Do you ever catch yourself staring out of your window, getting dragged away by thinking about your future life? You visualize the successful empire you're going to build, the fame and recognition, the infinity pool in your villa's backyard, the private jet you're going to fly your loved ones to the Bahamas every Christmas...
While having these pictures in your mind is highly satisfiying, getting carried away by these daydreams is actually hurting your progress big time.
If you're one of those who often end up daydreaming about the future, stay tuned: our newest podcast episode is the treatment.
Listen on the go! Subscribe to the ActiveGrowth Podcast using your favorite app:
Shane Melaugh: Hello, and welcome to episode eight of the Active Growth podcast. As a reminder, and also because I love this clip so much, here's Seth Godin once again telling us what this series is about.
Seth Godin: That what you need to do is realize that what you do for a living is not be creative. Everyone is creative. What you do for a living is ship.
Shane Melaugh: Based on this Seth Godin talk, our series is called "Your Job is to Ship." We're talking about what you can do to beat entrepreneurial procrastination. If you have been spinning your wheels, if you've been finding that you want to grow your business, you want to work on your business, you want to launch your product, but you haven't been doing it, you've been procrastinating, or putting it off, or not seeing it through, this series is for you.
Today we're talking about goals and how to reach them. Or maybe a better way to say it is we're talking about goals and how to see things through, because one thing is setting your goals and the other thing is seeing the process through to that last part where you actually deliver where you ship. On this topic of how to get better at shipping, we've talked to several experts and authors, and the first of those you will hear in today's episode.
Keep listening to discover, among other things, why the way you've been told to set goals for your business and your personal life and to visualize positive outcomes is actually detrimental to your success. And the counterintuitive but simple solution to this problem, as well as a dive into our complete three-part effective goal setting tool box. You can get the show notes, which include a summary of the content and many bonuses at ActiveGrowth.com/eight. And with that, let's start the episode. I'm Shane Melaugh.
Hanne Vervaeck: And I'm Hanne Vervaeck.
Shane Melaugh: I think entrepreneurship and personal development often go hand-in-hand because of that goal setting and visualization are something that I'm sure if you're listening to this, you're familiar with. There's maybe a bit of a cliché of the self-help guru, or the motivational speaker who's all about positive thinking and visualize your future and all this kind of stuff, but also in a more pragmatic sense, certainly when you set out to start a business, you have to get serious about goal setting. You have to get serious about okay, what am I setting out to do here? Because there's no one else. There's no boss who tells you, "This is your job, and here's how to do it." You have to set your own goals. You have to set your own tasks, and it becomes really important.
As we were doing research on this problem of entrepreneurial procrastination and the problem of not shipping, this was one of the things we found is that depending on how you set goals for yourself, and even depending on how you think about your business plans and the future you're planning to build, it can make a huge difference to your chances of seeing things through. It can make a huge difference to your chances of success.
Hanne Vervaeck: Please don't run away. Don't shut off this podcast because this is not gonna be all fluffy goal setting, right Shane?
Shane Melaugh: Yeah, exactly. This is still, the principle from last time is still true. We have built this whole content here around stuff you can do that is practical, and I see myself as almost like an anti-motivational speaker. I'm never gonna encourage you to, I don't know, whatever motivational speakers do, right? I don't think of my job as motivating people. I think of it as enabling people. This is again, a fluff-free and 100% practical episode.
Hanne Vervaeck: So this is not a motivational podcast?
Shane Melaugh: No.
Hanne Vervaeck: Let's be clear about that.
Shane Melaugh: In fact, that could be our tagline. This is not a motivational podcast. All right, speaking of that, let's go into this, the more rah-rah motivational speaker kind of thing, the idea of visualization and positive thinking, imagining yourself, having a successful business, that kind of thing.
Dr. Piers Steel: It almost can be a form of pornography, but of the entrepreneurial nature.
Shane Melaugh: That's Dr. Piers Steel. He holds the title of Distinguished Research Chair at the University of Calgary. He teaches at the Haskayne School of Business, and he's the author of the book "The Procrastination Equation". Dr. Steel is an industrial organizational psychologist, which means he studies psychology in the context of organizations and businesses, and he specializes in procrastination as you can tell from the title of his book. So in many ways, he's the perfect person to talk about when we're talking about entrepreneurs not shipping. As you just heard, he described positive visualization about your businesses end goal and success as a kind of entrepreneurial pornography.
Dr. Piers Steel: You have the image of the business, the fantasy of the business can give you satisfaction. It can give you pleasure, and that itself actually can sate your desire somewhat. But the real thing, the actual thing, it gets in the way of. So when we fantasize too much, we actually are less likely to follow through. It actually works exactly opposite of, remember all that book The Secret, where you have image boards? Well we studied this. There's the great Gabriel [Oettingen 00:05:52] from New York. She made this a centerpiece of her program. She found that the more people fantasized, pure fantasy, the less likely they were going to follow through.
Shane Melaugh: All right, so that means fantasizing and positive goal visualization actually leads to lower chances of success. Like I said before, I think that goes against what many rah-rah motivational speakers would have you believe. I think there's probably entire generations of people who were essentially taught this wrong kind of positive visualization. Dr. Steel mentioned The Secret thing, which is a huge phenomena at one point, but really, that's just the tip of the iceberg. I have encountered this so many times and I don't exactly seek this out. But in my reading about entrepreneurship and about personal development, I come across this all the time, this idea of think big, think positive, see yourself as a success, all these. Here we have scientific evidence that says, "This is actually hurting you. This is actually going to lower your chances of success."
Hanne Vervaeck: So you mean that I can't keep my secret, Pinterest board with my dreams on there? There's an overflowing pool.
Shane Melaugh: Yes. I think that's a good example because if you do have such a Pinterest board or an image board or whatever, I think one of the problems with it is that working on your image board can almost feel like productive work. Unlike Dr. Steel has said it gives you this satisfaction. You've rearranged your images and you feel it, you're like, "Oh, this is gonna be so good." It gives you that satisfaction, which basically takes away your drive to actually do the real work, which is, of course, a lot harder than adding a few images to your image board.
Hanne Vervaeck: Yeah, while doing that you're like, "Yes, this is what I'm gonna be. This is my dream." They even had us do that at school, actually.
Shane Melaugh: Oh, wow. I didn't realize that. So that was in Belgium then?
Hanne Vervaeck: No, in France, but yeah. It was like the question was something like where do we want to be in your life in five years, and then we had to cut out magazines and yeah, I had an image of a girl with a man walking behind her, holding her bags.
Shane Melaugh: Okay. Dream big, Hanne, dream big.
Hanne Vervaeck: Well, which was in contrast when many of friends who were actually having a wedding ring on there. But yeah, I just think that it shows how ridiculous it actually is also.
Shane Melaugh: And how widespread it is. I think, I mean I'm surprised to see that this has reached schools, but it makes sense because I'm sure you know whoever the teacher was there they read it in a ton of books and thought, "Well, we should have everyone do this." But don't worry, this is not all bad news. So this actually brings us to the first action step. Because okay, all of these positive thinking, fantasizing, visualization, and so on, doesn't work, and in fact, works against you. But what does work, what can we do to make ourselves more likely to follow through. Gabriel [Oettingen 00:09:08] and the research that we mentioned before has an answer for us.
Dr. Piers Steel: What you found worthy work was mental contrasting.
Shane Melaugh: Now, in a minute we're gonna have a look at exactly what mental contrasting is and how you can use it. But first, let's take a brief step back. Let's take a look at a complete goal setting toolkit and mental contrasting is one important component of that toolkit. So our goal setting toolkit has three components. The first one, I'm sure you've heard of this one before, the first one is to set SMART goals. So smart is an acronym. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-based. Time-based really means like have a deadline.
So I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on SMART goals because I think this is a very widely known concept. You've probably heard of this before, but we will link to some resources in the show notes if you want to basically dig into this and get a closer look at how exactly it sets SMART goals. I think the most important think about the SMART goal principle is that you avoid setting vague goals. The better and clearer your goal is, the better it is going to work for you.
Hanne Vervaeck: Yeah. You said it before, it's something that we probably all heard about, but there's one thing that I want to challenge people is, like as long as you are not actually using it, don't just discard it as something that, "Oh, yes SMART goals. I've heard this before," but actually dig in and make your goals smart. Let me quickly give one example. If you're still dreaming about building an online business, to make that smart you could say, "In 12 months, I want to earn $2,000 a month selling info products online."
Shane Melaugh: This example is way more specific than the vague idea of, "Oh, I want to have a successful online business at some point. I'll be rich and financially-free or something." I think you can take that even further just like when we talked about copywriting, when we review sales pages and landing pages and things as we sometimes do for the thrive theme's blog. One of the things that often comes up is like you can almost always get more specific. If you tell someone, "You know, your headline isn't specific enough, make it more specific," they make it more specific. You can usually say, "It's still not specific enough, go deeper basically."
It's the same thing here. You can break that down if you ... So you have a vague goal, I want to make my own line, I want to sell my own product, something like that. You make it much more specific by saying, "In the next 12 months, I want to be earning $2,000 a month selling information products." That's a lot more information in that goal. We could take it even further and you could break that down. It's like okay, how many sales do I have to make? What does that mean in practice? What price point are you gonna sell this out? You can go further into that, and I think that's also one of the important aspects. Once you have specific numbers like in 12 months and $2,000 a month, you can start taking that apart and see, is this realistic?
Hanne Vervaeck: Yeah, exactly. That's one of the things that I thought that happened immediately when going from this more vague goal type of thing to something specific. Your brain just starts looking for answers and for ways to make that happen because now it becomes tangible.
Shane Melaugh: All right, so that is the idea of setting SMART goals. The second part in the goal setting toolkit is to think about the process and not just the end goal. Here, I think, is where a huge disservice has been done to people with the idea of basically The Secret, with the idea of focusing on the end goal and visualizing the end goal. Because the source of this, as far as I can tell, comes from studies that were done with athletes, where indeed, it has been confirmed in many studies that athletes who use visualization as a tool increased their performance.
But here's a very, very important thing. If you're, let's say, a sprinter, you have a 100-meter dash sprinter, their visualization process isn't that they imagine themselves crossing the finishing line first and they imagine themselves standing on the podium, and everyone cheering, and them getting the gold medal. That's not what they're visualizing. So what these studies show and what these studies look at is visualizing the process. So the sprinter will be doing the mental exercise or the mental rehearsal of how am I going to get into the blocks? What is the perfect position? They're trying to visualize the perfect starting position. How do I hold tension in my body? How do I get ready to launch myself out of those blocks? Then once that gun fires, how do I launch myself, how do I do the first leap and the first steps in trying to perfectly visualize this run?
And trying to visualize, okay, about this point here is when I start really feeling the burning. This is where I have to grit my teeth and keep going. This is where I start breathing. This is how I'm gonna focus. I'm gonna imagine myself doing this run. I imagine myself focusing on the finish line. I imagine myself doing every single step at maximum efficiency to perform my very best. So it's a mental rehearsal of every single step between the start and the finish line. It is not dreaming about winning the gold medal. I think this was bastardized, right? This basically, you read the headline "Athletes Who Visualize Are More Successful", and you're like, "Oh, I'm not gonna read the fine print here. I'm just gonna start telling people visualization makes you more successful, and that's where this whole dreaming about the end goal thing comes from."
Hanne Vervaeck: Michael Phelps, the swimmer, is actually very well-known for his mental rehearsal. I was just looking online to find the exact sources of what he was doing. You will find so many articles, snackable content, where they don't go deep into what he's doing, and they will just, exactly like you said, title, "Oh, Michael Phelps uses visualization to win the Olympics X amount of time. That's also where it comes from where instead of giving all the information and everything that's actually going on, it's so much easier to just say, "Oh, visualize your winning and then it will happen."
Shane Melaugh: It also feels much better, which is what Dr. Steel is talking about as well. Of course, it's much more fun and it's much easier to imagine yourself on a podium with crowds cheering than to think through every single step of a run or something else like that. In fact, mental rehearsal I've done this as well in my martial arts training is actually incredibly difficult. It takes a lot of focus to mentally rehearse physical movement and things like that and chose you where gaps in your knowledge are as well.
Now, let's bring this back to being an entrepreneur. We've talked about athletes, but this is also true for entrepreneurship and other skills. An interesting source here is in the book Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg. One of the chapters talks about how a study found people who basically rehearse and go through scenarios in their heads a lot, and this is in the professional space, this is people working as information workers, for example, who go through these scenarios in their minds a lot, tend to be much more effective and more productive and get promoted more.
Again, this is a type of mental rehearsal that includes things like how am I going to pitch this project at the next meeting? How am I gonna make my presentation? What might some contra-arguments be? How am I gonna respond to those arguments? And so on. So people who rehearse a conversations in their minds, who rehearse things like presentations and pitches, how am I gonna do this, again, this is all focused on the process. Personally, I find myself doing this a lot as well. I think a lot about processes and I think a lot about the individual steps.
For example, one thing that's happening for me all the time is I'll have an idea or maybe I'm reading something, I'll have an idea and I'll basically start recording a video in my head. Because I'll have an idea where I'm like, "Oh, I could make a piece of content about this," and I imagine myself getting in front of the camera and starting to talk about this topic. It's something where you can run through many scenarios quickly. I can basically imagine myself starting to talk about this topic, and then I notice, "Oh, wait. This is boring. I have to change."
I basically, I rewind and I try a different example and then again, if this doesn't quite work, I rewind, I try a different story, a different angle, something like that. So by the time I actually get in front of the camera, I've probably run through this thing in some form or another in my head dozens of times. I don't know, is that something you do as well?
Hanne Vervaeck: Yeah, totally. Even unconsciously, I think. It's something that when you try to write a blog post, for example, it's very much ... I will write it almost in my head beforehand, and I also realize that the times I'm not doing it, it's so much more difficult because then you're scattered all over the place. So having this mental process of seeing what will happen and actually rehearsing it makes it much easier to do it in the end.
Shane Melaugh: So that will be the second part of our goal setting tool set, is the focus on process instead of the end goal. How do you make this happen? I think this is where a daily reminder can be useful. We talked in the last episode of a daily reminder as a tool for mindset changes. So if you write down and remind yourself focus on the steps not the end goal, write down what that means for you and why it's important. You read that once a day, I think that can help you get into that mode. And it's also something you can just practice. So like we just talked about you know, if you're creating a product, you can think about the steps involved in creating that product, the lessons you want to put in your course, how are you gonna structure it, what are you gonna say, and so on.
You can think like that about your content, your ad campaigns, pitch meetings, coaching sessions. Whatever you do, and you start by practicing. If this doesn't happen automatically yet for you, you start by practicing. So if you read your daily ... You write your goal, okay, what can I do right now? What can I practice? How can I practice this right now? And you think about whatever it is, the next blog post, the next thing that you want to work on. The more you do that, if you do this for a while, I think you can build this as a habit. The other important thing is you basically catch yourself if you do find yourself daydreaming about the end goal, try to catch yourself and that happens and instead of continuing the daydream about the end goal, start focusing on the process.
Hanne Vervaeck: I recently heard something that I thought was super interesting about somebody having as a goal being a rockstar. So it actually was Mark Manson talking about this, how, for a long time, he had as a goal being a rockstar. Until then, he noticed that he didn't want to do the work. So when he started thinking about this mental rehearsing thing and what actually would go into becoming a rockstar, he noticed that that was something that he didn't want to do. He didn't want to practice, he didn't want to tune his guitar, or whatever.
And that actually made him realize that his end goal was not really what he wanted to do in his life. I thought that's also a very interesting thing about thinking about your goals and making them very practical and very actionable. Because we can think that this dreamy world would be our ultimate goal, and then once you break it down and actual, like we said, SMART goals, and then you go through the process of arriving at that SMART goal and then you actually think, "No, this is not something I want to do in my life."
Shane Melaugh: Yes. So that's, I think also, how you can ... If everyone did this, I think we'd have a lot fewer like [onetrepreneurs 00:21:52] who were always thinking, "Yeah, I want to do this one day," but that's exactly the problem. You don't actually want to do the day-to-day work. We'll talk about this in a later episode as well, you know, it might be the case that you have to design the work you do or you have to design your business in such a way that it's actually something that motivates you.
So we've talked about coaching before and the customer first series. That's an example where for some people coaching, working with people one-on-one is super gratifying and it's actually much more important that you can do this work and work directly with people than that you can have passive income and make all this money and you know, whatever, sit on the beach or something. I think that's important to realize because you might have this goal of yeah, I want to make my info product and I want to do this and that, and I want to have passive income. But once you think about the steps involved and what you have to do, you might realize that you know what, it suits me much better to keep working with people one-on-one. It's actually what I want much more than ...
Because the process of that is something I want and the process of this other thing, the reality of this other thing is something I don't actually want. So finally, the third part in our goal setting tool box is the mental contrasting technique. Here's how that works. So you think about your SMART goal and you write down the positive aspect of achieving it. So here you can indulge. For example, if you think I want to launch a new product, the positive aspect of reaching this goal could be things like I'm gonna make more money, maybe I'm gonna be able to quit my job, I'll have a sense of accomplishment from having finished and launched something. I'll feel good knowing that my product is out there and helping my customers, and so on.
So you take a moment to think about this and write down a few positive aspects. Now, take a moment to think about the positive aspect that resonates with you the most. Whichever one that is, and again, you can indulge and really think about how great this end goal would be, how great this benefit to your life would be, and feel how good that would feel. Now, here comes the contrasting part. The next step is to write down several, I would say at least three possible obstacles and problems that could occur that might prevent you from reaching your goal. So in our example, that could be maybe the setup, the technical setup of let's say setting up your membership site and payment process. There can be a lot of stuff that goes wrong there, right? Maybe, in fact, when you register for a payment process or maybe your application will be rejected because that's not a guaranteed thing. Maybe you will have issues come up in your work life or in your family, some emergency and suddenly you have very little time to work on your own business, and you can't follow your usual routine anymore. Things like that, stuff that can go wrong.
So take sometime to write about those things and then finally, take a moment to think about the largest obstacles or the ones that you're most worried about. So we're basically doing a visualization exercise, it's like a hot and cold kind of thing where you think about the good stuff and refocus on the good stuff, but then we also think about the potentially bad stuff and we focus on that. Then finally, take a moment to write down what you might do if these problems occur. So if you go, okay, one of the problems that could occur is I'll apply for my merchant account here and my application will get rejected. What will I do? Well, I'll try this different payment process or apply there as well.
Hanne Vervaeck: So you mean that we have to get out of this world of doom and actually find something actionable that we could have a plan B for, right?
Shane Melaugh: That helps although arguably, it's not necessary. So the other thing mental contrasting studies were done only with the think about the good stuff, think about the bad stuff steps, and that was already enough to make people much, much more likely to see through their goals. But the other thing is yeah, it helps to also start thinking about problem solving and the funny thing is that even if the problems that actually occur are totally different from the ones you wrote down, having thought about possible problems and how you might solve them, is still gonna make you more likely to successfully solve the problems that come up. So it's basically just about getting in the mindset of problems will occur and I can solve them even if the problems are totally different.
Hanne Vervaeck: You mean that we didn't anticipate being in the Philippines during Easter weekend without internet, sitting in the lobby of the apartment, trying to launch a product?
Shane Melaugh: Actually, that's one of our product launch stories, which thank you very much for reminding me. I had almost successfully gone into denial about that. But you know, the funny thing is actually if you look through the Active Growth blog to the older posts you can see a recurring theme, which is that almost every time we launch product things go horribly, horribly wrong. We've had the worst technical issues and meltdowns during product launches, always. And we've never been able to predict them, but, like Hanne just said, we launch anyway. In fact, I bet you don't know which launch she just talked about because you can't tell from the customer side, you can't tell how much chaos there is behind the scenes because we make it happen anyway.
All right, as a quick recap, the goal setting tool kit is number one, set SMART goals, Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-based, number two, make a habit of visualizing the process and mentally rehearsing the process of your work and not the end goal, and number three, use the mental contrasting technique. One more thing about I want to say about this is apply this to whatever scope suits you. I think when we talk about goal setting, mostly we think about the big, ambitious goals. I want to fire my boss, I want to live on a beach, I want to have a successful business, I want to change the world, that kind of thing. These goals are important, but don't make the mistake of applying this goal setting solutions to the big, big goals, the big, distant goals while you're still stuck on much smaller stuff.
You can change the scope of this technique to suit whatever you need. To give you an example, if you're struggling with something like creating content, if you're struggling to get blog post out, for example, then you can apply everything we just talked about to the goal of publishing your next blog post. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, that is the right thing to do. You should apply it, you should zoom in or out here to whatever the level is that makes sense for you. So whatever it is that you get stuck right now, whatever it is that's causing you to procrastinate, whatever it is that you're not shipping efficiently enough, you can use this entire set of techniques to focus on however small or big that goal is.
Hanne Vervaeck: In one of the upcoming episodes, we're going to talk a lot about procrastination and about how to beat this. But this is already something that you can do because if you think about this huge, hairy goal and you just don't see how you would get there, you cannot mentally rehearse what you would have to do to get there. It will be very, very hard to actually take action. And so bringing it down, bringing that scope down, and starting with a smaller thing, a smaller goal that you have maybe in the less distant future will actually help you to get this done.
Shane Melaugh: What all of this has shown us is that positive thinking and goal setting are good, but not if you only think positively and not if you do it wrong. Dr. Steel who you heard talking before, his work also shows that you can be too positive and too optimistic in your attitude.
Dr. Piers Steel: Part of it is called the False Hope Syndrome, if you believe things are going to be so very, very easy because you're so good and the world is gonna conspire to make you successful. Of course, you know, with all the billions of people in the earth, some people seem to have lives that experience that way. While you and I as mortals, unfortunately, are not usually blessed by the hand of the Gods, so we have to go, and it's a little bit harder that we know there will be setbacks. In fact, it's actually even got a name for called the Planning Fallacy, too. They're kind of related. The reason why this happens is because we psychologically edit out plans into kind of almost in short, in simple narratives. While the reality is messy and the narratives has a lot of details like the false hope syndrome is where when you have this belief that things will be easy, that when they aren't, you tend to give up more quickly.
Shane Melaugh: This brings us to another specific strategy you can implement to get better at shipping. It's about how you see your goals and your own abilities. In one word what you need is grit.
Dr. Piers Steel: It's confidence, contingent on hard work. It's saying if you believe in this statement, if I work hard and make smart choices then I will succeed. That is a great mindset to have.
Shane Melaugh: Here's how I think about grit and about this attitude. Striving for goal is like going from point A where you are right now to point B. Imagine that this is literally point A and point B on a map. You are here, you want to go there. That's your goal. Now, imagine you draw a line between point A and point B on that map and you go, "Yeah, that's not too far. I can do that. It's like a day's hike." Of course, the problem is you can rarely go from one place to another place in a straight line just because the map is flat doesn't mean the world is flat. So you may have to go around lakes, you may have to find places to cross the river, you may have to climb up and down hills and mountains, and in the end, the total distance of your trip is much further than the straight line that the map indicates.
The journey is much harder than just walking a straight line across an even surface. False Hope Syndrome is looking at the straight line on the map and believing this is what the journey is gonna be like. It's far too optimistic and it's unrealistic to think that you can just walk in a straight line and get there in a day. This kind of thinking, this kind of attitude will lead to despair and lead to giving up whenever you encounter obstacles as you inevitably will. So that's too optimistic. On the other side, the other extreme is being too pessimistic and looking at the map and saying, "Oh, my God. Look at all these mountain. Look at all these terrain. This looks terrible. I can never do this, there's no point in even starting."
Of course, as an entrepreneur that's not a useful attitude either. So grit is the solution. It's the solution that reconciles that the overly optimistic view with the pessimistic view. It is looking at the map and seeing and acknowledging, "Okay, this terrain, there's gonna be rough terrain. This is gonna take long. We can't go there in a straight line," and in fact, the map can't even tell me all the details about what's going to go wrong. It can roughly tell me, "Okay, here I have to go up a mountain and here I have to get around this lake." But it can't tell me exactly what things are gonna be like. It can't tell me if maybe one of the paths will be blocked because a tree fell over it or something or a landslide happened. So it's acknowledging this is going to be difficult, but having confidence and the belief in yourself that you can do this, that you can conquer a difficult hike.
This is why one of the core principles we talked about at Active Growth is building your own skills. If we think about this hike across a mountain range, you know, the best thing you can do to overcome this challenge is you can be personally physically fit and you can hire a good guide. A good guide is something you can get, but fitness is something you have to build for yourself. And you simply cannot just get up off your couch and do a super challenging hike across the mountains. You have to build that fitness slowly and for yourself and nobody can do that for you.
Hanne Vervaeck: I love this analogy with fitness because it's typically one of those things where it builds over time. It's, like you said, you cannot get up and run a marathon, but you can start walking, speed walking, running a little bit, running faster, and setting yourself up to actually do that marathon. That's where I think the whole skill building is exactly the same. Know you're not gonna be the best copywriter ever, or waking up tomorrow, or you're not gonna be super at making videos, or your first sales video is probably not gonna be the best one ever made in internet history. But it is something that you can work on step by step by step by step.
Shane Melaugh: I think in this sense having a bit of patience and having the patience to build these skills slowly is really the fastest way to get there. I recently made a series of videos that actually I'm gonna continue making because the conversations on those videos have been very interesting, about the idea of producing a lot of stuff quickly. For example, producing a lot of videos quickly or producing a lot of content quickly. The virtues of doing that even if your content isn't that great. And this is exactly it because I've seen so many people basically just give up.
Video is actually a great example because it's quite challenging. The first video you make is gonna be horrible, there's just no way you're gonna be instantly good on video. So so many people then try and try to make a perfect video and they just never finish and they give up. A year later, they still haven't made a good video. Whereas, if you look at someone like me, I mean my first video is, in fact, I would say my first hundred or so videos were really, really bad and I apologized if you watched them.
But eventually, over time, a year later I'm actually pretty good at making videos. It's just a question of building that habit and having this patience of I'm gonna make a video that's just slightly better than the last one and that's fine. I'm just gonna take this step by step. So that is what the skill building is all about and this is where you have to have this gritty attitude, where you have to say, "Okay, I can do this and I can do it perfectly, but I can do it, I can improve slightly and I can do it eventually."
Hanne Vervaeck: Skill building, it's one of those things, it does become a little bit easier over time, it think. Where now that you have this skill of video then maybe broadcasting comes a little bit more easy because you're used to organizing your thoughts already and you're used to talking to people. Even though you still start from the beginning, you're not starting from zero.
Shane Melaugh: For me, to stay with the example of video, 30-day challenge is one of the greatest tools you can use to do this kind of skill building and to build this attitude and this entrepreneurial fitness. So with video, the turning point for me was, at one point, I did the 30-day challenge of recording videos everyday and I ended up doing 52 videos, I've published some 52 videos in that period. As you can imagine, each individual video wasn't great and each individual video wasn't a lot better than the last one. But after 30 days and 52 videos, I'd made a lot of progress.
And so there are two great advantages of using a 30-day challenge here. The first is that it automatically focuses you on doing the work. It's very different from saying, "I want to create a fantastic video and I have no deadline. I'm just gonna work on it until it's done," and saying, "I'm gonna do a video everyday for 30 days." It removes a lot of excuses and your success factor is no longer, "Is my video amazing and did it get a million views?" Your success factor is, "Did I make the video?" Every time you do, it feels good. So that is a great way in which the 30-day challenge focuses you.
The other thing is it gives you this experience of yes, I can do this. That is where grit comes from. You have to build this positive reference. In order to get back to the example of the map, to look at this journey that's ahead of you and to see that it's challenging. To be able to say, "Okay, this is challenging, but I can do this." I mean you have to be able to believe that, right? The way you believe that is by proving to yourself that you can do things in small ways. You build that slowly. So a 30-day challenge where everyday you prove to yourself, "Yes, I can do this little thing," is something that builds that attitude and helps make you more gritty and more prepared for challenges.
Hanne Vervaeck: Now, little spoiler alert. We've talked about 30 days challenge before. We're gonna talk about 30-day challenges again probably because they are so powerful. So if this is the second, the third, the fourth, I don't know, time that you hear us talking about this, but you still haven't started that 30-day challenge give it a try and then you'll probably come on our camp.
Shane Melaugh: Absolutely, yes. So the 30-day challenge is super, super powerful. I have done them many, many times. I do them regularly for years now. I got hooked on them basically because they're just so, so useful. So I totally agree with you, Hanne, that would like if you haven't done it yet, we'll definitely not shut up about 30-day challenge anytime soon. Give it a try, it's really, really good.
I hope you enjoyed this episode on Setting Goals the Right Way and I hope you found several things you can take action on. Now, speaking of taking action, you can go to ActiveGrowth.com/eight where one of the things you can get is our course. So we've put together a small course or putting together a small course based on all the action steps we cover in the podcast episodes of this series. So we've published the first one with the last episode and we've added a new lesson with all the action steps, a reference guide to everything that you can do to set better goals and increase your chances of seeing things through. You can sign up for that at ActiveGrowth.com/eight. There you will also find the show notes and the links to everything we talked about including the book The Procrastination Equation by Dr. Piers Steel who you heard talk today.
As always, we're also really interested in hearing your thoughts and your questions and maybe also your objections if you thought that we've got something wrong. So if you can head over to ActiveGrowth.com/eight, you can leave us a comment there. These comments are really important to us. We try to answer all of them and we use them to guide the content we create to make it more useful and more actionable for you. Speaking of comments and feedback, we've gotten some really great iTunes reviews, two of which I want to briefly highlight.
The first one is from Devin from the United States. He says, "Actionable advice, not fluffy B.S." So right away with the title you've won me over there, Devin. So he says, "I have my own podcast and I also listen to a lot of podcasts mostly for marketing and entrepreneurial type of content. Some I have grown weary of because there's no actionable advices, just a bunch of cheerleading and 'You can do it' fluff. I already know how I can do it, I just need to know how to do it. That is what Shane and Hanne do on this podcast." He goes on, for you as long you can check it out on iTunes. It's really great. It's super, super encouraging to get a feedback like this and I love that we're in line with the idea of providing actionable advice and not fluffy B.S. that's exactly what our mission here is.
There's also one from Will from Australia who writes, "Best online business marketing podcast." Yes, that's awesome. Thank you very much. He says, "Every episode gives awesome ideas and really actionable information. I follow everything Shane and Hanne do and I aspire to have a business that is as awesome as this." Thank you very much for these reviews. Of course, if you enjoyed the show, we super appreciate if you can go over to iTunes and leave a review, or if you're listening to this on Stitcher, you can review us there, too and we'd super appreciate that. All right, so to get all the notes and links including links to iTunes, Stitcher, and SoundCloud where you can follow and subscribe to this podcast as well as signing up for the course that goes along with this podcast series. Head over to ActiveGrowth.com/eight.
We've updated our companion course for this podcast series. There's now a second lesson, containing all the action steps from today's episode and also including examples that weren't covered in the audio.
If you've already signed up, you can log in here to access the course. If you don't have an account yet, you can register here (for free) to get access:
Does daydreaming distract you from achieving your goals? How do you defeat it? Join the conversation below!
Want to be featured in our future podcast episodes? Leave us a quick voice message about your story and experience with the topic:
See you soon with the next episode!
Alexandra is a traveling marketer. When she is not editing podcast calls or writing blog posts, she's out there exploring a new city. She helps Hungarians become digital nomads.
15 Reasons You Need to Create & Sell Your Own Product
Procrastination by Perfectionism: is this Common Habit Killing Your Business?
Is “Bright-Shiny-Object Syndrome” Keeping You from Growing Your Business?