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Today's Podcast Episode

Hi and welcome to today's podcast episode where I'm going to be chatting to you about how to achieve your goals by not focusing on your goals and how to become more action focused so that you can feel more positive and happy when you're working towards achieving your goals. It is so lovely to chat to you today. I'm sitting in my office in my house. All is well with the world.

I'm back a week now, from my month in Spain. And I must say I love going away because it just makes me appreciate Ireland so much more. I love it here. So much the weather, the people, my home, Renville and Galway, which I just love just so full of nature and the sea. I went sea swimming yesterday. The sea was freezing cold, but it was in Galway. Reville. So I was all good and I was so happy. I hope you are really, really, well, it's a good time to be doing this podcast episode at the time of recording this. Um, we, we're in August. It's good to be thinking about September on the second half of the year when the kids go back to school and to be asking yourself, what are your goals and how can you live intentionally between now and the end of the year? How can you achieve what it is that you want to achieve what it is that you set out in 2023 to achieve?

Maybe you've put your goals on the back burner because maybe you feel like it's too late or you failed at them. And I'm here to tell you no, it is not the second half of the year. You can achieve those goals that you may have not quite achieved yet. Um in 2023 and I am here to help you achieve those goals through focusing more on your action steps. So first of all, I kind of want to describe to you and explain to you why it is if you're very goal focused that you may be going around in circles and not actually achieving your goals. And the best way to describe this is, is using weight loss as an example.

And when I was overweight, when I was three stone overweight, weight loss was always a very big goal of mine. And I never really achieved it. And when I did achieve this, achieve it, it never lasted. And one of the problems of having goal just being so focused on that goal of weight loss was the fact that it kept me away from focusing on my behavior and on my action steps. And it kept me very much focused on the idea that I was failing or succeeding. So I used to jump on the weighing scales all of the time every single day. And I would be very, very focused on the number on the scales. And when the weighing scales number was going down towards my ideal weight, which is complete bullshit, by the way, that whole ideal weight thing, um I would be happy and when it was creeping up or not budging, I would be upset. So that's being extremely goal, focus, lots of people do this in business, they might have a business goal.

A numbers goal, some form of numbers goal, you, you might have it in your, in your career. If you don't own your own business, just being completely goal focused, fixating on a number, whatever that number is. And I used to drive myself crazy. I used to feel so upset when I wasn't achieving the goal of weight loss so much so that when I would jump on the weighing scales, especially after having a good week. Um, it would lead me to completely binge eat. So I would be very restrictive during the week. So, because I would really want to achieve my goal of being less on the scales.

And then when I got to the end of the week and it, it, it hadn't shifted or budged, I would just eat way more and I would think what's the point? And, and I would, I would believe that there would be no point in continuing on with whatever diet I was on. But you know, that that's never the case. You feel temporarily like there's no point until you start gaining more and more and more weight and then you just hit rock bottom, you have to do even more to try and get where you want to be. And I have focused most of my life up until a few years ago on goals. And it's led me to feeling super anxious.

I would have heightened anxiety because of it. I'd feel panic, pressure and it's been proven now that focusing just on your goals and less on your action steps can really lead into perfectionism and all or nothing thinking so just this fixation on the end goal can really foster an all or nothing mentality if the goal isn't met exactly as planned. It can lead to feelings of failure. Even if progress is made. That is me to a t with everything I have done in the past calorie counting. I would be so obsessed with the amount of calories that I would be eating in a day. If I hit that target, by the end of the day, I would be successful. If I didn't hit that target, I would be a failure. And when I felt like a failure, I would go the opposite way and do nothing.

And I would just always be going around and around in circles. I have done it with all of the diets when I cut, when I cut carbs out, starchy carbs out. Like for a long time, if I ate a carb, I would be failing. If I had a day where I didn't eat carbs, I would be winning. So, and I was, I was heavier doing all of this calorie, counting the dieting, not eating carbs. I was at my heaviest doing all of this sort of restriction stuff. And when I look back now, I realize that one of one of the problems that I had, one of many problems that I had, that I had to overcome the one of them. What I'm, which I'm talking about in this episode today is I was so goal focused and I was so focused on whether I was achieving it or not. And it made me stay away and not be in tune with my behaviors and my habits which I understand now are the most important things. It led me to feeling so successful or that I was failing good or bad.

I felt pressurized and anxiety. And then one more thing when you're, when it comes to weight loss, for example, or like getting fit when you, it made me in the past restrict because I was so obsessed, for example, with losing three stone, there were periods of time where I would do anything just to see that on the weighing scales. So that would mean that temporary diet, temporary restriction. But when, when that happens, you never keep it up. So I, I did temporarily at times in my life lose the three stone, but I always gained it back on again because I was so focused on that goal once I hit that goal.

Well, sure, none of my behaviors and habits hadn't had changed. I was just focused and obsessed with doing whatever it took, whatever was necessary to hit that goal. And then once I hit that goal, obviously, I couldn't keep it up. I was so happy that I hit that goal. I couldn't keep it up. I would start drinking more, eating, more comfort, eating and bang. I was right back to where I was. And God, I can relate this to actually everything that I do, even if like I'm striving towards a business goal. Um like a metrics in my business.

And I've done this so often too that all I care about is the goal that I will almost park. I don't do this anymore. Although temporarily, I, I did a few months ago, um because I can forget, um, I, I kind of temporarily park all my mental health or taking care of my mental health or all the things that are really important to me to really focus on achieving this goal. And I say to myself, it's OK, I'll get back to normal, I'll do everything else once I achieve this goal. So it's not, it doesn't work, it doesn't work.

So if you're listening to this and you haven't quite yet achieved a goal, like let's say you want to get fit and healthy and you or you want to simply feel better than you do now or you want to lose weight. I want to tell you a few reasons on top of why being super goal focused doesn't work for me. Why it's been proven scientifically with all the studies done out there, why it doesn't work? So number one, immediate gratification versus delayed gratification. So focusing solely on the end goal, can create a real sense of impatience and frustration. Can you does that resonate with you?

It resonates with me so much. I would be the most impatient, frustrated person when I would not be achieving my goal. And when your outcome, when your goal isn't achieved quickly. It can lead to disappointment and negative emotions, right? Who's with me on this? It's like this is, this is me and this is particularly relevant when tracking progress through metrics like weight, which can fluctuate day to day due to various factors. And I must say now, I don't agree with weighing yourself. I think it's the most stupid crazy thing you can do. There's no need. Um So yeah, you, you spend a lot of your days feeling disappointed, having these negative emotions, feeling impatient and feeling frustrated.

But the way I'm feeling at, at the minute is every day spent now for me on negative emotions is a day that hasn't entirely been spent the way it could, which for me now at the moment is living in the moment, living in the moment has become so important to me. Those of you that listen to my podcast, know that I have spent years feeling really stressed out and feeling really anxious over the past few years, I've worked on that and I've really come to understand the beauty of living in the moment and just how wonderful it is and that it is actually all that we have.

And I used to read that and I didn't really believe it. That's all we have, that's all we have, whatever. So I used to dwell and ruminate on the past and live very much so in the future. And I would always be looking for that immediate gratification, whether it was through drinking way too much wine, comfort, eating on the couch, watching something on the TV, mindlessly eating my takeaway, which I don't do anymore big win when you give that up.

And everything for me was not about the present. So if being super focused on your goals, keeps you in the future and locked in these negative emotions, do you want to be in that negative place often? Do you want to feel frustration and impatience and stress and anxiety often? Because they're saying scientifically that is what happens when you're very goal focused. Um perfectionism and all or nothing thinking. So number two, a fixation on the end goal can really lead to an all or nothing mentality. So if your goal isn't being met exactly as planned, it can lead to feelings of failure even if progress has been made.

But remember when you're very goal focused, it's very much black and white. You're not really looking at the progress you're making, you're much more focused on just this. No, I'm still overweight. Yes, I'm whatever. Um So I know I, I have really struggled with perfectionism and all or nothing thinking that would be absolutely me. You know, I would try and do things well or not at all. Oh, what's the point in doing it? I can only do one workout this week. So, what's the point in doing that? One workout?

My food has gone to shit. So what's the point in exercising? My exercise has gone to shit. So what's the point in eating? Well, I'm still overweight, I'm going to eat shit food. And that's that, that, that, that happens when we're very much fixated on the end goal. So number three comparison and self criticism, so focusing solely on your goal, can really encourage for some of you, for some of us comparison to others who have achieved similar goals. So whether you're looking on social media or your friends um or wherever youtube, wherever it is, and you see somebody that it looks like they've achieved the goal, you want, you just feel shit in comparison, which again leads you to feeling bad, negative self comparison, self criticism, if your progress seems slower or less significant. And I can definitely say that I have had all those negative self comparisons and self criticisms. And again, now that I feel like I know what's important to me, which is living in the moment, it's just another thing that's taking me away from feeling good.

And I really feel like I've become much more strict about what is taking away my good energy. And I've actually become much more aware, I should say of what takes away my good energy. And one of them is comparison and self criticism. And that happens when I become very goal obsessed, I forget about living and I focus on the goal number three for some of you negative emotions will be associated with the goal you're achieving. For some, for some of you, the your end goal might be associated with feelings of failure, self doubt or anxiety. Constantly focusing on this goal. For example, weight loss can intensify those negative emotions making it stay difficult to stay positive and motivated. And weight loss is the perfect example for this. Some of you feel really negative about the goal of weight loss.

And I'm not surprised because for some of you, you may have been trying to lose weight for a long time. So I've heard so many from, from women, I chat to you. You just feel sick and tired of it. You know, you have to do it and you want to do it, but you're so bloody sick and tired of having this as a goal that it's only associated negatively with restriction with dieting, with exercise that you don't want to do. So it's really difficult to stay motivated and positive if you absolutely despise when you have to lose weight and all you do is focus on weight loss as a goal. So there are so many reasons why, what I'm about to share with you about why focus on your actions and how to focus on your actions a little bit more, um, is so much more beneficial than setting a goal and being obsessed with that goal every day. And my last point about being obsessed about goals is the loss of enjoyment in the journey.

I have spent absolutely years not enjoying working out and eating well and all the stuff that comes with associated with getting fit and losing weight. Um, I, I have not enjoyed the journey for me. It's been about pulling myself apart. Never feeling like I was trim enough, pulling at my stomach. Looking in the mirror, looking at reflections of the mirror, tearing myself down, restricting myself during the week, not putting salad dressing on my salads, but eating five packets of crisps in one go with biscuits on a Tuesday evening, like the loss of enjoyment in the journey. It's now that I really understand and appreciate the holistic approach to health, the actions and the behavioral changes that are so wonderful.

When you strive to be healthy, the getting to know yourself, getting to know your triggers, enjoying healthy food, finding exercise that you love sleeping, resting, drinking water, reflecting all that lovely journey stuff that isn't, isn't, isn't a goal. It's, it's, it's their action steps based on this wonderful journey of life. Um So if you're listening to this and you are always thinking of weight loss and the number of weight loss or getting fit and what it'll be like when you're fit and you're just so focused on the goal that you almost block out your days until you get there and, and this is resonating with you, you feel negative and you often feel impatient and frustrated that you're not hitting your goal.

Then I really encourage you to change the way you approach it. And that sounds simple because it really is simple and I do this myself all the time. I, I want something, I've been doing something the same way to get it. It's not been working, but I continue to keep doing it rather than changing my approach. I do understand that changing your approach can be really scary. I have had many clients come on board into my thrive coaching program. Having been sick and tired of calorie counting and weighing themselves and all those crazy silly diets that are out there that encourage us to just be skinny. And they have wanted to come on to my program and enjoy the holistic approach. However, they have said to me at the start that they're so terrified of letting go of this whole points tracking calorie counting.

How many sins can I have type stuff. Um because it's all they've known. And even though if they're honest, it doesn't work because nothing works. That is temporary. If you, if something works, but it's only worked for a period of time, then it hasn't worked. And that's the biggest misconception. I think people say, oh well, no, that, that weight loss club worked. It's just I stopped. Well, if you focus on becoming like healthy, you don't really stop being healthy because you've changed in the journey. So it's it's who you are now. And when being healthy is who you are, you don't stop, it's who you are. So I do understand how scary it can be to change your approach. But the only way to change is to change. Um So to counter the negative effects of focusing on your goal, it's really important to have a more balanced approach.

And one of the best ways in my opinion, to achieve your goals is to focus on your action steps. Every single thing I promise you just becomes so much more fun. You will get to your goal, but you'll enjoy the process. And for example, instead of jumping on the weighing scales and thinking, I'm not where I want to be. You're planning your meals, you're exercising you, you're planning your sleep, you're focused on your bedtime routine, you're focused on your morning routine and focusing on your action steps rather than solely fixating on your goal. Brings about so many benefits to your personal development and to your success. And I am going to give you, I think I've written down here five reasons why it is better to focus on your action steps. And I hope after listening to them and you'll be like, yeah, Jessica, OK, cool.

I have my goal and I might look at my goal or it might be on my, my vision board, but it's the action steps that are most visible in my life every day. And that's what I'm monitoring. I've let go of the goal. I have my goal, but I've let go of it. Now it's out there in the universe and now I just focus on my action steps. Number one, control and influence. And I know being a woman having coached women for over 14 years now that one of the most anxiety overwhelm inducing thing is not feeling in control. And I hear this all the time with myself and with my clients. When I'm chatting to them, feeling out of control, maybe you've got friends staying over in your house, maybe you don't feel in control of your health or the choices that you're making but not feeling in control can be really, really horrible.

However, when you focus on the action steps that you're taking, you can't control external factors, you can't control immediate outcomes, but you do have direct control over your actions. So by concentrating on your actions, you put the power back in your hands to influence the step you take towards your goal. So when you feel like you're focused on your goal, it can feel very out of control. However, when you focus on your action steps, you're right back in the driving seat of your life. Number two, consistent progress, achieving a goal can sometimes feel really distant and overwhelming. For example, if you want to lose weight and it can lead you to feeling frustrated and really annoyed and patient. However, when you focus on small action steps. You create a sense of consistent progress and this positive rein reinforcement can boost motivation and keep you moving forward. That is an absolutely terrific fact.

We do Friday wins of the week in my coaching program. For that exact reason, focusing on small actional steps, feeling like you're making progress because you are making progress and then having a positive reinforcement every week saying, well, look, I got this, this, this, these are my action steps. I'm striving to be healthy. It just gives you such a wonderful positive reinforcement. And you, you, you build on your momentum. You really do, you focus on the good stuff, you focus on the action steps, you focus what you're in control of, you celebrate what you have taken action on and you continue to make to, to, to, to move forward. And you know, do you notice with that that there's no room for perfectionism when you focus on your action steps, there's no room at all. You're not saying I'm going to eat X amount of calories in a day and I failed if I haven't and I've succeeded if I have, but I'm not going to reflect on any of the food I've actually eaten. And if I've taken care of myself, you're letting that go. And you're saying, actually, I'm going to focus on my action steps here and I'm going to really celebrate myself and say, well done to me.

The fact that I got to the end of the day and I had two liters of water. I ate, I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner and I got a little bit of fresh air focusing on your progress. Number three, focusing on your actions, helps you develop a process orientate oriented mindset. So success being a result of consistently executing effect effective actions over time. So if you are focusing, if, if you, if you are in agreement with me that success is a result of consistent action steps over time, then you know, you're going to be successful. And another lovely thing about this is that when you approach success as consistently executing effective actions over time, it encourages you to tweak, refine your methods and strategies leading to continuous improvement, which I know I'm getting really excited about.

But this is all really new to me, my podcast, for example, I was completely all or nothing. I was completely perfectionism and I know I speak to you guys about this whole the whole time. But if you look back to my earlier podcast, the reasons there are so many gaps between when I was doing them wasn't because I didn't want to do them. It was because I was so obsessed about getting a podcast episode, correct, whatever that means. And I was so all or nothing and I was so perfectionist and I was back then, I was only very focused on goals, which sounds weird now. Now I have action steps every week that, that, that make the podcast go out and I follow my action steps.

And I know that over time when I focus on these action steps of delivering podcasts every week, and I have to have loads of little action steps in my week to deliver this podcast, creating the podcast, editing the podcast, getting it out twice a week, being able to create videos on social media to promote it, sending it out to my email list. There's so many things involved in getting out these two episodes every week. However, I've written all the action steps and instead of me crying into my cereal once a week, looking at my goals and telling myself, I haven't hit them yet and not even having done a podcast episode that week. Now, I just focus on creating the podcast and following those action steps every week and you know what, now that I show up twice a week to these podcast episodes.

And I've let go of the perfectionism and worried about how I'm coming across and the all or nothing. Now, I get to refine my, my methods. I get to improve. As I go, I get to improve on the job. And I'm sure this time next year I'll look back, I won't be able to listen to them back. But in a hypothetical world, I'll look back on these episodes and probably cringe when I listen to them and think Oh my God. I can't believe you spoke like that, et cetera, et cetera. But that's just the nature of improving as you go. And what are your options? And if you're a little bit like me, ask yourself, what's the options? Do? Nothing?

So you can't criticize yourself and nobody else can criticize you or take consistent action every week and improve as you go. I mean, it's just a no brainer. OK? So number four, reduced pressure. So a narrow focus on your end goal does create pressure and anxiety. And I remember I'm all online now, but when I had a physical gym and all the goals I had, I was just so goal obsessed. Um And you know what, I really got stuck in the goals that I wasn't very aware of my action steps. And if I had have flipped it back then, if I had have been more focused on my actions, I would have gotten to my goal a lot quicker than I did. Um But it can create a lot of pressure and anxiety. So if you shift your attention from to your actions, you can take this pressure off and you can make the journey towards your goal enjoyable and actually less stressful.

Imagine a world where you chose to get fit or lose weight or become healthy and you took all that goal pressure off and you wrote down your goals. I love writing down my goals. However, then you shifted your attention to actions. And at the end of every single week you wrote out how you did, how are your action steps? What went well, what would you look to improve on and what are your action steps for next week? Can you imagine doing that? Like, for one year, how far ahead you'd be? It's amazing. It's absolutely deadly. Um, adaptability is another reason your circumstances change goals can need adjustment by prioritizing your actions, you remain adaptable to change. It helps with long term habits. Focusing on your action steps, encourages the development of positive habits.

So consistently taking specific specific action steps becomes a routine which just increases the chances of you becoming fit and healthy and feeling good and it becoming you, you take the focus off the future and you're focusing on your action steps and focusing on my action steps. I credit one of the things I credit to being able to give up alcohol and to actually lose weight and keep it off for good and actually become my avatar, the person that I dreamed of that didn't do things in excess that actually just loved being healthy came true for me because I focused on my action steps. I focused on exercising, drinking water, eating healthy and getting enough rest. And for example, when I would notice weeks where I struggled to eat healthy, I was able to spot the struggle because I was focused on my action steps. Why is it that I wrote down this week? Action steps. No shit during the week. And why was it that I had shit every day this week. Oh, I must be really stressed out. Why am I really stressed out?

Let's dig a little deeper and let's actually get to the root cause of the problem of why I was overeating versus my goal was to be £3 down this week. I'm not £3 down. I am a failure. I'm going to eat shit all weekend and try again on Monday. I mean, it just sounds so simple. It sounds so simple. It's almost tempting to ignore everything I say in this episode and just keep going as you're going. But I promise you, I've lost three stone. Finally kept it off given up alcohol when I was absolutely addicted, drinking, binge, drinking, unable to imagine a life without alcohol, without comfort, eating without that kind of brain dead. Sit on the couch. Nobody talk to me while I eat this massive takeaway that's going to help me escape reality for 10 minutes. Oh Yeah, I remember it like it was yesterday. Um And I don't have to remember that very far back. So to achieve the goal of whatever it is that you have weight loss, fitness, focusing on your action steps can be absolutely amazing. I want to give you a couple of tips before I wrap this up on what action steps to take.

When it comes to being fit and healthy and examples of ones that will give you direction and purpose and will be the building blocks of your success. Remember by concentrating on your actions, you empower yourself to take control, make progress, learn, adapt and ultimately achieve your goals in a more fulfilling and sustainable manner. Think of it like um stepping stones, you look to the future, you see your goal and you've got these stepping stones towards your success.

You're a woman past 40 you want to be fit and healthy, have a calm, strong mind, feel really good in your clothes, have a strong fit body and and really lead a great life. What would my action steps be for me? It's my five step framework. That is that, that makes up my thrive coaching program. It's, it's focusing on your physical movement. It's focusing on your accountability and support. Who am I accountable to? How can I be accountable? Who is supporting me? It's focusing on hydration. It's focusing on your mental health action steps. How am I taking care of my mental health this week?

What action steps am I taking that help my mental health every week and being self care, including nutrition. What action steps do I focus on this week to do with my nutrition that keep me healthy or that help me become healthier. What action steps do I focus on this week? For my bedtime routine, for my morning routine. How can I have a holistic approach that when I look at my action items for this week, it encompasses my mental health, my physical health, the food that I eat, the fluids that I drink and who's helping me, who's helping support me in this part of my life. I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode and that you get lots out of it to summarize if you're struggling to achieve your goals, write your goals somewhere and then let it go and then focus and look at your action steps every day.

Once a week. Review reflect tweak set new action steps and you will get absolutely where you want to be and not only will you get where you want to be, you'll enjoy your journey and you'll live in the moment and all the pressure will be off and you won't waste time, the time between where you are now and where you get where you want to be. You'll actually be living your life every single day while you're working towards becoming fit and healthy. I really hope you enjoyed this podcast episode. Have a wonderful afternoon and thank you so much for listening.

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About the author 

Jessica Cooke

I love drinking coffee, and my favourite thing in life (apart from my family) is to help women to get fit and break free from unhealthy habits holding them back. (oh, and also I love playing with my two Miniature Schnauzers, Buster and Ozzy)

I’ve now supported over 6,779 women over 14 years in my Thrive Coaching Program get fit and break free from unhealthy habits!

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