Creating Goals: The Fundamental Steps to Building Goals That Are Attainable

Debra Eckerling-EventBuzz-Podcast

Podcast speakers: Savannah McIntosh (Purplepass Marketing Director) and Debra Eckerling (Creator of the D*E*B Method for Goal-Setting Simplified and the KEEP System for Employee Retention). Jump to the show notes below. 


The EventBuzz podcast: The D*E*B Method
presented by Purplepass



Show Notes

Topic markers:

03:30 - The D*E*B Method

08:40 - The foundational steps to building goals

10:55 - Reasons why you might not be reaching your goals

17:31- Turning goals into realities

22:04 - Goals for virtual vs in-person events



The Deb Method


Podcast Transcript: Purplepass + Debra Eckerling


Savannah (Purplepass):

On this episode of The EventBuzz podcast, we are talking to author of Your Goal Guide, and Goal Strategist, Debra Eckerling. Her strategies are aimed to help attendees navigate conferences as well as working with companies sending people to their events. She helps entrepreneurs, executives, and employees identify their personal and professional goals with a mission to help as many people as possible, figure out what they want and how to get it. So I'm sure you can guess by now what we will be talking about. So let's jump in.

Hi, Debra. Thanks for coming on to the show. Today, we are excited to have you and really eager to kind of jump into this topic that you really specialize in, which is something that not just event planners, but everyone wants to have wants to achieve, which are goals. But before we get into that, I did want to kind of ask you how you got into this space?


Debra (The D*E*B Method):

Well, first of all, thanks for having me. I'm so excited because I love events and goals. So when I get to talk about them together, it's like banner day for me. I started out doing events for Barnes and Noble this back when I lived in the Chicago suburbs. And whenever I needed to fill my calendar, I would just hang out in the cafe and talk to the community. And one day someone came in and said, 'Will you start a writer support group?' And I said, if you think people will show up, let's give it a try. And not only was it a success, it showed me the power of goal setting firsthand. And for me, the group was, the purpose was what are you working on? What did you achieve? What are your goals for next time? And how can we support you?

And because I was leading this group, I would never ask anybody to do something I wasn't prepared to do myself. So I was setting and achieving goals as well. And that was really the start of the gold specialty. We will we'll fast forward moved to LA we started my goal group which has evolved over the years. And now it's not for writers, it's writers, creatives and entrepreneurs, because if you're one, you're likely the other two. And my business background is communications and project management. And somewhere along the line, people started saying to me, Deb, you're good at this, can I hire you? Deb you're good at this, can you speak at my event? And that's really where I got started into here. And then about four years ago, one of my communications clients was going away. And I said, okay, this is the perfect omen for me to embrace my passion for goals. So I rebranded as the dev method, it's the same system and luckily or to have my name. And especially, I'd say always, but especially over the last couple years when everybody's lives have been in so much flux, they need it now more than ever. So that is the long short version of how I got here.



Yeah. Can you explain your what you mentioned the DEB method to the listeners?



Yes, so the debt method is my system of goal setting simplified, and it's all foundational, you can't get what you want, unless you know what that is. So D*E*B stands for Determine your mission. Explore your options. Brainstorm your path. So we start with the D determine your mission. When you think about the life you want, what does that look like? And you take inventory of where you are now where you want to go. But even more importantly, think about your personal and your professional mission statement. Why do you do what you do? What makes you unique? What what is it that you have that excites you so much about what it is you do? And more importantly, in what ways do you help others whether it is to educate, inform, you provide a product or service, and then you shorten it into a motto, which is, you know, the short form so goal setting simplified this my motto, my mission is to help as many people as possible, figure out what they want and how to get it so they can live a better life and help others do the same.

So when you've got that D the foundation, then the sky's the limit. Then you go on to E, explore your research phase, how are you going to manifest your passion into the world and then brainstorm your path once you set your goals. You lay them all out, divide, conquer, make a plan, see- goal setting simplified and the way that it works so well with events which is why I'm so excited to talk about this is people go into events, with no plans, you know, especially conferences, but even workshops and mixers, you know, okay, I'll go meet some people learn some things. But if you don't have a plan, and you don't know how it fits into your overall big picture goals, then you may come back with just you know, if it's virtual event eyestrain, if it's live events, sleep deprivation, you know, you, you can go to these events and meet a lot of people and get a lot of information.

But if you don't hard it, who you want to meet, and what you want to learn, and then have a plan about what to do with it, then it's really just a waste of time, money and energy.



Yeah, so I feel like when it comes to events, that what I think is event planners should not just consider their goals and big picture, things they want to achieve, but also their attendees. Correct? So that it's kind of like a win win situation for everyone. And everyone's kind of that, and also they get a better feel of why their attendees are attending their events. Because what are the attendees goals?



Exactly. It's all about the experience. I feel like the word is overused, but it's it, it fits. So I will use it anyway, is the experience, whether it's a virtual or a hybrid or a live experience, you don't want people to just show up, be there, leave and never come back to your event. But if you are conscious of what you will hope people get from your event, and provide opportunities for that to happen, then everybody's going to be happier event will be successful people come back year in year out. But it starts with an even before then, for the event planner, whether it's for yourself or for someone else's business, what is the purpose of the event? What do you hope to gain as company? And what do you want your people, your attendees, your sponsors or speakers to walk away with? So connect the dots?



Yeah, I see. That makes sense. And so we did if we took a step back goals, everyone has them, whether it's personal or business or an events. And I feel like goals can intertwine as well. If being like a successful businesswoman, or main is part of your personal goals, so I can see how that can intertwine. The problem is sticking with them and seeing them through. And we see that all the time. I mean, with everyone, I mean, I do it too. You see any goal like New Year's resolutions? There's people have a hard time they lose them after like February. So what suggestions do you have? You don't I mean, when it comes to actually making achievable goals?



Right? Well, first of all, I like to start the new year in Deb-cember. So you get a running start. Yep. And one of my favorite times of the year, though, to talk about goals is getting into February into March, because whether you start the year in December, January, really, or any month, goals or is ever evolving, right? But it goes back to that foundational step. If you don't know what you're aiming for big picture. What what are you doing? Right? Yeah. So when you start with the, I love this industry, and I'm building this successful business and I'm doing it through creating events and community or what have you. Great. But what does that mean? So, let's, let's take it from the business person's perspective of I want to be an expert, great. gonna write a book and start a podcast or you're gonna create event space, whatever. That's where where you do the the exploration to figure out okay, what is my best first step? And then work backwards, say, okay, well, I want to be a best selling author, I guess I'd better write a book first right? Write a book, write a book proposal, get an agent, map out the different steps. So you want your big picture goals first of all, to reflect your mission image, because you are who you are, you know, you've got you're the only one with your exact experience, background, education, interactions, the whole shebang right. And why do you do what you do? What what is that driving force? So that's why it's important to start with that visualization of the future and what you need to do to get there. And yes, people fall off the wagon, the goal wagon for a couple of different reasons, you know, they get too busy. They overextend themselves, or they're underwhelmed by what they want to do. I mean, they're more but let's, we'll, we'll keep it really, I'd say, highish level. So people don't achieve their goals. Maybe they they don't love what they're doing. Okay, take a step back, reevaluate your life and see what it is you want to be doing. Because you want to be excited about the things that you're doing. Because if you're not excited, it shows if you're excited, it shows, but if you don't love what you're doing, I think it shows even more.



Yeah, you're not going to get there.



And then the other big problem is people overextend themselves. I want to write a book in a month. And I use a book just because it's a good example, but it could be I want to start a blog in a month, I want to launch my Etsy store, I want to start the greatest event experience for this kind of demographic, whatever it is, I'm going to do it in a month, right?

Working full time, with a family with other obligations. Not going to happen. But if you look at your calendar and say, you know what, I'm pretty busy. But I could pull this off in like four months, by spending a couple hours a week on the onset. And then as I get the closer the time will build. So the secret is to look at your life, to see what's feasible, and then schedule in the time to do the things.



Yeah. So you're saying you can't have a family and write a book in a month



And work and work full time and hustle and do this? Well, I guess if you get to sleep, right?



Yeah, you could do it, ya know? Exactly, exactly. I think people really, I think you're getting excited. And you want to have it done now. But that's just not not realistic.



And the other example, that that I think is really relevant is a lot of people a lot of goal setting experts, I'm doing air quotes, you can't see me as me. They talk about don't break the chain, work on things every day, keep it going, keep it going.

Well, I'm sorry. That's not realistic for everybody is not realistic for most people. Even if you say, I'm going to work 15 minutes a day on whatever it is I'm building 15 minutes a day is easy. Well, you miss Sunday, which makes us a half an hour on Monday, and then it's 45 minutes on Tuesday. If you did not have 15 minutes on Sunday, you certainly don't have an hour on Wednesday, it's better to take a step back and do 15 minutes twice a week or an hour, once a week.

But to look at your schedule and put in this, this is the trick you put in these appointments, realistic appointments. And then if you have to, you can move them, but you cannot delete them. So look at your life, look at your schedule, putting the appointments ongoing is even better, because then you're like, you're always carving out this hour each week for you. And if you have to move it, you have to move it but you cannot delete it. And then as you're building to track the things that you're doing, so you make a note on each appointment, what you accomplished. Or you can keep a wind journal or notebook or online document or whatever, to show you what you've done, or rather, to show yourself what you've done.

So you can keep moving forward. So you may think at the end of the month, oh my goodness, 30 minutes a week, I've done nothing. But then look, you look at your calendar or your your wind calendar and say oh, well, I sent out five agent queries. And I wrote the outline. And I've got a full document full of stories that are going to be incorporated into the book proposal. Wow, I did a lot. Great. Go me I can keep going. But you need to be able to show yourself that progress to keep that excitement and say Oh, I'm getting somewhere good.



Yeah, I was going to ask you about that I was going to ask you about measuring goals because that's a really important step to do. So you know what you're you can actually see the work you're putting in and how close you are to getting to those goals.



So in again, it's it's look at your life, see what you can do and do it. Don't look at your life overextend and constantly feel like a failure because that's it All that's setting you up for success. And that's like the opposite.



Yeah. Yeah, that's a good point. I feel like we, as far as we're really easily, easily beat ourselves up. When we don't do something or don't make a goal.



Yes, in sometimes you need to give yourself a pass, let's say you have this great big plan, and then life happens things completely out of your control. You just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward. Sometimes the things are in your control. And that's when you need to be more protective of your time. So it is that it's a slippery slope, but think when you set these appointments with yourself, think about it this way, you should treat them like goal, like, even more important than your meeting with your most important client or your boss, because it's you, you're investing in your future. Yeah, but be realistic about what you can do. And when you do that, you're always going to have the wins, you know, I'm going to do 30 minutes a week, it's not a lot. But doing that 30 minutes a week and making the progress. It's gonna make you feel so good. You're like, oh, I can what can I rearrange? Maybe I can get up an hour earlier, or stand an hour later, and do an hour a week on this. And really, and that's what I was saying before, you know, the beginning, maybe it's a couple hours a week, and then it builds. As you get into projects. That's what happens. You get excited, and it gives you energy, and then you have more energy to do maybe the things you don't love so much, because you're so excited about this big secret thing that you're building.

So use that energy, in whatever way possible. But be protective of your time. be protective of your energy. And don't overdo I mean, and we're so great at overdoing, aren't we?



Well, yeah, definitely. Yep. People don't know how to relax or, you know, me time is important and alone. Time is important. And people don't like forget that. They forget that balance.



Yeah, sure. Yeah. Something else. Can I give another tip? Yeah, that will help you is I talked about visualization before. So when, again, when you think about the life you want? What does that look like? Are you speaking on these big stages? Are you creating these sold out events? Do you have a product or service that's like, on the must list? Are you on the Forbes to have 50, under 50, or over 50, or whatever 50 list, they figure out what visualization is going to really represent the who you want your future you and and just mock something up, you know, to take a copy of The New York Times bestseller list. And like put your name and your book's title at the top and like paste it somewhere in your office where you're looking at it, or mock up the Forbes list you want to be on and put your picture and your future bio in the present tense in there. And look at it and say, Oh, I see. Great, it can happen. Find ways to see what you're trying to create. It's another way to keep that energy level up and keep you moving forward.



Yeah, visual visual. Visualization is very effective. It seems very simple, but it's super effective. A lot of great athletes doing it, do it. They visualize themselves, whether it's in the race or lifting that weight that they're trying to achieve. It's very effective. So I 100% agree with you on that. And it keeps you motivated. And you can actually see, see what you are trying to achieve and and see that it can become a reality. So yes, I agree. And the other thing I want to ask you about because I know you have an opinion on this is smart goals.

We see them all over the internet. Usually if you search goals or creating achievable goals, the acronym SMART will come up. I forget what it stands for. But I just I wanted to get your opinion on that.



I do have an opinion. And and to tell you I had to Google to see what all the letters stand for. So it's Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time based. I am it's not that I don't like smart goals. What I don't - the problem is going back to those goal setting experts with the air quotes is most people build their platform. I'm a goal setting expert. I teach SMART goals. Smart Goals is not a methodology. It is a tool. And something if, if it works for you, great, use it. But it is much more important and much more effective to start with you. I mean, you can't you can people do set goals for oh, I want to be millionaire. I want to sell, I want to be an international best seller, I want to speak about this topic to everyone. Okay, great. But what does that mean? Right? So you need to find that foundation of what you're creating, because it going back to whether it's the app, athletes visualizing, or the business owner, seeing their product number one on the app, Amazon store, whatever, you know, what is it? When you think of the life you want, what does that look like? And then you build in the steps to create it. You don't just go willy nilly, okay, I've got a goal to lose this. Or to earn this, lose this amount of weight. Do this, do that. Okay, great. But what do you get when you do it?

When you start with the foundation, I get to be an expert, I get to build a successful business, I get to help people around the world with this problem, because I know that this solution works for this issue, etc. So that's my thought.

Use them, don't use them, use them as a tool. But if you're building your goals around smart goals, all you're gonna do is get to things, you're not going to get what you want.



Yeah, I agree. And I think my my last question for you is going to be going back to events. And I just wanted to ask, again, your opinion on this. Most events, we're focused on in person, attendees, there was some virtual but not as much as we see today at all. So do you think now when events are setting goals for in person verse virtual events? Obviously, their goals are different? Do you think it's more? Should they be focusing more on like goals regarding engagement when it comes to virtual events? Because that is I know, a big issue? Because it's way easier to feel engaged or be engaged in in person events?



I'm going to answer it, and I don't know if I'm answering your question. So if I'm don't, please call me on it.



It was a pretty loaded question.



So well, but go back to start with Deb. You know, what is your mission? Why are you doing the event? How's it going to help your business? How's it going to help your venue? How's it going to help your industry? And what is it that that's really going to get you excited? So think of the who you are and how you help, but in terms of what is your group doing to help this demographic by putting putting on this event? So in this is my this is why I like them so much. Because you can layer it on anything, you can layer it on event goals, content goals, a job search, whatever it is you want, it starts with you.

Why are you doing this? What makes you special? And how are you going to bring this out in order to make it a success for other people?

So that that's kind of the fuel is the how do you help? When you have that in mind? What is this event going to do for the attendees, then you've got a great guiding light for everything else that you do to create it. So I'm going I'm doing this mixer, because I want to bring people together in this event so they can share their knowledge and develop deeper relationships. Great. What does that mean? Well, if it's a virtual event, it means you want some sort of good engagement activity for everybody together. And then the conversation starters or table talks to the breakout rooms that's going to bring out the best in the people.

For a live event, you can do the same thing pretty much virtually what sort of program is going to get people excited about your topic, your industry your solution, and then find ways to to get like minds together. So they can have the conversation.

You know, find your people and you can do something fun in random like when they come in, what's your favorite color? And then you put all the different favorite colors together. Your Purplepass, of course, I had to mention colors right? Or your favorite tree or animal and all this stuff, it sounds really basic, but people have really strong opinions about their favorite color. People have very strong opinions about their favorite animal, are you? Let's put all the dog people here all the cat people here all the fish people here.

Yeah, something really minor is going to start conversations. What kind of cuisine Do you like? It's so figure out ways to organically divide and conquer. You know, be creative, have fun. But think about what do you as the event planner, what do you want people to say about your event? After it's over? How do you want them to feel? And what sort of things can your attendees do after the event that are going to make them feel good, you know, especially for something like virtual, make sure everybody connects on LinkedIn, make, make them you know, give certain instructions that help people self identify, and then identify the people who will be the right people, for them to meet for their business, you know, so the, you want to connect the sponsors with their ideal client, you want to connect the speakers with people who want to learn what it is they have to say.

And then give them some strategies to continue the conversation and continue the learning after the events over, which you can do using in something as simple as a hashtag, you know, tag us with your favorite takeaway from this event, or tag someone that you met and tell us about your conversation, be sure to use this hashtag. So there's so many different ways an event planner can can encourage people to continue the conversation from the attendee standpoint.Think before you go to any event, think about how it's going to help you achieve your goal. Or, who do you need to meet? And what do you need to learn and realize you can't meet everybody and you can't learn everything. So it works on both sides. So we've got the event planners wanting to create these wonderful experiences. And in directing the attendees to help them reach their goals, that's going to really set your event apart.

And from the attendee side. What do you need for this event to be successful for you? And then make it happen again, simple, right? It's not simple, but it is.



I know, everything seems so simple. And you put it out there, but then you got to do it. And yeah. Well, awesome. Before we go, I did want to kind of do a shout out to you and, like let event event planners know if they wanted to work with you, or even, you know, people want on what debt want one on one coaching? Do they just reach out to you? Or how would that work?



Well, all the above is so yes, event planners who want to do a value add to their events, please reach out. If you have a company and you're sending a team or you're sending yourself to an event. And you want some consulting, so you can strategize to get the most out of it. I work both sides. So I work with event planners. And I also work with companies sending people to you can go to to learn more about me. But honestly, one of the best places to reach out to me is just gone.

LinkedIn mentioned that you heard me on this podcast and that you'd love to connect. And we can go from there. And people can also email me at



Awesome. Well, of course, I will link all of that wherever I share this episode. So it will be easy to reach out to you if they need to. So thanks again for coming onto the show. I really appreciate everything you had to share. I know goals are a hot topic, but it can seem overwhelming setting them especially if you you fail at them because again, you set yourself up poorly like you said. So I think this is going to be really helpful for not just event planners, but just everyone, it's been helpful to me. So again, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to me. I really appreciate it.



And thank you for having me in. I just want to wish you the most success because remember, whether whether you're a podcaster and event planner, event attendee, entrepreneur, expert, whatever your role is, you can have what you want. You just have to decide what it is. Make a plan and then go for it. It really is that simple.

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