Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New blog:

Those of you who read this blog fairly often will have noticed that over time, the content has changed somewhat. As I've gotten more into blogging, my interests have expanded into posting about things that weren't initially included in the focus of this blog.

When I started blogging at Shadows of Clouds, my primary interest was in posting about my fiction writing and networking with other bloggers and writers. I haven't lost interest in writing stories, but my interests have expanded a bit now that I'm not busy with school all the time.

I've been concerned lately about some aspects of my life that aren't the way I want them to be. Because of this, I've been searching out new ways of dealing with life, and new perspectives on the same issues everyone seems to be facing today. This is where comes in.

I decided to come up with a new blog that gives me more freedom and control to explore new ideas. These ideas are somewhat divergent from the original purpose of Shadows of Clouds, named after one of my short stories. On the new blog I intend to post about broader issues in life and what I'm discovering about how to deal with them.

The focus of will still be on writing, but that writing will be more geared toward productivity and self-improvement as well as the more practical aspects of writing and blogging for money.

So what happens to Shadows of Clouds? I thought about closing this blog, but I decided to keep it. I'd like to bring the focus here back around to fiction writing and reading. I'll continue to post about my writing experiences (and my rejection slips) and what's going on in the fiction writing world.

I hope you'll stick with me and continue reading. Please check out if you've enjoyed what I've been writing here.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Stay Tuned for the New Blog

I'm currently working on getting my own domain and web hosting set up so posting may be a little sparse over the next few days. I've been planning on doing this for a while for several reasons. I wanted to have my own unique domain name rather than just a hosted subdomain (i.e., not I also wanted to have more control over my web site than I could have with a free blog.

Another big reason has been underscored in the last few days with all of the trouble I've had connecting with blogger. I don't want to be at the mercy of a huge monster like blogger when it's necessary for me to update my account. I need more reliability than that.

I have to say, though, that for the most part my experience with blogger has been very positive. I've learned a lot about blogging in general. The service and reliability has been fairly good considering that the account is free. What they offer is something that's valuable for a large number of people. Bloggers who want more than the basics will eventually have to get their own hosted account. Stay tuned...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Blogging: Personal or Personality?

Something that has always been a concern for me since I started blogging, is the question of how personal I should get. I could talk about the events of my life in great detail, using the blog as a journal to divulge my innermost thoughts. Is this a good thing to do? Probably not.

Leroy Brown at Blogging Blog has a post (that also refers to another post) asking this question about personal blogs. This is, however, a good question to ask about any blog or web page.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you've gotten some of my personal thoughts and feelings. I've even posted a few pictures and thoughts on my family. Yet, I have to admit to hesitating before doing this. I asked myself, who's going to be reading this?

The truth is that it could be anyone. All of us who blog or have a web presence of any kind have to be aware of this fact. Once we let fly with that post button, we are giving away whatever information contained to potentially anyone, friend, enemy, or complete stranger.

So, what's an appropriate level of personal information to include in a blog or web page? One major factor is the purpose of the site. If your site is geared entirely toward revealing your own thoughts and feelings, go for it. Just be prepared for the consequences.

Those who read your blog, especially those close to you who may even be mentioned in the blog, might not care for how they have been characterized. Also, they may not want to be posted about at all, good or bad. Other people's privacy is something you should consider before posting.

On the other hand, if your blog is about business or some other niche, perhaps the personal information should be kept out of it. Your readers may not be interested in reading about your life. They may only be there for the information you're presenting. With the deluge of information available today and the typically hectic pace of people's lives, this is always a factor. If there's too much noise and too little signal, your readers will no longer be readers.

Of course, there is some information that is never appropriate to post on the web. This includes personally damaging details about another person or intimate information that you know will hurt someone or make them vulnerable to attack. This is a moral consideration that must necessarily be subjective.

Some of the consequences of revealing personal information have already been discussed in great detail. There are many references in the news recently about people who've gotten into trouble because of what they've posted on the web. Employers, for instance, are more and more googling the names of job candidates to find if there is anything out there on the web that might make them a liability for the company.

Although it's marketed more toward younger people, MySpace is a great example of personal blogging gone out of control. People of all ages post just about anything about themselves, including pictures, that they might not want an employer or their neighbors or pastor to read or see. They seem to forget that the internet is pretty much wide open to everyone. If you've posted something connected to yourself and someone wants information on you badly enough, they'll find it.

With all of this said, how much, then is the right amount of personal information? Consider this: human interaction is all about stories. Each of us has many to tell. It's what makes us human and real. This is what defines our personalities and what interests people and what, ultimately, keeps them within our circle of interaction.

To be truly engaging, anything that is written needs to have a personal touch. It doesn't have to be personal per se; it just has to have your own personal mark on it, your brand, if you will. If who you really are comes across in your communication, it has a much greater chance of success.

This isn't a guarantee, but, think about it: who likes reading a dry textbook? Info dumps are great for just getting information, but without a personality behind it, who's going to keep coming back? Your writing will be best received if it's honest and from the heart (although, those of us who write fiction might be quick to point out that all of it is lies).

When you click that button to post your thoughts or feelings or informative article, consider this: have you put a little bit of yourself into it?


Friday, August 25, 2006

Free Software: Bryce 3D Landscaping and Animation

For those of you interested in graphical art software or just interested in expanding your creative horizons, you may want to check out the free offer from DAZ Productions. They are offering free downloads of Bryce 5 for a limited time.

I don't have much experience in this area, but the graphics I've seen created by this software package are pretty impressive. I downloaded a copy of Bryce 5 for my iBook and it looks cool so far. I plan on spending some time in the near future playing with it. Hopefully, I'll be able to put together a nice header graphic for this page.


How to Defeat Boredom

I found a post by Noah at regarding life and boredom. He puts this line in quotes:
Life is inherently boring so we spend it doing things to maximize enjoyment.

This is something I've thought about quite a bit over the years. In the context of wasted time, it's easy to see that many of us have spent a great deal of time being bored. The problem lies in the fact that we often don't know how to snap out of it, especially during our younger years.

How is it possible to be bored when there is so much information, so much stimulation, so much choice, everywhere around us? Today's world is full of so much. With the modern media and web, there's an unlimited amount of information to be absorbed at any given time. It's easy to be overwhelmed by it all. There's simply too much.

At the end of his post, Noah asks a few questions that he's been pondering:

1. Are you really doing what's the optimal thing right now?
2. What do you want to be accomplishing while you are here on Earth?
3. Are you living the life you want to be living?

These are good questions to ask yourself. There is an idea that's not mentioned, but I think is implied in this article. That is the concept of passion. I think the key to defeating boredom and finding fulfillment in life is following your passions. Boredom is the feeling of not wanting to do anything, of not having passion.

I've blogged before on the topic of doing what is expected by others rather than what we want. It's very difficult to find passion in doing something that you don't want to do. Were you passionate about cleaning your room as a teenager? Feel free to insert any menial or unpleasant task into that last question.

Certainly, when there is a larger goal in mind, it's easier to perform a task with gusto. If you're visualizing what you're going to do with that big fat allowance of $5 a week after you've raked the leaves, you're not too upset about the current chore. This makes it easier to see the connection between passion and goals.

The two are necessarily intertwined. I've also posted about setting goals. I believe this is a key to having passion in life. Each of us needs to decide what is important to us as individuals and set goals for achieving in those areas. Only then will we be able to defeat boredom and pursue our desires with passion.

Yes, we'll still have to unclog a toilet from time to time, but our larger goals in life will be pursued with passion. The smaller, less pleasant tasks will be much more easily overcome and boredom will be a thing of the past.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

How to Tell When Your Blog Post is Going Bad

Brian at Copyblogger has posted an article entitled 5 Signs Your Blog Post is Going Horribly Wrong. Once again, this is good advice not only for bloggers, but for anyone who writes. It's a quick read and a short list, but it's good information to keep in mind when writing.

It mostly boils down to knowing the reason why you're writing. That is, have a goal in mind before you begin. It's a great help to have a more or less concrete idea of what you want to accomplish with what you're writing. What point do you want to get across? Then, try to maintain that focus throughout the posting.

This is more in line with essay writing skills rather than creative writing. When we're writing creatively, we may have very little idea of what we want to write about and this is just fine. Even creative writers make use of these skills on a regular basis, though. Check out the article as it never hurts to be reminded of the basics.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Blogging List Turned into a Story

I couldn't resist linking to this one. Liz at Successful Blog has written a story featuring posts from Darren's Group List Writing Project. This is both creative and funny and well worth taking the time to read. Check it out.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

List Writing Contest at Problogger

The List Writing Contest at Problogger has wrapped up and the winners are posted here. There's also a link to the entire list of 301 entries. I've found a great deal of new and useful information and stumbled across some blogs that I may never have discovered on my own. I'm still going through the list and checking out more blogs. The lists (and blogs) run the gamut of topics from parenting tips to dating to finances, etc. It's well worth taking a look at.


Friday, August 18, 2006

You Can't Go Back, But You Can Go Forward

Several commenters on my post Top 10 Things I'd Tell My Younger Self pointed out that they agreed with the tips, but didn't think their younger self would have listened. That's a point that I've often wondered about. Would I have listened to good advice at the time and avoided making some of the mistakes I've made?

Many of us go through our teen years and into our twenties convinced that we are right and that most of the others around us are wrong, especially those in authority over us. We believe this despite the fact that many of us also feel quite insecure about ourselves and our abilities, most especially in those vulnerable teen years. Why are we so certain that others are wrong when we're so uncertain about our own selves?

This is a good question. It seems to me to be a common form of projection as well as the influence of popular culture. It can be seen as projection, or projecting our own thoughts, feelings and motives on others around us, in the sense that we may think that everyone else is just as confused as we are. Or, we may simply doubt that anyone can be so certain they're right when we don't feel like we have a clue. This could just be human nature at that stage of development.

Popular culture has for some time portrayed adults as being uncool or lame. The idea of youthful rebellion has been entrenched in our culture since at least the sixties. Certainly it's not a new concept, but it has been enshrined and immortalized through music and other media in a very pervasive and indelible way. Movies and television shows are full of examples of young characters teaching their elders a lesson.

With the pressure of natural human behavior and popular culture, would I have listened to good advice? For me, and probably for a lot of people, I think the answer is both yes and no.

There have been times when something looked so appealing to me and I was convinced it was the right path, but there was no advice to make me think twice about it. An example I've used before is when I was told by my high school guidance counselor I'd have no problem in engineering college even though I was failing calculus and physics my senior year. If someone I'd respected had pointed out to me the obvious, that I was really struggling with math and science, but breezing through english and spanish (and really enjoying both), there is a chance I would have listened.

Had I known how difficult things would be for me in my first year of college, I probably would have changed my path right away. In retrospect, sometimes that sage advice that would have changed our lives just wasn't there when we needed it. Maybe we were unable to face reality and be honest with ourselves or others around us and so those who could have given us that worthwhile counsel never even knew it was necessary.

In all fairness, though, there are many other situations in which I'm convinced that I wouldn't have listened to good advice and didn't, when it was given. When poor choices were driven by high emotion, it would have been (and was) extremely difficult to overcome those internal forces. A good example would be relationships. How many of us have dated someone our parents and/or peers thought was completely wrong for us? Most of us heard the advice, but thought we knew better and went ahead with making our mistakes.

There may have been some times when we would have listened to some advice and probably many others when we would not have and indeed, didn't. Would our lives be different now if we had, and, most importantly, would our lives be better? There's no way to tell. The experiences we've had have created the people we are now. Ultimately, without those painful mistakes and misguided choices, we might not be the people we now are and some of the things we value most in life might never have been.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Aristotle's Top 3 Tips for Effective Blogging from Copyblogger

Brian at Copyblogger has a great post entitled Aristotle's Top 3 Tips for Effective Blogging. The blog is ostensibly targeted toward copywriting, but the writing and blogging tips offered are priceless.

This particular article is both well written and insightful. Apparently, much of the modern advice we see on writing comes originally from the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. The tips presented here are great lessons to remember even if you've heard them before. They should prove a useful reminder to not just copywriters or bloggers, but to all writers. Read the whole thing.


Great Response from

I've gotten a great response from my Top 10 Things I'd Tell My Younger Self that was posted to Problogger yesterday. There were a lot of visitors to my blog and some good comments. Thanks to all for stopping by!

I'm still checking out some of the links that were posted in the Group Writing Project. There's a huge amount of great information out there and this contest has helped me discover some blogs that I might never have found. Thanks again to Darren at problogger for a cool idea!


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Top 10 Things I'd Tell My Younger Self

Darren over at Problogger has a contest going on for those of us who love making lists. Even if you don't, it's well worth checking out. His site is also full of great tips about blogging and making money online, whether you're a beginner or experienced.

So, without further ado, here's my own contribution:

Top 10 Things I'd Tell My Younger Self

1. Don't be afraid. Most of the things you're afraid of are either completely overblown or extremely unlikely to happen. There are no monsters under your bed, but later you'll find one in the next cubicle.

2. Live for now. Find things to enjoy about life right now that make it worth living. Things won't magically get better without your effort. Stop fantasizing about how great it's going to be in the future and smell the roses while you're there.

3. Don't waste time. You are NOT going to have more time to do things you want to do in the future. Get that idea out of your head. The next time you'll find yourself having all the time you need in a day, you'll be looking for your liver pills and complaining about your bursitis.

4. Chase your dreams. Don't dismiss your deepest desires as pipe dreams. Take a good look at them and think about what you want out of life. Just about everybody is telling you to take the safe path and get a safe, boring job. Don't. Safe, boring jobs suck.

5. Do what you want. Stop doing what everyone expects you to do and start doing the things you want. No, this doesn't mean you should be a jackass. Be smart and straightforward and don't be afraid to speak up about what you want.

6. Finish college now. It doesn't matter what you get your degree in. Trust me. Most of the time, no one cares. Besides, college is much more fun when you're young and single. Again, trust me on this.

7. If you spend money now assuming you'll have plenty later, you won't. Everybody thinks they're going to make a ton more money in just a few years. You might, but you'll have more than enough expenses to eat up every bit of it and more. See, there are these things called credit cards...

8. Set goals. Make plans for what you really want to accomplish. Write them down and stick with them. It's worth it to spend a bit of time hashing out the things you really want. Don't worry, you can always change them as your life changes, but they'll give you something concrete to shoot for.

9. Do something every day to work toward your goals. Don't let a day go by without having contributed in some way to the goals you have set. If you want to be a writer, write a sentence on a napkin with spaghetti sauce. If you want to run a marathon, at least get your lazy butt up and stretch.

10. Choose your battles. The world is NOT your enemy. Remember that when everything seems set against you. The world simply doesn't care. Don't view everything in terms of us against them. Don't argue when it does more harm than good. People won't think you're smart or funny, they'll just think you're a jackass.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Getting Things Done with Folders

There's always good information to be found at 43 Folders for those of you interested in GTD or Getting Things Done. Merlin Mann has written an article about using and overusing folders in the GTD system.

He makes a good point about making too many folders to put stuff into. Namely, that things get even more disorganized through an overeager attempt at organizing. I've run into the same problem myself in my email program at work. I'm sure many of us have.

Another point he makes is also good to remember even if you are not yet a GTD proselyte: "Bottom line: ensure that all the folders, buckets, nets, and boxes in your life exist to support action above all else." What use is organizing all this stuff if you never do anything with it? Check out the whole article.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Lower Your Payments! Consolidate Student Loans Now!

If you're like me and have a big student loan payment to make every month, that sounds pretty good at first. There are a million student loan consolidators out there screaming for your business. Why not take advantage of the opportunity and enjoy the benefits of lower payments? There are some good reasons why you should think carefully before consolidating your student loans.

First of all, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm personally against the whole idea of student loans. I think it's probably the biggest educational scam out there, possibly second only to the cost of school textbooks. Sure, there are some cases in which students may derive a longer term benefit by incurring student loan debt now. For medical or law students, this may make sense. For most students, however, it does not make sense to get into debt to go to college.

Unless you're expecting to be making a fairly large salary immediately after graduating from college, think twice before getting student loans. They may seem like the easy way out if you're just starting school, but it pays to remember that every penny of that money will have to be paid back, with interest.

Duh, you say? I know this is common sense, but we often fail to realize the longer term consequences of getting into debt now. Many students are enticed into thinking there is no other way for them to afford college if they don't get student loans.

In most cases, this is far from the truth. There are many forms of financial aid available that can ease the burden of college expenses. In addition, there are literally thousands of scholarships available if you only spend the time looking for them. It's also important to mention here that you should never pay someone to find scholarships or financial aid for you. It's not necessary. Talk to a financial aid advisor and spend some time googling and browsing federal financial aid sites.

It's also common belief that having a college degree automatically means that you'll be making much more money than you did before. This isn't necessarily true. Yes, having a college degree definitely can increase your earning potential, but it's up to you personally to make that happen. It won't fall in your lap. I can't tell you how many people I've known with college degrees and even graduate degrees who make ends meet by bussing tables or tending bar.

There's no guarantee that you'll make more money after completing college. In fact, probably too many people are going to school to get a four year degree when all they really want is to have a trade or a career to make a living. Some of them might do better going to a vocational school or a two year community college at a much reduced expense. The bottom line is that there are other options. Remember, the real world is very different from the rosy pictures presented by people trying to sell you something (And, yes, they're trying to sell you student loans; it's big business).

Now back to the question at hand: why should you reconsider before consolidating student loans? Several reasons. First of all, you are making a trade off between lower payments now and paying more in the long run. The reason why consolidated payments are lower is usually because they simply extend the term of the loan. This means that you'll end up paying more interest in the long run for the privilege of having a smaller payment now.

Another reason to avoid consolidation is that you may lose some of the benefits of subsidized loans and loan deferments after consolidating. Usually you don't have to make payments on student loans while you're in school at least half time. If you consolidate your loans with a spouse, however, usually only one of you will be the main account holder who will retain the ability to do this. I've experienced this myself and it's ended up costing much more money in the long run.

Multiple student loans may be a pain to deal with, but it can also be a good thing to have several smaller loans rather than one large one. Think divide and conquer. You can concentrate on paying off one at a time. You can't do this with a consolidated student loan. You have one payment to make each month. With multiple smaller loans, you can pay extra each month on the smallest one and pay if off way ahead of time. You'll end up paying much less in interest and having way more control over your debt.

Ultimately, student loan consolidation can make sense in some situations, but it's not the only way to lower your payments. If you're thinking about consolidation, examine your options. Be sure to check out the government programs available for student loan forgiveness in exchange for public service. No, you don't always have to join the military, though that is another option to consider. Some employers also offer help with student loan payments as an incentive.

So, take some time to search for creative ways of reducing the load before taking that leap into student loan consolidation. You can't take it back after you consolidate and the time you spend now can save you a lot of money and hardship in the future.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Attack of the Comment Spam Robots!

Well, they have finally started to find me in force. The comment spam robots, that is. I've found several spam comments with links to commercial websites (or worse!), some of which I was afraid to click based on the url.

Unfortunately, what this means is that I'll be forced to turn back on that annoying word verification step to making a comment. Don't worry, you'll still be able to make comments if you so choose, you'll only have to copy the text from the graphic box in order to verify that you are, indeed, a human instead of a pesky spam robot. One just can't be too careful these days...


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Are You Happy With Your Job?

There's an article on msn's careerbuilder site entitled Nine Steps to a Perfect Career Fit that you may find interesting. I occasionally check this site out for tips on improving my own career and sometimes I find something that jumps out at me.

Half of all Americans are unhappy in their jobs, according to findings by the Conference Board, a New York-based business research group. In addition, most people can expect three to five career changes and 10 or more job changes in their working years, reports the U.S. Department of Labor.

This isn't exactly surprising news, is it? The article begins with the story of a man who has had more than 20 jobs already as well as several career changes. I think I've had more than 20 jobs myself and 3 or 4 career changes as an adult. Is it time for another? The article offers some good points to consider when asking this question.

It lists nine questions to ask in order to find the ideal career choice. I won't recap the entire list, but the first few questions are really important ones that I don't think are always included in our decision-making with regard to jobs. The article suggests you examine your own abilities and interests first and also what motivates you to succeed.

These are important things to consider that are often overlooked. Many people, myself included, start out life with the idea that they should get into a career that's in demand and that pays well. Little thought is given to whether that career is suitable or not.

I remember speaking to a high school guidance counselor before applying to college. He told me that I would do fine with my choice of majors, engineering, despite having had serious problems with both calculus and physics my senior year. Looking back, my interest in engineering stemmed mostly from the "cool" factor of "being" an engineer rather than a real passion for the math and science involved. I was also attracted by the starting salary of around $25,000 for engineering graduates, which at that time was darn good.

What's humorous about this whole thing is that I excelled in english and spanish courses in high school, getting straight A's in each for four years. During this entire time I'd also struggled a great deal with math and science. So why did I take that path?

The common wisdom in our culture is that jobs aren't supposed to be fun or enjoyable, by and large. Sure, we're expected to derive some satisfaction from our employment, but it's not expected to be something we're passionate about. In fact, jobs are expected to be mostly painful and tedious. We slave in our cubicles or factory station for 30 or 40 years, enjoying our annual two weeks of vacation, and then hobble around a golf course for a decade or so as a geriatric wreck. Is this how things should be?

Ironically, I've just finished up a degree in English Literature and Writing after years of working in engineering and computer software. What does this mean and where will it lead me? Time will tell.

This is a topic I'm keenly interested in and there are plenty of ideas to explore in future posts. For now, asking these questions can help us to determine if we are really happy with how we're spending our 40 or more hours a week, slaving away.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Develop Your Listening Skills: Empathic Listening has a list of 5 Tips for Empathic Listening posted today. It's a short posting, but contains some useful information. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey describes empathic listening this way:

When I say empathic listening, I mean listening with intent to understand. I mean seeking first to understand, to really understand. It's an entirely different paradigm.

Covey goes on to say:

Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is a form of agreement, a form of judgement ... The essence of empathic listening is not that you agree with someone; it's that you fully, deeply, understand that person, emotionally as well as intellectually. (p240)

My own listening skills aren't always what I'd like them to be. It's extremely easy to become overwhelmed with the day to day. Most people tend to respond to this by tuning out a great deal of what's going on around them in order to get the most urgent things done. Unfortunately, we also tend to tune out some of the most important things in our lives.

As an example, how many parents ahve gotten fed up with a nagging, whining child and told him or her to "go away" or "do it because I said so?" I think we've all done this from time to time without even thinking. Sure we feel bad about it later, but our parents reacted the same way with us, didn't they?

I've found that taking a moment to look my child in the eye and really listen can sometimes short circuit the nagging and whining almost immediately. Often, their discontent is based on a feeling that they aren't being heard. It's amazing how well children respond when an adult treats them like a person, not as another adult, but as a person, an individual with a unique perspective and his or her own needs and desires.

Children aren't the only ones who can benefit from this attention, either. Every interaction we have on a daily basis could be enhanced in some way by raising the level of our communication. This doesn't have to be a heart to heart chat with the bank teller, but more of an intention to really try to understand where the people we encounter every day are coming from.

The Lifehacks posting is a nice, quick guide to trying this out in your cmmunications. For a more in-depth discussion, I definitely recommend the The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

New Hardware from Apple: Mac Pro

Apple has officially released the new Mac Pro and it's available immediately from the Apple online store. For a summary of all the goodies Steve Jobs talked about yesterday, check it out at Macrumors. He also previewed the latest iteration of Mac OSX, codenamed "Leopard" and it looks pretty impressive. There will be lots of new features that sound like they will greatly improve the usefulness and efficiency of the operating system. Apple is providing a sneak peak of Leopard.

We're still waiting to hear about the rumored updates to the iPod line, but those may not come until later in the year. I'd like to see more price drops (wouldn't everybody), but expect to see increased capacities for several models before anything else.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) Today

Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference opens today in San Francisco in just a few minutes. Of course, the rumors have been flying for some time about what exactly will be released today. Among the most likely to be true are updates to the PowerMac line of desktop machines. A roundup of the various rumors and an assessment of their validity can be found here. For live coverage updated every 60 seconds, tune in here.


Friday, August 04, 2006

Blog Format Update

I've updated the format of my blog again. I just added the nifty sidebar on the left hand side of the page. It seems to look fine and helps make better use of the available screen real estate. It's a little bit big for 800 x 600 resolutions, so I may have to tweak things a bit. It shouldn't be a problem for most users, though.

The whole process was a little tricky at times, but not too difficult for anyone who's a little web savvy. I found some great resources for bloggers who want to modify their pages. Here are links to a couple of them:

CSS No Crap Primer
Two sidebars in Blogger -Part 1 - Blog U


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Setting Goals

Steve Pavlina has posted another interesting article about setting goals you will actually achieve. I'm interested in this topic because I believe that setting goals is an important part of success. Without having a target to shoot for, it's difficult to know where you are or where you're going.

Steve's take on the whole idea of setting goals is a bit different from what I've heard before, though. He discusses the concept of setting goals within the context of time and how your perception of the present and the future figures into successfully reaching goals.

Here's an interesting quote from the article that summarizes the main point:

The purpose of goal-setting isn’t to control the future. That would be senseless because the future only exists in your imagination. The only value in goal-setting is that it improves the quality of your present moment reality. Setting goals can give you greater clarity and focus right now. Whenever you set a goal, always ask yourself, “How does setting this goal improve my present reality?” If a goal does not improve your present reality, then the goal is pointless, and you may as well dump it. But if the goal brings greater clarity, focus, and motivation to your life whenever you think about it, it’s a keeper.

He's suggesting that you focus on the present rather than the future when setting goals. At first, this idea sounds kind of wacky. I mean, goals are about the future, right? Yes, and no.

One thing that I realized years ago after fantasizing so many times about things I'd like to do or be was that I would have to live every moment of time between now and then. Think about that. Of course it's completely obvious, but if you really think about it, this idea definitely changes the way you view setting goals.

As an example, lots of people think about how great it would be to be a doctor or a lawyer. It would be cool, huh? But then consider the amount of time and effort you'd have to put in order to get to that point of being a doctor or lawyer. Years and years of school and then more years of long, hard hours before the payoff. Is it worth it?

If you're completely focused on the end result and it's something that gets you pumped up on a daily basis, then maybe it is. However, if you're more interested in how you'll be living your life from day to day, it might not be. If not every day, then most of those days you will have to be able to get up and convince yourself that it is worth it. If you're not getting something valuable out of most of those days, you won't be able to do it.

The whole point of the article makes a lot of sense to me within this context. Human beings have a unique ability to imagine the future, but still we have to live in the here and now. How many precious moments are we willing to sacrifice to get to that imaginary future?


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