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Creating Successful Leaders

Category Archives: Goals

If you’re like many people I know, you have high expectations for yourself. You are likely more critical of your own mistakes and flaws than those of anyone else. You probably also find yourself wishing you could do more and be more on any given day. You’re constantly raising your personal bar and looking for your next mountain to climb.

Sound familiar?

If so, you just might be an over-achiever and a perfectionist. And that’s fine! There are a lot of us out there. We’re constantly trying to be everything for everyone. But that’s just not possible. And even if we’ve learned how to NOT spread ourselves too thin, there’s still the danger of constantly raising our personal expectations.

How can raising the bar be a bad thing?

On the surface, it’s perfectly fine to regularly raise our personal standards. Companies do it, so why not individuals? As you learn new skills and develop your talents, you’ll naturally start to improve, and when that happens, it’s logical to raise the bar. That’s all well and good—raising your personal bar keeps you constantly learning and improving—but this can turn into a problem if your bar-raising gets out of control.

For one, you might increase your personal expectations so much that they become nearly impossible to obtain. That, or you might find yourself toiling for extra hours or taking on more and more work to achieve your new standards. There’s a difference between a healthy challenge and a crushing workload. If you’re constantly feeling frazzled, anxious, or overwhelmed, your personal bar might have risen beyond your grasp.

The other part about bar-raising that can be damaging is failing to recognize your achievements. If you don’t take the time to occasionally pause and reflect on how much you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come, you will always be feeling like you’re falling short. And I’m sure that’s not true! Think about everything you’ve learned and achieved over the years—all the projects you’ve completed, bridges you’ve built, and skills you’ve mastered. Think about where you are today compared to where you were five years ago. I’m sure you’ve grown and changed over that time, even if you can’t see the growth on the day-to-day.

Instead of constantly raising your personal bar, take the time to 1) reflect on and CELEBRATE your achievements and 2) set reasonable goals for the future. Take the future one step at a time, rejoice in your victories, and don’t let that bar get too far out of reach.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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dessert road and sunshine

“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life. Most of which never happened.”

Mark Twain

“Worrying only means you suffer twice”

Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Worrying is part of the human existence. We worry about our children, our relationships, our work performance. We worry about finances and health. We worry about the future. This tendency to worry is part of what makes us human. It’s natural to fret about the wellbeing of ourselves and those around us. However, if we worry too much, it can become debilitating.

What percentage of your day is spent fussing about the future or dwelling on past events? If you’re like most people, it’s probably quite a lot. And, here’s the thing: worrying about something doesn’t help the outcome in the least. We can’t improve a work project by fretting about it. We can’t fix something harmful that we did or said through worry.

If worrying doesn’t solve anything, why is it a human emotion in the first place?

The possible answer is that worrying can prompt us to act. It isn’t useful on its own, BUT it can act as a catalyst—a bit of fire under our shoes.

Worried about your upcoming presentation?

Let that be motivation to thoroughly prepare and practice.

Worried about your current physical health?

Let your worry drive you to go to the gym and eat a healthier diet.

Worried about finances?

Use that emotion to create a better savings plan and spend a smaller portion of your income.

Worried you offended someone?

Leverage that worry by 1) apologizing and 2) learning from your mistake and vowing to not say or do the same thing again.

The above examples have one important thing in common: they all involve action. If you’re going to fret anyway, let your emotions be a motivator. Don’t stew in your misery; act instead!

We could all use a little less worry in our lives. It doesn’t do to sit and dwell on either the past or the future. BUT, if you do find worry surfacing in your life, know that you don’t have to let it consume you. Instead, use it as a catalyst to take action, forge ahead, and make positive, meaningful change.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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It’s never fun to feel completely zapped of energy and willpower. It’s a state of being that makes you feel lethargic and less than productive. And, unfortunately, it’s a state that’s easy to slip into with so many of us still working from home or trying to social distance.

How can you break the lethargy and boost your willpower? How can you escape the cycle of procrastination and drudgery? As tempting as they are, distractions are not the answer. You’ll end up tuning in to the fun/entertaining/relaxing distraction and putting off what you should be doing.

Instead, try one of these five tips:

1. Focus on outcomes

The more you focus on the time beyond your procrastination, the easier it will be to move forward. Think about the positive outcomes that will occur when you do whatever it is you’re putting off. If you’re not looking forward to going to the gym, think about how nice it will be to have a healthy, toned body. If you’re dreading filling out a particular report, think about how happy you’ll be once it’s complete. Focusing on outcomes or positive results can give you the willpower you need to do the task at hand.

2. Set bite-sized goals

If you’re sitting on the brink of a large project and you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and set a few bite-sized goals. Every big task can be broken down into smaller parts. If you need to clean your entire garage, for instance, begin by focusing on one particular section (organizing garden tools, for instance, or sweeping the floor). If you have to write a lengthy report, challenge yourself to write a single page or fill out one section. Once you dig in, it will be easier to keep going.

3. Set a reward

Once you’ve determined a few goals, think about how you might reward yourself once they are complete. For smaller goals, you might buy yourself a pint of ice cream or enjoy a glass of wine. For larger goals, you might treat yourself to a nice dinner or a professional massage. Is it bribery? Sure, but it’s bribery with a purpose! Setting rewards will give you something to look forward to and will help give you a jolt of energy and focus.

4. Pinpoint the reason for your reluctance

It’s possible that you’re putting something off because you simply do NOT like it. In some cases, that’s just the way it is; you have to fill out that annual review or write that report, whether you like it or not. In other cases, however, you can change your tasks so they are more enjoyable. For instance, if you do not like running on a treadmill to get in shape, you might switch to a rowing machine or elliptical. If you don’t like cleaning up after dinner, perhaps you could cook, while someone else cleans. At work, you might bring up your likes and dislikes to your boss and see if it’s possible to do more of X and less of Y. Maybe one of your co-workers hates X and loves Y, in which case, you might discuss shuffling responsibilities.

5. Try the 5-minute challenge

What can you do right now, within about 5 minutes? Challenge yourself to set a timer and DO IT. Completing one small task can give you motivation to complete others.

It’s never easy to have low motivation and low willpower, but it is possible to pull yourself out of your slump. Try one (or several) of these 5 tips and see how you feel. Chances are, you just need some forward motion in your life to give you the momentum to keep going.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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