Turning stop goals into go goals

Whether in business, relationships or personal lives, there are two broad categories of goals around making change: stop and go.

Stop goals are simply that, things you want to stop doing. Stop blowing up in meetings. Stop over eating. Stop taking on too many tasks. Stop taking your relationship for granted. Stop procrastinating.

Go goals are about things you want to start doing. Start speaking up. Start eating better. Start being proactive.

The two goals use different parts of your mind. Stop goals are mainly about using willpower and must be constantly applied. Stop goals are usually about breaking existing habits. Go goals rely more on creativity and starting new habits.

Research has shown that people using go goals are more successful than people who are using stop goals. Also people are more likely to give up on stop goals because it is more obvious each time they fail while go goals are are more about successes.

So. What do you do with this information? How can this improve your life? When you create a goal, be sure to turn it into a positive goal. For example, don’t have a goal of not eating that triple bacon cheese burger. Instead have a goal of eating a salad. Don’t have a goal of showing up your coworker. Instead have a goal of getting the most out of the team. Don’t have a goal of stop being so negative. Instead have a goal of being more positive.

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Discover vs Defend

I’m reading “How to have a good day” by Caroline Webb. It is too early in the book for me to be able to recommend it but I do enjoy her initial philosophy, namely relying on research and science. While the book title makes it seem like it is about making any day a “good day,” it does seem to be focused more on business professionals and how to have a good day at work.

One thing that jumped out at me early on is her discussion of the discover-defend axis. Basically, this is a manifestation of a primitive part of our brains. We are either in discover mode or defend mode. Discover mode is when we our brains are looking for opportunities for reward. Defend mode is the classic fight-flight-freeze response. Generally speaking, when we are afraid, our brains stop looking for opportunities. Instead it looks for safety.

How does this relate to having a good day? When workers are afraid and are in the corporate version of fight-flight-freeze, they become less creative and unwilling to take risks…….even risks as small as speaking up in a meeting. I can see this in my own work. When there is one or two senior people in a meeting who are intimidating or have a tendency to forcefully challenge other workers, many people in the meeting go into fight-flight-free mentality. People are less likely to explore creative ideas. Solutions become “safer” but not better. People are less likely to point out holes in the plan for fear of being singled out.

So how to turn this information into a “good day” and to make your company more creative and efficient? Carefully choose when to challenge people and when to be supportive. The goal for some meetings, especially early in a project, benefit from risk taking and creative output. For these meetings, don’t let the tone become intimidating or challenging.

Ask a little question

I was rereading Zig Ziglar’s Selling 101 on a beautiful but cold Sunday afternoon. If you are in sales or marketing it should be required reading. If you are in any roll where you must influence others (teaching, healthcare, hospitality, parenting), you really should read it as well.

It in first two pages good ole Zig gives a great story. He tells of how Aristotle theorized that two objects of the same material but different sizes would fall at different speeds. Centuries later at the University of Pisa, Galileo proved this theory wrong by dropping two different sized objects off the Leaning Tower of Pisa and they hit the ground at the same time. Even with this obvious proof, the University of Pisa still taught Aristotle ‘s incorrect theory. Why? Because Galileo convinced the University but didn’t persuade them.

What’s the difference? Convincing someone consists of telling or showing them something. Persuading someone consists of asking them questions and letting them figure it out for themselves.

How could have Galileo persuaded the University years ago? He could have asked the students to come up with ways to test the theory themselves.

Why did I talking about a “sales” book on a blog about coaching and personal/ professional growth? Asking a question!!! Because coaching is largely asking my clients questions and then holding up a mirror so they can see their answers. You don’t necessarily need a coach to do that for you. Ask yourself hard questions about who you are and who you want to be.

Wheel of Life

The Wheel of Life is a tool a lot of coaches use to gauge where a new client is and where they need some help.  It is a pretty simple and straight forward tool.  Basically, for each category of your life you rate it on a one to ten scale.  When you plot those ratings on a radial graph, it looks like a wheel.  A well balanced life would look like a nice large wheel.  Maybe not completely circular but nearly so.  If your ratings are vastly different, say one of your categories is at a 3 and the rest are at an 8, that wheel won’t roll very easily.

I’ve seen dozens of versions of the Wheel of Life.  Generally speaking, the wheel uses categories like Health, Wealth, Growth, Career, etc.  All slightly different versions of the similar theme.  This morning I came across www.mindtools.com.  I don’t have personal experience with them but they have an interesting twist to the Wheel of Life tool.  In addition to the more generic categories above, they add categories that many people feel are definitional, for example, father, husband, manager, etc.  I have to admit, I like it.  By including these definitional categories, it really cuts to what matters to many people and that is the point of the Wheel of Life.

What Mind Tools did not do, unfortunately, is take it to the next level.  That is, once you have rated all of your categories, then go back and ask yourself what you can do to improve each rating by two points.  The answer to that question can determine what your short term goals should be.  I like to break that down a step further and add a concept of time to the questions.  For example, what can I do in the next year to improve my ratings by two points and what can I do today to start to improve my ratings.