Effective Goal Setting

broken glass on wooden surface
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Imagine you come home from work tomorrow night and, as you pull into the driveway, you notice a window has been broken. Not cracked, there is a hole in the window. The weather can get in, as can nosy neighbours and some ne’er do wells!

What do you do? You (hopefully) take action to fix the window.

Why? Because a broken window is classified as “wrong”. A fixed window is “normal”. A broken window is not.

When it comes to goal setting, you want to either:

  • get back to normal (i.e. fix the broken window) or;
  • create a new normal – do  something new with the window

As humans, we gravitate to normal, our comfort zone. Normal is deemed as safe. But what I view as normal and what you view as normal is likely very different. Therefore, normal is not arbitrary. This is great news because we can pick the new, better normal and work towards that. Maybe I’d like to have more of what you’re thinking.

And to create a new normal, we need a new problem.

As with the broken window, if we see a problem, we look to fix it. It’s automatic. See broken window, fix broken window.

We work to fix the things that are without or control.

And problems, like the broken window, create energy, an impetus to fix the problem. 

What is my point?

With regards to goals and making plans for things to change, we need energy. Ergo, we need a problem!

“Tell me what you want, what you really really want!”

Spice Girls

If we want to travel overseas for a holiday, most of us have to change our spending and put funds aside for the trip. This, in itself, becomes the new normal. It’s hard at times but we need to decide if we really want the trip and to make the necessary changes. If funds are short week to week, it can cause conflict. It’s called sacrificing and we all have different levels of sacrifice!

But we make the sacrifice if we want the holiday! And then, one day, we step on to that plane … 😀

And so, with goal setting, we need to change what is normal in order to achieve the goal.

Different isn’t always better but better is always different!

unknown

The “Holiday”
Imagine the change you want is the holiday. How do you plan for the holiday?You probably:

  • select a destination
  • check flights or journey options
  • review your budget
  • look up places to visit
  • book accommodation
  • create a spreadsheet to track things like packing, destinations, costs (no-one does that do they? *cough*)
  • you talk to people about it (endlessly!)

All of these actions to a greater or lesser degree, create energy. This energy provides the fuel to make your goal a reality. Hey, even planning for a well deserved holiday can be stressful and sometimes we think it’s just not worth the hassle – but it is and we endure!

What is your goal?
Can you adapt the above points to your goal? More than likely.

How much do you want your goal?
If the energy is there, you’ll achieve your goal or get very close to it. Even a holiday might need to be changed if something doesn’t work out and you can’t influence it. (I’d be on the next plane to Germany if Covid cases weren’t on the rise!)

Conversely, if there is no energy to change, the goal is likely to remain a goal. But, in the same way, if your goal is something you are prepared to sacrifice for, talk about, track progress and make it part of your “normal”, it’ll happen almost magically.

How do you achieve your goals? Let me know in the comments.

Character Development

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When we think of personal development, we think in terms of taking new things on: taking on new skills, taking on new behaviours, as well as new attitudes and beliefs. This can be scary and take us well out of our comfort zone.

This is because, when we start to take on these new attributes, we’re rarely competent … at first. We get to (re)learn about the competency ladder.

  • Unconsciously incompetent – we did know that we didn’t know!
  • Conscious incompetent – we now know what we don’t know!
  • Consciously competent – we focus and become better at our new skills
  • Unconsciously competent – we do it without even thinking about it!

Acting as if …

In his commencement speech at the University of the Arts 2012, Neil Gaiman finishes off a great speech by suggesting people be wise. “But”, he says, “If you don’t know how to be wise, think of someone who is wise and just pretend to be like them.”

“Acting as if” leads to acting, or behaving and thinking, like the character trait you want to be competent in.

According to the site, Ranker, Daniel Day Lewis is known for staying in character off camera. Reportedly, he would send text messages as “Commander in Chief” and talk on the phone as Abraham Lincoln when he was filming Lincoln.

He was acting as if he was Lincoln!

What skill or behaviour are you looking to develop?

An actor will take the time to research their character. Particularly if it is based on true events, they will go to great lengths to find out about their character, as stated by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger of Tom Hanks.

And yet, here is how Hanks describes the situation:

When we are looking to lead people, or influence others, what traits do we need to take on in order to be successful in the role or the situation? Think about someone you know who has the attributes you are seeking. Have a conversation with them, taking note of how they approach a situation. Then reflect on how you might adopt that skill.

For example:

Imagine for a moment, you get triggered very easily by certain situations or certain people. Perhaps a leader in your organisation is unethical but keeps getting accolades and acknowledgments. Each time you interact with them you find yourself thinking about their flaws and it can distract you from the task at hand.

Speak to someone you know and trust. Ask them how they deal with difficult personalities. (I suggest NOT mentioning your trigger person). Hear your colleague out and imagine yourself managing the situation the same way. What skills and attributes would you need to take on? Write them down.

Now “act as if” you had those skills. Can you do this for a few seconds? A few minutes? A whole meeting?

This is different from “faking it till you make it”. Faking it calls out the fact you are faking it. Therefore, it could mean you’re being duplicitous with yourself. And there is no need to be.

An analogy in two parts

  1. When we learn to drive a car on the road, we’re learning at the same time as doing. You’re not faking it.
  2. Sitting in a lounge chair, making car noises with hands on an imaginary steering wheel is faking it!

It’s the same when dealing with new and challenging situations. You’re actually “driving the car” no matter how nervously or how you feel inwardly or how many mistakes you make … you’re driving! 🙌

Truth be told, the person you went to for guidance, at one time, “acted as if” as well. Maybe they still are! 😧

Conclusion

We do this every day! We act as if every day of our lives. We do it subconsciously to fit in, deal with a difficult client, even drive to a brand new location because just getting there can be stressful.

Now the skill is to do it consciously, on purpose, with an expected result. If you don’t get it exactly right first time, you go again. You can’t be version 2.0 of yourself within being a Version 1.0! Not even Apple, Microsoft and Google can do that.

Develop your character they you want it to be! To benefit you and those you work with.

To help with this I have created a simple template you can use and re-use for skills and attributes you’re looking to develop this way. It is free and you can get it here.

Do We Need a “Do Not Care” List?

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We all know of the ubiquitous “To Do” list. Most have heard of the “Not To Do” list. But how many of us have a “Do Not Care” (DNC) list?

A DNC list is a way to consciously decide the areas we consciously give energy to and areas we consciously don’t give a toss about!

Allow me to explain…

There are many thing vying for our attention and many of them are promoted to be important. But they’re not!

Scientists have measured the amount of data that enter the brain and found that an average person living today processes as much as 74 GB in information a day (that is as much as watching 16 movies), through TV, computers, cell phones, tablets, billboards, and many other gadgets. [Source]

That’s a lot to manage. 😳 Fortunately, a massive percentage of that goes straight to the subconscious. It bypasses our conscious mind, thank god! But we still feel overwhelmed.

Having a DNC list can save a lot of time and energy; energy we need to cope in the world we live in.

Here’s an example:

The wife and I were discussing Christmas planning. Where and when we had dinner, who was cooking what, who was bringing what and how it was all going to work out. She had her view, I had mine. But the conversation took longer than it needed to! It all ended happily, and we are looking forward to the day with the kids. (I’m sure we are the only people on the planet who get into these types of discussions! 😉)

As I reflected on the conversation, I realised the points I had been making were unimportant. I didn’t really care how Christmas was planned. All I cared about what who was there. I was just trying to be helpful by limiting and unnecessary effort in what is already a busy time of year. But I really didn’t care. I realised I didn’t even value my own opinion. As long as the family is happy and it all makes sense, sure! At the time, I felt I had to have an opinion, and, once given, that had to be given consideration. But, I didn’t really care how Christmas went as long as we were all able to be together at some point and have a family meal. (One part of the family is in Covid quarantine so this isn’t a normal Christmas!)

Now, to I say I don’t care, I’m not meaning to be unfeeling or cold towards others or circumstances. What I mean is, it’s okay to allow others to take the responsibility if that is what they want to do. We don’t have to be the “captain of the world!” Perhaps a situation is out of our control and we have no influence whatsoever over the outcome. Why care?

Another example might be television.

There is some rubbish on the telly, isn’t there? So I’ve decided not to care. I’m not going to scroll endlessly though my subscriptions to Netflix, Prime and YouTube to see if there is something on. I don’t care.

Back to the Do Not Care list.

***This is not intended to be cold and callous***

It is about choosing where I put my emotional, mental and physical energy. It is a form of self care. Why get anxious about things I have no influence over?

A suggestion …

  1. Open up a page in a notebook and think about areas we might normally allow to affect us.
  2. Write down as many items as you can think of in 2 – 3 minutes. (you can add more later)
  3. Now review the list
  4. Put a ‘+’ or a ‘-‘ next to each item.
  5. A ‘+’ means you want to continue paying attention to the topic.
  6. A ‘-‘ signifies a conscious decision not to pay attention to the topic.
  7. The list with ‘-‘ next to them become the DNC list. Each time this come up develop a plan to drop the topic as quick as you can. And move to something you want to focus on.

I’ve started developing an internal statement like this:

“I do not to think about or discuss ‘topic’.”

The Benefits of a DNC List

I remember my Mother-in-Law speaking about someone who had just died. She seemed really upset and I wondered who had passed away. My wife was consoling her but something seemed bit weird about the conversation. My wife quickly let me know: “It’s okay, we’re talking about Days of Our Lives!

I see and work with many people who get distressed about factors and events which they have little to no control over. By deciding what to care about and what not to care about can save a lot of stress anxiety. It then allows room for more joy and happiness to we focus on the things we want to. It also means there is more energy for the things we choose to focus on.

I think it’s time to create a Do Not Care list and be very conscious of where and how use our time.

Over to you …

Do you have a Do Not Care list? Have you had it for a while? Do you think it might benefit you? Maybe you have something like it but refer to it as something else.

Let me know in the comments!

If you found this and other material here useful, consider dropping $1 in the cup! And tell a few friends! 🙏

Be the G.O.A.T.

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The term G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) is often applied to superstars of sport and business, of stage and screen.

But did you realise that if you are better than you were yesterday, you are your own G.O.A.T. of that!

Perhaps you are thinking that doesn’t count. Maybe it only counts when there is an official record of the achievement. The Guinness Book of Records or front page of the paper.

If that’s the case, do you realise how many people achieve great things who don’t get recognised?

Here are some you may not have heard of:

  • Nellie Bly: around the world in 80 72 days! One her own. Note: She took with her the dress she was wearing, a sturdy overcoat, several changes of underwear, and a small travel bag carrying her toiletry essentials. She knew how to pack!
  • Cleisthenes: Though many people credit Thomas Jefferson as the father of democracy, the honour actually lies with the Greek philosopher Cleisthenes. Who? Yep!
  • Pope Leo I: All popes are famous aren’t they? Pope Leo singlehandedly persuaded Atilla the Hun to back down from his invasion of Italy. Did he get a gong? Nope! Should’ve!
  • Percy Julian: Pioneered the drug industry. After he developed the chemical synthesis of hormones like progesterone and testosterone, he became the first African American chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. His research also laid the groundwork for the modern day steroid.

So if you’re waiting for recognition from others … breathe in … hold … no keep holding …

This means the recognition of your achievements, the possibility to be the G.O.A.T. is in the hands of others. Not everything is statistical like:

  • Most number of wickets (cricket)
  • Most number of 3 pointers (basketball)
  • Most number of Oscar wins
  • Most number of Oscar nominations (without a win!)

And what if others don’t want to recognise your feats? What then?

This is my fourth blogpost in four days. That is a record for blog posting streaks in my household. I am the G.O.A.T! Tomorrow, when I post my fifth, I’ll be the G.O.A.T. again. You may think that is unremarkable. But if I am to post every day for 100 days or 1,000 days, I have to do the four day streak and then the five day streak.

Over to you … what have you done today, or plan to do today, that will make you the G.O.A.T? How will you be your G.O.A.T. tomorrow.

Let me know!

Don’t belittle your achievements.

Intro to Bamboo SL

This is a model I’ve been playing with lately. I’ve been learning a lot about mindset, habits and behaviours and this is an attempt to learn something by putting it into my own thoughts and provide it to others.

It is developed as Bamboo SL based on the elements that create the outcomes (Satisfaction & Lifestyle) from the inputs:

  • Beliefs
  • Attitudes
  • Mindset
  • Behaviours
  • Observations
  • Outcomes

I’m planning on developing it further and the construct may change as things become clearer. (maybe Observations come after Outcomes).

Background

What got me thinking about this was that we, generally, mostly concern ourselves with external factors, particularly in business when it comes to performance and feedback. These are the behaviours, the observations and the outcomes. “I saw you do this”, “Let’s discuss the sales results”.

The Behaviours are the things we do that we and others can see. We can comment on them, whether they are good, bad or otherwise. You can get feedback on them. I’ve run workshops on performance management based on SOBs – Specific Observable Behaviours.

The Observations are similar to the behaviours but in this instance we are trying to take a step back and observe ourselves or reflect on what we did. We can then make adjustments if we want to.

The Outcomes are, perhaps obviously, the results of what we see. We overeat and the scale goes up. We diet and the scale goes down. We put in a good day at work and our boss is happy with us. We put in a bad day and the boss is less happy. (I have a friend who got a commendation the same day they got a first and final warning!) Organisations, like people, can be fickle.

My observations here are that we tend to focus on the obvious. How we feel about our day and our lot in life. Very simple observations and conclusions for the most part.

We do mull over the Satisfaction stage. Am I satisfied with my job, relationship, income, goals? Sometimes we may look at social media sites showing people who seem to be doing better than we are. Even though we know this is people on their best days, they can still trigger us and cause some dissatisfaction with our own life.

I’ve referred to Satisfaction as “The” Measure. If we are “satisfied” with our lot in life, that becomes our life. There is no need or sense of urgency to change. Even if we are dissatisfied. Read that again. We we can be satisfied with our dissatisfaction. Why?

Life is defined at the top of the image above with examples from Relationships to Finances. Feel free to substitute your own.

The Subconscious Program

Lower down we have the Subconscious program. This encapsulates our beliefs, habits and attitudes that, in many cases, reside there without scrutiny. Again we may mull over them occasionally but perhaps not as much as the external factors.

Our subconscious program, as I have (re)learned has, on the whole, been given to us by others when we were very young. We may vote the same way our parents vote. We are comfortable with similar foods (healthy or unhealthy). We may undertake similar pastimes as our parents or peer groups. Alternatively, it could also be you eat completely differently because your parents ate junk food!

Because our beliefs have been given to us, or we have been highly influenced by others, we can take life as it comes without examining some of these factors. We would do well to examine some of these and see if they hold true for us and help us achieve the Satisfaction and Lifestyle we are wanting. If not, it may be our beliefs are keeping us from achieving the goals we seek, or once sought, and now we’ve accepted our “lot”.

Example: I have a close friend who doesn’t like Mitsubishi cars. No reason! It’s a belief or attitude they have to Mitsubishis. Many years ago, when they were contemplating a new vehicle, Mitsubishis were off the list. 🤷‍♂️ Just a belief that really has no grounding and, in this case, not an issue.

But what if we have beliefs that are issues that we hold on to that limit our progress and limit our real potential. That, to me, is worth exploring.

Summary

I believe the areas that can most influence our Life at the top of the image are, in fact, the elements at the base: Beliefs, Attitudes and Mindsets.

These elements will influence the Behaviours we are prepared to engage in, which in turn can affect our Outcomes if we are prepared to examine (Observe) those Behaviours to see if they are working towards our goals or away from our goals.

My point being, the areas we really need to examine, we generally don’t. (Or perhaps I am the sole troglodyte here!)

The good news is, once we know this, we are free to choose new beliefs, attitudes and mindsets. And, from there, begin to review our potential and re-assess the goals we want to pursue!

Now that I’ve published this I’ll find all the spelling errors. Feel free to point them out! 😉