Tag Archives: Goal Setting

You’ve set a goal, now how do you actually reach it?

photo credit: Nothing but dreams via photopin (license)

What’s that saying about reaching for the stars? Something about how even if you fail at least you’ll be among them? Better to get off the ground than to never start! Here’s how you make your dream a reality!  photo credit: Nothing but dreams via photopin (license)

Everyone has at least one big life goal in the back of their mind – whether it’s to lose weight, get more fit, run a marathon, reach a certain peak in their career etc. At first, there’s a fire and excitement and passion when thinking of that goal! We can’t wait until we reach it! We envision what it will feel like, look like and how different our life might be if it happened. How free, accomplished and proud would you be?

Then we come out of our daydream and start thinking about how long it will take to reach that goal and we become overwhelmed and disappointed. We don’t take action on the goal and 6 months from now we’ll be fantasizing about reaching that goal all over again. I’m sure some of you have already given up on a goal you set on New Years, right?? It happens to everyone at some point!

So how do you actually make it happen? How do you actually take that dream in your head and bring it to life?

Here’s the short answer: With specifics.

Here’s a graphic of the steps if you’re short on time – read on for more details!

Can you take these actions? I bet you can!

Can you take these actions? I bet you can!

Sit down with a pen and paper and get brainstorming! Create a list of all the things you can think of that it will actually take to reach that goal. What concrete steps will you need to take to make the dream a reality? To get from A to Z, what will you have to do?

Break the goal down into the smallest steps you can think of. If your goal is to run a marathon but you are mostly sedentary at the moment, one of your smaller steps is to begin exercising.

But what do you need to do to make that happen? Do you have a gym membership? Do you have a pair of good sneakers? Can you workout at home? When will you workout? Do you have clothes that are comfortable for exercise? What actions will you need to have taken before you can take on the more challenging aspects of marathon training?

Once you know what steps you need to take, try to organize them into a rational order.  In the above example of starting to exercise so that you can eventually run a marathon, the first steps may look something like this:
#1 Go shopping for sneakers and workout clothing.
#2 Purchase sneakers and workout clothing.
#3 Make an appointment with my doctor to get the ok to exercise.
#4 Decide what days and times I have available to exercise.
#5 Decide what kind of activity to start with.
#6 etc.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. Often when we take on a new challenge, we aren’t totally sure of all the steps required until we start working on it. There are lots of things that we won’t know to list until we begin – know that it’s ok to edit your list multiple times if needed! It’s ok to revise and rethink your plan of attack several times! What matters more is that you are actually taking the actions on your list.

Once you have your list of steps – those concrete actions that make up all the steps needed to reach the goal you have in mind, you want to plan out and schedule them in a calendar!

No really. I’m not kidding. Don’t fight doing this step. It’s crucial.

I know those of you who are creative types or have ADD are sitting here going “I work better when I see where my focus is each day.” Uh-huh. Yeah. I’ve said and done that myself. How has that been working for you? Are you actually making progress on them with this plan of attack? If you are, great – you’re an anomaly – continue on! But most of us, myself included, just spin in circles when we go that route. It’s a form of procrastination that comes up out of fear! Don’t fall for it!

I find it helpful to look at how long you think it could reasonably take to accomplish the goal and break it down into 3 or 4 month increments. How many of the steps can you accomplish in 3 months time? If your goal is something that will take a year to accomplish, you would need to take action on 1/4 of the steps in your total list to be on track to complete the goal in one year’s time. (One year is just an example – depending on your goal, you may be looking at multiple years or only a few months) After those 3 or 4 months are up, check in – how are you doing? Are you on track? Great! Schedule out the next 3 or 4 months worth of action steps. If you’re not on track, assess what needs to change to get you there. Do you need to extend out your goal time line? Are certain steps taking longer than you planned? That’s ok – that’s reality! Maybe you’ve discovered that tasks you thought you could get done in 2 hours actually take you 5. Now that you know that you’ll have a more realistic schedule for the next few months. Once you know where you need to change things, get to work at scheduling those tasks!

Is it freaking you out to think 3 or 4 months out in the future? Ok. What steps can you take this week and next week? Start there and once you accomplish those you’ll build confidence that will help you be bolder in the weeks following.

Use any calendar you want for this task! I like using my google calendar because it updates on all the devices I use but you can use anything that you will be consistent using!  A paper calendar or a day planner like the Passion Planner or Leonie Dawson’s Workbooks are great options too (and can even help you get clearer about what you really want).

Next honor yourself by actually taking the actions you have planned and scheduled out. Showing up is the hardest part sometimes! Even if you get so far as to put all your steps in your calendar, a lot of us will get up each day and choose to ignore that calendar. Make a commitment to look at it each evening – so that you already have an idea of what you need to take care of tomorrow. I know you make time to be prepared for work meetings, doctor appointments and all of your children’s activities. These are all in your calendar and you make sure that they happen. You wouldn’t dream of blowing them off! Do the same for the action steps for your goals. Treat them as you would anything else that is important to you! They are not negotiable.

Don’t put something in your calendar that you have no intentions of doing. And if you have no intention of taking that step, please ask yourself why? What is holding you back?

That’s it. That’s how you make a goal a reality. 

There’s no magic to reaching goals other than having a clearly laid out path of action and then committing to yourself to take it.

And here’s something to remember if you still feel like it’s too much work to tackle that goal – know that that time is going to pass no matter what. So you’ll either reach that point in time having achieved what you wanted or you’ll reach that same point in time wishing you had started back when you first started thinking about it. Why not start right now?

You may be thinking “but my goal is more complicated than that! I can’t plan actions towards it!” But that’s very unlikely. The majority of goals can be broken down into small actions that added up over time equal the end result. If you’ve ever lost weight or got a job, any job, how did it happen? I’m guessing you went on a diet, started an exercise program, counted calories or something similar when you lost weight. And how long did you do it for? And how strictly? You took repetitive steps that resulted in weight loss. Same with getting a job, even if we’re talking a job at the mall food court in high school – at the bare minimum you walked into a business and filled out an application, probably received and answered a phone call and showed up on your first day of work.  Those are all actions, as basic as they may seem. Bigger goals, just mean MORE actions.

Sometimes the hard part is seeing the steps to your goal clearly – it’s tough to get started at all if you don’t know where to begin! If you need help translating this formula to a goal in your life, let’s set up a time to chat!  I can help you determine if your goal is reachable and how you can get there.

When Will Life Not Get in the Way?

Life gets in the way

Now that I’ve been coaching clients for awhile, I’m starting to notice some trends among my clients that actually applies to most of us. People seem to fall into two places when it comes to getting things done – they either straight up “do it” or they “let life get in the way”. Both types of people have busy lives with many responsibilities but they have different beliefs about their role in their own life and how much control they have over it. This isn’t a “lazy” problem. This is a “thinking” problem. I’ll explain!

During my coaching sessions with clients, together we come up with a few diet or lifestyle recommendations for them to try out in the two weeks until our next session.  These recommendations are small “tweaks” to what they’re doing already. We build upon what they’re already working on in small increments so that the tasks are attainable and they don’t feel overwhelmed. By doing this, we ensure that they will be able to reach their goal as long as they take the steps we’ve outlined together and they feel empowered to take on more challenges as they progress.

Depending on where someone is on their journey, I’m noticing that my clients seem to land in these two camps (the “do’ers” and “life gets in the way” camps). In the first camp, I have people who show up at each session and have completed each recommendation with impressive fervor and drive.  They can’t wait to take on more. They see the value in doing each step and they know that if they don’t take the actions we plan, then they won’t get the results we’re after. These people make incredible progress week after week. They reach their goals and then some.

In the other camp are people who at the end of the session say they are excited about their recommendations and they feel confident that they can complete them before the next session. At this point they appear very similar to the people in the first camp. But when it comes time for the next session and when I ask how the recommendations went they haven’t done them.

Why? The reasons I hear are things like: “Oh, I didn’t get to them at all! Life just got in the way!” When I ask what specifically made it difficult to do what they set out to do, they have things like this to say:

1. “I don’t know, it was just a really busy couple of weeks!”
2. “Well it was a school vacation week.”
3.  “I had a lot of events to go to.”
4.  “We just weren’t home much and I didn’t have time”.

So we try again, we go in with a different plan of attack and break the goal into something even smaller so that there will be less to get in the way of it getting done.  Still, clients in this camp show up to the next session having barely worked on their goals (some not at all, others in a half-assed way). They express frustration that they aren’t making progress. But how can we expect to progress if we aren’t taking action?

Clients in both camps are busy. In fact, I would venture to say that all of my clients are very busy people, in fact, the people in the “do’er” camp also have events, school vacations and aren’t home much – but they get done what they set out to do. Why is this?

Where they differ says something about how they look at life.  Both sides are busy but one side repeatedly let’s regular daily life stuff get in the way of their dreams.  In the first camp, the “do’ers” are people who look at life as something they have some control over – they see evidence that their beliefs lead to actions that create results.  In the second camp are people who look at life as something that happens to them – they don’t believe they really control the course of their life. They believe they don’t have control, so they take actions (or lack of actions) that bring them results they don’t want (and then they see that as evidence that their original belief of no control is correct).  What’s terrible about this is that it’s re-enforced as they go through the cycle again and again and it’s hard to get out of.

What’s different about the people who fall into the “life gets in the way” group is that there is a part of them that believes that we can only make life changes (even small ones) when things are quiet, when everything is lined up in a row, when we don’t have vacations or appointments or meetings or housework to do. The problem with this type of thinking is that nothing ever gets done. Progress is never (or barely) made because they believe life needs to be smooth and perfect before attempting to change anything. They believe that in order to be successful, they need to be able to concentrate every ounce of their energy on a new task, and since that is impossible (even for people who aren’t busy), their belief is setting them up for failure.

The “do’ers”, those who get stuff done despite obstacles recognize that in order to make changes you have to fit your goals in with the rest of your priorities. Just like brushing your teeth, showering, feeding your kids and paying your mortgage – the goals you set to change your life need to be moved up higher on the priority ladder or they will never get done.

Now, I’m not talking about those major circumstances (like a death in the family, major illness etc) that we can’t plan for.  Obviously these things come up and we didn’t know they were coming.  But we do know when our children’s school break is happening, we know we have appointments scheduled, we know when we have a busy week of social events and we know we have a home that needs regular house cleaning.  I hate to say it but these are things that you can plan around.  You can fit your small goals into these regular life things if you take a few minutes to look at your upcoming week and figure out a plan. You wouldn’t skip brushing your teeth or paying your most important bills just because life got busy, right? So why do we think it’s ok to skip out on the actions that will get us where we want to be?

You know you’re going to have to eat no matter what, why not plan ahead for some healthy options you can eat when things are very busy? You can cook a few meals ahead of time and freeze or get into the habit of keeping quick grab healthy foods in the house like peeled/sliced vegetables (every grocery store sells these now), a can of beans, a container of hummus, plain yogurts, fresh and dried fruit and nuts etc. It can be done no matter how insanely busy you are.

If you’re in the “life gets in the way” group, it all boils down to a belief.  A belief that life is happening to me and that I have no control over it. A belief that I’ve never been able to do x, y, or z so why would i be able to do it now?  A belief that you are the victim in your life. Or maybe you believe that you’re lazy.

Is this what you really want? Of course not! But somewhere along the line, you received the message that life happens to you and that you’re just along for the ride. But today I want you to hear the message that there is a whole other world out there if you are open to it. If you can change your belief about the level of control you have in your life, you will be open to taking different action and can change the outcome. You’ll be able to get the results that you want so badly.

The only difference between people who are incredibly successful and those who aren’t is that the successful ones don’t give up if they stumble. The most successful people in the world have failed many many times but they keep going. Failure or slipping up isn’t a sign from the universe that you’re not meant to have or be something – it’s a sign that maybe you need to change how you’re going about it. In this case, you have to change how you are viewing your role in YOUR life.

I know people who fall into both camps – and I definitely used to fall into the “life gets in the way camp”. I now see myself as a “do’er” and can’t imagine going back. It’s a lot more satisfying to recognize that your life is YOURS.

Which camp do you think you fall into? Are you letting regular life “things” get in the way of your goals? Do you really want these goals to begin with? Do you believe you can have it? Do you recognize the amount of conscious work it takes to get there? Goals and dreams don’t happen without real action and dedication to the process. You have to SHOW UP in a real way to get there.  If you half-ass it, you’re living a half-assed life.  What is the point of that??

If you are getting stuck in this type of thinking when it comes to taking actions towards your goals, I urge you to ask yourself “When will life not get in the way?”.  Does your answer surprise you? Do you feel angry that I’m even asking you these questions? Think about it and please share your answers here in the comments.

Show up. Take control. Sculpt the life that you want.

Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!


Two Things Need to Happen if You Want to Change Your Life

photo credit: petrichor via photopin cc

photo credit: petrichor via photopin cc

I’ll get right down to the point. The way I see it, there are only two things you need to do if you want to change your life. It doesn’t matter if “change your life” means losing weight, changing careers, finding love, quitting smoking, getting off of sugar, reducing anxiety or most anything else.

The two things that need to happen are:

1. You have to really want it.
2. You have to continuously take steps towards that goal.

I don’t mean to trivialize how difficult changing your life is, because it’s definitely not easy and we certainly can’t take steps to change until we are ready, but so many people give up before they even start because they see where they are now and where they want to be as two points that are miles apart. They can’t see how they can get from one to the other so they don’t do anything about it.

No amount of wishing your life was different or being envious of others success will change your life. No amount of ignoring your situation will change it. No amount of complaining about it will make a difference. And there will be no perfect time in your life to make it happen. Life doesn’t slow down and suddenly become more convenient. A special opportunity when all things are aligned won’t show up.

It may sound harsh to lay it out like this but I’ve noticed that the difference between most people who are successful at changing and those who aren’t is often as simple as being willing to continuously take action, even when they’re busy or feel like giving up. They don’t give excuses a moment to take root.

No, changing your life isn’t easy. It’s usually hard work and sometimes you feel like you’re taking a lot of steps that don’t really seem to be going anywhere. But if you keep taking action you will move forward. It may not be as fast as you would like and you may need to revise your goals along the way. You may even realize during your journey that you want to head in another direction. That’s okay! That’s still growth. You’re still changing your life!

If you feel like you are taking action and working towards a goal but nothing is happening, ask yourself if there is something you could be doing towards this goal that you’re not already doing. Also important, is your goal a S.M.A.R.T. goal (S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Realistic – Timed)? Goals that are well defined are easier to reach.

If you have clearly outlined the steps to reach your goal but are not making the progress you would like, is it possible you are self-sabotaging? Maybe you’re unconsciously afraid of this change so you’re finding ways to not move forward (been there!) or you’re not really sure how to change something (been there too!) so you end up spinning in circles.

Another possibility is that you don’t really want to reach this goal to begin with. Many of us think we want to achieve something because it is what society expects of us or it’s a story we’ve told ourselves for many years. If you don’t really want it, there is no amount of goal setting or coaching that’s going to make it happen.
Goal Setting Blog Post (1)

If you’re just getting started with change, try to not take on too much too soon. It’s the fastest way to get overwhelmed and discouraged. Start with small changes first and build on them as you gain confidence and momentum.

For weight loss, try adding in an extra vegetable each day to start. When that becomes easy, consider starting an exercise routine (if you’re not already – and with your doctor’s approval). It can be just 10 minutes a few times a week to begin. Start there and keep building!

If you want to change careers and know what you want to do but don’t know what it takes to get there, start by doing research on your dream field and reach out to people already working in that field that you know already (or find them on Linkedin) and ask if they’d be willing to tell you how they got their foot in the door. Get the ball rolling and get excited about your future and your next steps will appear.

For increased chances of success, consider sharing your goals with a friend and asking them to hold you accountable or hire a coach who can help you navigate roadblocks. Having support can go a long way towards your progress.

For true change to happen you have to want what you’re after and continuously take action towards it. If you do those two things we’ll be celebrating your accomplishment in just a matter of time. I’ll buy the champagne!
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The Upcoming New Year – What do you want from it?

photo credit: hnnbz via photopin cc

photo credit: hnnbz via photopin cc

Happy New Year (almost)! I hope your holiday season has been wonderful – filled with love and joy and hopefully lots of well deserved lazy relaxation.

I am wishing for you a 2015 where you dream big and reach goals you’ve set for yourself. What do you want from 2015? Do you want a repeat of this year? Or do you want something totally different?

I don’t have a ton to say today. I’m mostly sending good wishes to you as I contemplate what I want for the coming year. I hope you are thinking about what you want the next 12 months to look/feel like too.

What I want for the coming year has a lot to do with how I’ve spent my time this year. I’ve been incredibly productive and I’m very excited about all that I’ve accomplished in my first year of business. (Thank you for coming along for the ride and for supporting me!) But despite all that I’ve been able to do, all that I’ve learned and how far I’ve come this year, I find that for me, 2014 was plagued by too many “shoulds” and “have tos”.  This is a part of my personality that I have always struggled with and it really reared its ugly head the last several weeks. As the holidays came closer, I found myself setting loftier goals to end the year – knowing how great it would feel if I accomplished all of it before December 31st.  Well somewhere around mid-December I felt the pressure mounting and said screw it! I realized it was more important for me to enjoy the season, spend time with people I love and relax than it was to accomplish x,y and z.  I was setting goals with my head, not my heart.  Goals set with our heads are important (they keep the bills paid) but goals set by our hearts are equally and sometimes more so (they keep us happy and prevent burnout).

For 2015, I want more of the same success and momentum that I’ve had during 2014 but I’m going to work on giving less attention to the “shoulds” or “have tos” and more attention to what I want in my heart. A coaching practice is a heart-centered business and I’m a heart-centered person. Operating in this way will ensure 2015 is a calmer year for me – even as my business grows.

As usual, when trying to change a habit, I start by asking myself some questions. Is that goal coming from a deep desire? Am I excited about it? Will the return be worth the effort?  Or is that goal coming from an expectation I’m putting on myself? Does it have to be done now or can it wait a little bit? The answers to these (and others) can help clarify my motivations.

So that’s where my head is as we wrap up 2014:  assessing, revising and revisioning.  How was this year for you? What do you want from 2015? What do you want to feel like one year from today? How do you plan to get there?  Make it happen!

What to Expect When You Hire a Health Coach

What the heck is health coaching?

What the heck is health coaching?

It seems like the term “Health Coaching” or “Health Coach” are being flung about a lot these days but most people aren’t really sure what it is or what it means.  It’s a pretty young field and is still developing.  In fact, it’s so young that at this moment there is no single licensing board that regulates who can call themselves a health coach and whether or not they can dispense nutrition advice varies by state.  Anyone can call themselves one without any training (that’s why you see diet pill pushers on TV calling themselves a health coach).   This makes people a little wary of hiring one (and they should be).  You want to know a little about someone’s background, training and what you’ll get by hiring them. When I’m asked what I do and tell the person that I’m a Health Coach, sometimes I get a look of confusion (when that happens I just know that they think it has something to do with kale).

I’m always happy to explain more about what it is that I do (and what training I’ve had) and I know it’s only a matter of time before the term Health Coach is in everyone’s vocabulary but for today I thought I’d take a minute to lay out exactly what you can expect from working with me. I think it’s important for clients and potential clients to know exactly what they can expect from my services and our sessions.

I also want to be clear about what they won’t be getting when working with me. I am not a nutritionist, dietician or personal trainer.  I can’t diagnose you with anything, prescribe medications or treatments and I won’t advise you specifically on how much fat, carbs or protein you should be eating.

Health Coaching is a subset of Life Coaching.  You have health or wellness goals you would like to reach (lose weight, stop your sugar addiction, find more time to exercise etc), I’ll hold you accountable and together we’ll confront obstacles in your way and work through them.  We’re so used to having to go to outside of ourselves (the doctor, books, the internet etc) for help managing our health, that we forget that much of it is actually in our control.  We have the power to create a healthier lifestyle by making little changes that add up to make a huge impact. A Health Coach can help you get control back and be an objective sounding board when you feel like you are going in circles with information overload or decisions.  And, no, it’s not all about kale (but maybe it’s a little bit about kale). And a real coach with a quality background is not going to try to sell you a quick fix.

photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc

photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc

Here’s what you can and can’t expect from me as your Health Coach:

      • I will help you define goals and form a plan with you on how you can reach them.
      • I will hold you accountable.  When we decide that you are going to take an action, I expect you to take it.
      • I will ask you questions that make you think deeply about your choices, excuses, motivations and more.
      • I will keep what you tell me private.  I want to provide a safe and trusted space for you.
      • I will be your cheerleader and support you through both the ups and downs on this journey.
      • I will help you deconstruct your food cravings so that they don’t derail your goals.
      • I will help you address issues that may be forming in many areas of your life, including your career, physical activity, diet, spirituality, creativity, social life and even relationships.
      • I will give you my undivided attention during our appointments.
      • I will let you know that you are not alone.
      • I will help you figure out the “how” when it comes to implementing these changes.
      • I will let you lead the discussion.  Some days you may want to talk about your diet, other days it might be work or your home life that needs some attention.  We’ll go where the need arises.
      • I will encourage you to be open to trying new things (in your diet and elsewhere in your life).
      • I won’t hand you a meal plan that tells you exactly what to eat but I will help you figure out what foods make you feel your best.
      • I will help you dig deeper when you feel stuck in a situation.
      • I will recommend eating more whole foods and less processed foods (but I don’t subscribe to one particular diet for everybody).
      • I’m going to make these lifestyle changes as easy as possible for you by being with you every step of the way.
      • I don’t expect perfection from my clients but I do expect effort!
      • I won’t judge you.  I want you to feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings with me.
      • I won’t and can’t do the work for you.  I’m here to support you in making lasting changes.  If you aren’t committed to doing the work, then coaching may not be for you.
      • I won’t recommend or support magic pills, surgery or other drastic measures for losing weight.
      • I won’t tell you that you can’t eat something (but I may suggest alternatives to try).
      • I won’t hesitate to suggest you seek additional help or services from other medical or mental health providers if I believe your needs go beyond my scope of practice.  Your safety and health is of utmost importance.

I hope this helps you to have a clearer picture of what working with a Health Coach is like.  I really love the work that I’m doing.  It’s so awesome to watch people transform their lives (especially if they were feeling stuck before). Have you ever considered hiring a Health Coach?  The first session with me is free if you want to test the waters and see if it’s for you. If you have any questions, please submit them in the comments or send me an email and I’ll respond as soon as I can.