Category Archives: Goals

Running on Decaf?

DecafI thought maybe it was just the morning: it was overcast and a little foggy after a night of thunderstorms. I got up, went to the kitchen and flipped the switch on the coffee maker, took my vitamins and made some breakfast. The new coffee I hurriedly grabbed the previous evening tasted so-so at best. Shouldn’t have bought such a large bag of beans, I thought to myself.

I sat, reviewed, listened, read, the usual routine. After a second cup, I went out to walk. Even after the longer course, I was still not feeling quite READY. I returned, grabbed a third cup of coffee, showered and dressed. Coming back into the kitchen before working, I thought, “I feel like I need another cup!” Three is all there was, because that’s what I drink. Then it hit me… I reached for the bag from the upper cabinet and saw the two words which should never occur alongside each other: Decaffeinated Coffee!

As I stirred up a strong cup of Starbucks instant (the only kind of instant one should ever even consider) it occurred to me how often we function with a half-speed, mundane approach, moving to and through our day and our work with a low-octane attitude and at an unmotivated level. And the sad thing: in a generation plagued by mediocrity, hardly anyone notices!

But what if you want to flip the switch every day on motivation, encouragement and focus? What might you do to inject a triple shot of caffeine into your heart and mind? I’d strongly suggest (beyond real coffee!) the following:

1. Encouraging and challenging inputs

Every one of us needs to be exposed to truth, ideas and inspiration which will light fires within us. For me that includes Scripture and challenges from what others have written and said. Why would I want to approach life, business or relationships alone when I can carry into each area the truth and wisdom which have demonstrated their value for millennia?

2. Intentional physical activity

Every system and part of the body seems to benefit from movement. Recent studies confirm that the brain and cognitive functions benefit tremendously when a fresh supply of oxygen gets pumped through due to activity. Other recent studies declare the inactive lifestyle to be the “new smoking.” What’s the overflow of regular bursts of activity during the waking hours? You will pursue healthy thoughts, feelings and choices!

 3. Invigorating interactions

We will always have people in our lives that need something. We offer, provide and give much during a given day. The “outflows” of life often align with our purpose and passions. Giving away what we’ve been given is a powerful part of why we’re on earth! But…continuous giving, always “monitoring” the well-being of others, directing and leading will leave us at the end of days, weeks and years simply and fully spent!

We need people who regularly challenge us, speak truth to us and offer us what we offer to others. We need full fledged partnerships with a few individuals, partnerships wherein we are committed to one another’s best – in our being as well as our doing!

 Which of the three have helped you refocus and regain motivation? How?

Turning Down Time into Wow Time

It’s the time of year when we’re preparing to hit the road, the beach or the mountains and recharge our batteries so we will be able to hit things hard for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, in our “down” time, we often don’t benefit, mostly for a couple of reasons.

   1. We’re still too “wired” to gain much from the experience. Stress isn’t resident at our desks, it lives in us! We take it along–rather than maximizing time off to learn skills to deal with stress in healthy ways.

   2. We don’t plan the time away, so the vacation adds stress (by doing too much, adding to our debt load, or traveling too far for instance).

 I’d suggest 3 goals to make sure your down time is really that.

Reconnect with people (spouse, children, extended family, close friends). Relationships often are sacrificed for work; this is a great time to reestablish bonds.

Refocus on your purpose and passion. This isn’t just about work. It’s some concrete time when you’ll strategize for the long haul, praying and thinking deeply about where life ought to be headed and where it in reality is.

Refine your direction. Midcourse correction think time might just be one of the greatest benefits of down time. No one is aiming precisely at long term vision and goals. In your down time you will discover courage to make necessary changes—courage that’s hard to summon in the whirlwind of everyday.

If those are my goals, what facilitates reaching them while enjoying time away? I’d suggest:   

Unplug with intention. Consider going digital free for a major part of your down time! Studies say that despite the great convenience of connectedness, technology raises stress levels! So, consider going somewhere (a cruise or remote cabin for instance) that offers no or very expensive cell coverage. Make a decision ahead of time that you’re unplugging except for emergency situations.

If you can’t completely get away from your devices, agree with the office (or family members) on how much you’ll be available or at what hours of the day. Set your email with a vacation auto response. Include the contact info of who can help during your absence). Commit with the individuals with whom you’re traveling that you won’t check email more than a certain number of times during the days you’re “unplugged.”

Discuss a “no TV” plan (or other limits on your digital drugs) and discover how much you can enjoy being unplugged.

Unwind with recharging in mind. Figure out how to include some rich times with the people you love and who love you. Ask yourself: what would deepen conversation, add fun experiences and memory-building? Think and plan ahead for both fun and serious times which will build unity in relationships.

Instead of planning to just relax, add some activity or exercise which will charge you physically and mentally. Studies reveal that exercise increases cognition. It stands to reason that no movement and lots of rich food won’t refresh you, nor prepare you for the challenges when you return to responsibilities.

Spend time with activities you deeply enjoy. Example: read something you normally don’t read, but know you’d enjoy. Novels that challenge and free your thinking can be good; “fresh approach” or motivational books will invite reflection. Nonfiction that’s outside your area of expertise or experience will stretch your brain. Plan time reflecting on how things are really going in all the areas of your life. Early mornings alone might be a perfect time for some reflection and reorientation time.

Do some re-capping, listing, journaling. The idea isn’t to fixate on “what’s back home” and what you’re trying to get away from–it’s to download your mind and heart in some kind of orderly fashion, so as your mind won’t be occupied with random thoughts, feelings and ideas. Our minds get satisfied that “things will be handled” when things are on paper. Random thoughts won’t pop up nearly so much then, while you’re on a break.

 Plan for your down time and it will provide amazing benefits.

How could you gain the widest variety of benefit from your down time this summer?

Extra credit question: How can you take some of the above and apply them to some down time every week and every month?

My Final Weight Loss (part 4)

In earlier posts, I discussed my motivations to get started, pairing vision with goals and incorporating a program which supports real life. Here’s the final fundamental for me:

 Pursue health with support, encouragement and accountability.

 I knew I couldn’t do it alone. There are plenty of people who are highly disciplined – who can take a book or program and work it, all by themselves. I had to admit, that wasn’t me! Even today, after years of success under my belt, I need reminders, ideas and renewed motivation. I very rarely miss a weekly meeting (led by my wife, an added bonus!)

 When my wife and I restarted Weight Watchers, we were signing up for an atmosphere of learning, challenge, encouragement – and not a small dose of accountability. There’s something about stepping on a scale with someone on the other side of the desk that gives enough of a dose to make me want to do well! Their statistics actually say that there is a great difference in weight loss when people actually come every week to face the scale. A favorite phrase from our first leader was, “the scale is not about failure, it’s just feedback.” It’s that small dose of accountability that sort of sums up my choices for the last 7 days. It’s a gentle reminder that weight and health aren’t about hoping and dreaming that I’ll “get there” – it’s about measuring how well I’m doing with new habits.

 Weekly meetings offered us insights from fellow travelers. Some had been “at goal” for months or years and continue to come to be encouraged and encourage others. They’re great teachers and idea generators. The meetings offer insights into the program, into food, into navigating the minefield of a food-obsessed culture. They also provides the encouragement of “good job!” at the scale and in the “celebration time” in the meeting (applause for losing another 5 pounds, getting to 10% goal and the like).

 The other huge part of the final fundamental – my wife and I worked the program together. Two people agreed on and pursuing the same goal is powerful. We started together, continued going week in, week out, when there were “ups” and when there were “downs”. We stayed on the pursuit of health at home; cooking better, agreeing on which restaurants we’d no longer frequent or which foods (French fries for instance) we’d never order in a restaurant.

 Support, encouragement and accountability made the difference when I was motivated; they were more critical when I wasn’t. We challenged either other saying: “we can do this” or even “remember what we decided.” (see the post from 7/7/12: Can you motivate others?)

 So, if you’re ready to embark on a healthy weight loss journey, I’d tell you: get the support, encouragement and accountability you’ll need. Get it before you begin. It could be a spouse, friend, sibling, parent/child team. It can come from a coach as well. We get excited everyday to offer just those elements to our clients. Call us and we can discuss your vision and goals.  

 Thanks for reading my account. I’d love to get your comments!

My Final Weight Loss (part 2)

As I said in the first post, I was motivated; my “light bulb was on”.

But then what? How could I (and how can you) keep motivation going in a tough area like weight loss? Four fundamentals began working for me. The first one today.

Think through, and write down, a mix of goals (short-, mid-, long-range) alongside your long term vision.

Many people approach weight loss with just one goal in mind. “To lose the weight.”  There’s another version that’s even less effective. It’s some version of “I want to lose 20 pounds before the wedding/reunion/vacation, etc.”  The first goal is too fuzzy; it just won’t take you very far toward a healthy weight. The second revolves around an event — an event which, as it fades in your rearview mirror, will likely take your goal with it! A key problem with the second kind of goal is, we’re just wanting to “look good” (for others, or for the pictures). Once that “limited vision” goal is achieved, the desire well may be to go celebrate!! In my case, celebrating would have meant plunging into the old food habits!

Habits aren’t sustained if clear vision and appropriate goals don’t support the habits!

My vision was that my wife and I attain the best state of health we could reach for the rest of our lives. A fundamental commitment we made to each other with regard to Weight Watchers was “we will not quit.” We agreed this time we’d stick, even after we had early good results (or even if we didn’t some weeks!) We were on this journey toward health for all of life. We wanted to feel better, sleep better,  move better and enjoy physical activities. So we studied and read about the benefits of appropriate weight and good food. We read about the liabilities of some of the things we’d been eating! Our vision became more and more compelling. We watched shows like “Biggest Loser” to stir motivation. Those activities buttressed the vision and kept us wanting it!

As the vision developed, I had appropriate goals. Weight Watchers encourages steady — not steep — weight loss. Most “diets” revolve around some version of deprivation. A couple of problems with deprivation: one is the rubber band effect. We “bounce back” toward consuming what we missed during the deprivation phase. And two, healthy habits are never developed. You can’t live “real life” with “real food” with that approach (more about that in the next post). What I experienced was not deprivation! I quickly discovered that whole foods not only tasted good, they satisfied much longer and did not leave me hungry like “diets” do.

My weight loss goal was a half pound to 2 pounds per week! The philosophy I heard was, “you put the weight on over many years. The body is unlikely to allow you to suddenly reverse those decades in a few weeks or even a few months.” Eating is a highly complex human behavior. So my goals were often simple short-term ones, like “the next 5 pounds in _____ weeks” or “20 down by the end of the year” and so on. It was slow but steady. Many weeks I made it; sometimes not. There were plateaus; but again, there was no magic date looming in the future. (Once, after a cruise and an “up” day at the scale, I reminded my wife, “That’s just a snap shot, not the whole movie!”)

And there were sweet mileposts all along the way. The pants I had to donate; going from XL shirts (or bigger) to L’s; a lady at church asking my wife, “Is Dean sick? He’s really losing weight!”

At one point I even had a goal for someone else (something we coaches don’t recommend!). Mine was, I wanted to hear my doctor say something good without me fishing for his comment. This was the physician who earlier prescribed for me a blood pressure med for my borderline hypertension. Then came the day when he took me off of the drug! And he said, “This is really good; it’s so rare for people your age ­­– with most, I’m adding drugs, and here I’m taking you off of your only one!”

So, your vision will move you and excite you about a long term objective. But you need to remind yourself of it often — I certainly did, in restaurants and at people’s homes  for lunches or dinners; when we traveled; when I was faced with a plate of cookies or brownies at a meeting. You simply have to have the vision in front of you often: so…picture yourself fit, trim, moving, exercising well, feeling great, fitting into new clothes…whatever it takes to keep you going. Think of the powerful health benefits you gain for yourself. Weight Watchers leaders often say, “nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.” I love that!

So, if you’re at the starting line, think long-term with a powerful vision, and rehearse it often to yourself.

Then, add short-, medium-, and long-range goals; as you reach them they will propel you forward!

The next installment: Use a program that supports real life


Why Do I Wait?

Samuel Johnson said, “He who waits to do a great deal of good at once, will never do anything.”
What’s going on behind my hesitation, what fuels my unwillingness to pull the trigger on what appears to be the best course of action to achieve a goal? I’d suggest the following, all of which I’ve experienced:

1. Fear — fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of people, fear of leaving my warm blanket — the blanket of what I know and am comfortable with — right now. The problem with warm blankets? Security is mostly a myth. And — what I fear often precisely describes the area in which I need to grow! But fears are real and must be addressed, one by one. Write them down. Talk them through with a friend, mentor or coach. Pray about them! Then — lay them to rest! You’ll find that most fears begin to lose their grip in the light of truth, analysis and conversation.

2. Adding something else to a jammed schedule. The task ahead might be massive. Very likely, if it’s a good goal, it will be large! And my calendar is packed. I like the feel of a few holes in the schedule which “I can call my own.” The issue here is one of value. I’m comparing the value of wanting “my time” or “maintaining current commitments” to something less real. To determine value, I need to ask, “what’s the preferred future (the vision, the goal) worth?”

Every decision I will make involves a trade-off! It’s the principle of “always doing what I always did…” and expecting more/better/different. A trade-off requires that I must give up in order to move out. I must “lighten the load” (time/commitments/activities, all of which might be very enjoyable) in order to pursue the best. With what might be large goals, have someone help you think through appropriate bite-sized pieces you can add to a schedule while you begin removing items of less value.

3. I don’t see the road clearly ahead. I don’t have a plan. I don’t know about you, but hesitation is often, there’s no clear way to go, so I stop right where I am. And wait for…well, just wait! The need, of course is a plan. But plans rarely fall from the heavens; good plans develop out of process, they accompany movement, they are the product of an engaged heart and mind! So engage! Read. Listen. Think, pray — and get with people who are growing! Your coach can help you step by step with plan development, as you move in the direction in which you want to move.

Your coach will also remind you regularly that what you really want won’t arrive if you wait where you are.


Questions for ’13

It’s not uncommon to stand on the edge of a New Year with either too much in view or with so much on your plate that you have a tough time knowing which concrete goals to set for the year ahead.

If you’re not sure,  try answering the following questions:

1. How do I want to be remembered (as a spouse, parent, leader, follower, etc)?

If this year were to determine your legacy, what would you like it to reflect?

2. At what level of “fitness” (physical, relational, spiritual, financial etc) would I like to end 2013?

Take one or more of the areas and start putting numbers or key words beside them. That becomes the framework onto which you can then begin to build some healthy goals.

And, if you need help asking yourself some of life’s hard questions, or you need someone to bring support, encouragement and accountability into the process, call us. We love looking ahead at the transformation that a New Year’s goals can bring!

Ready for a Look Back?

If you’re ready to do a review of 2012, here are some questions to help you take an effective look back.

1. What were the highlights of this past year — people, achievements, effective changes carried through?

2. How do I gauge the following areas for 2012: vocation/business, spiritual life, marriage/family, other key relationships, finances, health and wellness, balance/recreation.

3. Have “first things” really first? Is my spiritual life developing? Is my marriage better? Is there growth in other key relationships?

3. As I measure the investment of time and finances, which areas have received too little, too much, or “just right” investment?

4. What has drained me? What has energized me?

6. How am I preparing for 5 years from now? 10 years?

7. What have I been putting off that I need to address in January? What other planning or goal areas come to mind?

Now what? How will I move ahead in 2013?

Experts agree that an “outside” look — like from a coach — can help us make strides foward which we simply can’t make on our own.

We’re experts at asking questions; you’re the expert on your dreams and desires. We can help; call us, and let’s begin asking the right questions to get you started in 2013!

Recharged and refocused

Someone said failure comes as a result of two approaches: thinking without doing.  And — doing without thinking.

A friend and client just returned from vacation and he declared himself to be a new man. “Highly impactful” were the words he used to describe the time away he had with his wife. When I probed for detail (coaches love to probe!) he described a wonderful time! Sleeping 10 hours a night for the first 3… thereby discovering how exhausted both of them had been. Getting up and enjoying coffee, mountain scenery on the deck, starting days slowly. Maybe driving off to a nearby town at 10 AM or so. Enjoying lunch or dinner somewhere, returning late to watch the moon rise above the mountains and feel the chill of the night overtake them before having to retreat inside again.

They spent days reading — he devoured 9 books, at the rate of one every day! To say he was recharged and invigorated would be an understatement of major proportions. He took 350 pictures — and they were good!

They’ve decided to go again, about every 6 months, likely for 2 weeks from now on.

What impressed me was — he had not only gotten away for a greatly relaxing and recharging time, he brought key elements of their time back with him! He’s ready now to stop work a little earlier every day; to recharge daily and weekly; to rethink goals to allow for real time with his wife on a regular basis — to simply say “no” to items which now just don’t make as much sense.

It excited me to hear the powerful lessons he’d learned.

How about you? How do you recharge and get clear on what’s crucial for your life?

Keeping on keeping on

The great runner Jim Ryun said, “Motivation is what gets you going, habit is what keeps you going.”And of course, habit is, as they say, “where the rub is.”

The desire to make a change involves one or more motivations — those might flow out of the social, spiritual, physical or emotional areas of our lives.

 But to change a habit will often engage us at levels of decisionmaking we have resisted stubbornly, sometimes for a lifetime.We tend to drift into bad habits over long periods of time without realizing it; we conform, we “fit in”, we get comfortable in the mode of doing the easy thing. Our friends, family and business associates have grown accustomed to us at that “level”. And, “life happens” — and suddenly long term habits, well entrenched, become what mark us and in reality hold us in their tight grip.

As coaches, we often see clients who are willing to begin, perhaps simply, in one or two areas. Some motivation has moved them to think about change and with us, begin to envision and plan for change. The encouragement and support of well crafted goals and regular interaction with a coach then begin to help a client view old habits in new light and then: new habits begin to overtake old ones.

If you’re at a place where you’re motivated in one or more of life’s dimensions, don’t let things stop there! At a minimum, put something specific on paper. And if you’re ready, call us so we can assist you to form new habits which will keep you going.

What do you think about on the treadmill?

What do you think about on the treadmill (or your bike, walk, run, swim?) The treadmill (and stationary bike) are a little like the shower for me. I get some great thoughts – and can’t text myself or jot good notes on the treadmill. But sometimes, they stay with me long enough to jot them down!

I realized last week there are a couple of good lessons I’ve learned, as I “walk to nowhere” at my gym.

First, what I did a few months ago won’t suffice for today. This goes right to the heart of growth and being stretched and sharpened. It also slices into the excuses that used to flow out of me whenever I even thought about exercise. All of it started about three years ago, when I innocently told my wife: “We need to go back to Weight Watchers!” That was the beginning of the end for me – the end of some excuses I’d practiced for decades and uttered as often as needed, in response to an invitation to go, do, participate, hike, etc, etc.

See, I had sciatica, knee pain, hip pain – I mean, exercise was – well, “impossible” for me – at least most kinds! At Weight Watchers I learned that activity has to be part of the mix! And not only that, a year or so in, I learned that a little is good, but doing the same “little” after a month or two or three, is kind of like doing what I used to: nothing.

Activity needs to increase – because my stamina increases and my heart rate and respiration won’t get worked over the longer term unless the speed and resistance are increased! What works for today won’t work for a month from now. The same is true in a marriage – or with business growth – or your mental or spiritual “diet and exercise” for that matter. We need stretching and development of all kinds! It feels good. It is good. But it needs to increase, incrementally, sometimes gradually, but always steadily!

A second lesson: what I do today is great for today – but I still need to come back tomorrow or the day after and so on… I’ve figured it out! Exercise is just like shaving (or showering or cleaning up after your kids or pets). It doesn’t really matter if you get tired of it, it’s still a need. It doesn’t matter if boredom sets in – you still need to get after it! (And boredom can be dealt with — change things up, exercise with friends, etc). But, “tired or bored” or my plain old lazy nature just don’t give me sufficient reason to stop doing what is a great and heathy habit in life.

Again – marriage and the rest of life come into play. How often you hear men or women say, “I’m bored in this marriage” or “this ___________ (job/assignment/company, etc) just doesn’t excite me anymore.” Lots of bad decisions get made out of boredom which, seen in another light, would be made quite differently. It could be what I need at the moment isn’t a major change, it’s a major change of attitude or some new perspective; I may need to marshal some resources to re-inspire me or some new accountability to reinvigorate the original goal I had when I began.

Are you also on a journey away from your excuses and out of your former comfort zone? We’d love to hear about it!