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How Not To Set Goals

set goalsIn my last post ‘8 Secrets To The Psychology of Winning’ I talked about experiencing high levels of stress at the beginning of my recent vacation.

It was totally unexpected and I think it was that unexpectedness that made matters worse.

As somebody who has dealt with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) for more than 4 decades I’ve become very adept at forecasting and dealing with it ahead of time.

This time, not so much.

The day after we set sail I logged into the ships Wi-Fi and started to try and download e-mails.

When you work in a corporation any urgent e-mails can be picked up my colleagues, but in my case there is nobody else. If I don’t answer them they don’t get answered.

Where The Hell Are My E-Mails?

As I watched the ‘downloading e-mail’ progress meter on my laptop I realized nothing much was happening.

Certainly no e-mails were arriving even though I apparently had over 100 on the server.

This went on for almost 45 minutes before I noticed that the download speed was hovering between 0 kbs and 300 kbs/sec.

At that rate I would probably have run up an Internet bill more than the cost of the vacation before I had the pleasure of reading about money I’d won, testosterone I needed and a dental plan I could afford.

I shut the laptop and all of a sudden felt really panicky.

  • What if a client needed help with something?
  • What if a potential new client was looking for more information?
  • What if somebody wanted to sign up for Coach the Life Coach?

For the next 24 hours I checked, checked some more and then checked again, but each time got the same result,  a big fat nothing, not one e-mail downloaded.

Caring Is A Good Thing

It’s right and proper that for the most part that we care about others and don’t want to let people down.

That works up to a point, but ceases to be effective if our caring for others means we’re not caring for ourselves.

Sometimes it’s ok to say “Fuck ‘em, they’ll survive without me, this is my time”.

And that’s what I did because not only was I massively reducing my potential for having a great vacation, I was doing the same to Helen by not being present and fretting about something that was totally out of my control.

I did have a couple of further futile attempts, but I was no longer getting irritated or stressed because I had Internet speed that would have been improved by two tin cans and a large length of string.

More importantly, it was no longer impinging on our enjoyment and I was finally able to totally unwind.

It was a wake up call however, one in what seems like a long line of wake up calls, many of which went unanswered in the dim and distant past.

I started to realize that I need to make a few changes and not allow my ability to relax and enjoy life be dictated by my ability to connect and the desire to be as available for others as much as possible.

New Years Resolutions Suck

I’m not a fan of setting New Years Resolutions, largely because in excess of 95% are broken before the clocks have gone forward (made up stat but probably right).

They get set with all good intentions but (usually) without the forethought effective goal setting needs if it’s to be successful.

As a lot of people in self development do these days, I choose a word at the beginning of the year to focus my attention on.

Last year I chose ‘Maximize” because I felt I wasn’t maximizing my abilities and potential enough. Especially when it came to helping other Life Coaches and getting my books (free and paid) into peoples hands.

It worked!

I launched Coach The Life Coach with great success and had over 10,000 downloads of ’70 Amazing Facts About Your Brain’ with another 10,000 copies of my other books being downloaded.

This years word may take even more commitment and dedication if I’m to pull it off.


I have to manage my time very carefully because my energy levels aren’t where they should be, even for an old fart like me.

This has been an issue for me for over a quarter of a century and I’m finally going to stop pissing about with a tweak here and a tweak there.

I’m about to take massive action.

The conventional wisdom is that setting more than one goal/challenge at a time is unwise.

You only have a certain amount of will power, it’s a finite resource, and as such if you are trying to use it on multiple fronts then you will run out really quickly.

But if you read here very often you know I couldn’t give a fuck about conventional wisdom because it’s not always right.

And in any case within certain parameters we’re all different and react differently to different situations and stimuli.

I have done a few challenges of varying lengths over at the A Daring Adventure community (please come and join us if you want free help yourself) most of which I’ve hit, but a couple I missed.

But none will compare to a 90-day challenge I’m starting tomorrow (Wednesday 8th) in an attempt to boost my energy levels and stop blaming a lack of early morning energy on chronic fatigue

That is the diagnosis I got a few years ago and it gave me a great cop out to do nothing, because it wasn’t my fault, it was my DNA that was to blame for me getting stuck to the duvet every morning.

It’s Chronic Fatigue Tim, But Not As We Know It

Fortunately though over the last year or two I’ve started to come to the conclusion that the diagnosis was complete and utter bollocks!

I now believe chronic fatigue is just an easy label doctors threw at me to get me to stop wasting their time.

Note: I do understand chronic fatigue is a very serious illness for some people and I’m not suggesting people with the condition are lazy and unprepared to make massive changes, just that I have been.

In my opinion it has to be connected to diet, exercise, environment, belief system, happiness levels etc.

In other words it has to be connected to things that are in my control.

On the one hand that’s great, but on the other it means I have to do some drastic shit if I’m to test my theory properly.

I cannot dick about like I have done in the past by:

  • Removing gluten, except for the occasional cheeky beer
  • Exercising more, except when I’m really busy of course
  • Eating well, except when I really fancy just a few fries
  • Working on my laptop in bed at midnight even when I’m exhausted.

That isn’t really walking the Life Coaching walk, is it?

I have been talking about this with my wife recently and she is entirely on board. Normally she keeps out of things and just says ‘do what you want to do” but this time she’s even joining me for most of this stuff.

Now not only do I have the good people at the A Daring Adventure community to keep me on track I have a very persistent wife.

That’s the kind of help that makes me totally confident I can do all this.

If you have read this far without nodding off you maybe wondering what the hell it is I’m going to do, so let me tell you.

I must add a caveat that some of these things are too vague to be called goals per se, but who cares? We’re making our own rules up, right?

Eating and Drinking

We have bought this amazing Omega Juicer (al) that we started using before Christmas and love it!

Because I’m already low carb I struggle to know what to have for breakfast and often end up just drinking too much coffee and having nothing.

Now I actually look forward to drinking the vegetable and fruit juices we are preparing so that is one huge hurdle out of the way., but what of the other changes?

  • I said I was low carb, well that is going lower with the total removal of Gluten. I drift off and on with this but I know I’ve never gone 90 days without any whatsoever. I will this time and every label will be examined more thoroughly than a drug smugglers ass (sorry for that rather graphic visual – but you get my drift).
  • No candy, chocolate or chips whatsoever.
  • No soda whatsoever, including the diet variety
  • No beer – even the non-gluten variety
  • No wine, except with an evening meal at weekends
  • No potatoes, milk or cream – cheese is ok for the time being as hard cheese has very low lactose content.

Work And Multimedia

  • No checking e-mails before 9am or after 9pm
  • If I’m sat watching TV or talking with Helen the phone goes on silent and upside down i.e. no checking it!
  • TV in bed aint going to happen at all. Fortunately the football season is over (well not really, but as a Rams fan it is) and this won’t be an issue for me.
  • A trickier issue is not taking my laptop to bed with me in the week. I enjoy having one last trawl around, a read up on the Rams and maybe a quick check of my e-mails. No more, it stays in the main room.

Exercise and Pleasure

A funny thing happened on my vacation that I remember happening last time I went away. I actually bothered to read a novel and really, really enjoyed it!

I used to be a voracious reader in my 20’s and 30’s but now all I ever seem to read are books of psychology, neuroscience, meditation and Life Coaching.

  • During my 90 day trial I’m going to read at least 3 novels (any suggestions?). This may sound lame to people who read a lot, but it’s not an inconsiderable challenge to me and it’s about time I realized that every book doesn’t have to be a learning experience for it to be worth while.
  • My meditation practice dipped massively over the holidays so I’m picking that back up and committing to 6 days per week. I could go for 7, but every now and then I just forget and whereas I’ll be aiming for 7 I’ll commit to 6.
  • The same goes for exercise, I’ve dropped the ball lately and been down to 2 or 3 times per week and I’m going to recommit to doing some form of exercise for at least 30 minutes at least 4 times per week.

Flying In The Face Of Self Development Conventional Wisdom

Nothing I’m doing here is sensible and I’d be a tad edgy if a client attempted it.

Trying to  make so many changes at once has its risks, not least of which is I get totally overwhelmed and drop everything.

But if I don’t try, if I don’t go balls to the wall, how can I be sure conventional wisdom is right?

I’ll be reporting in the Google community and as I say it’s free and I’d love you to join up and set your own challenge for 2014.

I’m going for 90 days, but you can do a week, a month, 100 days or any other length of time you want. They you can report in daily, weekly or again when you see fit and get the support of others.

Resources To Help You Be More Successful In 2014

If you want to  know how to set goals, sign up for my newsletter at the top of the left hand sidebar and you will get sent a comprehensive guide on doing so.

You’ll also get 3 other books on quotes, managing stress and amazing facts about your brain, all of which can help you.

If when you have all the books you want to cut and run and not get my newsletters, that’s 100% cool, just unsubscribe.

You have absolutely NOTHING to lose and potentially a LOT to gain.

What Are Your Thoughts?

As always your thoughts and feedback are most welcome.

  • Are you up for committing in the comments below?
  • Can you offer fellow readers your advice?
  • Have you already set goals for 2014?
  • Do you think England can get past the group stage in Brazil?

One last thing.

Trying and failing isn’t awesome.

But it beats never trying and thus living with regret.

Trust me.

It does.

By a long way.


23 comments to How Not To Set Goals

  • I have a book suggestion for you . . . . although not a novel, it is the funniest book I have ever read: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jennifer Lawson. You can thank me later.

    I’m absolutely committed to making changes this year, but I’m holding off on the details until I being working with you this week. Anticipating this has made me think more seriously about what it is I want. Best of luck, Tim!

  • Good for you Tim. Funny how we can always see who we really are (or aren’t) when we look at the things we do, or don’t do.

    And sometimes it matters less what we get out of the things we do, but who we become in the doing of them. So more power to your elbow my friend.

    I say this to you. You’re awesome.

  • Mog

    two books I highly recommend: Wool, Hugh Howey and Nation, Terry Pratchett (this is not very like his usual stuff btw)

  • AutumnTiger

    I might be edgy if any of these were things you hadn’t tried before, but that isn’t the case. You’ve just never managed to wrap them up into one big package before. And the truth is staring you in the face – you need to commit and you need to simplify. What your rules are doing is the simplification; you are taking away your options to cheat! Looks good to me. Two points to add. The no TV/electronic stimulation thing is good, but a positive commitment to quality sleep is lacking. How about checking out your exposure to blue light, too? Second, why not make some of your activity play rather than gym-rat stuff – maybe some football, throwing hoops or something?

    As for books, I read Steven Erikson and Robert Jordan, which are quite epic. But I did enjoy a cheeky little series by Rachel Aaron based on a character called Eli Monpress. I think he’s the kind of ‘escape artist’ you might like.
    Someone mentioned Terry Pratchett, and I reckon there are a couple of his books you might also like with characters called the Nac Mac Feegle – they’re not at all based on the Scots! Of course, I’m making grand assumptions about what your preferences might be, which in my experience is usually wrong when it comes to people and books.

    Looks like a really exciting challenge; one I feel very akin to having decided against a 100-day challenge myself, except in so far as to check-in for 100 days and report progress on my multiple goals. I reckon there must be something in the air.

    I look forward to following your progress in ADAC.

    p.s. go ‘niners ;-)

    • I’ve no idea what blue light is!

      With regard to the exercise I’m ok with the gym and I do yoga too.

      OMG, I just read the last bit, YOU”RE BANNED ;-)

  • I would also second Terry Pratchett. His Discworld series is great. Also anything by Christopher Moore. Funny guy, great fiction.

    Just wanted to say thanks for dropping by our site and (I hope) having a sense of humor about it. We left you a reply and look forward to your input.

    Cheers to a good 2014 and all that.

  • Lulu Ndlovu

    Hey Tim. My name is Lulu and I’m from South Africa. Just subscribed to your website this morning but from what I’ve read so far I wish I had found out sooner. Noone recommended the site but I got to it quite by accident but am so glad I did. I am very impressed with the challenge you are taking (I’m something of a health freak myself and swear by nutrition,exercise,water,sunshine,temperance,air,rest and of course trust in God. Its called NEWSTART. I’m sure by now you have made your selection of books but I would like to recommend two for the next time you want to add more. The first one is the Bible (it might help to start with Proverbs,Psalms and then the Gospels if you have never read it. Then the other one is called ‘The Great Controversy’ by Ellen G. White. God’s richest blessings and success in all your endeavors.

    • I appreciate you signing up Lulu.

      I’m not likely to read the Bible or anything religious however as organized religion isn’t something I subscribe too, sorry.

  • Thanks for the article Tim. For novels, I’d recommend some Lee Child thrillers. His Jack Reacher character goes it alone against all kinds of hard cases. There’s a motivational edge. If you don’t read a lot of novels, anything by James Patterson is an extremely fast read (but not so motivating). If crime novels aren’t your thing, try Dean Koontz for horror or Haruki Murakami for literary fiction. Best of luck on the resolutions. You can do it.

  • Robert

    I really like J. A. Konrath. He’s a pioneer in self publishing and writes a lot. His blog is great. He writes crime novels as well as sci-fi and horror. His Jack Daniels series is hilarious. You need to check him out-A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. If you don’t like blood and gore, he might not be for you. However, his work on self-publishing and taking on the Big 6 legacy publishers is worth reading.

  • Tim,

    Wow! So much to comment on.

    First, I can totally identify with the vacation panic issue. I used to do that. Until I left my iphone at home, while my husband had his on hand. You’re right. It’s not productive, nor considerate/helpful to the person to whom you’re passing on your anxiety.

    You probably have other posts on how you manage your GAD. I will take a look around your blog. Any other tips you can share would be apprediated. ;)

    Books: I just bought The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and Dear Life by Alice Munro. Two of my favorite writers.

    Kudos to you and your wife on the diet resolution! I have a juicer and am semi-regular about using it. My goals is to do more. Just came across a great resource for healthy recipies that you might appreciate, DeliciouslyElla dot com (also on Twitter @DeliciouslyElla). Also, I have this book, which includes an index of specific juice recipes/ingredients for specific purposes: The Big Book of Juices and Smoothies by Natalie Savona. Love that it’s spiral.

    My “one word” of the year: Commit. This means I am to commit to myself. I am to realize the personal and professional goals I set for myself in 2014.

    Looking forward to tracking progress in the community! This is a great incentive for consultants like me to get/give support.


    • Meditation, meditation, meditation!

      I’m loving juicing except maybe the one I did today when I threw 3 cloves of garlic in. I stink on ice :(

      I have a book on juicing but I really enjoy free styling and dumping stuff in and seeing what happens.

      BTW, thanks for the heads up on the newsletter, school boy error on my part.

  • We should all set goals, without goals we achieve or do very little, our goals should be realistic enough for us to achieve, I think England getting past the group stages is dreaming to big.

  • I used to be a big fan of NY resolutions, Tim, and then I gave them up a few years ago. I too replaced them with a theme for the year.

    This year is focused on productivity (I’ a master procrastinator – aren’t we all?). The biggest thing that’s kept me going is accountability partners. And I chose them wisely – only those that have the same goals as me will hold me accountable (and vice versa) for my intentions.

    And not having accountability partners? Explains why I’ve failed at achieving my goals in the past.

    But not this time!

    Your conviction keeps me going too, Tim.

    - Razwana

  • If you’re a master procrastinator then how about procrastinating on your procrastination?

    Glad I’m helping Razwana!

  • Thanks for the article, Tim. Best of luck with your goals in 2014!