Episode 13: Seven Minutes To Success and Satisfaction #1: Why Goals Don’t Work

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In this episode Mark Michael Lewis, CEO of SmartPowerDrinks.com, unmasks the unspoken reality of what goes wrong around goals and goal setting. By calling the attention to the white elephant in the rook, he creates a space to understand why so few people achieve the goals they set for themselves. Then, he shows how we can approach goals such that we not only achieve them, but become more integrated as people in the process.


Seven Minutes To Success and Satisfaction #1: Why Goals Don’t Work

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Mark Lewis: Hi, this is Mark Michael Lewis, host of "Money, Mission and Meaning: Passion at Work, Purpose at Play". You're listening to another edition of "Seven Minutes to Success and Satisfaction", a series of short, to the point, practical ideas to help you create pleasure and profit in the business of life.


Mark Lewis: Today I want to talk with you about an idea that is at the heart of virtually every self-help, success-oriented book or course you will ever come across: goals. Specifically, I'm going to talk about why we have such a tough time actually achieving our goals, and how we can approach goals in a way that actually works to get us what we want.

First, let's get real about goals. We all know that we should have goals, build plans for their achievement, and then execute on those plans by taking massive action. A thousand different motivational speakers have made this point in a thousand different books, seminars and speeches. Setting goals is no secret.

But let me ask you: does it actually work? I mean, how many times have you set a goal, made plans for its achievement, and then not executed on those plans? If you're like every single person I know, the answer is most of the time. Although the advice to set goals is simple, acting on that advice seems to go wrong somewhere along the journey.

Today, I want to show you where goals go wrong, and what you can do about it, so that you actually achieve the goals that you set for yourself. To start, think about sometime when you actually set a new goal for yourself. Typically, we set goals when we get inspired about something, and therein lies the problem.

While the inspired part of us sets the goals and builds the plans, when it comes time to actually execute them, other parts of us have very different plans. And quite frankly, they're busy doing other things. Like sleeping, for example.

I mean, yes, I want the health and early start involved with getting up at five A.M. to exercise, but no, I don't want the cold sleepy mornings or going to bed at nine P.M. Yes, I want the joy and adventure of starting my own business, but no, I don't want the financial risk or the emotional roller coaster. Yes, I want the focus and results of living a goal-oriented, time-managed lifestyle, but no, I don't want to feel like I have no spontaneity or that I'm a slave to my calendar.

This counter-reaction to setting goals is so predictable and universal that everyone who starts out talking about goals ends up talking about concepts like willpower, discipline and commitment. In other words, basically what they're saying is that in order to succeed at your goals, the part of you that's committed to those goals has to overpower the parts of you that are committed to anything else that gets in the way. And it's this attitude that we can use "willpower" or "personal power" or "the power of commitment" to overpower, or force the parts of us that don't want to do something to do it, it's this attitude that creates the dynamic of internal conflict that makes goals not work.

Think about it. If someone tries to force you to do something outside of your comfort zone, and then when you voice concerns or resist, tries to overpower you and force you to do it, you predictably dig in your heels and say no. The more force they use against you, the more likely you are to resist.

Well, the same thing happens inside of ourselves when we set goals. When we approach goals through the idea of willpower and discipline, the part of us that's committed to accomplishing those goals ends up fighting with the parts of us that have hesitations, concerns or are committed to other things. The more it tries to overpower those resistant parts, the more resistant they become, and the more painful the whole process becomes.

Willpower and resistance are two signs of the same coin. In the face of this, we most often end up giving up the goals, and then unfortunately, but understandably, become hesitant to set goals altogether.

And here's the thing: while this whole process is completely predictable, many motivational teachers act as if there's something wrong with us when it happens. They might call it "self-sabotage", "laziness" or "lack of character".

They might even call those who have the tenacity and commitment to press through the resistance "winners". Then they call those who choose to abandon the goal that's causing the conflict as "failures" or even "losers". In other words, they try to tap into our feelings of shame to create additional leverage to overpower the resistant parts.

The challenge with this whole power attitude is that even when it works, it feels like crap, and typically has all kinds of negative repercussions. This dynamic makes goals and goal-setting something that most people just avoid, and then make excuses for why they're not doing it. Because they know they should be doing it, so that they're not "losers" or "failures". So that's what doesn't work.

What does? How do we approach goals in a way that allows us to bypass this willpower-resistance dynamic, and actually achieve the things that we want in life? Here's the key: treat yourself the same way you would treat another person who is your peer, not your subordinate.

So if you wanted the support of a peer on a project, you'd find out what they want, what their concerns are, and why they might be resisting. Then, you'd work with them to find a solution that honors both your goals and theirs. Win-win. You would partner with them, rather than trying to overpower them, or they'd predictably become a thorn in your side and probably mess up your project.

We need to do the same thing with ourselves. Instead of trying to overpower our internal resistance, we can begin to question it to discover the values, concerns and commitments of the parts that are resisting. Again, think about it. If someone were to come to you and ask you to do something, and then sincerely listened to the reasons you resist, then worked with you in a way that honored your values as well as theirs, you'd no longer need to resist. In fact, the more respectful they were of your values, the more likely you would be to want to partner with them to help them achieve theirs.

This is equally true within yourself. If you want to wake up at five A.M. to exercise, instead of fighting the part of you that still wants to sleep, engage it in a conversation. Find out what its values are, and I promise you that you can almost always find a win-win solution that bypasses the resistance altogether and creates partnership where there used to be conflict.

In our next "Seven Minutes to Success and Satisfaction", I'll teach you a tool for negotiating with yourself so that you not only build internal partnership around your goals, but discover the deeper, and dare I even say, spiritual values underneath those goals, that lead to true success and satisfaction.

I'm Mark Michael Lewis, host of "Money, Mission and Meaning: Passion at Work, Purpose at Play" on personallifemedia.com, and this was "Seven Minutes to Success and Satisfaction", providing you practical tools to create pleasure and profit in the business of life.

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