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Life Is What Happens While You’re Making Other Plans - 041

goal setting podcast Sep 11, 2017

Hey ADDers!  I’m so glad you could join me today.  You know, if you don’t find a way to stay present every day and have some sort of tracking system for your important goals, then your life unfolds in kind of a haphazard way and those important goals might never be realized; which would be awful.

Years ago an anonymous quote came into my life - “Set a goal SO BIG that you can’t achieve it until YOU GROW INTO THE PERSON WHO CAN.” I love this quote because it told me where to focus my efforts. 

It’s important to point out here that my focus was on each day, rather than some distant day when I had become the person I needed to be. Instead, day-by-day, I focused on what I could do each day to become more of that person. I asked myself what I could do each day that would advance me closer to becoming more of my best self; how could I challenge myself to strengthen and grow in the direction of becoming more of me. I was developing habits that would continue to serve me long after I became the person who could achieve the goal.

In this episode, I’m going explore three keys concepts that are important pieces when you are getting clear on designing and living a happier, productive and more successful life across all areas of your life.

It takes courage to own the truth of your life and transform it into something extraordinary, if it isn’t that already.  Acceptance isn’t resignation; it’s starting with what is and moving forward from there. 

That’s what we’re doing in the ADDventures in Achievement™ program.  If you’re tired of being stuck and ready to go after the happier and more productive life you want, come get on the Waitlist, as well as benefit from all the free resources until enrollment opens again.  

In the program, you’ll learn from my 30+ years of experience in weekly coaching calls, workshops, and a private forum space for deep personal work with other like-minded adults where you have access to me 6 days a week for support, solutions and accountability.  I don’t believe in Band-Aids that will only disappear down the road.  I believe in helping you move from stuck to unstoppable by getting to whatever you’re missing and need to learn.  We’ve all had a belly full of judgment, criticism and punishment, whether it’s come from others or ourselves.  I encourage you to break free of that life and join us for your ADDventures in Achievement™.  Until then, become part of the Facebook community I created, Living Beyond ADHD, where I go live once a week for Q & A about your most pressing issues as an adult with ADHD.

Developing your Executive Function Skills and shifting your limiting beliefs is the fastest and most effective way to overcome ADHD limitations, find focus, gain confidence, and newfound freedom in your life!

My mission is to put an end to the worldwide needless suffering of adults with ADHD and those with under-developed Executive Function Skills - whether from ADHD, chronic depression or anxiety, trauma, addictions, or chronic illnesses.  And, you don't need a formal diagnosis to know you need help developing these executive function skills in order to greatly reduce your suffering.


Full Episode Transcript Hey ADDers! I’m so glad you could join me today. You know, if you don’t find a way to stay present every day and have some sort of tracking system for your important goals, then your life could unfold in kind of a haphazard way and those important goals might never be realized; which would be awful.

I want to start with a personal story.

Years ago an anonymous quote came into my life - “Set a goal SO BIG that you can’t achieve it until YOU GROW INTO THE PERSON WHO CAN.” I love this quote because it told me where to focus my efforts. Let me explain.

Years before the quote came into my life, I wrote out this goal - “I need to make a positive impact and significant difference in the lives of at least a million people.” Certainly a huge goal for the person I was back then. I had NO idea what that would mean or how that could possibly happen, and I certainly knew I was not the person at that time to achieve such a goal. And still I declared that goal because I felt called to it. So what next?

As the quote said, I needed to shift my focus away from the goal and onto becoming the person who could achieve such a goal. That raised some new questions. Who would I need to become to make a positive impact and significant difference in the lives of at least a million people? I gave that question a lot of thought. I studied the qualities of people I admired who had achieved that goal; how they thought, their values, principles to live by and so on. I assessed how similar or dissimilar I was from them, and teased out what my personal work would need to be.

My next question was, “did I want to become such a person?” It’s an important question because I didn’t want to arrive at my goal only to find that I didn’t like the person I had become on the way to what I sought to achieve. I concluded that the goal was only to point a direction to go in, and the journey was greater spiritual, mental, emotional and physical awareness. This is the journey of living into more of who I am and allowing that to emerge.

It’s important to point out here that my focus was on each day, rather than some distant day when I had become the person I needed to be. Instead, day-by-day, I focused on what I could do each day to become more of that person. I asked myself what I could do each day that would advance me closer to becoming more of my best self; how could I challenge myself to strengthen and grow in the direction of becoming more of me. I was developing habits that would continue to serve me long after I became the person who could achieve the goal.

I was only focused on becoming that person who could achieve such a goal (not the goal) because without becoming that person, the goal wouldn’t matter. So I worked on myself as a human being, not a human doing; how I could become more of the full expression of me.

After I felt I had made significant progress there, I turned my attention to the human doing, and what I would need to be able to do in order to achieve such a BIG GOAL. I learned that I lacked many skills; things I was not yet able to do or comfortable doing that would be critical for such a goal to be achieved. Over time, I’ve learned, practiced and mastered many of the skills I’ve been lacking; certainly I have many more to master and that’s okay since this isn’t a race. Knowing that I was more competent gave me more confidence to take the necessary risks and move forward towards my goal.

So what does this mean to you and your life journey? Let me summarize.

· You need enough clarity to set a meaningful goal

· You need this goal for direction and to stretch or challenge yourself, and you need to keep your eyes on your daily choices and actions.

· You need to stay focused on your daily habits and actions, not on your goal

· It’s what you do every day, that matters.

· You need to be honest with yourself; self-aware enough to know your strengths and weaknesses.

· You need to face your fears; all of them. Make a list of what you’re afraid of and be curious about what you can do to change those fears.

· You need to track your progress; a daily inventory at the end of the day to measure yourself against yourself and know if you are a little bit better today because of the steps you took.

· You need the steer yourself along the journey and “course correct” if you aren’t going in the direction you intended to.

· You need to cultivate resilience, compassion, self-love and humility so you can bounce back from adversity, be understanding of yourself, praise and love yourself for challenging yourself to become more of who you are, and humility so you can admit when you make mistakes and apologize to yourself or others and learn from those experiences.

· You need to learn the value of time and that it doesn’t wait for anyone. You need to understand how much time you really have, rather than fantasizing that you have more than you do.

· Insist on living as your best self every day no matter what others around you are doing, and make sure you can see the evidence of your integrity, effort, loyalty, word, and decisions in your life every day

· Be willing to be a student of your own life and be humble enough to acknowledge what you need to learn, and learn it now so the rest of your life can be more amazing!

· Putting this in a bigger context, you need to make the time or take the time to learn what you’re lacking, so your life can become easier once you are better at living your life; there will never be “a good time” to get started other than today.

· As I learned from E. James Rohn, “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.”

I know this all sounds like a lot and perhaps it is, and over time once you’ve developed these skills, you won’t be needing to develop them every time because they will become your habits.

Habits are the autopilot director and they run our lives. They can be our best friends if they’re positive, empowering, and success habits, and if not, they can literally run our lives into the ground. I look at habits as behavioral (actions) and cognitive (thinking) habits.

Do you ever examine or question your thinking or actions; really study them? Or do you just accept them for what they are and go with them? Do you tell yourself, “This is just how I think and act; it’s just who I am.” And if you do, is your current thinking and actions giving you the outcomes you want?

For things to change, we have to change something. Our thinking, our behaviors, our choices, our habits; something, or things will just stay the same or get worse.

So, what are you focused on each day? Getting through the day? Or, making sure that you are taking steps each day or certainly each week to move yourself in the direction of your goals? And, are you looking for evidence every day or week to see that you are taking those steps and that they are making a difference? Without feedback you can’t know how you’re doing and if you need to course correct. Remember, what you focus on grows.

Another personal example:

I have set up my life so I focus on the daily process and sticking to my schedule, rather than worrying about reaching a million downloads or viewers or whatever.

I have focused on writing two podcast episodes per week and doing three live videos per week for months now. I’ve been focused on my process (or systems) for making sure I follow through and create these things, and haven’t failed to come through since June for the live videos and since April for the podcast episodes. Not one missed date or production. There is definitely the internal state of urgency there every time it’s time to generate one of them; and I don’t allow for excuses or escapes. I also make a public commitment whenever I do a live video or podcast episode that states when I’ll be back. This public declaration is an important piece of my process.

My environment is set up to support this system and flow.I’ve eliminated as many distractions as possible from my working space so I stay on task. I have a monthly production calendar on the wall to my right, so I can see the big picture of my month, and keep an Excel spreadsheet of the topics for my live videos and podcast episodes so I can be thinking about the content in advance of production dates. I know when I need to start and finish and have the skills to do both now; and this wasn’t always the case. In fact, there are a lot of executive function skills involved in my ability to do all the things I’ve just shared with you.

One last piece, which will become clear in the three stories today, is the importance of an identity vs. a behavior, as well as “living ready.”

It’s never too late to get started on this journey if you still have the breath of life in you and your wits about you. If you’re younger than my 66 years young, and just starting on this journey, that’s great! You’ll have so many more years of a happier and more productive life once you assess and address whatever skills you’re missing and master them. And if you’re my age or older, I know this is the happiest I’ve been in my lifetime, and it just keeps getting better. I trust you can be happier, more productive and ultimately more successful, once you get the skills and tools you need to take you to the next level of your personal development. As one of my teacher’s puts it, “what got you here won’t get you there,” so you may as well go for it even now!

Seriously, what I think is encouraging is that there are very clear reasons for our failures and successes, which means we can all change what needs changing, gain the competence we need, where we need it, and increase our successful outcomes, happiness and productivity tremendously.

We’re getting closer to today’s 3 important points, with relevant stories, an action step, and a favorite quote of mine. Let’s keep going…

Remember, YOU are NOT a failure; rather the system has failed you in not equipping you with the knowledge and tools to live your best life, with greater happiness, productivity and success. Your value as a human being is a given, since you are not what you do or don’t do; you are more than that. YOU are NOT defective or less than as you – as a human being; you’re just in need of learning more about yourself to discover the skills and tools you need for your own greater success. I hope you will find some of what you need here with me, as you listen to each episode.

In this episode, I’m going explore three keys concepts that are important pieces when you are getting clear on designing and living a happier, productive and more successful life across all areas of your life.

How much time do we have? Not much. So let’s get to it.

Today’s 3 important points are:

1. The importance of stepping into an identity

2. How behavior alone isn’t enough

3. Living ready can reduce personal regrets

Now back to being an adult with ADHD in today’s world.

It’s almost story time, but first, your WINS. I encourage you to acknowledge and celebrate them every day because they matter! Every WIN you acknowledge and celebrate with emotional authenticity, is changing your neurology, meanings and mindset in a positive way. Seems like a great return on your time investment.

And please don't short-change yourself by thinking that it’s pointless or stupid to reward yourself for things you’re “supposed to do.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Are you really going to wait until something HUGE happens to celebrate? Seriously? Does something HUGE happen everyday? Probably not! But the kind of WINS I’m talking about do. And based on the feedback I get from the students in my program, this regular practice of celebrating their WINS is changing their lives.

So, what’s it going to be for your WINS? Perhaps you made yourself stick with a task until you finished it instead of bailing out; that’s a WIN. Or maybe you delegated something you’ve been holding onto but not taking care of; certainly a WIN. Or perhaps you’re practicing developing your foresight so you can reduce the amount of drama in your life; that’s definitely a WIN. Whatever you choose is up to you; however, I want you to choose something and celebrate it right now – either a loud or to yourself. I want you to really FEEL that WIN, and acknowledge that at least one thing has gone right in your day, is right about you, even if everything else feels terrible right now. I get it! And, that doesn’t take away from the fact that at least one thing has gone right today or is right with you. You are a precious child of the universe; and are called a “human being” not a “human doing” for good reason. You don’t have to earn your value; you were born with it. You’re value comes from “who” you are; not what you do. Got it?

The reasons you are where you are in your life are just what is; not good, bad, right or wrong. And since you are capable of learning something new, you are capable of making changes. I hope at least one of these stories will resonate with you and be of benefit. So let’s keep going.

Transitioning to our first story:

· Elliott had wanted to get into better shape for years now. No matter what he tried to do, he couldn’t get himself to consistently go to the gym or take a walk or eat healthier meals.

· He would get his “plan” all written out, then transfer all the details to his calendar so he would know when he was to do each task, and he could sustain the plan for about 5 days and then he just couldn’t do it anymore.

· He even hired a personal trainer for 3x/week and only made it through the first week; again the 5 days maximum he was able to sustain.

· Elliott began to feel that he was just doomed to a life of being overweight and out of shape because he just couldn’t figure out what to do to sustain his desire to get into better shape and health longer than 5 days.

· He was frustrated with himself, yet curious about the 5-day maximum, since it was so consistent. In fact, it was the only thing that was consistent and able to be sustained in this plan of his.

· Elliott didn’t want to give up on himself, or give into this unhealthy fate, so he decided to do some research on topics other than exercise and nutrition.

· He started reading about the importance of one’s mindset, beliefs, values and sense of self. He learned that these were as important, if not more important, than his well-designed plan.

· In fact, he came across an interesting sentence in one of the articles he read that said, “anything that is stated as “I am…” is an identity statement, and that the non-conscious part of the mind “related or associated” to that statement.

· Elliott began to feel hopeful that what he was reading could help him get into better shape and become healthier.

Background facts:

· As Elliott was learning, until you “become the person” or “take on the identity” of the person you need to be or want to be, change will only be temporary at best.

· So what does this mean in practical terms?

· In my studies of neurolinguistic psychology (NLP) I learned about the neurological levels of Robert Dilts model. It showed that “identity” was at a higher level and had a greater influence than “behavior.”

· This led me to develop the concept of “stepping into the identity” or “assuming the identity” of the person I needed to be, which was completely developed and a complete package, with all the structures, systems, behaviors, rules, and consequences that I would need if I was indeed that identity or person.

· Since I was working in the fitness field at the time, the identity I took on and practiced with initially was, “I am an athlete in training.” I already knew what that meant to be “an athlete in training.” I knew the lifestyle, the rules, the hours of sleep, the food and so on. In fact, it was pretty easy to step into the identity of being that “athlete in training.” The decisions and choices were already made for me if I was truly going to be that person. When I stepped into that identity, I got into great shape because I was focused on “being that identity or person” rather than the goal of getting into better shape or health.

· And when the “getting into better health and shape” phase was over, I had the next identity of, “I am an athlete in maintenance” which kept me in good health and fit, because again I already knew what being that person would entail and agreed to it for myself.

If you relate to Elliott’s story, here are your action steps:

o Focus – on “becoming” the person who does the actions you want to do, rather than focusing on the actions; meaning focus on taking on the identity of the athlete rather than re-standing behaviors

o Follow Through – on fully understanding what it is to be that identity or person and make sure you are doing everything that they would be doing; remember – you are them

o Self-Management – of your feelings about being that identity and make sure that all parts of you are in agreement with this decision to become this identity and live this life; and if not, then address whatever resistance arises.

Transitioning to our second story:

· Nellie had been struggling for years with getting herself organized. She had been better organized years earlier, but clearly something was different now. She hired an organizer, had private lessons about organizing, had a body double work with her several times a week to make sure she developed the organizational habits she needed and yet nothing stuck.

· It was as if her neurological rebelled again the very idea of becoming organized.

· What made all of this even harder on Nellie is that she was a bit of a perfectionist and she really wanted to have her spaces and life organized like it used to be or even better; both for the beauty it represented to her as well as the functional part.

· After working with so many different professionals specifically on organization, Nellie decided to broaden her view and seek an assessment to rule out any neurological problems that were the underlying cause of her inability to embrace organization.

· It wasn’t long after she made this decision and had a couple of sessions with the new professional that she learned why she had been struggling for years. Nellie had suffered some neurological damage as a result of several car accidents years earlier. The damage wasn’t readily apparent after the accidents and so she didn’t put the pieces together until her assessment appointments.

· The neurological damage Nellie sustained impacted her ability to convert what she was being shown how to do into actually doing it. She couldn’t hold onto the behaviors long enough to continually practice them and convert them into habits.

· With new information and insights, Nellie was able to remediate the neurological damage and then re-learn the skills she once had and actually retain them.

Background facts:

· Sometimes you can get so hyperfocused on what you think or believe the problem stems from that you don’t shift your mind to a wider view to consider other possibilities.

· The executive function skill of mental flexibility or agility is necessary for you to be able to shift from one task or point of view or belief to a wider view and embrace other possibilities. In fact, there are many executive function skills to be considered here.

· Other skills that Nellie would most likely need to learn or re-learn after the remediation of her neurological damage might be her focus, organization, planning, time management and working memory.

If you relate to Nellie’s story, here are your action steps:

o Focus – on making sure you are clear about what the actual problem or underlying issue is before you just assume you know and it isn’t what you thought. Be sure you look at all possibilities.

o Follow Through – on what you determine the underlying issue is and take care of it completely, rather than looking for a quick fix or shortcuts. Be sure to get all the information or care you need to be your best self. This is to benefit the rest of your life.

o Self-Management – of your feelings about what you’re going to need to do to remediate something and then move forward. Feelings of frustration or disappointment deserve to be acknowledged for what they are and then released because living in them doesn’t serve you moving forward.

Transitioning to our final story:

· None of us know what the future holds for us with absolute certainty or what opportunities will present themselves and when.

· Lola was fearful of flying and just “lived with the limitation” of not being able to get on a plane. She pretty much lived in the “now” like so many other adults with ADHD and didn’t think much about her future and what opportunities she might have to miss out on if she didn’t address her fear of flying in the “now.”

· Time passed and Lola’s limitation wasn’t a problem. All of the opportunities that presented themselves in Lola’s life were local and she was able to participate by driving herself to the events.

· And then it happened. Lola was up for a BIG promotion at work. She would need to meet with the executive division of the company and they were located in England. She lived in New York and learned that even as close as it seemed to England, it was roughly 3,500 air miles and over 6 hours in the air.

· Lola was elated about the opportunity for such a BIG promotion, since she had been working very hard toward this opportunity, however, she had failed to consider what else you needed to be doing other than working hard, in the event her hard work paid off.

· Now her hard work had paid off and she was hysterical with fear about the idea of flying to England and angry at the situation she found herself in because she had had plenty of time to prepare herself to fly in the event such an opportunity did ever present itself. Now she was face-to-face with the horror of her situation and lack of taking action when she had plenty of time to do so.

· Perhaps she lost sight of her dream or her fear of flying or the fact that the executive division of the company was in England. Whatever the reason, now she had to do something or lose this opportunity.

Background Facts:

· What does it mean to “live ready?” The way I think of it is that you are living with an eye to the future and what kinds of experiences you might want to enjoy or might come your way, and you want to be ready to partake of them. This means if you know you are missing certain skills, now would be a great time to learn those skills so when the opportunities present themselves, you are ready to participate.

· Wouldn’t it be a sad situation if you had the time to prepare and learn but didn’t and then a fantastic opportunity presented itself that you really want to participate in but you aren’t ready or able to do so because you didn’t prepare long ago?

· Or, that you had time to take important steps toward a time-sensitive, important goal but didn’t and then time ran out?

· This is what I mean by “live ready.” It’s important to cultivate the foresight to “look ahead” into the future and “imagine” what might lie ahead for you. Whether it’s work-related or relationship-related or health-related; whatever the area of your life, having the foresight to “imagine” your future and prepare for it now; get ready now and “live ready” will prevent opportunities from showing up that you can’t say yes to and dearly want to.

· There are basic skills of life that we all need to be able-bodied about, whether they are mental, emotional, physical or spiritual, so we can “live ready” for the great opportunities that life presents when one least expects it.

If you relate to Lola’s story, here are your action steps:

o Focus – on what the life skills are that you have sidelined because you can “get away with” not having these skills or abilities now and figure you have “plenty of time” to learn them or fix the limitations.

o Follow Through – on gaining the skills you currently lack and removing the limitations you currently have, so that no matter when opportunities present themselves, you will be “living ready” to embrace them and say “yes” if they are a good fit for you.

o Self-Management – of having to face your fears and limitations now and do whatever it takes to move past them, along with all of the emotional energy that’s connected to that situation. There is no best time to face your fears other than right now because it doesn’t get any easier the longer you wait and the stronger you allow your bond to the fear to get.

A Favorite Quote:

E. James Rohn said, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “Are you willing to decide on what your “good enough reason” or motivation will be to get you started and then cultivate the habits to keep you moving in the direction of your goals?“ I hope so because it will change your life forever!

It takes courage to face yourself where you are today and transform yourself and your life into something extraordinary, if it isn’t that already. Acceptance isn’t resignation; it’s starting with what is and moving forward from there.

Thanks for spending time with me today. No matter how you choose to have me serve your needs, it’s an honor to accompany you on your journey and make a difference in the quality of your life.

All the resource links are in the episode description for easy access, that is, if that’s of interest to you. New episodes are released on Mondays and Thursdays at 1 am Pacific Time. I’d be grateful if you’d subscribe and support the show by sharing with your friends and family, as well as rating the show and writing an honest review on iTunes. I read every review posted and email received, and love hearing from you. It means a lot to me to know that your life is getting a little bit better every time we get together.

So, that’s what I have for today. Thanks for listening… Until the next time… Bye for now…


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