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

Dr.Siegler's BioDr. Siegler's Book

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

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

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

Grief Recovery and Resilience Research

Recent research suggests that the human sense of resilience is stronger than previously thought. In a New York Times article called “Grief, Unedited,” research headed by George Bonanno from Teachers College, Columbia shows that people who lose spouses late in life recover more quickly from grief than is popularly thought. In most cases cited in the study, elderly widows and widowers mostly showed recovery from grief within six months of the loss of their spouse. This information speaks volumes for the human capacity for resilience and does not imply that humans are colder than previously thought: widows and widowers that move past their grief do not stop missing their deceased partner, but simply return to normal. It’s an inspiring thought that people can move on and reclaim their lives.

There’s common ground between this research and some articles about the resilience of 9/11 victims in New York. Like the widows and widowers study, surveys of New York residents who were in the city on September 11, 2001 show that they also recovered from the trauma at a higher rate than one might intuitively expect. Even around two thirds of those who were near the World Trade Center showed a high recovery rate and return to normalcy after just six months. This shows that the human spirit is remarkably strong, and stories about victims of tragedies regaining their mental and emotional health is very inspiring.

Here is some interesting further reading on resilience:

  1. The Other Side of Sadness by George A. Bonanno – This is the research cited in the article. Detailed examinations of both statistical and anecdotal evidence suggesting the human spirit is more resilient than most people think.
  2. 9/11 Resilience Study – This study demonstrates that even in the case of such an extreme and jarring tragedy as 9/11, victims are capable of bouncing back from PTSD very quickly. The study was conducted shortly after the 2001 attacks so promising results are discussed with some skepticism, but the more recent research seems to confirm the optimistic tone.
  3. “Grief: The Journey From Suffering to Resilience” by William F. Doverspike, Ph.D. – This is a more cautious guide to avoiding the pitfalls of chronic grief and developing resilience.

Despite the public’s assumptions regarding our respective responses to trauma, even people who receive minimal counseling have demonstrated an admirable and inspiring level of resilience. Now we know that people possess an amazing ability to adapt and thrive.

What do you think?

JS

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

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

(Feel free to respond with your thoughts below or send to friends with the share buttons)

Possibility: Hillary

Ok, I decided I would write you again on the eve of Labor Day 2010. Not an easy time for Labor these days….

But, sitting here with the real-time, real-paper (not my laptop, Kindle or iPad versions), I lay the New York Times in front of me on this fine Sunday, and I smiled as I read the words, “It may prove the greatest test yet for Mrs. Clinton, one that could cement her legacy as a diplomat if she solves the riddle that foiled even her husband….”

OMG, what an amazing lesson for all regarding the business power of persistence and diversity, which I will be writing a lot about in the future. It seems like yesterday (about seventeen years ago) when Hillary Clinton was the punching bag for leading the health care initiative over ten years ago. Partisan politics aside, look where she is now, the odds on favorite for brokering the major mid-east deal that no one else has accomplished.

This is an amazing position to be in. This is a Leader who gets better at what she does and never gives up. Hillary, thanks for reminding us of what each of us have to do and do again.

Enjoy your Labor Day holiday and visualize how you want to express your labor in the coming year.

JS

Follow-up

As you walk out of the office or home for your weekend holiday, I want to give you some food for thought.

As Labor Day celebrates the return to labor after summer (even though we all know, in these times, many of us either never stopped laboring or are unemployed) I was struck by George Clooney’s humble words as he won the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award for his work in disaster relief at the Emmys last Sunday evening:

“The hard part is seven months later, five years later, when we’re on to a new story. Honestly, we fail at that, most of the time. That’s the facts. I fail at that,” Clooney added. “So here’s hoping that some very bright person right here in the room or at home watching can help find a way to keep the spotlight burning on these heartbreaking situations that continue to be heartbreaking long after the cameras go away. That would be an impressive accomplishment. Thank you.”

It made me think about how in our businesses and lives, we also get caught up in new priorities and we let older programs we have implemented get sloppy or die.

That is why when I teach implementation of the five steps of dealing with a crisis or of starting a new program, I include the 5th step below about follow-up.

When you start a new program, follow these 5 steps:

1. INVESTIGATE fully what going on

2. Make accurate CONCLUSIONS

3. Make RECOMMENDATIONS to others

4. Take the appropriate ACTIONS

5. DON’T FORGET TO FOLLOW-UP after it’s all in place

Follow-up is one of the greatest challenges of the human race at this time. As things get more and more complicated, there is a need for more solutions. But if we forget that we have to maintain what we have put in place, then nothing will get better at work or in the world. Whether it is learning that if we have an egg-producing chicken operation, it has to be impeccably clean; or if we ask something of our valued employees we have to bother to see how old systems are still working.

So after labor day, take a moment to ask the key people in your family, work place, and community activities, “So, how’s that great program we implemented doing?”. Make a list of all the important systems in your life that you have put in place, and take a moment to check on how they are doing!

Have a great labor day weekend and safe travels!

JS

© -2014 Full Life Centers, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright