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Stretch Goals Matter

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Stretch Goals Matter

My son, Harold, is 7 months old (You can glimpse him at the end of a movie here). He’s mastered sitting up, and now he’s trying to figure out moving around on the ground. I’ve realized something pertinent to careers this morning based on this experience, and thought I’d share it.

(You didn’t think this was suddenly Parent Hacks, did you?)

Stretch Goals Matter

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Harold was trying to reach a toy just a hair out of his reach. I almost leaned over and handed it to him, but then I realized the moment: he had a shot at achieving something. It’d take some work, and he’d really have to be uncomfortable and unfulfilled until he got the job done, but the end product would be achievement. Accomplishment.

What good would handing the block to him be? He’d be satisfied, but not fulfilled. It’s the difference between a lunch of potato chips versus a lunch with a salad and sandwich and water. Both fill the belly, but one adds value.

But Don’t Stretch Too Far

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Now, had I come over and pulled the block 12 feet away, Harold would recognize right away that he wouldn’t be able to get the block. At least not at his current level. Instead, he’d be frustrated, sad, and probably start looking around for something new to do.

Sound like employees? Sound like you?

Set Stretch Goals

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If you read Lifehack, you already know that YOU set the goals, not the employer. Right? If you’re letting your boss set your goals, you’ve got something that needs correcting. Your annual goal list must be beneficial to both parties, and supervisors use goals to correct actions, train you for new roles, etc, but ultimately, this is YOUR process. Agreed? Good.

Do I have to tell you about SMART goals? You know that too, right? Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound.

Let’s do the process in order:

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  1. Bring out your personal mission statement, or write down on a 3×5 card what matters most to you, in all the roles of your life.
  2. Set a HUGE goal for each of those roles that matter to you. (For instance, if you’ve said your fitness matters, and you’ve just started working out two or so times a week, the HUGE goal could be “Sign up for a Marathon 10 months from today.”)
  3. Set stretch goals to get there. In the example listed, the first might be to schedule a run/walk program, and start it.
  4. Set dates for each small segment, each stretch goal. Dates matter.
  5. COMMUNICATE the dates with someone that will help you be accountable.
  6. Boil the goals list down into something that fits into your context/execution system (like Getting Things Done).
  7. Execute against the plan.
  8. Schedule goal reviews every month. Correct your course accordingly.
  9. CELEBRATE goal milestones reached.

This is something you can use if you’re self-employed, unemployed, over-employed. It fits inside all the frameworks of our lives. My point about not letting your company run you is vital to the process, and important to realizing who’s in control of your self-improvement. Oh. Right. “SELF” improvement. “PERSONAL” development.

Harold got the block, and he was really happy with it. And, just like you and your career, Harold celebrated the victory, and then went on to his next goal, a stuffed cat named Cowboy Kitty.

Want to share? Submit a few of your HUGE goals and the stretch goals you’ll use to get there to the comments of this post. Or send trackbacks to the post and I’ll come visit your site.

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–Chris Brogan has the HUGE goal of taking Grasshopper New Media to full startup mode by 2007. He writes about the business at [chrisbrogan.com]

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Last Updated on November 25, 2021

Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

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Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

With all of the recent online services and companies falling under attack to hackers in the past few months, it seems only fitting to talk about password creation and management. There are a lot of resources out there discussing this, but it never hurts to revisit this topic time and again because of its importance.

Password management isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do, yet it does seem like a bit of an annoyance to most people. When it comes to password management, you will hear the famous line, “I don’t really care about changing my passwords regularly. I have nothing important online anyways.” Let’s see if you have nothing important online when your PayPal account gets taken over because you thought the password “password” was good enough.

In my opinion, it is an “internet user’s” responsibility to make sure that they keep secure passwords and update them on a regular basis. In this article we will discuss how to make your online presence more secure and keep it secure.

The easy fundamentals

First thing is first; creating a strong password.

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A strong password is a mixture of alpha-numeric characters and symbols, has a good length (hopefully 15 characters or longer), and doesn’t necessarily represent some word or phrase. If the service you are signing up for doesn’t allow passwords over a certain length, like 8 characters, always use the maximum length.

Here are some examples of strong passwords:
* i1?,2,2\1′(:-%Y
* ZQ5t0466VC44PmJ
* mp]K{ dCFKVplGe]PBm1mKdinLSOoa (30 characters)

And not so good examples
* sammy1234
* password123
* christopher

You can check out PC Tools Password Generator here. This is a great way to make up some very strong passwords. Of course the more random passwords are harder to remember, but that is where password management comes into play.

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Managing your passwords

I know some people that keep their passwords in an unencrypted text file. That’s not a good idea. I suppose that if you aren’t doing much online and are decent at avoiding viruses and such, it could be OK, but I would never recommend it.

So, where do you keep your strong passwords for all the services that you visit on a daily basis?

There are a ton of password safes out there including KeePass, RoboForm, Passpack, Password Safe, LastPass, and 1Password. If and when I recommend any of these I always count on LastPass and 1Password.

Both LastPass and 1Password offer different entry types for online services logins (PayPal, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.), credit cards and bank accounts, online identities, and other types of sensitive information. Both have excellent reviews and only differ in a few subtle ways. One of the ways that is more notable is that LastPass keeps your encrypted password Vault online where 1Password allows you to keep it locally or shared through Dropbox. Either way, you are the holder of the encryption keys and both ways are very secure.

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LastPass and 1Password both offer cross-platform support as well as support for Android and iOS (LastPass even has BlackBerry support). 1Password is a little pricey ($39.99 for either Windows or Mac) where LastPass has free options as well as premium upgrades that allow for mobile syncing.

Upkeep

You should probably change your passwords for your “important” accounts at least every 6 weeks. When I say “important” accounts I am referring to ones that you just couldn’t imagine losing access to. For me that would be Gmail, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, all my FTP accounts and hosting accounts, Namecheap, etc. Basically these include any account where financial information could be lost or accessed as well as accounts that could be totally screwed up (like my webserver).

There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should change your passwords, but 6 to 8 weeks should be pretty good.

Alternatives

You may think that all of this is just too much to manage on a daily basis. I will admit it is kind of annoying to have to change your passwords and use a password manager on a daily basis. For those people out there that don’t want to go through all of the hub-bub of super-secure, encrypted, password management, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

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  1. Create a unique and hard to guess “base password” and then a pattern to use for each site you logon onto. For instance a base password could be “Ih2BaSwAa” (this stands for “I have two brothers and sisters who are annoying”). Then you would add something “site specific” to the end of it. For Twitter Ih2BaSwAaTWTTR, Facebook Ih2BaSwAaFCBK, etc. This is sort of unsecure, but probably more secure than 99% of the passwords out there.
  2. Don’t write your passwords down in public places. If you want to keep track of passwords on something written, keep it on you at least. The problem is that if you get your wallet stolen you are still out of luck.
  3. Don’t use the same passwords for every service. I’m not even going to explain this; just don’t do it.

These are just a few things that can be done rather than keeping your passwords in a management system. Personally, with over 100 entries in my password management system, I couldn’t even dream of doing any other way. But those out there with only a few passwords, having a simpler system may be beneficial.

So, if you want to be a “responsible internet citizen” or you just don’t want to lose your precious account data, then creating and maintaining strong passwords for your online accounts is a must.

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