When some people reach their goal and “arrive”, they tend to fall back and say “I’ve made it!” and then not stay on top of the behaviors that got them there in the first place. Comfortable in your corner office, you lose sight of the numbers. Instead of delegating, you abdicate. You skip the gym and have dessert a little more often because you’re at your target weight! You made it – don’t have to do all that stuff anymore. Or do you?
I was with a new client the other day and he said something that made me think of this, the Arrival Syndrome. The client played a sport and a professional team accepted him. He recounted how it was really important to him to get to this level, how he worked his butt off. He told me of his daily workouts and practice drills that lasted for hours. Yet something happened when he got on the team. And in just one single sentence, “I haven’t been training as hard since I made the team, though,” I knew he had caught it. Arrival Syndrome.
When you have a goal that seems like a massive personal challenge and you work really hard to get there, once you arrive, you can become a total slacker if you’re not careful. Some people mistake the celebration for a job well done as a sign that the job is done and the work is done. The discipline that they once had to become great is replaced by daily rewards for the accomplishment and self-sacrifice.
But have you really arrived? Or did you just get to one more step in your personal journey of success? Do you actually have more in you? Do you have more places to go and more things to do? This is why I advocate replacing your regular SMART goals with FLOW goals. You’ll never have to worry about Arrival Syndrome with a FLOW goal.
Let’s look at what you can do to make sure the arrival bug doesn’t hit you:
✔️Do enjoy the journey and the destination.
✔️Always have a FLOW goal that keeps you focused on what else you can become.
✔️Don’t become self-obsessed with accomplishment just for the sake of it. Have a purpose or mission.
✔️Don’t play the “I’ll be happy when game” either. Be happy now. Be happy for no reason at all.
Avoid the Arrival Syndrome and continue your self-development! You’re a living, breathing human being and you were destined to grow!
STOP! Don’t even think about setting a goal or making a silly New Year’s resolution until you read this!
Some people make a big mistake in setting goals that aren’t related to the roles they have in their lives. Roles? Yes, the different hats you wear throughout your day, week and month, are the roles you have.
For example, here is a list of my roles:
Individual – my first role is “me, myself and I.” This role is about my health, my diet, my exercise and all things that go into making me function on a daily basis. To me, this means bodily function and mental function. I look out for me first because without “me” I can’t perform any other activities in any other roles. If I’m sick or in pain, everything else gets messed up. This is the whole concept of “put your mask on first before helping others.” They tell you in the plane that you’re no good to anyone else if you aren’t breathing, so if it’s good enough when you fly, it’s good enough when you’re on the ground too.
Entrepreneur – I run my own business. It takes up a lot of my time and so it’s my next most important role. The majority of my day is spent on this role and thankfully for me, it is also my passion so “work” isn’t really work for me. Most people have an element of “work” for one of their roles. You may not get paid for your work but it’s still work. You might be the “head of household” or “taxi driver” or “life planner” or “wonder parent.” It doesn’t matter what word you use, just so it rings true for what your “work” role is.
Spouse – I’m married but I don’t have any children, so I’m just a spouse and my marriage is pretty darn important to me. You might be a spouse as well as a parent. For some people those roles might be combined in their minds; in others, it isn’t. You might be a parent and not a spouse. That’s cool too. Maybe you’re a “partner” instead or a “loved one” or “significant other.” Whatever you want to call it, use what’s right for you.
President – I’m the president of the NLP Association in Singapore. This is my volunteer role. Thankfully it’s like my “work” in that I really enjoy putting on events for the NLP Association and promoting NLP to the community.
Household Manager – I’m in charge of the households and yes I mean plural. We have a house in New Zealand as well as an apartment in Singapore. It’s my job to make sure taxes are paid, mortgages are paid, utilities are paid, etc. There are a lot of things to look after in the running of a household so I take my role pretty seriously.
Family/Friend – because I live far away from my family, my friends are like family to me so this role is combined. For me I want to ensure I keep my relationships strong no matter where in the world people are. Making sure I’m connecting with friends and family, spending time and saying Happy Birthday are all little things I can do in this role.
When I write my goals each year, I make sure I include goals for each of my roles. Some of my roles have multiple goals but each role has at least one goal. This is how I maintain “balance.” It isn’t about balancing time or energy but remembering that I have many responsibilities and I need to ensure that I focus on each of them in a timely manner. Some roles take up more time and that’s fine. When the time comes for me to focus on a specific role, I have an outcome that guides my thoughts and actions. This keeps me from mindlessly going through life letting chance be in charge. I don’t want to be unconsciously living the best years of my life so I guide my behavior consciously. Without having goals for each role in my life, I take the risk of letting chance take over.
How about you? What are your roles and goals that will be guiding you in 2017?
It’s that time of year. It’s time for me to sit down and review my year. This is one of the most important things I believe everyone needs to do to clear out the year and start fresh. In fact, I would recommend you do it more than once a year but if you’re just getting started, here are 3 things I would suggest:
1️⃣ What sucked? Yes, that’s right, what sucked about 2016? What went wrong? What went pair-shaped? What mistakes did you make? What did you screw up? What did you completely fail at?
People always ask me, “Why do you start with something so negative?” Because a lot of people are motivated by the bad stuff. Let’s face it, we are motivated when we are flat broke in Baton Rogue waiting for a train, feeling near as faded as our jeans! Song lyrics aside, when we are down and out, when we are at the bottom, we have a tendency to be really motivated to improve. I want to harness that motivation right away. I also want to get it out in the open so we aren’t burying it as if it didn’t happen. It’s about being real with ourselves and being honest. Sometimes we screw up. Sometimes we don’t try hard enough. Okay. Write it down and let’s move on.
2️⃣ What rocked? What went really well in 2016? What went right? What did you accomplish? What was stunning? What did you excel at?
This is much more fun. And yet, when I do this in my Strategic Planning Workshop, this list is WAY SHORTER than the list of stuff that went wrong. Why? Because our brains love holding on to and remembering all the negative junk. And also because when bad stuff happens, it’s emotionally charged in our memories. When good stuff happens, we don’t have the same intensity of emotional charge. Why? Because normal people don’t celebrate their successes like I do. When I found out that the organizers of the NLP Mindfest chose me to kick off the event and put me on the first day, I ran around my house screaming and shouting and doing my happy dance. Later that night I opened a bottle of wine and toasted my success. Most people don’t celebrate like I do. And this is why they don’t remember the good stuff. To help you out, I suggest getting out your calendar and reviewing the year month by month searching for stuff that went right. What trips did you take? What awards did you get? What clients did you land? Did you get a bonus or a raise? Stop saying things like “Yea but my bonus sucked!” If you got a bonus, you’re a great worker so celebrate the fact that you earned a bonus!
3️⃣ What did you learn?
Whether it was from the good stuff or the bad stuff, what did you learn in 2016? And once you discover the things you learned, write down what you are going to DO with that learning next year. What actions will you take (or not take) because of the things you learned from this past year? It doesn’t help just identifying what we learned we must know how we are going to behave differently in the future if the learning is going to stick. It’s just a bunch of data without ACTION.
It’s simple enough – just 3 steps to review your year. Do it on the plane or in the car or take some time out from the holiday festivities. Introverts need an excuse to get away from the family so use this. Extroverts can review their year with their family or with their friends. Make it a party! Whatever works for you is fine. Just make sure you review your year in full. I promise that you’ll feel a sense of relief, like a weights been lifted from your shoulders, when you’re done. And dare I say, you might even feel a little motivated for 2017!
I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile. It’s been at the back of my mind turning over and over. And yesterday I was reminded why I needed to write it today. I’m sitting in a restaurant. I’m waiting for my food to come. There’s a young man sitting next to me and his food has arrived and he begins to eat.
SMACK SMACK SLURP SMACK
This was the sound of him as he chewed his food like a cow, with his mouth open and smacking away at his food. I was disgusted really. My food came and I began to eat but it was too much. I asked to be moved to a different table. The only thing I could think to myself is that I would never hire this person to work for me. It didn’t matter if he was the best person for the job. It didn’t matter if he was super talented in the area that I needed. The fact was that I would never be able to sit down and have a meal with him and I certainly couldn’t put him in front of any of my clients and have a meal.
And here’s where the parenting stuff comes in. I don’t know this guy’s parents. They may have taught him to chew with his mouth closed and maybe they didn’t. My point is that he needed to learn. And it’s our parents that we learn this stuff from.
The power of a good parent can mean the difference between success and failure in life. It can mean the difference between having self confidence and feeling worthless. It can be the difference of being fit and healthy or an overweight slob.
Here are some things I remember my parents telling me repeatedly that I used to hate and yet, they served a larger purpose than I realized:
- Sit up straight! Pretty much nightly at the dinner table I was told to sit up straight. Yes, it was good manners but it was more than that really. By forcing our bodies to sit up straight we develop the necessary abdominal and back muscles to hold ourselves upright. We look more confident when we sit up straight too. Even now, when I catch myself slumping down, the little voice in the back of my head says, “Sit up straight!”
- Eat your vegetables! Again, another nightly ritual at the dinner table was constant reminders about eating my vegetables. I hated lima beans (and still do) so those were the ones that sat on the plate the longest. And in my family, we didn’t leave the table until the vegetables were gone! Vegetables provide necessary nutrients to our bodies and chewing them (instead of taking a vitamin pill) is essential to our digestive process. Our parents were trying to make us healthy forcing us to eat those damn lima beans and other veggies. They weren’t trying to torture us. I spoke to a friend of mine the other day who sat with her son for 2 hours at the dinner table waiting for him to finish his vegetables. He finally did. But she stayed there and waited until he ate them. That’s the power of good parenting!
- Say please/thank you! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Thank you” or “Please” for another adult when they have asked for something or been given something. Where have our manners gone? My parents would let me have it if I didn’t say “please” and “thank you”, especially to other adults. I remember taking my first plane trip and people coming up to my parents while we were disembarking saying, “Your children are so well behaved!” All we did was say, “please” and “thank you.” Our parents were teaching us gratitude and humility. It’s simple stuff that people focus on these days (gratitude journals) and yet, if we just remember what our parents taught us, we would already have this mastered. The other cool thing that saying “please” and “thank you” teaches us is to ask for what we want and to speak up when we want something. I remember ordering in restaurants and having to speak up loud and clear to the waitress about what I want (or didn’t want- “No lima beans, please!”)
I was speaking to a coaching client the other day and he said that he wanted to be the cool parent that didn’t force their children to eat vegetables. In fact he didn’t even like to eat them. And yet, how does this serve the child? Is it okay for the child to grow up and not know how to provide their bodies with proper nutrition? Is the school meant to teach them that? I believe it’s the parent’s job and it’s also the parent’s job to be the role model. It’s great that you want to be a cool parent but pick your coolness somewhere else! The power of a good parent is life-long. Keep your children out of my office and teach them the necessary skills to be able to function as an adult – self discipline, confidence and the ability to connect with others (while they eat their vegetables!).
When I talk to people who live in the corporate world, I hear a lot about 360 evaluations. I know they serve a purpose but here’s why I don’t like them:
Most people I coach have an issue spending too much time being concerned about what other people think of them. I know this isn’t a problem for everyone but for some of my clients, it’s a problem. I have clients who worry about what other people think about them no matter if it’s the boss, their colleagues, the neighbor, the housekeeper, or strangers at the bus stop. They worry about the kind of car they drive. “Does it look too expensive?” or “Does it look too cheap?” They worry about the clothes they wear. “Do I look professional?” or “Does this make me look to needy?” They worry about what they’ve said or didn’t say. “Maybe I should call and explain…” People with this problem don’t have the ability to measure themselves from an internal perspective. And for some people, 360 evaluations are a way for them to stay stuck in this programming of never-ending external criticism of themselves. If these type of people know they will be measured by a 360 evaluation, their focus will be on pleasing those around them instead of doing a good job. They will go for scoring “points” with people instead of looking at the overall business and doing the best they can. So for some people a 360 evaluation is counter productive. For people who spend too much time focusing on external validations, their coach or HR professional should be helping them focus on their internal calibration of their strengths, work progress, and team communication.
It goes against my rule of providing timely feedback. As an adult, I’m expecting that if someone has a problem with me or something I’ve done, they tell me, face-to-face, and in a timely manner. I say “as an adult” as I expect people with a certain amount of maturity to be able to deliver this type of message with some sort of level of competence. Unfortunately, there are passive aggressive people everywhere and there are those who haven’t quite reached the maturity level of an adult no matter what their birth date says. 360 evaluations are a perfect feeding ground for passive aggressive people. They can sit on their comments, feedback or criticisms for a whole year and unleash them in an anonymous form. How does this help the person getting the evaluation? Any ability to rectify the behavior or issue has already long past. I think it’s pointless. For people who have passive aggressive tendencies, I believe they should spend some time learning how to give feedback when they have a problem. I do this with my coaching clients as well as in my All about Communication Course.
So for the people getting the evaluation and people who are giving the evaluation there are certain types of personalities that mess up the overall purpose of a 360 evaluation. As I’ve said before, build better individuals to build better companies. To do this, you can’t use one single method for everyone in an organization. It just won’t work.
On the last day of my NLP Practitioner Certification Course, my participants read each other trance scripts which they prepared during our work on conversational hypnosis. And after they were done, they proclaimed it was the best exercise they had done with the most impact.
Here’s how to create your own:
Start with a goal. What do you want to achieve in a few months time? Make sure you SPECIFY your goal.
S – Make it sensory specific – what will you see, hear, feel when you’re achieving your goal?
P – Make it positive – write what you want rather than what you don’t want or what you’re trying to avoid.
E – Make it ecological – does your goal effect anyone else? Does it have any impact on your environment (people, places, things)
C – Make your goal choice increasing – there are more options for you when you achieve your goal. What else can happen when you achieve this?
I – Make it initiated by you – your goal needs to be about you and not about other people.
F – Make sure you know the first step you can take to start moving toward your outcome.
Y – And lastly, you need to identify your resources – ones you have and ones you need to achieve your goal.
Also, you’ll want to determine some milestones or steps in your goal. These are things you can say to yourself that will guide you from one step to another to another and so on until you reach your goal. You don’t start at the bottom of the mountain and then suddenly appear at the top. There are steps you must take, levels you must achieve before you get to the summit.
Next, you’ll need to create a few minutes of relaxation for yourself by writing an induction. In NLP, we use certain phrases and words and ways of speaking to allow someone else to relax. We are basically inducing a relaxed state. What would you say to yourself to create feelings of being relaxed? Here are some ideas to get you started:
“As you sit there, with your eyes closed, listening to the sound of my voice, breathing as you do, in and out, you’ll find that you’re relaxing already.”
“You can notice any tension in your body start to slip away as you bring your focus to the top of your head and like a wave of tranquility, the relaxation flows from your head down your head through your neck, relaxing each muscle along the way…”
“Allow the conscious mind to wander as it does your unconscious mind listens to the rhythmic beating of your heart as you relax even more deeply now.”
You’ll need about 2-3 minutes of relaxing phrases like these to help you move from a conscious state of awareness (beta brain wave) through a relaxed state of awareness (alpha brain wave) to a meditation or trance level (theta). For some people, an even longer induction is required to calm the mind and body and induce this trance state. The more you use these techniques though, the faster you’ll be able to relax completely.
You’ll also need something to bring you back to conscious awareness at the end of your trance. Here are some ideas:
“As the unconscious mind allows the conscious mind to become more aware of the sounds in the room, the sound of my voice, the sensations in an arm or a leg…”
“A variety of thoughts and feelings drift through the mind while some are left behind to be remembered later on.”
“The mind drifts up to conscious awareness and the eyes are allowed to open now.”
Your reorientation to wakeful awareness should also be around 2-3 minutes.
Lastly, you’ll want to create a metaphorical story about achieving a task like the one you have set for yourself. You can use fairy tales, stories from your culture, morals, or just something you make up. The idea is that the character in the story goes on a similar journey and is successful in obtaining his/her goal (you can even use an animal as the main character). This story should be about 4-6 minutes long.
Now, all you need to do is draft the trance script for yourself in this order:
- Steps to goal and achieving the goal – remember to include all the elements of the SPECIFY model
Now, record your script on your phone or other device so you can listen to it. Find a quiet place to listen to your trance and just relax!
Each and every day, we have choices, A LOT of CHOICES. We have choices on what time we get up, what we eat, what we wear, what to work on and how hard to work on it. Basically we have choices on what we do and say from the moment we open our eyes to the moment we go to sleep.
I can already hear some of you saying that some of these choices aren’t actually choices. Some of you believe that these choices are dictated by others. And that’s fine. You live in that world and I’ll live in mine.
In my world, all of my choices are mine. Some choices may be easier than others but they are all mine. For example, I have a choice not to stop at the red light when I’m riding my motorcycle around town. There are consequences in making that choice – I may die, I may get a ticket or lose my license. But I have the choice to make. And the choice is easy. In fact, I don’t even think about that choice. It’s unconscious.
Then there are choices that aren’t so easy and aren’t so unconscious. If you think about these choices, the ones where the consequences are pretty negative for not taking action (doing your taxes, going to work, paying your bills, etc.), sometimes we may feel lousy about these choices. For example, we “have to” go to work. It doesn’t sound like there’s much choice. There is and yet, the consequences for not going to work may be greater than we are willing to accept. So it seems like there isn’t much choice. How do we make the choice neutral or maybe even positive when there doesn’t seem to be a choice or the choice makes us feel bad?
We connect the choice to a goal or value we have that does make us feel good.
Imagine if you made every choice based on your goals. Imagine how powerful you would be in your own personal mastery if each and every decision you made was directed toward taking steps that brought you one step closer to obtaining your personal goals. Imagine doing this consciously. How amazing would that be? Imagine how great that would feel each day.
You see, with every choice you make you are also making a choice to sacrifice other options. Making the choice to turn off your phone and be present for your family means that you are sacrificing the emails, texts, and alerts to other stuff happening. It’s a conscious choice. Just as it’s a choice to respond to each email, text, and alert that pings on your phone while your family is trying to connect with you. You’re making a choice to connect with your phone and sacrificing your family. It’s a choice. Which one brings you closer to your goals? Which one brings you closer to personal mastery?
Making the choice to go to work may not be about work at all, it may be about having a lifestyle that you love. It may be about doing something so well that you feel engaged and alive even if your boss doesn’t notice you exist. Maybe it’s just about getting moving in a direction that takes you one step further to a bigger goal, even if this job isn’t the end goal itself.
Another obstacle you may face is having goals that conflict. Wanting to get ahead and have a certain lifestyle means you want to choose paying attention to the alerts from your phone. Wanting to be a good parent or spouse means that you want to be present for these important people in your life. Which do you choose? This is the natural consequence of not ensuring your goals are ecological and adhering to your top values. When you sit down with a coach and go through your goals and values, you’ll understand how you can reach both goals in a way that doesn’t sacrifice the other. Without having this personal alignment on what you want to achieve and what’s important to you, the decisions you make will continue to cause you grief. Alignment is key.
And once your goals and values are aligned, each decision you make can be based on what brings you closer to those goals in all areas of your life. There may still be tough decisions to make. That’s life. Make the decision, evaluate the result and learn from your mistakes. That’s life as Todd Duncan says, “Learn, implement, fail and evaluate.”
The choice is yours.