Top 2 tips to get you started taking action on your goal without giving in to endless distractions, fear, doubt and procrastination.
My best tips for starting (or resuming) work on a goal with clear intention, high motivation and sufficient self-support to keep going.
You will achieve any goal with persistence. Listen here to help you develop that persistence through kindness, not threat.
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Hi everyone. My name is Dex Randall and this is the Burnout To Leadership Podcast where I teach professional men to recover from burnout and get back to passion and reward at work. Hello my friends, Dex here on a beautiful sunny clear morning. I must confess it's summer here. And today what we're gonna do is we're gonna continue working with goals by exploring how to move really from our brain's urge for instant gratification to motivating ourselves to actually do the work and create this long term deeper satisfaction of achieving our goals. So what we're looking at in this series of goal episodes is the easiest and most reliable way for you to get to your goal. So let's really, what we're doing is we're working with your brain, not against it. And I've also created a video series of these goal tips that you can watch. You can look for the link in the show notes of this episode. And if you didn't listen to last week's episode, number 60 on effective goal setting, pop back and listen because expressing your goals in a simple, measurable way with a fixed deadline is the best way to get your energies focused on completing that goal. Our brains know what to do with specific targets, specific results and fixed timeframes because we're problem solvers at heart and we'll automatically start looking for solutions when presented with a very specific problem. If you're a type A professional, which I suspect you may be if you're listening here, you will have spent a career honing your problem solving skills. It's gonna be reflexive for you. However, once you set your goal, you know already that it's something that you've not achieved before and therefore your brain does not already know how to do it and that's why we set goals, right? We're trying to learn to do something new. So immediately your mind will want to find ways to resist it. That's normal. Human brains are wired to resist change. It's a protective feature, if you like, a survival feature. So we don't want to stray away from whatever we've been doing until now that's worked for us. And we don't want to leap into experimenting with something new and therefore potentially dangerous. So our minds resist change, fine. Even good change that's towards a goal that we want. And that is fine as long as you're onto it, as long as you expect it. "Oh, oh, look, here come all the objections of mybrain." And that's where the urge to quit on your goal comes from:
Fear of change and fear of failure or embarrassment or humiliation. The way your mind resists change is often by telling you something like your phone messages are more important or more urgent right now or maybe it's coffee, research, social media, talking to a friend, getting the kids dressed for school. Suddenly every other activity right down to picking up the dry cleaning will have more appeal than leaping into the unknown in pursuit of your goal. What all of those activities though have in common is that they're easy, safe activities consuming your time, your energy, your attention without moving your goal forward, without doing anything new. They're really characterised in this way as emotional avoidance. You don't know how to progress your goal so you avoid the discomfort of trying and do something unchallenging instead. So what I'm describing here, this seeking of emotional comfort of distraction is the root of every addictive process. You want to avoid feeling bad and you want to feel good instead. That addictive process though is the thief of all dreams. So I think the constant tension all the way from setting your goal to achieving it, will be the pull into irrelevant distraction and diversion that asks little or nothing of you emotionally and you do that in place of taking the small cumulative steps towards your goal. This is why most goals fail. The urge to run away will be accompanied typically by a great deal of story about the impossibility of your goal and your own unworthiness to get there or capacity to get there. Here's what I think. You can safely ignore 100% of that old tripe, all the old story, ignore it. Never mind. But what we're gonna do today is we're really gonna look at the antidote. It's simply learning the skill of staying on task when the task is daunting and your "I'm not good enough" story is running. It's really choosing to allow a little bit of emotional discomfort each day when you work on your goal. Because you're an adult, you can do that, right? So today I'm gonna share some practical tips with you but you have to do more, more than listen, more than understand. The skills will only work if you use them. Surprise. So I'm gonna ask you to practice the tips daily. I'm gonna ask you to commit to that. It's okay to struggle at the start and to not be very good at it but show yourself the good results as you go so that you keep using them. You need to choose, I think, to use them again and again each day to go against the brain of your habitual urge for distraction because this is really the primary skill you need to realize any goal. And the good news is, it can't harm you at all. You'll start to get the slow burn of reward coming from each small victory on your way to your dream. And as an example, I read yesterday in the paper that Kate Winslet had to learn to breath hold and free dive for Avatar 2, which frankly I'm quite looking forward to seeing even though it's more than three hours. Anyway, she learned to override this urge to breathe, which is driven not by lack of oxygen but by a build up of CO2. So the impulse to breathe doesn't happen when you're out of oxygen. So it is in fact safe to learn to hold your breath through that urge, obviously, within reason and please don't try this without an expert but Kate's longest breath hold while she was filming was over seven minutes. So the skill you're gonna learn here really is like learning to breath hold longer. It's like sitting with the urge to distract yourself to avoid emotional discomfort for longer and longer each day so you can basically invest energy in your dream instead. So tip number one is about motivation. What you need most when your mind waivers is motivation. And if you did listen to last week's episode 60 of the podcast on goal setting, you'll have heard me talk about setting a goal that excites you, challenges you to achieve something that's important to you for yourself. Something that aligns with your values and dreams. And from this, you're really gonna become a person you admire more. And this is very motivating. So tap back into why you're pursuing your dream anytime you're flagging and remind yourself why you're going there, why it's important, why you want to do it, who you're gonna become. Remind yourself that you can achieve your goal if you simply keep taking the next small steps. And also take time every day to celebrate every tiny little win on the way to your dream. Every experiment, every failed attempt, every effort, every learning, every reaching out towards future success because when you do this, it gives you a little burst of dopamine, the motivational hormone. Remember to appreciate your own energy, dedication, efforts. Successful or not, it doesn't usually matter because persistence is the key. Dopamine is also, of course, the hormone of pleasure and satisfaction. So it's an easy choice when you think about it. And the more you can reward yourself in tiny ways every day by celebrating you and your efforts, the more likely you are to continue. So tip number one, actively maintain motivation by connecting with your dream and using dopamine as a reward. And tip number two is keep a note of supporting evidence that something's going well and your brain will want to naturally overlook the wins. Any evidence of past or current good results in relation to your goal and ignoring those wins is called confirmation bias. It's the egoic tendency to only look for evidence to support its existing belief that you can't succeed with your goal. It's going to twist every fact, everything you see before you into a negative and you can drown in that often fabricated evidence. It's all a story about why you can't reach your goal. You know you've heard it all before, it's tiresome, yes, but it's persistent also. So you're really gonna need to downplay it, put it on mute, not serenade all the reasons that you'll fail. Don't throw a party for your doubt. Because you're an adult, you have free will and you must become your biggest advocate and support yourself through all the fear and doubt inside. You're free to interpret every failed action as learning, which makes it a win. You can interpret any genuine attempt to progress your goal as a win. Anything you've learned that even ever got you to the start point of your goal, any personal attributes support your progress. Planning, analysis, focus, punctuality, decision making, problem solving, rigour, work ethic. Even if you can allow yourself some skill at any of those, pick those skills up. Also tenacity, determination, stubbornness, if you like, grit, anything. How did you create your career so far? What assets and skills got you there? And how do they serve your current goal? So it's your job as the adult who will achieve your goal simply by taking action and never giving up to look for positive evidence all the time. It's an unfamiliar task, okay. Your brain won't wanna do it, okay. But here's my challenge. I challenge you to look for one positive for every negative your mind throws up. Okay? You need to be that purposeful with it. Here's an example from one of my students who's upscaling his business revenue from $10 million to $100 million within two years. His positive evidence that he's showing himself includes that he has already achieved $30 million, that he doubled his sales last year, that he did this, spending only 10% of his time on sales. He's freed up time he used to spend on accounting and HR and so on. Now he's already 30% of his way to his goal. Listen to what your brain is saying when you heard that, right? But how do you think he got there? I taught him the exact same tips I'm teaching you about six months ago and he uses them all the time. He's basically rewiring his goal getting brain to believe in himself and his goal as completely as he can and to stay focused on success, not doubt or failure. So what do you need to do to get even 10% of the way towards your goal? Because that's all the proof you need. Just do that 10 times. Write down your wins, celebrate and spend time with them. Read them to yourself every morning. Speak them to a voice recorder on your phone and play it back. Really get up close and personal with them that those beliefs are a resource to you. That celebration, those achievements are a resource to you in your continuing journey towards your goal. So tip number two, keep a note of supporting evidence of the good. And frankly, I could give you a lot more tips and in the coming weeks I will but today I want you to commit yourself to mastering just those two. There's no shortcut. You're gonna have to do the work everyday. And be gentle and supportive of yourself in that endeavor because the rod on your back at this stage is just a deterrent to progress. Ask yourself, "Is self criticism moving me forwards or is it making me want to give up?" The trick is you're gonna need to love yourself to your goal. It's hard and you're already doing it one tiny act at a time, one self appreciative thought at a time. So imagine really that it's your inner six year old trying to do this great new thing. How would you support that six year old being that brave and bold? Give yourself that. I'm not joking because we learn about goals and achieving goals as kids. And so the imprint in you about your capacity to succeed is from childhood. So be kind. Always firm, but kind. So the two tips as a reminder from today that I would love you to commit to and practice each dayis tip number one:
Actively maintain motivation by connecting with yourdream, your why, and using dopamine as a reward. And tip number two:
Keep a note of positive supporting evidence and let that evidence really stick close to your heart. Make it your best friend. Can you see how near those two tips are to each other? Those two tips together, my friend, will have you on the right path to your goal. So that's what I got for you today. As always, thank you for giving me your time. I appreciate that. Stay tuned over the coming weeks for more goal tips and if you're listening to this in burnout, listen for the link at the end. You must come and talk to me for guaranteed recovery to re establish your best performance, leadership and most of all, enjoyment at work and at home. If you're in burnout and ready to recover, come and join my Burnout to Leadership program. You can book in to talk with me at burnout.dexrandall.com. Just tell me what's bugging you and let's make a plan to fix it.