Tag Archives: learning

New Year…Old Leaf?

I don’t need to tell you that it’s that time of the year……when we earnestly pledge and promise to make changes, big and small for the coming year. New Year’s resolutions in my mind aren’t necessarily a bad thing. This time of the year gets us reflecting on what the past year has been and what we would like to create for our future. I’m a big believer in that, in taking time to review and reset, to ask ourselves the question “Am I where I want to be? and to set goals for the year ahead.

For many this time of the year is about making a commitment to “turn over a new leaf” when it comes to things we want to change or believe we “should” change for our health and wellbeing. We propose to give up our “bad” habits, to eat healthier and to begin a new exercise regimen, to lose weight or to finally run that half marathon. Whatever you are proposing to change in the New year are you in fact turning over a new leaf or are you once again recycling and old one?

Often times we have the same resolutions on our lists year in and year out. So why don’t we achieve them? And why is it that we wait until the year is at an end to do this rather than at other times of the year? I have been pondering this as I review my own 2016 goals.

I am an active goal setter and work hard to achieve my goals through the year but like many of you I still have resolutions that don’t get achieved.

This year I have started my own business, graduated as a Business coach, traveled to a new country, left the security of a regular pay check. I have run a group coaching program (3 actually) and two mastermind circles. I have increased my followers both on my blog and on my facebook and instagram pages and as I write this today it will be my 30th blog post for 2016 (although my goal was 52!) but I havent lost 10kgs (I have actually gained weight!) and I haven’t ticked off the other health and well-being goals on my list.

When I reflect on why this is the case it becomes pretty clear to me that the things I have given most of my attention to are the things I have achieved the most success with. Although this is not exclusively true. At the beginning of 2016 I wrote down a list of 81 things I wanted to do in 2016 (I couldn’t quite get to 100) Without giving any time or attention to this list other than to review it once during the year I have actually completed 21 of them.

My best advice when it comes to resolutions and goals is that it’s never a bad time to set them. If you feel drawn to doing it at this time of the year then by all means write them down and make a start. but we can also turn over that new leaf at the start of a new month, a new week, or even a new day. In fact every minute holds within it an opportunity to make a change, start something new or to set a new goal.

My feeling is that we do a large chunk of our goal setting and resolving at this time of the year because we get a chance to pause. The space between christmas and the New year is when we are either on holiday or the pre-xmas work pressure has eased. We get some time to reflect, to connect and to feel what needs to change.

What if we took time out on a regular basis to do this? What if we gave ourselves space quarterly, monthly or weekly to reflect on where we are at and to re-focus on our goals? I suspect we would find motivation levels would be sustained far beyond the first few weeks of January and our resolutions would have a greater chance of surviving! So don’t let New Years be the only time in 2017 that you reflect on where you are at and what you want to create.

My resolution for 2017 is to create space every week to review my goals and to re-set and adjust them quarterly as the year unfolds.

“What you focus on grows, what you think about expands and what you dwell upon determines your destiny” Robin Sharma

Feel free to join me…or to share with me your resolutions for 2017 in the comments below

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Old Dog…New Tricks…

Recently I have been undertaking to learn some new things and to implement that new learning. This has asked me to change some behaviours, to complete new tasks and to perform new roles.

All of these things I have done in the context of new learning many times before. As a small child I learnt to walk and talk, to read and write all by the same process. Taking on new information, moving from one behaviour to the next, crawling to walking, completing reading and writing tasks in ever increasing difficulty. Taking on the role of reader, writer, student and even teacher.

Going through the learning process again, to become a coach, I have had to take a step back, to witness my own experience and to join together dots as to what is occurring at each stage.

Historically I have been a bit of a sponge when it comes to new learning. I have happily added qualifications over the years- embracing what they have added to my working and personal life without much thought.

I have found it harder this time though.

  • I feel a greater need to really embody and understand new concepts.
  • I have felt a greater sense of pressure to put the theory into practice and also a resistance to it.
  • I have experienced a level of fear around completing new tasks and performing new roles.
  • And I have become curious as to why this is the case. To a certain extent the stakes are higher for me this time. I feel a stronger sense of connection to what I am bringing forward. It is more authentic for me. There is less for me to hide behind as a coach. What I bring to the coaching table is ME

 

In order to be able to support others to discover what the truly want I have to live that experience myself. I have to expose myself to the experience of asking for what I want and of trying things out for size. I need to experience success and also know how to respond when I am discouraged.

All of this has transformed my experience of learning to something new. I have an increased sense of curiosity about things that stump and confound me. I am acutely conscious of my giving up point, my attention span, the feeling I get when my brain encounters something new and it can’t close a loop.

This is not just a great experience for me to draw on as a coach; it is also really good for my brain! When we are small children learning new things every day our brains are creating new connections and pathways to assist us to understand new concepts and perform new tasks. The more new experiences we have the more pathways we create and so on and so on. But as an adult our brains tend to rely on the familiar using existing pathways rather than creating new ones. This can actually make new learning and changing behaviours and habits quite a lot harder.

Yesterday in a workshop I was attending the facilitator aptly described the lack of ability to take on or even engage with something new as being like an “undeveloped sub division”. We have nothing to connect it too or with! Attempting to build a house in a sub division that has no roads, water, electricity or other services is not just uncomfortable, it simply doesn’t work. There is nothing to connect up to!

Does that mean as adults we won’t be able to learn new things or change our behaviours? Not at all. The amazing thing about our brains is that they don’t like an unclosed loop or an “undeveloped sub-division” so it will seek to complete it. This is known as the Zeigarnik effect.

According to Wikipedia “the Zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted tasks better than completed tasks” Essentially your brain won’t let you forget that you haven’t quite mastered something.

This has encouraged me to continue to take steps into the unknown even though my inner perfectionist wants me to hold back until I have it mastered. The Zeigarnik effect makes a strong case for letting go of fear of not getting it right and just doing. This is how our brains work.

In the doing lies the gold!