Revamping New Year’s Resolutions

Revamping New Year's Resolutions: Clarify the "Who" Before the "What" to Drive Consistent Success

Dr. Bradford Cooper - Catalyst Coaching Podcast
Catalyst - Health, Wellness & Performance Podcast

Full Transcript

A transcription from the Catalyst Health and Wellness Coaching Podcast. To hear the full audio broadcast, tune in to “A Better (More Successful) Way to Approach the New Year” on our podcast page.

Welcome to the latest episode of the Catalyst Health and Wellness Coaching Podcast. My name’s Brad Cooper. This episode is going to be a little bit different. We’re releasing this right around new year’s and while it’s applicable anytime of the year, it’s especially applicable now. I pulled the data from the latest New Year’s resolutions survey, and it’s interesting. This is a nationwide survey and the top three goals for new year’s resolutions. No surprise to you at all. Eat better, exercise more, spend less money. The others, frankly, probably aren’t much of a surprise either. Self care, things like more sleep, read more books, learn a new skill, get a new job, make new friends, new hobby. Focus more on appearance was 12 % and another 3% said they wanted to focus less on appearance. Kind of a funny caveat there. Focus on relationships was next and finally cut down on cigarette or alcohol use.

You’re not surprised by any of those goals. You hear them all the time from your clients. Maybe some of them in your own life, but I think there’s a problem with the way these are approached and probably a big reason why we constantly fail at achieving these long term. So in this episode I’m going to walk you through a process I’ve used for the last seven years and it has not only had a big impact on my life as a whole, but it’s also been a driver for achieving those goals that often time fall by the wayside because of the way that we typically approach them. We’ll cover all that in this episode of the Catalyst Health and Wellness Coaching Podcast.

Okay, let’s jump into this now. You heard the list of the top goals. None of them are a surprise to you. Let me give you a list from that same survey of the excuses people use for not achieving those goals. And please keep in mind as I read these. These excuses were provided after the goals were already set. So this wasn’t why I’m not setting the goal. This was, I didn’t achieve it and so here’s the reason why I didn’t. Money, time, overwhelmed, not the right time, fear, too young, too old, it’s just who I am, it’s too hard, I’m afraid of what others will think. Fear of failure, that’s fear three times there, by the way, which is interesting. Now what popped out to me about the majority of these is that there is a disconnect between the WHO I am and the WHAT I’m wanting to do.

You see that these goals are set, not in the context of who I am. It’s almost like they’re looking at someone else and saying, oh, I want to do what that person does. I want to achieve what that person achieved. That doesn’t work if we’re trying to be someone else. You know the whole context of coaching is helping someone become their best self, not helping someone become a miniature version of you or their father or their mother or their sibling or their boss or whoever else. It’s the best version of them. But as you look at these excuses, it’s not there is it. They’re not trying to be them or these wouldn’t be the excuses. It’d be something different. So I want to walk you through it, just thought process wise, and then I’m going to walk you through an actual exercise that that I’ve found very helpful. Maybe it won’t fit for you, but we want to focus on the who first and the what later.

You see what I’m saying here, what we’re trying to identify is who is the person I want to become, and then once we’re clear about that, then and only then do we identify the goals and the action plans that spin off of that. So it’s vision, goals, action. Too often when we talk about New Year’s resolutions or any goals, you’re doing this throughout the year with your clients. With any goal we identify the action first. Ok, I’m going to do this. That’s my goal. Well wait, wait a minute. Why don’t we figure out who we are and who we want to be and who we want to become? And then set goals based on that in that context, and then identify the actions that help us meet those goals. Different concept, isn’t it? The whole concept of vision that’s not new. That’s not a bad thing. That’s been around for forever.

I mean take King Solomon. Proverbs says, where there is no vision, the people perish. The Journal of Vocational Behavior in 2013 studies by Duffy and Dick Dak reference 40 recent research articles on the importance of purpose, calling, and connection to performance and well being. Let me say that again, 40 recent research articles on the importance of purpose, calling, and the connection to performance and well being. If you want to help your clients become the best version of themselves, achieve those goals both in terms of performance and their own well being you’ve got to start with purpose or vision or calling. That’s driver number one. But somehow we miss that. So let me just walk you through some steps and you may want to do this personally as a starting point and then once you become familiar with them and see the value in your life, then maybe you want to utilize it with your clients. So first step is look back, where have you been? There’s a reason why the windshield is notably larger than the rear view, but it’s also very important not to rip off the rear view mirror.

If we take the time to look back at the past, especially the past year, the lessons we’ve learned, the things we’ve experienced, our struggles, our successes, all of those things play an important role in clarifying the vision going forward. Now, a couple things you might want to do with your clients if you’re doing it around Christmas time, is getting the mental juices flowing around this New Year’s Eve, setting goals, that kind of stuff. One of the fun exercises is to have them identify it like a Christmas ornament. What Christmas ornament would you use to represent your year or what animal or what car or what food did you just come up with? Something that resonates with that person, something they’re into, something that matters to them and ask them to identify a version of that that represents their last year. That kind of takes the pressure off your client.

It helps them. It creates some of those, those mental juices. It gets that creative juice flowing and allows them to think a little differently than having to say what was representative of your year? The picture helps drive that a little bit and then the second thing you may want to consider, and I use something called The F5 and I’ll walk you through those, but there are a number of different ways you can do this and you probably have your own as a coach of how you break down the different areas, but if you walk through these different areas and review what’s happened over the past year in each of these, in our, in my case F5 areas, it can really bring a lot of things to light both in what’s happened and in the person you want to become going forward. So let’s just run through the F5. First of all, the F5, our faith, friends and family and I’ve got a lot of f’s in here so that friends and family is considered one. Fuel and fitness, field of play, and finances.

Most of those are self explanatory, but let me walk you through a couple of them. Faith, straightforward. Friends and family, straightforward. Fuel and fitness, fueling, not eating. What are you fueling for? What are you putting in your body? What is the purpose of that or what have you ignored? Fueling obviously a big topic for for you and your clients. In many cases, fitness, self-explanatory. Field of play. The concept behind field of play is that we choose the field that we play on. In most cases you may be stuck temporarily in a job or hopefully not a hobby for goodness sake, unless it’s based on a financial commitment you made early on, but the field of play primarily is our hobby and our job in the concept is we can choose to walk off of that field in most cases, not all the time, and so considering am I on the right field?

And then finally finances, again, self explanatory. So the concept is you work your way through each one of those in retrospect and think through A who was I in relationship to those five areas and then B what happened in each one of those. The next step is to consider the values that are key in your life. Identifying that deeper why is big, what matters to you, and then who is the person you want to become over the next year, five years, 10 years, what do you want to achieve? Who is the person you want to become? This was the question that I don’t want to say haunted me because it was more of a driver. It was a valuable question. When I decided at age 51 to go back and pursue a PhD, I was at somewhat of a crossroads, not professionally, but on some personal things and I started thinking through, well, okay, I’m 51 now.

Who is the man that I want to be when I’m 70? What kind of impact do I want to have when I’m 70? And the more I pondered that question, thought that through worked it around in my head, the more the PhD made perfect sense. And then I was able to set goals and determine actions, but until I determined, okay, I’m 51 who’s the man I want to be at 60 and 70 and 80, if I’m fortunate enough to be here. Once that was defined, once that was identified clearly, then I could move on and it was powerful. Now that I’m in that process, you remember the why, what drove you out of the gate? So again, the key here, and if you remember nothing else that I share with you today, the key is rather than starting with the what, which is typically the path we take at New Years and frankly with goals all year round, begin with the who do you want to become?

And then that will set up the others. So the next thing I’m going to walk you through is something that I’ve done over the last, what? One, two, three, four, five, six years. I’m working on the seventh year right now. And it’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s difficult, but it makes a difference and this may not fit for you, it may not fit for your clients. You may want to take a little bit different route with this, but I’m going to walk you through the process and then you can adjust it to fit your personality and your style a little bit more. What I’ve done is I’ve tried to come up with a visual, some kind of a picture that represents the WHO and then a little bit of the what. The who is the focus, the what is kind of the secondary piece for the coming year. So right now it’s December 2018. I’m thinking through what, not just what do I want to do in 2019. But first of all, who do I want to be?

And then add in a couple of little what’s along with that. So let me just walk you through this for 2013. I’ve got the pictures in front of me here. And what we’ll try to do is upload these into the transcript so you can see them. If you’re interested, this may not be your thing, but if you’re interested you can take a peek at some of these at the end. Please note these are not the example. I’m certainly not an artist. You will see that very clearly. These are just for me. This isn’t something I’m going to put up on a wall somewhere for other people to see. Well, I guess now I am as I’m saying this, but it’s for me, it’s a driver for Brad. I’m not an artist. I’ve never been an artist. I’m not a graphic designer. That’s not the intention. This is not something for me to show off to someone else.

It’s a reminder to me throughout the year of who do I want to be in this coming year. So the first one that you’ll see is one that might be. It was actually, we had a new little tablet and my daughter was kind of playing with the artwork pieces. We’re driving back on our annual Christmas trip to see family and she’s like, hey, I can draw that up for you, because I was thinking at the time, that was my first year doing it and I share my idea with the family and she’s like, oh, that’s cool daddy. I could draw that up for if you want. I’m like, oh, so see, I didn’t even think of this idea. This is my daughter’s idea. I’m like, Oh yeah, that’d be great. And then I can use that as kind of reminder. And that was the genesis of this whole process.

Treasure This Moment

So the phrase in 2013, that was my phrase and that’s the other thing. You may not want a visual. You may just want a word or a statement or a phrase or something like that. And that’s how I started in 2013. We just, my daughter thankfully turned this into a fun little picture that I’ve kept through now and the phrase was, treasure this moment, optimize the next. Now, I don’t need to go deep with you on all these, but I want to give a little context on a few of them. I’m not good about treasuring this moment. I’m working on it. I’m trying, but I felt like in 2013 that was a critical time. Our kids were getting ready to go off to college. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out on that last window of opportunity and so that concept of treasuring this moment but not sitting around and going, Oh yeah, I’m just going to twiddle my thumbs and treasure.

I still wanted to work towards optimizing the next. So it was this dual concept of treasure this moment optimize the next in 2014. The basic concept and you’ll see in the picture I was feeling like we’re at a place, a crossroads in our business, in our lives where things weren’t going like I wanted them to and that is when I wanted to focus on the many blessings that I was grateful for. And so the theme for that year was to actively nurture his blessings. Faith is a big thing for me. It may not be for you and that’s okay. It’s a big thing for me and so this concept of being grateful in the midst of things, not going the way that frankly I would have chosen for them to go. I wanted to have my theme, the person I wanted to be that coming year was someone who is grateful for the many, many incredible blessings in my life.

Actively Nurture His Blessings

In 2016, or 2015, I’m sorry, that was the year that I had an opportunity to do the race across America, qualify for the Hawaiian Ironman world championship and try to run a sub three hour marathon a couple of weeks later, all within a few month period. And so that was a year where I knew I needed to literally be all in. And that’s what the visual is, it’s kind of cool it. Well obviously I think that because I came up with it for me. But it’s a beautiful picture of a field and a canvas with a butterfly sitting on it and the words ALL IN! And the reason that visual meant so much is the canvas was blank. I was all in, but I didn’t know what was gonna happen that year. I had no idea. So it was like this year of possibility and potential and this butterfly, this concept of hope and potential and, and all these things coming together.

All In!

So anyway, that was 2015. And 2016, I turned 50 years old and for many people they don’t like those transitions. For me it was for some reason an exciting year, something that I had looked forward to for a long time. It felt like it was the second half of life if you will. And so you can see the visual, but it incorporates the F5. It incorporates this gift and kind of presents this concept of are you going to open the gift, Brad? Are you going to open the gift? You have so many things to be thankful for, to be grateful for. Are they just going to sit there because it’s not really a gift until it gets opened. So that was 2015, 2016 felt guys running a thousand miles an hour coming into that year and yet I wasn’t running very well and so those two concepts came together and created my theme for that year, of run faster, live slower. Run faster, live slower, and you can see it a little visuals that go with that.

Now?Run Faster. Live Slower.

And that was, that was really a powerful one for me that year. It really drove a lot of things in my life in terms of the way I would pause. The visual is actually a musical symbol for a pause and I remember I have this terrible habit. I think I’m a little bit better at it now. Terrible habit of when I’m talking with somebody and they go on a long time, I kinda like am done. Like I’m ready to move on and I remember that year and it stuck with me since then. Hopefully I’m better at it, but it stuck with me of that symbol that visual would come to mind. So when I’d have that feeling of which you just get on with it. Instead, that visual would come to mind. I’d be like, pause, Brad, pause. And that’s the idea of the visual. It helps you go through that process.

Finally in 2018, the visual that you’ll see is a big heart, a plus one and an open eye. And in this, the main one I’ll share with you here is the big heart. Just again coming back to that grateful concept, I have so much to be thankful for. I complained far more than I should and I wanted to remember, oh man, your heart is full. Enjoy these great blessings. And then the open eye, it’s kind of a cool visual it’s a zipper with an eye behind it. Looking out and just looking for opportunities that we presented that maybe I hadn’t noticed because I was moving too fast before. So anyway, you don’t have to do the pictures. That works well for me. It’s an ongoing reminder. It’s something that I can, you know, put on my phone part of the year. It’s something that I can have by my desk. Just something to go through that you may want a word or phrase, but the goal, whether for you or your clients, is to identify something that helps guide me toward the person I’m wanting to be and then and then we get to the goals and then we get to the action plan, but do you see the difference?

See The Difference

It’s massive. All of those excuses go away that I lead with today because we first said, this is who I’m going to be. This is the man, this is the woman I want to be, and now that I’m clear with that, what goal does that lead to? We’ll upload these into the transcripts. You can see them and as I said before, these aren’t the example, but they may give you some, some food for thought, some things to think about and feel free to share them as appropriate. We’d love to see your examples. If this is something that resonates with you and you put something together, upload it on the facebook page. That’d be awesome. Just go to the Catalyst Coaching Institute facebook page and upload it or email them to us. Again, we love hearing from all of you, whether it’s an idea for the podcast, future topic whether it’s a question about your career, it’s just fun.

It’s just nice to know people are out there. Sometimes you feel like you’re talking into a vacuum with these things, so it’s really good to hear from you and I appreciate those of you who have reached out to us in the past and keep that coming. The email for that, if you don’t have it as and you can ask questions, make suggestions, whatever it might be. The transcript will eventually upload at the website, so, and if you just go to the resources tab, it’ll be listed in there with a podcast information. One other thing we just started, we had so many people asking us about books, what books do we need, what books should we be reading? And so rather than continually emailing these lists and that kind of thing, we just started up a spot on the website where we’ve listed basically three different categories of books.

One is for business, if you’re trying to build your coaching business, won’t apply to a lot of you, but many of you are trying to do that. There are a bunch of books that we found helpful as a group. We also have some that are general health and wellness and then we’ve got some that are specific to coaching. So if you’re looking for something to read, that might be a good spot to take a peek and, uh, hopefully those are helpful. With that, let’s go ahead and bring this to a close. Thanks as always for sharing the word for getting the news out about the podcast. I have no idea how all of you find us, but we really appreciate it. Until next time, let’s all keep working towards better than yesterday for ourselves and our clients. Make it a great rest of the day, and I’ll look forward to speaking with you soon on the next episode of the Catalyst Health and Wellness Coaching podcast.