Tag Archives: achievement

Totally committed, yet nothing much happens?

You are totally committed to achieving your goals (e.g. losing weight, getting fit, learning a new skill, starting that project at work), and for some reason you cannot get yourself to start. You are putting off your first step or you may have stalled somewhere on the way, and that next step seems never to start. You know you are motivated to achieve your goal, but feel demotivated by taking the first step. Something is stopping you and it is just not happening. And, with each passing day you feel more guilty and disappointed about not getting anywhere near your goal.

Do you recognise this scenario? If you do, then you are not alone. A lot of us suffer from this condition called ‘trying to eat the elephant in one go’.

It may be that your goal, and even your first step feels too big, takes too long, too hard, too much, just too…..

In that case, you maybe trying to eat the ‘elephant’ in one go rather than in small bites. Remember the achievement list from my last post? You can use that to unblock your next step towards your goal.

Forget the end goal and all the different steps you would have to take to get there. Instead, take a few deep breaths and answer the following question:

  • What is the one thing (related to your goal) however small it might be that you know you can achieve that you can do next?
  • And commit to do that thing at a specific time, today.

It might be taking a few extra steps on your way to getting fit or losing weight, investigating classes to learn your new skill, speaking to others at work about the project or writing the first paragraph of your project proposal.

Raymond Aaron, the creator of the MTO (minimum, target, outrageous) method, calls that the minimum. Check out his video here.

Instead of beating yourself up with a massive target, allow yourself to relax and achieve one thing at a time. Your may notice your motivation and energy rising exponentially with each small step you take, and before you know it you have created a new habit and achieved your goal.

Once you’ve started, you might find you do not wish to stop once you have completed your first step. Feel free to continue taking the next step and the next, or feel free to stop and take the next step the following day. Make sure to celebrate each step! Make it fun and enjoyable.

Using this method, I found my clients achieve best results when they focus on one goal at a time, ask themselves the question above every day, and then do their committed action that very day.

Enjoy achieving more each day 🙂

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To-do lists work, except when they don’t!

We have all been there. Every day we look at our to-do list and it is not getting smaller. Although we busy our to-do list gets longer and we feel more like a failure and overwhelmed by all the things that still need to done.

I have been there myself. I don’t know about you, but deleting things or crossing lines off a to-do list does not fill me with the same sense of satisfaction as e.g. acquiring a new pair of shoes. It might fill me with a sense of short-lived relief that an action is finally complete but no satisfaction. Looking at the list with still a humongous number of things to do filled me with dread and brought any motivation I had down to super low.

And a lot of my female friends and clients have had similar experiences. Maybe it is a women’s thing and it has to do with our gatherer ancestry?

Switching from crossing off to adding on

When I was in this situation recently and felt really demotivated looking at my overflowing list of things to do, I decided to turn the to-do list on its head.

Why not forget about what I needed to do and focus on what I had already achieved? Why not make an achievement list and add to it every time I achieved something, instead of crossing off things of the to-do list? And, I was going to look at my to-do list maximum once a week. I decided to give this approach a weeks’ trial.

Whenever I had achieved something, even if it was ‘small’ I noted it on my achievement list. By the end of the day, the list had grown amazingly and I felt amazing and very satisfied. Before the week was up I’d even started tasks that had been on my to-do list for more than 6 months – I am sure you can guess what those included – cleaning out the garage, de-cluttering my wardrobe were the two with the longest tenure.

All of a sudden I had more of spring in my step and I got more done than the weeks before. I felt great about myself and what I had achieved. This new achievement list also reminded me every day that

  • I was making progress towards my vision and big goals, even though it seemed slow
  • I was doing more than I was giving myself credit for, and
  • I am essentially a gatherer who enjoying accumulating successes and not deleting tasks

This new list also allowed me to check what achievements I might be able to ask other people to do for me in future and not forgetting about them till next time.

How did this affect my to-do list?

When I reviewed my to-do list at the end of the week, a good amount of activities could be ticked off as completed. Although I had been slightly worried that I might forget important tasks, that was not the case. And, I had completed tasks like the de-cluttering and the garage clean out that I had neglected for a long time because I had perceived those tasks as a burden to be reduced rather than an achievement to be added.

Would I throw out my to-do list?

No. I find it useful as an overall list that helps me plan what I need and want to do. However, I am adding my achievement list to my daily routine as it gives that extra boost of motivation and energy, and it allows me to take breaks without feeling guilty. For example, taking walk in the sunshine at lunchtime and getting fresh air, went on my achievement list!

So, if you have never tried an achievement list, consider trying it. You can make it really fun and interesting. You do a mind map, a drawing with different colours or even use the wheel of life or your goal categories to record your achievements.

I used a 2×2 matrix with the categories Business, Home, Friends & Family, Myself in my first week to make it easy. Since then I have also used the ‘wheel of ‘ giving me more categories. Both worked really well.

Make it your own 🙂

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Crowning off the Old, Stepping forth into the New

Did you know that 78% of people[1] do not achieve their New Year’s resolutions? And did you also know that over half of all New Year’s resolutions have been resigned to the bin of failure by January 31?

With this damming statistic, what’s the point of having New Year’s resolutions at all?

The New Year signals a new beginning just as the dawn of each day does. We tend to mark the ending of the old year and celebrate the beginning of the New Year, which gives us a much-needed boost of energy and motivation during the darkest part of year. Given that most of us take time off over the festive period, it is great to time to take stock of the old year and plan ahead for the New Year. And, the great news is, despite all those statistics, there are loads of people who achieve one or more of their New Year’s resolutions! The trick is to understand what these people do differently to those who abandon their resolutions within the first month.

You will be pleased to know that the difference that makes the difference in achieving New Year’s resolutions is not vastly different to what it takes to achieve goals!

So what makes the difference?

1. Crown off the old year

So many of us set new resolutions or just rehash the old (not achieved) ones, without truly taking stock and highlighting to ourselves what we actually achieved over the course of the past year. It is very human phenomenon to forget past achievements and take for granted, and not giving those achievements (and thus ourselves) the appreciation, admiration and pride that is due to them.

Collate your achievement profile for 2011

I invite you now to take one hour out your busy festive period, and really go back over this year, and discover and celebrate these achievements. Really challenge yourself to identify your achievements, your biggest learnings, your best memories, even if they seem small or insignificant to you, write them down! Also check out my earlier article on Celebrating your successes improves confidence and self-esteem!

Create an achievement board

To make this really fun, consider creating an achievement board (similar to a future vision board, just for past achievements) where you mark your achievements by month or by area with symbols, funky colours, memorable drawings or pictures of yourself.

Give awards for your achievements

How about giving awards to those achievements? Examples of achievement awards could be:

  • Most fun experience award
  • ‘I am so proud of myself’ award
  • Super happy award
  • Most challenging achievement award
  • Biggest learning award

Be really creative with those and make the awards ceremony really fun. This is also a fabulous exercise to do with your children (if you have any) or get group of girlfriends together and give each other awards!

Notice how you feel about 2011 once you have done that. I know, a lot of us may fall into the trap of cataloguing all the things we wanted to achieve, yet for some reason did not. If that is you, put these to one side until you get to step 2!

2. Focus on what is important to you

This may seem rather simple, however it is crucial. A lot of us set New Year resolutions (or any goals for that matter) for things that do not really matter to us. We set them because we feel we should because we did not achieve them the year before, other expect it of us or it is what everybody strives for.

Weed out de-motivating resolutions!

The thing is, if something does not truly matter to you, it will not motivate you to achieve it either. So, as a next step, list all your resolutions that you want to achieve (past, present and future) and consider the following questions (also check out my blog article on Motivation! ):

  • What is really important to you about that resolution?
  • Why is that important to you?
  • What would happen if you achieved it?
  • What would happen if you did not achieve it?
  • How motivated are you by this resolution? (you could use a scale 0 (not at all)-10 (high), or high, medium, low to make this more real)

Ideally write the answers to your questions down for each resolution you have, and then consider the final question:

  • If you could achieve only one thing in 2012 out of all those listed, what would that be?

Really go into yourself and find out what truly excites and lights you up. You may have several resolutions or goals for next year that you truly wish to achieve. If so, list them in order of priority.

Make your resolutions SMART

Almost everyone will have heard of SMART[2] goals. It is an approach that has been proven to work well for most people. I invite you now to take your priority resolutions and make them SMART. For each goal make it

  • Specific and simple: what specifically do you want? When, where, how and with whom you want this?
  • Meaningful to you: what does this resolution look like, sound like, feel like when you have achieved it? How do you know unequivocally that you are on the right track and that you have achieved?
  • Achievable: where are you now and what resources will you need to achieve this goal? What are the smaller steps that you need to do to achieve the goal?
  • Realistic: given what else is going on for you, how much time, effort and energy can you devote to you resolution? Be real!
  • Timed and toward what you want: can you put dates to the small steps? And when are you going to take the first step towards you goal? Is the goal stated in positive language – what you do want and not what you don’t want. Also check out my blog article How serious are you about your goals?

 3. Stepping forth into the New Year

Now that we have weeded out those resolutions that don’t motivate you, and have made those resolutions that totally matter to you SMART, the final step is to increase the energy and motivation behind those resolutions to make them even more compelling and self-motivating.

Do one at a time!

Trying to work on all your resolutions at the same time, could be a step too far. This is backed up Richard Wiseman’s and other research. People who tend to fail in their New Year’s resolutions are trying to do too much in too short a time.

So, choose the one resolution that will make the biggest difference to you (either it is the most fun to do, will make the biggest impact on your life, is the easiest to accomplish, or any other criterion that works for you).

Spread out your resolutions over the year

And then, schedule in your other resolutions throughout the year. Be clear when you will start on each one, and when you will have accomplished it by. Consider using a vision board as a fun reminder and as a way to keep track of your progress.

If you would rather wait with scheduling in the other resolutions or you decided on one resolution for 2012, consider reviewing your resolutions each month and doing monthly resolutions, which are also very effective and keep motivation up.

Taking the first step increases motivation

Motivation is not just a feeling of energy towards a goal, it is also about using that energy to take the first step! And that first step is crucial. So be really clear, what your first step is towards your New Year’s resolution, and take it in the first week of January. No matter how small the step, you will find it is worthwhile.

The trick is to schedule the next step, as soon as the first step is completed and get into the habit to diarise the next step as soon as you have completed the previous step.

Share your resolution with others

Get friends and colleagues to support you in achieving your resolution. Most people around you want you to succeed. When you lose motivation or feel that it is not worth it anymore, those are the people who will root for you and help you get motivated again. And more often than not, sharing our resolutions with others opens up new, quicker and easier ways of getting what we want. So be brave and go public with your resolutions!

Let me know how you get on!


[1] according to research conducted by Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire.

[2] S-Specific, M-Measurable, A-Achievable, R-Realistic, T-Timed

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How serious are you about your goals?

A lot of women fall into the trap of not taking the time to describe their goals clearly and positively. Due to perceived time pressures, full schedules, limiting beliefs and conditioning, we often put our own needs last or feel that spending time on goal setting would be better spent elsewhere.

However, time spent on goal setting and planning is one of most profitable uses of your time! Research has shown that setting clear goals, writing them down and making plans how to achieve them often makes the difference between achieving one’s goals and not achieving them. You may have heard of the goal achievement study (Source: What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack) conducted on Harvard MBA students in 1970. Only 3% of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13% had goals, but they were not in writing; and a whopping 84% had no specific goals at all. When the members of the class were interviewed 10 years later, the 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all. However, the 3% who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% put together.

So, how clear are you on what you want to achieve? Try this exercise. Visualise or imagine yourself just after you have completed your goal, looking back at your goal and how you got there. What do you see, hear and/or feel when you have achieved your goal? What does the world look like at that time in the future? And who is there with you? Make your goal as real as possible, have fun with it and, very importantly, write down what you have visualised, heard and felt!

What happens if visualisation does not work? Some people find it very hard to visualise or describe their goals clearly, especially those goals which they have tried to achieve for a long time, but never gotten close to achieving. That could mean a number of things including:

  • The goal is not right for you at this time. You may need to learn other skills or other goals need to be achieved first: Ask yourself, what is stopping you right now from going for this goal? And what would it take to overcome this obstacle?
  • A limiting belief about yourself stands in the way: What do you believe about yourself that is in conflict this with goal? Ask yourself, is this belief absolutely and utterly true all the time? What evidence can you find that this belief may not be true?
  • The goal is someone else’s goal for you: Ask yourself where your goal comes from. Who is constantly encouraging you to achieve this goal? And how do you really feel about this goal? Be honest with yourself!
  • The goal is too complex, too big or too far in the future: Break down your goal into smaller goals and notice what difference that makes

Once you have clearly described your goal and have developed a step by step plan on how to get there, there is often one other thing that holds people back from achieving their goal: The language in which you stated the goal!

Always use positive and present tense language when describing your goal! Many people have goals to get them away from something and state their goal in negative language e.g. “I want to lose weight” (lose implying a problem and not a solution), rather than “I am achieving and sustaining my ideal weight of xx” or “I want to earn more money” (more implying a lack and thus a focus on lack) rather than “I am going to earn xx amount”.

Unfortunately, negative language often does not inspire us and makes us lose motivation quickly. If you believe in the law of attraction, then you know focussing on lack or something negative will just bring more of what we do not want.

Therefore, check out your goals and the language you use to state them to yourself and others. Is it positive, in the present tense and inspirational or it is negative, sometime in the future and aspirational?

Now, moving into the second quarter of the year, is a good time to review progress on your New Year’s resolutions or annual goals. Where you have not made the progress you wanted, you now have a great opportunity to do something about it.

If you are truly serious about achieving those goals you have set yourself, take the time and make an appointment with yourself to clearly describe your goals and prepare a goal achievement plan.


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What is ‘SUCCESS’ for you?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines success as the “accomplishment of an aim or a purpose”. According to this definition, you are successful when you have achieved the outcomes, goals and targets you set yourself. These can be very different for each of us. Success can take many different forms for women, whether it is becoming a leader in her field, being a great mum, raising a family and making sure her children have everything they need to develop, winning medals in sport contests, caring for others or just being the best she can be.


Whatever your definition success it will be very personal to you and will reflect your unique qualities and gifts.

So what is your definition of success? What do you want to achieve in the next few months, this year, in the next three years, your life? I also invite you to review how your New Year’s resolutions (if you made any of those at the beginning of this year) in the light of your answers to these questions and check how these fit in with your definition of success. Some people find it helpful to journal answers to these questions as it helps them to check back on progress, jog their memory and/or become more focussed. If you are not used to keeping a journal,  have a go and find out if it works for you.

How much of ‘your ‘definition of success is your own? And, how much of it is based on what other people view as successful? Part or all of our definition of success is often influenced by parents, friends, teachers, the culture we grew up in or people we adopted as role models. I have known a lot of women who struggled to achieve the level of success they wanted without realising that part of their definition of success was, in fact, not theirs. They had subconsciously adopted other people’s views of what their goals should be and found themselves in constant conflict between what wanted deep down and what they thought they had to achieve. If you find it difficult to answer these questions, you might like to think about how the different people in your life define success and map this to your views.

How do you talk or think about what you want to achieve? If you find yourself using a lot of shoulds, have tos, need tos, ought tos, musts or using a lot of reasons why you were unable to make progress against your goals, one of the reasons for this could be that your goals may not be entirely your own. I invite you to have a play with this over the next few weeks and observe what words you use when you think or talk to others about your goals. If you want to make it more fun, team up with a friend and pick up on each others watch words about your goals and desired outcomes.

Feel free to share your views or ask questions by adding a comment to this blog article. I look forward to hearing from you!

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