Nido Qubein is president of High Point University, a speaker and author of more than two dozen books including the best-sellers How to Communicate Like a Pro and Stairway to Success.
Terri Sjodin is founder of Sjodin Communications and author of New Sales Speak: The 9 Biggest Sales Presentation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.
Connie Podesta is a licensed counselor, speaker, comedian and the author of Life Would Be Easy If It Weren't for Other People.
Niurka is a speaker, communication and infl uence expert and founder of Niurka Inc., a corporate-training company.
Q: I have a tendency to self-sabotage and get in my own way of many of my goals. How can I stop procrastinating and make progress toward achieving my goals?
Nido Qubein: There are only two pains we will all suffer from in life: discipline or regret. The former is the better one. The more focused we are on our goals and positive results, and the better rewards we get when we achieve them, the more likely we'll be dedicated to get the job done. Have a clear vision as to what you're trying to accomplish; develop a solid strategy for achieving that vision; utilize only practical systems (no pie in the sky); and always execute consistently.
Connie Podesta: You certainly have a handle on what you do that keeps you from getting your needs met. Perhaps the goals you have set for yourself are not realistic. People avoid what they don't want to do. Instead of wondering why you don't accomplish your goals, why not take a look at each of them and decide whether they are the right goals for you? When the goals you have set are meaningful to you, with positive rewards in place, and there are consequences you'd rather avoid if you don't meet them—then chances are you will get moving to make them happen.
Q: I've had a longtime goal of getting fit, but often get derailed when work and personal demands get in the way of workout time. How can I adhere to a consistent workout schedule?
Niurka: Consistently following through on a workout schedule is a result of three things: 1. What you focus on; 2. The meaning you attach to working out; 3. Your values.
Behavior stems from unconscious beliefs and values. What do you believe about working out? If you believe that working out is a necessary evil, and that it's something that you have to do or must do, you'll sabotage your efforts.
Think about a time when you did consistently work out. What was different? Perhaps you had an important event to look forward to. We've all heard of women who get in great shape for their wedding and then afterward revert back to their old habits. Why is that?
People unconsciously do things to avoid pain and move toward pleasure. It's a survival mechanism. If you have allowed other demands to take priority over your workouts, it is likely you are more focused on the pain you believe working out will give you. Or you may be valuing work more than health and vitality. Values drive behavior. Ask yourself, "What's most important to me in life?" If fitness is important to you, ask yourself, "What would being fit give me?" Get clear about the benefits you will get from a consistent workout. Shift your focus. Focus on the vision of a lean, healthy, energized body. Focus on the pleasure of looking and feeling your absolute best. Realize you get to decide what equals pain and what equals pleasure.
Nido Qubein: I found that the best way to commit to a fitness program and adhere to it is to partner with a friend who will consistently subscribe to the same regimen. I walk daily with a CEO of a major corporation, and the two of us talk about life, business, children and the world. Time passes quickly, and both of us benefit. Knowing each of us is waiting on the other to show up ensures that both of us honor the appointment.
Terri Sjodin: I have struggled with this same challenge, so I understand the "disconnect" between the goal of getting fit, and the everyday work and personal demands that seem to get in the way of workout time. Maintaining your health and fi tness is an important part of your overall success. Making the time for your workouts and eating right throughout the day are choices you make to keep yourself in shape to do the things you want to do personally and professionally. Ultimately, I had to choose to include my workouts in my life just like scheduling a client appointment on my calendar. There are different types of "workout appointments" I can schedule, alone or with a friend, or even a client. prefer to book what I call a long "walk-n-talk." I walk four to five miles about four times a week with friends to stay fit and catch up. It is such a great way to stay connected, fi t and not just sit at a restaurant and consume additional unwanted calories. I might ask one of my clients if they want to do a walk-n-talk vs. having a long dinner. Many of my clients love this alternative to a breakfast, lunch or dinner meeting.
Q: My kids (in elementary and middle school) put off doing homework until the last minute, and I have to continually nag them to get it done sooner. Is there a way to appeal to them on a different level so I can help instill better skills in time management, goal-setting and overall work ethic for life?
Niurka: First: Stop nagging! Nagging rarely produces a positive response. Haven't you noticed you can make the exact request in two different ways and one is met with resistance while the other is met with receptivity? The way you communicate with your children—your words, tone, body language and intention will determine how they respond. How you communicate is often more important than what you communicate.
Here are four steps to improve communication: Be clear on the result you are committed to; clarity is power. Then take action. Notice whether what you are doing is working by being aware of how your communication is received. If what you are doing isn't working, change your approach and keep changing your approach until it works. Behavioral flexibility is key in effective communication. The most flexible person in any interaction is the influencing factor.
Rather than trying to change their behavior, observe your own. Be the model of possibility for your children by behaving and communicating as you would have them behave and communicate. Catch them doing things right. Lead and your children will follow.
Connie Podesta: Who is in charge here? When you say they put it off—what else are you allowing them to do instead of their homework? First, I do think kids should have the chance to "chill out" a bit after school. They are just as tired as we are when we get home from work. Everyone needs a little bit of free time, something healthy to eat and a chance to relax before getting right back into the grind again. But after that, homework should come next—with no other choices. A place in your kitchen or dining room should be "homework central" so you can oversee and offer help if needed. If they do it better sprawled on the couch, that's fine, too, as long as you are nearby to monitor and make sure their time is being used wisely. People learn good work habits better in a structured environment. But YOU make the rules. After their initial free time to relax, then homework is the priority—no TV, phone calls, etc., until it's done.