Have you continuously set a goal for yourself with the best intention but just can't seem to stick to it? Learn why we fail at goals and how to use our own psychology to achieve and stick to goals.
Olesya is a Harvard-educated Leadership and High-Performance Coach. Her work lies in helping people achieve their full potential and utilizing psychological science to achieve their goals. Her areas of focus are optimal performance, motivation, neuropsychology, and stress optimization. Her clients are from Microsoft, Amazon, Accenture, as well as entrepreneurs and start-up founders. She was previously Head of Marketing at the Institute of Coaching, Harvard Medical School, and continues to serve as an advisor to Seattle area start-ups.
Find us here: www.agileleanireland.org
All right. Hello, everyone. Welcome to today's live. Today we're going to be talking about goals. And we're going to talk about the psychology behind goals and why so many people fail at the goals that they set. But we're going to actually learn how to set better goals psychologically, and also how to go about achieving those goals and what the psychological science says about how we should think about achieving those goals. Okay, so I'm hoping that LinkedIn is doing its thing here in the background, and y'all are here. Let me just double check. All right, good. Okay, so if you have any questions, please type them into the comment box. And I'll try to get those answered, we'll actually do a bit of a q&a at the end. And we should have time for that. All right, so let me introduce myself. My name is Elisa Lasky. I am a leadership and high performance coach based in Seattle. And I have a graduate degree in psychology from Harvard, and a lot of my practice is centred around leaders in the technology industry. So we're gonna get right into it as this live is only 30 minutes, I hope you all learn a lot. And if you join in the middle, or if you have to leave or anything like that, then you can actually access this video via the same link that you use to access it now. So you can always come back and just watch the rest of it. Okay, So reason number one, in why we fail at the goals we set is something I like to call familiarity addiction. So I really like this term, because it illustrates the fact that change is really uncomfortable for us, our brains want to save energy and change is just really energy intensive. So familiarity, addiction is when we feel really good in the familiar in the familiar. So it feels safe to us and comforting. We sometimes even try to self soothe self soothe with things that are familiar, say, maybe you have like a comfort food that you like to eat when you are stressed. And it makes you feel better. So not accounting for familiarity addiction is when trying to create change is a huge mistake. Oftentimes, people are really too optimistic in their ability to change. And they don't understand the will that they will need to invest in, and the significant energy in fighting their desire to embrace the kind of familiar old ways when they don't feel well or when things get hard. So I think really being able to name this this familiar, familiarity addiction and knowing to look out for it is really crucial. And instead of thinking that when you have kind of this urge to stop or to revert back to the old ways, that it's like the sign from the universe that you should stop, you will know that it's just a natural human desire to turn back to the familiar. And that does not mean you have to act on the desire. Okay, so now that you know to look out for that, I'm going to move on to point number two. And that is not working on impulse control. So oftentimes, when we set goals, and we focus on our goals, we really focus on what we're going to do how we're going to do it, and we don't really consider the internal psychological skills, we need to actually achieve the goal. So if you think about it as goal achievement, though, it really comes down to impulse control. And really, almost all goal achievement is essentially impulse control. And impulse control is essentially the ability to override the short term impulse for that long term benefit. So I see a lot of people trying to create the perfect tiny habits or trying to read the newest self help bug, or buying the latest fitness gear. And yeah, these things are fun, and they might help you move towards your goal. But really training that impulse control is what's really going to help you achieve the goals that you want to achieve. And of course, it's also transferable, so you can use it on any goal. And it's really helpful, I think, to break down exactly how impulse control happens. So we often get an urge, right? So and this is really just a thought in our brain that we would like something right now. So that might be food, a nap, maybe like yellow saw someone maybe we're angry, or whatever that might be right. So impulses are actually completely neutral. But with impulse control, we want to talk about and work on impulses that don't help us. So these are kind of like the negative impulses that we indulge in in the moment, but then later we're like, Oh, I wish I hadn't done that. So when this impulse comes up, we have a thought I'd like maybe say like, Oh, should that doughnut sure looks good kind of using a cliche example here. And for many people, they feel like they go straight to the action of eating it. But in actuality, there is a gap between the thought and the behaviour. And training or impulse control is really noticing and widening that gap. So one of the most effective ways to do this is meditation. And I know you've probably been hit all over the head with like the concept of meditation all the time, and that you should be doing it. But it really is helpful. The science really is there, my favourite app is actually called calm. So you can just type in calm into the App Store. And it will actually teach you to meditate and to notice your thoughts so that you can create that window between your thoughts and your behaviour so that you don't have those moments in which you're like, oh, my gosh, what did I do? Like, I didn't even notice that I did that. And you kind of like, jumped from thought to behaviour straightaway and had kind of no gap there. Okay, so let's move on to number three. And this is a little bit of a simple one. But I think it's really good to be reminded of this one. And that is not planning ahead. So most of us still underestimate the power of planning, I think, really thinking about, like our calendar and thinking it out. And knowing how much time we need to achieve the things we need to achieve. So we all know the importance of planning. So I won't spend too much time here. But just personally, I know if something is really stressing me out. And if I just put it on my calendar, it feels a lot better after I do that, because I know that I'm going to get it done. It's already kind of in there. And this goes along with any health promoting behaviour. So I want to stress here that a lot of times we underestimate how much we can get done in say, like 510 minutes. And a lot of times where we don't want to actually like put in something that's 10 minutes, because we think like, oh, that's not enough. But we need to remember that even like a 10 minute walk or a 10 minute break, can actually add up and it can have a really positive effect on our lives. And to just not underestimate those little chunks of time that we can utilise. And they don't necessarily have to be birth perfect. So I see a lot of people, maybe they're starting to exercise and they think like, if I don't dedicate a full hour, then it's not even worth it, right. But in actuality, if you just dedicate 10 minutes here and there, it actually will add up and you'll have a positive benefit from it. And we all know this, but it's really hard to internalise it. Okay, so number four, that is not expecting roadblocks. So just one sec. Apologies for the raspy voice. So this is really similar in the same vein as planning. But what research shows us is that a lot of people when they make goals or plans, they are very optimistic. And they think like, oh, this is gonna go great. Like, they just kind of envision themselves moving towards the goal and achieving it. And some of us, we think that Oh, like that sounds good. We shouldn't dwell too much on the negative because we might lose motivation. But in actuality, what the research shows us is that if we actually think about all of the possible ways that we could fail, think about all those obstacles and how we're going to overcome them, it actually makes us more successful in the end. So the reason for this is that if we expect obstacles to come in our way, then when the obstacles do come, it doesn't feel like something is going wrong. But if we expect a very smooth path toward our goal, and we get an obstacle, all of a sudden, we can feel really discouraged. And sometimes we can kind of take it as a sign that like we should stop like, oh, this happened. And obviously this is a reason for me to stop. Like I shouldn't keep going. I didn't expect this to happen, things like that. So if you can kind of really imagine obstacles ahead of time, it can protect you from those potential feelings of loss of motivation when they do come. Okay. All right. So I'm gonna go on to number five here. And I think this is a really important one, this might be the most important, important one on the list. And this is actually called Emotional reasoning. And we all do this emotional reasoning is a psychology term. And it really is what it sounds like. It's using the fact that we are feeling a particular emotion as evidence that we should do a particular behaviour.
And the issue is that emotions are not quite as straightforward as this and they can often be interpreted in many different ways. Our brains I'm sure many of you have heard about the fear versus excitement studies in which fear and excitement essentially feel the same in our bodies. But it just really depends how we interact Read it in our brains. And that is the emotion that we get based on how we interpret it. So this usually plays out as us wanting to give up when we feel discouraged. So we kind of have that emotion of discouragement. And we use it as evidence that we should give up. And this you can imagine creates a bit of a vicious cycle, right. So if you feel fear, then you use that as a reason to not do something. So expecting to feel good while you're pursuing a challenge is actually I think one of the biggest lies our culture tells. And the thing is, people usually feel quite a few difficult emotions as they work toward a worthy goal. They might feel something like fear, uncertainty, self doubt, they feel tired, hopeless, and these are actually all quite normal. And this is just essentially the way that the brain works. It just tends to have a lot of negative feelings, difficult feelings, negative thoughts, emotions, it's not something that we can necessarily turn off, like, we can't actually just, like, get rid of all of our negative thoughts. But the key is to not to get so confused with the emotions and the thoughts. And this essentially, is having some distance between those thoughts and emotions, and yourself and your goal. So for a lot of people, it's really helpful to not judge yourself when you're feeling these types of emotions. Because oftentimes, what people do is they think that if they feel scared, hopeless, etc, while they're pursuing a certain goal, that maybe they this is indicative that they're not worthy of this goal, or that they should stop. Or that it's some type of evidence that they want to achieve the goal, then actuality and we know this quite well in from psychology is that people are just going to feel negative emotions. And they don't necessarily mean anything. And we all feel it's actually quite rare to not have this experience. I'm actually not sure if there's anyone in the world that doesn't have this experience. But essentially, you are human, and you're feeling exactly the way you should be. And feeling down does not mean you should give up. Okay. All right. So here we are, we're at number six. And these are the reasons we fail at goals and how to succeed instead. And number six I have here is not having any self compassion. So I'm not sure if you've heard about the research on self compassion. If you followed me at all, you know, I talk about it quite a bit. But research actually shows that people who have more self compassion are more motivated, and more less likely to achieve their goals. And this is pretty counterintuitive, because most of us think that we really need that kind of like drill sergeant in our heads to motivate us to make us to keep us going. Right. Okay. So nifty actually asked is asking here in the chat, but isn't fear sometimes our mind telling us that a particular experience isn't for us? Yeah. So emotions are, I think, very useful. And I think that's a really good point. So the way that we like to differentiate this in psychology, is to think about whether an emotion or a thought is helpful or harmful in pursuit of our goal. So what I'm talking about here is essentially a lot of difficult emotions that come up. They're not necessarily boredom. Yeah, that's another one. So a lot of difficult emotions that come up for us. If we were to focus on those emotions, and if we were to take them at face value, and use them as some type of evidence, it would actually not be helpful in our pursuit of our goal. So that's really the important kind of filter to run all thoughts and emotions through is because our brains are going to offer us a lot of kind of chatter, like the brain just like offers a lot each day, there's so many thoughts, so many emotions. And it's important to have a filter of helpful or harmful, because if you have the filter of true or untrue, I think that's really crazy making because and essentially anything can be argued as true, right? So you can really end up in a pretty low place if you use the filter of true and untrue Because oftentimes, our emotions and our thoughts feel very true to us. And we can kind of spiral in that kind of negative thought pattern and get really stuck with those. Okay, so back to self compassion, which is one of my favourite topics to talk about. So anyways, thank you for the questions, though. I think that was a really helpful one. So, essentially, the research shows us that self compassion is really, really critical to goal achievement and sustainable motivation. But most of us don't really utilise it, mostly because we've never been taught. So I'll lot of us have been taught to kind of be pretty hard on ourselves, like, we are not a friend to ourselves in our head, we do not have our own back, we kind of just like, try to drive ourselves to success with kind of a lot of negative comments. So maybe like, we think we're lazy, or we're just not as good as other people, or I'm sure you can think of all kinds of things you've probably said to yourself in your head. And in the moment, maybe it inspires you to work a little bit harder. But the issue is, is that typically these this type of negative self talk is really corrosive, and eventually it will make you feel exhausted. Because we know that eliciting those types of difficult negative emotional states is actually exhausting for the mind and the body because we need the positive emotions to protect us and kind of energise us. Okay, great. I'm glad that helped answer your question, did he? Okay, so, um, essentially, what I often see with people who lack self compassion, and I've definitely gone through this myself, so please don't think that I'm like, somehow, above everyone, and I don't experience this is that oftentimes, we kind of like drive ourselves to pursue something to achieve a goal and we go, go, go go. And we're fueled kind of by that like self hatred. And what happens is that we often crash. And many people like, they call this burnout, or we might just disappear for a while, not answering emails, not answer texts, and we kind of go into our little hole recover, and then we come back and kind of repeat that cycle again. So it doesn't have to be like this. And this is where self compassion comes in. So self compassion is not letting yourself do whatever. Like I think that's a common misconception. Oftentimes, people hear self compassion, and they think it's like licenced to like, do whatever you want. But self compassion is achieving the big goals. Because if you really care about yourself, you would actually want yourself to achieve the big things, and you would want the best for yourself. But the issue is that we are not taking the little breaks and the moments we need, we think we can actually like suppress our needs, and kind of power through like I call this thinking that we can be superhuman, and most of us have this trait. And this is not self compassion, it leads us to burnout like previously mentioned. And so what we often need to do is we need to stay in touch with our needs, in the moment, while we actually strive to our goals, and we need to actually check in with ourselves and give us give ourselves the things that we need in those moments with kind of keeping in mind that we also have responsibilities, right? But if we were able to kind of check in and give ourselves those little things that we need in the moment, then it would prevent that cycle of burnout that goes through when we push and don't check in with ourselves. So if we push past our needs, if we push past our little kind of, you know, sleep deprivation, or maybe like you just need a break, then it can actually result in feelings of burnout and kind of going in this vicious cycle. Okay, so number seven, this one, I think, is also really important. And it is focusing on the losses, instead of collecting wins. And let me know if this resonates with you when I talk about it. But for a lot of us, we think that in order to achieve anything, we need to never fail, or we need to have kind of like a perfectionistic streak, we need to have like a like a bunch of wins that we stack up. And we don't have any losses. But in reality, a lot of achievement is just trying to rack up the little wins, but also having losses along the way. We actually know from research that when someone attempts to achieve a goal, they're actually more likely to achieve it with every subsequent try. So we get better at our goals as we keep trying as we fail, as we keep pursuing them. And that's why I think it's really crucial to change our mindset around goals, and to try to think about it as gathering wins instead of avoiding failures or focusing on the failures. So one thing, kind of one visualisation I like to use when I talk about this is if you kind of think you're in a forest and you have like a basket and you're gathering berries, right? So when gather berries, I'm not sure if everyone's done this but if you have what you do is you just gather the berries you don't focus on like the failure of bear like the berries you didn't get. You don't focus on the lack. You just take the berries and you put them in your basket and Then you fill it and you have the berries, right. And so what happens is that we need to actually think about our goals this way too. So we what we want is we want to just gather a bunch of wins, we don't need to focus on all of the losses along the way. And we don't need to focus on all of those little times where we didn't do it, we need to focus on all of the times that we did do it. But what happens is that most of us do focus on all of the times that we didn't do it. And we often kind of beat ourselves up for that time, even though maybe you did the task that you said you would do like five times today, but you will focus on the one time you didn't. So really try to shift your mind and focus on the wins, focus on kind of the visualisation of the berry basket. And just think about filling your basket. And like moving on, not dwelling on what berries like didn't exist, which is silly, if you think about it that way. Okay, so we're almost done here. And I'm, we're doing pretty well on time here. So that's exciting. So here, I have a number eight is finding evidence from the past instead of the future. And this is super common, because this is something the brain naturally does. It actually, our brains actually really want to save energy. It's evolutionarily adaptive for us. And so in order to save energy, the brain will actually run predictions based on past events. So almost like an algorithm. And the issue is that when we're trying to create positive change, this is not necessarily helpful. Because essentially, we our past selves, were not able to accomplish this goal, right. And that's why I think it's really crucial to focus on our future selves, and that have in our minds completed this goal. And think about what is that person doing? What are they thinking? How are they acting, because I'm guessing that the future self is not necessarily questioning, like, filled with self doubt, like, am I going to achieve this goal or not? There are they've already achieved the goal. And it's really useful to kind of use our imaginations to think about what that person would be feeling acting, thinking, needing. And if we're able to push our minds into that positive future, then we'll spend less of our time kind of thinking about the past, and making predictions based on the past, which often is really discouraging, and not helpful to us. So this is not something we often do, we're not really taught to kind of live in the positive future. But it is something that's, that is fun to do. So if you're able to, you can spend some time during the day when you catch yourself kind of thinking about the past, trying to imagine your positive future when you've achieved that goal and kind of what is life like? And this is essentially, like daydreaming, like we used to do as kids, and we don't really do it anymore. But we can get back into the habit of daydreaming. And it's actually really helpful to us and psychologically positive. Okay, so And last but not least, I have number nine, that is not really believing in ourselves. And so this sounds a little bit new agey. Apologies for that, but there was me of a reason for this. So when we set our goals, and we think about this thing that we want to achieve, right, a lot of us actually spend most of our mental energy thinking about if we were going to achieve it. And like, what are the odds? Like, is this actually going to happen? I don't know. etc. What I want to argue is actually, I think it's really not useful to us to question whether we're going to achieve it or not, or utilise our brains for that thinking. Because we don't really know if we're going to achieve it. Like that's not necessarily something that's helpful to think about, right? And so instead of thinking about whether we're going to achieve it or not, we could be doing something a lot more helpful, and not as thinking about ideas of how we achieved it, or strategies to achieve it, etc. Right? So if you were to use all of the mental energy that you kind of utilised for self doubt and questioning, to actually work towards the goal, then like your chances of achieving the goal would be significantly higher, right. And so what I like to do is I actually like to have my clients assume that they're going to achieve the goal. So essentially, the self doubt, or the questioning of whether they're going to achieve or not, is out of the question. It's not something we need to think about, like, let's just assume we achieve it like we're gonna work on the belief. And the belief is like this huge, huge part of the equation that I think not a lot of People talk about, because once you believe in something, once you believe in your ability to achieve it, you're going to start looking for a lot more opportunities everywhere like that in relation to your goal to achieve your goal. And at the same time, it's going to inoculate you against all of those days where you want to give up. Because you don't need to give up, you can take a break, you know that you're going to achieve it. And so it can be a lot more protective against those difficult emotions that you're going to face no matter what, right. And what happens. If you talk about if you talk to people who have achieved it's kind of the big things or they've worked towards something that they've achieved for a long time. What happens to us is that oftentimes, we're filled with self doubt. And we don't know how we're going to achieve something until like literally like the last minute. And so we're just going to essentially have to experience that anyways. And what I'm offering is that you can utilise your massive brainpower to think about problem solving all of the ways that you can achieve it, versus doubting yourself on whether you will achieve it. I hope that makes sense. Okay, so we do have a few minutes left here. Oh, interesting. Shoop, actually is talking about how excessive daydreaming can be concerning. It's a condition called maladaptive daydreaming. That's my what my research topic is on this really interesting. Um, yeah. So what I found with my client base, is that there's not enough daydreaming. So with, if you think about like, software engineers, or technology leaders, entrepreneurs, oftentimes, they're kind of more focused on the day to day and like math, science, logic, and introducing some more daydreaming to their lives is actually beneficial. Interesting, yeah. Okay. All right. Well, let me know if any of you have any other questions here, feel free to put them into the chat. And like I mentioned, I do have my own coaching practice. So if you're interested in coaching, if you want to kind of see what that's all about, I am a leadership and high performance coach. And so I'm going to post I'm going to try to post a link to my calendar, Lee here. And I actually opened up some sessions that are just free intro sessions, no strings attached No, nothing for this particular LinkedIn live, and I put did post that in the chat. All right. So um, if well, the top nine be available offline. Yeah. You know, that's a really good question. I'll put them into a LinkedIn post. So if you just follow me on LinkedIn, just check on that. And I'll just write them all out. Because I didn't want to be like writing them in the chat here. And I can just write those out for you guys. And you can see them there. Okay, um, yeah, you're so welcome. needy, thank you for attending and for the wonderful questions. summary slide. Yeah, I actually did make some slides for this. But with this tool, I wasn't quite sure if it would work out well. So I can post those on my LinkedIn. And I'll try to figure out how to get them to you. If you don't see them. Really feel free to message me on LinkedIn and just be like, where's the post? Can you send me a link? Really don't feel Don't feel shy to do that.
Okay, yeah. And we I think we'd all love to hear more about this daydreaming research. That sounds phenomenal. I think we should probably all go followship as well, so we can learn more about that. That's great. All right. Well, I'm gonna say bye. I see as we're at the hour, and I want to be respectful of everyone's time. And this is really fun. Thank you so much for attending. And feel free to message me with any questions.