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Episode 89: Stretch Goals

Do you want to develop courage, confidence, persistence, agility, strategic thinking and self-belief? Then you might just need to set a stretch goal.

Imagine if you could achieve a huge goal, something bigger than ever you thought you were capable of?

How much self-belief would you have if you could do that?

What else would be possible?

And how sweet would it be to overcome your fears and overwhelm, so you could bask in the glow of achievement?

It would be amazing.

Many more doors would open for you, and the world would have many more possibilities because you’d taken a leap of faith, and grown as a person along the way.

Would it be an easy process to get there?

Probably not.

It would be a baptism of fire – a situation where you must immediately cope with difficulties and obstacles.

But you would be a stronger, better person for it, more confident, accomplished and ready to tackle the next thing.

Welcome to stretch goals – the topic of today’s episode – guaranteed to supercharge your business and your life.

What is a Stretch Goal?

According to Harvard Business Review, a stretch goal is a blend of extreme difficulty and extreme novelty.

Extreme difficulty means going beyond your current capability and performance.

For you, this could mean going all out to lose 15kg, or holding a big marketing event to attract 100 people to your business, or just saving an extra $300 this month.

Extreme novelty means working differently, creatively, following new paths or approaches never tried before.

For you, this could mean trying a totally new exercise approach, or making a complete change in your business model.

Why Set A Stretch Goal?

You’re probably thinking that the whole stretch goal idea sounds a bit hard, a bit crazy and a bit scary. It sounds like a risk.

And it is ALL those things.

BUT the results you get from a stretch goal are worth it:

  • courage
  • determination
  • agility
  • the ability to manage risks, and
  • self-belief.

So in summary, a stretch goal is a hard goal that pushes you outside your comfort zone so you can truly discover what you’re capable of.

Top performers know that failure is part of the process so more than anything, stretch goals are an exercise in developing self-belief, acceptance and persistence by achieving bigger things than you thought were possible.

A Crazy Example (Do Not Try This At Home)

In 1997, my then-boyfriend, an avid motorbike rider, suggested that we do a trip across Australia from Perth Western Australia to Cairns Queensland through the middle of the country on dirt and sealed highways. 

It seemed like a great idea – but I had never ridden a motorbike before in my life.

This was going to be a monumental stretch goal that would shape my beliefs, attitudes and the course of my life going forward.

At the time, I had to take stock and think seriously about whether I could actually do this. Whether I had the resources within me to be able to take on such a big crazy goal.

I had to consider the time it would take me to learn to ride a bike. What would it cost me to buy a motorbike, lessons and to get my license and riding gear.

Then of course there was the whole rest of the trip to plan, like where the fuel stops were, how to modify the motorbikes to carry enough fuel between the fuel stops, how physically strong I’d need to be to ride the 10,000km and endure the harsh conditions of the desert. 

We had to think about safety check ins, sleeping arrangements, dried food and water given the limited carrying capacity of our motorbikes. 

I figured that between us we had what it took to do this trip and to plan it really well, so I said yes, let’s do it. And we developed and rolled out our travel plan over a 12 month period.

This was going to be a monumental stretch goal that would shape my beliefs, attitudes and the course of my life going forward.

In the weeks leading up to the trip people told me I was crazy. They laughed at me. They said things like, ‘you’ll never do that’ and ‘you’ll kill yourself’ and ‘who do you think you are?’

I didn’t dare tell my parents I was going because they would have been horrified. 

After all, I was 26 years old and was about to ride my own small off road motorbike – a Yamaha XT-250 – across the desert with no off road experience and only three months of lessons, license and riding time.

But I forged on. I created a 6-week gym training program for myself to build up some strength for the long haul ahead and I added 2kg of muscle to my skinny little frame. I felt strong, and physically and mentally ready.

A week before we left, I came down with a really terrible flu and was bedridden with a chesty, green-phlegmy cough in the week prior to our departure. I was SO sick. I had barely any energy and I lost all of the gains that I’d made in the gym. 

But we delayed our departure by a week, had a farewell party, and decided to go ahead anyway. 

The first 2 days it rained solidly and we made it on the sealed roads via Merredin and Kalgoorlie to Laverton where we holed up for a day and waited for the rain to pass.  

But when the rain showed no signs of letting up, we decided to hit the dirt highway so we could get ahead of the front. 

That meant riding a bike with 3 months of experience under my belt, heading into slippery mud holes, slimy sliding muddy roads, rocky hills, deep sand river beds  and of course coping with any cows, camels, kangaroos, wild horses and other wildlife sprinting across the road. 

There was not a soul in sight for most of the ride, and being the middle of winter in Australia it was freezing cold at night and crisp and sunny during the day – great for riding but not so good when you have the flu and a fever and a constantly runny nose. 

We wore balaclavas during the day under our helmets to keep warm and my balaclava was stuck to my top lip because of my runny nose. 

As you can imagine, I felt miserable and like giving up. I spent the first few days crying, sending daggers at the back of my boyfriend’s head, realising that there was no way out and I had to keep going. 

It felt bloody awful and terrifying. I was riding at about 40 km per hour while my boyfriend rode on ahead then impatiently waiting for me to catch up. 

On about day 6 of the trip something interesting happened. We were riding through the desert near Peagull Caves in WA, and up ahead on the dirt road I could see this little shape.

As we drew closer, I realised it was an Italian guy riding a little Vespa with a small suitcase and a hat box (of all things!). He was smoking a cigar, grinning broadly, and pottering along at 30 km per hour. I passed this guy and waved, then suddenly I felt like the queen of the world because finally there was somebody going slower than me on a smaller bike and he was enjoying himself.

You would not believe how good I felt in that moment. It was a huge lesson – that I could actually enjoy this journey and make the most of it. I didn’t have to be the fastest or best rider, I could simply ride, and be happy for being here and doing this huge feat.

Then I started to gain more confidence in my riding and although I was still to be sick with the flu for another six weeks, I really made progress. I felt like I was accomplishing something.

Then after a couple of nights’ stopover at Ayers Rock and Alice Springs, we hit the dirt again, and one of the most rugged tracks in the Northern Territory desert called the Cattle Water Pass. 

My boyfriend convinced me it was a 60 km shortcut but it ended up being one of the most hectic, eroded, difficult, windy tracks I could have ever imagined (he did apologise for taking me down it later on). The upshot is I ended up nearly falling off my bike and collapsing in exhaustion covered in sweat and feeling defeated. 

I was in the middle of Australia and the only thing I could do was to keep riding.

We ended that day at the Urandangi Roadhouse and all I could see ahead was a dusty road with rocks and big bulldust holes that could easily cause an accident. Bulldust holes look like the normal road, but they are actually gaping holes that can be up to a couple of metres wide and maybe half a metre deep, filled with very fine dried silt.

So on the surface, they look like road, but when you ride a motorbike through them at 70km/hour, your front wheel plunges in and you go flying over the front. Which is NOT what you want to do in the remote central desert.

I was terrified of the road ahead, so I asked every person I saw at the pub – both of them – what the conditions were like. 

The first guy said “it’s a great road, you could drive a regular 2WD car on it, you’ll be fine”. Phew, what a relief!

But then the next guy said “it’s the worst road I’ve ever been on it’s full of bulldust holes and you’re at high risk of a serious crash – it’s not safe to drive on”. 

It was at that point that I realised that nobody could predict what the road ahead would be like. Nobody could guarantee me that I would be safe. I had to just get on that road and ride it; to make my own decisions about how to ride, and how I was going to talk to myself about that journey (mostly, I prayed). 

But, isn’t that a metaphor for life? 

The trip got easier from then on. We made it to Cairns, stayed a few weeks and by the time it came to do the journey home I was a confident and competent rider and I was riding at 80 km per hour off-road and was able to handle all different sorts of terrain with confidence.

What Stretch Goals Create

I mentioned that that trip was a defining moment for me.

At the time, I felt like I was the queen of the world. I had a huge sense of accomplishment and achievement. I had so much more self-belief. 

I knew that if I persisted I could get through anything, even when it seemed there was no way out.

That trip helped me to develop character strengths and skills that I would not have had otherwise.

And in the years after that, I have used those strengths, skills and that self-belief to start businesses, to change careers, to move interstate, backing myself the whole way.

Why was I able to do these things? 

Because I knew that I could make them work. I had proof. And without that baptism of fire, I might never have achieved everything I have so far in my life.

That, my friends, is what stretch goals can create. 

For me, that was a stretch goal worth pursuing.

Summary

Yes, the whole stretch goal idea is a bit hard, crazy and scary. 

It involves getting out of your comfort zone to tackle something huge – something that seems impossible – knowing that you could fail along the way.

Some people will tell you it’s easy, others will tell you it’s hard. In the end you’ve just got to back yourself. 

Is it worth it?

You will have to decide for yourself.

But if you want to grow as a person, and to develop more courage, determination, persistence, agility, strategic thinking and self-belief, I highly recommend setting yourself a stretch goal.

It will totally change your life.

If you want to study stretch goals with me, jump on into my monthly membership at https://www.melaniejwhite.com/habitology.

Ready to set a stretch goal?

It’s a great way to grow as a person, and to develop more courage, persistence, and self-belief! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 58: Removing Motivation Blocks

It’s all well and good to think about creating motivation. But what happens when something unexpected blocks your motivation?

It’s all well and good to just do it and to have a plan to take action, but at some point we get blindsided by the facts of life.

Things happen that disrupt our thoughts, our intentions, and our mood. So we need to be able to pull ourselves back on track quickly and easily. We need to be able to remove the unexpected motivation blocks that come up. 

That’s what this episode is all about.

No matter what your intentions sometimes you hit a slump.

Usually it’s because of external forces or situations.

But it can also be your own thinking patterns that trip you up.

Thought-Based Obstacles

For example, maybe there is some event coming up that is a block in your mind, as in you can’t move forward until that thing has happened. 

This block has come up for several of my clients. 

I remember one business strategy session that I did and the person who purchased that session was not ready to take any action or even to plan.

They were in a job and they felt that it would be morally wrong to do any planning at all or even any market research into their idea until they had spoken to the current employer about what they intended to do. 

And that was a scary conversation that they were afraid of having. So we could achieve plotting the later action steps, but that was it, because there was this block that had to be removed before the person could find the motivation to take action.

I’ve heard many versions of this for around weight loss too. 

There is always a holiday coming up or the wedding coming up for a job change coming up or some other thing that prevents somebody from “starting now.”

Usually it’s because of external forces or situations, but it can also be your own thinking patterns that trip you up. 

I call these things “just-ifications”. As in:

I just need to have this conversation. 

I just need to take the holiday. 

I just need to get past the wedding. 

I just need to get ready. I’m not ready yet.

The word ‘just’ becomes an excuse for not taking action.

And there goes your motivation trickling down the drain again.

Getting Back On the Horse

If we slow down for a moment we can see what the reality is. Life is full of obstacles and despite them, we can take action.

We don’t need to feel ready, we don’t need to have a clear run, we don’t need to get rid of clutter, although all of those things can help. 

But they are actually all just mental constructs. 

The fact is, there is often nothing physical that stops us from taking continuous and deliberate action – which is the secret sauce for creating motivation.

So then the question becomes how do you get out of your head and into action? 

How do you remove motivation blocks in all shapes and forms?

I want to talk about five useful tools that you can use to switch your brain into a different state.

Five Tools For Creating Motivation

Tool #1 is from Amy Cuddy – power poses.

This one is great if you are feeling a bit fearful or lacking confidence in yourself.

It works on the principle that your physiology – that is, your body and it’s systems – is directly linked to your emotional state.

They are interconnected. Our bodies change our minds. So the most powerful way to change your state, using your physical body, is to adopt a ‘power pose’ for 2 minutes.

Why two minutes? Because research from the Association of Psychological Science shows how power poses change your hormones and therefore your state in JUST 2 minutes.

Powerful postures are legs apart with feet facing forward, hands on hips or arms up and out, standing up straight.

A yoga class could provide an opportunity to practice this.

Tool #2 is from Tony Robbins – creating your state

This one is a daily ritual you can perform as a means of building resilience and motivation, or as a mental tool that you can use to get into the right mindset for taking action.

Practicing mindfulness meditation, talking to yourself with positive language about the positive outcomes you want, and visualising them, are all tools that you can use to create a more positive, can-do state of mind.

There are many versions of this.

If you know your Tendency, from Gretchen Rubin’s quiz, then certain rituals might work better for you than others.

Questioners might do well to bring curiosity to their motivation funk and query it from that perspective.

Obligers might get out of their motivation funk by thinking about how they could help others, or how their taking action might benefit others.

Upholders might get out of their motivation funk by talking to themselves about re-writing and tackling their to-do list.

Rebels might feel justified in their lack of motivation. It can be harder for a rebel to break free. But what often works is to ask yourself – what’s in this for me?  What am I getting out of being unmotivated, and what would I rather have instead?

Tool #3 is from Mel Robbins – it’s the 5-second rule

No, this is not about dropping food on the floor!

This one is great if you’re feeling panicky or anxious, but also when you are stuck in a loop of procrastination which is really just fear in disguise.

On her blog, Mel says “the 5 Second Rule was something that I developed to get myself to take action when I didn’t want to.

I was so busy feeling sorry for myself that something that is so simple became so difficult.”  

She developed the 5-second rule which is simply this – if you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea.

When you feel yourself hesitate before doing something that you know you should do, count 5-4-3-2-1-GO and move towards action.

Tool #4 is specific planning and rehearsal

When you make a specific plan around the thing you’re putting off, you will feel motivated. 

Just making the plan of action feels good. It feels like you’re doing something!

And often the plan helps you to identify the things you’re unsure of or don’t know, so that you can problem solve them and get unstuck.

Even better is rehearsing the steps in your mind. 

First you write your plan. Then you mentally walk through the thing you are demotivated about and visualise yourself doing each step.

This mental rehearsal plugs the steps into your brain as instructions, which helps you to actually do the steps.

Tool #5 is positive language

Building on the previous concepts, the words you use can make things worse or better, easier or harder.

For example:

“I will give it a good go” is stronger and more positive than “I guess I’ll try”.

“I’ll do my best” is more intentional than “I’m not expecting much”.

“I will do whatever it takes” is more powerful than “I’ll see how I’m going after a week or two”.

“I will do this” is more intentional and committed than “I hope I can”.

And “I will eat fresh salads with each meal” is more empowering and positive than “I will restrict carbs and cut calories.”

See how different the former statement is to the latter?

Notice how the stronger language is more motivating?

Right, now it’s time to get motivated! Let’s summarise what we’ve covered today.

Summary

There are plenty of circumstances outside our control, and sometimes they can bring us down. But at the core of it, our thoughts are actually the things that sap our motivation.

There are 5 different tools you can use to remove motivation blocks in under 10 minutes.

  1. Power poses
  2. Create your state via visualisation and meditation 
  3. The 5-second rule
  4. Plan and rehearse the steps
  5. Use positive language

At the core of it, our thoughts are actually the things that sap our motivation.

I hope you find a way to use these tools over the next week or two and find the ones that work best for you.

Better still, be proactive about rewiring your default thinking patterns and make a habit or ritual out of some of these.

If you want to proactively manage your mind, visit www.melaniejwhite.com/habitology to learn about my monthly membership. 

Ready to overcome motivation blocks?

Try these five tools and watch yourself succeed. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Two Secrets to Help You Commit To Your Goals

Commit to Your Goals | Melanie J White
With summer in the air, are you suddenly excited and committed to better eating, exercise and self-care habits?

There’s something so motivating about the warmer weather and sunshine. It helps us commit to the things that we want so badly – to look and feel great.

But for one reason or another, it can become a struggle to maintain in the long term. At some point, the excitement and motivation wanes.

What’s the secret weapon in maintaining good habits, once the initial excitement fades?

I’d like to share one powerful strategy that really works – “connecting your focus to your feelings.” 

Here’s how it works.

Being Open

Deb came to me with concerns about some ongoing health issues: bloating, lethargy, IBS symptoms and other digestive issues.

She knew what to do to fix things and in the past, she’d been a regular exerciser and a healthy eater, feeling fit and energized. But for a myriad of reasons, all of that had fallen by the wayside.

Even thinking of her past success wasn’t enough to help her get started. She was despondent and felt like she could never make the change that she could stick to for the long term!

After some reflection, Deb realised that she really wanted to make it work this time, because making these changes would lead to a happier, better quality life as she got older.

What she did next was what really sealed the deal.

Firstly, she committed to experimenting for just one week. Not one month, or six months, but one simple week. This was a chunk of time she felt confident she could commit to.

Next, she devised some food and exercise experiments for the week.

Experiments help you to avoid that feeling of failure, because you’re just testing to see if something works (or not). There are no expectations (or feelings of perfection) around experiments.

So for that one week, Deb was flexible and experimental with her choice of foods, eating patterns and exercise approach. She was delighted to find a few things that really worked well – that she enjoyed, that fitted with her lifestyle, and that she could confidently commit to in the long term.

Being Mindful

What really made the difference, in fact Deb’s key factor for success, was mindfully observing how her body responded to the experiments. She connected her focus (healthy habits) with her feeling (how her body responded).

When we met again, she was excited about discovering what works, but more so, that she was strongly connected with the consequences of her habits.

On the days she ate right for her body type, she felt comfortable, energized and light – with enough energy for exercise. On the days she ate too much or the wrong foods for her body type, she felt heavy, despondent and limited.

Deb was suddenly aware that simply being mindful of the consequences of her habits – the physical, mental and emotional feelings they created – made it far easier for her to find the motivation for choosing the better option, more regularly.

And as Positive Psychologists say, strong motivators are essential for successfully making long-term change.

Connecting your focus with your feelings is a simple approach and is a core of Ayurveda, which has been around over 5000 years.

Simply being mindful – being in the present and noticing the consequences of your actions in an objective, non-judgmental way – is a powerful secret weapon for long-term change.

What is ONE thing could you pay attention to this week?