Hey! Can it really only be a few days away from 2020? Time to set goals…..again? So soon!
Seriously, I love setting goals for the New Year. It’s fun and optimistic and motivating to me. Gets my juices flowing.
I confess though, inevitably when I look back at my goals from the past year, I wonder why I bothered. I keep records of all my goals and if I glance over a decade, I can clearly see that I probably hit only about 20% of them.
So last year I tried something different. Sure, I still set my very specific financial and personal goals, but I also added a new ingredient that was bang on target and made everything else work.
Let me share.
Here is my process. I call this my Pre-Goal Game Plan—3 steps you need to take before you set your goals for better results.
So…looking back over the past year or more…
1) Think of an area in your life where you would prefer to have been more effective.
You didn’t hit that goal or make those needed improvements. Examples: Learning a new skill, getting your health in hand, getting along with family, making presentations, being more productive, and creating smarter work habits, etc.
2) Now, think of an area of your life where you are really successful; something you already do well and with total confidence.
Examples: An aspect of your job, cooking, a sport, languages, computer skills, etc.
Now, here’s the key that unlocks the goodies.
3) What is the difference between the two?
What do you do in the unsuccessful areas that differ from the activities you excel in? How do you behave? What are you saying to yourself and what do you believe about doing those activities?
What happens when things go wrong? How do you recover? When you know you are off-track or not achieving what you want, how do you respond—what are you thinking and feeling? What do you tell yourself?
So, in other words, what is the difference between the successful recoveries and the not so successful ones?
3)Now, imagine you are ‘mapping over’, i.e.transferringthose components of success to areas where you aren’t achieving.
Just visualize yourself doing the desired activity and imagine you are applying all the thoughts, beliefs, and actions from things you do well. How would you be feeling? Behaving? Handling setbacks?
You know you can do it. You already have, just not with this specific thing.
For me, this process gave some astonishing insights.
For a long time I had been good at both preparing and delivering talks and trainings, which came from my 10 years’ experience as a business trainer.
But marketing? Sheesh. I was terrible at it. It required skill sets that I knew I didn’t have.
So I dug into the differences. When preparing for a talk I knew I had to put in a certain amount of work, I knew exactly what that work entailed, and I believed and was certain that it would pay off. I just had to slog away until the preparation was done.
If I found I didn’t like the direction it was taking, or I messed up with something, I would simply start again and persist until it was working for me. I knew I could do it.
For the marketing, on the other hand, if it didn’t work straight away and give me the results I wanted, I would throw up my hands and quit. Do something else. Why bother with this?
Successful marketers persist until they get it right. They adapt and adjust their tactics if they don’t work first time. They know what they need to do and are certain they will get results. Just like I do with my workshops and speech prep.
Conclusion? I need to believe that if I persist with my marketing, hang in there and just do the work, results will come. I also need to study up on it a bit more, and either farm out or learn to do the technical stuff myself, and have confidence that what I’m doing is the right strategy. Then get busy, just do it, as someone said, (Gandhi? Dali Lama? L’Oreal? Wait, Nike!) and not give up at the first obstacle.
You are your own best role model
In Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) we call this self-modeling. You know how you can be successful better than anyone else because you’ve done it before. You just need to dig deep into what you do well and compare it to areas you would like to improve.
Think of the implications. If we can model ourselves and de-construct our own successes and failures, we will have a powerful set of tools to achieve whatever we want in life.
For me, this has worked better than goal setting on its own. For my marketing I imagine I’m an experienced marketer who knows and believes in what she is doing. It really helps me to not start second guessing everything I’m doing. I now just get on with it.
But I still like to set goals, just adding in this new information about how to get there. Being more mindful about it.
I urge you to try it out. Just 3 steps. It’s actually fun. I’d love to know what you come up with. Contact me here.
I’ll talk some more next time about a great way to set your goals once you know where you need to change.
If you would like some personal help with goal setting, or with mapping over your success qualities to your disappointments, just shoot me an email at email@example.com. This is one of my favorite activities so I’d love to get stuck in with you.
Book a session with me now for the New Year and keep my current prices! They are going up in January 2020. The new prices for coaching are already on my website so contact me here firstname.lastname@example.org for current charges that you can keep forever.
The other day I woke up in a melancholy mood. “The bittersweet melancholy of another new dawn”, as my poet friend Scott Hastie expresses it so nicely.
I rarely get depressed, and then not for long, and I’m usually an upbeat, positive sort, so a melancholy mood felt strange. I didn’t know what to do with it, quite literally. I felt out of sorts, kind of off balance. Why, I wondered? Nothing bad was going on in my life, and all was well.
Have you had this happen?
As I examined it more closely I realized it was due to several things, all unrelated. I had watched a disturbing film the night before, several people had unsubscribed to my list (turns out they were on the wrong list), the sales on one of my books was down, and a client had cancelled her appointment due to illness.
Big deal! None of it important or earth shattering. Each on its own something I wouldn’t even blink at. Yet I had managed to pull them all together into a rather unpleasant tale and was unconsciously sending this charming message to myself—Nobody likes me, Everybody hates me, I think I’ll go and eat worms!
As soon as I woke up to this, it all went away and I was fine. No worms were harmed in the writing of this.
It got me thinking. While I was indulging my melancholy outlook, I got nothing done. The day was blue, I was blue, and nothing was going to get accomplished in that state.
What is a mood?
A mood is a generalized emotional state, which forms your attitude, and colors how you look at the world. Your frame of mind so to speak. So we have cranky, sour, melancholy moods, as well as peaceful, optimistic, blissful moods, and oh, don’t forget that seriously general mood, the blahs.
Every mood is a narrative,
…a story we have concocted around what is happening in our lives. Frequently it’s not even current stuff, but something triggered from the past. So we can get grumpy about something that happened 20 years ago without even knowing why.
We are not conscious we are creating the tale. We only feel the mood.
Our moods are more important than most of us realize. Successful people have control of their moods. They don’t let them take over and ruin their day. They push back against the dictator and create empowering moods.
Unhappy people don’t have control over their moods, which are usually of failure, or defeat, or inadequacy.
Moods rule our lives and dictate the kind of results we get in life. Mood matters.
The good news is you can control your mood and can always choose a useful one.
I use a technique (from Michael Neill) for mood control THAT WORKS EVERY TIME! It’s only 3 steps, so I encourage you to memorize it. You never know when it will come in handy.
This is how you dig out a bad mood and drag it blinking and snarling into the light of day. Leave the good ones alone. They are working for you.
Here we go. When you have a strange mood, and you don’t know the cause, complete these 3 sentences.
1) I’m feeling…….
(List all the words you can think of to describe your mood. Get as specific as possible. Remember, moods are general so home in on it.)
(List all the possible triggers that come to mind. It’s usually more than one.)
3) Which means…..
(Aha, here is the story, the narrative. What nonsense are you telling yourself about these events?)
When you look at the narrative you have uncovered, usually a blatant and silly generalization of unlinked occurrences, you can simply spin it. Find a new story, unlink the causes, and reframe all of it.
Every mood is a narrative.
Every narrative can be rewritten, so if you don’t like the mood, change the story.
Honestly, this is deceptively powerful and effective. Please try it.
If you would like help identifying and exposing some killer moods then contact me for a session either online or in person here in San Miguel de Allende. I’d love to help you make this work. Remember, if you don’t control your moods, then your moods control you! Contact me here.
I was at the beach the other day watching a glorious sunset. Breathtaking.
The waves were gently breaking against the rocks on the beach, the water was aquamarine, there were fluffy clouds in the sky catching the pink light, and flocks of birds were flying somewhere, who knows, to sleep?
A few pelicans were still fishing and would swoop and crash dramatically into the water whenever they saw prey.
Sounds sublime, huh? And yet there I sat, melancholy, and not knowing why.
Then if occurred to me. I was feeling that I ought to be feeling all kinds of spiritual and uplifting emotions. That I was connected, enlightened, with some sort of witchy incantation to the setting sun on my lips. Or standing in some sort of yogic posture with a shamanic fire burning luminously, bidding farewell to the fading day.
No, instead, I was feeling irritated and a bit restless, and annoyed with myself for wasting this beautiful moment. That I ought to be feeling or doing something different.
Ought to. Ought. Roll it around in your head. Is that word ever welcome?
The other day a client was bemoaning the fact that she felt overwhelmed by everything she had to do and it spoilt her joy and wellbeing. She worked on her business from home and had a million ideas and responsibilities that needed to be acted on.
Ever been there?
I remarked that yes, we can be overpowered with too many things to do all at once. And too many things all at once frequently means whatever we are doing, we feel we ‘ought’ to be doing one of the other many things we need to do. We never feel we are doing what we should be doing and the result is frustration about not being good enough, or organized enough, somehow.
On the same beach holiday mentioned above, I was enjoying an afternoon alone on the balcony of our hotel room, reading my kindle, enjoying creative thoughts and making notes. Then suddenly my internal voice pitched up yapping ‘you ought to be down on the beach enjoying it while you’re here! You shouldn’t be doing this stuff when you’re in this lovely setting!’ Dang. There it was again.
Ought, ought, ought. That word trying to wriggle in and spoil my peace of mind. Telling me I’m never doing the right thing—there’s always a million other things that are better, more productive, good for me. Anything but this, Sunshine!
But I caught it this time. Drop kicked it over the balcony and into the sand.
Start noticing if the word ‘ought’ comes into your thinking. It does with me, often. I’m now noticing when I feel I ought to be cleaning the kitchen when I’m sitting on the veranda. Or I ought to be thinking about lunch when I’m working on this blog. Or I ought to be taking the dogs out for a walk instead of whatever I’m doing (now that’s probably true!).
Don’t talk to me about the treadmill. I always ought to be on that.
I’m dropping that word. Or at least taking note when it rears its ugly head. Banishing it. I invite you to join me in this experiment.
Just say no to any oughts that creep in.
Instead, give yourself permission to focus on whatever you’re doing and rebelliously give it your complete attention. Sit and bask in the sunset just for the beauty of it and lounge on the veranda with a book for as long as you like and feel good about it. Have a glass of iced tea and thumb your nose at even the slightest notion that there’s anything better to do.
The irony is you’ll become more productive, more focused, feel more peaceful and able to enjoy whatever you’re doing.
A friend of mine wrote a screaming email to me the other day. Lots of caps. You know the type.
WHERE IS THAT THING YOU WROTE ON HOW TO DEAL WITH FAILURE AND SETBACK? I’m having a terrible day, everything I touch goes wrong and I CAN’T FIND THAT ADVICE!
I had to laugh. We’ve all had those days. Nothing goes right and it spoils our mood and puts us in a temper that guarantees even more things go wrong.
She wanted the ‘thing’ I’m about to share with you now. Keep it bookmarked—it might come in handy one day.
I don’t like failing
It makes me feel bad. So I will do everything I can to avoid it. If you think about it, we grow up with the message to get it right, make good grades no matter what, and that failure is definitely NOT a good thing. If you fail too much then watch out, YOU are a failure, a loser. Hang up your spurs kid, you got an F. Don’t do that again.
Maybe instead we should be encouraged to make mistakes, to take risks, fail and learn from it? Wouldn’t this help us all to be more creative? After all, every successful person will tell tales of failure on his or her way to the top, to success, creativity and fulfillment.
I recently came across an interesting take on this subject in a book by Tim Ferriss, called Tools of Titans. Tim is a kind of alternative success guru and he likes to unpack how successful people operate.
In the book Jocko Willink, Retired Navy Seal Commander, was asked how he dealt with failure. His reply—“How do I deal with setbacks, failures, delays, defeat, or other disasters? I actually have a fairly simple way of dealing with all those situations, and that is: “good.”
One word. Easy to remember, unless like my friend, you’re in meltdown.
So, in other words
—Didn’t get that job? Good. Opportunity to look for a better one.
—Got injured? Good. You needed a break.
—Unexpected problems? Good. You have the opportunity to figure out a solution and learn something awesome.
His staff ruefully relay that indeed he does give this response to every situation. And they learned that they may as well say it to themselves first before they go to him with any complaints.
And it worked brilliantly. What Willink was doing was training himself and his staff to approach every situation as a learning experience: to reframe mistakes or failures into a step on the ladder to getting it right. They were a championship team.
Now I know you may be thinking you’d like to deck him one for being so annoying, but he was a Navy Seal, so um, no.
It’s as if Willink is saying—‘It may not be great, or what we would choose, but it’s OK, good. It’s what we’ve got. We’ll make this work.’
Use this in day-to-day living
This works for everyday setbacks, irritants, or failures. Not for big disasters or tragedies. Things like:
You’ve tried something new: it didn’t work. Good. You got feedback. Try something different.
Your electricity just went out. Good. Take a break and do something different.
Your computer broke right when you were in an online business transaction? Good. Maybe it was a bad transaction. Good. Next time you’ll have some backup handy.
You got food poisoning from eating street food? Well, if you’re not dead, good. Go to bed, enjoy your rest and you might lose some weight.
Caught in a traffic jam? Good. A chance to listen to your music.
NB: Obviously it’s not recommended to use it in tragic situations, serious accidents, or death of someone or a pet. Those situations can take longer, sometimes years to see the good side, the silver lining.
A simple change in perspective can work wonders
I’ve started using this and am amazed how well it works to clear the decks and keep my balance when something goes haywire.
It shuts off my negative thinking, the story I’m building about what a bad day it is, and how I’m jinxed on technology, etc.
It’s more just observing what’s going down in a stoical way without judgment and then moving on to see how you can make the best of it.
This simple reframe takes you out of the victim mode. It implies taking action, putting things right, learning from mistakes. This didn’t work? Good. Do something different next time. Suck it up Lollipop and get on with it.
If whatever happens is ‘good’ then what have you got to lose? You’re learning all the time. You’re improving all the time.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone, take some chances, make lots of mistakes and reframe whatever happens as OK. You’ll be amazed how much progress you make in life and work.
It’s these little changes that can make the big differences in how we run our lives.
All my life I’ve heard the axiom, you can’t take it with you. And who can argue? You can’t take your money, your fabulous good looks, your home or your career—all those things you are clinging to so valiantly—with you when you die. So buck up Toots and keep your perspective.
It’s good advice. Don’t get too caught up in the things of this world which are ephemeral and will mean nothing when the end comes. Instead, focus on what matters in life—doing good deeds, love, friendship, and service. All that good stuff.
I always thought I had a handle on that. I certainly am not attached to jewelry or clothes (I buy clothes once a year from Dillard’s in one fell swoop), I’ve been busy de-cluttering my home for several years now, and I have a realistic approach to my career. I’m pretty darn detached from most stuff. I’ve got this, so I thought.
Until my computer died on me while on holiday in India. I woke up one morning and it was gone, not responding to anything, stubborn black screen staring back at me.
Up until then I had been gaily posting on Facebook about my journey, writing blogs, and generally keeping in touch with the world. Suddenly, nothing. (Before you ask, my phone was not set up for internet because I don’t like typing on it.)
So there I was, in an exciting area of India, Rishikesh, where the Beatles famously landed 51 years ago and kicked off an all things Indian/yoga/meditation craze that spread to the West, and wait, and I couldn’t share it with anyone?
The River Ganges was roaring a few feet away from my hotel balcony. Who can I tell?
Does it mean anything to me if I can’t share it? Sounds preposterous, and I’m a tad embarrassed about it, but these emotions of loss and abandonment flowed through me like the river beneath my window.
In a panicky frenzy I did manage to get my email on my husband’s computer, but little else of my entire life. Facebook and Gmail and Dropbox wouldn’t play ball. I forgot all my passwords and they were, guess where, on my computer. Doh!
Facebook was like, Northern India did you say? You want to change your password from there? Oh righty-o, we’re going to fall for that one. Go away. Ditto Gmail and Dropbox, Amazon, Kindle.
Yahoo, promiscuous as ever, let me in immediately—Sure, love, come on in, who needs a password? We believe you.
I went into withdrawal. Like coming off a drug. (So I’ve heard. Does coffee count?) The TV was not in English, my kindle needed replenishing and wouldn’t go online….and boy was this an eye opener about what I cling to!
A few heart wrenching days later, after surviving withdrawal, I began just sitting out on the balcony, doing nothing, watching the river flow. I liked it.
I became more relaxed about stuff that had been bothering me. I didn’t fret if plans had to be changed because of a monsoon spoiling that walk or making us late to some Wonder-of-the-World temple or monument.
I started to let go of a lot of ‘stuff’ that was clogging my life. Did I really need to have YouTube playing in the bathroom as I got ready to go out? No I did not.
I realized my computer had been keeping me from living in the moment.
And guess what? It belatedly dawned on me that I couldn’t take my computer with me when, well you know, that happens. Death, passing over, heading for the light.
I had a humorous moment of fantasizing about what it would be like to take it with me when I die, blogging and posting messages to everyone while it was happening.
“And … Guys, I’m in the tunnel now, yes that tunnel. Bigger than I thought it would be. Hey, you won’t believe who I saw first thing in front of the tunnel! Yes HIM. He’s very nice. It’s all a teensy bit scary but I see the light at the end and everyone has been very helpful and encouraging so far. I’m feeling OK, really, I’m fine, dealing with it. It’s happening! I’ll keep you posted. Later, folks.”
It was actually empowering to lose my computer and discover that my best friend and constant companion was a thing. A thing that breaks. And a false friend. A friend who would not be with me at the end.
I feel oddly liberated to know this.
What about you? Are you attached to something more than is recommendable? Anything you’re addicted to? Will you be OK letting go? And do you realize you can’t take it with you?
Later, folks. That’s all I’m confessing to for now.
Now, if you are looking for a life-coach who is so highly evolved she doesn’t blink when her laptop crashes, then I’m probably not your gal.
However, on the one hand, I’ve been there, done that, and survived!
On the other, who wants to work with someone that evolved?
Contact me for all issues non-computer related and for help getting your life to work. Finding purpose, finding your niche, your voice, creating a new career, surviving transitions. I can help.
Sessions available online or in person in San Miguel. Great Mexican prices too. Check it out here.
I’m lazy. I like things to be easy. If you tell me that in order to get healthy I need to go on an anti-inflammatory diet where I have to give up, well, let’s just say, food, I won’t do it. It’s too hard to stop tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, flour, dairy, sugar, pasta, bread, and everything else that makes life worth living all at once.
I will not do it. Not one bit of it—much less the whole shebang.
I balk like a stubborn mule. Do you have a mule?
Mules don’t like overwhelm.
How my Physical Therapist unwittingly used a Japanese strategy to deal with my mule
I recently engaged a Physical Therapist for a repetitive strain injury. Typically I left it until I couldn’t move my thumb at all and was in agony. He helped a lot with the recalcitrant thumb, but it was something else he showed me that you may find interesting.
We discussed a health problem I had had for several years that caused breathlessness and left me exhausted after even the smallest amount of exercise. I was terribly unfit as a result. And mule-like I didn’t like going 3 times a week to the exercise classes my doctor insisted on.
My PT taught me just one thing—how to breathe. I mean really breathe. Big gulping deep breaths for minutes at a time. All day. Whenever I thought about it. He persuaded me to buy a fitness watch that would beep to remind me to breathe.
Breathe. I can do that. It’s pretty cheap and very easy. The Mule in me didn’t notice.
Well, gentle reader; I’m here to tell you it got me off the couch. After a few weeks I had more energy and was using the treadmill for more than 2 minutes before collapsing. I even got in a swimming pool for the first time in 5 years.
All because of breathing? Yes.
One thoughtful change had worked better than all the expert advice from umpteen doctor/chiropractor/acupuncture/massage therapist appointments pooled together. Oh, and kick in a portable oxygen tank that I never used.
What my PT had done for me, albeit unconsciously, was mimic a Japanese system called Kaizen.
A little background here is interesting
Hang in there with me.
In the years following WW2 the Japanese were exhausted and defeated—their economy destroyed by the devastating effects of war. Japan was in dire straits, yet within 30 years bounced back with one of the strongest economies in the world.
American businessmen traveled to Japan to learn their secret and discovered that the Japanese employed a method called Kaizen to get back on their feet. It involved making itty-bitty changes—not big ones. They tackled their huge problems one tiny step at a time, one week at a time. It worked. Spectacularly well.
Kaizen literally means ‘incremental change, continuous improvement’.
Start with the smallest and practice the easiest.
How does this apply to me, I hear you cry?
Simply this. If you make small, seemingly insignificant, but thoughtful adjustments in your life, slowly but surely everything will start to improve.
What about, if instead of those huge monstrous dietary deprivations, you gave up just one thing for that flipping anti-inflammatory diet? Let’s say sugar. Or pop drinks. Or cereal. Just one thing. Won’t kill you.
You can do that. Even I could.
Overly ambitious goals will trigger overwhelm and defeat. They don’t motivate.
Tiny changes will slip under the radar of the mule-mind.
So, let’s look at your goal or challenge
What is the smallest step you can take this week in relation to it? Can you do it for a week?
Treadmill for just 5 minutes a day?
Learn one Spanish verb this week and use it?
Give up sugar in your tea? See if you can stand stevia. Just for a week.
Don’t watch YouTube while you eat breakfast. (Not sure I can do that one. May be too challenging.)
Think tiny. Don’t go big. Think easy. Think small.
Ignore advice to ‘Go big or go home!’ ‘Go all in’, or ‘Make a 100% commitment if you’re serious! 98% is not good enough’. Bad advice.
Instead, go for 50% max. More or less willing to give it a go. What have I got to lose. Why not.
Next time you feel overwhelmed with an issue and all your myriad options, try Kaizen. You’ll be amazed. It’s unimpressive, dull, unspectacular, not at all sexy, but will get you results.
Let me know how you get on. I’m genuinely interested.
My approach to coaching is based on this philosophy. So if you want help getting that mule moving, or more info about Kaizen, contact me by replying to this email.
Easy and effortless beats difficult and challenging every time.