Setting yourself up for success
We’re in the first months of a whole new decade, not just a whole new year, and you may have created some big goals that you want to achieve in business and life in this new chapter. I’d like to share a number of key concepts I’ve discovered that I know will help you reach them.
When reflecting on where I’m at, I realised that the end of this decade I’ll actually be in my 60s, and so I decided that now is the time to become the best version of me.
That means in a business sense, I have some very clear plans for how I want to create more impact and be more supportive of my audience and my clients, and that’s going to demand sustained energy. And in a personal sense, it means ensuring I have the fitness and flexibility to do the things that I want to do.
I was away with my family in the second week of January on holiday, and this is where I really started to recognise that changes needed to be made.
Good habits tend to disappear when I’m “relaxing”
I don’t know about you, but when I’m on holiday I tend to just eat whatever I want. I see it almost my right! I’m relaxing, I’m on holiday, this is what I want to do. But what I noticed this time was how my energy was really, really low when I did this. I felt incredibly lethargic.
There was also a tangible impact on my mood. It was plummeting. There was negativity just running left, right and centre about what was in store for me this year. what was going to work and what wasn’t going to work and unhealthy observations about almost everything about me!
There was an indisputable link between the quality of my food and the quality of my mood and energy. I couldn’t pretend otherwise and I knew I needed to make some significant changes.
Setting goals and creating intentions
My observations and realisations whilst I was on holiday led me to making some changes. When I came back home I made three decisions.
Number one, I will make positive nutrition choices every day.
Number two, I will move my body more.
Number three, I will anchor myself in what I call the Bookends of my Day, an intentional way to start and end each day.
(NB: The Bookends are a subject in itself, and I’m definitely going to record a future podcast episode and write a blog about it!)
These intentions were solid, but how was I going to make them stick and create real change? If I was honest with myself, this wasn’t the first time I’d made similar plans. What was going to make this time different?
I spent some time considering this, and looking back at my past I reminded myself that I’ve actually managed to make some pretty BIG health and wellness changes stick in the past – I stopped drinking more than 13 years ago, I stopped smoking more than 6 years ago, for example. What had made these work?
How do you turn your goals into reality?
I believe there are three core steps to take to give any strong intention a greater chance of coming to fruition, whether it be a business or life goal.
- Outline and define what that intention or goal looks like in action.
I said I wanted to make positive nutrition choices each day. But what does that actually look like? For me, it means no skipping meals, and to have fresh non-processed choices wherever possible.
I also said I wanted to move my body more. For me that means getting to the local gym three times a week and adding in walks as well (easy since I now have a puppy who looks positively dejected if he isn’t taken out regularly!)
Finally, the bookends of my day. What am I actually going to commit to doing each morning and evening? I chose to begin my day with the Tibetan Rites, a quick yoga-based stretching routine that’s way of waking up your chakras and aligning your energy each morning, followed by a 20-minute “Genius Mind” free writing period (If you’ve not heard of this concept, it basically means putting pen to paper before you consume any media, just working with your own thoughts) and then listening to the short morning meditation on the Daily Calm app. All up, a 35-minute morning routine.
In the evenings, it means regularly writing in my Gratitude Journal three things I’m thankful for and one thing I’m proud of that day whilst having a cup of Nighttime tea from the Pukka range. This always puts me in a good head space before I go to sleep.
- Invest in the tools or actions that will support you to reach your goals.
It’s important to ask yourself, what do I need around me to set myself up for success? These can be specific tools or proactive actions.
For me, that meant investing in a thing called the Kim Beach app on my phone that lays out my daily meals and provides a shopping list too. This makes it much easier to actually go out and get what I need in advance and make sure it’s in my fridge. This pre-preparing action increases the likelihood of eating the right things enormously.
It also meant joining in a local gym that requires me to book my classes in on the app. They fill up fast, so you need to book in advance and if you don’t turn up, they fine you! That accountability has been working really well for me.
The final piece that’s really important for me is being in a mastermind and having consistent access to my mentor, who is also helping me to connect to my Future Self so I can make more positive choices.
- Utilise the power of Pre-commitment
Pre-commitment is simply deciding in advance what actions or behaviours you’re willing to do or not to do before you’re actually confronted with the situation.
For example, one of my pre-commitments is not to drink energy drinks anymore. Now that the decision has been made in advance, when I stop at a petrol station to fill up my car, and I feel like getting a drink, I just don’t even stop to consider the Red Bull anymore. It’s not one of my options, because I have committed in advance, so I don’t have to stand there and battle with my own head. That commitment has already been made, no emotional energy needs to be used.
I’ve also pre-committed each morning to my Bookends by setting a regular wake up alarm and to my exercise by laying out my gear each night. It’s there, ready to go, no excuses. My Gratitude Journal is right beside my bed every night, I’ve stocked up my night time relaxation tea and I have a reminder set on my phone that it’s time to switch off and get downstairs. These pre-commitments to my intentions are helping me make sure that I make them happen.
Behaviours and results are transferable
The great news is that these behaviours, these supporting keys, and tools can be used right across the board, in every area of your business and life. I certainly utilise them in my business, setting measurable goals that are both Smart and Heart.
You’ve probably heard of SMART Goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. They’re important because they’re action-oriented, they give you focus.
On the flip side, HEART Goals soften this focus, ensuring they align with the core of a business that blends contribution, fulfilment, and financial reward. So take a moment to ensure at least some of your goals are Harmonious, Engaging, Aspirational, Refreshing, and at least a little bit tantalising!
This balance of smart and heart goals helps keep me focused and energised – I then engage the strategy of pre-commitment, ensuring my priorities are embedded in my 90-day Cascade Plan and implemented through my weekly planner (You can access these tools in my Next Chapter Community Group).
The value of investing in you
I mentioned before, a major investment I make each year with regards to time, energy and money is to be a part of a Mastermind. This commitment provides me with consistent emotional and strategic support right across the year.
I also invest in other classes, experiences or programs that address specific skill gaps for me when I can see it’s needed. This is not “just in case” learning, snapping up a course because I might need it one day and FOMO (the fear of missing out) is breathing down my neck. Rather it is Just in Time learning, with a focus on closing a specific gap when it comes up. I’ve just recently invested in a program that’s helping me to improve my skills in storytelling and email marketing at the moment, for example.
What’s the most vital ingredient for success?
The three simple principles I’ve shared, outlining and defining intentions, investing in the tools or actions that will support you to reach your goals and utilising the strategy of pre-commitment are all incredibly important. But by far, the most powerful tool that you have at your disposal for anything you wanting to achieve in 2020 is to ensure that your internal dialogue is supportive and encouraging and liberally laced with self-compassion.
Why? Because your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings, create your actions (or lack of action) and your actions create your results. In psychological terms, this interplay is called the Cognitive Triangle and it’s a philosophy that you really want to understand, adopt and practice.
I’d like to share a specific example from when I went back to the gym earlier this year. I’m a 50, almost 51-year-old woman who hasn’t done a lot of exercise since the soccer season finished last year, and I have a rather curvaceous body, shall we say!
I love the variety provided in the classes that I go to each week, but I’m certainly one of the older and less flexible people in the room. When I started, those first classes was really, really hard. But because I have made this commitment to myself, and I’m aware of the Cognitive Triangle, when I was in the midst of “Oh my god, this is so difficult” I was acutely aware that I could have allowed that thought to take root and for my internal dialogue to start going down the toilet…
- This is too hard.
- I don’t know what you’re doing here
- Look, everyone else is so much fitter than you
- Really you shouldn’t even try this
- Why don’t you just get real and get out of here?
You get the drift!
I could have easily gone down that path. And how do you think those thoughts would have made me feel? Certainly not motivated and committed! I’m likely to have left the class at the earliest opportunity and perhaps not gone back.
But because I have awareness switched on I could catch myself and choose different thoughts, and so can you.
How can your inner dialogue help you?
When I noticed those negative, unsupportive, energy-sapping thoughts rising up, I pulled myself up and swapped the thoughts out, replacing them with these instead:
- You’ve already got through four sets. There’s only four to go.
- I’m so proud that you got out of bed this morning and made it here.
- Look, you’re already committing to your goals.
- You are doing fantastically.
- Don’t look at what anyone else is doing. Just focus on what you’re doing.
- You’re going to do better each day.
- You’re going to get stronger, you’re going to get fitter.
- You’re taking action.
- You are awesome!
I made sure my internal dialogue was positive. And as a result, I started feeling really good!
You can do this too. Switch on your awareness. Notice your self-talk. Make a change if it is anything less than kind, supportive and encouraging, Be your own best friend! Don’t fall for the myth that being hard on yourself is the only path to growth, it’s just not true.
When I write my gratitude list at night, you can be pretty sure that my “Adventures in Gym Land” are featuring high on my “What I’m proud of today” notes. With each additional positive message that you put into your psyche, your confidence will grow.
Positive psychologists like Martin Seligman have long studied the impact of positivity. But way back in the 50s, Abraham Maslow was telling us that a self-actualized person is someone who focuses on their talents and their strengths. That involves self-awareness and taking a positive view and encouraging yourself. You can start today!
Mentally healthy people do this
When I started looking at this more closely, I found a fabulous blog post on Psych Central that talked about seven things that mentally healthy people tell themselves.
- I’m lovable.
Unconditional positive self-regard right there, front and centre
- I’m capable. I can do this.
Yes, you can – encourage yourself.
- Most other people are lovable and capable too
I like to think that everyone’s doing the best they can. That’s the way that I like to look at the world.
- Success comes from doing not thinking and planning, but actually doing.
I’ve spoken before about how the actions of confidence come first and the feelings of confidence come later. We need to take action, every baby step in the direction of your dreams counts.
- Challenges are opportunities.
That might make you raise your eyebrows, but it is a productive mindset to adopt. Again, there is nothing that you cannot work out. Everything can be worked out, and asking for help is encouraged.
- It’s only human to make mistakes.
You’re not going to get it perfect. I don’t get it perfect. No one that I know gets it all perfect. We make mistakes we learn from them. We keep going.
- I have what it takes to cope with change and to make changes
I think this one is possibly THE most important. It’s the one that I keep telling myself. Yes, I am able to change, I am able to achieve those intentions and goals that I have set.
Build your self-efficacy
I want you to start growing these new neural pathways, these new neural grooves of possibility and positivity. As you do this, you’ll build your self-efficacy – your belief in your ability to deal with the situations that you encounter.
This self-perception plays such a vital role in not only how you feel about yourself, but also has a mighty influence on whether or not you will successfully achieve your goals in life.
And here’s the beautiful thing, self-efficacy is transferable too!
I’m growing it in the gym at the moment, but I know that it’s also transferable across to my business. That is no doubt that good nutrition, regular exercise, and quality sleep is playing a big role in how good I’m feeling at the moment. I’m in a demanding work period, running a lot of strategy sessions for all of the women who have joined the Next Chapter Circle Mastermind. We’re digging down into their purpose, their vision, their mission, creating manifestos, setting the goals for the year, finding the gaps to close in the business, uncovering new possibilities for how they can grow and deepen. And my brain is firing on all four cylinders, maybe even six! One of these lovely clients sent me a snippet to share this morning on messenger:
“Angela hit on an idea in our pre-mastermind strategy call yesterday that might well make the entire investment worthwhile before we’ve even properly begun!”
Emma Grey, My 15 Minutes
Taking good care of yourself pays dividends both for you and for your clients and customers.
The Next Chapter Model of Change
All of the ideas I’ve shared here have sprung from another example of my Next Chapter Model of Change in action.
The model is a simple circle that shows that there are several steps we go through when we’re moving through change. I most often utilise it when working with women who are wanting to change their business core or to start something new, but I’ve found it’s actually applicable in just so many areas of business and life.
Stage One: Discontent
I was unhappy with how I was feeling.
Stage Two: Desire
What is it that I want instead?
Stage Three: Decision
I needed to stop deliberating and make the decision walk across the threshold into a new way of being.
Stage Four: Design
What do I need to support and ensure my ability to create this new reality?
Stage Five: Delivery
The rubber meets the road! I have to show up and do the work.
You’ll notice in the middle of the model there are all the doubts, the difficulties, the derailments, the things that can take you off course.
Those flourish when you anchor yourself in negative self-talk. But they can be overcome with the three preparation steps I’ve outlined here and when you dial up your self-awareness and focus on making sure your internal dialogue is supportive, self-compassionate, encouraging and positive, anchored in those 7 things that mentally healthy people say to themselves.
So now you have some fresh ideas and tools to adapt and adopt to help you take the reins and bring your vision to life. I hope they’re as helpful to you as they have been for me. And please, know this truth right down to your toes. Whatever it is that you want to achieve in Your Next Chapter, you absolutely can.