Overcoming Obstacles To Reach Your Goals: Stop Should-ing Yourself to Death

What Do You Want?

The Common Shoulds of Society

We’ve already covered several common obstacles to reaching your goals, including those pesky negative thoughts and having a lack mindset. Today, we will address how to stop “should-ing yourself.” We live in a society driven by “shoulds.” Finance websites are more than happy to tell you what you should be doing with your money—save for retirement, invest in bitcoin, flip real estate, etc. Well-meaning friends and parents also have a multitude of opinions of what you should be doing with your life—get a stable job (“Be an accountant”), get married, buy a home, have children. I’m not saying that those things like having kids or buying a home are bad things—I’ve happily done both of those—I’m just encouraging you to take in all of the information and make your own informed decisions based on what’s best for YOU!

I can’t tell you how many clients sit in my office and ponder whether they “should” make a certain decision based on a variety of factors. They’ll ask me: “Do you think I should (insert “should” here: change jobs, go for the promotion and so on)?” and then wait expectantly for my answer. I often answer them with a simple question of my own: “Do you want to?” They sometimes stare at me as though I’ve asked a question in a foreign language. More often than not, I get a response along the lines of “I never thought about it.” They’ll go on to tell me they’ve been trained in a certain job field and figured it was logical to continue in that industry even though they dreaded going to work every day, or felt they would let their parents/friends/partner down if they left a stable or highly-regarded industry (have I mentioned how many lawyers I’ve had as clients?), or they felt stuck because they valued their salary even though they felt the job was crushing their soul.

Why Should is a Red Flag Word

Whenever you feel that you should do something, take a closer look because the word should usually indicates that it’s coming from somewhere (or someone) outside of yourself. For instance, a client told me he felt he should take a promotion in his company even though he couldn’t stand the job. When asked why he felt he should do that, he acknowledged that the people around him, including his parents, would view him as a success if he accepted a promotion. When I asked “Do you want to take the promotion?” it became crystal clear to him that he did not want it.

I point out that if I tell clients what I think they should do, they’ve again given their power away to an external source rather than empowering themselves. It shouldn’t matter what I think they should do; it only matters what they want for themselves. My job is to help them step into that power, discover what they want, and then help them to achieve it. Here’s the thing: nobody is more of an expert about you than you. Yes, in my role as a career coach, I help clients to unlock their potential, clarify their goals, and then break those goals down into achievable steps, but I would never presume to tell someone what those goals should be.

Is Should Always a Bad Thing?

No. For instance, you should pay your taxes because that’s part of being in a society, even though it’s not necessarily something you want to do. Let’s look at another common should. It’s common knowledge that exercise is good for you and has lots of benefits so you should do it. But it’s what you tell yourself that matters (remember the power of words we addressed in the negative thoughts post), so I encourage you to reframe those shoulds into wants if they are areas you want to improve. Figure out the want that is behind the should. Look at the following two sentences:

I should exercise more and lose some weight.

I want to be healthy and have lots of energy to care for myself and those around me.

Which of those statements is more positive and attaches personal empowerment to it? See the difference between the should statement versus the want? Let’s try one related to finances:

I should save more money for retirement.

I want to be financially independent in order to pursue my dreams and provide for my family.

Try saying the two statements out loud. Which statement is more motivating to you? In another post, we will look at the importance of the WHY behind your goals, but for now, we will look at how to focus on what you want rather than what you should do.

Here’s a quick exercise where you will reframe two should statements into want statements. Pick two areas in your life that you want to improve (not an area where others think you should improve) and write a should and want statement for each one.

  1. I should _________________________________________________________.
  2. I want ___________________________________________________________.
  1. I should _________________________________________________________.
  2. I want ___________________________________________________________.

2 Quick Steps to Refocus Your Shoulds

Step 1: Catch yourself whenever the word comes out of your mouth or pops into your head

Step 2: Stop and ask yourself, “What do I want?”

You will be surprised how quickly your real truth comes out when you pause to ask yourself that question. Next week, we will address the common obstacle known as “perfectionism.” Have a great week!

Make sure to like the Prosperity Facebook page if you’re not already following! Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Overcoming Obstacles to Reach Your Goals: The “Lack” Mindset

This series of posts addresses common obstacles that people encounter when trying to reach their desired goals. Last week, we addressed how to overcome negative thinking. This time, we will talk about the common perceived obstacle of “lack.”

When people have difficulty reaching their personal and professional goals, they often point to a lack of something as a reason. Lack of time. Lack of money. Lack of energy. Lack of knowledge. Lack of skills. Lack of resources. And so on. This obstacle is common because if reaching goals were easy, everyone would do it. If your common lack belief is something along the lines of “lack of smarts” or “lack of being good enough,” then I encourage you to go back and read the first post in this series about negative beliefs. Also, what you tell yourself matters, so if you tell yourself that you can’t succeed because of some “lack,” then that will be the case (see above quote). For the rest of you, here are some tips for 3 of the most common “lacks.”

  1. Lack of time. I can’t tell you how often I hear this one from my life coaching and career coaching clients (hint: it’s a lot.) Here’s the thing. Everyone has 24 hours in a day: you, your boss, your friends, and even Bill Gates, and Beyonce. Whenever someone begins describing this lack to me, it becomes evident that the issue is actually “lack of time management” rather than time. I will do an entire post on time management in the future but people take great pride in listing off all of their responsibilities and things they do in their day and why they can’t possibly find time for anything extra. You don’t find time. You make time. If something is important enough to you, you will make the time. One quick tip: schedule that thing in your calendar and you are way more likely to do it. I am also a published sci-fi author, and someone once said to me, “I wish I had time to fritter away to write a book.” As though the magical time fairy sprinkled me with extra time that she didn’t have. I get up at 4:30a on weekdays before my kids get ready for school so that I can make time for writing before my other work. Make time for what matters to you.
  2. Lack of money. Unless you are the aforementioned Bill Gates or Beyonce, you likely have some limitations with your money. I tell clients that the quickest way to determine what they really value in life is to look at every penny they spent in the past month that wasn’t for a roof over their heads and electricity. Then, look for any areas where you could shift even a few dollars toward your goal. There are a ton of posts out there on ways to save more money (a google search is great for this), but start a fund for that goal, no matter how small it is. Online accounts even let you name the account whatever you want so make it your goal name or something fun, such as Trip to Ireland account, Start My Own Catering Business account, Freedom from Corporate Enslavement account, etc. In the meantime, be creative. What can you do with the funds you have now? I guarantee you can start somewhere, even if it’s a small step. All big things start with smaller things that add up. I know someone who sold their blood plasma to pay for editing of their first book. How badly do you want that goal?
  3. Lack of knowledge. Most of us are knowledgeable in certain areas but we may have goals that stretch beyond our expertise. I encourage this because I strongly believe that all growth happens outside our comfort zones. I’ve had clients want to shift jobs into entirely new fields, clients who wanted to remodel a room in their home, and even one who wanted to build a motorcycle even though they’d never done it before. Luckily, we live in an age where a plethora of information is literally at our fingertips. I’ve had clients take online classes through places like Harvard X to learn new information, look up YouTube videos on how to install/repair/remodel various things, and send out the word on social media and email that they were interested in a new career field. Remember: knowledge can always be obtained. Plus, being a life-long learner is the key to continued growth and evolving as a human.

In Summary: Those are the top 3 “lacks” that I hear from clients though there are obviously more. I’ve said this before but if you try to view challenges more as “opportunities in disguise,” you will become more creative to your approach in solving them and future challenges won’t seem as daunting. You can absolutely achieve your goals. The key is believing it.

Make sure to like the Prosperity Facebook page if you’re not already following! Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Part 2: Goal Setting: Breaking Down Big Goals into Monthly Ones

The last post discussed how to set overall goals for the whole year. Part of why people have trouble reaching their goals is that a year can seem like a long time so it’s easy to get overwhelmed with a larger goal and not know where to start. Unfortunately, sometimes when people don’t know where to begin, they either don’t start at all … or they start but give up before reaching the goal.

If you have a larger goal for the end of 2020, you want to reverse engineer that goal and break it down month by month. This way, you start with small, manageable steps that build on each other and it becomes way easier to reach your goal. I’ll give you a few examples and I’ll also provide a free monthly planning template you can try out.

Health Goal Example:

If you have a year-end goal of being healthier, think of a step you could implement first. Not ten steps–like exercising more, drinking more water, eliminating sugar, cutting carbs, increasing vegetables, meditating, etc. Pick one thing first and do that. Also, try not to be extreme in that one step. For instance, if you are currently exercising ZERO times per week and you put that your goal is to exercise every day for two hours … well, you are most likely going to fail in that goal. You want to set yourself up for success which will cause increased motivation and happiness. So, for my clients who exercise zero or once a week, we set the goal for the first month to increase exercise 2X per week. That’s it. Then, if they exercise more days some week, it feels amazing to them, like they’ve gone above and beyond. Keep it simple.

Financial Goal Example:

If you have a goal of saving for a specific vacation, kitchen appliance, etc, then research what you need to save per month given your desired timeline and make that a monthly savings goal–and put that money into a separate account for that specific thing if possible. Some online banks let you name your savings accounts whatever you want which is a fabulous idea as it creates excitement and motivation. So you can name an account “European escapades” or “kitchen remodel” which makes it even more fun to put money into it.

You would apply these same concepts to career goals, relationship goals, spirituality goals, etc. Start with the first step the first month and then assess how it goes before deciding what to implement the following month. Next week, we will go into specific weekly goal planning in a way that sets you up for success. In the meantime, you can grab this Monthly Planning Sheet to use if you want somewhere to list your goals for this month.

Make sure to check out plenty of other tips on the blog such as 5 Questions to Help You Determine Your Ideal Career.  Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Why You Should Engage in Active Slacking Over the Holidays

You’re probably used to coaching posts about increasing productivity, time management tools, and maximizing each minute of the day—I’ve even written a few of those myself. 😉 However, this is not one of those posts. Part of being successful is figuring out the art of work/life balance. Notice I didn’t say “perfecting the art” because everyone reading this post is human (as far as I know anyway) and therefore will not attain perfection. I’m going to do a whole post on the concept of perfection in the near future but, for now, just know that I think the word hinders rather than helps people—it’s far better to focus on being a slightly better version of yourself than you were the day before.

The Case for Slacking

So, about this work/life balance thing. The holidays are a weird time when we have a combination of time off from work (for most people) yet still have a high level of stress due to the overall busyness of the season so it’s not always the most relaxing time. Combine that with the family dynamics involved in gatherings where relatives don’t always see eye-to-eye and it’s no wonder why some people are reaching for the nearest glass bottle of wine. Not that I’m against a good glass of pinot noir but in terms of more liver-friendly self-care techniques, I’m advocating for more slacking over the holidays.

The Science of Slacking

Why actively choose slacking? Because when you allow yourself time to decompress, chill out, get creative, have fun, and play, you are living more in the present moment—which is where all the good stuff happens anyway. In terms of basic science, your cortisol levels (stress hormones) go down and your endorphins (your body’s feel good hormones) go up. You will literally feel better, so by creating space to slack, you are making your body and mind healthier … and likely your relationships because you’re going to be more fun to be around. In turn, this will make you even more productive when you are ready to dive back into goals and activities because you’re more energized—you got your groove back. Choose to slack more over the holidays.

Slacking Summary

Life is filled with to-do lists, work demands, children’s activities, laundry, house payments, flu shots, and dental visits. It’s easy to get caught in a perpetual cycle of stress and frustration. Step back and try to simply your holidays this year by focusing on what’s most important. Spend less time on things that aren’t bringing you joy (like Marie Kondo but with activities instead of shirts) and more time doing things you love—play a game, watch a movie, take a walk, check out a museum exhibit (the new Pixar exhibit at the Nature and Science museum is awesome if you’re in Denver), go skiing, meditate, sit on the couch in front of the fireplace with a good book or Netflix show, or take a nap—or two.

In short, slack more and stress less. I hope everyone has a joyous and relaxing holiday season filled with love and family. I’ll be back in January with posts on goals for the New Year and hope you come back refreshed and energized. Until 2020…  

Life Coaching Worksheet: Year End Goal Assessment

I have to admit that I love this time of year! Not just because of all the cooking, family time, and snuggling with my dogs by the fireplace. I love that it’s a perfect time to take stock of the year and then make plans for the next one. Whether or not you reached all of your career goals, personal goals, or other goals, it’s so important to focus your energy ahead on what you want rather than dwell on your perceived shortcoming. Give yourself credit for every win you had, no matter how small you think it is. One of my favorite quotes by Wayne Dyer is: “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

It’s your choice whether to see the glass as half-full versus half-empty! Did you have a goal to lose 10 pounds but “only” lost 5 pounds? Rejoice in losing 5 pounds. Have a goal to meditate daily or increase your income by a certain amount but didn’t quite reach it? Celebrate meditating at least several times a week or increasing your income at all. Then make a plan for 2020 where you set actionable and specific goals. Make the overall end of year goal big but make your daily action steps small and doable–even a marathon is only accomplished step by step.

Later, I will share a sheet for setting your monthly goals to set you up for success in 2020, but for now, here is a free year-end worksheet for you to download so you can take stock of 2019 (download below). I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing holiday season!! Love and light, Kristi

Life Coaching Insights: 2019 Mid-Year Goal Check

I can’t believe half of 2019 is over already! Mid-year is a great time to take a few minutes and assess how you’re doing so far with your goals for this year. If you’re on track to meet your personal and professional goals, that’s awesome! *throws confetti* You’re doing great and should be proud so take a moment to celebrate and then keep on truckin’ along. However, if instead you are feeling like you blinked and the year is already half-over and you haven’t accomplished anywhere near what you wanted to by this point—don’t despair. You still have time. Six months, in fact. You still have half the year to focus on making 2019 a success for you.

Ready?

Step 1) Assess where you are now. What is the personal or professional goal you wanted to accomplish? What steps did you accomplish so far? What held you back or got in your way? Examine the goal itself—is it a specific enough goal with small attainable steps? Write down the goal below and make sure it is specific to what you have control over. For example, instead of “lose 10 pounds,” you would write something like “exercise 30 minutes per day.” Instead of “make more money,” you would have something specific like “work “x” hours per week on my side hustle” or “make 5 sales calls per day.” You get the idea.

GOAL: ____________________________________________________

Step 2) Break the goal down into smaller steps. Over the next 6 months, if you even take one small step per day or complete one action item, imagine where you’ll be in half a year. You can only climb a mountain one step at a time so instead of being overwhelmed and paralyzed by the sheer size of your goal, just take one step today. And then another one tomorrow. Movement creates movement, so even small steps will motivate and energize you.

What is one thing you can do today to get you on your next step to your bigger goal? Examples might include: set up a savings account, go for a walk with a friend, organize one drawer, create a profile on a dating app, make a website, etc.

Your one thing for today: _______________________________________

Step 3) Set aside a few minutes per week to review progress and determine steps for the next week. Many of my career coaching and life coaching clients tell me they prefer to do this on Sunday evening because it gives them focus for the coming week but you do you and see what works best. Assess your completed items for the past week and decide what you need to put on your daily list for the following week. Note: Only assign 1 task per day. You can always do more than one thing which is bonus but you want to set yourself up to succeed. A common mistake is when people put 20 things on their daily task list, and being that they’re human, they don’t complete them and then feel like a failure—plus, when you re-write the same unfinished tasks over and over each day, it makes them lose their impact.

Weekly goal for upcoming week:___________________________________

Then, just rinse and repeat each week. The prior week’s tasks will help determine your next steps. When a certain task feels larger than others, break that down into smaller ones that seem doable. For instance, if you’re decluttering your entire house and this week’s overall goal is the garage which is so crammed with things that you want to cry thinking about it, break that one task down into manageable pieces, e.g. Monday: the shelves by the door, Tuesday: the box of holiday decorations, etc. One of my clients who started her own business broke things down into different days and: set up her LLC, obtained liability insurance, got a logo design, created her tagline and designed her website by picking one thing per day to do. You can do anything if you break it down into small enough steps!

Here is wishing you a successful second half of 2019 and that you finish this year amazed at all that you accomplished!

Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified Professional Coach who helps clients reach their goals all over the world through the magic of Skype. If you’re ready to change careers or would like a free consultation to see if coaching is right for you, please email Dr. Kristi at kristi@prosperitycoachingandconsulting.com.

The Power of Words

 

The words you use matter. Not just words that are spoken out loud, but your written words and thoughts as well. I can’t tell you how many times a client has said something to me, like, “I’m terrible at….” or “I’ll never be able to…” Words are more powerful that most people know which is why it’s important to put some energy into choosing your words wisely. As humans, we tend to be amazing at the self-fulfilling prophecy thing, meaning we are masterful creators of our reality. Whatever we speak, write and think on a daily basis has immense power to become real. In the course of a career or life coaching session, I will often point out a client’s word choice around certain issues because it reveals a lot about where they are stuck. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  1. “I’m Awful/Terrible/No Good/Very Bad at…” No, I’m not talking about the amazing picture book based on Alexander and his not-so-great day, though that book perfectly highlights the snowball effect that bad thoughts can have. It’s why bad days tend to stay bad–because we put our energy on the negative rather than what we want. Instead, practice speaking, writing, and thinking what you are good at. What if there is something that you want to better at but don’t feel you are there yet? That’s okay. Just choose different words. The fix: Instead of “I’m terrible at dating.” “I’m awful at numbers.” “I can’t lose the weight.”  Say this: “I’m getting better at dating.” “I’m learning better budgeting.” “I’m working on a healthy body.”                
  2. “Should” versus “Want”: We all get advice and suggestions from others, whether that is our spouse, parents, friends, or co-workers. Though that advice is often well-meaning in intent, the challenge comes in determining whether it is right for YOU. Too often, I see people who chose career field because of influence by others (parents telling them it would be a secure field, friends telling them it’s a money-making job, etc.) rather than them following their own passions. The word “should” is a huge red flag, because it usually means the influence is external rather than coming from inside yourself. For instance, “I should go into accounting because there are tons of jobs open.” “I should marry this person because they have many good qualities.” “I should get my Master’s Degree because it will open more opportunities for me.”  The fastest way to discover if that thing is right for you is to substitute the word “want” instead. The fix: Replace the word “should” with “want” and ask it as a question: “Do I want to go into accounting?” “Do I want to marry this person?” “Do I want to invest my time and energy into a Master’s Degree?”
  3. “Someday I will…” “Once I do/have/become this, then…” Too often, we are not living in the present moment which is where all the good stuff happens. We delay our ultimate happiness by saying that once we attain something (a great career/relationship/perfect health), we will be satisfied. By all means, have goals for yourself but whenever possible, frame them in the context of the present moment. If in each moment, you choose things that are healthy, happy, and moving toward your goal, you will get there faster than by staying 10 steps ahead in your mind. When you are always thinking 10 steps ahead, you aren’t enjoying where you are and life is all about the journey. If you’re not happy now, you won’t be happy 10 steps ahead either. The fix: Use present tense language to keep yourself grounded in the moment. Think thoughts in line with this, such as: “I am excited to exercise today to be healthy.” “I love playing this game with my children.” “I’m feeling great about this work project I’m completing.”

Bonus Tip: Whenever possible, use language in your thoughts and speech that generate more of what you want in life. Use words like “excited” “passionate” “love,” etc. If you know any negative Nellie’s in your life (the ones who find the down side of absolutely everything), pay attention to the language they use–their energy is about finding more of those negative things, and there will always be more to find if that’s where your focus is. Think of your energy as akin to plants or a garden–the things you focus on will grow by where you put your attention (water). Water your thoughts with good feelings and energy to create more of that in your life.

Remember: Like attracts like. Challenge yourself for the next week in terms of the words you say out loud and think to yourself. Focus your energy on what you want to create. Then you will have a book more similar to Alexander and the Wonderful, Amazingly Awesome, Very Good Day. 🙂

 

 

What’s Mindfulness Got to Do With Life/Career Coaching?

Whether people come to see me for life coaching if they want to change or improve an aspect of themselves, or reach a personal goal such as run a marathon or write a book, or if they see me for career coaching because they want to find a different career path, I do one thing consistently with all my clients: I incorporate mindfulness (awareness of the present moment) into the work we do together. Why? Great question. Here’s why.

  1. It decreases stress. When we are constantly running around from one thing to the next, we tend to get overwhelmed, which causes a rise in the stress hormones in the body. Over time, this can lead to physical problems, such as high blood pressure, decreased immune functioning, and physical illnesses (including cancers), as well as to emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. When people are in a job they don’t love or they are feeling like they haven’t reached a goal they would like to attain, they often experience chronic stress. Teaching some simple mindfulness techniques makes it easier to relax, which causes positive changes in many areas from work to parenting to relationships. It also improves the quality of your sleep at night, which is the foundation of everything else you do. Improving your sleep is the quickest way to cause positive changes in the rest of your life.
  2. It makes your brain work better. Studies have shown that meditation causes improvement in brain cognition, included increased mental focus. Also, when you are in the present moment and clear-headed, you tend to make better decisions. When you are stressed, you tend to breathe more rapidly and shallowly, which means less oxygen is going to your brain because it’s going to your extremities to prepare for the fight-or-flight response. This is great if a bear is chasing you, but otherwise, it’s not helping you decide what’s best for you. A few simple breathing exercises help you to draw in more air, oxygenate more of your brain, and think more clearly.
  3. It can cause physical changes as well. There’s definitely something to the mind over matter idea. One study found that hospital patients who had a view of nature healed faster from surgery and required less pain medication than other patients. Being relaxed allows your body’s natural healing abilities to take over, which is why more and more research is being done on the impact of mindfulness on illnesses. Another mind-blowing study showed how a guided meditation caused measurable physical changes in the body simply by thinking about working out. This type of research is guiding some professional sports teams in their use of virtual reality to improve one’s game without the risk of injuries. This is one of the areas I find most exciting in the power of mindfulness techniques.
  4. It helps you identify “wants” versus “shoulds.” When you are in the present moment, it’s way easier to decide what you actually want, versus what you think others think you should do. It quiets the monkey chatter of self-doubt, fears, and second-guessing yourself. One of my clients was offered a substantial promotion in terms of pay and job title, but did not appear happy or excited about it. Upon exploration, she realized she did not want the promotion as she had no desire to manage other people, but felt she “should” do it, as others would view her as being more successful. Once she identified this, she turned the job down and felt a huge sense of relief. Anytime, the word “should” pops into your head around a decision, it means it’s time to use some mindfulness to dig a little deeper.
  5. It increases your intuition.  The more clear-headed you are, the more you are fully able to access the information around you. When you are trying to think five steps ahead or are worrying, you are not able to allow that information to come to you easily. Instead, your constant thoughts of “what should I do?” are actually blocking the answer from coming to you. If you are quiet, you can tap into your subconscious and find that you had many of the answers all along. One of my clients who owns several multi-million dollar businesses told me that due to our mindfulness work, he can now tell almost instantly which clients he should take on and which he should turn down, based on his intuition. Billion-dollar U.S. hedge fund manager, Ray Dahlio, was asked how he has been so successful over the years, and he said the number one reason for him was daily meditation.

Mindfulness impacts every single area of your life. All of the good things in your life happen in the present moment; not when you are worrying or stressed, so it makes sense to live in the present as much as possible. Need more mindfulness in your life? Try a free app, such as Calm or Insight Timer, and spend more time outside in nature. Want to dive deeper? My favorite meditations (the ones I do every night myself) are the ones through Brainsync where you can choose meditations for topics ranging from confidence to anxiety to prosperity (this is an affiliate link). Brainsync even has binaural meditations which induce deeper brainwaves and are amazing! Whatever you choose, take the first step toward mindfulness and notice the difference in how you feel. Many of my clients have said that mindfulness is hands down the most life-changing of the work they do in coaching.

Kristi Helvig, Ph.D., C.P.C., is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified professional life and career coach who works with clients all over the world via Skype, or locally in her Denver office. Contact Dr. Kristi to set up a free coaching consultation at drhelvig (at) yahoo.com.