than anything else you can do. This workshop will show you step-by-step how to establish goals and align them to connect you to your client.


Get Free College Courses Now!

You can get an education for free nowadays. Online education is set up for you to have access to learn what you need quickly and effectively, and free in most cases. It is set up to help you avoid long degree plans, going for exactly what content you want, and as the buyer deciding if you find the product worth buying (after, not before you go through the course). It is fair. It is ethical. It is brilliant, and I will show you exactly where to go to get it and how.

Although there a numerous sources for free, legitimate education let’s start with my favorite, Coursera. Coursera,, is an education technology (ED TECH for short) company that offers massive online offered courses (MOOCs). Coursera offers MOOCs to the world for free through most major US universities. Founded by two Stanford computer sciences professors, Coursera and the idea behind it have grown into a monster, global industry. When I interviewed with Coursera in early spring of 2016 they had around 160 million unique users.

Now, your first thought, if you were like me, is how do they make money? The answer is quite simple: they sell optional certificates of completion. They allow you to decide if you want to purchase the course credit for a fee ranging from $49.00 to $79.00. The benefit to you of purchasing the completion certificate is that it shows employers you finished all of the course work and passed. The great thing is that you can do this at any time during or after the course. If you opt of purchasing the completion certificate, you simply take the course for free, get the knowledge you want, and move on.

Although I am most familiar with Coursera, it is not the only ED TECH offering massive online education or MOOCs to the world for free or a deeply discounted price. For now, I recommend exploring Coursera and next post I will share five more ED TECHS with different options with you.

Until next time,

~ Dr. Amy


Easy Tips for Online Learning Success

saber_tooth_catAnxiety researcher Robb Dunn at NC State suggests that we experience anxiety because our primitive ancestors were somebody’s dinner. They were under constant threat to be eaten by giant hyenas, cave bears, lions, eagles, snakes, wolves, saber-toothed cats, and even giant, predatory kangaroos! When you get anxious about something like a new online course or how-to use e-learning technology your primitive brain is signaling danger, threat! Anxiety’s function is to motivate you to take action to survive or thrive. The causes of anxiety are different now like technology, but the anxiety feels the same.

Anxiety is a primitive emotion that shows you care and drives you to take action, grow, and succeed. However, high anxiety interferes with learning and performance. To reduce anxiety and succeed at online learning here are easy tips to get you ready to take an online course.

Before You Start:

Tip: Check your system requirements like internet speed and browser.

Tip: Set your cookie, pop-up blocker, and security features ahead of time to allow for pops ups and links.

When You Land on a Course for the first time, answer these questions:

  1. Why am I here? Look for the course title and catalogue description (sometimes this is not there, but will be in the syllabus).
  2. Who is the human to contact for help? Name, Credentials, and Link to Instructor’s biography.
  3. How do I contact the human? Email, Phone, Hours, Office Address, Special Instructions.
  4. What is my Call to Action (CTA)? Establish your online presence by doing the Introduction discussion.
  5. When should I come back here? Daily.

By taking these easy steps before and on the first day of class, online learning is less anxiety provoking. Next, we will look at tips for success like reading the syllabus and establishing a solid, professional online presence.


Seven Seconds to Success

When you first encounter someone they make a decision about you in seven seconds. Beyond a first impression which is made during the first three seconds and is relatively shallow about your appearance and attractiveness, the next four seconds is where you seal your fate. Seven seconds is all it takes to make it or break it, whether it is during a job interview, sales call, or annual performance review. A lifetime of preparation can boil down to a seven-second encounter.

Why Seven Seconds?


All of us, admittedly or not, form an opinion about a person or business within seven seconds of coming in contact with them. Those hasty judgements we make have their roots in evolution. In other words, our primitive origins drive our modern day social interactions. In fact, evolutionary psychologists go so far to suggest that we make quick decisions now because we had to act fast in early times to not end up as dinner!


Our psychological make-ups have not changed while our environment and challenges have. In prehistoric times, you would have had to make a quick judgment about an encounter with an unknown animal to avoid being a snack. Today, you make a hasty decision about a new business partner, service provider, or even romantic interest to avoid being taken advantage of, or worse, physically hurt. According to Mark Schaller, a leading social psychologist at the University of British Columbia, during that critical first seven seconds of contact, we subconsciously decide whether a threat might be present and if we want to engage with someone. In seven seconds we sum up a new person well enough to try to figure out if we are interacting with a criminal or a sociopath that might steal from us or do us harm, or a nice person we want to do business with, buy a product from, or even date.

Tips to Prepare for Your Seven Seconds


Your life is a series of seven-second encounters where the world is judging you. All day everyday people decide if they want to do business with you, hire you, date you, or even be your friend. So, how do you best prepare for those fateful seven seconds? How do you connect with someone in seven seconds?

  1. Jog, bike, or walk on a regular basis. It is widely accepted that rhythmic exercise like running builds confidence, grooms effective leaders, and is associated with greater income. But, how? Exercise like walking and stair climbing are primitive. They are a central pattern generator (CPG) that once it starts it keeps going like a wheel and activates your primitive brain. While the body moves, the brain can do something else, such as listen to music or watch a television monitor. Think of a CPG as a liberator. It allows your brain to think, reflect and plan while your body does its thing. Any simple, easy rhythmic exercise calms your mind and decreases your anxiety. In the long run, it puts you in touch with your primitive, natural, and relaxed self that people will like and trust.
  2. Mimic the other person’s body language. This communicates empathy. If the person you encounter is standing, then stand. If their arms are open and at their side, yours should be too. When we convey empathy we establish a connection and within seven seconds can begin to build a lasting relationship.
  3. Quell social anxiety. As we saw above, regular exercise like jogging can help over time, but not always in the moment. The problem with anxiety is that nervousness conveys uneasy excitement to others. It is unnerving and will immediately turn people off to you. When you are anxious, forget seven seconds; you are done in less than three! The reason is that primitive man would have experienced anxiety to signal danger – a lurking predator for example. So when you are anxious you are signaling a nearby threat and people will associate you with danger. To appear less anxious, remember that anxiety is your brain playing tricks on you by overvaluing social encounters. To reduce anxiety, breathe deeply and maintain open-arms and tall postures to signal to your brain that there is no threat. Next, shift your focus from you to the other person. Be empathetic. Ask yourself, what is (s)he saying? Determine how (s)he feels. By focusing on the other person, you establish rapport and are now using anxiety to your advantage during each seven-second


Seven Seconds goes by in a hurry. But it is all the time we have based on how evolution wired our brains. Prepare for your seven seconds with rhythmic exercise to put your best foot forward and then use the easy how-to tips to make every seven seconds a success!