6 Simple Steps to Smash Your Goals: Bring on the problem-solving train!

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Today it’s all about smashing your goals in 6 simple steps using what I call “The Creative Problem-solving Train” model.  My last blog post outlined the steps you need to take to successfully plan your goals, no matter how big or small. And today’s blog will help you to overcome the obstacles that can get in the way.

Human brains have evolved to focus more attention and energy on the problems of life than the things that are going well. So it’s no surprise that when we start to detail the specifics of our goals, our brains start thinking about all the things that will get in the way of success. Our inner chatter gets louder and louder. It itemises the multitude of reasons why we’ll never achieve our goal. And it all too often convinces us that it’s a waste of time even trying.

Don't believe everything you think!The key to managing this is to NOTICE that it’s happening. If you are are not aware of your inner chatter, you will unconsciously believe it and go along with it instead of challenging it.

Use your powers of observation to notice what’s going on inside your head, and then consciously choose how to respond to your inner chatter. This is your window of opportunity for getting on board “The Creative Problem-solving Train” that will deliver you to your destination – your goal!

So, let me introduce you to …

The Creative Problem-solving Train! Each carriage has a task to perform but remember to always drive the train from the driver’s carriage! This is where you get really clear about what the problem actually is so that you stay on track from the very beginning! The Creative Problem-solving Train is explained below in 6 simple steps so that you’ll smash your goals despite any obstacles, problems, barriers, issues or hurdles that arise.

The creative problem-solving train

Is it probable? Is it possible" Is it unlikely?The Carriages (or steps, if you prefer!)

1. Always start from the driver’s seat no matter how tempting it is to jump straight into one of the other carriages!! List all the ‘possible’, ‘probable’ and ‘unlikely’ problems, barriers and obstacles that might get in between you and your goal. Be honest and open with yourself and about your situation. It might seem counter-intuitive but don’t hold back. Bringing the issues out into the light of day and writing them down will DISEMPOWER THEM, and EMPOWER YOU towards your goal. If you notice an urge to deny or avoid the issues, write that down too. Shame, perceived laziness and fear are all barriers that can rob us of the opportunity as well as the joy of achieving goals.

2. Choose ONE of your ‘probable’ obstacles and brainstorm solutions to it. You’re not Let your ideas flow ...analysing your ideas at this stage so let go of the urge to find reasons why they won’t work. Remember to keep the CREATIVE in your creative problem-solving. Let the ideas flow no matter how crazy, impossible, or ridiculous they might seem. It’s often the ‘way out’ ideas that create a pathway to a solution, so get them all out there. Write them all down!

3. Now it’s time to do a quick analysis of the ideas you’ve thought of. Write down the pros and cons of each option.

4. Select the option that seems to be the best one, but don’t be overly focused on making the ‘right’ choice. Simply go with the one that seems the best in this moment.

What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?5. Write down your Plan of Action so that you have a clear and concise guide to implementing your selected option.

6. Review the process. Has your selected option helped to solve the problem? Does it need Patiently persist!more time? More resources? Do you need to modify it? It’s important at this point to persist with your problem-solving rather than giving up with your goal. Persistence is a valuable skill that everyone can learn. It can make the difference between throwing your goal away, and celebrating success. If it’s clear that your selected option is not going to work, you can discard it and select a different one. Go back to Step Number 4 to choose a different idea and work your way through again. You might need to repeat these steps multiple times to find the best way forward. Combining two or more solutions might even be the most effective approach.

You can use the Creative Problem-solving Train process to work your way through all or any of the problems you’ve identified. Before you know it you’ll have a well-rounded strategy to manage everything that stands between you and your goal. If any new obstacles surface, use the same process to deal with them.

Well actually, yes I can!Blending creativity and logic is a powerful way to achieve success. Don’t allow your inner chatter stop you from getting started with your goals. And don’t let the obstacles limit you or your achievements. Follow the Creative Problem-solving Train to develop persistence and propel you forwards. Your mental health will thank you with improved self-confidence, resilience and unstoppability.

Next week I’ll share a goal with you that I’m working on for myself. Something I’ve been considering taking on for some time but haven’t because I’ve been playing it safe! But in my heart I know that I’m holding back on myself and will be disappointed if I don’t at least give it a try. I’ll lay all the obstacles out on the table (and there are plenty of them!) and I’ll use the Creative Problem-solving Train to help me develop a strategy to deal with them so that I’ll experience that sweet taste of success that comes with achieving a goal.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

Nine Powerful Mind-based Strategies

This post is all about using powerful mind-based strategies to boost your resilience and enhance your sense of wellness. In my last blog post I stepped you through how to create your own recipe for success and happiness that grows from a base of action-based strategies. Your recipe included actions that enhance physical and mental strength such as meditation, exercise, socialising, nutrition and sleep among others. Today we’re adding to your mix with powerful mind-based strategies!

Click here to read my last blog post “Recipe for Success and Happiness: getting the mix right!”

When you have a solid routine of action-based strategies enhancing your resilience, you’ll be ready to make effective use of mind-based strategies as well (the psychological jargon is ‘cognitive strategies’). These tend to be a little bit trickier than the action-based strategies because they deal with things we can’t see, like our thoughts, feelings and attitudes. But mind-based strategies can be incredibly powerful so they are definitely worth practising.

When you combine helpful actions with powerful mind-based strategies, you’ll create a deep sense of wellness and inner strength. You’ll be better equipped to manage stresses and will be able to bounce back more quickly when life throws those curve balls. As a result, you’ll know what it is to experience success more often and your satisfaction and happiness will soar. BUT the key point is that you need to PRACTISE them. All of them. Repeatedly. Don’t give up. New habits can take weeks to gel, so stick at it!

Mind-based Strategies

1. Keep a bagful of helpful questions handy – “I ask myself …”

  • Am I using black and white thinking? Where’s the grey?
  • Am I exaggerating the situation?
  • What does this situation look like from other perspectives?
  • Will this matter in 5 years time?
  • What’s the worst thing that could happen?
  • Am I filtering out the positives / negatives?
  • Am I really to blame? Is it my responsibility to fix?
  • Is this label / judgement helpful?
  • Am I jumping to conclusions?
  • Where is the evidence that what I’m thinking is true?
  • Am I assuming I know what the other person is thinking / feeling?
  • Are my expectations realistic?
  • Am I focusing on things outside my control?
  • What would my older wiser self advise me to do?

2. Work towards goals – long-term, medium-term and short-term

Break them up into little steps and focus on one little step at a time. A personal example of mine was when I registered for “Chicks in the Sticks”, a 3 hour women’s only enduro mountain bike event. I had months to prepare myself physically and psychologically which was a good thing because I’d never been in a bike race before and was terrified at the idea! I broke my goal down into smaller goals such as joining regular group rides, developing a training plan with increasing ride lengths and levels of difficulty, and having some coaching sessions.

3. Don’t give up when things don’t go as expected

Use a problem-solving technique to brainstorm ideas (even the crazy ones!), evaluate your options, choose one option, implement it, review how it’s going, and repeat this process as often as necessary.

4. Give yourself words of affirmation, reminders that you are ok

Many of us talk down to ourselves in critical ways, we tend to notice our shortcomings and weaknesses, but there’s a whole lot more to ourselves that needs some attention too! For example, tell yourself “You did great!”, “You are enough”, “Wow you’re getting stronger all the time!”

5. Gather a store of mantras, statements, quotes or ways of being that you intentionally choose to live by

You can collect them from songs, poems, books and social media in addition to listening to your own inner wisdom. Write them on sticky notes, in a journal or diary, print out visual reminders to stick around your home or workplace, or even use them as screen savers and wallpapers on your electronic devices. Some examples include “Just do it”, “One drop raises the ocean”, “Keep it simple”, “Just breathe”, “Stand tall”.

6. Get yourself a playlist of mentors and role models

They might be people you know and admire personally, or they could be people you’ve read about, or even characters from movies or books. When you find yourself feeling anxious or angry, ask yourself “What would [insert name of someone you admire] say or do in this situation?” One of the tracks on my personal playlist is a mountain bike coach I went to a couple of years ago. I sometimes hear his voice when I’m riding technical terrain on my bike “Get down low. Lower!”, and “Look up. Higher!” These words have been invaluable as I’ve learned to manage my fears about riding.

7. At any time you can call upon 5 seconds of courage

That’s all it takes to pick up the phone, make an assertive statement, click on a button or walk away from a situation. Think what YOU could do in YOUR five seconds of courage!

8. Develop a mindful approach to living

Notice more of your inner world and the subtleties of the world around you. Really get to know yourself, your patterns, thoughts, reactions. With this powerful knowledge you can then make conscious choices to do things differently, or the same. You’ll be in charge of your responses instead of the other way around.

9. Visualise how you would like things to be

Picture yourself doing something you want to achieve, or being the sort of person you’d like to be. Visualisation can be used for relaxation (eg visualise yourself lying on the beach, your stresses trickling away into the sand beneath you) or to help you progress towards a goal (eg visualise yourself speaking in front of an audience, feeling confident, upright posture, smiling, relaxed). When I’m feeling nervous about riding my bike on a particular section of track, I stop for a few moments and picture myself riding it the way I want it to go, as if I’m watching a short video of myself successfully negotiating that section. It truly is a powerful mind-based strategy and one you can use in every area of your life.

Free printable to keep your powerful mind-based strategies in play!

So there you have it – some really powerful mind-based strategies to throw into the mix. And to help you keep your strategies in play, I’ve created a free printable for you. “I ask myself …” is a beautiful keepsake of the helpful questions listed above. You can download it for free from my website, ready to print and display. This will be a valuable tool to keep your powerful mind-based strategies present everyday.

Each month you’ll have access to a new FREE PRINTABLE on my website that will guide you on your journey of wellness. To make sure you don’t miss out, sign up for my email “Grounded Inspiration”. You’ll be the first to hear about my latest offers, news and inspirations. When you sign up, you’ll also have EXCLUSIVE ACCESS to a mini-workbook “Success & Happiness”, a unique guide to creating your own recipe for happiness using action-based strategies that beautifully compliments my last blog post.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.