The ONLY Goal Setting Episode You’ll Ever Need with Neal Hooper, host of The Happiness Playbook

Neal Hooper, the host of The Happiness Playbook podcast and creator of The Achievement Tribe, a comprehensive goal achievement experience, joins Tony to talk about why the way that people typically talk about and set goals eventually leads to feelings of frustration inadequacy, and often shame. They discuss the importance of putting your individual values behind a goal and how to move forward even if you find yourself back to familiar patterns of feeling unmotivated or stuck. 

The Achievement Tribe is a comprehensive goal achievement experience made up of 3 key ingredients: a proven goal system, an accountability group, and a physical planner, all in one place. Neal is getting ready to do a 2-month goal sprint in January that comes with an accountability partner, physical On Purpose Planner, and access to all the program resources to finally take massive action toward your dream life. 

Typically It’s $300 for the 2-month goal sprint, but if you use the discount code VIRTUALCOUCH at checkout, you get $100 off. 

The last day to sign up is December 30th, 2021, and the first kickoff call is on January 3rd, 2022, @ 8 pm (mountain). If you want to sign up, follow this link here: and put in the discount code VIRTUALCOUCH to get the special deal.

You can also sign up for a free goal coaching call with Neal at the same link.

With the continuing “sheltering” rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can’t continue or begin therapy now. can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

You can learn more about Tony’s pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting And visit and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the “uh’s” and “um’s” that, in his words, “must be created by wizards and magic!” because it’s that good! To learn more about Descript, click here


Speaker1: [00:00:00] Action recording has started just like that, Neal.

Speaker2: [00:00:02] Oh, how exciting.

Speaker1: [00:00:04] I know I want to welcome my dear old friend, dear dear friend Neal Hooper to the virtual couch, and it has really been a long time coming. Neil, welcome to the virtual couch.

Speaker2: [00:00:14] I am so excited to be here, Tony. It has been a long time coming and I can’t tell you how thrilled and excited I am to be here.

Speaker1: [00:00:22] Yeah, people know that Neil was you. You have been a pretty integral part of the last couple of years of my life and helped me up my virtual couch game and my website game help me update my path back course to the path back to point zero, which now has a group of people that are working on turning away from unhealthy coping mechanisms. That’s all thanks to Neil. And so it really is an honor to have you on here. I would talk about you behind the scenes or my guy or my behind the scenes guy, Neil and and I would get people to say, Who is this Neil?

Speaker2: [00:00:53] So now you’re finally pulling back the curtain and unveiling. No, that’s very that’s very kind of you. I feel like you have been as equally a part of my life for the last few years and going even further back than that, and you’ve really helped me refine so much of what I’m doing. Not to make this some kind of like, All right,

Speaker1: [00:01:17] Keep telling me how great I am, Neil, or how great you are.

Speaker2: [00:01:21] Yeah. Everybody knows Tony’s ego is not big enough. So we you didn’t sleep in a little room. Oh yes, I got a snort. That was my goal

Speaker1: [00:01:29] Back to back right out of the gate.

Speaker2: [00:01:32] Oh no. But really, it is such an honor to be here, and I’m so excited to talk about all these things because there really is so much synergy behind the projects that we’re doing together. But separately, there’s just so many cool things, and I can’t wait to get your perspective and to share a little bit about that.

Speaker1: [00:01:48] Well, what I love is when we were trading some messages and we have you come in on my podcast or me coming on your podcast, we’ve talked about it for a long time and now I almost feel like this is really what we were meant to talk about because it’s heading toward the end of the year. This episode will go up before the end of the year, and we’re going to talk about we’re talking about one of your favorite things goals, and I really appreciate the we’ve had hours of conversations around goals and goal setting. And I’m very open about the fact that I think you’ve helped me get back to a place of a healthy way to set goals. And so I don’t know if we want to start on a little bit of a journey of how we started talking about goals and where you started in that regard and then how we collaborated because it really has helped me a lot and I really feel like we’ve put some acceptance and commitment therapy along with your ideas of the goal setting. And I really feel like we’ve created the chocolate meets peanut butter kind of moment.

Speaker2: [00:02:37] Yes, it absolutely is. I would love to start there. And so just to give a little background on my journey and my passion for goal setting. Gosh, it really has been close to eight years now that I it was eight years ago, and I really kind of went down this journey of trying to figure out how to consistently and confidently set, pursue and achieve goals because everything that I was taught and that most people were doing and they just weren’t effective. And so I remember it was about eight years ago. It’s kind of at this turning point professionally and otherwise. I got my first big boy job here in Salt Lake and I wanted to really level up. I remember the smart goals. Everyone knows what a smart goal is and

Speaker1: [00:03:24] Really talk about this because we were one of the first times where you said, you know, smart goals, right? And I remember feeling very far away from goal setting. I had gotten all together. So yeah, what are those?

Speaker2: [00:03:33] Oh, and that’s good. So a refresher, if you don’t remember or for those that aren’t familiar with smart goals, a smart goal, it’s an acronym to set a good goal. And this has been a gold standard for a long time. But the acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. Ok, which sounds great, and it’s a good starting point, and we can dove more into this. Maybe a little later, I’ll just touch on it now, but smart goals, there are things they’ve been kind of this gold standard, but you just they didn’t work for me, and I found over the years that a lot of people who set smart goals just don’t see the results that they’re hoping for. Yeah. And and we can get into the why in just a minute. But I’ll just go with the story here. I did this deep dove like literally every week. I had this plan and I would research articles and studies and and so over the years, I started formulating this process for setting goals and identifying where the gaps were in the strategies and tactics that people were using, and especially smart goals. But there’s all kinds of other methods and approaches. And then fast forward, I just spent a passion refining New Year’s resolutions. Another thing very good timing for this episode, but people are always surprised to learn that I don’t set New Year’s resolutions, which

Speaker1: [00:04:58] Is well and again. Which is interesting, your background and this is I was wanting to I love that you’re starting with the story and I wanted to have it, then give us a little offshoots of who Neil is because you are. What I love about this is you are someone that is a very positive person. You are somebody that has been very goal oriented. You’ve achieved a lot in your life. And so I often do feel like people think if only I was more positive or if only I did achieve these certain things, then I would be happy. And so I feel like you’re a good example of you have achieved a lot. You’ve worked hard to get where you are. So maybe even do a little deep dove on. What was your. Give me a little bit about your teenage years. Talk a little bit about college. Talk about some of those things and what got you to where you are.

Speaker2: [00:05:36] Ok. Yeah, that’s fair enough. That’s very kind of you. So, yeah, in college. So let’s go to high school first. You know, grew broken family mother, single mother of five kids with clinical depression. Pretty. Everything that came along with that was it was kind of heavy. I didn’t see a lot firsthand any sort of healthy goal setting or productivity stuff. And so I think almost out of necessity, almost kind of out of survival, I had to kind of figure out how to structure my life in a way. And so I think early on, some of those obstacles really, really served as a catalyst for me. Need, you know, craving that structure and craving some kind of aspiration. And my mother’s one of my heroes and she she did an amazing job given the circumstances, but that was really the foundation, which was really shaky, honestly. But then I came across some amazing people. I don’t know if you want to include this or not, but you were one of the people actually in my youth that we crossed paths very early on. And I remember you shared a few things at a fireside that were actually really helpful as well. But aside from that, I found some youth groups that were really helpful.

Speaker2: [00:06:51] But from there, I I kind of go off on my own and I go to college and really didn’t have any support and again, out of necessity had to find these and develop these processes to to have that structure in order to achieve. And I look back and I’m very grateful that I was able to achieve quite a bit given my circumstances. And again, this is where it gets uncomfortable. You feel like you’re bragging a little bit, but it’s it’s interesting because from that eight year period that I mentioned, you know, got really intentional, started setting goals, got married, got to got a big boy job and then that I got another job and kind of leveled up there, went back to school, got a double master’s degree in HR and an MBA at Utah State, had kids got recruited to work at a Fortune one hundred company. So I had achieved quite a bit actually at this point. But the interesting thing is I woke up in the midst of all this achievement and I was actually miserable. Wow. And so this is where it gets interesting and where our story kind of connects again. Yes, I don’t know if that was the direction you were.

Speaker1: [00:08:02] You’re wanting to go with that. Really appreciate your vulnerability. Because what I love so much about your story is I know you as this person that every time we talk, you lift me up and I get excited about it. And every now and again, it is almost I go back and remember playing maybe a little bit of a role and your youth and your and I knew your mom well and she was an amazing lady and your brothers, all of you were just very ambitious and it was really amazing to see. And so to be able to reconnect with you as as an adult, as a big boy and then hear your story and then your vulnerability, I think, is what really maybe drew me to you and wanting wanting to work closely more closely with you.

Speaker2: [00:08:39] And it was such perfect timing because here I was working at a Fortune 100 company realizing I was pretty miserable. And not only was I not happy, but I I had slipped back into some hard things in terms of not having the mental health that I want, not having the physical health that I want. My relationships weren’t doing as well. And so it’s interesting that I had achieved so much and I did have these systems in place. But I remember listening to the virtual couch, which now here I am on the virtual couch, which is so fun. I remember an episode where you talked about social compliance and how if there’s not that alignment with your goals, it’s all that stuff slips in and it’s it’s easy to for your mental health to take a wrong turn. And my brother had done a little bit of work for you on the side and

Speaker1: [00:09:33] Then I never talked about that. Can I just say, Yeah, please, I love your brother to death? And I had paid. I tried to do my own website for a long time, and this is even one of those things where I talk about socially compliant goal. I was doing it because I figured I had to, or I should know how to do with my own website or I, but realize I had no interest in doing it myself. So I just kicked that can down the road over and over again, all that experiential avoidance. I would find every other thing to do. So then I just impulsively dump a large sum of money on somebody that said. It would guarantee this amazing website and they didn’t deliver, and then I was even feeling more like, what’s wrong with me? And I reached out to your brother and he was amazing and he took the thing that I already had and he made it so much better. But he would always say OK for copyright and that sort of thing. I’m going to run it by Neil. Do you remember Neil? Like, I totally remember Neil was Neil up, too. And so I was this here in this Neil’s captain of industry, Neil Neil’s killing it, that sort of thing. And so then and then it was the elusive Neil where I kept finding out more. And I would sometimes I would say to your brother, Right, I’d say, Hey, I’d love to talk to Neil sometime. I probably use a little help punching some things up. And so that’s I feel like the way that then I was led to you. But I didn’t even know until right now that you during that process, we’re listening to some of those episodes and and resonating with them.

Speaker2: [00:10:42] Yeah, I did. And it was so fun because it was like this door opened up or you had this need. Yeah, and I was able to insert myself selfishly. I was like, Hey, yeah, I’ll do that. I’ll help Tony. And and yeah, that’s kind of how it started. And I guess that’s worth mentioning that on the side kind of early on, I’d say about six months into my corporate job in Chicago that I realized I’m not sure if this is what I want to be doing. And so I actually started moonlighting inside, hustling a digital marketing business in web design. And so that was I was setting myself up without knowing it to be able to come and really partner with you and help you out with with some things. And then and then a lot of other cool things later on the road. So that’s yeah. So that’s where we cross paths again and reconnected. And it was so fun because then you fast forward a little bit longer. We helped you with with some things, get your website that first website in better shape. And then it got to the point in my job where I discovered that I was giving in to social compliance and I had achieved a lot of things. But I wasn’t happy because there was that misalignment between deep down really what I wanted and craved and what I was doing. And that’s an important concept that I that informs everything I do now with the goal coaching and the accountability groups and stuff that I run is you have to have that alignment. And if you don’t, you’re setting yourself up for failure and misery because you’re not going to be able to sustain your drive and you’re deep down, not excited about what you’re trying to achieve. And that’s just a recipe for mediocrity, unhappiness and all those things.

Speaker1: [00:12:32] So and I love to jump in your nail in this. And so at that time, I you would help me revamp the path back and make that a whole different thing, which is helping so many people. And then you would suggest to doing a group call. And I remember telling you that, yeah, I’m cool with that, but I haven’t really ran one. I mean, I hear now I’m going to sound egotistical, but I love speaking. I’ve spoken literally all over the world. I love doing podcasts. I’ll go on anybody’s podcast. But then I don’t know. I wasn’t sure how to work within like a group call for helping people overcome addictive behaviors. And so you would come in and say, I’ll set you up. I’ll be the guy that says, Welcome everybody, and here’s the rules and get me your questions. And so you did that for a few weeks, and it was so helpful. It helped me so much in that group says flourishing now. But then this is how I remember it. You had said, Hey, could you take a look at this program that I’m putting together and give me your honest therapist feedback? And the reason I wanted to tell that whole story is there really was a moment of truth there, Neal, that I don’t know if I ever shared with you where I was reading all of the things that you would put together.

Speaker1: [00:13:31] And they were wonderful things. But I think it goes back to when we were talking about the smart, smarter goals earlier or the smart goals that I felt like it was a lot of just the stuff that sounds great and gets people, gets them a little dopamine bump and they say, I’m going to do it and then they do, and they say, OK, what do I need to do? And then they follow along. Until then, they realize, OK, man, this isn’t. I’m not doing it anymore. Something must be wrong with me. Instead of looking at it, of saying, Oh, this must not be important or matter to me. And so in that group, then Neil had asked me if, OK, if he was going to spend some time on my group, could I jump into one of his first groups and I would just sit back and observe? And it was brilliant for me. And so up to that point I really had, I was at this mindset of setting goals is a recipe for failure and that things like New Years, people would say, OK, I’m going to do, I’m going to I’m going to read 12 books this year. Sounds great. But then I knew that by February or March, when they’re already, they still haven’t finished their first book.

Speaker1: [00:14:26] Now they were saying, OK, I’m never going to hit 12, and so then it’s going to be I might as well not do any more. I’m not going to read anything else and I’m going to wait till next year. And so I remember one of those conversations we had where it was like, OK, I’m starting to work these act principles in and OK, well, if reading really is a core value, then how about I’m going to have a value based goal of reading every day period? And then and I and I remember one of these moments where that smart there was what was a measurable in all that stuff. And I thought, Well, what if in the act world, though, it’s I don’t care if you read a paragraph, you know, then you are going to continue to read throughout the year and then. I really felt like I have the data that says and actually may end up reading 14 books if the goal is a value based goal of reading and gaining knowledge in the vehicle is reading, for example. So anyway, so so I don’t know if you did you feel like I was pooh poohing your ideas early on or.

Speaker2: [00:15:17] Yeah, I wouldn’t say pooh poohing, but it was this beautiful, like you said, the chocolate and peanut butter coming together because I was really focused and you helped refine so much of what I was doing because there is that tendency to get so focused on the execution piece and and and the mechanics of it that when the psychology, the shame starts to creep in. That was something that I hadn’t quite figured out yet, that you really helped me refine as well, because, you know, I had this great goal setting system that I’d love to share a little more details about as well. But then it was really you coming in and helping infuse the act, the acceptance commitment stuff where it was like instead of setting this rigid goal, let’s insert some flexibility. Let’s make sure it’s aligned. And that was really where I started infusing those principles and experiencing them firsthand, and that was actually kind of fun. Through this partnership and all of this discovery with act and really understanding that I actually decided to leave that corporate job in Chicago and partner with you and really help you build out your programs and and then now build out what today is Achievement Tribe, which is really exciting and kind of a more polished version of the programs I was working on in the past.

Speaker1: [00:16:32] But but yeah, that’s scary. How scary was that, though? That leap? Honestly, this is so fun, Neal. We’ve talked so much, but I didn’t. I wouldn’t even I didn’t talk about some of these things. But when you said, OK, yeah, if you could use some extra help, I’m in. And by the way, I’m quitting my job and moving. And I remember thinking, Oh, Neil, not for me, but I mean, look how he even made all that about myself. That was kind of fun.

Speaker2: [00:16:52] No. And and this is great. Yes. Another snort. Ok. So and really, if I’m being totally transparent, you were in a big way. You were a ticket out of that corporate America situation that I was in. You helped me. You also helped me launch the Happiness Playbook podcast, which has been a huge funnel which has been so fun and you’ve just mentored me and coached me in the podcast world as well. But then and then partnering and helping with those projects really set me up to to have that confidence say, OK, here’s something that I’m passionate about. You’re something and I can pay the bills. But I got some more projects lined up that were helping me bridge the gap. But it really was that partnership that helped me take that leap of faith. And it’s funny. It was scary. I have a family who were three newborn at the time, so to leave a cushy, well-paying corporate job in Chicago to just blaze your own trail, it was scary. But the passion through that alignment overshadowed the fear, and it was just really exciting more than anything. But yeah, that was because I knew I had awesome people like Tony Overbay, you rooting for me and

Speaker1: [00:18:00] I really was. And it’s funny when you just mentioned your family, then of course, I just immediately thought of your amazing wife. And then it hit me that I’ve been talking about the you helping with the website and the path back. But holy cow, you helped Preston and I put together the magnetic marriage course, and then you and your wife were in that first round and that thing. Now we’re on round three and we’re it’s changing lives and you had a certain set of skills, as they say to that course together as well. So I mean, you really are yeah, you are really good at what you do with that. And I even remember it was pretty quickly I felt like that you you had a lot of opportunity in front of you. Is that right?

Speaker2: [00:18:32] Yeah. Yeah, actually, yeah, a lot. In fact, too much. Yeah. What are the principles we talked about on the happiness playbook is accept and build, which is also called yes and in the applied improv world. And it’s kind of this idea of accepting and validating building on what comes your way. Sometimes I’m a little too good at that. And so it can get me in trouble. But yeah, thankfully we’ve been incredibly blessed in that regard as well.

Speaker1: [00:18:59] Well, and I think it’s interesting. I have to do a little tangent. This can be fun, Neil. I didn’t even think about all the things we can talk about here, but the yes, and you are a big part of it. At improv troupe. You acted young, you’ve got a viral video out there of you doing parkour, which one of those you want to tackle first, the empowered you. How were you in a pretty successful improv troupe?

Speaker2: [00:19:20] Oh yeah. So for those familiar with play theory, obviously, and out there in California, take note trip was where I kind of got my my grounds. But then when I came out here to Utah, we actually started a group in Salt Lake and it got pretty big. At one point we were doing live shows once a month and getting about three hundred people to show up to those. That was a lot of fun, but more so than the performance aspect of that. It was doing the workshops and applying the principles. That was really the fun part for me. And if you tune into the happiness playbook, you’ll you’ll be able to do a deep dove on all of the applied improv and play theory stuff. But yeah. That was a huge part as well to this story and just having those principles as a foundation to kind of be adaptive and flexible as life throws its curveballs your way. But yeah, it’s play theory. Play theory is a huge part of.

Speaker1: [00:20:12] And I’m sure that I will have said this in the opening that I haven’t recorded yet, but we’re doing a home and away podcast and so I win. I hope everyone will go listen to the happiness playbook because that is a talk about a a dose of joy and something to pick you up. And then I really love the fact that and we’ll talk about it on yours. I’m going on your podcast next. But there’s just some you I really love is you guys do a great job of how to apply those principles on a day to day basis or in your life. And yes, I really feel like that in my podcast can get a little long at times, and I always love that yours is. You guys just get to the point you have good guests, you have great examples, and I will. I’m now am very confident that I will apply something from your podcast. So if anybody right now has not heard it, please go immediately and subscribe and listen to our episode. There will be a lot of fun.

Speaker2: [00:21:00] That’s awesome. It’s only gotten that far because you have helped us out. So let’s see. I’m trying to get your ego just so big you’re not going to be

Speaker1: [00:21:07] Fit through your cover up. Yeah. So let’s get back to goals because I really want you to talk more about. You’ve talked a little bit about shame. I want to address that. Why do people hate setting goals? I feel like I don’t know if it’s just gotten worse with the rise of more. Again, I’m going to sound like the old man get off my lawn. But the more social media already, people are talking about their New Year’s goals and then I feel like there’s polarity. There’s polarity in everything right now. And so I really do feel like it’s even to the point where people are either I’m going to set all the goals and other people are saying I will do no goals. None. Yes. Yeah. Why do people people hate setting them?

Speaker2: [00:21:41] Well, I also found that camp for a long time. I was in that camp of, I don’t like goal setting and we’ve all had bad experiences. But it really boils down to this. We’re using ineffective, outdated goal setting tactics that just don’t work. And we already pooh-poohed on smart goals. And anyone who knows me knows that I. I am very confident in saying they don’t work. Smart goals do not work, and it’s not because they’re bad, it’s because they’re incomplete. And so this is where it gets fun because over the years, all the research I did and in my master’s program actually did a deep dove with some of the PhDs and org behavior at Utah State. We came up with two key ingredients that are missing from almost all goals, and it’s so simple a smart goal you go through the list of the acronym. It’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant time down. The problem is all of that is the what, but the two ingredients that actually impact your drive is the why and the how. And so there’s some cool research that was done at Clemson University with some undergrad students. There’s about four hundred and ninety nine students, and these professors in relation to educational goals researched hundreds of factors to try to nail down what were the the factors that impacted their drive toward their goals. And they narrowed it down to two ingredients and that is perceived value in the goal and perceived capability in achieving the goal. And those are the two key ingredients that are missing from most schools. And that’s why most people have a bad experience. They set this goal. They get really specific. Health goals are a big one, right? I’m going to lose this many pounds. And but there’s no the why that perceived value in the goal is not articulated and captured. And that’s a problem, because when you start wobbling, if you don’t have an articulated why to ground in again, going back to that alignment and really why it’s important to you, that’s an important part of that. Then you’re going to you’re going to keep wobbling and not be driven

Speaker1: [00:23:51] And then you do a hard place here. But I’m laughing because again, man, am I that egotistical? I’m sitting there thinking, I think you’ve probably told me these things before, and I’ve been saying, and I think I was like, Yes, you’re saying words, Neal. But let me tell you how it really is. But I feel like, in essence, that Clemson University research is spot on, obviously, because it’s very research based. But the act principles of you must be in alignment with your value. And that value is why it’s important to you, I think is exactly what you’re talking about. And then the next one, it has to be, what did you say, attainable or something that you can’t?

Speaker2: [00:24:22] It’s your perceived capability capability.

Speaker1: [00:24:24] And that’s where I feel like again, that falls right in line that social compliance around goals. So if somebody is saying that I’m going to because I was going to have everyone become ultramarathon runners when I became a therapist and there have been very few, if any of my clients have gone on to do that. And I feel like some of that is the it is there, there is a value of theirs, period. And then is that what’s their perceived ability to do that? That’s something that they feel like, OK? Number one, I don’t think I want to go run a hundred miles through the woods. And number two, I don’t know that I could even do that if I. And I feel like that’s a perfect example of if I’m saying, Hey, you can do anything, you put your mind. And you just got one and you just got to that does get somebody to get that dopamine bump and like, yeah, I can do this. And then when they go home and then they realize, OK, I don’t even want to do this, do I? Man, what’s wrong with me? Tony said. It’s cool. I felt good in this office, but now I don’t want to go run a 100 miles like I must be broken and right.

Speaker2: [00:25:16] Ok, right? And we’re going to dove into the same here in just a second too. But that so you got that. The why is very important. And then it’s the how which is your perceived capability. And so this is actually kind of fun. And when I am coaching somebody on their goals, I always make sure that they are setting smarter goals. And that is our version of the goal setting system. That’s the basis. But it’s all grounded in this research of the why and the how. And so we have the smart goal as a foundation, but that is just a very small part that’s just getting started because the E and the R we’re adding to make it smarter is an execution plan. So that’s where the how and the perceived capability really gets boosted there. And then a reason why which is obviously the perceived value. And when you capture those when you make a good execution plan, you’ve got an accountability partner, you’ve forecasted obstacles and preemptively struck with solutions. If I’m trying to lose weight, I know the snack cupboard is going to be an issue. I’m just going to lock that. If you get a good execution plan in place, what happens is those two factors. Those two key ingredients are really at the forefront of your mind and is making your goal smarter and helping you stay driven toward your OK.

Speaker1: [00:26:31] So I love this. And again, I’m laughing to myself because I know that when we were working together on that first round of putting your course together, you would say smarter goals. And I don’t think I ever really paid attention. And I feel so that’s OK because it’s brilliant. It’s brilliant. It really is. So hopefully the things I said at that time were in alignment with No.

Speaker2: [00:26:50] One hundred percent. So, yeah, that’s really what it boils down to is people, they set these goals, but they’re not thinking through the perceived value and capability. And inevitably, that’s going to decrease your drive levels. And it’s interesting because we’ve all spent time in in these different emotional states when you perceive value, but you don’t perceive capability when the house seems hard, then you’re discouraged. You want something, but you can’t get it. But if you flip that as well, maybe the house is not the problem. Maybe it’s part of your job. This happens in corporate America. I saw a lot of this in Chicago where the goal is just given to you, right? There’s the social compliance creeping in and you know, you can do it. It’s part of your job description, but the Y is not made clear to you. You don’t see what’s in it for you. And so your perceived value is not there, and in those cases, you’re disengaged. So we spend a lot of time in these discouraged and disengaged states. And what we need to be doing is re grounding in the why and the how in that perceived value in capability to stay driven toward our goal. So I’d say that’s why a lot of people have bad experiences with their goal.

Speaker1: [00:27:59] And what I like that you’re saying there too, is then others might say your y is because you get a paycheck. And I feel like that again is honestly that is a socially compliant because yes, it is wonderful to get a paycheck, but I work with a lot of people that come into my office that get really good paychecks, but they absolutely feel disengaged or do not like their job. And it is. So while I can think of two people right now that they say, I know I shouldn’t complain shitting on themselves, that they make a lot of money and they only work a few hours a week. And but it’s when they don’t have a sense of purpose. They don’t feel like there is a reason or a connection. Then that is not. It is not the euphoric thing that I think we dreamt of as kids, where I just want to get paid a lot of money and play video games. Lately, I’ve literally had somebody that was a video game tester. I will never forget this. They got their dream job and they immediately were put on a testing Dora in her backpack game, and they just played that over and over and over, and they got so tired of her backpack and boots, little monkey and whatever. And so, you know, there wasn’t that value, really or that really sense of purpose or connection in there.

Speaker2: [00:29:03] Yes, and that’s a huge problem. And a lot of people will unfortunately look at compensation or the salary as the why, but it’s a hygiene factor. If you’re familiar with that concept, it’s so what is that? If so, OK, so hygiene factor and that’s where compensation falls. If you show up and you haven’t showered, if you show up to a party and you stink, people are going to notice, right? Yes. If you show up and you don’t stink, nobody calls that out. No one says, Hey, congratulations, Neil, you don’t stink today. And that’s where the compensation lies. It’s if it’s not high enough, you notice, but you could get paid and there’s probably a breaking point absorbing amounts of money. But there’s a point where it’s just the hygiene factor. It’s yeah, you need to pay the bills and your pay is getting it there, but it’s not noticeable and it doesn’t really light your soul on fire. So that’s kind of

Speaker1: [00:29:57] I love it. I remember. Way back in the day, one of the first early podcasts I did was this one about this money, buy you happiness and the research. The formula was pretty amazing where it was a fairly low number that was then the I don’t know. Let’s say I don’t want I don’t want to say what a low number this word like privilege. You know, Neal, there’s only like a million and a half dollars if you believe that there was the number, but then it was, then the exponential happiness factor was not much more after a certain. So and I and I have some of the most wealthy people I’ve ever worked with are miserable because they don’t know the connection or sense of purpose.

Speaker2: [00:30:34] That’s right, and it doesn’t go a very long way. If you’re if that is what you’re relying on is your why you’re perceived value. It’s not going to last. And that’s where I was in Chicago. I was like, I was making good money. Yeah, but I wasn’t happy because of that misalignment in that social compliance. So yeah, that’s definitely something to keep in mind. And this might be a good Segway into the shame topic, which, you know, I just listen to you shut up and say, Hey, tell me this. But it’s interesting because you mentioned this. A lot of people set goals and then when they start wobbling on those goals, they’re not they’re not hitting the milestones. They start to feel that shame the and the shame defined as inherent in capability, right? Or incompetence, that’s kind of I am incapable that shame really creeps in. And it’s so important there’s a few things we do in achievement tried to kind of mitigate that. And again, it’s all based on things I learned from you and the social compliance. But a it’s it’s first finding that alignment.

Speaker2: [00:31:39] And what I encourage people to do is a life map to really get clear on their goals. And I know you have a similar exercise that you do with your clients to to find their goals, their value based goals that they can they can kind of look to. And once you get that defined kind of at a high level like, here’s what I want my life to look like in each category. Then you start taking action toward that life map and making sure that your goals are aligned with it. Because if there’s not that alignment, obviously, you’ve got to ask yourself, OK, is this a social compliant thing which that’s a hard conversation to have? And I’d love to hear your thoughts, maybe on people you’ve worked with where, you know, trying to be better for a spouse, for example, that’s at face value. That’s a very noble endeavor. But if you can’t really dig deep and find the Y in it for yourself, I think you’re still going to struggle as long as it’s just to make somebody else happy. Is that fair to say?

Speaker1: [00:32:38] Oh, it’s Neal. That is now. It is fun because I’m enjoying this interview so much. And now when you were saying those things, my my marriage therapist brain just went into high gear because I and even the last probably a couple of months, I’ve been really hyper focused on the concept of the need for external validation. And so it’s that, yeah, I’m doing it because, you know, I don’t feel very good about myself or my marriage. So I want my spouse to make me feel better about myself. Yeah. So what’s the way to do that to ask them, Well, just tell me what you need me to do because and because that will make you happy and then by you being happy, then that will make me happy. And there’s too many variables there, and that’s where I start talking about things. Get into this checkbox version of a marriage. And so, yeah, well, you told you told me to do these three things, and now you aren’t jumping up and down for joy. So now I don’t feel very good and I did the things you asked me to. And so you can see how far out in the weeds we get from an actual connection. And that’s where, you know, in the marriage course that you helped us with so much is the four pillars of a connected conversation allow people to have those conversations, but I really do feel like you’re on to something so much.

Speaker1: [00:33:40] I had someone challenge that in my office a couple of weeks ago, and so I always want to be as open and vulnerable as I can, because they did say that at one point they were they were their marriage was not healthy and they were in essence, kind of forced to learn these four pillars. So they did say it was it felt like more of a checkbox item. I will do this for you. But and now they they speak for pillars fluidly and their marriage is really it’s going really well. And so I did. I appreciated that, but I kind of said, OK, but you were also looking at that with curiosity and saying, OK, I don’t know what I don’t know. So, but I also reserve the right to be able to communicate about if this isn’t something that is in a line alignment with my values, right? So I thought that was really interesting. So anyway, I love your your point because I feel like when you were saying that can be a really difficult thing, that life map or figuring out what really means matters to you is is I do see the difficulty of first, because that first layer, when somebody goes through that, I don’t think they’re even aware that they’re still doing things because that’s what they’re supposed to do.

Speaker1: [00:34:40] And so, you know, and I’m having another really funny moment in my mind now, I remember a couple of the calls where you would talk about the life map and you would bring it up on the screen. And I would kind of act like I’m somewhat paying attention and oh, I dug your life map. I really did. And it was one of those things where I thought I should probably do that. But then I thought, I don’t know if I want to confront those. Right now, you know, I’ll still later. I’ve got all these other things they’ve got to do because it’s a great exercise because I really feel like it is hard to self confront. And yes. And I want to sound. I want it to sound so easy because I want to say, but it really doesn’t need to be as hard as we make it out to be. Because even when we’re doing the what do I really care about, we still don’t even realize we have to be able to step outside of our ego. But I always say that you have to have your hand, though over on your. You have to realize that, oh, there still is an ego.

Speaker1: [00:35:28] So I’m stepping outside of it to be able to kind of take a look and see, man, why do I believe that? And to be honest with myself, right? And why do I believe that? Is it because that is how I got validation as a kid, you know, or or that’s how I have been recognized. You know, if I if I love speaking and I always thought that all I would want to do is speak all over the world and everybody tell me it’s awesome. But then the more I would do it, I love the speaking. But it turns out I don’t want people to tell me it’s awesome because I feel uncomfortable. So, you know, really being able to self confront and say, What is it about yourself of why you like the things you do or why you care about the things you care about? And I feel like it’s hard to not do that with a man. Should I be thinking this or should I not? And I always say, you got to reframe it and to say, check this out, like, these are my thoughts and these are my experiences. So let’s take a look at them with without that judgment and with more curiosity, because that shame stuff creeps in, right? And then when the shame stuff and I really feel sorry now I’m on a roll, so I go, Yeah, but the shame stuff I’ve been thinking about a lot more and more.

Speaker1: [00:36:24] So, yeah, you know, when we would talk about the pat back stuff, I always say that I’m oh for sixteen hundred now of working with individuals where shame was a component of recovery. And yet, why do we continue to beat ourselves up? And if that was the answer, boy, we would all be perfect at this point. So it’s apparently not right. But I’ve been thinking lately and I have no data to back this up, so that’s why I say but I really I’ve been thinking a lot about when we beat ourselves up. I learned I wonder if that’s the when we were younger and we were seeking external validation. One of the ways we would get it is if we would say, Man, I’m horrible or I’m dumb or I’m no good, and somebody would inevitably say, Hey, bud, you’re OK. No, you can do this. Yeah. We were like, Oh, that makes me feel better because of what you said. And now I feel like we’ve almost internalized that as we get older. And so we’re beating ourselves up and nobody’s there to rescue us because we’re not going to have that self-compassion. So that’s just a theory, right?

Speaker2: [00:37:16] Oh, no, you said so many awesome things there that are just so important to understand, especially from the angle and curiosity. What a powerful attribute. I love that you brought that up, because if you can lean into that curiosity, have that fuel, you know, new things and even something we found as well, that’s really helpful with mitigating the shame in the goal setting process is to really, really make sure you’re getting everyone’s hands off. The steering wheel is the first thing and this is actually a concept my brother in law guy introduced me to. And it’s there’s so many hands on your steering wheel, you know, of life and especially when your life napping. I always tell people it’s so important to get those hands off, and sometimes you don’t even realize they’re there. You mentioned this right? Like, like, my mom’s hand is there. She loves me. She’s been there for me. She’s great, I love her. You know, I’m OK. But that hand is still on the steering wheel, calling the shots in your subconscious mind. And so it’s so important with love to get these hands off the steering wheel so that you can be in the driver’s seat and you can determine and do that soul searching.

Speaker2: [00:38:24] And it can be uncomfortable confronting that. Like, what? What do I really value? And once you get the hands off the steering wheel, there is kind of this this moment of like, Whoa, who am I? You know, sometimes there’s like this identity crisis that accompanies that experience, but it’s so important to do that because until you do, you don’t even realize it. You’re just setting, whether subconsciously or consciously be socially compliant goals that are not aligned with your core values. And so I love that you brought that in. One other quick thing on mitigating shame in the goal setting process that we found helpful is looking at LEED measures and measures and making sure that we understand the difference. And for anyone who is not familiar with that concept, a large measure is kind of the outcome of your actions where the LEED measure are the actions that lead to that outcome. So for example, yeah, yeah, yeah. So really common example. Somebody sets a goal. They say, I want to lose 15 pounds. Ok, that is an outcome, OK, but there are lots of LEED. So that’s a lag measure. There are a lot of LEED measures that result in that outcome of losing weight. So exercise, eating right, you know, doing all the things.

Speaker2: [00:39:35] And what we found is when you focus on the LAG measure, it’s there are a lot of things even outside of your control in that that LEED measure everything leading up to the outcome that can really derail you. And if you’re focusing, you say, Man, I want to lose this weight, but then, you know, a family member dies or, you know, then Christmas rolls around or or you have some kind of health condition that comes. Up in your bed ridden. There’s a lot of things that can happen where that lag measure deteriorates and doesn’t become a goal, and so I really help people focus on those lead measures. What are you in control of that you can do? You can be in control of what you eat. You can be in control of how much you exercise or whatever. And even in there, there’s some nuance. But but you’ve got to focus on these lead measures because that’s easier to to feel in control. And and then then I always see better lag measures and better outcomes when we focus there first, and that helps with the shame as well and mitigating that inherent incompetence. So that was just another concept.

Speaker1: [00:40:39] No, Neal, I love it. I actually just wrote that down because I feel like that describes and maybe if I can workshop this with you, maybe as you guys said in the improv world, I don’t think that’s maybe what you really call it. But I really like this and I will. I overuse. I’ll go back to the reading example. I do my push up example constantly, and I feel like I want a different example. But the reading one, I really can think of the person specifically who said, I’m going to read 12 books in a year. And honestly, as we kind of alluded to earlier, that I boy, I just want to bless their heart because I feel like I don’t know what the percentage would be of people that aren’t going to accomplish that. It sounds great. So that would be the right. The LAG measure is 12 books. And so then but the lead measure is it is I mean, it’s it’s it’s doing its reading. I mean, it’s the actions you can do. And then I feel like in my world, I often want to then find the like you say, the why so the value. So if it’s a if there’s a value of knowledge, because if it’s just I want to read books and if I explore that, especially this person, it wasn’t necessarily but with others. Why do you want to? Well, because I’ve heard that a well-read person is is smart or is there all the leaders I have heard about like to read? So then if that’s the case, it is absolutely a socially compliant goal. I’m doing it because I think that I should or it will make me a better person. And so then when when you have other things going on in your life and that isn’t a real value, then here comes that thing.

Speaker1: [00:41:57] I know we would talk about experiential avoidance, and so I’m just going to check my email first. Even I’m going to do things that I think are pretty productive. I’m going to I’m going to go. I mean, I’ve got someone I was talking with recently where they will even say, No, I’m going to go help my wife, and that is an amazing thing. But then it’s experiential avoidance because we’ve really identified that it’s because they really don’t care about the the goal that they set or the mechanism to get there. So that reading one right? So then I often say, OK, let’s let’s identify a value in this person had a value of knowledge. So how do they want to acquire knowledge? Reading So it doesn’t even have to be a book. I mean, it can be an article, read magazines. It can be whatever. So then it’s the so they set this goal of I’m going to read something every day. And I thought that was brilliant. And they said, Well, how long? And I was like, I don’t know. I mean, you know, if you and that’s where I felt like I struggle, where somebody says, well, even if they say, Well, I’m just going to do it 10 minutes a day in my brain still immediately goes to, Oh man, they’re going to be days or you’re not going to do it for ten minutes and then you’re going to slip into that. What is wrong with me? And then right. And then I feel like, so this is the thing where I felt like you and I created something special. Do you remember it was the get back on the horse concept?

Speaker2: [00:43:07] Yes. Get back on the saddle plan. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker1: [00:43:10] Yeah, that’s right. Ok. You want to talk about that?

Speaker2: [00:43:12] Yes, because this is actually a really powerful tool as well that we use an achievement tribe. And that is, you know, you’re not always going to be on your A-game. That is a fact. And when you wake up and you know, if you had a rough night’s sleep, whatever you ate, something you shouldn’t. You can have an off day and it’s important to have a game plan for those off days to get you back on the saddle. And so what we do is we have and this is something we develop together as well that I really love is you just say, OK, I’m going to outline the the immediate five steps that I can to get back on the saddle. If I’m feeling off, you know, get rid of the shame. Just say, learn how to recognize your off days and your off moments, you know, and especially if you’re really trying to overcome something and you have a, you know, a slip up or a setback, you eat something you should and you do something you’re not supposed to. It’s so important to have that in place, so you can say it’s time to get back on the saddle. And then and there’s this concept as well of activation energy that Sean Akers huge on which I love.

Speaker2: [00:44:19] And that’s basically, you know, how much effort is it going to take to do something? And if you can reduce the friction, you can reduce that activation energy, then you’re making success inevitable. So you want to you want to reduce the friction for the things you want to do and increase the friction with the things that you’re trying to to steer away from. And so that’s what you get back on the saddle plan is it’s reducing the friction and activation energy. So you know, when you have an off day or an off moment, you know exactly what to do and it can just be this way again. Psychologically, your brain can just go through this little list, check it off and get back. On the saddle and get a quick win, that’s a huge concept as well, that’s so powerful is just when you when you need some momentum, get those quick wins in, even if it’s just shooting somebody, a text or an email or just one little task, just get in a quick win. And that can help you get momentum to get back on the saddle.

Speaker1: [00:45:16] Oh man, I love that you’ve you’ve taken. You’ve even added so much more to it. And I really I love that about the way that you took this concept. And then you added these steps, which I think is so powerful. You know, I the reading example is for for somebody listening would be then because inevitably, yeah, things happen and we go, it’s three or four days, and now I haven’t even read anything. Then we have a we typically then will say again, it’s like, what is wrong with me? I can’t even I can’t even just read, even though I haven’t set, you know, 12 books or whatever, I really must be bad. And so we we would talk about, Oh no, when you were aware of it, then note it like, OK, that’s the thing I missed three days. Interesting. Yep. Right. And that’s some pretty powerful stuff. And then it’s like, I love what you’re saying and then I’ve got this, this get a quick win. You know, I’ve got these steps I can turn to. We have even talked about this. I’m doing this one on the fly, but this is where I love and act the concept of expansion.

Speaker1: [00:46:05] So then because, you know, once I’m aware and then I do have these these steps you’re talking about and I’m and I want the quick win. My brain is probably still going to fight me a little bit and say, Well, yeah, but it’s been three days or I don’t even want. I’m not. I don’t want to do it. How about that old man, you know, and then expansion to stay and totally. Yeah, I don’t. I know that I don’t want to do it and I’m going to bite not wanting to do it, to come with me while I go down this list, you know, and and I feel like, boy, that is that is a powerful thing, because then I love your concept of a quick win because it’s almost like when the brain sees the quick win and you did it even though you didn’t want to, then it has to give you a little credit. I mean, that’s right, your brain is like, OK, I’ll give you that one, but you just wait, you know, that’s right.

Speaker2: [00:46:45] And I got energy. One other just quick thing here as well is if you have an accountability partner, a very powerful concept between this just, you know, getting over those those failures. And the shame is something we bake into. The experience and achievement tribe is you get partnered up with somebody and you come up with an incentive or penalty however you want to look at it so that if you have your focus habit for that week that you’re trying to do every day and you don’t come through on it or you don’t check in with your accountability partner, there is just a little slap on the wrist. That is a, you know, some people do to Venmo, two bucks or whatever. And it’s interesting at first glance, it’s like, Oh my gosh, my shame alarms going off. But what we’ve found, and I’d be curious to hear your thoughts real quick on this, if you have any is that you failed, you didn’t come through on your habit for that day. But then if you just you get that little slap on the wrist, it really empowers you to say, Hey, I paid, I paid my dues, you know, and now I can just move forward with no shame. It’s like, Yeah, I didn’t come through. But we already agreed that if I didn’t come through, I’d give you this little you a song on iTunes or whatever. Yeah. And so anyway, that’s been a really effective tool as well for mitigating shame is just kind of these little slap on the wrist, and it just allows you to say, OK, I paid, I paid the price. Let’s move forward. No.

Speaker1: [00:48:02] So I like it. So I was I was stifling back funny jokes in my head that I write there about, like I was going to try to work something into wait a minute. The iTunes songs like Neil used to tell me, Hey, I’m going to, I don’t know, share my childhood photos or, you know, whatever, lop off my little finger or whatever. So apparently that’s evolved now, which is, you know, much more tangible. But I couldn’t get it out, and it doesn’t sound as funny as I wanted it to. I love the the principle, though, is so good because I feel like this does hearken back to the you know we want. I know ideally I would love for somebody to be an absolute zen master and just be present and whatever. But that isn’t that isn’t reality. So we do want a little bit of A.. I did. I’m good. I mean, we do. And that’s where I feel like we sometimes we need to accept the fact that we really, as much as I’m talking about, oh, we don’t have to have this need for external validation. Sometimes it’s we need a little bit of that. I love the friction or we need a little bit of something.

Speaker1: [00:48:55] So I do like that. Ok? No. You know what? I want people to just accept it and move on, but I feel like having a little accountability piece there does help us say, No, I’m good. And maybe that is the little bit of a reset that you need just enough to keep moving forward. So I love that. Hey, we’ve almost gone an hour. This is I was I think I was initially saying 30 40 minutes. I feel so bad I could keep talking to you. So are you OK to tell us about, you know, tell us about your program, tell us about where people find it, and because I will, I will put links in the show notes. I mean everything because this is amazing. I hope that people that are listening get an idea that you know your I mean, your achievement. Try plant drive. You know, achievement. Try. Right. Is there is a lot that has gone into it. There are years of development behind it, and I feel fortunate to have had conversations with you that I’m it’s so neat to see even how they’ve evolved into this program. So what is it? Where do people find it? What do they do?

Speaker2: [00:49:49] Yes. And this really is such a product of all the conversations we’ve had. So thank you so much for that achievement. Tribe is a goal a. Achievement system made up of three key ingredients. It’s a proven goal system. It’s an accountability group and it is a planner that was built from the ground up to help you competently set, pursue and achieve your goals. So with all of that together in one place, we do these goals where we incorporate all of the things that we talked about on today’s show and really come together as a tribe of achievers to to support each other and help each other and achieve our goals. And so we’ve got a goal sprint coming up in January that I would love for. I would love for everyone to join if they’re wanting to really just have that system in place where they can reduce all of the angst and wonder out of the goal setting process and really just level up. We would love to have you and I actually for anyone listening today, I will do a free goal consultation with anyone listening right now. And so, so and that’s a that’s a big thing. I don’t I don’t throw that to anybody, but I really want to add value for your listeners. And so if anybody listening wants to get on a 20 minute call and you want to, you want me to help you set a goal, think through the new year. No strings attached at all. Or if you just want more information about the achievement tribe, I’m happy to sit down with you and to to really help you for for 20 30 minutes. And so how you do that is you go to Achievement Tribe, Cocoa Achievement Tribe Eco and you’ll see a sign up link right there, front and center on the home page. And I would love to chat with you, help you set some goals or think through and get back on the saddle plan, whatever. So that’s that’s the call to action.

Speaker1: [00:51:42] Perfect. And what I. Ok, so I feel like I want to jokingly say I can always edit this out, but I feel like I want to then be a part of that goal sprint in January because I feel like I want that. I want that accountability. So maybe I will. I will join you on this venture and then we can have you back on in a few months and follow up and see where people are at and how things.

Speaker2: [00:52:00] Yes, I would love that. Oh my gosh. And in fact, I’ve already been scheming ways to have you come on and be a guest speaker. We’re going to have a monthly, a monthly training as well, and you are the first person I want to have. I share some stuff there.

Speaker1: [00:52:13] So this time when I’m on, I will pay full attention and not just be thinking about my own ego. That’s right.

Speaker2: [00:52:21] And I meant to mention this as well. If anyone wants to join the gold sprint. You can join and we’re giving everyone a discount for that as well, which the discount code is virtual couch. And if you do that at checkout, you’ll you’ll get like 30 percent off. So it’s a pretty big discount on that end

Speaker1: [00:52:39] And it will change your whole life. No, no, no big deal, right?

Speaker2: [00:52:43] No big deal. Yeah, your life will change forever.

Speaker1: [00:52:46] So we could have gone on and on and on. What a pleasure to have you on here and what I want even listeners to know. If you enjoyed this, Neal and I are literally now going to move over into his podcast, which I’ve been waiting to do forever. And so please, just like just follow the links, I’ll have them in the show notes or just right now while you’re listening to this, go go pull up your podcast app and find the happiness playbook, and then you can hear us in just a matter of moments still here. Yes. Can’t wait much for joining me.

Speaker2: [00:53:15] An absolute pleasure. Thank you so much, Tony.

Speaker1: [00:53:18] All right, we’ll talk to you soon. Yep. Yeah, OK. That was incredible, and I really could have gone on and on and we have this whole. I don’t I really do have until 9:00. I booted Preston is what I did. So OK. I think maybe what would be good if I end the broadcast and you jump back on, Yeah, let’s do that. Ok, so let me do that. And if for any reason, it’s weird and thanks for I didn’t mean to make it weird with the virtual couch code. And that sounded.

Speaker2: [00:53:38] No, no. And I’m so glad you brought that up. I saw over here in the notes because I wanted to do that and I’m going to set you up an affiliate link. So yeah, anyway, we can talk about go ahead and end it.

Speaker1: [00:53:50] Ok, I’ll end it and then I’ll and so I’ll just jump right back in. Or if worst case, I’ll send you another link. Ok, sounds good. Thanks, Neal.

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