CoachDeclute Blog

Are You Contemplating A Big Move…

Posted in Articles by coachdeclute on April 11, 2011

The changing of seasons often stimulates thoughts of other changes in our lives. We may be inspired to make a move that we have been contemplating for some time. Perhaps we have been procrastinating about the change due to any or all of the following:

  • risks that we believe are associated with the change
  • the loss of our present situation
  • financial or economic uncertainty
  • other unknowns in the new situation
  • lack of confidence
  • lack of support

Change is more difficult for some than others. Fear of the unknown can hold us back from opportunities and experiences that with hindsight we would not want to miss. That is not to say that all changes we make work out perfectly. Rather, that we learn so much from new endeavors that it would be sad if we never changed anything because of fear.

Change can be less risky or uncertain if we have done our homework. Following the stage of contemplating the change, we should do an assessment including:

  • review the pros and cons
  • researching anything triggering a “red” flag
  • seek advice from family, associates, advisors and friends
  • listen to our intuition
  • ignore our inner critic

This is all part of the preparation for making a change. It is especially important when the change is related to the more significant parts of our lives, such as our careers, our families and our geographic location.

Change is good. Even if it doesn’t work out it is good! It enriches our lives and enhances our learning.

So having done your due diligence, don’t hesitate to make a move that you think is right for you!

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Report Card Time – How Are You Tracking..…

Posted in Articles by coachdeclute on February 25, 2011

Are you still in school, full or part-time, or are the days of those scholastic report cards a fond or scary memory? In every phase of life there are report cards. They just take different forms as we move through each chapter. They may be about learning new skills, starting a new job, learning a new role as a mother, father or mentor, improving our health and fitness, or fostering our relationships – to name just a few. In all aspects of life and in every chapter, our report card or measure of how we are doing is a big part of who we are and what makes our life fulfilling.

So what does your report card for the first sixth of 2011 look like? Are you achieving A’s and B’s or is it time to kick into high gear to make the grade?

If there is a need to improve your marks the following Five Steps will get you moving in the right direction quickly:

Step #1

  • GET THE BIG PICTURE

Start by asking the why, what, who, when, where and how questions. Take a moment to reflect on the people, the processes and the plan you have for this year.  By evaluating available information, you will fully understand the state of affairs and the strategy needed to make the changes necessary, to ensure you achieve your plan!

Step #2

  • BRAINSTORM THE OPTIONS

After this evaluation, make a list of every opportunity and every challenge you have for getting things on track. Also note all the people who can make a difference. Engage with them. Paint the vision of the future together and then brainstorm all of the possible tactics that will make a difference. Get consensus on the priorities and work with it until everyone is on board. Whether you are a solopreneur relying on outside contractors, the owner of a larger entrepreneurial business, a manager in a corporation, or part of a family unit it is essential that everyone is consulted and on board.

Step #3

  • PLAN ACTION STEPS

From the brainstorming process you will have decided the priorities. Now decide on the actions and who can best direct and ensure successful completion of these actions. Then take those actions and under the direction of the appointed leader break them down into small steps that can be delegated and easily monitored.  All these little steps must be realistic, measurable and time specific.

Step #4

  • COMMUNICATE

Our success depends on effective communication. Communicating on a timely basis and listening carefully to everyone who is part of the process is important and will keep the energy and life in the plan. Get face to face as often as possible. Efficient use of time sometimes dictates the use of electronic communication but it cannot replace the value of face to face connecting or a simple telephone call to share and ask for feedback.

Step #5

WALK THE TALK

All of the above four steps are critical to success but one of the most important is getting into action. Decisions must be executed to get results so make sure you and everyone on the Team are “walking the talk”! The meetings and plans must inspire and instill passion to get everyone in action to make the grade.

Kick off 2011 Feeling Gracious and Grateful……

Posted in Articles by coachdeclute on January 25, 2011

Every day it is important to let your family, friends, business associates and clients know how grateful you are for their love, friendship and loyalty. Often we go through our days working too much, rushing with activities and scrambling to get everything done that is on our TODO list. Too infrequently taking a moment to pause, breathe and be grateful for all of the wonderful people who enrich our life every day.

Here are FOUR steps that will enhance your life immensely:

Step #1

  • Take a moment to reflect on the people in your life who make you happy and continually contribute to your success.  Consider the following –
    • Do you think they know how important they are to you?
    • Have you said thank you recently?
    • Have you told them that you love them or if more appropriate, appreciate them?
    • Have you taken the time to stop and talk to them, send them a note or email them a little word of thanks or encouragement, as the situation may dictate?

Step #2

  • After this time spent reflecting, make a list of every person who crossed your mind.  Every person who you are truly grateful to know –
    • Categorize the list into groupings that make sense in your world. It could be simply family/ friends/ clients or more refined groupings – just as long as it feels right to you.
    • Make a plan for communicating with them in 2011. Decide on the timing for each group and each person in the group and decide on a way of being accountable to this plan.

Step #3

  • Every day the first thing on your TODO list will be “The good feeling of being gracious and grateful!” –
    • Graciously communicate your appreciation every day
    • As well as doing this according to the plan you devised in Step #2, embrace this as a way of being
    • Everyone you encounter will feel important, feel good about themselves and happy about their relationship with you

Step #4

  • Enjoy feeling grateful. Relish in this emotion.
    • Some people like to keep a gratitude journal and others like to keep a feel good file. Devise your own way of reinforcing this important component of life.
    • Graciously acknowledge those words, of praise and thanks, expressed to you by others.
    • No surprise here – good things happen.  You and those around you will have more and more to be grateful for!

Here Comes 2011…

Posted in Articles by coachdeclute on December 14, 2010

The final days of 2010 are here. It is a time to reflect on your successes, learn from your misses and finalize your plans for 2011.

Over the past months I have talked about the dreaming part of planning for your future, about putting dreams on vision boards, about visualizing you playing the leading role in that future. I have also talked about the importance of paying attention to your money and the extra challenge of establishing BOLD goals.

It is exhilarating now, when reflecting on the past year, to see your progress and relish in your accomplishments!

So first let’s wrap up 2010. Do you know your numbers?

Such as:

–       your income

–       your expenses

–       your bottom line

–       your assets

–       your liabilities

–       your net worth

Beyond that, you also need to know how it compares to the previous year and how it compared to your expectations. Knowing your numbers is critical to achieving your long term financial freedom!

Pull all the pieces together. Track down anything that is missing. Wrap all of it up with a big red bow! If needed set the date to meet with your accountant. How wonderful it will feel to finalize your year ended 2010, in January, instead of leaving it in the shoebox until April when the tax man cometh!

What freedom this will represent. You will know everything you need to know, from a financial perspective, about the year gone by. You will be able to concentrate on the goals for the year at hand.

Next review your personal goals for the year gone by. Reflect on and enjoy your achievements and give consideration to your shortfalls.

–       Were the goals realistic?

–       Did your achievements enrich your life?

–       Do you feel happy and content?

–       Are you feeling fulfilled and grateful?

–       What would you change if you could?

This is a good place to be and without a doubt the basis for setting your personal goals for the year ahead. Pat yourself on the back for the achievements and happiness they created and wrap it up with a big red bow too!

Now let’s look to the future – time to put the finishing touches on your plan for 2011.

With your vision board or other planning medium in front of you (and depending on your stage in life, that could be a 1 year, 3 year, 5 year or 10 year vision)   plan out the next 12 months.

–       What are the important elements and what do you want the year to look like?

–       What would make it seem more realistic?

–       Should the financial part be tweaked in any way?

–       What do you want or need to do, to see forward movement that ensures achievement of your longer term goals?

–       What are the small steps that will help you measure your progress throughout the year?

–       Have you shared the plan with your partner or other significant persons in your life?

–       What would make you feel totally committed to this plan?

Fine tune the financial part until it feels absolutely right – challenging enough but also achievable!

Then fine tune your personal goals. These are the goals that lead to enjoying good health, good friendships, good family ties and a sense of satisfaction, fulfillment and well being.

It is important to be happily engaged in life. This includes finding the right balance between your commitment to personal and business goals. Intuitively, we sense when we are not in balance. We know that we need to massage our plan to keep the overall picture on an even keel…..never hesitate to change things up a bit. To use an old cliché “Life is not a dress rehearsal!”

Sparkle, Shimmer or Spin…

Posted in Articles by coachdeclute on November 16, 2010

The month ahead can be filled with sparkle or leave your head spinning. It can be the happiest most enjoyable month of the year or quite the opposite. It can pass by leaving you filled with optimism about the year ahead or filled with regrets about the month gone by. Can you put the right spin on it?

Operative words that make a huge difference are planning, organization and time management. And please do not forget to “Pay Attention to your Money”!

Following are some tips on how to be sure to sparkle not spin out of control….

Planning is paramount!

Events:

  • Start the planning early
  • Make a list of events you will be hosting. Decide on guest lists. Do invitations. Decide on menu, decorating and other elements. If you have children involve them in the preparation. They will love to help and they will be so proud to be part of making your home and event special.
  • Clean your home thoroughly now. Do a really good Spring cleaning and then it will be so easy to maintain. Declutter – less mess, less stress and don’t forget family participation is important here too.
  • Make a list of functions you will be attending and calendar everything.
  • Buy or make hostess gifts. Once again involve your family. Baked goods, a book mark or a pretty tree ornament are appreciated options.
  • Plan your family celebrations. Whatever your ethnic or religious background, this time of year has become a time for celebrations. As family and friends of all ages gather it is important to think of activities that will appeal and be easy to do. Simple things like song sheets and singing along with the music, a table dedicated to a large puzzle or table tennis in the backyard or basement.  Do not get too complicated!
  • Remember to include family and friends who are living far away. With today’s technology it is possible to share from a distance the joy of being together.
  • Plan the menu well in advance and ask for help. Everyone loves to participate and it is much more enjoyable for the host/ hostess and the guests  if the work involved is shared!

Gifting:

  • The giving spirit is part of the joy of the season. Keep it joyful!
  • Giving of your time to help others is a wonderful gift to. It is also another ideal time to involve your family in sharing with others and helping them as much as you can.
  • Decide on your overall budget and if you need extra discipline put the credit cards away and buy everything with cash. This will insure you avoid the one night stand with your credit cards and the January hangover!
  • Starting early cannot be stressed too much here. Last minute shopping often involves desperate and bad purchase decisions. So make a list and ask for gift ideas. Listen carefully so you get it right and shop carefully.
  • Check pricing online as there are many good deals through Amazon and through direct online retailers. It can also save you time!
  • Gift wrapping can be creative and environment friendly. Save newspaper or left over packing paper and use it for wrapping those boxes. Crayons and some ribbon will make these parcels festive and unique. Make it fun and another activity to share!

Time Management

  • Calendar the busy days..
  • Make “TODO” lists the night before and watch the clock. Nothing is worse than dinner running 2 hours late when everyone is overtired from all the excitement.
  • Set deadlines for completing the major tasks like gift and food buying
  • Remember to have back up plans for any small disasters.  A first aid kit can come in handy. An extra snack or two and time for an extra nap for little ones or an elderly parent. Transportation options or extra accommodation can come in handy too!
  • Exercise is important for everyone, especially when eating more than usual is likely to be part of the picture. A brisk walk interjected can provide a welcome change and much needed fresh air for those celebrating indoors. Even the family pooch will be pleased!
  • Know the timing and location of community events and religious services. Attending as a family group can lift the spirits and add to the meaning of the festive season.

Pay Attention to Your Money

  • A budget for gifting is important and a significant part of where things can go wrong at this time of the year. Make a list and prioritized the list for each family member and friend. Once again consider ways of economizing by making gifts or shopping online. Buy the most important things first then if money runs out there will not be any big disappointments.
  • Budget for entertaining. Sometimes this can be the biggest expense of the season. Remember that it is more about the time together than the cut of the beef! A great recipe done in a slow cooker will be just as appreciated as prime rib.
  • Budget for little incidentals. This is another way that money can slip through our fingers. So create a petty cash fund for the little bits and when it runs out do not replenish it!
  • Paying attention will ensure a great financial start to 2011.

This time of the year can be a lonely time for those without family close by, or for those with difficult health or other trying personal circumstances.  Be watchful and give out lots of smiles, compassion, encouragement and good cheer along the way. This, most important of all, will keep the sparkle and happiness in the month ahead!

How Cool is Your Retirement Plan…

Posted in Articles by coachdeclute on November 2, 2010

The transition to retirement can be one of the most challenging transitions in life! In today’s world the variety of approaches is endless. It is unbelievably important to do it your way – a way that fits with you on every level – mental, financial, spiritual, physical and emotional!

It seems trite to say, but retirement is too important to leave to chance and I am not just referring to financial chance!

Like most worthwhile things it requires a big picture plan. Get out the vision board and make that board a big one!

As you get closer to this stage sometimes you feel tired, a bit worn down and so perhaps attracted to the notion of:

  • free time
  • no set daily schedule
  • no commitments
  • no one to report to
  • no need to do anything but what we wish
  • one big holiday

Then all of a sudden you may be hit by a tidal wave. You are there and feeling a bit lost. What the heck happened to your important career, your status, your life of challenges and responsibilities? What now? What is the meaning of this new phase in life?

Whether you are viewing retirement from a bit of a distance or are in the midst of this transition now, you are in control and you can make it what you want.

This could be the longest phase of your life so let’s look forward not back!

As I said earlier get out the vision board and start to put the picture in place

  • What is it you want to move toward in this next phase?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • What about your wife, children, grandchildren and perhaps elderly parents?
  • Do you see another career or business as part of the picture?
  • Would that be part-time or full-time?
  • Do you see volunteer and philanthropic activities providing fulfillment?
  • Where and how much do you want to travel?
  • Do you want to focus more on your fitness and health?
  • Do you want to take up new activities – golf, skiing, bicycling, bridge, Sudoku, cross-word puzzles or spinning?
  • What about friends and associates?

The list will go on and on, as you consider the ideal picture and the stepping stones you need, for getting from here to there!

It is natural that there will be a little bit of fear thrown in there too. Once again, transitions mean change and that means stepping out of our comfort zone! You have done it many times before so draw on those experiences and move forward with confidence. Make this the best plan yet!

How Balanced Does Your Life Feel Right Now…

Posted in Articles by coachdeclute on October 19, 2010

Whew take a breath! Have you been on the run juggling all the balls with your adrenaline pumped sky high? Excited, exhilarated, in awe of your life and all the fabulous experiences but a bit scared too….

Does the month ahead look something like this:

•    A business trip to China for 10 days
•    Deadline looming for presentation to the Board of Directors for the annual business plan for your department
•    A commitment to help direct the school Christmas play for your daughter’s class. Content and participants still to be decided at a meeting early in November
•    A need to carve out time to research facilities for ailing parents who can no longer live independently
•    Interviewing for a new administrative assistant
•    Spouses important birthday party to organize for the 25th of November
•    Another 5 day business trip to the west coast in December and a shorter one to New York as well – both entail a major client presentation and a little fun if there is snow in BC by then
•    Important clients to entertain over the holiday season
•    A much needed and overdo family holiday to Hawaii yet to be organized for Christmas break

Or perhaps something like this:

•    Orientation meetings with two great new clients on Monday
•    Teaching assistant at your community school on Tuesday
•    Swimming class Tuesday night
•    Interviewing candidates for your new nanny or alternatively finding a good flexible daycare solution by mid November
•    Client meetings all day Wednesday in Montreal followed by dinner and a late flight home
•    Volunteer time at the Out of the Cold program on Thursday mornings
•    Hockey practice, ballet and yoga classes on Thursday after school
•    A need to research facilities for an aging parent who can no longer live independently – time is of the essence
•    Client meetings all day Friday
•    Client dinner on Friday evening
•    Social events to organize for friends, family and clients over the holiday season
•    Saturday hockey game
•    Sunday swimming classes and hosting family dinner
•    Speech to write and deliver next Wednesday on the Quarterly Forecast for Consumer Spending
•    Christmas Vacation to organize

There are many of us living in the fast lane. It can be exciting, exhilarating and yes ……… exhausting too. It is challenging to sort out and keep some balance in the mix of things, between our personal and business life. Perhaps we are trying to grow an entrepreneurial venture or flourish in the equally demanding corporate environment. With or without a family we often have too many responsibilities and overwhelming demands on our time.

Sometimes referred to as the “sandwich generation” there are many of us coping with parents we love and want to help and our very precious children who need our focused and committed time….our time dancing in the moment with them. This makes for a pretty full non-career related schedule without a doubt!

And then when do we find time to stay fit, prepare and eat proper meals, nourish our minds, keep our curiosity fed and our spirits soaring? Hmmmmm  – just remember that our own health is primary to our ability to fill all of the roles in our life. Without maximizing our health we cannot live and help others live to their full potential.

It may be necessary to really get in touch with this important part of life. It may take a commitment like none other you have made. It may take the assistance of a personal trainer and the help of other support systems such as a nanny, a house cleaning service, a personal assistant or a part time chef. In all of our lives there are many variables and we must assess the rewards and happiness associated with each.

Living in the fast lane can be fun but we must be sure we are not compromising our health and our authenticity and fulfillment in life.  After all as they say “this is not a dress rehearsal”!!

The Joy of Job Satisfaction…

Posted in Articles by coachdeclute on October 5, 2010

Fortunate are those who love their job. It has always been my belief that the minute you start to resent getting out of bed to head to your place of employment, is the minute you must stop and take time to consider your options. Regardless of your history with the company, life is too short to wake up dreading the day ahead.

This said there are many reasons we do not proactively address this situation.

We hesitate, procrastinate and complain because of one or more of the following:

•    We view work as a means to an end and we are financially comfortable
•    Stability is more important than our job satisfaction
•    Potential exists for advancement due to our years of service
•    Change is difficult and who knows if it will be better somewhere else
•    Present associates are known elements to us
•    Team members are socially important to us
•    Our boss is the main problem
•    The economy is not strong
•    Our confidence and self esteem is low
•    Benefits and pension plan could be lost

Of course this list varies for every individual, but depending on the extent of the list we may conclude we cannot exist for the balance of our working years in JOB HELL!!

This concluded there are two options.

If your list for staying is compelling then you have to find ways to get more out of your current situation.  You can –

•    Get in touch with and be passionate about what you do
•    Look closely at the job for things that will feed your soul
•    Consider your strengths and how you can use them to get more satisfaction
•    Engage with the situation – disengaging just digs a deeper hole
•    Network with your peers and nurture their support and friendship
•    Manage your boss by keeping a step ahead of their needs
•    If you cannot stand your boss “get over it” as this is one thing that is out of your control
•    Take responsibility for your own satisfaction in the job
•    Challenge yourself to improve the outcome of projects
•    Be positive
•    Practice being grateful every day for what keeps you in this job
•    Clarify your job requirements and criteria for advancement opportunities
•    Invest in professional development and self improvement
•    Be a leader
•    Choose your mood and mindset

Now if your list for staying is not compelling enough or you try the above approach and it is still JOB HELL, the second option is to begin the search for a new opportunity.

This requires getting uncomfortable! Having the confidence to move ahead knowing there is a better opportunity for you and that finding it is essential to your well being.

In this instance you can –

•    Start with considering if you were ever really a good fit for the current job
•    This assessment will help you get clarity and find a good fit now
•    What did not work? Was it a values or ethics issue? Was the job not suited to your strengths and abilities?  Did you find the atmosphere toxic?
•    Do tons of research so you really know as much as possible about the companies you are approaching for any new opportunity
•    Know the industry and all the pros and cons about the future for the  industry
•    Try to connect with people in the industry and also within the prominent companies you would consider working for
•    Never move just for the sake of getting out of the current situation

As you get closer to the decision on taking a new job

•    Consider the work environment. Does it really work for you?
•    Consider the hours of work and flexibility. Does that fit?
•    Use your intuition when assessing options
•    Will the new opportunity fill your financial needs?
•    Do you see the possibility for advancement?
•    Do you connect well with the “boss” and feel that you share similar values?
•    Is the company stable and respected in the industry?
•    Will you be able to add value to this organization?
•    Will you be fulfilled with the new challenge?

When you find the very best fit to ensure you are moving from JOB HELL to JOB HEAVEN make the move!

Always remember to leave your current employer on good terms. Give proper notice, appreciate your co-workers and acknowledge the good things about the experience. Be positive!

Look forward to getting up tomorrow excited about the day ahead. Job satisfaction is joyful and a very important part of living an authentic and fulfilling life!

Pay * Attention * to Your Money

Posted in Articles by coachdeclute on September 21, 2010

One of our primary goals and a big part of our planning must include the plan for building our personal wealth. Paying *Attention* to Your Money is the first step and if mastered you will be amazed by the results. I remember being told by a mentor, at a very young age that if I contributed the maximum allowed every year to my RRSP and in addition invested prudently another 10-15% of my gross income I would never have to worry about retirement. What good advice!

Just imagine if Paying *Attention* to Your Money was taught in school. Wouldn’t that be an amazing benefit for young people? Just having an understanding and a system for guiding one on the handling of their disposable income! Even as a student working part time, perhaps to pay for education or some other personal expenses, we might think twice about stopping at Starbucks or eating another unhealthy meal on the run. We might pack our lunch and make coffee for a “to go” cup a bit more often!  We might stop to think twice before buying that next frivolous item. Okay, not to a point of taking all the fun out of life, but just to introduce a bit of moderation along the way!

I acknowledge that at certain stages in life this truly can be difficult. With families to provide for, and life’s opportunities to enjoy, it is easy to get off track. But like everything in life, we can always rewrite the plan and get back at it. Nothing is carved in stone. It is important to get a good balance working for you, a balance that will serve your best interest now and in the long term. I must also emphasize this is not all about retirement. It is about living life as you want to and having the financial freedom to do so, at every stage of life!

Very early in our full time working life we should engage the assistance of a good financial planner or a financial wellness coach. This is separate from and different than an investment advisor who is getting paid commissions on a transaction basis. These are two independent roles. Some investment advisors are good at looking at your total picture and then on a fee basis able to help you with planning your financial and investment strategy. Just be certain that whether you have one of two advisors assisting you everyone understands your tolerance for risk, the diversity of investments you want and have clarity on your short and long term financial goals.

Take a moment to consider how different things might be if at the end of every day you did a quick tally of the money coming in, the money going out and the balance still in your possession. On first blush daily may seem onerous but it is pretty easy. You see at the end of the day we can pretty accurately add up our spending in our head – $50 for gas, $10 for parking, $10 for lunch, $100 for a pair of shoes and so on. The same applies to our income. If we are a commissioned individual we know what guaranteed commissions we have earned on the business of the day. If in a salaried position we also know for each working day the amount of our income. If an owner of a small business the invoices of the day will tell the income story too. Give it a try. I can send you an excel spreadsheet to help – just email me at dorothy@coachdeclute.com.

Do you have a *Plan* for 2011?

Posted in Articles by coachdeclute on September 7, 2010

As the last quarter of 2010 approaches, it is essential to take some time to reflect. Reflect on:

•    the successes of the past year

•    the work left to make it everything you planned

•    the dreaming piece about the “big picture” future

•    the thinking about and putting of *PLANS* in place for 2011

Every day, week and month we spend time in action. Time doing the things we know are needed to ensure successful completion of current goals. To ensure we meet all of our personal, family, business or career goals.

However, the action part must be predicated by the dreaming and planning part, otherwise it is like a boat without a rudder. Every business and stage of life is different. Some require much longer lead times for the planning part. For example:

•    Consider the retail business for a moment. The time for planning to have the right quantity and type of inventory on shelves for this Christmas season is a piece of history. Even for Spring 2011, the planning is well advanced or completed and production is started by now. Regardless of all the emphasis on “just in time” fulfillment it is essential to have the dreaming and planning part figured out many seasons ahead!

•    Consider the new home or condo development industry. Builders and developers work way ahead on land acquisition and community planning. They can work a bit closer to the present on the roll out of their marketing plan and sales launch, but that as well is months in advance of the construction phase.  Once again the dreaming and planning piece must be done well in advance or the ability to grow and achieve the “big picture” just won’t happen.

•    Consider entrepreneurial businesses and the importance of their advance planning. The need for excellent communication with their customers or potential customers is critical. Constant attention to identifying means of differentiating themselves from their competitors. A defined program, often called a Signature System that customers easily relate to, recall and appreciate for its added value. Entrepreneurs must be well prepared to provide the service or product components, on a timely basis, if they expect to prosper and achieve the dream they have for their future. Being well prepared requires attention to planning and the building of a “right sized” infrastructure.

•    Consider elements of our personal life that require constant planning and attention. One that is so important is the plan for retirement. This cannot be left to chance or there will be significant disappointments when quality of life is compromised in later years.

In every aspect of life, our ability to make life what we want it to be is dependant on our dreams and then the attention we put into making and executing the plan for achieving them.

Don’t wait until January 1st to define your *PLAN* for 2011. Start now!