Episode: What’s Missing from Your Goal Achievement Toolbox?
Mike Boyer: This episode of Lead to Win is brought to you by Compass, a monthly program to help Full Focus Planner users stay on track with their goals. Learn more at leadto.win/compass.
Michael Hyatt: Hi! I’m Michael Hyatt.
Megan Hyatt Miller: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.
Michael: This is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work and succeed at life. Today, we’re going to give you one thing missing from your goal achievement toolbox.
Megan: Yeah! I’m really excited about this, because this is that time of year when everybody is thinking about goals, but so often we begin the year with great intentions. Then, they kind of fade, because I think we all know the daily battle (just the swirl of things we have to do to keep up with our lives) swallows up the margin we have for pursuing new things, and before we know it, life gets hectic and goals go by the wayside. It’s really tough to stay on track. I think that’s why so many people just don’t see progress on their goals after honestly the first week or two. Right?
Michael: Right. Totally. That’s where New Year’s resolutions so often fail. By the way, I wanted to ask you a question. How did you get started on goal setting? I don’t think I know this story. Was it just because you grew up in our home where I was a goal setter or did you try New Year’s resolutions?
Megan: Is that the right answer?
Michael: No! Give me an answer! Did you resist it because I was?
Megan: No. I never resisted it. I think I’ve always been a natural achiever. I’m trying to think back to being a teenager, for example. I’m pretty sure as a teenager I was doing some form of goal setting probably based on something you were doing, and it gradually became more sophisticated. Really, until our Your Best Year Ever program kind of came into existence, I was setting too many goals. I was not accomplishing a lot of the goals I set, so I have become a much, much, much better goal setter over the last five or six years for sure.
Michael: Now you have a goal achievement toolbox, which is what we’re going to talk about, but we need to bring Larry on here, because Larry, as I often say, is the guy who guides us through the podcast, because you and I left to our own devices would just meander all over.
Megan: Larry, you’re the guy! Did you know that?
Larry Wilson: I feel like I need a gavel today to call the podcast to order. I like this topic because I love goal achievement. That just got deep in me somehow. I love to set goals but, Michael, you’ve called it a support community for goal achievement, and that has a suspicious tone to me because it reminds me of something I’ve heard for years and years. You need an accountability partner. You need an accountability group. I’ve seen a lot of those come and go, and my observation is they’re just not that effective because people say they’re going to be accountable to each other and they just aren’t.
Michael: I don’t want to be accountable. I hate to say that. I want support. Those are totally different things. I think I can hold myself accountable, and I think, and I’ve said this on the show before, I think, somebody can create a space for me to hold myself accountable to the promises I’ve made, but I don’t want somebody holding me accountable.
Megan: What inevitably ends up happening is you end up with a good cop/bad cop thing. In my experience, there is always one person who is doing the holding accountable, and then there is the person who is being held accountable. It’s rarely equal. It’s usually one person’s idea. They try to rope in the other person.
I remember, for example, in high school, I decided I wanted to start running. I thought, “Well, I’m going to loop in this one friend I had.” We were going to run at 5:00 in the morning. This was high school, so this was really early if you were a high-school kid. It started off great, but then she wouldn’t be awake. I would have to go into her house and wake her up. I’m sneaking in her house.
Michael: You were like her mom.
Megan: Yeah! I was like, “This is not good.” We eventually gave it up, of course, but I think that is why accountability kind of gets a bad rap. It just becomes sort of nanny-ish.
Michael: But here’s an alternative running story that’s more of a support group. I can’t remember if it was the first or second half marathon I did, but Gail (my wife and your mom, as though I need to tell you that), said, “Why don’t we join this running group?” I was like, “I don’t want to run with a bunch of people.” It was one of the best things I ever did.
Megan: Me too! I did that as well, and it was fantastic.
Michael: That was more like a support group, because we were all working on the same thing.
Megan: It’s voluntary. No one is holding your feet to the fire.
Michael: Nobody is coming to your house, coming into your bedroom, and waking you up, but you’re expected to show up, and if you don’t want to show up, that’s fine. There’s no shame and nothing like that. It was a blast! It was this mutual support.
Megan: I think that’s really how our Business Accelerator coaching program works. So many people join that, because as business owners and entrepreneurs, it can kind of feel lonely, and it can be hard to keep yourself on track, because, after all, you don’t really have a lot of peers. I think what happens is people feel like they have goals they want to accomplish, but they often get stuck or they lose motivation or focus, so they don’t accomplish them.
What they get when they come to the group in part is a supportive community that is going to remember what they’re committed to, remind them when they forget, and encourage them to keep going. I’m reminded of the story of one of our clients who had a book she wanted to publish. This is true for probably, wouldn’t you say, 90 percent of our coaching clients? They want to publish a book.
Michael: Totally, but of the ones who have actually done it…
Megan: Only a fraction of people actually ever do it. She wanted to publish this book. For years this had been a goal she had missed, but it was really important to her, so she decided to commit to it again, and with the support of the group she was actually able to publish that book. It’s doing very, very well. In fact, it’s exceeding her expectations dramatically. She never would have been able to do that and get through the places where she was inevitably going to get stuck along the way without the support of the group. I think, whatever the context, that’s the value of a support group.
Michael: I just want to make this point, too. This is the distinction between that and an accountability group. That same person (her husband) had tried to hold her accountable to get this book written for years. Actually, he nagged her because he understood what it would do for her career, and it just de-motivated her. She was making no progress. Her husband was not a great accountability partner. Anytime you’re using shame or nagging that’s not a strategy, and that’s not a support group. That’s not what we’re talking about here.
Megan: Okay. I have a question. We talk about in Your Best Year Ever, our goal-setting program, the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is the motivation that comes internally from yourself. It’s kind of self-propelled versus external motivation which might be your spouse wants you to do it or your boss wants you to do it or culture puts that expectation or that pressure on you or something like that. I’m wondering how that concept plays into this idea of support community versus accountability group and how they’re different.
Michael: Well, I think it’s like good coaching. You could never want something for your client more than they want it. That’s external or extrinsic motivation. If they can’t muster it from within and if that’s not driving them, it’s not going to work. The same thing with a support group, too. That client you talked about (that woman who wanted to write the book)… If she hadn’t been really motivated, all of that would have felt to her like nagging and coercion and manipulation, but because she really wanted it and she allowed those people to support her, that was what made it possible.
Megan: I think that’s really good. It’s kind of like you bring the motivation to the party. Your own internal motivation is what you’re bringing to the support community, but you’re giving other people permission to kind of be your advocates for that thing you really want along the way rather than someone putting external pressure on you.
Larry: Well, today we’re saying that every leader should be part of a support community especially for goal achievement because of three key benefits that provides. The first benefit is it motivates you by affirming your aspiration. Maybe this is that intrinsic motivation you were talking about, Megan.
Megan: I think it is, because here is the reality. Not only does a rising tide lift all boats… If you’re in a running group and you want to run a half marathon and you want to train for that and you have 20 other people who all want to do the same thing, all of a sudden that becomes your normal. It’s sort of in the air and you’re excited, but if you’ve ever done anything like that… I feel like training for any kind of endurance race is a good analog to other things in life.
You are inevitably going to hit places where your motivation wanes. You forget your why, as we say in our Your Best Year Ever language. You have obstacles that come up, and what a great support community can do is remind you of what you already want. They’re not imposing it externally, but they’re reminding you this is what you want, and they’re giving you practical help and tools to navigate the obstacles that are going to come up. I think that is so valuable.
Michael: To use the example of our client who wanted to write the book, there were a number of people in our program who had written a book, including me, who were able to say, “That is a worthy aspiration. You need to be pursuing that, because, oh, my gosh, your life is going to so change when that book is done.”
That affirmed her aspiration. It made it more concrete. It reinforced it, and it just helped her to see that was normal and that was a good thing. It wasn’t just like some dream, but other people had brought that into reality, and there was a high probability she could do the same. It wouldn’t be that hard. She just needed to hang with a support group.
Megan: That’s a good point, because not everybody has a naturally supportive community. Whatever goal you may have set, you may have a hostile community around you where people really don’t want to see you make progress, or, for some reason, your goal is threatening to them, or they just don’t really care. They don’t have an interest in that. You want to be a runner and nobody else wants to be a runner. Whatever it is, just creating that little incubator for your goal is so helpful.
Michael: As you were talking, I just thought of something. The truth is we’re always in a support group. You may be trying to run and you’re in a non-running support group, so they’re constantly like the crab that is pulling the other crab that’s trying to get out of the bucket. They’re constantly pulling you back down into the bucket.
The same thing goes with writing. If you’re hanging out with a bunch of people who aren’t writers, there’s nothing wrong with that, but they’re not going to help you write. In fact, they’re going to affirm the non-writing stuff. They might say to you, for example, “You’re trying to write a book? That sounds really hard. I remember how hard it was when I tried to write a 15-page paper in high school. That was impossible!”
All that is doing is reaffirming all of the fears you already have about it, whereas, if you’re hanging out with a supportive group of writers, they’re the ones who are going to encourage you, because they’ve done it before. They know what it’s like. They know what the psychology of it is. That’s a good point.
Larry: Let me ask you about this. I found this statistic. I couldn’t track it down to the specific study, but the concept is that people are 65 percent likely to meet a goal after committing to one other person. That would be like a running partner, I suppose, but according to this source, the chances of success increased to 95 percent when they build in ongoing meetings with multiple partners. This would be the running group that meets every Wednesday. Does that sound right to you?
Michael: That does sound right. I’ve never heard that statistic, and I can’t believe you didn’t share that with us before we actually started this episode, but that’s amazing! I think it really does support the idea.
Megan: I think it’s like insurance. You have one support partner or accountability partner. That person’s motivation could wane or something comes up and they bail for whatever reason. If you have a whole running group or a coaching group or something like that, now you have contingency plans. You have people behind the people behind the people behind the people. There is always somebody there with a different perspective who can encourage you or support you even if one person fails.
Michael: Do you know what this makes me want to do? Join a running group again. Seriously! I’m thinking to myself, “Why did I ever stop the running group? That was fantastic!” It makes it feel more effortless, too. I can remember… You probably remember this, too, because I know you’ve run a couple of half marathons. When you’re with 30,000 people who are all runners and are all amped up on the energy of the race day, you go further, you go faster, and you perform at a level you could never do when you are on your own or even in your support group, because that’s like a giant support group.
Megan: Well, just imagine if you told yourself you were going to run 13.1 miles on your own on a Saturday in the rain or the heat or in one of those inevitable weather situations that come up for race day or you were going to do it with 30,000 people. Which scenario are you most likely to complete?
Michael: That’s why your statistic makes sense.
Larry: Well, I am not a runner, Michael. I never have been, but I’ve done some cycling, and there is an effect there, too. You always ride faster with even one other person. That partly is psychological and partly it has to do with aerodynamics. You ride in a group and you build up a draft, and you take some of the work off of you.
Megan: That’s really interesting. I never have thought about that before, but I feel like that’s literally true, but that’s also metaphorically true. Both of those things are happening. That’s really what we’re talking about here. I love that.
Larry: The first benefit of having a support community for goal achievement is that it motivates you by affirming your aspiration. The second benefit is it encourages you by affirming your progress.
Megan: This one is really important. I think this is another benefit we have seen in our coaching program and in other support communities we’ve hosted. Very often there is not a place for most people where they can celebrate their wins. Again, kind of back to that idea of you’re always in a support community and it’s positive or negative.
Maybe you live in a small town and achieving a big financial goal is threatening to your high-school buddies, or maybe you’re in a church where financial gain is not celebrated, or maybe you’re in a community where exercise is not seen as a positive thing. Whatever it is, you’re hesitant to share it, because you feel in some way that will create insecurity in someone else, so you just don’t, especially if you’re a high achiever. You’re just checking it off and going to the next thing.
Michael: To your first point, you kind of diminish your own glory so to speak because you don’t want to brag. You don’t want to be perceived as bragging. Plus, let’s be honest. People are just not going to get it. In other words, if I said to somebody, “Oh, my gosh! This is an awesome week. I wrote 2,500 words,” I just get a blank stare like, “Is that good or bad? Are you complaining or bragging? I don’t really have anything to measure that by.”
If you’re talking to a bunch of writers, they would totally get it and they would affirm it. Then, you feel like you’re making progress. I think the sense of progress is important for a couple of different reasons. First of all, all of the research I’ve seen is that is essential to have a sense of well-being and happiness.
Megan: It’s really what you get out of accomplishing goals anyway.
Michael: That’s right. It’s actually not the accomplishment of the goal; it’s the pursuit of a meaningful goal and feeling like you’re making progress against that goal that gives you that deep satisfaction and meaning in life. In addition to that, when you feel momentum, then you’re willing to take on the next step in whatever the project is or the goal you want to achieve.
I think the hardest challenge of goal achievement is getting started. Once you get started and start seeing your progress, whether it’s writing a book or training for a race or whatever, all of a sudden that buoys you to continue to pursue it and continue to make progress.
Megan: You get momentum.
Michael: You get momentum.
Larry: There is research there as well, Michael, that sharing victory boosts your morale and your mood. You feel more joy when that happens. When you share your victory and the other person affirms you for what you’ve done, it actually goes to another level and lasts longer. If I share a victory with you like I wrote 2,500 words last week and you say, “Great, Larry,” I still feel good, but if you say, “Wow! That’s really positive! I can’t believe you did that! Good job!” that effect is going to last me for days.
Michael: That’s good.
Larry: Having a community that understands and appreciates what you’re doing really has a lasting benefit.
Megan: Well, the other thing is it reinforces the behavior you’re trying to install, as we say in Your Best Year Ever. If you have a habit goal you’re in pursuit of, you’re trying to install in your life a new habit. That’s challenging. There are a lot of forces that are going against that to kind of pull you back to your normal. However, when you’re getting affirmation and encouragement for making progress, that reinforces the new behavior, whether it’s a habit or an achievement you’re pursuing. In both cases, that is going to help cement what you’re after and help you maintain it for the long haul.
Michael: This is why I think whether it’s in parenting or developing people in the context of business or in your running group, the more you can be generous in giving affirmation to other people the more that’s going to help them develop the momentum and the behavior they want to develop. You might look at somebody who is being consistent in their running program, and you might think, “That’s awesome! They’re being consistent,” but to say it out loud and to affirm it is fantastic, because that helps shape their own inner narrative and their own self-talk, and that’s critical in the achievement of any goal. Your mindset is as important as the behaviors.
Larry: Michael, I think it also does something for you when you give affirmation to other people. A group like this or a partnership of support for goals or aspirations is a two-way street. You’re able to affirm other people and that has a positive effect on you as well.
Michael: It does.
Megan: One of the ways we’re intentional about doing this at Michael Hyatt & Company is that we have a monthly team meeting and a quarterly team training. That’s kind of part of our cadence of meetings on an annual basis. When we’re doing those, we’re intentionally celebrating wins. We intentionally pause. We ask our team what the wins were from the last month or what progress they’ve made on their goals.
The whole point of that is not just accountability like we want them to have that sense of, “I have to show up and answer for what I’ve accomplished,” but we really want the chance to celebrate it, because the truth is, inside a company, there are things happening all of the time that are invisible to other parts of the team and certainly to the leaders.
If they’re not acknowledged, it becomes demoralizing, and you kind of create this culture of cynicism like, “What does it really matter? Nobody is ever going to recognize me.” On the flip side, if you do intentionally acknowledge it, you get more of what you notice, and people love to be acknowledged, especially publicly. We make a big deal about that.
Michael: I was thinking, too, one of the things we have in Slack, which is our internal communication channel, is weekend wins. Because we’re committed to helping people win at work and succeed at life to get the double win, it’s just awesome to create a support community here at work that affirms that value for people so they feel supported, so they feel affirmed, and so they feel like they have a sense of momentum not just in their professional life but in their personal life.
Mike Boyer: Hey, everybody! Mike Boyer here. If you’re interested in getting connected with a goal-achievement community, I have some great news for you. We have a brand new program called Compass: Your Full Focus Guide, and it’s exclusively for our Full Focus Planner users who want to take their success to the next level.
Compass is an online support community that will give you the daily, weekly, and quarterly motivation you need to reach your goals. You’ll learn how to set smarter goals in the support of a community of high achievers just like you. Check it out today at leadto.win/compass or just check the link in today’s show notes at leadto.win. Keep your eyes on this channel for a bonus episode coming on Thursday. Michael will do a deep dive on Compass and let you know exactly how this befits our Full Focus Planner community. Now, back to the show.
Larry: The second benefit of being part of a support community for goal achievement is that it encourages you by celebrating your progress, and being around a group of likeminded people really has a positive effect on you. Let’s get to the third benefit. It assists you by offering advice and problem solving.
Michael: The cool thing about this is when it’s right you’re getting advice from people who are… I don’t know if you’d use the word professionals but people who are fellow enthusiasts at least. It’s one thing for me to ask my family about some running problem or some writing problem, but honestly what do they know? Nobody in my family is a runner except me, and nobody is a writer in my family except Joel.
One of the reasons I like to get with Joel, your husband, Megan, is because we can do shop talk. We can talk about the challenges. Larry is a writer, so to talk with him is awesome. When you’re around other people, you can really troubleshoot at a different level. When you’re around the other people who are also fellow enthusiast about that, you’re going to get faster help, more battle-tested help, and stuff that actually works.
Megan: Here’s the reality. You will hit bumps on the way to a goal. If you’re pursuing a meaningful goal, you’re going to have snags. You’re going to have setbacks. You’re going to have disappointments. You’re going to feel frustrated and discouraged at times. That is just the nature of pursuing a meaningful goal, and if you don’t have a place to go to troubleshoot and problem solve, you’re likely to get stuck. I think a support community is the answer to being stuck, and that’s one of the biggest ruts of not accomplishing your goal.
Michael: What has been your experience, Larry or Megan, in a support group when you shared that you were missing your goal or you haven’t observed the habit you’re trying to install? Let’s say you’re trying to run, because we keep using that example, and you didn’t run at all this last week. Do you feel in a support group that you can share that without fear of shame?
Larry: Well, I do feel that way. I do share it when I miss a goal or when I’m behind on a goal. I think one of the reasons this is important is because it helps to just say it out loud. Otherwise, you’re sliding on your goal and you’re not making progress, and you don’t quite want to face it, but when you have to say it to somebody else, you’re like, “Okay. I have to admit I’m not making any progress on whatever it is (a health goal or an achievement goal), so now we can talk about it.”
Michael: Yeah. I kind of had this experience this last week. It’s a little bit different than this, but I have a speech pathologist I work with on my voice. She’s helping me do some things as a professional speaker so I can keep up. She calls it speech hygiene. Her name is Carly Bergey. I felt really bad, because we had just gone through a whole set of workshops with Business Accelerator and I had not done any of the practice exercises she had given me to do, so I was going to cancel.
I had Jim call her, and she said, “It’s no big deal. We’ll just use our session for practice.” I thought, “Well, that’s a cool idea.” Instead of avoiding that, because I used to feel really shamed back when I was in piano lessons when I didn’t practice the piano. I just dreaded going.
Megan: Does everyone have a piano shame story? I feel like that’s a rite of passage.
Michael: I think piano shame needs to be a Wikipedia entry. She didn’t make me feel any of that. She just said, “I get it! You get busy. You’re not able to do that,” but even Lisa Hisscock who is my personal trainer does the same thing when I have a streak where for whatever reason I haven’t worked out. I never feel any shame. We just kind of pick it up.
I think that’s important in your group. When people are asking you for feedback and you’re the person who is being called on to offer it, shame accomplishes nothing good. I think we’ve learned this from Brené Brown. It has been validated by tons of research. You just have to be self-aware enough to know when you’re doing that to other people, but it’s very debilitating, I think.
Megan: That’s one part of it, but another thing is around obstacles that come up. I remember one of the half marathons I did. I think I did three overall so far. I don’t know if I want to do another one. Anyway, that’s beside the point, but I started to get shin splints, which is a common running injury. In fact, I ended up getting a stress fracture. I remember I was in a lot of pain, and I was about to quit. I can’t remember where I was in the training. Maybe I was three-quarters of the way done. I think, for me, that tends to be a trigger point.
Somebody in my group recommended a physiotherapist who was going to help me with some therapy. I was able to in the end complete the race. I walked a lot of it. I wasn’t able to run, but that resource (somebody who was really trusted in the running community who they knew would help me)…
My goodness! I remember the therapy he did on my shin was so painful. Obviously, he knew what he was doing, but it really worked, and I was able to complete when I would have definitely given up. It was the resource of someone who was experienced and who had been through something similar that enabled me to find kind of a plan B way to get to my goal even though it looked differently than I had thought. That’s the value of a support community.
Michael: The alternative to that is Google. If I have shin splints, I’m just going to Google it. I’m going to get a gazillion results, none of which I know whether they work or not. That’s a totally different thing than actually going to somebody who knows what works.
Larry: Well, if you’ve ever taken up a hobby and you make the mistake of mentioning that around a hobby enthusiast, you’ll get more advice than you ever probably thought you needed, because people who are interested in something want to share. They want to help you overcome the obstacles and reach your goal, so it’s always a positive thing.
Today, we’ve learned that everyone who wants to achieve a goal should be part of a support community for three key benefits. First, it motivates you by affirming your aspiration. Secondly, it encourages you by celebrating your progress. Thirdly, it assists you by offering advice and problem solving. Any final thoughts today, Michael and Megan?
Megan: To me, the good news here is, if you have big goals you are pursuing this year, you do not have to do it alone, and more than that, you shouldn’t do it alone. You have access to a support community. There are so many options, and if you’ll take advantage of that community and leverage it, it can make all of the difference to accomplishing your most important goals.
Michael: Yeah! I agree with that, and I would say you don’t need a support community unless you have big goals, unless there is something that’s really important you want to accomplish this year. If that’s the case, if you have something that’s more than a resolution (it’s an actual goal you want to see happen and build into your life), absolutely get into some kind of support community, because it will really give you an edge.
That’s what all of us need if we’re going to be successful. We have to have an edge against discouragement, against competition, against the obstacles we’re going to inevitably encounter, and against our own lack of progress and procrastination. A support group is kind of the remedy for all of that.
Larry: Well, thank you, Michael and Megan, for this practical idea. I think this is something everybody needs. Thanks very much.
Michael: Thanks, Larry, and thank you, guys, for joining us. We’ll see you right here next week. Until then, lead to win!
Mike: This episode of Lead to Win is brought to you by Compass, a monthly program to help Full Focus Planner users stay on track with their goals. Learn more at leadto.win/compass.