We are sticking with the Goals theme, which has sparked a fair amount of discussion. So here’s a mailbag dedicated to your goal setting questions, and your brilliant comments! (01:42) What are Business As Usual Goals vs Needle-Moving Goals? (06:35) Our different selves (08:15) Can you clarify Slow Productivity? (12:03) The simplest goal-setting categories (14:00) Habits vs one-off Projects (21:46) Do we need to always be self-improving? (No!) (25:14) How do I capture my goals (28:07) Fun fitness in Jan
Episode link: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/executive-coaching-with-maya/id1463542602?i=1000591948511
Full transcript below:
This is executive coaching with Maya, where we tune in to work and lives that feel spacious, abundant, and aligned with who we truly are.
Hello. Hello. We are in week 2nd of January. It's a funny old month, isn't it? There's pockets of optimism and fresh star mixed in with a bit of denial. Is it? Is it, are the holidays really over? Do I really have to face January gray skies? Lots of bugs going around and just spattering of rain as well. So it's all going on, and the good news is that there's were so many comments and questions from last week's episode that it has basically spawned this entire mailbag episode.
So the first question that I have here is, can you give me an example of a business as usual goal versus a needle moving goal? I think this is where I'm going a bit awry, and I think this is a fantastic question and I'm gonna give it some framing. A. But I'm also going to say upfront that I don't think these are hard and fast definitions.
I think there will be some bleeds, some overlap, some intersection. In fact, that's probably where we get some real fruitful stuff going on is where we see how these intersect. But it can be very useful to hold in our minds, what is that stuff of our day? Those responsibilities, the things that if we don't do them, something's gonna happen.
Somebody's gonna tap us on the shoulder, there will be some consequences. A lot of that is part of our business. As usual. There are basic family obligations and our job description obligations and responsibilities, and we can be brilliant at these and we can have a period of time when that's all that we manage.
Our business as usual, we may be in specific seasons of life where just getting through all of that is more than enough, and that is not to be sort of underestimated. Not only that, but there's plenty that we can do to optimize our business as usual, so we can start looking at the stuff of our days, the stuff of our responsibilities, and thinking about how we could maybe do that in different ways, ways that are more efficient, ways that free us up, the ways that utilize our energy better.
and actually turn some of these business as usual things into opportunities and moments. Now, on the other hand, the needle movers are the things which, as Stephen Covey would say, are the important but not urgent things. So if you don't do it today, if you don't get started on it tomorrow, nobody's gonna come saying, where is this thing?
Unless you've got like an accountability partner or a coach or something, no one's gonna be on your case. If you've done your vision work and you kind of know where your North star is and the direction that you want to design and take your life in, then these goals are gonna be the needle movers in that direction.
And so by crafting those, you know, you are intentionally taking steps towards your future desired life. And that is not to ignore and suggest that we are not in a good place today, but it's just to be in that positive direction and momentum and have that sense that the things that we do construct the goals and the things that keep us busy and that we're working towards and that consumer energy, they are basically aligned with the, our bigger sense of, you know, what we want to.
Do in our lives. So you've got your business as usual, which is not necessarily your urgent stuff, but it's the stuff that is kind of gonna happen one way or another. And then you've got your needle movers, which is more of your important but not urgent stuff. And that's where we get a little bit more autonomy, a little bit more opportunity to flex timeframes, figure out how we construct these and how we timeline these to get the most effective outcomes.
So with that distinction in mind, a couple of further thoughts. One is there can be some really cool marrying up of business as usual and needle movers. So for example, if you're able to do some visioning work and get that really clear vision, which I do with my clients, and then we're able to figure out.
The stuff of your work and some key projects at work that you are able to do that a hundred percent take you in the direction of your vision. You've got some great alignment because what you are trying to do in your needle moving stuff is aligned with what your organization is paying you to do, what your remunerated for, and you get to sit down at your desk each day and do stuff that is a needle mover and business as usual, and then, Wrap up for the day.
Brilliant. What a great integration there. Another example would be if, for example, I've got a business coach now and there are certain things that therefore go into the calendar and certain kind of deliverables each month that I would. Want to be keeping up with and need to be keeping up with.
Otherwise, I will get some reminders and things, and these are sufficiently now integrated into the system. Like I've got the, I can see the chat, I get the notifications, I respond to those, they, they're sort of almost assimilated into my, my working day that I don't have to proactively say, okay, right, I'm stopping my business as usual.
Now I'm going to switch mindset into this needle moving stuff. I may or may not have the motivation and then I'm gonna. You know, turn course onto that stuff. It's much more just like another item on my to-do list, which is great. It's probably taken some stuff which felt a little bit scary actually, and broken it down into a way that makes it feel a lot more manageable.
So again, another great intersection of business as usual and needle moving stuff. This listener actually then replied back to me and said, so are you saying that business as usual is the stuff that you have to do and needle moving stuff is the stuff that you want to do? And I would actually come back with a bit of a challenge on that to say maybe when we stand in.
You know, 1st of January at the beginning of the year, and we look out and we set our goals and we think about where we wanna be in a year's time. There may be that distinction right between our half dues and our want tos, but some of the problem comes up when we actually then, uh, Get into the reality of that stuff that we want to achieve, and we realize that it's actually really hard and it's gonna require energy and motivation and, and self-discipline and all of that stuff.
And so I think what actually happens, which is then quite challenging, is that the stuff that we thought we wanted to achieve, we don't actually want on a daily basis. Be doing and building into our lives. And so I think it can be tricky when you talk about wants, because I think I always talk about different self.
So you've got your sort of, you might have your January 1st self, but then January 21st self might be saying, ah, screw that. Like, I'm not interested anymore. So. I think we all have multiple personas and our wants and needs change and I always say to my pt, I always say to her things like, okay, well Thursday afternoon Maya is really motivated, but Friday night Maya is, is like once a glass of wine or whatever it is.
So I think we can often occupy lots of different personas, uh, in our wants and needs.
The second question is, I'm not sure I fully understand what you mean by the concept of slow productivity other than maybe parking your goals till you have the headspace to complete them. And this is a great question and. I specifically answered the one about business as usual and needle moving first to set that up.
To then answer this question, there is a whole previous episode defining slow productivity and there is also, um, my review episode, which looks at slow productivity. I just wanna give that context that this is a concept from Cal Newport, and he talks about this in the context of work, and he talks about making sure that people's workloads are manageable at work so that they don't have all the overheads that come with multiple projects.
So if you have any given project, will generate a load of emails, a load of meetings, a load of problem. That need, um, troubleshooting a load of extra interaction. And if you have too many projects on the go, then you have too much of that stuff going on rather than the deep work and the, the needle moving, using that word in a different way.
That kind of deep work that's actually gonna move it forward. You get so busy having to manage all of the different overheads that come with any project. And so he would argue that if you reduce the number of projects, then people only have to deal. Limited number of overheads and it's far more efficient, far less taxing, far less harmful on wellbeing, and you get better outcomes because people are able to apply, you know, better focus as well.
So he advocates for that. And I guess I'm starting to evolve that for my clients now. Uh, in the way that I'm talking about it and specifically where I see it being quite a useful concept is where we have autonomy over this. Yes, we may well be able to dictate our, what our teams are doing and the way we delegate to them.
And brilliant. If you can experience this for yourself in your own lives and then start translating it to your. Brilliant. But I wanna start with us, you as a leader, as an executive, as a working person, how can you make this concept work for you? And what I see being a really great, great starting point is saying, let's take those needle moving goals that we've talked about and let's minimize.
The number of those that we have on the go at any one time, let's be so judicious about having like the smallest number of those on our plate. Possible, maybe one or two. And if we do that, then we're replying slow productivity to our needle moving goals, because I'm not, I don't wanna sit here saying, You can do it to your whole lives.
Like I understand that we all have different seasons of life. Some periods of life we don't have that much control over. We're just in a busy parenting phase. We're just in a busy career phase. We might be undertaking further study, like we just might have a lot of different plate spinning. And I don't want to say like, oh, well, the idea is to just do as little as possible.
No, not at all. And it's not also about just parking goals, procrastinating goals, till you have Headspace to deal with 'em. It's, it's more saying, okay, let's get really clear on what those goals are. And then because we have control over them, because they're the important nor urgent goals, let's be really, really intentional about the way we select and have them on.
Daily, monthly priorities at at any one time. And that's where this whole concept of sequential versus everything at once comes in. So you wanna do each needle moving goal in sequence rather than doing them all at the same time. So I hope that clarifies that one.
So those were more of the conceptual ones. Hopefully the rest of these questions are not gonna be as extensive if you are thinking this is very abstract and conceptual. So I had a lovely comment from listener saying I had a go at goal setting earlier, feeling better about it. Your relationship, self work home framework has helped give it structure.
Thanks for that. And I love this comment. Thank you. I have started adopting the Relationship Self and Work framework because I got it from Laura Vanka, who's been a guest on this show, but also near Ale, who's also been a guest on this show. He uses the same framework and he sort of nest them in, in a, in a set of circles.
So self is in the middle. And then the next one is relationships, I believe, and then work. And I think that's really. Now I just decided to add an extra category home because I didn't feel that that home bucket was fitting with any of those other three in, you know, particularly. But I'm really hoping that this time next year, that category will have a different name because I'm hoping that tho there were quite a lot of one off project in relation to home that won't necessarily be.
So I just encourage you that perhaps yes, the relationship self and work do make a really good sort of core categories. And what's really nice about them is that you may otherwise find yourself just doing all work goals or all self goals, but it, I just think having relationships in there is really nice and balancing, and it reminds us.
We know that that is one of our most fundamental human needs is, you know, belonging and connection. So making sure that that is there in the mix I think is really cool. And yeah, I'd just encourage you, if home is not the one for you, house and home, then maybe something else, like maybe you've got a different one.
And I'm hoping this time next year, Maybe that category will say travel or cooking or just something completely different and something really fun. Probably want it to be creative. I think the home stuff is quite creative and I'll probably be looking for something like that, um, as my extra, as my fourth category next year.
And another really nice observation here. I noticed when writing my goals that many of them were penned as habits. I'll give you a trivial example. Cook a new curry every Friday night. In an era of measurement and productivity tracking, we have will I have become preconditioned to quantify everything, create year long activities.
This, I think, is putting too much pressure on myself and maybe it's about just giving these a quarterly focus. In my twenties and thirties, my goals were challenging, but they were more one-off adventures in their own right, like a sports event or explore three countries in a year. Those seem like a lot more fun.
So again, really interesting observations here about the different types of goals. And one distinction is between habit goals versus one-off projects. And you know, I think this is a really interesting thing for us to always wrestle with. Some of us are very good at the one-off projects because I know, certainly for me, I was all very, always very good at kind of throwing myself into a project.
And then it being done. And I think it kind of hawks back to sort of exam mode where you just, you know, get it all done and then, but then you move on. And actually a lot of fitness and nutrition staff requires a completely different way of being, doesn't it? Because it requires that consistency. And that can be a real struggle, which is why I've decided to make mine super fun this time.
And I want them to be really like engaging and exciting goals. I think I'm gonna get into that in another question. Yes, we have this distinction between habits and projects and in this case of having like a year long habit. Yeah, it does seem a bit heavy, doesn't it? It does feel a little bit like a ball and chain, and so what a great idea is just to give it a quarterly focus or maybe even a monthly focus, not have too many at once.
And the little nudge that I would give is if you've got this idea of like a weekly curry night, Friday night, I'm interested in, this is probably the, the cynic in me, having seen a lot of goals succeed and others crash and burn, I would be really interested if to, if you wanna make this like almost inevitable that this is gonna happen.
I'd wanna unwind it and break it down into its simplest steps. So when are you gonna find the recipe? You know, what is it? Is it Thursday afternoon at 11 o'clock with a coffee? You're gonna peruse, have a little check on the internet and find your recipe. When are you gonna get all the ingredients? Are you gonna be able to time that?
So it kind of goes into your weekly shop. If you have an online order, can we get that? A system? Iron out so that it's working almost seamlessly for you so that all you have is a fun coffee while you're on the internet looking up a recipe, a few items that then just go into the natural shopping list and then, you know, all is in place for that Friday night.
We're not running around on a Friday looking for a recipe, looking for ingredients, which works on the first Friday, works maybe on the second Friday, and then by third Friday when you are really tired , it falls over. So maybe that's all it is. Maybe it only needs to be a couple of Fridays and then you are willing to let that habit go and we, we will, you just say, that was a fun couple of Fridays to get us through January, but if it does wanna be, uh, slightly longer, have a bit more longevity to it, maybe a month or a quarter, then it may need a bit more systematizing to make it, like we say, almost inevit.
So that would be my other thought. Sarah Hartung, who talks on best of both? Well, she's been talking about flossing for many years as a habit that she's been trying to embed. And on that one, the way that I approach that one is to say, when I'm doing bedtime with the kids, they have their sort of slightly mundane activities like brushing teeth or bath and getting changed for bed.
That's my perfect moment to get my frosting done because, you know, they, they don't need as much hands-on, uh, attention now. So there are little moments, then little pockets, and rather than, you know, whipping out my phone or something, why not just get that bit done? I'm a bit more energized at that point.
I then get completely wiped out by the process of bedtime if I'm the one doing it. I then have no motivation after that. So I'm just really aware of that and there's no point setting myself up for failure and leaving it till afterwards. Before I used to leave it till afterwards. Cause I thought, well, I might still go and eat something.
And actually now I've just said, you know what? I'm gonna get that flossing done even if I eat something later and need to then brush my teeth later on. So that's the way that I'm looking at it. I'm always trying to say, look, if you j, if you're really serious, like if you really do wanna make this one of your habits, then let's break it down and let's find that perfect timing where it becomes a nice to have and it becomes something that you enjoy doing and it feels good.
I've got a lovely example right now for my daughter. She has got to do. Physio exercises, and some of them are like games basically. They're just really fun. They involve hopping and and things like that. And she is all over those. She's got the masking tape out to sketch out the, like the squares that she needs to hop in and she'll, she'll do those endlessly and it's really fun.
And there's another one, which they have a bit of a competition over, my son and my daughter, and suddenly it's so much fun for. Whereas some of the other exercises, they haven't managed to attach that fund to. And so it's just an absolute drag. And so I guess I'm looking for those opportunities to make it fun and make it feel like a pull rather than a push.
I'm gonna get into that a little bit more actually when I go through, uh, my fun fitness list for, uh, January. Just coming back to the other part of that previous comment around some of those adventurous challenges, which seemed like a lot more fun, like exploring three countries in a year. Uh, I just wanted to make some comments around this because some of these projects, they could be needle movers, right?
If you, you've, if you had like an adventurous project, um, Sometimes they're, they're just frivolous and fun and a cool challenge and they're not necessarily like a core identity piece or huge part of your future vision, but they're just cool and they just make life rich. And I think those can be really cool things to come up with and brainstorm and we can just sort of have one eye out for what those might look like for us.
So having joined the best of both worlds Goal Setting Workshop at the end of last. I kind of got this sense that I wanted a fun project like that, and that's because Laura and Sarah always seem to have these projects. Like Laura's got a reading project this year, and I just love the idea of those. And I know she spent a lot of time constructing that because she talked about that in her blog.
And I thought, and I put it into that group, um, uh, in the goal setting session, I put it in. Like I'd love to have something like that, but I haven't quite come up with it yet. Then over the holidays we visited a solar, um, system exhibition, and it was this sort of weird mix of both science and like media, so different sort of galactic, uh, media over the years, like films and things.
And it occurred to me that. I've just, I've never watched, don't judge me here, I haven't watched the Star Trek movies, and I thought to myself, why have I just not done this? I, I love all things outta space. And so I just, that there was my little project, like a super fun little project, which is to watch all of those movies and so I just think.
I don't think these come up out or you can't pluck these goals out of thin air. They might require a little bit of wait and see. A little bit of inspiration getting out there, going and seeing exhibitions and things widening our horizons, and then maybe it will come. And I think it's really nice to have those types of things on the go and it's really enriching.
So that's definitely my idea of like a fun project that almost has like no real purpose to it. Other than being enriching and being cool for its own sake.
Another brilliant listener comment. Have you heard of soft life? This is all about saying that we don't need to constantly hustle and we can enjoy the moment. We don't need to keep growing and pushing and always trying to be better and better versions of ourselves. Yes, this is so cool. I haven't actually, I did do a little search for Soft life and maybe I haven't got the hashtag quite right.
Uh, but I love this idea and funnily enough, I was having a brilliant chat with a coachy friend. I said to her, so, What kind of goals have you got for this year? Worky goals, fitness goals. Cause I know she's really into her fitness as well, and she said to me, it's really strange. This is one of the first years I don't have a business goal and I don't have a fitness goal.
Actually. She said, I don't have a business goal and I don't have a body goal. And I just found that brilliant and I've come back to her as well. Catch up further with her and just how, what a relief, right, so we don't have to, for those of you who are maybe really feeling a bit blah and finding all of this a bit too much to take in at this moment, I think it's completely fine.
How great to just say, you know what? I, I've given it a push last year or some other point, and I just wanna be able to go and do my job and then come home and, you know, leave it behind and get on and have, enjoy, you know, connecting with my loved ones and having a good evening. Like, I'm okay. I don't need to be in.
Perpetual state of self-development and self-growth, and I really hope that when all of these messages around effortlessly achieving your goals are coming out, that that sort of concept isn't lost either. It is so fine to have certain areas in our lives where we are just completely treading water. Now, I know personally that I am sort of motivated.
By sort of growth and movement. So if I feel like I'm just sort of treading water, I, I, I can get frustration. I just know that about myself and I know that all about a lot of my clients. So I know that naturally I have that type, um, of persona personality in my audience. But I just wanna make that point that we are not here to sort of keep trying to be our best selves and, you know, just keep self-improvement and, and all of that stuff.
And. I wonder whether we could actually pick areas of our lives where we actively don't have goals. So for me right now, I have made a point that I don't, I'm not leaning in, I'm not leaning in on fitness, I'm not leaning in on nutrition. I'm not leaning in, actually even on, on business goals. In January, I'm in nesting mode.
And yes, I do have some projects on that, but that's just. It is, it, it kind of, I find that fun and engaging and I am sort of wired to enjoy having projects. I like having projects, especially when there's like a creative element to them. And so I just, I just encourage you maybe, maybe take a look at your categories or, and, and think about an area where you say, you know what?
I'm just gonna really let that one run and let that be a business as usual and let that tick over. And that's completely. So you might, you might be surprised by that messaging coming at the end of this episode. Um, but I definitely wanted to pop that in as food for thought.
Another question I had, how do you capture your goals? So I have been capturing. This year's goals for quite a lot of December, actually. I started a list. I refined it, cut it down, really cut it down. Spend a long time actually looking at how the first set of sort of January and February goals might look.
Uh, so it took me a long time. And I, again, take inspiration from Laura Vanderkam. I know that she was writing in her blog about how she was hemming and whoing about her, one of her 20, 23 projects. And it just reminded me that often when when we hear about people's goals, we think, oh, well that seems like so easy that they just came up with that.
She'll come up with these big reading projects and things like that, but she actually spends ages looking into it and figuring it out and. Likewise, I've spent a lot of time getting my list narrowed down, and I think I've also got it on my notes, my iPhone notes, just so that I could access it when I'm on my laptop or without the, uh, journal.
But it's main, mainly resides in my journal and it's really easy because I do the weekly check-ins. And actually the current journal I have has weekly check-ins. It's not my favorite journal by any means because it's not dated and in fact, it was just meant to tide me over to the. But I haven't quite got myself a new dated journal.
I haven't figured out which one I want. And I, yeah, I'm a bit stuck on that to be honest. So I'm gonna keep using this until I stumble upon this fabulous journal that's gonna take me through the first few months of the year. I never stick to one journal for the year. I use the front, uh, for like when I start in January, I use the front for the dated part and I use the back for coaching notes and other notes, and then they kind of meet in the middle.
And then when I get my next diary, I just pick up at the right time of the year and I use the, um, upfront pages for, for notes and things. So, because I don't like having more than one, uh, notebook, so I have a strange way of using journals, but I have certainly accumulated a lot of journals in fact, I might take a photo of my journal shelves because my daughter's been looking at them recently and asking me about them.
Cause I did, as part of my decluttering, I've kind of put them on a couple of shelves of their own. I was very tempted to completely declutter them my, such as my decluttering urge. At this stage, it's such a overpowering feeling and desire that I have. I was just like, can I finally throw these away? But year after, I don't seem to do that.
I know they contain like some thoughts and memories and uh, like, sort of yeah. Nostalgia about different years of my life and I just can't bear to get rid of them. So I still got those and I, I think it's gonna be quite a few years before those get decluttered if they ever do. Maybe in the end all I'll be left with is those journals, and some photo albums.
I did have one more question, which was uh, can you tell us a bit more about your fun fitness goals? I've got, I did actually have a list of the fun fitness goals. Um, so I can just read out a couple of those. One of them is to lean into the family dance sessions. I do live with fellow dancers in fact, I'm probably the worst answer out of all of us, uh, despite having invested a lot of time into dancing in my life, and so just making the most of that.
We've got Spotify and so we are just gonna make the most of some dancing sessions just to get the heart rate up a bit. And then I, I referred last time to the smoothies, but I'm definitely gonna have like the smoothie moment, which is this amazing smoothie, which has a lot of protein in it, but also coffee.
And the idea is to start getting protein needs met early on in the day. I've probably mentioned this, I've listened to a lot of sobriety podcasts last year, and one of them talked about when you don't drink alcohol, you can have a lot more strong food cravings and one of. Papers talks about the protein hypothesis, which is that our bodies are seeking protein, and that can often be one of our reasons for having cravings.
Now, I'm not saying that that is necessarily the whole truth, uh, but when it was shared on this podcast, it's sort of resonated with me. And so I like the idea of kind of a cornerstone in the early part of my day, getting protein needs met and then going from there. So smoothie moment dancing. There are a few others here.
Um, I've talked about the decluttering whilst getting a few extra steps in in the evening, and. I also wanna make sure I get to some yoga classes or just one yoga class a week and get to the leisure center because they do have some really good facilities there and I wanna make the most of those. So those all should feel quite spacious and fun and a little bit almost luxurious.
And that's kind of how I am looking at those fitness goals right now until I decide to step it up in future months. All right. I hope that has been an interesting deep dive and covered off some of your questions. And as always, if this has sparked more questions or comments, don't hesitate you know how to get hold of me.
Send me a message on LinkedIn at maya gooder or via Instagram at Mya gooder, and I would love to be able to discuss with you and then get into some of your questions. Uh, on here. Thanks for listening and look forward to connecting with you next time. Bye-bye.
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