The inspiration for this post has come at the perfect time for a client of mine. Let’s call her Sally. Sally is working to balance her emotional well being. Part of that process is to learn how to set and accomplish goals, while I hold her accountable and provide support and extra resources.

Expanded from a concept in Dr Dave Alred’s book, The Pressure Principle: Handle Stress, Harness Energy, and Perform When it Counts, I have created a cycle to support Sally’s goal called The Perseverance Cycle.

It is comprised of three zones: The Comfort Zone, The Intention Zone, and The Ugly Zone. It operates from your decisions, beliefs, and your actions and spirals to increasingly get you closer to your desired outcome.

The Comfort Zone

The Comfort Zone is exactly what it says on the box. It’s where you are when you’re comfortable doing something. It’s repeatable.

For Sally, she can comfortably do part of a particular stunt in her chosen sport, so she has made the decision to push herself beyond her comfort zone. Sally set the goal to achieve the stunt in full by June this year. I have the unwavering belief she’ll achieve this goal well before its due date. Sally doesn’t have this belief though.

The Intention Zone

Sally occasionally experiences a nagging voice in her head that tells her she’s not good enough.

Perhaps you’re familiar with this voice? Its sole purpose is to make you believe you are less capable than you really are. It tells you that you don’t deserve success, that no one loves you, that you’re not unique, you’re not beautiful, you’re not worthy, and a whole heap more rubbish that simply isn’t true. Yet, like Sally, you believe this voice because it is in your head so therefore it must be true.

Sally has told me that this voice doesn’t speak to her all the time for all the things she’s doing. It only speaks up when she’s trying to do something new and challenging. This is true for a lot of people.

Sally is currently in the Intention Zone where she needs to set the intention for what she believes she can achieve. Actively setting this intention is a process you can do yourself.

It starts with writing the goal you have in the present tense as though you’ve already achieved the goal. Use the acronym of SMART – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound – to ensure you have a clear, concise structure to your goal.

With this goal in mind, because you’ve written it as though you’ve already achieved it, you have set the intention for your unconscious mind to believe you’ve already achieved it. Once you’ve planned how you will progress towards the goal’s achievement (remember – your goal is actionable so it needs to have action steps!) then you will move into what Dr Dave Alred calls the Ugly Zone.

The Ugly Zone

The Ugly Zone is the place where what you’re doing doesn’t match what you intended to do. When you act towards a goal you’re learning a new skill or improving an existing one. As in Sally’s case, you’re not yet successful at it, therefore you’re in the ugly zone. As Dr Alred says: “The ugly zone is the place where you try and fail, try again and fail – and continue trying and failing. It’s the area just beyond your current ability.”

The Ugly Zone is ugly because it’s an ugly feeling to be unable to do something. You don’t feel competent or capable. It honestly feels quite shit, doesn’t it?

It’s easy to stay in your Comfort Zone. We know how good that feels. It takes no effort, we don’t need to expend any energy, most of the time we’re on auto-pilot. But, the Ugly Zone is like using the air conditioner with all the doors and windows open. A lot more work and a heck of a lot of energy!

When you respect the Ugly Zone for what it is, that is, an ugly but normal, natural part of the learning process, you begin to create new neural pathways in your brain so that eventually this thing you’re trying to do will enter the Comfort Zone and you’ll be able to do it easily and effortlessly.

The Spiral Effect

The Perseverance Cycle is a misnomer. It’s really a skyward moving spiral. For each time you come back around the cycle, you need to make a new decision, set the intention of your beliefs again and act again.

When you set the belief of your intention again, you’re not creating a new goal – you’re consciously re-committing to its outcome. You are confirming your belief.

Self-Sabotage

A lot of people can only get so far up the spiral before something disrupts them and forces them to stop working towards the desired outcome. This is called self-sabotage because there is a part of your unconscious mind that has made a decision to limit you.

If this is happening time & again shoot me an email because there is a decision hidden in your unconscious mind as to why you’re always doing this. Together we’ll get to the root cause and establish a new decision from which to build your success. My heart sings when I guide my clients through these steps. It amazes me how easy it is, and that I can do this all online with just a camera and a mic!!!

I am looking forward to receiving the call from Sally when she accomplishes her goal. In my mind, that call comes in April, and now, in hers, it will too. Sally, I can’t wait to see the video of you peacocking and happy dancing, girl! 

Your coach,