A major theme in my coaching work in September, is time management and goal setting. Over the last two weeks I’ve been working one on one as well as facilitating group sessions on this topic. Many people find themselves reflecting on their goals at this time of year.
Most of these sessions have involved technique and tactical tools, but there is a strategic tool that I wanted to share today. It’s an important tool because I find this tool to be the most effective one to get true results. It is the one tool I turn to when I need to break out of a pattern of inaction or procrastination, and I’ve used it to great success with many clients.
Most of the people I work with have multiple roles in their lives and are multi-passionates (also known as multi-potentiates.) To further complicate things, in this day and age, most people have a career and a passion project or side hustle and technology that has accelerated time and what we can achieve in a day.
Olympic athlete <> Student <> Research assistant <> entrepreneur
Working professional <> parent of 3 <> Rapidly scaling ‘side project’ <>in-demand speaker
Local philanthropic personality <> Social entrepreneur <> self published author
Most of the time when you look up goal setting and time management advice, there are tactical tools, tips, tricks, hacks, apps, worksheets.
If you do X, then you will get Y result.
The future is our property. We are entirely in control of it. Yet, most of us aren’t where we want to be, are we?
We have all of the tools and know-how to properly manage our goals.
Yet, we still feel overwhelmed and ineffective. We have the exact actions we need to take, laid out in front of us, and we don’t do it!
So what exactly, is happening?
This is where I like to work.
My clients often roll their eyes and say “I’m not motivated, I’m confused, I’m too tired/stressed/busy/forgot.” They decide to just try again, and once again, the same inaction comes about. Ultimately they realize that there is more that needs to be done.
That’s when I stop them and tell them that we’re not going to stay on the stage. No more “hacks” or “information” or “tools.” No more googling! We’re going to open the curtains and go behind the scenes.
(I really want to acknowledge anyone who is willing to do this deeper, inner-world work, because it takes courage. It takes the willingness to enter your deepest inner thoughts and share them. It underscores the importance of a safe, confidential, and sacred coaching partnership. )
So… when I explore what’s really happening with clients, we uncover very interesting things. So often, clients have never dug deeper into their procrastination and goal setting. Most often it is simply because they haven’t a trusted person in their lives who can partner with them in this work.
So let’s jump into how to break through inaction.
I’ll introduce you to the spin cycle model that I use.
When we have a goal, and our action steps laid out in front of us, there’s something else we do before we even start.
We return to our own mind and enter a spin cycle.
That spin cycle will either spit us out (because it supports what we want to do and where we want to go.)
Or, we’ll stay in it (because it wants to keep us where we are and stay safe, which by the way, IS the brain’s default which is why MOST of us do this instead.)
Our brain has a strong preference to avoid change, pursue security and stability, and maintain homeostasis. The brain will use fear against you. It will lure you into its spin cycle and make you fear what is on the other side (taking action.)
To get through the spin cycle you have become very aware of what the spin cycle entails. What are the messages, beliefs and background experiences that are making you hesitate? We explore this through conversation in a coaching session, but clients often journal or think about it as they go about their days. They begin to have insights and notice things that they were previously unaware of.
The next piece is moving through the spin cycle and out the other side, where effective action lies.
You have to decide that your old beliefs, messages and background experiences are no longer true, and they no longer help you. You have to decide that how you feel is something that you can manipulate. I see so many clients get stuck because they didn’t feel like doing it, were too tired, didn’t have the energy, weren’t in the right frame of mind.
The spin cycle wants to keep you stuck. It is time to discredit old beliefs and put some NEW ones in that spin cycle. It is time to shift energy and mood so that you’re in a place where you get shit done, and do things differently than you did before.
Tony Robbins often talks about this when he teaches his “Daily Priming” technique. You can reprogram your mood, your emotions, and your energy because it is ever-changing. Music, fresh air, laughter and movement are all great ways to shift into the energy of action. Morning routines are also part of this strategy. It is hands down, the best time to prime yourself to take action.
The beauty of this day and age is that we can learn what people do to prime their state. Tim Ferris journals, meditates, drinks tea and makes his bed – all practices that put him in a physical and emotional state that prime him for his goals that day. He starts his day with discipline, small wins, self care and introspection to cultivate an energy state that will serve him in his mission.
I can offer a example of this. Here is a very typical spin cycle for those wanting to start a Podcast. It is my spin cycle I recently worked through.
Can you see how all of these things in this spin cycle would DEFINITELY not move me to a place of action? None of them serve me. None of them would lead me to take action on the other side.
It has taken work with a coach to uncover what is happening in my spin cycle, and how to discredit and disenfranchise these things.
A great example is the one part of the spin cycle labelled “external environment.” When we are taking a new action, we look to other people for success stories and examples and how-to-do-it inspiration – on face book, instagram, linked in, or in our own communities.
This is a good thing, because it shows us that what we want to do is possible. But it is also a bad thing, because part of our brain says “what is the point? Everyone else is already doing it and they’re so much better!” Then, this locks into your spin cycle. This is NOT something that will inspire you to action.
I constantly have to work against this particular spin cycle, especially with making a Podcast. There are so many amazing ones that have changed my own life. I’m taking the excellent course “Power Up Podcasting” with Pat Flynn and this is exactly one of the things he addresses.
How did I work through and remove this element of my own spin cycle? I decided that yes, everyone else is doing it, but nobody is doing my version of it or my particular approach.
I have something unique to offer, and my style is different from others’. Someone out there will like my style, someone else won’t. That’s okay. And everybody who started a successful podcast worked through this spin cycle, as well.
I also decided to stop looking at, and following what others are doing, until I work through this stage of the course which is quite technical, activates fear and spin cycle thinking.
I caught myself procrastinating on the work I needed to do, reading through everybody else’s progress. I realized that what works for me, is to depart for a time from and focus on getting through this tougher part of the course and this action which has more spin cycles than other stages. Simultaneously, I am constantly working at breaking down and working through the spin cycle components.
It’s not just in podcasting. This happens in life. My students, for example:
Particular courses they are in (especially challenging ones) are going to activate spin cycles. The only way to move through them, is to be aware of what is inside, choose not to believe what is inside, and move through to action.
This is where we see breakthroughs in results in all domains of life.
I hope you found this tool helpful. This is what advanced time management and goal setting is:
- Getting clarity on your most deeply held priorities, your “hell yes” goals in your life.
2. Identifying action items
3. Acknowledging that you have a your spin cycle that is activated by that action item, and working to understand it.
4. Deciding not to stay in it. Moving through it, and out of it, by developing alternative beliefs, practices, and gathering evidence that refutes it.