A Coaching Power Tool Created by Emanuela Maria Elly Goerick
(Life Coach, SWITZERLAND)
Love is the absence of judgment. Dalai Lama, XIV
How many times did we stop pursuing our goal, because the goal seemed out of reach? We set a high, challenging standard of what we wanted to achieve but we were not able to follow through. The little steps we took just seemed invisible progressions towards our goal and hence they became irrelevant and we stopped taking all the actions that would have led us to meet our goal eventually. Now, we leaned back and indulged in non-action, using some wonderful cognitive dissonance strategies to justify our behavior. The non-action slowly made us feel bad and we lost self-respect for not following through and behaving “weak”. To keep up the momentum, to avoid the non-action trap, and to stay connected and committed to our goal, I am proposing the following steps of my power tool “value progressives high standards”.
Step 1:Practice self-love no matter what
Step 2:Set a SMARTstandard goal, but do not focus on the distance towards the goal, instead focus on every little action taken towards that goal: value progression no matter how small.
Step 3: Celebrate any action taken, ensure to enjoy the action itself, and enhance the flow experience while taking the action
Focusing on actions that we have control over is important. Using the example of a sauna: We can decide to go into the sauna or stay outside. It is under our direct will power control whether we go in or not. Once we are in the sauna, our bodies will sweat. It is an automatic perspiration process, outside of our will control. However, it is a direct result of our decision to go into the sauna. The positive health effects of going into the sauna will depend on how regularly we go and whether our body reacts positively. The health improvement is outside of our direct control. It is a long-term consequence of every decision to go into the sauna and sweat. The regularity of going to the sauna will depend on whether or not we will be able to create an intrinsic enjoyment of the situation. In this example it would seem unreasonable to expect an immediate, visible effect towards our overall goal, but how many times in our lives do we expect an immediate result? Sometimes, focusing on the flow experience of the moment can be the best way to reach the long-term goal. Zooming out of the bigger picture and zooming into the experience could be the best thing to do! The longer-term goal will come automatically, with every little action we encourage ourselves to take.
Another example is the goal of losing weight and becoming fitter. Celebrating every 10 minutes we were able to exercise is better than beating us up for not following through on the rigid weekly sports plan we built. Understanding that every action is an expression of self-love and sometimes practicing self-love can mean not to go running. Self-love an overarching life principle will that support us on our journey towards our goals and “Love is the absence of judgment”, as stated by the XIV. Dalai Lama of Tibet. We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.
Step 1. The daily practice of self-love
Our deepest commitment has to be with ourselves. No fitness goal, no weight loss, or external validation should become more important than loving ourselves. Sometimes, in a caring, encouraging, and empowering environment, we may find out that our goal was not actually created by ourselves. Reframing our perspectives and being in a non-judgmental space, we may find that the goal we aimed for was rooted in our need to seek validation from others, rather than fulfilling our life`s deepest goals and purpose. The practice of self-love will help us to create the right environment for our goals to be self-validating, rather than approval seeking. Practicing self-love is the first step to reaching goals that are inherently and intrinsically ours. The following steps are suggestions on building self-love, taken from Tony Robbins’ guide on how to fall in love with yourself:
Ideas for practicing self-love:
- Be kind to yourself (permit yourself to be human)
- Change your self-talk (consciously into something positive)
- Adjust your physical state (straighten your spine!)
- Surround yourself with people who care about you
- Adopt an abundance mindset (practice gratitude)
- Go off the grid (practice self-reflection)
- Practice self-care
- Have fun (dance and laugh J)
- Do something you’re good at
- Give back (share your gifts with the world)
The daily practice of self-love will help us see that our inner value is not contingent on reaching any particular weight loss goal or getting acknowledgment from any person outside of ourselves. There’s a story about a well-known public speaker who offered a $20 bill to a large crowd:
“Who wants this $20 bill?” he asked. Most of the seminar attendees raised their hands, expressing excitedly that they would want it. “In a moment, I am going to give this twenty-dollar bill to one of you – but first, let me do this.” The man crumpled the $20 bill and asked: “Who still wants this bill?” Hands remained up in the air. “But wait…,” he replied, “what if I do this?” The man dropped the $20 bill on the ground and stumped it with his shoe. He offered it to the crowd again, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?“ Still, the hands went into the air. He proceeded to give the $20 note to someone in the audience and then said: “My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.
The daily practice of self-love will help us create intent, take action, and assume accountability for our life`s goals and purpose. Noting that our worth is not depending on any action, will free us to actually take the actions to reach our goals.
Step 2. Fake it till you make it
The important part of step number 2 is to accept that you do not need to be in the “right” energy or motivation to start acting. Sometimes, our underlying beliefs are not there yet. (Which is why it is so important for a coach to create a trusting space for the client to take action.) Taking action will create energy and further motivation. If we value the progress and are not attached to a high standard goal, we will:
- take small action steps (in a safe space)
- get into a better mood by creating the energy
- create a new experience that challenges our underlying belief
- inspire the motivation to do it again
This iterative motivation process will help us get on the right track to our overarching SMART goal. But, we have to practice self-love along the way.
I would like to share an example from my own personal life, from a time when I experienced a break-up with a wonderful, smart, and kind person in my life. I remember how my heart felt like being squeezed by ice-cold hands. I had constant nausea in my stomach and my head ached from the lack of sleep. The last thing I felt like was to go out and meet people and to enjoy life. And yet, it was the many wonderful friends that insisted on meeting me that made me smile (even if just for 1 minute), who inspired me with their life visions and creative ideas (one of them was becoming a hypnotherapist and coach himself… I learned so much!), and who reminded me every day that life is fun. I did not truly feel like going out during this time and yet it was the little steps I took every day to be open and receptive to the love and care, the attention, and inspiration that came towards me that helped me through this period of life. With every message, every encouragement, and every smile my heart grew more open, the nights became less sleepless and I could sense a feeling of freedom and passion in my life again. The important thing was to allow the inspiration without the need to immediately act on it or expect any results. It was the moment when I started laughing wholeheartedly that I knew I did not need to be in the “right” mood to be impacted by my positive surroundings. It was the decision to go into the sauna, that made me sweat and ultimately brought me back to life.
Step 3. Celebrating the progress
Celebrating the progress – as small as it maybe – is the conscious part of allowing the flow experience. The flow experience is a state of consciousness during which people experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. Allowing ourselves to celebrate any small progress will help to get to that state, because of the positive emotions that are linked to the celebration. These emotions are pride, joy, and satisfaction. When I ran as little as 20 minutes and celebrate myself afterward, I will create a sense of enjoyment next time I start running. The self-acknowledgment that comes with it will help me to experience joy and fulfillment (hence “flow”) every new time that I start running.
Sometimes, I watch joggers running in the park next to my home and I believe I can tell who enjoys the process and who is forcing themselves to do it. From a coaching perspective– which encourages long-term achievements and self-development – I believe it is key to get to a stage of fulfillment and flow, which allows the enjoyment of the process. Once we enjoy the process, we may raise our standards and “challenge ourselves” from a place of self-love and fun.
Again, we take actions that are not yet reflected in our beliefs. We allow ourselves to celebrate the little progress we made, even if an underlying belief is telling us we do not deserve it. As in the famous experiment of the facial feedback theory (were putting a pencil between the lips, made participants feel happier), we take the action and benefit from the physical muscle movements that will automatically feedback into our brain.
The flow experience will support the iterative process described under step 2 and will reconnect to the practice and experience of self-love under step 1. By valuing the progress instead of a high standard, we might get to a level much higher than we expected and feel more connected to our intrinsic life values and goals.
Festinger, L. (1957). A Theory of cognitive dissonance. In: Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press
Drucker, P.F. (1995) People and performance: The best of Peter Drucker on management. Routledge.
Nakamura J., Csikszentmihalyi M. (2014) The Concept of Flow. In: Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology. Springer, Dordrecht
Jung, C. (1955). In: Modern Man in Search of a Soul. Harcourt