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.

The Economic Model of Marriage

A recent article in the New York Times called “Adam Smith, Marriage Counselor” relates building a successful marriage to economics. This is an very interesting comparison, and the article raises a number of intriguing points. It’s always encouraging to see subjective matters like marriage being successfully informed by objective models like capitalist economics. Applying the rational laws of economics is a useful approach for understanding the successes and shortcomings of a marriage.

Here are the major points raised in the article and how economic systems relate to marriage:

  • Aversion – This is the irrational competitive spirit that can elicit counterproductive behavior. The example the article gives is being compelled to try and win $200 after losing $100, leading to further losses. A major application to marriage is escalation of an argument you know you’re losing. Knowing when to avoid conflict can lead to more harmony with your mate.
  • High information processing costs – This describes the threshold in which a consumer stops being able to successfully choose between products or services due to too many choices. The article gives the example of paralysis in the supermarket when you have fourteen cereal choices. When a person gets irritable with their spouse it is sometimes because there are too many things going on. Understanding that we can only devote a certain amount of time and energy to listening to someone else will help us avoid dissappointmenting a mate. For example going for a run after work can put someone in a great space to chat over dinner.
  • Fluctuations in fairness – A major source of stress in a lot of marriages comes with the perception of a discrepancy between the respective amounts of effort put into the marriage or into parenting by each spouse. The key to getting past this is the knowledge that such discrepancies are usually temporary and often even out over time: the amount of work put in by each spouse often fluctuates throughout the marriage.

Another key point that is not mentioned in this article, but has been explored at length in previous posts on the Amplifier Blog:

  • Examine the partnership – As previously discussed in the post “Marriage and Self-Expansion,” the couples that last and are happiest are the ones in which each spouse “expands” as a result of their marriage. This is surely related to the economic model of marriage: the modern successful marriage is not simply a union, it is a partnership.

It’s useful to apply the successful concepts of economics to understanding the elements of a successful relationship. There are definitely more parallels between economics and romance.

What other parallels between economics and marriage can you think of?

JS

Get It Going

Today I feel like talking about MOMENTUM.

In the blog series introduction I described momentum as:

MOMENTUM: What allows us to get unstuck? How can you become a person who sees what’s next and JUMPS into the opportunity with full force? We will discuss the Full Life Achilles® Plan which gives you a method to advance your goals in an organized, energized, and incremental fashion.

It is a pleasure for me to see a new coaching client who comes in determined to start planning and implementing the next phase of their career or life.

I think people turn to coaching when they have had it with feeling “stuck” in some aspect of career or life. “Hitting bottom” is when they are finally determined to move forward in their life. Bottom, however, is different for each person. One person’s bottom is not enough for another person to engage. Another common situation I see is when a client knows exactly what they want to do and they can’t seem to implement their next step goals (which I call their Achilles Plan). So we try to figure out what is blocking their pursuit of their vision. Together, we investigate what is holding them back. Is it fear of the unfamiliar or the new? Or just unexplainable inertia…? Sometimes they find it difficult to implement their vision of the career they deeply want; dating with the intention of a great relationship; or making a relationship a vibrant one instead of a mediocre one. One of my clients told me to add that sometimes there is resistance because one is not sure getting their goal is really going to make a big difference anyway. Pessimism she says needs to be managed as well, if it is a bad habit.

Once we make a hypothesis regarding why a client is blocked from reaching his or her next step, we use the Achilles plan to invigorate their goal implementation by:

1. Changing some environmental factor which gets them to go for new goals. For example, sometimes a 3-day vacation can inspire someone to move forward;

2. We break all goals down to smaller doable goals;

3. We simply wait for the client to go for the next step and encourage him or her to reach out for the goal they seek.

When I need more momentum in some area of work or life, I think about what is holding me back, and then make a plan to stimulate my pressing onward. It could be talking to a friend, a mentor, taking a course, reading a book, going for a bike ride, watching a great movie, working out, or putting something in place that encourages me to move forward. For example, an accountability step, like telling someone I know what I seek to do and asking them to follow-up with me and see if I did it. Another client mentioned that they find brief goal list left on the breakfast table and in the car are really helpful ways of staying focused on what you want.

OK…so take action right now in charging up your momentum with one of the tips discussed here.

How about you? In what ways do you create or maintain momentum that you can share below with others?

JS

You Can’t Prevent Disappointment

Nobody likes being disappointed. It sucks. Whether at work or in life.

During the past few days, Tony Robbins, the virtual god of coaching, was suddenly dropped by NBC, canceling his new television show after only 2 episodes. The news was unexpected for a man who takes pride in his effectiveness in helping others be successful. Suddenly, many American people were not interested in viewing the show. Yet he models resilience by still taking pride in the show: “I am grateful for the reach and experience that the specials created.”NYTimes

If you bravely open your eyes, disappointment strikes multiple times every day. It can be when you are let down by a colleague, a customer, a vendor, or yourself. It can be a sale that doesn’t close; a business plan that does not pan; a talk you give that fails to inspire.

I get disappointed all the time as an entrepreneur. For example, when my book was published this past year, with the launch parties and press, I thought that EVERYONE would get interested in coaching. Instead I found that the smaller but steady flow of clients still allowed Full Life to thrive. Also, when I opened the center 8 years ago, I thought thousands would come for coaching. Many did, but it is common for a business person to think huge things may happen right away. My experience is that usually incremental steps do occur. I never like disappointments, but I have learned to see and feel them, and then go on with a great attitude.

Many clients wonder how to develop a thicker skin. You might consider the following steps of how to modify your thinking in order to build resilience:

1. Expect disappointments and failures so you are not surprised when they occur;

2. Pursue life balance so your confidence is not based only at work;

3. Live for your passion and do the things at work you love;

4. Let the warrior in you come out so no one can bring you down; and

5. Persist, persist, persist.

So remember to take pride in all you do and weather the disappointments with courage and conviction. Don’t try to control everything. Keep going and dare to be disappointed and sometimes fail multiple times, tomorrow, and every day.

Let me know your thoughts about disappointment and share this with friends and colleagues who would be interested in this dialogue.

JS

Announcing the beginning of a fresh new version of Full Life’s Amplifier™ Blog!

From now on, you will see frequent interactive blogs focusing on 6 Key Themes:

1) Business
2) Balance
3) Momentum
4) Possibility
5) Habits
6) Love

The new edition of the Amplifier Blog will broadcast ideas about our lives, our careers, and the world around us. Together, we will reflect on how we can bring our own unique vision to life and then actually implement and achieve our goals.

We will “amplify” ideas so you can optimize your approach to living and then experience the joy of a fulfilled life. This is so you can gain a crystal clear picture of what you WANT which will then in turn “drive” your life design.

The 6 Full Life Blog Themes:

BUSINESS: We will focus on what success means to YOU and how you can further enhance your career or business performance. In this competitive time of economic challenges and downsizing, as an executive, entrepreneur, or student, you will learn tips to avoid burnout, become more resilient, and achieve HIGH-ENERGY goals. You will also get practical tips and strategies for igniting and planning the “next phase” of your business or career.

BALANCE: Living a full life is about balance, which means that you have to pay attention to all or most of the key areas of your life. Using Full Life’s Spheres of Life® Coaching, we apply a matrix of 11 key spheres and make sure you are making desired progress in each area, without letting one area become dominant at the expense of others.

MOMENTUM: What allows us to get unstuck? How can you become a person who sees what’s next and JUMPS into the opportunity with full force? We will discuss the Full Life Achilles® Plan which gives you a method to advance your goals in an organized, energized, and incremental fashion.

POSSIBILITY: You will examine your vision of what lies ahead so you can build your ideal future. Also, how can communities and nations harness innovation in relationships and in technology to build a safer and healthier world?

HABITS: How addictions and bad habits, such as excessive use of alcohol or drugs, procrastinating, hoarding, spending, disorganization, and anything that takes away our time and functioning – actually inhibits progress in one’s life and career. We will not only look at how to overcome bad habits, but we will also explore how we can create positive habits that support us and the people in our lives.

LOVE: Whether single, dating, or in a relationship, we will examine love and how intimacy can be heightened in our lives. What are ways we can magnify our satisfaction in whatever state of love we find ourselves?

***

With the new Amplifier Blog experience, we hope that you will bring your perspectives into the conversation.

Your responses will be a crucial part of helping yourself and others learn and be more satisfied with life! Enjoy and as always we appreciate your interest and contributions.

JS

SELF Magazine for May is on the shelves: Giving a counselor the pink slip

It’s a challenging task to figure out if your therapy is not working. Assessing whether to move on is difficult because often the counseling was helpful in the past, but for different reasons, it no longer feels like a good match.

In SELF Magazine (May 2010) this month I am quoted twice on page 175 in the “Get Happier Guide” on how to ‘move on’ if YOU think it is time.

“Gauge your progress. After three months, think back to the original reason you started seeing a counselor and assess whether you are closer to reaching your initial goals, says Joe Siegler, M.D., a psychiatrist, coach and author of Fire Your Therapist (Wiley). You can’t expect changes overnight, but that’s enough time to notice progress. “After every session, you should ask yourself if you are getting results,” Dr. Siegler says.

“Make a clean break. When you decide you’re ready to wrap up, it’s best to be direct, gracious and final. You may be tempted to disappear, but don’t just stop showing up,’ Dr. Siegler advises. “Try saying, ‘I appreciate all the work you’ve done and I thank you for it, but now it’s time for me to move on.'”

What do you think?

HBO In Treatment This Week: April

Session 7:

April lets Paul know it is her last session. Before letting him know she believes he saved her life, she loses her temper at one point and calls him an a******. He takes it with his head down and she asks him why he allows her to mistreat him. She wonders how can he teach her about the real world if he takes her abuse. She is right to point out his unnecessary masochism; he could be setting limits on her abusive behavior, but then he would be a coach.

What he does demonstrate as well- a quality of the best therapists and coaches- is a tremendous caring and empathy toward April. It is almost a love that creates a healing cocoon for April to help her move through chemo and hopefully back to wellness. Paul does have a coach inside him, but he comes from the school of the “talking cure” of therapy. April corrects him and carries out the “walking cure”; she is actually leaving therapy. It appears that Paul’s wounded self made her feel safe, but also got her to take responsibility for healing and getting on with life.

JS

George Valliant and Beautiful Diversity

Online or on news stands you can now read “What Makes Us Happy?” by Joshua Shenk in The Atlantic . Today, both David Brooks in the New York Times and Shenk of The Atlantic talk about this amazing longitudinal study of 268 Harvard men begun in 1937, that I and many others have been aware of for many years. George Valliant is still at work on this vital project. The study is a great example of the futility of theory as applied to all people. The miracle of this study as far as I am concerned is that there is no easy predictor of happiness. Individual male participants have years of happiness and years of great depression. Intimacy is claimed to be vital and yet the same men divorce repeatedly. Some men die while drunk and others die surrounded by loved ones after suffering from mental illness for years. Valliant’s own father committed suicide. As far as I am concerned all this fantastic research returns to the core competencies of great men as unique, humble and disciplined. I am reminded that I see coaching as a tool for each of us to strive toward humility and competence, while managing our individual demons, and celebrating our gifts and accomplishments.

Definitely read this study that spans over 70 years! What does it make you think about in your life?

JS

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