Tag Archives: Goal

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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Procrastination is just signal that something is not right!

Who has not been there? You have a deadline or a target, and should really be doing something about it, yet, you procrastinate. You do everything else, even the admin or the dreaded ironing rather than tackle that particular task or goal. And not even iron will power or super discipline help. You still procrastinate. Often, procrastination is an unconscious process that we only become aware of when we are running out of time to complete our task or goal by the deadline or target time/date.

Why do we procrastinate? And how can we make procrastination our friend and not our enemy?

Both those questions are linked. In order to make procrastination our friend, we first need to become aware why we are procrastinating.

1. Why do we procrastinate?

It is very simple, we procrastinate because there is something not quite right with what we decided to do or how/when/where or with whom we decided to do it. This something wrong is a gap or discrepancy of some sort.

In my experience, these gaps or discrepancies that cause us to procrastinate tend to fall under the following categories:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success
  • Beliefs we hold about ourselves
  • A values violation
  • Overwhelm
  • Lack of knowledge or skills

And how can we make procrastination our friend and not our enemy?

Once we know what motivates us to procrastinate, we can address these reasons. Being aware is half the battle.

Every behaviour has a positive intention

So does procrastination. We do what we do because it gives us something positive or satisfies some need we have, we just might not realise it. So when you examine the reasons for any procrastinating behaviour, observe the behaviour from a neutral point of view and refrain from judging yourself. Look for the positive intention:

  • What is procrastination protecting you from?
  • What is it helping you avoid?

Consider the list of reasons for procrastination above, if nothing comes to mind. And remember, procrastination does not necessarily have to be a bad thing!

Addressing the reasons for procrastination

Fear of failure

This is a biggie for most people. What if I fail? Most of us fear that we will then no longer be appreciated by others or fall in their estimation. It is so drummed into us from early age that failure is something terrible, but is it? Or is it simply a form of feedback that the way we did something did not have the desired result?

So ask yourself:

  • Is this really true that we will lose others respect, esteem and/or appreciation if we ‘fail’?
  • What is the worst that could happen?
  • What is failure anyway? Edison had a 1000 odd so-called failures before he invented the lightbulb. He chose to call them steps or feedback. If you ‘failed’, how will you take that feedback, learn from it and change your strategy to achieve the task or goal?

Fear of success

This may sound weird, however it affects a lot of people. What happens once the goal is achieved? If there is nothing beyond that goal, a lot of people procrastinate about achieving the first goal. So if that is your reason for procrastination, look beyond your immediate goal.

  • What does this goal help you to achieve?
  • What doors open up for you once you achieved this goal?
  • And what is your goal beyond the goal?

Beliefs we hold about ourselves

Negative or unhelpful beliefs we have about ourselves hold us back from achieving what we want. Common examples of such beliefs are ‘I am not worthy’, ‘I don’t deserve’, ‘I am stupid’, ‘I am clumsy’ etc.. We tend to acquire these kinds of beliefs during childhood through repetitive experiences or decisions we made about ourselves. The way belief work is like unconscious programmes that run in the background and cause us to make choices that support those beliefs.

  • The first step is awareness and identifying the belief you hold about yourself. Listen to your excuses and self-talk about your task or goal, and pick our any ‘I am’, ‘I am not’ or ‘I am too’ statements.
  • The next step is to ask yourself: Is this belief about myself totally and utterly true everywhere and in any situation? What other evidence is there for the opposite belief?
    Give yourself permission to entertain the thought that your belief about yourself could be false.

Dealing with unwanted beliefs can be a challenge on your own, so consider asking for help from a qualified coach, NLP practitioner or therapist.

A values violation

Values are what is important to us. When something we want or have been asked to do goes against what is important to us, we have a natural tendency to dig in our heals and procrastinate.  The task or goal may be important to someone else, however, if it does not satisfy our core values, we are not likely to give it priority. So, check if what you are procrastinating about falls into this category:

  • What is important to you in this context?
  • Why is that important to you?
  • What other options are there to change, remove or delegate this value violating task? Be open-minded when considering this question.

Overwhelm

You have bitten off more than you can chew in the time you have available. Often procrastination is a stress avoidance mechanism. So if you have too many things to do in a short space of time and you do not know where to start, consider the following:

  • Prioritise! Prioritise! Prioritise! Which tasks are super urgent and which ones will keep? Are all of them equally important?
  • Who can you delegate to? Who can help you?
  • If the task is too big, and seems to loom over you, break it down into small pieces, and start with one piece at a time.

Lack of knowledge or skills

If that is you, and you know you have a knowledge gap or skills gap, consider the following:

  • Is it absolutely necessary that you do the task personally? Or can you outsource the task to someone else who has the knowledge and the skills?
  • If you need to do the task yourself, then think about creatively how can you acquire the knowledge you need and learn the necessary skills?
  • We often don’t know the how of a goal or a task. And in many cases we only find out the how by starting the task. So what you can do today to start this task? And even if the next step is to discover where to acquire the knowledge or where to find someone who knows how to do it!
  • Some people use procrastination as a creative space – they do something else so their mind can sort out a solution or way forward in the background. If that’s you and you usually achieve what you set out to do, then don’t worry about procrastination.

This list of suggestions for dealing with procrastination is by no means complete, however it will give you a great starting point. Once you tackled procrastinating about one thing, you will find it so much easier the next time. Be patient with yourself and make sure you acknowledge the positive intention of the procrastinating behaviour.

If you have any specific questions or challenges, feel free to share these via the comments box, and I am more than happy to answer your questions.

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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!

Enjoy.


[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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What’s your ‘obstacle’ strategy?

How you deal with any obstacles or blocks that appear on the way to your goal is a key indicator whether you are likely to achieve your goals and what the journey to your goal will be like for you.

Obstacles can be of an external or internal nature. The external obstacles, which include things like rules (‘we do not do this here’ or ‘you can only get ahead if you fulfil certain criteria’) or lack of resources (money or time).

Then there are the internal obstacles. In my view, they are the more critical to us. We often do not recognise that we have them and use external obstacles as reasons or excuses to procrastinate about taking the next step or even abandon our goals. Internal obstacles include limiting beliefs or decisions about us such as our capabilities, our self-worth, what we deserve or do not deserve. Internal obstacles also include how much we subscribe to shared cultural beliefs. Do we accept that something is true for us if is the accepted norm in the environment we live and work in? For example, Roger Bannister obviously did not subscribe to culturally accepted beliefs that ‘it is humanly impossible to run a 4 minute mile’, whereas other athletes obviously did.

Both types of obstacles whether internal or external are very real to each of us. Having a good obstacle strategy helps us to not only deal with obstacles successfully but also to stay on course to achieve our goals.

So what does it mean to have an obstacle strategy? A strategy is a sequence of steps or techniques we go through to achieve a certain outcome. However, not all strategies are useful. For example if your normal obstacle strategy is to ‘overcome’ the obstacle however there is an easier way to walk around it, then why not walk around it and avoid the obstacle all together?

In order to come up with alternative obstacle strategies, it is helpful to know what you believe about the obstacle(s) that you perceive in your life right now.

So, take a few moments and consider what beliefs, rules, assumptions, decisions etc. do you have or have you created about the obstacle(s) in relations to yourself?

It is useful to write down whatever comes to mind. Don’t judge any thoughts that come up, just write them down and continue writing until you have listed everything you ‘know’ and believe about the obstacle as it applies to you. Then write down your possible actions that you can take using your normal strategy for each obstacle.

Now it’s time to be creative. Flip the obstacle or the beliefs on their heads.

I invite you to explore a number of options for each obstacle and each belief, rule, assumption and decision about the obstacle(s):

  • What of the opposite were true? Rephrase your obstacle and your beliefs about it so that it says the complete opposite. What action options do you have now?
  • Think of someone who you know of or a famous person you admire, and imagine you are them. How would they deal with that obstacle? Write down your ideas.
  • Imagine the obstacle was not there. That is especially useful when it comes of lack of knowledge and lack of resources. What would your next step be towards your goal, even if it was a tiny step?

Once you have written all your new options down against your perceptions of that obstacle, have a read through them again and notice how many more action options you now have. Take the one that appeals to you most at this time and put it in your diary!

Outwit the obstacle by travelling into the future

One other great way to deal with obstacles is to take a journey into the future and look back at it. Our amazing minds are able to imagine almost anything, so make use of this fantastic capability. Imagine yourself at a point when you have moved beyond that obstacle, when you have achieved your next milestone on the way to your goal of the goal itself. Make the experience real by noticing what you see, hear and feel in that experience. Then ‘figuratively’ (or if you are standing upright, physically) turn around and look back towards the present. Notice what happened that obstacle. What did you do move beyond it? Write down all your insights.

Using these techniques will help you to gain different perspectives on those obstacles you currently perceive in your life. A different perspective opens up new choices and alternatives that will help you move forward towards your goal.

Enjoy.

Motivation! – When is it ever the right time?

Are you one of those women who wait for the right time to feel motivated before taking action?  And, does it take you ages to make progress towards your goals which demotivates you even further?

Guess what, waiting for motivation to appear is not a winning formula! Most of the time, taking some action towards your goal or dream, even if that action is very small, is going to increase your motivation. If you wait for motivation to appear, your goal might just never become reality! And here is why:

Motivation is all about movement and motives

Motivation has a number of roots. The main one being the latin word movere which means to move or motus which means motion. Motivation is also linked to the words motive (reason or intention) and emotion (feeling).

This means, motivation is not something that happens to us when we are stagnant, it happens when we move and take action; motivation is also less likely to be forthcoming when we are not clear as to our reasons why we want to do something. We feel demotivated when our reasons for our goals conflict with our values or core beliefs – our emotions then let us know there is a problem.

Feeling a lack of motivation is always a sign that something is not quite right. So, if you do not feel motivation to take the next step towards your goal ask yourself the following questions to identify the cause(s) and  key actions you can take now to increase your motivation to move forward.

What are my excuses for not taking the next step?

Don’t feel like it? Not the right the time? Do not know how? Any of these could be the answer. Whatever your answers are, take some time to examine what you feel when you reflect into this answer. What do you see or hear internally? What is behind that excuse? Most women discover that is fear of some sort. The fear of being laughed at, fear of failure, fear or succeeding even. Whatever it is, acknowledging it and becoming aware of the emotion behind your lack of motivation often is what helps us to move forward.

What are my reasons (motives) for wanting to achieve this goal?

If your dreams and goals are things that you ‘should’, ‘ought to’ or ‘must’ be doing and they are more other people’s goals than yours, then a lack of motivation indicates that there is a values conflict and it might be worth re-examining the goal or dream. If you discover that there are loads of positive reasons for achieving this goals, make sure you write them down and have them in a place that you look at every day.

And if you discover that your reasons are ‘negative’, i.e. reasons that contain words like avoid, prevent, reduce, away from, don’t want, etc., then there maybe limiting beliefs about yourself and your ability to achieve your goal that hold you back. You might find it useful to write down what comes into your head without judging, and once you can’t think of anything else, go back and consider what beliefs about yourself are behind your ‘negative reasons’.

What if anything would make me feel motivated to take the next step given what I now know about the root of ‘lack of motivation’?

I am assuming you know your next step. If you don’t then, that might at the root of your lack of motivation. Consider asking one of your ‘success team’ for help or taking some time out to have a creative brainstorming session on what the options for next steps could be.

If you know your next step, I invite you put a number (e.g. between 1 and 10) or a value (lowest to highest) on the level of your current motivation to take the next step. Then ask yourself, what would need to happen for you to be slight more motivated i.e. if you used numbers and had a current motivation level of 5, what would get you to a 6, for example, and when you have established that, think about what would then get you to a 7 and so on.

I invite you to try and make this exercise as fun as possible. So be as creative and playful as you can!

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Success is a team effort! – Who’s in your team?

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Despite what you may think, there is always someone else involved in your success somewhere along the way. These people include your parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, bosses and many more. Some of these people helped you, others provided challenges you needed to overcome such as limiting beliefs or other perceived obstacles, and others again acted as role models without actively taking a part in your successes.

Most of us do not actively manage our ‘team’ for success. And, therefore we do not make the best use of the people we have around us or bring those people on board who would accelerate our success.

This week, I invite you to think about those people you need or want in your team to help you to achieve your goals.

For your top goal –  who is currently in your team? Make a list of all people who are connected to your goal, including the ones you talk to about your goal and the ones who you listen to when they voice an opinion. Consider grouping your ‘team members’ using the following categories:

Review your supporters – who else do you need in your team to support you? If you have it, use your plan and/or goal visualisation and consider who else might be a good person to have on board. Also consider any role models of people you have read about or heard of who have gone and achieved similar goals to yours. Also, check out your ‘saboteurs’: Who do you need to remove from your team and reduce the time you give them? Remember the saboteurs are only saboteurs because you let them!

Your active supporters want you to succeed. However, we often do not make it easy for our supporters to give us the more effective support they can give us. For example, we may not be explict about our goals and what we are trying to achieve, or we are not specific about what we need each of the supporters to do for us.

Now, consider each of your active supporters and ask yourself:

  • How clear are your supporters about your goal, their active part in your goal and what you need from them?
  • How can you convert some of your passive supporters to make them active supporters?

Sometimes it can be difficult to answer these questions by yourself. If that is the case for you, why not ask your ‘supporters’ for advice and help? Just talking to them about your goal and your plans, and listening to their views, might already take you a step further towards your goal.

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