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

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How to Beat Net Fatigue

Twitter, Facebook and the new Google+ help us plan our social lives and can bolster our careers. But being a social-media butterfly can be a job in of itself. “Digitally Fatigued,” an article in The New York Times, profiles several avid “net-workers” on how they improve their lives through social networking without burning out on posts and Tweets.

Using Full Life Coaching concepts, online social networks can touch on work, family, friends and community spheres. But for all of their useful aspects, if we come to overrely on online networking, we risk being behind our computers and missing out on actual life. Those interviewed in the article encountered this dilemma, but through creative thinking, they retained the advantages of social networking.

When it comes to fighting tech fatigue, there are some executive coaching techniques more powerful than just trimming your friend lists:

  • Keep a schedule and utilize applications to manage your productivity and avoid burnout. Overload happens when social networking becomes a habit instead of a tool. Business writer Josh Kaufman set a schedule of 30 minutes a day to catch up on his posts. He uses applications like Freedom, which temporarily blocks his Internet access when he needed to work without distraction.
  • Ask yourself if joining a new network will be worth the investment. Social networks appear and vanish with increasing frequency. Google+ appears powerful and enticing, but it’s too soon to know for sure. Jessica Lawrence asked herself what she could get out of Google+ that she couldn’t from Twitter. Cutting down on network clutter can prevent you from spreading yourself too thin.
  • Use applications that allow you to post on different networks simultaneously. Daily social networking can become a grind for those who make it part of their jobs. Applications like Ping.fm automatically syndicate posts to multiple networks. Buffer and SocialOomph work according to an automatic schedule from a bank of posts made in advance.

As our lives are becoming more integrated with social media, the importance of balancing our online and off-line time becomes more apparent. But with the right mindset in place, you can maintain an online presence without sacrificing time from your life.

 


Dr. Siegler's Book

Dr.Siegler's Bio

Lessons of a Washington Scandal

For the past week, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner has been harshly criticized for “sexting”: exchanging lewd photos with numerous young women, one allegedly a minor, during business hours as a member of the US House. The fact that he’s also married only make his situation more embarrassing. Politicians, editorial columns and President Obama have chastised him and challenged him to resign.
For an increasing number of Americans, “sexting” is an accepted part of flirting online, widespread in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and countless dating sites. But Weiner’s celebrity, his leadership role and his additional missteps have turned this personal foible into a damaging national scandal.
Regardless of how we might judge Rep. Weiner’s actions and the public’s reactions, we can agree that this episode has thusfar worked out quite badly for him. In my executive coaching work, I refer to this sort of impulsive, destructive behavior as spinning out of control, and I have developed techniques that can help you stop the spin, balance your perspective, and retake control of your life. If you find yourself in a situation like this, keep these things in mind:

  • If you’re sharing any information about yourself, particularly online, take a moment to think about how far it might spread and the damage it might do.
  • Know who you’re dealing with and don’t make assumptions. The anonymity of the internet makes it easy to interact with people who aren’t who they say they are. If Weiner flirted with a minor, whether he knew it or not, his personal issues may become legal issues.
  • Our personal relationships, especially with our spouses and families, affect every other aspect of our careers and our lives. Problems at home can never really be kept hidden. They must be addressed.
  • Remember that the online world is not separate from the real one. Don’t devote time and energy to sites like Twitter and Facebook if it detracts from your professional success.

With the opportunities of new technology come emergent risks. Rep. Weiner may resign his Congressional seat or he may lose his approaching re-election bid. (Right now, he appears to be leaning toward outright resignation.) His marriage may end or he may be able to save it and discover ways for his wife and himself to heal. Somehow, he will have to live down his public humiliation. The best that we can do is to learn from his example, know how to recognize the spin, and take control before we lose control.
 


Dr. Siegler's Book

Dr.Siegler's Bio

Fall of a Billionaire

The New York Times ran a story about the FBI’s conviction of Raj Rajaratnam, a billionaire investor and owner of the Galleon Group, one of the world’s largest hedge funds. On May 11 he was found guilty of insider trading with 14 counts of fraud and conspiracy. Even before he was caught, at the height of his success, Raj was already spinning out of control. His abusive business practices were about upend his career and his life.

The case of Raj Rajaratnam shows that spinning can happen to anyone. He’s a business graduate from the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. His hedge fund once held over $7 billion. He catered to high-profile clients such as the Swiss Bank UBS. Yet this wildly successful investing titan was found guilty of a blatant and serious Wall Street crime.

How can we learn from his example? How can we recognize spinning and stop it before it destroys us?

These important coaching tips may help you stop the spin:

  • Think hard about the consequences of your actions. For example, if you consider breaking a rule or a law, recognize that you would likely be caught and punished. If that occured, what would your life become?
  • Be accountable to colleagues who will remind you to be the person you want to be. Understand that they do so for your benefit.
  • If you are spinning, change your momentum immediately. Talk to a professional counselor, or possibly a lawyer and PR expert. Make amends as necessary and take every action to get your life back on track.
  • Be honest with yourself and with those around you. Denial only worsens the problem.

Raj Rajaratnam made a series of decisions that has cost him his career and years of his life. No one is immune from spinning out of control, but the decision to stop is ultimately your own.

How can we curb the spread of stigma against the overweight?

In a New York Times article called “Spreading Fat Stigma Around the Globe,” it’s being demonstrated that cultural views of obesity are becoming more and more negative. Even in cultures like Puerto Rico where the ideal of beauty has more curves, the tide of public perception about obesity is turning; an increasing number of people are perceiving overweight people as lazy as opposed to being perceived as suffering from a condition resulting from genetic and social circumstances.

It’s easy to be judgmental about an overweight person, especially if their condition is unpleasant or inconvenient for you. But it’s important to remember that genetic factors play an enormous role in a person’s weight, and that losing excess weight takes a great deal of discipline and self-control. Stigmatizing obesity will not help: shame is never a good motivator.

What can you do to avoid developing a judgmental attitude towards the overweight?

  1. Stay respectful towards others by constantly trying to empathize with them. Think about things you’re ashamed of and how mortified you’d be if someone were to draw attention to them. Don’t dwell on this, but at least keep it in mind.
  2. Be polite to overweight people, even if they inconvenience you in some way. For example, many people can recall an occasion where they’ve had to sit next to one on a crowded plane or bus. If your “space” is invaded, consider whether you can politely ask them to move slightly, or if you can discretely ask a flight attendant if you could switch seats. But do not allow yourself to grow rude or impatient as this would further propagate disrespect of the overweight.
  3. Don’t ever draw attention to an obese person’s appearance, which could make the problem worse by raising their levels of self-consciousness.

Resist the temptation to negatively judge others. Obesity is an epidemic, and shaming its victims is counterproductive and belittling. More importantly, it’s never productive to cultivate judgmental attitudes about others, even internally.

What are your thoughts?

JS

Could writing more concisely help your career?

A recent article in the New York Times called “Teaching to the Text Message” demonstrates the importance of writing concisely and packing a lot of information into a small space. This challenges conventional English-teaching wisdom like the research paper, but it’s a very valuable skill to get to your point quickly and with few words, as in a text message. The long form has its place, but in these times, brief and precise communication is preferable.

Usually, the most direct way of saying something is the most accurate and telling. At Full Life, we begin the initial coaching sessions by having our clients cut to the main point: “In one sentence or less, what brings you here today?”

What are some advantages to writing shorter and more concisely?

  • It’s more likely that someone will read your communication, ensuring that your main points will be comprehended and addressed.
  • You will appear more competent at expressing your thoughts if you get to the point quickly, as opposed to taking a while to get there.
  • Your points will be more clear and noticeable. Excess words bog down your writing and cause the main point to get lost in the text.
  • Your writing will be easier to follow and understand. If you go into too much detail, your readers will get lost in the nuanced particulars and may lose interest.

In the age of texting, Facebook, and Twitter, it’s becoming more and more accepted to write directly to the point. Making an effort to be concise in your writing and speaking can help your career, both in how people perceive you as well as how you engage others.

What are your thoughts?

JS

Technology and Human Distance

A recent book review in the New York Times of Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together summarizes how the widespread use of technology has influenced human relationships. In a nutshell, Turkle finds that as we come to expect machines and the internet to make our lives easier, we then rely less on other human beings. Essentially, technology makes people more and more remote from each other.

The most significant line in the article deserves to be reprinted here:

“[Turkle writes about the] notion that technology offers the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy, while actually making people feel lonelier and more overwhelmed.”

Over-reliance on technology shapes our relationships with others, sometimes resulting in a skewed social life. For example, it’s understandable that a person might prefer text messaging or internet chatting over the telephone or face to face interaction because these mediums allow us to briefly connect. But, we don’t want to lose other forms of more in depth communication. If we don’t exercise our ability to connect more deeply to those around us, then we lose that ability. What’s worse is how this effect is introduced to the younger generations at an early age, potentially stunting their ability to intimately communicate to others.

Here are some ways to counteract the negative effects of our technology:

  1. Go back to making phone calls or at list mix it up with texts. Practice reacting immediately to what the person with whom you’re talking says.
  2. Welcome small talk throughout your day. Sometimes small talk with others, like fellow commuters, even servers or baristas in cafes and restaurants. If you can get used to frequent, low-pressure conversation, you’ll find yourself more able to speak freely when face-to-face conversation is more important.
  3. Slow it down. For example, when cooking, stay away from the instant meals. Set aside time to make a meal from start to finish at a leisurely pace. This will help you enjoy your time and your food more and not grow to expect “instant” meals. This is healthier and primes you to be able to slow down with others when it matters.
  4. Don’t think you have to have all the latest technologies all of the time. It’s easy to feel entitled to, for example, WiFi on an airplane, but if it’s not on your plane, make sure you bring a book and a laptop or tablet to keep you busy. Or better yet, take a nap.

Real human attachment is far more important than how many internet friends you have or how many text messages you sent last month. Make the effort to reach out and hold onto treasured others in your life. Old fashioned connection is still the likely road to happiness.

What are your thoughts on technology and human distance?

JS

Technology and Spheres of Life

A recent article in the New York Times called “Who’s the Boss, You or Your Gadget?” raises an interesting point about holding a balance between your personal life and your professional life. Because modern communication technologies like smartphones and WiFi enable us to be in touch with numerous people at all times, it’s difficult to separate your work life from the rest of your life. It’s easy to get distracted by text messages with friends while at the office, as well as email conversations with co-workers while at home. This blurring of the line between work and home is unprecedented in its ubiquity and can be disruptive to leading a healthy life.

iPhones, laptops, and email have a way of making work and life bleed into one another, which can be challenging. Despite instant communication’s temptation to blend the diverse areas of life, you should strive to create some useful boundaries.

Here are some ways to manage technology and honor some boundaries:

  1. Limit the amount of time you spend on the internet and make personal phone calls while you’re at work. Do the same after office hours, unless you work non-traditional hours.
  2. Check your emails at regular intervals during the day and evening. Check your emails less frequently outside of work, unless you are working on a project at home.
  3. After checking your email, reply with brief efficient messages.
  4. Have coworkers call you on your office phone when they need to contact you when you’re at work, and turn your personal phone off.
  5. Only take files home that you absolutely need. The more you leave at work the healthier. Obviously, if you work at home, you need to have everything in your home office.

Technology has the potential effect of increasing productivity and work quality, but sometimes these gains come at the price of increased stress on employees. Don’t let this happen to you: pay attention to what constitutes balance in your life.

What are your thoughts about creating balance in your life?

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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Unplugging Your Family

A recent Associated Press article titled “What happens when mom unplugs teens for 6 months?” explores how to ween those who are immersed in technology onto more classical pursuits. The article tells the story of how Susan Maushart got her 14-, 15-, and 18-year-old children to give up television, internet, cell phones, and video games while in the house. There was some friction, as her youngest daughter chose to move out rather than stay under the restrictions, but the experiment yielded some very interesting results as well.

Not only did her children’s grades improve, but they also took up new constructive pursuits—her 15-year-old son Bill started playing the saxophone—and discovered that unplugging periodically wasn’t the end of the world. The youngest generation takes technology like Wi-Fi, texting, and cable television for granted. If they don’t get used to living without technology, periodically, they can actually be unable to live without it. Maushart’s experiment shows that a little technology “vacation” will help young people get in touch with their real selves.

Separating from technology for six months isn’t a realistic option for most people, so here are some tips for healthy boundaries for you and your family:

  • Make one night a week “Unplugged Night.” Turn off cell phones, Wi-Fi, computers, the television, and video games from 5pm Sunday nights until 7am Monday morning. Use this time to read, listen to music together, play board games, or go for walks.
  • The rest of the week, try to unplug periodically to spend time on other things. Set a limit of an hour or two on Facebook or other social media sites, and spend the rest of the time working on more low-tech endeavors.
  • Enforce restrictions liberally. Don’t be afraid to say “You’ve been in your chat room for too long tonight.” If you feel like your child is crossing the line into addiction, don’t hesitate to step in.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of these restrictions. Saying “You are only allowed one hour of Twitter time per night” will sound like a draconian restriction. Instead, encourage the better uses of time, like reading, studying, practicing a musical instrument, or spending time with the family.

The book Kids, Parents, and Technology: A Guide for Young Families by Dr. Eitan Schwarz is another excellent guide to setting boundaries and using technology to your advantage as a family.

There’s nothing wrong with social media in moderation, but too much too quickly can be habit-forming and actually stunt growth. Foster ways to encourage your family to focus on diverse activities that foster development and a well-rounded life.

What are your thoughts?

JS

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