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Thinking about Thinking

Thoughts on thinking about thinking from the Raising Thinkers Series


Filtering by Tag: coaching

3 Secrets to Achieving Your Toughest Goals in 2016

Tremaine du Preez

I’ll get straight to it; less than 10%* of us are set to achieve our new year’s resolutions this year. Every year I remind readers not to set these sparkling little goals on their horizon for the year, not because I’m a jaded, cynical old bat but because I’m a coach and know that setting processes instead of objectives is the best way to make lasting change. I’ve written about that here, if you need a refresher.   

But what happens when setting processes isn’t enough, when your dreams are bigger and riskier than losing weight or learning interpretative dance? Here are some inside tips that us executive coaches use when conventional goal getting isn’t working as advertised for our clients.

When thinking about the change or the goal you’re after it's easier and more fun to focus on what you want and how life will change when you have it. This is unhelpful if the reality of achieving something significant is never addressed. A bit like going to a Motivational Mega Conference and leaving all pumped up to 'go get it' but not knowing what to do when 'getting it' brings unforeseen challenges.

Once you know what your goal is, take some time to explore these simple questions:

1. How much am I prepared to fail before I succeed? 

Really fail? 

Sir James Dyson worked through 5,126 failed prototypes of his revolutionary vacuum cleaner along with 15 years of savings. Stephen King’s first novel was rejected 30 times. Katy Perry was dropped from three music labels before she became the teenage dream. How did each of these failures feel at the time? The first one is usually the hardest, after that, if you’re paying attention, you get better at failing.

I have a chart on my study wall that I’m very proud of. It lists how many times my book manuscripts have been rejected before being published. My goal is to get at least 50 rejections before I even think of giving up or doing a complete rewrite. (Yup, it’s a sticker chart for failure.) If you remove the emotion from a rejection then each one becomes a source of information. (Except for the one I received on 25 December 2014. Who sends pithy rejections notes on Christmas day!?)

If you can establish upfront how much pain, frustration and old fashioned failure you are willing to invest in pursuit of your goals then you are already improving your odds of ultimately achieving them. Decide how many rejections, failed prototypes or cheating days on your new diet you can withstand before you give in. Quitting then becomes a choice not an emotional reaction to circumstances.

2. What beliefs do you need to let go of, give up or stop doing in order to realise your goals?

Are your beliefs about yourself tripping you up? To be a better public speaker many people have to give up the belief that they can’t present or release their fear of being judged as not good enough. Before you can write that children’s book you’ve always dreamed of, you’ll have to give up the idea that it’s just a silly dream of yours. Desperate to lose weight and be healthier? You may have to give up the idea that you will be judged if you say no to a glass of wine or that giving up smoking will be bad for your social life. 

The last question is the clincher.

3. What happens if you don’t succeed … ever? 

If you never lose weight or lower your blood pressure, don’t get that degree, give up on getting your novel published, never start your own business or spend even less time with your children this year? Never, ever, make the change you want? If you plot the effects of giving up on your dream say over 1, 5 and 10 years you should have all the motivation you need to dig deep and find the resilience you need to push through.

Finally, it takes courage and clear thinking to look past the glitz and sparkle of a shiny new year and focus on the small steps needed to move towards your goal, anticipate the challenges and failures you are likely to encounter and then set aside a reserve of resilience to meet those obstacles. And once you get the hang of failure, nothing can stop you, truly.

*Source: University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Research Date: 1.1.2014

The Coaching Club is launching in March 2016. We’re currently discounting our private client coaching rates as we set up our new HQ in London. Email to find out more.

Tremaine du Preez is an executive coach, Huffington Post Blogger, blogger and lecturer in Critical Thinking, based in London. Her book Think Smart, Work Smarter - a practical guide to making better decisions at work is available from AmazonHer next book Raising Thinkers will be out soon.

Choosing Happiness When It Doesn't Feel Like A Choice

Tremaine du Preez

Experiencing change or loss is often out of our control but how we respond to it isn't 

A ginger fox trots casually past my study window; his brazen daylight excursion signalling colder nights and food that’s harder to find. Changes that he simply takes in his stride. As a serial expat who’s lived in 4 countries across 3 continents in 7 cities and over a dozen homes, change is a large part of the undulating life that I have chosen. Neighbourhoods, schools, work, climates, routines and faces change every few years along with the things that get broken and go missing every time.

Our most recent move from Singapore to London - codenamed Operation Winter - had been planned for two years and when the time came, we felt ready to transition again - excited actually. But three months into the move things went horribly wrong with the loss of a loved one. Someone small and helpless and so dear to us that our hearts broke wide open. We moved into our new home not knowing which shelf to put our sadness on, or where to find the smile we needed for the new neighbours or the inspiration to start new jobs.  

As a coach I often work with loss and change and the tremendous stress that these two partners impose. I knew how to work through this with a client but I had no will to do so myself. Instead I withdrew into a small, solitary routine where I could be heartbroken without being judged. 

My partner was going through exactly what I was, but he didn’t have the luxury of withdrawing, of saying that everything was fine when it was not. After some weeks I noticed that this man, who had faced the greatest change and deepest loss of us all, was not giving in to it. He stayed stubbornly optimistic about the future. Not because he wasn’t hurting but because he had made a choice to focus on those things he could control in his life and make peace with what he couldn’t. When I was ready to listen he told me how. 

Happiness is a choice

So is being angry or sad or staying positive when there is no logical reason to be. An emotion is a chemical (hormone) signal that our body produces in response to certain stimuli, after the initial response has passed it’s up to us to consciously perpetuate the feeling or let it go. My partner chose to hold on to the happy memories of our little loved one and focus on moving through the transition while I dug an emotional well so deep it became difficult to climb out of.

Moving forward doesn’t mean forgetting

Honouring your life and your own future is not selfish. Moving forward with all the joy and the laughter that you shared with your loved one but not the pain that their loss brought, will not harm them or their memory. Forgive them for leaving, forgive yourself for grieving. Refuse to stop seeing the beauty that persists in the silent morning mist, the new neighbours that take time to wring a smile out of you before they head off to work, the unprovoked kindness of strangers and the fact that the earth refuses to stop turning despite your best efforts. 

Your pain is directly proportioned to your loss, no-one else’s

The European refugee crisis has shrouded the news’ headlines throughout our move. I see the agonising, inhumane conditions that these mothers, fathers and children face and admonish myself for the effort I have put into maintaining my own sadness. There will always be someone with less and someone with more money, joy, pain and suffering than I have. To compare pain like postcodes was not going to make me feel better about it just better off than someone else. If I honour my pain instead and know that my loss was enormous to me then I can move forward having fully loved, lost and grieved.

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Tremaine du Preez is an executive coach, Huffington Post Blogger and lecturer in Critical Thinking, based in London. Her book Think Smart, Work Smarter - a practical guide to making better decisions at work is available from AmazonHer next book Raising Thinkers will be out soon.