Happy New Year!
This time of year, people set resolutions with good intentions, but their lofty goals often get abandoned. Does it need to be the fate of our goals?
Today, I talk with my friend and my Life-Spark, LLC business partner, Jay Elkes. After a long career as a software developer, Jay has switched to thinking about systems that make life better. Recently, he blogged about one of his key strategies on his personal blog, and I’m excited to share his thinking with you.
Jay, your article focuses on a topic we are both interested in — achieving goals, which you’re taking it one more step to maintain the result.
That’s right, Janna. Anybody can set a goal.
Many people can achieve it. When it comes to lifestyle goals, the real challenge is maintaining the results.
About five years ago, I re-engineered my life to lose 35 pounds, and I’ve kept it off ever since. I did this over a period of six months without name-brand diet plans, medical supervision, or surgery. I didn’t understand what I had stumbled into at the time, but I recently recognized the underlying principle to my success.
Why don’t we, Jay, start with the moment you decided to take action? What was going through your mind?
In April, 2011 I wanted to lose some weight . I lost a couple pounds right away, but then I started coasting. Over the next six months I lost another six pounds. Any progress I made was quickly overwhelmed by moments of celebration.
By the end of October, I realized that at that rate it would take me years to get to my target. I decided to make it a formal goal, complete with measurable targets and a plan. I wrote out the plan in a Moleskine pocket notebook that I still have today.
So what did you decide?
I set a specific target weight to achieve over a period of three months and outlined what I was going to do to achieve it. This was a classic SMART goal and I used every trick I know to make it happen.
S – Specific
M – Measureable
A – Action oriented
R – Realistic
T – Time bound
I have used SMART goals before and after, but this was one of the clearest examples I’ve seen. If you look carefully, you’ll see that I missed the target by a couple months.
Was that a problem in this case?
In this case, no. Nobody else was depending on my result and I was pleased with my progress. The real issue would come later. Anyone can set a goal, and a lot of people can achieve it. I knew from the start that I could reach my target weight, but the real goal was to maintain it long term.
You’re talking about a lifestyle goal. Correct?
Exactly. If you want to visit the Grand Canyon, you can do that, check the goal off as done, and pick another destination for your next trip. Reaching a target weight is a great feeling, but it’s just another data point on a graph of maintaining health. I waned to change my life to maintain that weight. Today, almost five years later, I wrote about my success and why I’ve succeeded this long.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What exactly do you mean by success?
When I checked my weight this morning, the scale reported 153.8 pounds. For my height of 5’9″, this maps to a body mass index of 22.7 — perfect according to even my fussy primary care doctor whom I see once a year for a checkup. Even better, I’ve maintained that weight since ending a diet that dropped 35 pounds in 2011-2012. What I realized this year is that back then, more by dumb luck than insight, is the master key to long term success.
Willpower won’t power long term success
I’ve known you long enough to see the result. If willpower wasn’t the answer, what did you do?
I began with exercise. mostly walking…
Yes! I remember, you shared this with me. I also remember that I asked you “How did you make it, Jay? And you said:
Walking is a two-step process: you take a step with one foot, then a step with the other, then repeat five thousand times (for 10,000 steps) a day.
This took willpower at first, but after a few weeks it became habit and finally I enjoyed it. If I miss a day now, I regret it. I also know that one hour at a fast food restaurant destroys several hours of exercise.
Come on, Jay! It can’t be all exercise! Can it?
Losing weight is 20% exercise and 80% diet. About half the diet effort is cutting out the stupid habits. First, I cut from my meals (and my snacks) the items that were totally self-destructive. A burger, fries and coke can provide 1700 calories in a meal. Replace that with a grilled chicken sandwich, a small salad and water and your calorie count is at most 600. I used willpower to make good choices until good choices became a habit.
Then you recommend both diet and exercise?
Correct diet can help you lose weight, correct exercise will make you fit. Weight control and fitness are two separate but related goals. If you want both results, you need to do both.
You’ve already said that willpower doesn’t do the job. What’s the missing piece?
What I didn’t catch at the time was that over time I went from applying willpower to adopting healthy habits, and from there to craving them. Lots of walking became a habit, then a reward in itself.
Do you have any tips on the diet side?
Use your willpower to fight the biggest problem. For me, it was too many calories in liquid form. The most effective rule I had was don’t drink your calories. Today, I’d say make a habit of not drinking your calories.
So, what’s wrong with willpower?
When it comes to goals, willpower eventually loses to the power of won’t. Buddha said “In the confrontation between the rock and the stream the stream always wins, not because of strength but because of persistence.”
Willpower can’t last long enough to power persistence. It can power you long enough to reshape habits and habits are the tools of persistence. When you crave the walk and happily select the salad, you’ve won the game.
So you need both willpower and habits?
Think of it this way. Use willpower like tinder to start a fire. Use habits like firewood to keep it going long term.
Thank you Jay. Where can my readers can get more inspiration from you
Make a New Year’s Resolution to change your habits and use your willpower to get the process started.
Hey, Jay! Why won’t you show us your trick with the belt?
O! This is my favorite! In 2011 this is the belt I was wearing, and it felt uncomfortably tight! I’ll let the result speak for itself.
Be the stream. If you want help plotting the course of your stream, we can help.
Once, back in Russia, I parked my car overnight near my house instead of parking it in the garage. The next morning, I was preparing to take my little daughter to the swimming pool when my next-door neighbor suddenly grabbed my attention. He was so agitated! He spoke very, very fast, pointing to the back of my vehicle. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, so I went to him and to my huge surprise, I realized that the back tires were gone. Neat, accurate rectangular red brick structures were supporting the back end of the car!
My first thought was to thank God that my Mom was not around to tell me that I should’ve parked in the garage, given the shaky economic conditions of my Soviet country, but my temporary psychological comfort was abruptly interrupted by her voice.
“Ha!” She had decided to visit us that shiny Saturday morning. This was, after all, the Soviet Union. Perhaps God was elsewhere.
My Mom’s voice proclaimed, “Janna, this is what happens when the car does not spend the night time in the garage,” but that was not the end of her thoughts. My Mom, who had endured World War II and knew that one needs to survive in any given circumstance, continued, “Janna, you can’t leave the car outside. You have to drive it in the garage… Now!
My helpful neighbor quickly installed the spare tire, but the fourth one… was still a problem…
“How can I do it now, Mom?” I asked, repeatedly counting the tires and realizing each time that there were only three. “How can I drive on three tires?” I asked facetiously.
“Janna! When you want it you do it!” was her reply.
My feelings bounced between anger and the desire to burst out laughing. Time has passed, but I still remember one thing: “Janna! When you want it you do it!”
This conversation took place in the days just before my country began to crumble. Life was lining up a generous supply of adversity and turnabouts. My Mom’s words “Janna! When you want it you do it!” echoed in my memory when I needed support. They helped me to cross the Atlantic with almost no money or help.
At that time, the Soviet government allowed emigrants to exchange only $126.00 from local currency. So I had a choice: I could stay and keep what I had, or go…
Going wasn’t easy. A narrow window of opportunity had opened, but just barely. Bureaucracy tried to freeze the status quo with one hand and extort the last kopek from anyone who dared to leave with the other. Ethnic tensions, held in check for decades by Soviet power, found new voices and raised new threats. Not all neighbors were helping with tires. Some were stealing them. Some were trying to steal the country. Go. Definitely go. Tough choices are easy when you have no option. I took my $126.00, my mother and my daughter and dashed for the border.
Two weeks after arrival to the USA. My Mom, may daughter and me
The full story is told in my book Love Is Never Past Tense. I never thought about writing a book. I thought about writing a letter to my future grandkids, so they would know their background, appreciate what they have and know how they got it. I started that letter, but it never stopped. The story kept running and running out of my quill. Then I realized that I could wrap this story into an inspirational second chance romance, so I did that!
Doubts crept in. Who would read all this material I produced?
A thought about publishing a book knocked on the door… Was this thought knocking on my door? I believed it, and then I did not. Who will read it? – was the next thought. Doubt was trying to steal my tires, but in my imagination Mom’s voice repeated “Janna! When you want it you do it!”
Another pity party showed up as I flew home after a seminar. On my lap, I had a proof copy of the book. I was scanning the lines, double checking for mistakes and possible flaws. The thought ‘who will read it’ was following me even in the sky. Doubt was sharing my seat, but opportunity was in the seat next to me.
Opportunity can show up anywhere
The man in that seat wondered what I was reading. I briefly shared the story and he asked to see the manuscript. He started reading as we took off from Philadelphia and didn’t stop until we landed in Chicago.
Alex was a PhD graduate from Yale. As we parted he handed me his business card and asked me to let him know when the book would be published. He said he wanted to buy it. “No, no, no!” I protested! “I’ll send it to you!” I was so happy that someone wanted to read it. “A man?! Reading a love story?!” was in my head. “Please… No need to buy it! I’ll send it to you!” I heard my voice say.
Months later, I sent him the promised copy. After reading it, he called me and said that he could picture a great movie based on the book. A movie? I hadn’t imagined! The story for my future grandchildren was gaining traction.
Alex took on the role of my excited neighbor mounting the spare tire and eight months later the Jewish Federation of Omaha Nebraska invited me to present Love Is Never Past Tense. They flew me to Omaha, offered me a great hotel and placed an article with my picture and my biography on the front page of their newspaper! They bought, as far as I remember, two hundred books.
In Omaha NE
Three tires on. “Janna! When you want it you do it!” Life doesn’t stop, it keeps going and going. A new idea evolves in my head and keeps disturbing my world. I imagine a book trailer would be a great reward for all my trouble. I dial the first film maker my internet search provides and run into a guy who won an Emmy. He makes my book trailer and more than that – he becomes a friend.
My book trailer catches the eye of a screenplay writer who decides to read the book. He falls in love with Love Is Never Past Tense and writes a screenplay. The movie Alex imagined has started materializing.
We all know that opportunity comes from within. First, you need to decide. Then, everything falls into place. Not immediately, but it does! Did someone say that thoughts are materializing? They do!
Now I am looking for a new adventure. Is it a new adventure or is it a sequel of the same one? Is this the adventure that we call life? Is it really the case that when you want it you do it?
Do it, even when a whole set of tires is not available!
This article was first published for a community of 500.000 filmmakers as :
(A parable translated from Russian–origin unknown)
One legend tells of how a very poor woman with a baby in her arms was walking by the roadside pub, when she heard a voice: “Come and take whatever you wish, but do not forget about the most important thing. Remember only this: after you get out, the door will slam shut forever. For now, use the chance, but do not forget about the most important thing!” The woman entered the pub and saw tables full of gold and jewels. Struck by the view of Undeniable Wealth, she put the child on the floor and eagerly began to fill her apron with coins and precious stones.
She voice warned her: “You don’t have much time left!” Exhausted and panting, she loaded herself up until no room was available. At the last moment, the woman ran out of the pub with gold, jewelry and precious stones. The door slammed!!!!!!!!! Only then she thought of her child, who was left inside, but the door was closed forever. The same thing sometimes happens to us. We rarely live in this world longer than a hundred years, and often the inner voice tells us not to forget about the most important thing. And most important things are the spiritual values, life and family.
Money, profit, wealth and material pleasures sometimes veil our eyes, and the most important thing remains on the other side.
When the door is closed, our soul will not need carnal wealth….
DO NOT FORGET ABOUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
Hey, Guys! For those who are Upper Arlington/ Columbus area residents or those who are committed enough to drive a long way for a great two hour workshop on Goal Setting, check out the information below:
Get What You Want!
Janna Yeshanova, M.A., M.Ed., ACC
A vision of your future is a fundamental force that drives your life. Every hurdle and successful step along the way, large or small, moves you further along the path to what you want to accomplish. Explore the characteristics of written goals and investigate an analysis process that provides you with tools to develop action-oriented strategies. Learn to productively problem solve by removing barriers, concentrating on essentials and staying on track. Janna is a certified motivational coach (www.life-spark.com) with plenty of tips to focus your efforts for maximum effect and help you develop a game plan to achieve your vision. See the life you want and go for it!
A public service of UA Lifelong Learning and Life-Spark, LLC
441111 A 6:30-8:30 pm Tu 1/26
UA Municipal Services Center
Lower Level Meeting Rm
Deb mosely LifeLong Learning Program Coordinator| Parks & Recreation Department The City of Upper Arlington 3600 Tremont Road, Upper Arlington, OH 43221 e: firstname.lastname@example.org | o: 614.583.5331
“I am looking for friends. What does that mean — tame?”
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”
“To establish ties?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,
Olympic events go to great pains to make sure nobody jumps the gun. While we expect this in competitive sports, it makes no sense to think that way about our own goals. While it is tempting to set goals for the new year, to create a clean slate as the year starts, doesn’t it make more sense to jump the gun and get a head start on your goals? Even if you don’t want to start right away, it’s still a good time to do some advance planning.
When it comes to developing goals, there are a few basics worth remembering:
Think big. If you shoot for the stars but fall short and hit the Moon, you’re still on the Moon.
Put your goal in writing. Clear written goals help us commit and measure progress.
Find an accountability partner and/or mentor. Talk about your goals and get support from anyone you can.
If you really want to give 2016 a jump start, try bringing in a coach. I’m willing to make that easy for you!
Dump the baggage from your past! Open a door to your future!
Sign up here for your free 30 minute Resolution Jump Start Coaching Session, one-on-one with Janna Yeshanova, MA, MEd, ACC , the author of Love Is Never Past Tense
In this powerful session, you will:
- Build a map of what’s working and what you need to work on
- Develop an increased awareness of what’s causing your challenges
- Create a next step action plan for pursuing your biggest goal now
- Leave with a renewed sense of energy for pursuing your goals
In 2009, I was in Ukraine promoting the Russian edition of Love Is Never Past Tense. At one event, I met a minister who was raising money to support a local orphanage. Some time after I returned to America, I was web surfing for a nonprofit that I could help. Just as I was about to give up, I came across Orphan World Relief. Their office is located locally, but they help half a dozen countries around the world including Russia and Ukraine. I called them and a few days later met Mary Malone, their Director of Development.
On November 5, I had the honor to offer a keynote presentation at a fundraising event they called A Soul Purpose. The event attracted over 200 people to Hilliard’s Makoy Center for an evening of soul searching and celebration.
This dinner event filled a room designed for 200 people. I told them how I left the collapsing Soviet Union to protect my Soul Purpose — my family. I explained that this story was included in my book Love Is Never Past Tense–the photos below include some of the people who came up afterward to buy a copy. As for raising funds. the crowd was very receptive. By the end of the event raised over twice the amount of pledges the planners had targeted.
This event was a wonderful example of a vision made real. In my coaching and training, I help people clarify their vision and achieve their goals. Since most really worthwhile goals cannot be accomplished by just one person, this often requires teamwork. The event team did a great job and more help is on its way.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
If you’d like help with your goals, or would like me to speak at your event, Contact me here: http://life-spark.com/contact-us/
Find out more about Love Is Never Past Tense at http://www.loveisneverpasttense.com
Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
masks that I’m afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.
Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me,
but don’t be fooled,
for God’s sake don’t be fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water’s calm and I’m in command
and that I need no one,
but don’t believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.
But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it’s followed by acceptance,
if it’s followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It’s the only thing that will assure me
of what I can’t assure myself,
that I’m really worth something.
But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare to, I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I’m afraid you’ll think less of me,
that you’ll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.
So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that’s really nothing,
and nothing of what’s everything,
of what’s crying within me.
So when I’m going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I’m saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying,
what I’d like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can’t say.
I don’t like hiding.
I don’t like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you’ve got to help me.
You’ve got to hold out your hand
even when that’s the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you’re kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings–
very small wings,
very feeble wings,
With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator–an honest-to-God creator–
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.
Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me the blinder I may strike back.
It’s irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.
Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.
Charles C. Finn
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing. — Abraham Lincoln
“All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney
- Are you making the progress you want on your goals?
- Do you have clear plans and actions to support your goals?
- Do you know how to measure progress toward your goals?
- Do you know how to choose what to do in any situation?
- Are your priorities consistent with your goals?
- Do you know why you have chosen your goals?
If you answered No to two or more questions, contact us!
- Are you making choices based on the expectations of others?
- Are you building internal walls made of past mistakes?
- Are you avoiding change because you are afraid to fail?
- Do you tend to make choices based on what is right in front of you?
- Do you experience doubt and discouragement when you are thinking about your future?
If you answered Yes to two or more questions, contact us!
Having a Vision and Mission for the Future is a fundamental force that drives everything in your life. It is similar to putting a puzzle together. Unless you know what the puzzle looks like when it is completed, you don’t know where to begin. This workshop explores the characteristics of written goals, studies an easy goal analysis process, and gives you the tools to develop action-oriented steps to achieve your goals. You’ll identify why you need to set goals, where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there.
You’ll acquire Problem Solving techniques to overcome obstacles, as well as the secrets and benefits of achieving your goals.
Best of all, you’ll find the answers to:
- How to remove barriers to productive problem solving?
- What essential things are needed for productive problem solving?
- What are the best tips for productive problem solving?
- What is an easy way to stay on track to my goal?
Life-Spark ignites constructive changes in your personal and professional life!
Leverage your success with Life-Spark!
Hello! Hope all you are well!
I am happy to share that my http://www.life-spark.com website is updated. Let me know what you think.
PS. I also want to share a quote by Napoleon Hill I like:
A goal is a dream with a deadline.