Focus On This Podcast

74. How to Coach Yourself to Goal Success



You always knew pursuing your goal would be hard. But now, it really is. The excitement has ebbed. Roadblocks, old and new, are slowing you down. Discouragement is eating away at your motivation. You need to find a way forward. But how?

We’ve been there, and we’ve discovered the solution in a simple principle: self-coaching. When you practice these four self-coaching essentials, you’ll be able to overcome obstacles and keep moving forward. Soon, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals—and becoming someone new along the way.

In this episode, you’ll discover—

  • The good news about 100% of the challenges you’ve faced
  • The questions you need to ask yourself honestly
  • Why pursuing your goals an exercise in integrity
  • How to power your persistence
  • What happens to your goals when you don’t give yourself grace

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Episode Transcript

Verbs: Welcome to another episode of Focus on This, the most productive podcast on the Internet, so you can banish distractions, get the right stuff done, and finally start loving Mondays. I’m Verbs, here with Nick Jaworski and Aleshia Curry.

Aleshia: Hey, all.

Verbs: How’s it going, Aleshia?

Aleshia: It is wonderful. It’s very sunny outside. There’s no breeze. It’s perfect.

Nick: Verbs, everybody is wondering who Aleshia is. Everybody in any way affiliated with Michael Hyatt & Company knows who Aleshia is.

Verbs: But if they’re not, they’ll think she has a connection to a certain Golden State Warrior player.

Aleshia: That I do claim, unabashedly, as cousins, all the time. My name is Aleshia Curry, though, not to be confused with Ayesha. I’m not married to him, but we are “related.”

Verbs: You’re play cousins.

Aleshia: Yes, we are play cousins.

Verbs: Aleshia is the executive assistant and project manager for our product team here at Michael Hyatt & Company. It is great to have you on the show.

Aleshia: Thank you. I’m glad to be here. It’s exciting.

Nick: This is a good reminder, as producer Nick, to say that our goal here on Focus on This is to broaden the team a little bit of who might appear on this show. Courtney and Blake are still around. Courtney is on maternity leave. Blake is off doing some exciting probably actual literal scuba diving right now.

Verbs: He’s cliff jumping.

Nick: The good news is we get to bring in all kinds of fun and smart and passionate people who you’ve not heard. So, we’re very excited to have Aleshia here today. I’m going to try to talk as little as possible. I guess the question is, Verbs, what are we talking about?

Verbs: Well, today we are going to ask the question of ourselves and to the listeners: Have you ever hit a point where you felt stuck on your goals? You feel like you’re not making the progress you know you should be or you’re failing to follow through, and it’s undermining your ability to succeed, or maybe you don’t understand why you keep hitting that wall, but it seems to be a wall within yourself.

You don’t want to wait around for someone to save you, but you just don’t know how to move forward. So, today we’re going to talk about how to get unstuck and, essentially, how you can self-coach your way through these walls. Aleshia, help us understand how to get unstuck.

Aleshia: There are a lot of ways you can do that. The main way you want to do this is to focus on your approach. We all know life is going to keep happening no matter what your plans are. You’re going to encounter new and sometimes old obstacles. The same habits are going to keep creeping back in that you’re trying to get rid of, as well as new and unexpected things will come up. So, how do you get over those? How do you avoid staying stuck in the same place?

You kind of mentioned that a little bit earlier. You need to shift from simply being a player to thinking of yourself more as your own coach. You want to get off the bench and stop waiting for people to call you off the bench and actually call that upon yourself. When you do that, you’ll be able to help yourself overcome those obstacles that come. No matter when they do, you’re able to move through those. There are four self-coaching essentials we’re going to go through that will help you get through any obstacle.

Verbs: That’s awesome.

Nick: She crushed that.

Verbs: Sure did.

Nick: Verbs and I are going to leave, and you’re going to do the rest of the show.

Aleshia: Absolutely not. It will descend very quickly.

Verbs: There’s something I’ve heard Michael say before, and I love this statement. I’m paraphrasing. He says, “You survived 100 percent of the challenges you’ve faced.” When you think about it, it’s like, “Wow! I’m here today, so what he said is actually true. Whatever challenges I’ve hit in the past, I’ve actually survived 100 percent of those.” Whether it’s an emotional challenge, a health challenge, a physical challenge of some sort, you’ve made it. You’re here. So, that’s the good news at the top before we get into these essentials. But can you walk us through the first essential we need to pay attention to?

Aleshia: Definitely. Your paraphrasing of Michael’s quote is actually a perfect segue into this. The first essential is candor. That’s being honest with yourself. We’re often hard on ourselves, but we’re also the hardest person to be honest with. It’s really easy to be honest with other people, but are you able to take that look inward to be able to be honest with yourself as you’re approaching a goal?

When you’re on that journey to goal achievement, you want to be asking questions like, “Did I give my best effort? Did I accomplish what I said I would today?” Are you able to be present enough to think through what your goals were for today? Are you writing them down or are you just kind of winging it? Being honest with yourself about whether or not you’re doing that on a daily basis is very important. That’s a part of candor.

Another part of candor you just mentioned with Michael’s quote is being honest that you have made it through all of those previous obstacles. That can also help you to have some perspective when you’re approaching goals, when you’re looking for different ways. I’ll paraphrase another story Michael has often told, which is when you’re on a road trip, you know the destination, but sometimes you’ll hit roadblocks.

When you hit that first roadblock, you don’t just turn the car around and go back home. You find another way around. You’re using your navigation app. You’re trying to figure out how to get to your destination. You just figure out a way to reroute. That is a great part of candor, but you do need to first be honest with yourself. If you don’t know where you are, you can’t get to where you want to go.

Verbs: This is true.

Aleshia: So, the first essential you want to be able to focus on is candor, and that will become a key to your self-knowledge and to your growth. One question you can ask yourself is…What areas do you find that you most need to be honest with yourself in order to make progress toward your goals?

Nick: I’m really struck, Aleshia, by “Did I give my best effort?” as an element of candor. You could see it happening on both sides, depending on who you are. You could see yourself saying, “Yeah. I tried really hard. That was the best I could do,” and that’s not true. We are very good at lying to ourselves. That’s a skill set that, in some ways, is an element of self-preservation. Sometimes we have to just to do it. But then you can see the other side. “Did I give my best effort?” and we’re too hard on ourselves.

I used to be a music teacher, and kids would get to a new note. It’s a high note. They’ve never played a fourth line D, or whatever, and they are so hard on themselves. You have to stop and say, “You’ve never done this. Just because you can’t doesn’t mean you haven’t tried and doesn’t mean you can’t say, ‘Well, today I really tried to do it, and I can’t do it yet.’” It’s hard to balance those two sides, but it’s obviously very, very important. You just have to get honest with yourself.

Verbs: Nick, I love that. That band example is a great one to give, because you control your effort, and your effort affects your performance, for sure. But to be able to give yourself that grace where you’re not too hard on yourself, but also give yourself the opportunity to answer the question, “Out of the effort I do have to give, did I give my best effort?” and then just be honest with yourself from there. That’s an excellent example you just gave.

Another tool that could help us is thinking about it almost in terms of when coaches make their players and themselves review game footage and go back and watch those tapes from past games, and from there, coaches can point out what worked and what didn’t. As you hear that language, it should be familiar, as that’s the very language we use within our Weekly Preview and our Quarterly Preview, where you can go and kind of review your game tape and say, “Okay. What worked and what didn’t work based on what I said I wanted to do? Where did I fall short? Where could I put in a different amount of effort?” whatever it may be.

It’s important, because it’s going to make you be honest with yourself. It’s going to help you be honest with yourself, as well as assess where you need to go moving forward to accomplish the thing you set out. So, your ability to be honest with yourself will also change the way you see yourself. This leads us to our second self-coaching essential, which is self-respect.

Aleshia: Pursuing your goals is an exercise in personal integrity and self-respect. It’s doing what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it and having the self-respect to admit when you have been unable to do things. There are always going to be demands on your time and people who think you should spend your time differently than you prioritize.

Verbs: This is true.

Aleshia: But when you choose to pursue your own goals, you need to prioritize what you think is important. You’re keeping your promises to yourself. That’s what this is. You’re executing on your own strategy rather than waiting for someone to come and give you a strategy or give you a road map to where you’re trying to go. That creates a cycle. Following through on your promises to yourself requires self-respect and builds self-respect.

Nick: It’s interesting, Aleshia, you bring this up. Something I obviously struggle with… I think most people who are listening to this podcast… You’re not listening to this podcast unless you are actively working on yourself and on your goals and on planning. You never quite hit the destination, I’m assuming. That would be sort of boring in its own way. But if you set a goal for yourself and you commit to doing it, you’ve alleviated a lot of your daily stress.

It’s something I refer to as just you need to surrender. Don’t spend all this wasted energy going, “Am I going to do the thing I told myself I was going to do?” That’s so exhausting. Every time you have to litigate, “Am I a piece of crap? Am I a man of my word? Do I believe in myself?” all of these things… If you could just trust your past self that when they said this thing, they were like, “Hey, future self, you’re going to really want to have done this…”

If you can sort of surrender to past self, present and future self is a lot easier, because you don’t have to fight against a choice you already made. You’re also conserving energy. I know Michael Hyatt & Company likes to talk a lot about margin. You’ve created a space and more room to battle the things that will require more energy and uncertainty if you can just commit to yourself to trust yourself to do the things you said you wanted.

Verbs: I love the connection between self-respect and keeping your promises to yourself and how those two work together. If you see yourself as a valued person and your contribution as valuable, then you would first need to at least, again, trust yourself to be able to keep your promises and what you say you’re going to do.

Are you a person of your word? Are you a person of integrity? Because if you can’t do it for yourself, it’s going to be difficult to follow through in other relationships and other situations around you as well. So, I think that’s the critical connection there: self-respect and just the basic 101…Am I doing what I said I would do?

Nick: It really comes down to self-image. We so often think we’re not worth caring for ourselves as much. We will move heaven and earth to care for a loved one, or whatever, but we don’t often stop to say, “I’m also worthy of this thing I wanted, and I am worthy of love and loving myself.” It feels maybe like a lot for the second essential on this list, but to me, it is sort of the linchpin of, like, do you have the energy to actually follow through with the rest of the stuff? Kind of seems like it happens right here.

Verbs: Right. And I think we can look at a bunch of different scenarios where, when we neglect to do that, it’s often that we implode, or at some point there’s a breakdown somewhere when we don’t do that moment of caring for ourselves as well, because it’s not going to help us for too much longer.

Aleshia: The thing that comes to mind for me is you can’t pour from an empty cup. Oftentimes, we are doing all of the things, trying to be all things to all people, without recognizing that we need to be focused on making sure we respect ourselves so we can do those other things, whether it’s for other people or for a job. That is critical to enable you to be able to do anything else. It spills over into all aspects of your life.

Nick: I know we’ve used this analogy before on this show, but it’s a little bit of the airplane. You know, you put on your mask first so you can take care of the other people who need to be taken care of. It’s a little outside of this idea, but I do think it’s important to highlight that if you don’t do this self-respect, if you don’t trust yourself to have known what was important, you spend a lot of time fighting against it, and then, if your ultimate goal is to serve other people and to help facilitate, you’re not going to be able to, because you’re a mess. You’ve wasted all this time not living up to what you said you wanted.

Verbs: The key is to be in a healthy place to be able to coach ourselves through this process, but, again, if we leave it unattended for too long, then it’s inevitable we have to bring in other people to help us rebuild and walk through this in a healthy way. Have either one of you ever seen your goal progress in one area of your life have positive effects in other areas of your life, in other domains?

Nick: This is going to feel very meta. It’s going to feel a little outside, but trust me. People have spent tens of thousands of dollars for the opportunity to sit next to Michael and/or Megan Hyatt Miller. They pay primo dollars for that. I, for years, was getting paid money to sit next to them for a day on end. At the time, I didn’t quite realize the significance of that. It took me so long, like a year and a half, maybe even two years, to recognize the value of a system, of the planner, of stuff like that, and it’s because I didn’t think it was for me. There was a lot of shame attached to that. I know we’re going to talk about that a little bit later.

It was sort of this idea of “Oh, this is for me. I can do this,” and just committing to a planner and saying, “Well, I’m not stupid. I can do this plan. I can commit to these ideas and commit to myself.” Once that happened, then, literally, everything else after that, which wasn’t an accident, is a direct by-product of the commitment I made to myself to use the planner. This is not a planner pitch, although use the planner, but it’s very, very true. All of it stems from a belief in myself that I can do it and also respecting myself enough to say, “I have this planner. I’m going to use it.”

Verbs: Let’s go to the third essential, which is persistence. Coaches are known to push their players, but persistence is about your ability to actually push yourself. I won’t do the voice, I promise, but to quote Master Yoda, it’s do or do not; there is no try.

Aleshia: I love that. You need to decide on success from the beginning. That’s what that quote essentially boils down to. Settle it into your mind that you will succeed, and that gives you the drive to persist. Persistence is about mental grit. It’s about knowing the obstacles will come, accepting that fact, and then choosing to embrace them instead of trying to brace for them. So, embracing versus brace for. Just that small shift can help you as you continue to push through any obstacles.

Nick: If you’re having trouble with persistence… It’s easy to say, “I’m going to eat X amount of calories. I’m going to pay this bill every month at this time. I’m going to schedule this time with my family.” If you’re having trouble with the persistence, what can you do?

Aleshia: If you’re having trouble with persistence, there are three questions you can ask yourself. The first is, “Why did I get started?” Even if you’re losing sight of the angle, there’s always a reason you decided to take on a goal. So what was that? You want to reconnect with your why, and that can be a game changer.

The second question is, “Who will I have to become to achieve this goal?” Your goal is most likely in your discomfort zone. You won’t be the same person when you finish the goal. As a matter of fact, you can’t be. Otherwise you wouldn’t be pursuing a goal at all, let alone be able to achieve it. You want to remind yourself of how you’ll be better, more agile, thoughtful, knowledgeable, strong. That can keep you going forward as well.

Verbs: I love this question, because the assumption is I have somewhere else farther down the road that I want to be, and this tells us that means we’re going to have to be a different person than the person we are currently.

Again, just the honesty we have to take within ourselves of knowing where our shortcomings are and knowing where our gaps are and committing to say, as Nick mentioned earlier, “I’m going to surrender to this process of becoming the person I need to be to be able to achieve this goal, because it’s connected to my why. I’m all in, at least sold on what the goal is or where it will take me, but I definitely know I can’t stay the same person on the other end of achieving this goal.” The good thing about it is everyone else who knows us benefits from us and our growth in that matter too. So I love that question.

Aleshia: Definitely. The last thing you can ask yourself when you’re having trouble with persistence is to stop and take a look around and ask yourself, “What progress have I made so far?” Again, we’ve mentioned a couple of times that it’s a lot easier for us to count the gap instead of the gain.

So, you do need to take those checkpoints to say, “Hey, I’ve actually accomplished three quarters of this” or “I was able to get these seven things checked off last week.” You want to make sure you’re counting that progress, because that will continue to perpetuate and motivate you to push forward. You want to be asking yourself…How do you keep going when you want to quit?

Verbs: All right. That takes us to the fourth essential, which is grace. Grace is the most essential of the essentials. It ties the other four essentials together. Without it, goal achievement can become miserable and impossible. Candor says, “I didn’t push myself as hard as I could have today,” but grace says, “But I am human, and that’s okay. I will try again tomorrow.”

Aleshia: I love that. Self-respect says, “The promises I make to myself matter,” and grace says, “If I fall short, I’m still worthy of respect.”

Nick: Persistence would say, “I refuse to give up” and grace says, “But success isn’t a linear journey.” Just like the weight loss. It’s a step up. It’s a step back. It’s all part of it.

Aleshia: Grace is the cushion for rough rocks. It’s the key to keep going. We have two strategies for keeping grace practical. The first strategy is you want to measure the gain and not the gap. Say you want to run six miles one day but only ran four. Rather than tell yourself, “Oh, I didn’t actually achieve the six-mile goal, so I failed,” you say, “I ran four miles today even though I didn’t want to, even though it meant running in the rain. Next time, I know I can go farther.” The second strategy is to pay attention to self-care. What do you need in order to make progress on your goals? Is it more sleep?

Nick: Yes.

Verbs: It’s always more sleep.

Nick: Literally, I could take you through every one of my Weekly Previews for the last year, and you’re going to see what didn’t work, and it’s always “Not enough sleep.” Eventually, I will get there.

Aleshia: Carrying bad habits from college, I always tell myself, “I don’t need that much sleep.”

Nick: Spoiler alert. You do.

Verbs: You do. Since we’re talking about sleep… I think most of us in our younger years would say, “Yeah, I could go off of four hours, three hours a night on sleep,” but as you adult, as we talked about earlier, you realize you become the old person in the room. My youngest the other night… We were watching a movie, and he was like, “Dad, you always fall asleep when we’re watching a movie.” And it was only like 8:00. I’m like, “Man, you know what? You’re right, but I’m tired. I’ll see y’all tomorrow.”

Nick: I’ve thought about this recently, and I’ve determined that… Determined is such a big word, but I’ve decided that the difference is… Why is it in college I could get three hours of sleep and do the day and be fine, or even in high school? It’s that when you’re younger… Here’s a little bit of grace for everybody out there. It’s not that childhood is not hard. We all underestimate how hard childhood can be. However, when you’re a kid and, let’s say, you’re in a class, you can literally just sit there. You can exist. You don’t have to listen. You don’t have to do anything.

Verbs: This is true.

Nick: Maybe a teacher asks you a question and you have to make sense of that. Whereas once you enter adulthood, you do spend your entire day… Minute to minute, I am responsible for everything that happens to me and the people around me, and that is exhausting. So, for a long time I went, “Oh, I used to be able to do five hours, four hours, and now if I get seven I want to die.” It’s okay. Get more sleep.

Aleshia: Another thing you could ask is…Do you need time to slow down so you can actually develop and cultivate those relationships with the people you love? You want to make sure you’re noticing your needs, and that’s not just about being kind to yourself. That helps you to remove legitimate obstacles to your success when you’re able to notice that you have needs, and you want to make sure you’re taking care of those.

Verbs: When goals become an excuse to punish or berate yourself, you’ll dread working toward them, and shame isn’t a good motivator. Nick, as someone who has an entire podcast dedicated to a discussion of shame, why do you think grace is so essential in talking about our goals? I know you referred to this a little bit earlier, but can you go a little bit deeper? As Blake would say, can we scuba for a moment?

Nick: Here’s my shameless plug, speaking of shame. I have a podcast called Shame Rules! which, for the last two years, you can tell how much fun it has been in my house. I’m always like, “Think about this shame thing, wife.” It’s always like, “Nick, can we talk about literally anything else?” And I don’t blame her. This is something that really resonates with me. Shame is this idea that you are somehow broken or deficient in some way.

I mean, not for everybody, but for me and for a lot of people… Let’s think through this. “I’m going to lose weight.” That’s an easy one. I have a weight loss goal right now. So, you go, “Okay. I’m going to lose weight,” and you don’t, or you have too much pizza, or whatever the thing is. Very quickly, you go, “Oh. I messed it up, like I always do, because I’m broken.” Then you go, “Because I’m broken, why bother?”

Another reason that self-respect and self-care and self-love thing is so important is that we have to go, “I made a mistake” or “That isn’t what I wanted to do,” or sometimes you didn’t even think through it, like, “Oh, I need to slow down next time.” You didn’t even consider the consequences of what the situation was. So, there is definitely a place for you to say, “It’s okay. I am focusing on the gain here. I have committed to myself. It’s something I’m allowed to fail at. Nobody is perfect,” all of these things.

I would also say, expect to feel shame. We have a tendency in this culture to say you shouldn’t feel shame. That’s impossible. Since it is impossible, now you have to figure out a way to use it. The shame is a place… If you’re feeling those things, it’s at least something you know you can work on and go, “Oh, I’m feeling this. I don’t want to become a prisoner to this feeling. Past me decided that future me wanted to be this person, so I’m going to keep going.”

Verbs: The good news is you don’t have to stay stuck on your goals. You can coach yourself to goal achievement with four self-coaching essentials: candor, self-respect, persistence, and grace. Nick, Aleshia, any final thoughts for our Focus on This listeners?

Nick: Verbs, do you have any final thoughts?

Verbs: Touché once again, my friend.

Nick: I don’t want to leave you out.

Verbs: This is good, because there was a moment I passed up earlier. Just this whole idea of setting a goal, which most of the time, it’s something we’ve never done before. Chances are it’s challenging, which is why we set it as a goal, because it’s often something we may have attempted to do in the past and haven’t been successful at it. Embracing the fact that this may put me in my discomfort zone, but it’s okay because I can do hard things.

Again, going back to that quote from Michael that you’ve already survived 100 percent of the challenges you’ve faced up to this point. Being able to embrace that sets me up to say, “All right. This may be difficult. I might hit some rough patches, some setbacks, but I’m not going to allow myself to slip into shame because I missed a benchmark in the goal or because I didn’t quite get as far as I thought I would within a certain time frame.”

Just leaning into that grace of “Hey, this is going to be hard. It’s going to be something I’ve never accomplished before, but that’s why it’s important to me. There’s something on the other end of this that affects who I am as a person, the person I want to be, so I’m going to go for it and go after it regardless of the setbacks or the knockdowns or the fact that it is challenging.” When you get to the other side of that goal, you’re going to love the fact that you stayed on it, you stayed consistent with it, that you’ve given yourself the grace to push through it. My final thought.

Nick: Aleshia, do you have anything?

Aleshia: I would like to echo, piggyback, or whatever you want to call that, off that grace thing and say that I think too often we get caught up in the thought of being able to do things perfectly the first time and then brushing something off when it’s not perfect the first time, even though we know that, as you learned things when you were a kid, you didn’t ride your bike correctly the first time. You just got back up and kept going and kept trying until you got it right.

There is something to be said for having grace for yourself at all times, not just when you’re a kid but also as you’re an adult. You’re going to continue to evolve, and evolution requires that grace for yourself, because you’re not going to get it right every single time. No matter how many times they told you you were gifted as a kid, or whatever they told you, gifted does not mean without imperfection. So, that’s my final thought.

Verbs: Put that on a tee shirt right there.

Aleshia: Right? For sale at… No, I’m just kidding.

Verbs: Thanks for joining us on Focus on This.

Nick: This is the most productive podcast on the Internet, so please share it with your friends. Remember to use #focusonthispodcast.

Aleshia: And be here next week with another great episode.

Nick: Until then…

All: Stay focused!