The Sky Is The Limit in 6 Easy Steps!


(Each new year, we go into the archives and pull out our goal setting series.)

If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there?

Have you set your goals for the upcoming year yet? What would you like to accomplish over the next 12 months? Here are 6 steps to make it happen.

Step 1. Think. Consider what it is you want to accomplish – and be very specific. Saying you want to be happy is too general a goal, but doing something that will make you happy is fine.

Step 2. Make your goals S.M.A.R.T.:

Without clearly defined goals and outlining the specific steps – with a timeline – to support those goals it will be difficult to gauge your progress. And since having big goals can be intimidating, break down the mountain you want to scale into smaller molehills, each molehill having easily digestible to-dos and a timeline as to when each step will be accomplished.

Step 3. Write. Put your goals down on paper. Having them in your head is not the same as seeing them and being able to clarify them in writing. By putting ideas to paper, you are creating a contract with yourself.

Step 4. Share. I’m a big believer in sharing your goals with others (a spouse, family member or friend – people you trust who want you to succeed) because it helps to keep you accountable. You are much more likely to keep moving forward when you know someone is going to ask you how you are coming toward meeting your goal.

Step 5. Post. Put your goals in a prominent place, somewhere you will see them every day. It will keep you focused on what’s really important to you and help keep your activities to those that can make you successful.

Step 6. Repeat the process for 5 year goals. Think big! If your answer is, “well, realistically…” you’re limiting yourself, so start again. This is a time to think big, fat blue-sky thoughts.

What are you committed to? Go and make it happen!

If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, How Are You Going To Get There?

(Each new year, we go into the archives and pull out our goal setting series.)

If you have goals – professional or personal - you must have a vision for the future. You can’t make excuses, you can’t think like a victim, you can’t blame anyone else. If you focus on the past, you will be distracted, if you focus on moving forward, you will go full steam ahead.

As Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

What are you committed to? Go and make it happen!

11 New Year’s Resolutions We Can All Make

(Each new year, we go into the archives and pull out our goal setting series.)

We’ve talked about goal setting so now let’s move on to some other resolutions - about changing your behavior. Making a commitment to doing things differently doesn’t just help  you – it can also benefit  your family, your friends and your co-workers. All old dogs can learn new tricks! So how about considering:

1. Learning something new every day. This may mean taking a class in something you have always been interested in or simply looking up something you’re curious about on the internet. We have the The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge, a terrific resource in quickly refreshing all those things you learned in school which have been shelved in the recesses of your brain.

2. Taking time to smell the roses.  Whether you take time to notice shop windows as you leave your office and walk to lunch or take the long route because it is more scenic, try to be really present in the moment and aware of your surroundings. I walk the dogs at a local park in the early morning. They are off-lead and I am off-grid – no phone or email to interrupt my thoughts. I pray, organize the day, brainstorm with myself and make a conscious effort to drink in the glory of God’s creation.  The rest of the day may be crazy, but I’m off to a good start.

3. Taking a break. We all lead busy lives, but we actually become more productive when we take a break from an activity and then come back to it. Sort of like brain interval training.

4. Volunteering. We should all give back, and we all have talents and gifts that can benefit others in some way. Volunteering is good for the community, and it’s good for your spirit and soul.

5. Reading a good book. Where else can you get so lost in an adventure, lead a vicarious life, learn about something you’ve always wanted to do or experience the many wonders of the world in full color without ever leaving the comfort of your favorite plushy chair?

6. Getting your financial house in order. Pay off those credit cards, start saving regularly and faithfully for your retirement, no matter your age (don’t count on Social Security being there for you!), decide on your spending priorities and figure out if there might actually be a way to pay for that longed-for trip to the Greek Islands this year or next.

7. Getting healthy. Take baby steps like eating some veggies every day, switching to diet soft drinks (or better yet, give them up all together in favor of water), walking around the block, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking your car in the spot furthest from where you need to go. Then give yourself some goals (most runners I know started the same way – they made a commitment to run two houses/landmarks further than where they ran the day before until they reached their goal distance), keep track of your progress to see just how far you’ve come and enjoy your success!

8. Getting more sleep. We are a culture that glorifies those who boast they can get by on just 4 hours of sleep a night. Maybe so, but eventually that will catch up with your health. Additionally, researchers have found that proper sleep habits can promote better memory, learning, ability to retain  information and performing new tasks.

9. Telling those you love that you love them. There was a recent poll taken for a greeting card company, and the number one thing people wanted to hear was, “I love you.” We love to hear it, and since you never know when you will next get a chance to convey the sentiment, we love say it.

10. Reveling in the joy of your children. It’s true that with children, the hours pass so slowly (and with some kids, more than others) but the years pass so quickly. Before you know it, that sweet little kindergartener is graduating from high school and moving off to college. Personally, my husband and I think the empty nest syndrome is way over-rated (we love the peace! the quiet!) but we simply adore having everyone noisily coming back together and enjoying each other’s company (and lucky us, 3 of our 5 live in the area so our ritual is Monday night dinner together).

11. Hitting the cultural scene. Ok, there may be a bit of admitted self-serving here as I love our Portland symphony, but who couldn’t benefit from a?  Whether it’s the art museum, a beautifully restored historic house, a musical ensemble or the local theater company there is so much wonder to be found in soaking up the inspired creativity of a gifted artist. As William Congreve, in The Mourning Bride quite rightly wrote, “Music has charms to soothe the savage breast.” He was onto something back in 1697.


Goal setting

(Each new year, we go into the archives and pull out our goal setting series.)

I am a big proponent of writing down both professional and personal goals – after all, if you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there? Putting goals on paper also makes them real, a contract with yourself. They should also be shared with someone – a spouse, friend, colleague – which can help keep you accountable.

The SMART formula is an easy format to use, so your goals should be 1. Sensible, 2. Measurable, 3. Achievable, 4. Realistic and 5. Time specific (including timelines and milestones). If these are professional goals, include financial elements.

And last but not least, visualize success! Thinking positively can really affect your outcomes. If you don’t practice positive thinking, give it a try – many things become a habit if done for 30 days.

What are you committed to? How will you make it happen?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

nativity triptic1_painting

Best wishes for a blessed and very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Happy Thanksgiving!

From the Dench household to yours, our best wishes for a Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, joy, laughter and undying gratitude for those we love, for those in the military keeping us safe and protecting our liberty, for this amazing country which provides everything in abundance and gives us limitless opportunities to fulfill our personal potential and for a loving God who makes all things possible.

Careerwoman Barbie

Goodness, Barbie sure has been busy over the last 50 years. While we’ve read that most people now change careers 3-5 times over their working life, we were fascinated to learn from this WSJ story that Barbie has us all beat with 124. Yep, she’s been a concert pianist, an astronaut, a magazine editor, a nurse and even Miss America but her latest incarnation, computer scientist, is really putting us to shame – if we have a technology question, we sheepishly ask our kids.

Barbie designers say that they worked with the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering to ensure that everything was “realistic and representative of a real computer engineer.” Our favorite part – the pink glasses of course! But we are also loving the binary print t-shirt and the pink laptop (no word on if it is a Mac or PC, but I’m guessing a Mac). Coming from a family of engineers, I notice only one thing missing – the iconic pocket protector.

What career would you like to see Barbie try?

Living Large By Downsizing

For Sale295 Foreside Road 7_13Underwood Beach

As the last of the kids has started college, we really no longer need such a large house, so we’ve decided to do something that seems to becoming quite trendy – downsizing.

It has been a bit hard to decide to say goodbye to the house that for both of us has been by far our favorite. It’s a happy house with an amazing history that goes back 100 years, and we’ve had the good fortune to have met some of the past residents who have told us the stories that only an old house can share. The house had been sorely neglected when it came to us, and we have always seen ourselves as its caretakers for whatever time we had it.

Getting ready to sell and to move has been quite an adventure. A year ago you could hardly move in our basement for stuff – old stuff, newer stuff, stuff from various kids in various stages of their lives, moving in, moving out…really, was pretty ridiculous. How on earth did we accumulate so many material goods? So we’ve been weeding out, throwing out, donating – we’ve even had a couple of yard sales (note to self: even though the signs say you open at 9am, Jane Q. Public takes this to mean that early birds are welcome at 6:30am). We are happy to report that the basement floor is now visible, even though there is a lot more to do.

It’s true what they say – your house always looks best when you’re selling it. We went through a complete renovation when we bought it almost 5 years ago, to the extent that we had to wait for 7 months to move in while the major work was undertaken. New kitchen, adding a master bath, master closet and second floor laundry room, refinishing every floor, taking out and repairing/rehanging every window, new electrical, new plumbing, fixing plaster walls, painting inside and outside, wallpapering, replacing rotted wood on the pergola and sun room, working on the garden…the list went on and on as the dollars went out and out. But the work is pretty much done and wow, does this house look fantastic!

Having sold a couple of other houses, we decided to represent ourselves again, put the house on MLS and cooperate with brokers who bring potential buyers. It’s early days but it’s been interesting listening to some of the reasons the house hasn’t worked for people. So far, the most common comment is that parents want 4 bedrooms on one floor so they are on the same level as their kids, even teenagers, and we have 3 bedrooms on the second floor, and 3 on the third. Our teens loved having their own space and so did we, so that baffles us a bit. But then again, we see lots of parents accompanying their older kids to the bus stop every morning as well, so it’s that same thinking. (I want to shout: Stop being that helicopter parent! Let them grow up!)

We were surprised to see the house of some friends down the street hit the MLS within a day or two of our property. They’re selling for the same reasons we are and we’re sending buyers to each other’s houses, since our houses are both big but quite different. We’ve been kidding that we’ll probably be bidding on the same smaller house, since there aren’t too many on the market in the area!

It’s funny, but we’ve been noticing several friends and acquaintances over the last couple of years have been opting out of sizeable for smaller, and especially in the last couple of months, we’re part of a trend that seems to have accelerated.

I’m considering starting a blog about downsizing, simplifying and general decluttering – does anyone have any stories to tell? Are you noticing the same thing?

5 Things To Do In The Car On Your Commute

In the good old sales days when I was putting over 1000 miles a week on my car, there wasn’t too much you could do in the car except drive. I did learn that if I grabbed a quick lunch to go, Burger King did the best job of wrapping their sandwiches in a way that was the least likely to cause me to show up at a meeting with an unattractive mayo stain on my jacket, but exorbitantly expensive cell phones were just arriving on the scene (one smooth operator used to wink at girls in the local watering hole and ask if they’d like to come outside to see his car phone – which was large, clunky, affixed to the car, required an unsightly external antenna but was still catmint), and the only audio options were radio (if you could get a signal in some of the more remote places I had to go in the South and Midwest) and tapes.

Maine is geographically a huge state, so travelling here usually involves quite a bit of windshield time (longer on Route 1 or the Turnpike in the summer) - but these days I have a few more things to make the ride go a bit quicker. So – here’s my top 5 list of things to do in the car.

(Caveat: Obviously none of these come before driving safely! Don’t text and pay attention to what you are doing!)

1. Listen to books. Business books, bodice rippers, whatever – my commute used to be 3 hours a day and it is amazing how much “reading” you can get done in the car.

2. Make a plan to keep in touch with old friends and use the time to call and catch up. They might be commuting at the same time!

3. Use the digital recording option on your phone or get a digital voice recorder to make notes. If I listen to the radio it is usually talk radio, which I always find sparks ideas for me. Digital recording makes it easy to remember what brilliant idea I came up with on the ride (or make me wonder what on earth I was thinking about afterward).

4. Sit and think. How many other times do you really get to be quiet, inaccessible (if you want to be) and introspective?

5. Bring healthy snacks along. I don’t have the same metabolism I did in my 20′s and it can be challenging to find anything good for you at a convenience store. And while you’re at it, you can also do non-exertive exercises.

And here’s a bonus item:

6. If you have kids, especially teenagers, use the time you have with them in the car to have a nice chat. Ask them to put away their phone. Unless they decide to fling themselves out of the car, you have a captive audience for whatever’s on your mind, you don’t have to make eye contact and you aren’t competing with their friends for their attention. You just never know when you’ll find that little window of opportunity open.


Forbes 100 Best Websites For Women

Forbes has once again published its list of  100 best websites for women, many of which we subscribe to (85 Broads is one of our favorites). As we say to our marketing clients – providing information, inspiration and impact is crucial and it’s what makes these sites standouts. Enjoy.