Do you ever find yourself struggling to hit a decent balance between all the activities and responsibilities you have on your plate and the energy you have to actually do all those things? Heavens knows I do, and I know plenty of others who do as well. The frustration we experience creeps into our language – we calk about being “crazy busy”, or describe ourselves using various synonyms for “stressed out”, or when someone asks how we’re doing we launch into a litany of everything on our plate.
The way we describe and detail our goals is revealing, and when we’re always talking about how burned out we are, it can make it difficult for us to really connect or engage with others in work and life. And during the hectic period of early autumn (Back to school! Annual report time! Meetings and Conferences! Various upcoming holidays!), now seems like a great time to sit down with someone who knows all about achieving that work-life-energy balance…and who know how to get us thinking and speaking more clearly about our own energy and goals.
Dear reader, I’m delighted to bring you a fun, insightful, incisive Talk Shop interview with stress management expert Michelle Cederberg!
(Embedded video not behaving? Click here to watch it on my YouTube Channel. You can also scroll down to read the full interview transcript.)
To download your Goals worksheet, Click here to visit Michelle’s website and enter GOALS into the ‘free dose of energy now’ box that is bottom right of the home page (right below the picture of Michelle’s dog Lilly).
Lauren Sergy: Hello everybody, welcome to TalkShop. My name is Lauren Sergy.
Today we are going to be tackling one of the issues that makes it difficult for us to engage with other people in life or at work. And that is how we manage to hit all the different health points in our life, to find a sense of balance between everything we are striving to achieve. To help us figure this critical point of our lives out is Michelle Cederberg.
Michelle is on a mission to help people find their path to success and balance. With a Masters is Kinesiology, a BA in Psychology, an extensive background in coaching and a wicked sense of humour, Michelle is uniquely patient to combine mind, body and practicality to help people make meaningful lasting relationships.
She is the author of three books: The Got It Accountability Journal, If Your Life Sucks It Is Your Fault- which is hilarious and I strongly recommend- and as well as Energy Now, Small Steps To An Energetic Life.
As a certified speaking professional, Michelle has spoken to audiences across North America and has been featured in the National Post, The Huffington Post, Best Health Magazine, Canadian Living, and many more publications besides.
Please welcome Michelle Cederberg!
Michelle Cederberg! You are all about energy!
Michelle Cederberg: I try to be.
Lauren: And you are an energetic person! The first time we met you had exploded out into a keynote stage, gave an incredible talk and then I think we chatted half an hour afterwards saying “You? Oh me too! You like to do all these crazy things? Me too!”
Michelle: There was a connection. I hope that if I am talking about energy I would exude it when I am walking my talk out in the world.
Lauren: Oh yes, you have to walk it. Even if it is purchased.
Michelle: Every now and again, yes. I have my two cups of coffee every morning.
Lauren: Now a lot of people find it really hard actually to put the concepts like success, overwhelm, energy into concrete words… into something that means something to them, but also other people as well when they talk about it. You’ve got a great way with words, of course, you are a professional speaker in addition to being a coaching consultant.
So I am wondering if you can speak a little bit about how the words we choose and the way we talk about ideas actually the affects the way we pursue things like success or happiness.
Michelle: That is so interesting. I love words, I love energizing words and I love words with possibility. When you think about the way you frame your life, I like words like possibility, optimism, determination, action heavy words that we can apply to our lives. Courage is one of my favourite words. The words we wrap around our way of thinking, we have word choice every single day. I am a determined individual! Let’s do this! And add that punch and energy to a lot of things we do. I want people to attach that positivity to the way they think and live their lives.
Lauren: Yeah and I am glad you hit upon that notion of choice because that is a big thing I find is especially empowering, because you can’t control the way people will behave. Your reaction to it? You can always choose that.
Michelle: In an instant when everything is going on around you, you can say “What is the one good decision I can make? What power do I have in this?”
Grant me to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Things are going off around you right now, what is the best decision I can make. Do I have to suffer?
Lauren: Yeah, do I have to suffer through this or am I choosing that. When I come up against people who have a lot of troubles communicating in the workplace or in regular life, you hear things like “Oh I can’t talk to this person because I know they will bring up this issue or I know they will bring up this topic and it drives me completely crazy”
My thought to that is, if you know they are going to go there, then you can mentally prep yourself to go “Okay, I can either choose to engage in this nonsense or I can just let them be a blowhard for a little while, hold my tongue and just get through it. I do not have to respond the way my brain, or people or my body is screaming at me to respond by.” You don’t have to do that.
Michelle: That is the power of our words, we don’t always have to use them. Sometimes there is power in just witnessing it and choosing to not engage. Workplace frustrations are a big one and I coach a lot of my clients through challenging conversations and how to show up. A lot of the time it is like “You know, zip it!” Be present which is sometimes more powerful- when we choose not to.
Lauren: A little while ago I did an interview with Andrea Menard and one of the things we spoke about was one group keeping quiet so another can have their voice and even just taking that silence can be very empowering move. And it is good because it gives other people space.
Michelle: More often than not people in this age are competing to be heard and that can happen at work where everybody is talking and nobody is listening. That can be one of the most powerful communication things. I have a ring that says “Listen”, it just says listen.
Lauren: You even carry it with you!
Oh we are just having some connectivity issues here.
Michelle: The power of silence and the power of words.
Lauren: It is a good tangent to get off on. In the terms of thinking of words of course, one of the terms that you coined which I absolutely love is the success energy equation. That is one of your standards, can you tell us about what that is?
Michelle: You know I kind of stumbled upon it by accident when trying to find ways to find what I do. I talk about health but I talk about health empowerment, productivity and living your best life, or finding success at a higher level. And so I had put this sentence in one of my descriptions and a friend asked what a success energy equation is all about. And I don’t really know, I just threw it in there. Obviously it meant something to me.
Success energy equation is all the things you need physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, to achieve at a higher level to be present at the success you want for yourself.
And the success energy equation is four factors: the direction you are going, the discipline you need to get there, the mindset you need to hold that space, and the habit you need to sustain the whole journey. And I think that most of will drive after success with determination or direction and trying to have the discipline and mind set to do the things we want to do, but what we often put aside when we are getting busy and driving towards success is that health priority that will sustain the mission. Physical, mental and emotional health that will help us.
When you are feeling more confident and energized and healthy you will set bigger goals, first of all, but you are also going to have more discipline and a stronger mindset to do the things you need to do. Let’s face it, sometimes the things we want for ourselves takes work. Especially if you set a goal that is slightly challenging. You need to set a goal that is outside your comfort zone and do the thing that at this point, you have not yet done.
Lauren: Even if it something you really want and really love and get a lot of joy out of, there will be a ton of work and just a slog at times.
Michelle: It is amazing to me that even the things you love to do, you have to find the energy to do them. I always say it is not the doing that is tough, but the getting to it. I also have a small steps mindset that I push. It’s not the doing that is tough but getting to the doing. Just get into action because action is the great momentum builder.
Lauren: It is! That is the thing, the action is the hard thing to work on. So when people are trying to get to that action point and do the thing, how does that success energy equation help people frame their pursuit of success, because success is such a loaded word too.
Michelle: It is such a loaded word. The direction part of the success energy equation is so vital and it kind of like your “why”. The goals you are setting for yourself or to put it more simply, because people tend to shy away from the “what do you want? What do you want for you work and your life?” If you are not pretty clear on the direction you want to go, the things that are important to you, it makes the journey a little more challenging.
So the first thing is to get clear. Because in doing so it also allows you to get further even just a moment off autopilot. If you have ever had those days and you are just going from when your alarm goes off, autopiloting you way through the day getting your stuff done but not necessarily present in everything, we can have days and days and days like that: where we are getting stuff done but not at the highest standard possible. And we don’t often stop and go “Okay, am I going in the right direction?”. So that pause is to set clear goals- what is important to me in my personal like, in my professional life, what is my why and what do I want, direction. Set that clear and the next step becomes that much more doable.
Lauren: Do you have any recommendations for figuring out how you can be clear? Because you and I deal in a lot of words, we have to be clear with our audiences, we have to be clear what we are talking about, but in terms of finding internal clarity for what we want, how we define success… how do we get there?
Michelle: My presentation, the success energy equation, one of the things I talk about is the bad math version of success. How we push we push our way through on other people’s expectations, societal expectations, what we see other people doing. A lot of time we really do just have to stop and say “What does success look like for me?” What is the soul sucking social media trap where we can endlessly scroll and think “Wow look at their beautiful lives, look at their new car, they always seem so happy.” It is their unreal that you are comparing to your B-roll.
So we can sit there and go “Oh my gosh my life!”. And I think that one of the biggest things we need to do when we are stuck in that comparing, we need to ask ourselves “Is what I am witnessing what I want for my life or for my work?” Because more often than not if we stop and ask ourselves what we want, we have a pretty good idea.
A question you can ask yourself on a regular basis is “What do I want for myself? What do I want for my relationship? What do I want?” If you can find ways to answer that question that is a good definition of success.
Lauren: Do you have any tips for finding the right kind of success language? A lot of the time I will think I know what I want or use these words, but it is not quite working.
Michelle: Right. One of the ways I define success-life balance, or however you want to define it, is having the ideal mix of person health, people, play, that you need, to create the career and life that you love. The ideal mix of people, personal health, purpose, play and prosperity that you need to create a life and career that you love. And it is going to be different for everyone.
How do people in your life make you feel, how does your health help you live a vital existence if you will. Are you connected in purpose to the work that you do and if not, is there things that you do outside of work that give you that sense of purpose. Do you get enough play in your life? As adults we need as much play as kids, they tend to gravitate towards it naturally and we tend to put our noses to the ground to have fun, which I think is crazy!
The prosperity piece, you know most of us have to be making enough money to put a roof over our heads, but how fancy does that roof have to be? How fancy does that car have to be? How much is enough for you? For you, what does enough look like?
I don’t know if that helps.
Lauren: It does but I also think that in terms of figuring that out, the reframe of “what does that look like for you” is really important. I find that, I know myself and a lot of other people, tend to frame what should be right for us, according to what other people’s definitions of good is. So one of them that I know I have wasted a ton of time on is over volunteering for stuff. I don’t say that to sound like a martyr. What it is is that I would say “Well I am told that these things bring joy.” so you end up saying “Yeah sure I can fulfill that role, oh sure I can take that on. I’ll help you out because these are good behaviours.” And then you end up burning yourself out on crap that doesn’t matter, or stuff you genuinely do not life.
Michelle: There are two words that come to mind when you say that and one is resonance. That feeling of if I am doing it, is it resonating with me? Is it filling me up, is it making me feel good? A lot of times the volunteering becomes a should. It might start to resonate but it eventually runs its course. Resonance to me is a powerful word.
How easy is it to say no? A lot of time we say yes because we want to be a good person and want to be liked and do the right thing but [inaudible]. Say if helping somebody else is hurting you, it is not helping. If you put your own definition of success, I think it is really powerful to be able to say no to the right things, because it is not the right fit for you or the right fit for you right now.
Lauren: Now for figuring out what you should be driving all your energy towards, what you should be pursuing, let’s get down to the rub of all setting goals. You need to set goals. It is part of that clarity, part of that mission of what we want and what we are going to spend time on. Personally, figuring out what those goals were was a big way to detach myself of “well I should be doing this because people want me to because it makes them happy and is supposed to make me happy.” Finding my own goals really helped me in many crucial areas.
I know you are a big believer in goal setting. Why do we need to take the time to sit down and really fully put the goals into words? They can kind of be a double edged sword.
Michelle: They certainly can. For me the number one thing is clarity, and you have kind of alluded to that. Once you get clear on your goals it makes it very easy to determine what you need to say yes to and what you need to say no to. If it doesn’t drive the goal forward, then you have the opportunity to say no. If you are crystal clear on spending time with your family, or you are driving certain aspects forward, what are the things that are going to help achieve those goals. And if you are doing something that draws you away from that, then maybe you should clear way from that.
So number one is clarity. But I get excited for my own goals when I set them properly. You know we are all familiar with the smart goals specific, measurable, attainable, wholistic, time based… I don’t love smart goals. I kind of joke around in one of my videos that I think smart goals are pretty dumb. I think the basis of them is good but I think there is a better way that I can frame goals is put the art in smart. The T is normally time based, like a reasonable time limit on our goals to achieve them, whether it is six months from now, or ten years, you are going to lose energy.
Time based is an important one but I want to set it aside and do the T is that it is a [inaudible] goal. You are going to pick something that is exciting to you. Whether that is going down to a three day work week or running a marathon, to write a book, or something that is so exciting to you that it won’t go away. I often say T goals won’t get done unless you can get the next one going.
You and I are both coaches and you and I are both kind of big type of people, and to me realistic is a bit safe. If you don’t have a singing voice then you shouldn’t be trying out for one of those musicals, but be realistic about where your talent is. Most of us are capable of doing more things than we can imagine if we just push outside of our comfort zone. Realistic to me is a bit safe. That is where one of my favourite words, resonate, comes in. Does it vibrate within you?
So I use running a marathon as an example. I ran my one and only marathon back in 2005
Lauren: Well that is more than I have done!
Michelle: Well I have always wanted to do one and it was always there in the back of mind and I knew that until I did the marathon it was never going to go away. That is the thrilling part of it. The resonate part was if I am going to do this I am going to do this somewhere fun. I went to Honolulu, so the whole time I was training I was thinking I am going to be in Honolulu in December! And that is motivating.
So then the A is achievable. So if you set a good goal what are you going to do to achieve it? So we set goals and set them aside, and we set goals and set them aside. How about we set goals we are actually going to achieve. How about we turf achievable, the hardest of the smart equation, and put in accountability. This is the one that people always skip over because it is the one that makes people do things. But you are not going to get the goal unless you do the work!
Accountability, in the marathon case, was the University of Calgary Honolulu training group that met Saturdays and Mondays for eight months to train for this. If you didn’t show up they called you and all of that. I did not always want to do those long runs but they made me! Or I made me. Once you got thrilling resonate and powerful goals, specific and measurable just happens. I encourage your followers to think about goals in that way instead of just realistic, achievable… they are just not it.
Lauren: So just to reiterate, I love this definition of smart goals so much. It is yes specific and yes measurable but accountable, resonance and thrill. I love that. And the accountability one actually is really hitting me because the thing I always struggles with was time balance. I can set all of the deadlines in the world that I want, but I don’t have someone else waiting for that work to be delivered, I’m like “eh, it can be done later!” There is a specific thing that needs to be presented, someone waiting on that deadline because I got the manuscript is due at this time, or the presentation is going at this time. As Lauren Michael says on Saturday Night Live says “You don’t put it on because it is ready, you put it on because it is eleven o’clock.” If there is that accountability there, the time thing is a non issue.
Michelle: No I am with you. I am great at deadlines, give me a deadline and three things I have to fit in and I will get them all done. It is true our capacity will expand into the time we have to do it. Accountability piece is because someone is expecting it or the publishing day is on that day.
Lauren: You have a form to kind of help people out. Michelle has a form to help actually write this stuff down because you have to write it down.
Michelle: Yeah, writing it down and looking at it everyday is pretty fricken powerful. So what I did and I just created it on my own computer, I have categories; I have physical health, emotional and social health, growth and business health, and I have financial health, but you can add in anything in there. But in all of those it is a weekly thing- this week I will commit to… Small steps.
By writing them down every single week you see the progress and get to see where you are not making progress and you get to adjust. The direction piece is clear but the discipline mindset gets adjusted because you are looking at it every single week. You get to see what you are skipping over every week.
In the middle of it I have a momentum goal. I ask people to write down a big goal, what I call a momentum or goal. If you are doing it it’s going to move you towards big things, it will move you towards better things. Right now my momentum goal is to write book number two, and ironically it is called “It Is How We Work”. And everything I am doing is kind of around that. My momentum goal has my blog in alignment with that, my weekly videos are in alignment with that, everything i am doing is moves me towards that. Having the discipline and help to do the goal.
If I set clear goals, I get up to write 30 minutes a day, that is my goal right now, I can’t stay up too late the night before, I can’t have excess amounts of wine even if I want to, whatever it might be. I have to make sure my desk is clear or that everything is in alignment for me to getting it done.
So I am going to make this available. I am going to have this on my website. I have a free dose of login on my webpage and if you go there and put the word Goals, you will come to a page where you will find this and all sorts of other fun stuff.
Lauren: Excellent. I will make sure all of those links get into the show notes so that viewers and listeners can easily find it.
Now you mentioned checking in on your progress on your goals weekly. How often should we be looking at the goals themselves?
Michelle: Great question. I would like to say I always check mine every X number of days, but I don’t. I know that when I set a good goal, I am working on it regularly. When I set a goal but I have kind of set it meh, I don’t really spend the time on it. So this tells me that I need to redirect, or strengthen, or adjust something in the way we are attacking it. For me, if we are checking in every month or so or every three months, that is fantastic. If you are going through life and you are not doing anything towards that growth element, every six months might be okay, but I still think we need to do it more regularly.
Lauren: Right. There is no hard and fast “this is how long you should be doing it”, the goals at least a couple of times in the year and the check ins as long as it is regular.
Michelle: I guess I say if you set goals that are meaningful, they are always going to be there and you are always going to be chipping away at them. That would be my hope. So the goal you don’t set to forget. So many people say “It is January 1st, let’s write my goals!” And then set them down and forget about them.
Michelle: And we all have certain goals that are like that. If you have got one or two or three things that are important for you to achieve, and I don’t suggest you do a ton. For me, for my summer months, it is writing the book and getting sales that reach for my business and having some balance in my life with m husband and my dog.
I am active. I want to do my health goals, I want to do my business goals, I want to do my life goals, but I am not setting a thousand things I need to achieve. I will end up doing one or none,
Lauren: If we find ourselves not making progress on the goals, do you have any recommendations on how we can sit down and have a completely honest conversation with ourselves about what is going on, without getting into that really negative mindset where we are just beating ourselves up?
Michelle: Well this is where the success energy equation can be helpful, because if we set the goal, just discipline and mindset will help achieve that goal. One of the things I often do if I am not achieving is I will sit down and go “Okay, what are the distractions? What is getting in the way? What else is getting prioritized?” It is kind of taking stock and not doing that thing “Oh I suck, I suck, I suck!” It is like where else am I spending that energy and do I need to redirect some of it back to the goal.
We will talk about not having energy. The goal is hard, but we do have the time and we do have the energy! We do things every single day that require effort, so we are simply just choosing not to do the goal. By sitting down to say I am doing stuff but I am not doing the right stuff, is to do a redirect towards.
And you can say “Oh maybe the goal is not the right goal” that could be true as well, but more often than not we just need to get out of our own way. We just need to decide to put a little more energy into this. It doesn’t have to be wiping the slate clean and just spending time on this goal, because there is a reason why we get shifted towards other things. Life happens, I mean, we have tried to connect you and I recently, and one of your kids had a dental emergency. Life happens, we had to reschedule.
All those things happens and we need to not beat ourselves up over it. Go “Alright, all of this stuff has been happening and I am aware of the fact. Deep breath. Redirect. What do I need to stop doing, the distractions… blah blah blah.” And the mindset comes to “Yeah I got this, I am okay.”
When your discipline and mindset are strong, it is like bring it! The health piece will help that as well. You know me I am a health advocate, and my big belief is physical health is the foundation for professional growth. So if we are taking care of ourselves, getting enough sleep, drinking water, eating healthily most of the time, those things feed our physical health, but also our emotional health. We are in a better headspace to receive the hard work and accept what is working, and not working, and just do the fricken work.
Lauren: So in terms of doing the fricken work, and we are going to wrap up with one last question here Michelle, if you had one last piece of advice for people who want to figure out their own success energy equation, they want to get started, what is that first step in figuring this out? What is the thing that you would say that they can do now, that is the most impactful.
We have covered so much ground today I know it is hard to pick one thing.
Michelle: Well I mean for me it really is as simple as knowing your why. Answering that age old question of “What do I want?” and it can be what do I want for my kids or what do I want for my family. But what is driving you to do the thing you wanted to do. It could be that there are certain aspects of goals that you have and want to achieve, but maybe what you really want is a little less chaos. Listen to that internal voice because that is going to fuel you going forward.
Give yourself a little of that first what do you want. If you nurture that, you can go “Okay, what is next? I have got this.” It all comes down to personal energy and taking care of ourselves.
Lauren: Oh and I completely agree. The ways that I determine what I am going to engage in is how much energy is it going to take and where else is that energy going to be placed at some point in time.
And you of course, Michelle Cederberg, you are the master of the energy and figuring out the energy and let’s get real with ourselves. You love your work. So, other who are reading to fall in love with your work, make sure you are following Michelle right now. Where can we find you, where can we sign up?
Michelle: Go to worklifeenergy.com and go to the page and sign up for my weekly messages. Go to that box and put in the word Goals and get access to a page where you get all sorts of fun information from me. Even go to my Facebook page and sign up, because that is a good place to interact.
Lauren: Excellent! To everyone watching today: thank you for joining Michelle and I. I am so glad you are here with us on this little journey. And make sure if you haven’t already to head over to laurensergy.com, sign up for the newsletter and of course I have more guests like Michelle coming up ready to help you with life, communication, with whatever it is being thrown your way. Again, head over to laurensergy.com for the newsletter.
I look forward to seeing you again on our next TalkShop interview. Take care, bye!