Since getting back into the blogging world in the last several months I’ve been doing a lot of reading of other blogs on location independence and lifestyle design. Our blog here at NuNomad has always focused primarily on how to become location independent, the logistics, the destinations, interviews with nomads, etc.. We’ll most likely continue to do so. However, I’ve noticed a lot of our peers writing great stuff about following passions, achieving goals and other personal growth topics. Funny thing is – I’m a coach. I’ve been a professional personal/business coach for 10 years with my business Dr. Coach. In fact, that’s how I derive my income while on the road. I’ve actually trained hundreds of other people how to coach and before that I was a psychologist in private practice. So, I finally had to ask myself, “why am I not writing about coaching topics?” Since, I dont’ have any good answer to this and since I’ve been inspired by other posts I’ve been reading, I’ve decided to begin a blog category on this topic as well. You’ll find this and future coaching posts under the category Lifestyle Design.
Why People Don’t Achieve Their Goals and Get on a Personal Merry-Go-Round
This week, Corbett Barr of Free Pursuits published a great blog on the disconnect he has noticed people having betwen the goals they state and the actions they take to get them there. What he has noticed is that many people say they want to achieve something but then never take the actions to make it happen. I have also noticed that at times. I think this can be caused by a number of things:
- The person has a disconnect between what they say they want to do and a deeper personal value. For instance, they may say, “I want to be location independent and live in eastern Europe”, but inside they have a strong personal value to take care of their elderly parent. The stated goal is in conflict with this value and they may not even be conscious of this.
- The person may be disorganized and lack a coherent plan. Lots of people suffer from disorganization or a bit of ADHD which keeps them from maintaining their concentration long enough to create and follow a coherent plan. So – the wish is there but the steps never happen.
- The goal or time-line may be unreasonable so the person fails and becomes discouraged. You may be able to create a location independent lifestyle but you may not be able to do it in 6 months. It’s easy to get discouraged and give up when you see your set goal date sliding into the past.
These are just a few of the many reasons people may not take actions to achieve their goals.
However, another dynamic I see occur many times is when people take actions, the actions don’t get them the results they want or perhaps don’t get the results as quickly as they want, the person changes directions and begins again on a new or altered goal. It’s like being on a personal merry-go-round – a frustrating cycle that depletes you of motivation and makes you feel like a failure over time. In this instance, lack of action is not the problem. No – in fact, the poor soul is acting all over the place but with no satisfactory result. So – how can you prevent this from happening to you?
If you are serious about designing your lifestyle and want to make sure you don’t fall in to one of these categories, it can be helpful to understand the stages of change.
6 Stages to Successfully Design Your Lifestyle
James Prochaska, the author of Changing for Good, described 6 stages of change that people go through whenever they are trying to make a shift in their lives. Let’s take a look at them.
- Pre-contemplation – if you’re reading this blog you’ve already passed this stage. Pre-contemplation is the stage before you even realize you want to make a change. Think back to the days before Tim Ferriss, when you had never heard of lifestyle design or perhaps you had never even thought of world travel. You were unaware of this possibility and had no feeling of need about it. This was the stage of pre-contemplation.
- Contemplation – you may be here now. Contemplation is the stage when you have heard about or acknowledged that there is a change you’d like to make in your life. You are thinking about the possibility of making this change but have not done any formal planning. Maybe you’re reading lifestyle design blogs?
- Planning – In this stage you have made a decision that you want to move towards a change. You are making plans about how that is going to happen. You may have created lists, set a time-line, talked with others about what you plan to do, etc.
- Action - This stage is exactly what it is called. You have begun to take actions towards your goal. Perhaps you have discussed how to telecommute with your boss, started your own mobile business, purchased a travel worthy laptop, or even made plan reservations. You are actually doing the steps needed to reach your goal.
- Maintenance – In this stage you have achieved your goal and you are now trying to sustain it over time. Perhaps you have been settled in your cool Prague apartment for the 3 months that were to be covered by your initial savings and now you will have to maintain yourself solely via your mobile income. This is maintenance.
- Termination - when we hear the word “termination” it doesn’t conjure up many positive images but in Prochaska’s model, termination is actually your success point. In termination you have achieved your change and maintained it over time. In fact, it is so much a part of your life you don’t even think twice about the fact that you’re doing it. You’ve been out in the world for years now. Your clients love you and you continue to grow your income living from where you want. Feels like a piece of cake – what was so hard about it?
Understanding the Stages of Change can help you locate where you are in the process of designing your lifestyle. But I want to share with you one of the most important discoveries that can keep you moving towards your goal and keep you off of that personal merry-go-round.
The Secret Key to Staying Off the Merry-Go-Round
What Prochaska found was that the people who moved too quickly from contemplation to action were the people who were unable to achieve and maintain their goal over time. Those people who spent more time in Contemplation and Planning were the people who moved deliberately and successfully through the Action phase and were able to Maintain their goal.
How often I’ve gotten calls from excited people that sound something like, “I’m calling you for coaching because I’ve got this really great business idea and I’m going to quit my job next week and throw in all my savings to start it up.” What I’m thinking on the other end sounds something like, “Whoa buddy!!!! Are you serious? You’re about to majorly screw yourself over!”
Enthusiasm and optimism are wonderful things but can also be dangerous if they lead you to taking actions that aren’t well planned. When you’re reading stuff that makes it sound like you just have to set up a web-site, hire virtual assistants to run it and then chuck your job and get on an airplane to the nearest sandy beach that kind of portrayal can make you feel justified to make some seriously stupid moves.
Be smart. Take your time. Make your plan and follow it. You can design your lifestyle. With the right balance of positive action and patience you’ll find yourself on that beach one day, staying as long as you like.
If you’re interested to know more about the personal aspects of becoming location independent I encourage you to consider purchasing our upcoming book, the NuNomad. We spend a lot of time in there going through exercises on how to get your mind and life in the right place to make your dream happen. Ricardo tells me he has received the sample copy so I know it will be out soon. You can order yours in advance at a discount here
photo by Anirudh Koul