Accomplish Your Executive Goals By NOT Trusting Yourself

As January draws to a close, many people realize their New Year’s resolutions are falling by the wayside. Why is this such a common experience?

David DeSteno is the author of the forthcoming book The Truth About Trust.  In a recent column, he points out that you cannot really “trust” yourself to implement your goals.  He outlines his research demonstrating that goals we set for the future are often linked to emotions present when we set new objectives.  He adds that as these emotions fade, so does our drive to accomplish the original goal.

For example, at New Years you might feel overweight and want to be thinner so you resolve to have a salad at future dinners. Then, as time passes, your enthusiasm for salad fades. Even if you are successfully eating salads during the first week of January, at the start of week 2, potential distractions may arise. As you get closer to that fast food restaurant on your drive home from work, your desire for that cheeseburger grows. This distraction threatens to circumvent your ultimate goal of weight loss.

Most alarmingly, DeSteno asserts that, not only will we break these promises we make to ourselves, but we will then create a story that justifies our actions and, subsequently, forget about our failure. Why? Because we don’t want to believe that we are untrustworthy.

As an Executive Coach I am interested in the results of DeSteno’s research because so much of what I do involves setting goals with clients to achieve metric outcomes. DeSteno’s findings underscore how important it is to add interim steps to ensure that those goals are realized. One effective tool is to remind a client, or for a client to self-manage and remind him or herself, of the emotional enthusiasm they felt when they initially set their goal. Emotions fade as time passes, so the ability to reignite their present day apathy into their former passion, increases the chances of successful goal completion.

Here are a few other coaching tips to optimize successful goal completion:

  • Visualize the future and why your goal will help you in the long run.
  • Make it fun! If you are going to the gym, bring music you like.
  • Utilize task management systems and apps so they help you stay connected to your goals.
  • Set smaller, manageable goals every day that serve as stepping stones to your ultimate or what I call “BIG” goals. Breaking up a big project into smaller pieces makes it less intimidating and allows you to retain your initial optimism.
  • Enlist a friend or family member to hold you accountable.

Let me know if you have other ideas for achieving goals that have worked for you!

Warm regards,

Joe Siegler


Stronger Than You Think

 

Intelligence, awareness and individualism are all excellent qualities to develop in executive coaching. Interestingly, these “differientators” may have caused problems during the high school years. A New York Times review of “The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth,” a provocative new book by Alexandra Robbins, shows us that nerds often have successful adult lives.

Embracing who you are as an individual and making full use of your most positive, unique traits is what executive coaching is all about. Traits that arise in adolescence become integral to our character well beyond high school. The nerds in science, computers and theater might not have been star athletes or prom queens. But they have taken us to the moon, invented the iPod and written our favorite movies, books and plays.

Here are some survival tips from high school that remain relevant in our executive coaching work today:

  • Don’t be afraid of being original. Going against the grain is the first step to discovery and innovation. Look at Bill Gates who bucked the trend of complicated computers, created a user-friendly interface, and made a fortune.
  • Never be ashamed of doing what you love. Concentrating on your own happiness and fulfillment (as opposed to what you think others expect from you) will play an important role in everything from your job to your relationships.
  • Your uniqueness can be your strongest quality. Bullies and those privy to the whims of the group are often doomed to “peak” in high school. In adulthood, “yes-men” and “office sheep” won’t get much farther in life.
  • Embracing your personal AND unique qualities makes you stand out and commands the respect of your peers.

How does this apply to you? Leave questions and comments below.

Hero: Bob Herbert

The already-reeling newspaper medium is suffering another loss: Bob Herbert is leaving the New York Times. In his final column for the paper, Herbert has published a useful summary of our country’s worrisome strategic mistakes. In “Losing Our Way,” Herbert finishes an inspiring career at NYT of publishing the hard truths when other journalists are afraid to report.

The America in “Losing Our Way” reveals how greed rules as the most wealthy keep all the profits to themselves, leaving the bottom 95% to compete in a ever-more bleaker job market. Even bright young graduates are forced into careers that limit their ability to accomplish goals. Wages are too low to think about starting a family, and the future seems more uninviting every day. In times like this, peak performance in career planning is more important than ever.

How can you, or someone you know, hope to rise above these challenges and conquer the competitive job market?

  • Solidify your vision of your ideal job. Excelling is far easier when you have the passion for your work.
  • Launch an entrepreneurial endeavor. The Amplifier Blog has previously posted tips for doing this such as a guide to planning, a list of excellent resources, and some advice on keeping your plans flexible.
  • Always keep an eye on your personal brand and how potential employers might see you.
  • Be flexible with your business/career plan. Be willing to change directions when you know that is what is needed.

Bob Herbert’s final column at the New York Times is an accurate portrait of a country in crisis, but Full Life’s coaching services can inspire you to meet the heightened challenges and and compete for diminished resources.

What are your thoughts?

JS

Could Coaching be a Useful Life Tool?

You may want to get unstuck. Feeling stuck is very common these days, whether regarding a job, unemployment, relationship, or other area of life. It’s easy to resign yourself to uncomfortable situations and convince yourself that they’re going OK. This isn’t ultimately healthy, though.

Full Life Executive Coaching reveals that you have the potential for greatness in all areas of your life. The Full Life approach assists you in: understanding your unique obstacles and challenges, crystallizing your vision, facilitating your rise to peak performance, and creating the incremental goals necessary to accomplish your ambition.

What results could coaching yield for you at work and in your life?

  1. You could discover the motivation to design a brand new career tailored to your talents and abilities.
  2. You could create new opportunities and learn to rethink what’s possible.
  3. You could reinvigorate your relationship with your spouse or significant other.
  4. You could optimize your current job or career and reconnect to what you do as if it were new.
  5. You could actively plan your transition into a next-phase of life and receive support in enacting your plan.

Full Life offers a variety of services, from one-on-one coaching to inspirational talks for organizations and groups.

JS

A Malleable Personal Brand

This month’s Harvard Business Review contains an excellent article for anyone’s career development called “Reinventing Your Personal Brand.” The article discusses how you can alter others’ perceptions of your personal and professional story as it applies to your career. As you try to climb the corporate ladder guided by your ambitions and your own ideas of what you could do, you will find that people instead judge you based on your past work. Reinventing your personal brand allows you to change what others look at when assessing your prior accomplishments and perhaps see you in a more positive light.

The list of five tips that the article gives is:

  1. Define your destination – Make a plan of where you want your career to go and develop the skills necessary to get there.
  2. Leverage your points of difference – Pick out what makes you stand out and learn to use it to your advantage.
  3. Develop a narrative – Frame your previous experience in an interesting way that will make you the right choice for the job.
  4. Reintroduce yourself – In addition to making new contacts with your new brand, update your old ones on who you are becoming.

At Full Life, one of the most common services we provide is next-phase career coaching, and the above tips are a great introduction to our approach.

How will you bring your unique talents to a job? Develop your personal brand to quickly present yourself to others.

How could you re-do your personal brand?

JS

Resisting the Falling Education Standards

An article in last Saturday’s New York Times called “College the Easy Way” refers to the falling standards in America’s colleges to discuss the lowering standards of higher education in general. Students are taking easier courses, putting less effort into their studies, partying more, and eventually leaving college without sufficiently developing higher skills like complex reasoning, advanced communication, and critical thinking. It is worrisome that, even in times of skyrocketing tuition and attendance costs, the quality of American college education is in a steady decline. This cheats college students out of the education they’re paying for and students need to take more responsibility to learn and master subjects. More significantly, this trend is extremely dangerous for the American economy.

It’s been a commonly-cited statistic that American school children are less-prepared than their equivalents in other countries, especially Korea and Japan. Now, with the development that standards are falling for college students as well, the future seems all the more bleak. If we can’t teach future generations adequately, they’ll be less and less prepared to compete in the future’s global marketplace. American influence may fall as a result of large numbers of poorly educated college students.

This trend is a two-way street: colleges are allowing classes to become easier, but students still have an influence over the quality of education since they are the customers. Here are some things you can do to get the most out of higher education:

  1. Take difficult and well-taught classes. Not only will they be more intellectually stimulating, they will teach you more and better prepare you for the world after college. Look at teacher ratings before signing up for classes
  2. Forge relationships with professors and teaching assistants. Not only will this make difficult classes more fulfilling, but they may encourage you to do better and go farther with your studies.
  3. Take advantage of extracurricular learning opportunities. Most colleges have guest lectures and seminars from prominent intellectual authorities on a variety of subjects. Attend as many of these seminars as you can to broaden your scope of learning. You can also audit great classes and lectures.
  4. For parents: push your children to be their best and follow the above suggestions. You’re the most significant guiding force in their lives and you can have an important positive influence during college.

College standards might be beginning to let students down, but there are things students and the parents of students can do to resist this trend and work towards educational mastery.

What are your thoughts?

JS

Reacting to Negative Media Portrayals

A recent New York Times article called “The Disposable Woman” explores how the recent Charlie Sheen debacle reflects our culture’s view of women. Whereas it’s popular to view our society as progressive, with female empowerment and equality being touted, there is a marked discrepancy in how the media portrays women. Reality television often shows women as conniving and back-stabbing, and missing white woman syndrome mainstream media portrays women as helpless children. How can women truly be empowered if their media portrayals are so denigrating and insulting?

This dilemma isn’t unique to women. Many minority groups—i.e., racial, religious, or orientation—face the same sorts of discrimination. Using the current discussion of women as an example, here are some things a group receiving negative messages can do to maintain esteem:

  1. Speak out against casual antagonism. Don’t sit quietly while someone makes misogynistic, racist, or homophobic comments or implications. Avoid direct confrontation and calmly ask for explanation and respond maturely to everything they say. You may not change their mind, but you could change the mind of someone else listening.
  2. Question mainstream media coverage of minority groups. These tend to be broadcast through the lens of society in general, so they’re more than likely going to amplify the possibly harmful and disrespectful popular view.

Remember that insecurity lies at the root of most judgments. What are you insecure about? Who can you stop judging?

What are your thoughts?

JS

Money Cannot Buy Empathy

Did you ever feel that the rich in this country lack basic empathy? This possibility sounds remote, but new research reveals that such discrepancies in empathy can be quantified and demonstrated to be true. A recent New York Times article called “The Rich Lack Empathy, Study Says” reports the findings of researchers this past October. According to one of the researchers in charge of the study, Dr. Keltner, the economically disadvantaged lack the means to hire people to help them, so in order to seek aid and support, they develop effective empathy skills. The wealthy, who have the benefit of being able to hire people to support them, do not develop these skills to the same degree. As a result, those from wealthy backgrounds often miss emotional cues and non-verbal hints.

Here are some ways that difficulties with empathy can show up in individuals:

  • Lack of identification with others.
  • Limited imagination for how other people could go about accomplishing a task.
  • Inability to tell what someone might be thinking.
  • Missed social cues and hints.

The drawbacks of having a poorly developed sense of empathy include being seen by peers, family, or employees as cold or insensitive. Stepping up your empathy skill set can alleviate these problems. A person with an empathy deficit should bank on using a visualization exercise in which one imagines they are in the others’ shoes.

So putting care and understanding into all one’s relationships, may trigger a lot more positive energy (and even greater employee engagement).

What do you think?

JS

Aspiring for One Career, Choosing Another

A recent article on AOL News called “From Aspiring Actress to Economic Leader, Duke Says It’s ‘Personal’” explores how a person can shift careers out of necessity and wind up happy. Lack of opportunity for employment can force people out of their field, but it’s not always a crisis. Sometimes it’s an opportunity to switch to a more fulfilling and rewarding career. Your old career can be your new hobby, especially if you’re struggling in a competitive and creative field like acting, music, or art.

The article’s subject Elizabeth Duke started as an aspiring actress but was forced to start working in banking in order to make a living. She began as a teller and has since worked her way up to a Governor of the Federal Reserve. This is a great example: if an individual values income over passion, it may be sensible to convert passionate careers with low income potential into hobbies while pursuing a new career path with higher income potential.

Some things to ask yourself before jumping careers:

  1. What are the opportunities in your current passionate career like?
  2. What other careers could you pursue?
  3. What are advancement opportunities in the other career like?
  4. How could your previous experiences in your passionate career contribute to a new career?
  5. In what ways could your current career be pursued as a hobby?
  6. How can you pursue your passionate career and figure out how to make money doing it?

Sometimes life deals us a difficult hand with high unemployment rates in our chosen fields. It’s up to us to turn this into an opportunity preferably still make it work or decide to move onto a new path. I find clients who face the challenge and make their passionate choice work financially gets the highest grade. Compromises are fine too, though, and are a part of smart life choices as well.

What are your thoughts?

JS

Resolutions and What Others Think

It’s a month since New Year’s! So how are you coming with your New Year’s Resolutions? Actually, a lot of people have trouble implementing their resolutions over time. Changing behaviors is very challenging for most of us.

One way of optimizing your chances of resolution success is by letting others in on your goal or goals. Somehow this “telling” establishes accountability to others which increases the likelihood that’s you’ll follow through with them. Sharing resolutions also amplifies the potential price of failure if you don’t succeed. It’s one thing to be disappointed in yourself, it’s something else to disappoint someone else. Telling friends and family may sometimes be more annoying than helpful. A recent article in the New York Times lists a number of online applications that incorporate feedback from other users to increase probability that you’ll accomplish your goals.

Using an online resource to track and share your resolutions and goals has a number of benefits compared to the old fashioned way of sharing your resolutions. For one, there’s the both real and perceived anonymity involved. Most resources listed in the NYT article allow users to preserve their anonymity but share their resolutions with a community that will congratulate and praise them as they accomplish their goals. Even if you were to use your real name ito optimize your resolution success, there is a potent sense of safety and boundary from an online community that could make sharing personal goals easier. The online sites also make your goals and achievements easier to track.

It’s not too late to get into the resolution spirit. Here are some ways to track your process and make it more likely that you’ll follow through with your resolutions, at least your biggest one:

  1. Join a goal-listing and tracking website to make a list of all the things you’re trying to accomplish in one place. There are numerous options, my favorite is 43Things.com. Many have tools for you to share your goals with others and receive and provide feedback and encouragement.
  2. Get more targeted by utilizing a site aimed at your specific resolutions. Trying to quit smoking? Try DeterminedToQuit.com. Getting into shape? Try ShapeFit.com.
  3. If you have a little extra money, put it at stake by joining StickK.com. StickK allows you to motivate yourself by entering your credit card information and setting a wager that you’ll accomplish the goal. Fail, and you get charged and the money is sent to a charity of your choice. Succeed, and you won’t get charged.
  4. Record a video diary with your resolutions and progress and post it to a video site like YouTube.com. This is the option with the least anonymity and the highest social stakes, but some choose this mass disclosure for motivation.

Implementing what you want is always a challenge. Whether you share a resolutions with a friend or use the new, creative resources afforded by the internet, it is a use challenge to persist in seizing change over time.

What are you doing to ensure at least one big resolution is accomplished?

JS

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