Transcript | PPP104: 

Accountability and Walking the Line Between Grit and Grace

 [00:00:00] Intro: Today on the Potential Psychology Podcast

[00:00:03] Marie: I must, I have to, it feels arduous, you know? And so I've started trying to say to myself, I get to

[00:00:12] Ellen: yes

[00:00:12] Marie: I choose to, it is hard. There are many different things we need to hold ourselves accountable for, but by their very nature, if we have to hold ourselves accountable, there's some form of blockage and willpower required.

So, you know, for me, saying I get to get up in the morning and go down to the beach to exercise rather than have to have to, have to, have to... Which just adds this kind of other layer of stress and overwhelm and feels like kind of unfair, you know, have to do all these things.

[00:00:41] Ellen: Yeah. Yeah. It's an obligation.

[00:00:43] Marie: Yeah. And it's very different because we do get to choose and we do get to say to ourselves, who do I want to be? How do I want to show up and for me that are answers to those questions very much what leads me to be able to hold myself accountable.

[00:01:04] Ellen: Welcome to the Potential Psychology Podcast. I'm your host psychologist, Ellen Jackson.

And this is the show in which we explore what it is to be human and how we as humans can fulfill our potential. Hello, this is the Potential Psychology Podcast and our special series, How to Thrive. I'm Ellen and I'm here with my co-host, Marie McLeod. Hi Marie!

[00:01:27] Marie: Hi Ellen. How you going?

[00:01:29] Ellen: Good. Good. What are we talking about this week as we discuss How to Thrive?

[00:01:36] Marie: Today and this week we're talking about accountability. And accountability is a bit of an unusual inclusion perhaps in, a framework on How to Thrive, but what I've noticed and perhaps you have too, is how important holding ourselves accountable is. So I'm really looking forward to diving into this one with you today.

[00:01:56] Ellen: Fantastic. Yes, and it is one of my favorite topics, accountability and goal setting. And this is the third letter in the beacon framework that we are working our way through for those who perhaps have tuning in for the first time. Can you give us a really quick rundown on BEACON.

[00:02:14] Marie: So, BEACON is the framework that we're working with.

That's the framework I created, evidence-based around how to thrive and we are touching it on each of the letters B for belonging, E for engagement, A which is today for accountability, C for compassion, O for optimism and N for nurture, which is about our physical health. And so just every week we're giving you a tiny tweak as a, as a quest that our listeners can go away and do, and that we are doing too.

And so perhaps we better debrief on last week's quest before we dive into this week's what do you reckon?

[00:02:49] Ellen: Excellent idea. So last week we spoke about engagement being that experience of being in flow, that moment, perhaps, or those series of moments where it feels like time is standing still and passing quickly at the same time, because we are really doing something that plays to our strengths as individuals, our psychological strengths.

So we both set ourselves a little quest to have a look at our VIA strengths, survey results we've both done them multiple times before. What did you find and what did you practice perhaps this week Marie around strengths and engagement?

[00:03:32] Marie: Yeah. So I went and took a look, a look at mine and I had done mine last year and I'd done that because we, I became part of a new team at that time for the documentary.

And we had asked everyone on the team to do it. And so I redid it then, so that we could share with each other and have that conversation about that. So it wasn't terribly long since I'd done it. And one of the things I think I did mention last time that because of in lots and lots of coaching perspective came up for me, but my, my strengths are creativity, kindness, honesty, zest and self-regulation, which is very rare to having the top strengths.

[00:04:06] Ellen: It's very rare because almost everyone I debrief has it down the bottom, even myself.

[00:04:10] Marie: Everybody has it down the bottom. And sometimes it doesn't, it, it, you know, things fluctuate a little bit. So sometimes, you know, things might change around a little bit. I might have, judgment, you know, sometimes it comes to my top spot five. But self-regulation, I think that's because of my, sort of, you know, my ADHD tendencies that self-regulation has been a learned strength to sort of counteract that. So I, in my later years, and with greater insight, I think that's why I have become someone with self regulation where it isn't very common.

I agree in people I see as well. So for me, what I was thinking about was I'm very curious and conscious about times when I overplay my strengths, I don't know that I underplay strengths. Maybe that's my sort of my zestiness but as often as I overplay them. And so for me that can look like too much zest, you know, too much energy for certain people at certain times.

And, you know, kindness is another one too, that for myself, but also for people that I coach that, you know, too much kindness to others and not enough for myself, I had to keep in check. And I have to admit that I've been having a little bit of a chuckle to myself because this weekend we finally got to visit my brother who has a farm down in the outweighs.

And he's actually a pilot and his wife's a surgeon, but they have a farm and through lockdown, he hasn't been flying of course. And so he has now 70 sheep there have been lambing and my daughter had been saying, oh mom, can we have one of uncle Rob's lambs and I was like, absolutely not. You know, we live at the city, first of all.

And we have enough trouble looking after all of ourselves at times. What did we come home with Ellen?

[00:05:58] Ellen: Is this overplaying your strengths of zest?

[00:06:00] Marie: This was overplaying a lot of strengths. I think the overplay strength of kindness to Jess and, to the lamb and creativity thinking I can make this work, you know, so, you know, there were no more lambs. They were all finished. It just so happened at the time that we were there, a mommy sheep became sick and then died leaving a little lamb. That was going to be alone.

And so there was no milk puddle leftover. There was nothing for this little lamb and I'm calling my husband. Who's going, 'you are not doing that. We're in metro Melbourne'.

You are, he's all prudence. He's like, what are the council regulations? We arrive home and first thing is the council regulations say, no, livestock must live in our municipalities. Don't tell the council, he'll be gone again in a few weeks. We just need to feed him up. So he's strong enough, but just for me, it was just a perfect example of the different strengths.

My husband went straight to the rules and I went straight to the hash, you know? And so as I was driving back thinking, where are we going to find. The special milk replacement stuff in the city.

Like no one feeds calves and things bleeting in the back and even I am thinking, what on earth have I done?

Because Jess was just like, mom, you know, it would be the world to me. And I worked so hard at my exams and, you know, and she really is so in love with animals and it brings her so much joy. So, you know, my other part of the positive psychology brain was going, imagine how much positive emotion it will bring to our family.

Imagine how much community connection when people bring, you know, their kids around to pet the land. So, anyway, that's what happened. And that was my funny little overplaying strengths. So Ellen how did you get on , so hopefully you didn't do anything quite as crazy.

[00:07:49] Ellen: I have not added any additional livestock or family members to my family over the course of the last week.

It was interesting actually, because we did touch last week on this idea of strengths, being a very individual thing. And that even if you have a couple of similar strengths, that combination of strengths can wire people up to live and experience the world quite differently. And as you were going through your top strengths, Marie, I realized that we had absolutely no overlap whatsoever and mine are all completely different.

[00:08:23] Marie: That's why we work.

[00:08:24] Ellen: Mine are all head strengths, which probably doesn't surprise anybody who knows me well. I don't have so many hearts strength, sadly, something that I consciously do try to work on in terms of developing strengths, because we can do that. So mine are judgment, which I think you did mention last week, as well as not about being judgy.

I know sometimes when people see judgment as one of their top stinks, they're like, oh my God, that's awful. I don't want to be, but it is about how we synthesize information and come to decisions. Yeah. So it's often about making sure not necessarily consciously, but it's just a natural wiring to look at all the different perspectives and try and synthesize the information before you come to a decision.

So that's very much me, perspective is one of mine, as well as a curiosity and love of learning, which are two that I have reflected on a lot in the context of producing this podcast, because I think it really has given me an opportunity to exercise my strength of curiosity in particular. One of the things that I love is that I get to ask questions and

[00:09:32] Marie: Absolutely.

[00:09:33] Ellen: be curious about a whole range of topics with people. And so that is a strength that I think in the last couple of years since I've been doing this has been something that I've really been able to play to a lot, maybe overplaying?

[00:09:49] Marie: Perspective as well cause you get to share wisdom and be curious and learn

[00:09:53] Ellen: And perspective as well.

Yeah, absolutely. And love of learning is another one as well. So again, talking to in most of our episodes a different person every week. And I get to learn as I go, which really does it fuels and reenergizes me. And I think, you know, in the context of our conversation today about accountability, one of my really strong professional interests is around motivation and what contributes to our motivation.

So, playing to your strength is a great contributor to motivation. It keeps me going, it keeps me producing this podcast season after season after season.

[00:10:30] Marie: Yes.

[00:10:31] Ellen: Because I actually get as much energy and inspiration and excitement from each of the conversations that I have a lot of the production pieces that I thankfully now outsource to a wonderful team I do in part because none of those bits play to my strengths.

Audio editing, putting together the promotion material, the website, none of that particularly plays to my strengths at all. And so I allow others in the team to play to their strengths in doing those pieces of the full exercise but for me, it's about having the conversation. So, that plays to that and then the one strength that I have that is not a wisdom strength.

So our strengths fall into, when you do the VIA strength survey and for anyone who has done it in the weeks, since we talked about it in our last conversation, they sit under these kinds of higher order categories that they call the virtues. And I'm not sure that I love some of the language that's used around this, but anyway, they called the virtues and wisdom is one of the virtue.

So four of my top five strengths fall into that category of wisdom strengths but my fifth one is forgiveness, which I think fits into the humanity?

[00:11:36] Marie: Yes.

[00:11:37] Ellen: Virtue

[00:11:37] Marie: I think you're right.

[00:11:38] Ellen: I think it does, yeah. So, forgiveness

[00:11:39] Marie: that's not a head premise

[00:11:40] Ellen: No, no, no. So, that's my non head strength.

[00:11:42] Marie: Yes your non-head one.

[00:11:44] Ellen: My non-head one. The one that makes me a bit more human is forgiveness. So at is which I see play out in lots of ways.

[00:11:54] Marie: Do you sometimes overplay forgiveness?

[00:11:56] Ellen: I do overplay forgiveness. Yes. And so one of the things that I need to be aware of is not making myself a doormat.

[00:12:05] Marie: Exactly.

[00:12:07] Ellen: For playing that strength of forgiveness that I do need to assert boundaries when it's important for my own wellbeing, that it's very much been a learned skill over time. I wouldn't say I'm necessarily particularly good at it in every case, but it is something I'm at least conscious of now that.

[00:12:25] Marie: Yeah.

[00:12:26] Ellen: Sometimes you just can't forgive everyone for everything, but it certainly is very much part of my wiring. I've come to notice that a lot.

[00:12:32] Marie: Yes. And because people will take you for granted, if you'll just forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive.

So oftentimes, you know, when I see people with forgiveness, I asked them that very question, you know, does that sometimes get overplayed in ways that you then ended up feeling like a doormat. And so I I'm, that's really good that you sort of noticed that in the same way I have to watch the kindness.

[00:12:53] Ellen: It's taken me a long time to come to that, to be fair.

[00:12:56] Marie: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:12:58] Ellen: But I wasn't so good at it in my twenties, but I've got better until I'm like Forties. 

Marie: It's beautiful when it comes with age. Yeah.

[00:13:04] Marie: Excellent.

[00:13:04] Ellen: And I'm trying to think whether there's any.. Look, I feel like I'm so well immersed in this whole thoughtfulness around strengths that I wouldn't say that I've necessarily noticed anything in particular in the last week with it but I have had some great conversations with other people about their strengths and talking about the importance and the benefits of understanding your strengths, just to allow you to be your best self.

[00:13:31] Marie: Good. Well, it sounds like we both did our homework and we do our quest and I'm glad you didn't end up with a lamb.

[00:13:38] Ellen: Yeah. So am I. So am I. So what are we talking about this week? It's accountability. Tell us a little more about accountability Marie.

[00:13:47] Marie: So, you know, some of our listeners, as you said, they're very literate in positive psychology, and they would be familiar with Martin Seligman's PERMA framework and I had used that for many years, as you would have as well. And I guess, you know, part of the thing for me with creating BEACON as I would have mentioned, I wanted something with more metaphor and to be more memorable, I wanted it to be able to sort of span from the individual to the collective but another thing that was not part of PERMA, it became part of BEACON was accountability. And that's because I've observed so much whether it's individuals or whether it is a system, the importance of, we can know all the things in the world about what it takes to thrive but that is not going to help us one iota if we don't hold ourselves accountable and, and apply that.

So it's that sort of that knowing, doing gap that we often find. And I find many times people, if you ask them, and if you seek to sort of really listen. You can discover that they know what works for them. It's about sticking to it. There's the tricky thing. So what we often say is a thriving is not a spectator sport.

You can't sit back and watch it happen.

[00:15:02] Ellen: Knowing about it is not enough.

[00:15:04] Marie: That's right. Getting physically fit and healthy does not just mean eating 1 piece of broccoli and one visit to the gym. It requires constant attention and it's the same for our mental health and, and our thriving. And so this is what really accountability is about.

It means that for individuals, they've got to do stuff. In workplaces and systems, that means that if we want our team or our workplace to shine its brightest, we are all accountable for that. Every single one of us is part of what makes this place feel good and function well. And so that's the other lens of accountability for me is that, you know, the interplay between the me and the we, and the fact that, you know, I think you would relate to this, talking to leaders who, who find these tricky conversations about how sometimes people are not very good at holding themselves accountable for doing stuff and they need to recognize that it's not just about them. It's about the contagion effect that that has for other people. And so, you know, in terms of their sort of leadership pieces as well for individuals that it's, it's that beautiful combination of grit and grace.

So how do we hold ourselves and others accountable in a very gritty way, in a very sort of fierce way, but how do we combine that with the grace that says sometimes I haven't got one a takes, sometimes I'm exhausted, sometimes I'll be legitimately overwhelmed, depleted ,kept up at night by a borrowing lamb or whatever it is.

There are days when it's okay to say, I don't have what it takes, but we can't do that every day, right? We can't make those excuses every day. So accountability is about holding ourselves accountable for doing what we need to do to thrive but it is also about knowing that sometimes we pull back from that sort of grittyness with grace. And so this BEACON beam has got like, like engagement had a lot of Es this has got a lot of Gs. It's about goals. It's about grit. It's about grace and it's about growth mindset. And growth mindset is, is really about knowing that we, that we can change and we can thrive more if we put an effort and we're intentional.

So that's what accountability is about. That was a long answer. I'm sorry.

[00:17:31] Ellen: No, that's okay. Well, I'm going to ask you now for a practical example, where do people perhaps struggle with accountability and


[00:17:42] Marie: Well, I think that's a great question. I think it is a big source of struggle and, and you will have had so many coaching clients over the years that come and they, as I say, they know what to do, they don't do it.

And I think that people will often make excuses of I'm too busy. It's too hard. I'm just not that kind of person. I don't have time. I'm not worthy you know, of looking after myself are some of the things that people might say that they, they just don't prioritize themselves amongst the busy-ness. So they have all of these, what I would call kind of back doors that they sneak out in terms of why they can't, rather than why they can.

And so I think that tied up in putting ourselves first, thinking that, you know, maybe it's, I'm just not an exercise person. You know, I'm a busy person. I'm a, this person, that person. There is a relationship between this and our identity. Who we see ourselves now and how we see ourselves in the future.

And I just discovered that you have a masters in this Ellen so I bow down to your greater knowledge about, sort of goal setting and motivation, but what I know from my sort of limited expertise and this is that, how we see the future affects what we will do today. And so if I see myself in the future as being someone who is in a career I love and who is strong and healthy and connected, what does that mean for what I will do today?

And how do these things fit with how I see myself? So for many, many, many, many years, I saw myself as someone that didn't exercise. I just, I thought I couldn't, shouldn't and wouldn't set foot in a gym and that's just a belief that I held about myself and therefore I did not exercise. And so, you know, it is a complex thing again, that some of the reasons we don't do it, I tied in with beliefs that we hold.

And so again, this is where it's good to work with a coach, you know, to sort of unravel some of these stories that we tell and some of these beliefs and how it is impacted by identity, but in a sort of very simple way, we need to find out what you know, we need to know what to do. That's the first thing in some ways, the easy bits, you know, what is going to help me thrive and you and I sharing requests around that.

So how are people going to hold themselves to those things is the what but it's also, why does this matter to me really deeply? Why does it matter for the sake of what while I get up at 6:00 AM every morning and exercise? For the sake of what will I take time for some mindfulness? For the sake of what will I eat healthily? For the sake of what while I take time to connect with other people?

And so I think that those are all kinds of components and we need to make personal commitments and we need to kind of break it down into tiny pieces.

[00:20:42] Ellen: And that's the piece that really fascinates me, that why piece. I mean, we use this term why I found my why, and we use it so frequently these days. What was the difference?

What was the why for you in making that shift from being that I'm not an exerciser person to somebody who does exercise. how did that work for you to make that shift?

[00:21:08] Marie: It's a good question. Do you know what happened so long ago? And when I was, you know, young and I didn't, I probably didn't think as deeply about things.

I think probably for me it happened through connection. I had to say I'd like to say something different because I think it would fit the story better.

[00:21:22] Ellen: No, but I think it's important that we actually explore these realities because I think there's so much out there in the world that says, you know, to use exercise and example, because I know it's one that people struggle with a lot because we know why we should do it, but it can also be really uncomfortable and crappy and actually not that much fun.

And there's so much out there that says to us, we should exercise for our health, which is such a, kind of an intangible, or we should exercise, well, a lot of social media tells us that we should exercise to look a certain way, which again is such a challenge for the vast majority of people. So I think actually unpacking people's real lived experience of what's made the difference can help us to see that it's often lots of different, interesting, varied and unique little snippets of things that might even feel a little bit random, but have made a difference.

[00:22:18] Marie: Maybe our strengths come to play here as well. Because if we think about how to get over that line, how to break that barrier between someone that doesn't do something, something that does, how do we go with the way that we're wired and how do we, so for me, if I know that I'm a very zesty person, I'm a kind person, I'm a people person, you're a curious person and you love learning. So if we were to take those different strengths and think about how to get over the line of exercising, you would want to be curious and go and try with things. You might want to learn different ways of moving and then choose them. You'll obviously want to make good judgment and your decision-making because that's how you're wired. For me,

[00:22:58] Ellen: yes.

[00:22:59] Marie: it works to have to go with other people, you know? And if I made a commitment to them, my kindness, you know, meant that I would, I would show up for them in the first instance, until it began to give me benefits until I began to change my identity. And that takes time to now I'm someone that would exercise most days, and you know, now it's about going with my daughter or my kids and with friends.

So I, I don't like to exercise on my own. So I set things up where I have, you know, this weekend gone, I didn't even say this, this was crazy. We went and did one of those jump in the ocean and stay in the cold water kind of things. That's getting famous.

[00:23:40] Ellen: Yeah, yeah.

[00:23:40] Marie: And so, um, that was with a group of girlfriends and, you know, I've got these little WhatsApp groups now, the hiking group and the jumping the sea group and the, you know, the morning sort of stretch group.

And, you know, that's my sort of crazy zesty ADHD thing cause I like variety, but I liked doing it with people and I like being in nature and being outside. So for me, you know, how do we begin to do the things we don't like? Bring in the things we know that work for us. And I do think having an accountability buddy is a very good idea. Who else wants to do the thing that you want to do you?

You and I said, oh, we haven't meditated for a while. And we'd like to, you know, do that again. You know, that would be great for me to say, okay

[00:24:21] Ellen: I want to be in a meditating group.

[00:24:22] Marie: Yeah, or set ourselves accountable you know, hold ourselves accountable. Oh, I just had an insight timer that I liked, he had tried this or, or do it together. And these are good too, because they're helping out connections, you know, helping our belongings.

So they're all sort of, as I think I've said before, I love it when we can do things to amplify and exercising in nature with a friend, you know, you're getting more of those things. So, you know, I think you probably have some, some great ideas for us as well, in terms of, you know, setting goals, finding motivation.

Are there things that from way back in your days of doing your masters, that you remember. Or that perhaps you, you know, use now with your clients around, what do you think helps people to hold themselves accountable to do what they often know or have just learned that they need to do to thrive?

[00:25:13] Ellen: Absolutely. And I think you really hit on the best example I could give in your explanation of what worked for you, because as you were talking, I was thinking, oh, that's not me at all, because I'm quite different. So I only exercise alone because it is a bit of me time, you know, being an introverted person and being a person who likes to think things through and my love of learning.

So yesterday, for example, I, despite being very tired because I did go out the night before and I'm getting old. I don't recover well. I took the dog for a walk around the lake and listened to the psychology podcast. One of my favorite podcasts, which is very nerdy, deep, psychological conversation, philosophical conversation.

But that's the kind of thing that lights me up. So I think this, and this is absolutely what I do with my clients. And a lot of what my training has told me is that understanding what works for you as an individual. And I think that's one of the challenges with so much of what we hear publicly about developing habits and about, you know, there's lots of techniques there's piggybacking, there's, you know, understanding the why there's the, you know, if then what I've forgotten, what the sequence is.

There's lots of different things that are out there that are great tips. Great strategies. All evidence-based but they're not all going to work for each and every one of us, that identity piece that you mentioned, the strengths, your own interests, and what tends to happen is that we try something that everybody else has raved about, or we've read about in a book and we've gone this is the way that it works. This will be my magic ticket to developing this new habit that I will sustain forever more and then we try it and it doesn't work.

[00:26:58] Marie: Yeah.

[00:26:59] Ellen: And then we're like, well, I'm clearly just

[00:27:01] Marie: Oh that's not for me.

[00:27:02] Ellen: Yeah, I'm really just not cut out for this. I'm never going to be an exerciser and I've done it.

You know, I've, I've had stints where I've tried running. I've had stints where I've gone to the gym. I've had stints, but I've not been able to sustain them. The things that I have have been able to sustain in terms of exercise have been yoga and walking the two things. And so it really is trying to understand what it is about those as an example for me, that work. And I think that's the same for what I think I know that's the same for everybody else. It's really being able to do exactly what you've done, you know, actually think about, well, what's going to help me continue this new behavior long enough that it, we do start to reap some of those other benefits and starting to unpack that and that's a very unique and individual situation. And sometimes it's just a lot of trying out different things. There's a lot of experimentation takes place there to see, you know, which bits work and, and why, you know. I've tried walking on my own. I haven't really seemed, I get bored. So do I try walking with somebody else? Maybe walking's not the thing for me? Maybe it's swimming, maybe it's so forgetting about the, kind of the narrative, the stories that we get told about what we should do and why and how, and just getting a little experimental with it and trying what works for us as individuals.

[00:28:28] Marie: And they, and I, and I think that's the thing, you know, that we speak about every time is how do we also know what we want to do and what we want to try, embrace curiosity by sampling.

You know, and then just going, oh, what would happen if I tried this? What would and not holding it too tightly?

[00:28:44] Ellen: Yes.

[00:28:45] Marie: You know, so as I would say to people, hold it lightly, not tightly just going on and giving it a go and knowing that a little bit is better than none. So

[00:28:53] Ellen: yes.

[00:28:53] Marie: the other thing that I think about that's important once we know what it is that we want to stick to is we have to be prepared.

We have to plan, you know, and we have to reduce the amount of friction and noise between thinking about and doing it. Right? So, if I know that I want to eat healthily then I need to go to the supermarket and I need to have those things on hand and I need to have them prepared. So at the moment, my husband and I are doing a detox, a liver detox kind of thing, because I had elevated liver levels.

Is it like, as if I had been drinking too much in private, which actually I hadn't, so we're doing that. And it's like, you know, you've got to have quinoa porridge and chia puddings, and you've got to have, you know, salmon and veggies or whatever. You can't just grab something. You have to be prepared. You have to have done it the night before you have to have the things ahead or you'll break it.

And then once you broke it, you think, oh, you know, what's the point in herring on I've already broken it. There is a lot of need to think ahead and plan ahead and making sure that we are committing to it. And I think as well, if you're going to be exercising the next morning, you have to, it starts the night before.

So you've got to lay out your exercise gear, you know, get one of those little tubs, put your runners, put your socks, put your stuff right by your bed. So as soon as you're when in bed, you know, or I actually sleep in my exercise gear.

[00:30:11] Ellen: Oh, I know somebody else who does that too.

[00:30:14] Marie: And so there is no excuses and, you know, I do get very grumpy if anything, interrupts that path between when I get up and want to get out the door, because the reason I get grumpy is because I fear I will

[00:30:25] Ellen: can see the risk in there.

[00:30:27] Marie: I, yes, I will get drawn off path and then I won't want to do it. And it's not something that I enjoy until afterwards, oftentimes. And so the, the dopamine kind of hasn't kicked in and you're using a lot of willpower. So we know willpower is higher in the morning than it is in the evening.

So I think trying to do new things that require us to hold ourselves accountable are better earlier in the day and willpower is a muscle that gets worn out. And so if we are trying to regulate ourselves in too many ways, we'll get depleted. So don't try and do a bunch of habits and don't try and do habits or practices that are too long.

I think would be the other thing that I would say is just starting out with a, with a small amount of it and embedding that and once that's embedded then layer something else.

[00:31:19] Ellen: And the other thing I think that is really important in all of this is that changing. There's a lot of mythology around changing habits and how long it's supposed to take.

You know, you see lots of things that say, oh, it takes 21 days to change a habit. Well, if you look into the psychological research, that's only if it's an exceedingly simple, straightforward, habitual task.

[00:31:40] Marie: Yeah.

[00:31:41] Ellen: Anything that's more complex than most of our behaviors are more complex. It can take up to many, many months in order to embed that as a new habit.

And of course, trying to sustain that in an everyday kind of way,

[00:31:54] Marie: yeah.

[00:31:55] Ellen: is virtually impossible because there will be periods when we get tired or we get stressed or life has been thrown into some other loop that we just have to stick with for a short while. And so self-compassion is a really big part of this understanding that it's okay to have days when it's too difficult .It's okay to have days and even long periods, and I think going back to that identity thing that you spoke about earlier, I have been practicing yoga now for at least 20 years. Now I say that and my identity is somebody who does practice yoga. I could hand on heart say I probably haven't done any, or I might've done like one practice in the last month.

Now that doesn't mean I'm not still, and it doesn't mean I won't go back to it and I think this is a really important piece, particularly around procrastination and some of these kind of loops that we get into where we feel that if I've stopped doing it, therefore I now give up because I can't do it. I won't do it.

It's not who I am. That's not the case. We know from procrastination research that if we add a little bit of self-compassion into the mix and we say, that's okay that I've not done this yet, but I've done it this week. I will go back to it

[00:33:17] Marie: yeah.

[00:33:18] Ellen: because otherwise we get stuck in these kind of negative thought patterns and negative thought loops that keep us trapped but as soon as we actually, and it's funny because some reason, and maybe it's a narrative again, we feel that we have to be harsh and tough on ourselves to maintain the habits that we have to that we're somehow letting ourselves off the hook. If we have a day off, if we're not feeling up to it. And I see a lot of that, and that is actually contrary to what the research tells us that if we have some self-compassion in there and we actually allow ourselves to say, that's okay, that I haven't got to it this week, it's been a particularly difficult week. I will come back to it. And that's the important part, it is the, I will come back to it and then seeing those patterns emerge over time.

So even though I can say haven't done any yoga, I know I will come back to it and I know I will get back into the routine and the rhythm and that's okay.

[00:34:14] Marie: It's just a pause, isn't it?

[00:34:16] Ellen: It's a pause and that these are long-term, you know, we're not talking about, and I think again, you know, the seven day cleanses or yeah, eight weeks shredding things or whatever these different, particularly around the physical exercise ideas that we have.

What gets perpetuated out there is that you have to go hard for this period of time and that's what makes the difference and yet that's contrary to how we actually develop habits over time. We can do it in a much more gentle kind way and we think about it as a lifelong pursuit, not something that I'm going to knock over in eight weeks.

So I think that's been one of the really key things for me and understanding the habits that emerge and then allowing those habits to actually become habits, to keep yourself accountable. It doesn't matter if it's not every day, every morning for everyone. You know, some people are wired up for that.

Some people are wired up for that kind of routine. I must do it every day. It's how it works for me. And that's fantastic for other people. That's not how it will work and that's okay too. So understanding that individual components in there makes a big difference and then not beating ourselves up when we feel like we have inverted come as failed.

[00:35:28] Marie: That's right.

And because we're, you know, if you hate it, you won't go back to it, that's what I tell myself. So, you know, I find if I'm running and I pushed too hard and I absolutely feel like I'm going to throw up.

[00:35:40] Ellen: Yeah.

[00:35:40] Marie: Look, there are people who goes to the excess on things. So, you know, that's, that's,

[00:35:45] Ellen: I'm married to one of those,

[00:35:46] Marie: so yes.

[00:35:47] Ellen: All or nothing.

[00:35:48] Marie: But, but for me, I'm always thinking, how do we keep this as enjoyable? Like push myself enough so that it makes a difference, but not so far as I hate it. And our brain craves novelty, so it's important that we keep it fresh and new and try, you know, mix it up a little bit

[00:36:04] Ellen: and fun. I think that's the other thing that we underestimate in all of this.

I think there's, there's not enough fun. Although maybe you start to see it a little more, I'm seeing particularly on social media, some of these dance classes and you know, Zumba or some of these things, that have a fun element to them. I don't think there's probably been enough fun and laughter and lightness incorporated into much of the sports and fitness storylines that we hear but I know

[00:36:31] Marie: play

[00:36:31] Ellen: we had, yeah, we went for a walk around with the kids, so we have a lovely lake here in Ballarat and so we were walking around the lake and they've put in a whole lot of outdoor exercise equipment, you know, publicly available and it's sort of a modified version of what you might find in the gym. And so we all just hopped on and had a play and tried out all these different things in a step machines and they were cycling things and they were lifting things.

And for me, I, and I haven't done it, but I think I might, at some stage, maybe I should make myself accountable to this talking about it in the podcast. I just thought, oh, in nice weather, because outdoors is important to me as well as I've done unpacking again, those other contributors to your motivation to do something new and outdoors is important to me.

And so this is outdoors and it's a little bit, you know, there is novelty and it's just new and I thought maybe, maybe I'll go ask, and take my husband, maybe we would just go, you know, we'll just have a play and try these things out and have a little bit of fun with that, just out of curiosity piece in there as well.

I would never underestimate the importance of that, you know, making it fun, keeping it light and just again, see what happens, see it as an experiment, you know. I'm just going to try this out and see what happens and maybe I'll keep doing it because it was fun but when we're very hard and fast and very rigid around I must do this thing this certain way, and I must do it every day. We are almost setting ourselves up for failure.

[00:38:02] Marie: Yeah and that reminds me as well another thing that I think is important is the language we use around these things, you know, I must, I have to, it feels arduous.

[00:38:13] Ellen: Yeah.

[00:38:14] Marie: You know? And so I've started trying to say to myself, I get to,

[00:38:19] Ellen: yes.

[00:38:19] Marie: I choose to

[00:38:20] Ellen: yes.

[00:38:21] Marie: You know, because it is hard, you know. We've talked a lot about exercise, but there are many different things we need to hold ourselves accountable for but by the very nature of, we have to hold ourselves accountable. There's some form of blockage and, and willpower required. So, you know, for me, say, I get to get up in the morning and go down to the beach to exercise, or I choose to do this detox because I've had some blood tests that haven't been so flash or I choose to spend some time mindfully, because I know that it helps to recenter me rather than a, have to have to have to have to, which just adds this kind of other layer of stress and overwhelm and feels like command fair.

I have to do all these things.

[00:39:02] Ellen: Yeah. Yeah. It's an obligation.

[00:39:04] Marie: Yeah. And it's very different because we do get to choose and we do get to say to ourselves, who do I want to be? How do I want to show up? And for me that are the answers to those questions are very much what leads me to be to hold myself accountable.

If I want to show up in energetic, cause you know, like I have zest in my strengths and I'm sure it's an absolute surprise to anyone, that I am zesty and I'm energetic. And so if I want to show up with energy and enthusiasm and my brain really sort of firing on all cylinders. Then I know exercising early in the day helps me to do that.

And so I say to myself, because I have the strength of kindness and I have, so, you know, if you want to be kind to others, you need to do this for you and so, you know, we sort of play around with some of these, how do we apply our strengths. You know, I want to be around other people so I'll invite Ellen along to do that with me or, or whatever. I won't invite Ellen, because she's listening to my podcast.

[00:40:04] Ellen: She doesn't want to talk to her.

She uses exercise for decompression, that's kind of my strategies. I, and it is that language piece, you know, after this, I get to go for a long walk. It's not I have to, it's I get to, because to me that is an opportunity for decompression and where I choose to go. We have the luxury of having a lot of bush land around us.

And so just that experience of being in the bush and, you know, I take the dog and absorbing nature and being able to eat, listen to a podcast, my love of learning or listen to music, which is another way that I, I decompress. It's a joyous experience now. It's not arduous. It's something that I really choose to do because it's something for me.

[00:40:48] Marie: But it is now because you've, you've gotten into, you've gotten past the high barrier of it.

And so how do we help our listeners then as we move into our kind of quest within stage of the podcast, how do we help them if they're not at that stage yet of holding themselves accountable for something that matters. And so I think, you know, we were gonna, we were going to set them a quest around making a habit.

[00:41:14] Ellen: Yeah, absolutely or even just perhaps unpacking what you'd like to make a habit. So again, breaking it down into small steps, which is always important in all of these quests to change some behaviors and thrive. So, unpacking perhaps what it is and why you want to make that change and then I would suggest even setting yourself a little challenge to try one small thing just to see you how it goes. This has been something I've been working with my coaching clients a lot on lately is let's just view this as an experiment. Let's just try it out. What's one small thing that I might like to try this week just to see how it goes. No expectation that I do it forever. Just being curious to find out what it feels like, what works and what doesn't work.

[00:42:05] Marie: Yeah.

[00:42:06] Ellen: And that would be my suggestion, I suppose, for anybody who's looking to over the longer term or at least explore perhaps a new habit or a new behavior.

[00:42:16] Marie: Yeah. I love that. And so you're using curiosity and you're not setting it up as have to, I get to do this and I get to explore and play and be curious about what happens when I do this for a week. How does it feel? And so, you know, I was going to add to that as well, in terms of, so if our quest is trying something new for the week, that is something that we've been wanting to do for a while that we know is going to contribute. So we might call this a healthy habit and, you know, I would add, I guess, one thing that's been helpful for me is understanding how habits work and sort of, you know, child's doing habit loop.

So, you know, for me being able to know that that loop has a cue, a routine and a reward, and the cue is tying the new thing that you want to do on to something you already do. So something that's already a habit. So we clean our teeth every day. We eat lunch. Every day we start with, we finished work, we have lunch breaks.

There are things that our handles in our days that can act as a cue or a lever to a new habit. So. If, for example, meditation is something that, that I want to add back in cause it's falling off, falling off the wagon of meditation. So I'm, you know, I already kind of mostly I'm concentrating on doing some movement in the morning.

Um, and then I'm getting the kids out the door or whatever. And then I'm getting a coffee and I'm getting some food and I'm starting to work but I want to, in that space, before I start work, take some time to meditate. And in the thing that's blocking me is thinking that it's going to take a long time and I'm too busy.

So I want to tell myself, actually Five minutes, 2 minutes, even one that is proven to be better than nothing.

[00:44:02] Ellen: Yes.

[00:44:02] Marie: And so I want to my queue to be starting work cause starting work happens every day. So starting work as the cue, the routine is the five minutes of meditation. And the reward is that I get to go and grab my coffee and start work.

Ellen, you might say, well, I want to do five pushups a day and I'm going, I know that I cleaned my teeth before I go to bed. So I'm going to, every time I cleaned my teeth, I'm going to get down and I'm pretty sure you gonna hate it.

Maybe down Dogs would be better for you.

[00:44:32] Ellen: Yeah, stand dogs would be better for me.

[00:44:34] Marie: Maybe you could do some sun salutations and as you were winding down for bed, that might be better anyway but tying them onto something we already do. Doing the action and then a little reward because our brain craves that dopamine reward and the reward might be as simple as ticking it off, you know, even as mentally ticking it off. Good I did that and I sit and do it for a week. Tick that's day one, that's day two. It might be messaging your accountability, buddy.

It might be having a coffee. It might be going to bed. Whatever it is that follows that, that you get to move on and progress because your brain likes that. And if we want our brain to kind of keep doing it, so cue routine reward, we'll put it in the, in the show notes. And if anyone wants to look up Charles Duhigg's habit loop, they'll find images of that anyway.

So my one's going to be that I'm going to commit to, is that meditation thing. So I've been trying to sort of do that for a while in my head and it hasn't been translating into action

[00:45:34] Ellen: into practice.

[00:45:34] Marie: Yes. What might you have a go at?

[00:45:37] Ellen: And I will because I did put it out there. It's not the outdoor exercise equipment cause I think that's going to take a little longer to get organized, but I will. I don't know, some salutation sounds like a really good idea. It's going to be short yoga practice every day because I have the same challenge around it. Not fitting into or feeling like or telling myself that it's not fitting into the routine because I've had children at home and the only spice I've got to practice in is the middle of the living room.

[00:46:10] Marie: There's the dog come and stuff.

[00:46:11] Ellen: The dog does come. I can cope with the dog, but it's it's family members wondering, you know, that, you know, being the lonesome exercise.

[00:46:20] Marie: Get away

[00:46:22] Ellen: People around me.

So, doing some kind of practice and I have the, I've got an app here.

I've got all the tools and is just getting back into the habit of it. And I think that thinking about where it fits into the day, what is the cue for the doing of it will be really critical to me. So I'm going to have a play around with that, but I'm also going to do it in the spirit of experimentation and see what works.

And if it doesn't work, if I find myself not doing it, I'm going to be totally okay with

[00:46:52] Marie: You're going to be kind to yourself.

[00:46:53] Ellen: I'm going to be kind to myself and say, right, well, I tried that and it didn't work. What else can I try?

[00:46:57] Marie: Yeah.

[00:46:58] Ellen: Rather than dismissing the whole lot as a bad job.

[00:47:01] Marie: And if you don't do it this week, that you might do it the week after it's not all over, it's not all doom and gloom all or nothing thinking, well, that's good.

So I, if I could maybe see this as the, I want a double, I'm going to do sun salutations before I meditate now.

[00:47:14] Ellen: Small steps, Marie. Small steps.

[00:47:17] Marie: Good. All right. Well, we'll check in on you and you know, that's the funny thing that once you start, oftentimes you want to do a bit more due to, you know, once you've done sort of one sun salutation, you'd be like, oh my goodness I can kind of do that for five minutes, no problem at all. And it is about, as you said, tools. Really important that if there's anything you need to do it, that you have it at hand, because that will create a blocker. Oh, you know what meditation app will I use or where's my yoga mat or, you know, or who am I going to, you know, use to guide me?

Am I going to have Cassandra or Adrianne for my yoga teacher today?

[00:47:51] Ellen: Yes, no, that's exactly. So I've got all of that set up, so there's really nothing stopping me. So we'll, we'll both head forth on our personal quests and of course listeners, you do the same.

[00:48:03] Marie: Get ready.

[00:48:04] Ellen: And let us know how you go and we will be back next week and we will put all of those resources in the show notes.

I'm also going to add in BJ Fogg's talks on piggybacking habits because that's where a lot of the, uh, original research comes from and we will be back next week to talk about the next beam of the BEACON framework. What are we up to? We've done B E A we are up to C

[00:48:33] Marie: and I see is compassion and that's going to be perfect.

Cause you, and I were already touching in on that. We've already been talking about the need to be compassionate for ourselves. So in that we're going to not only cover self-compassion, but we'll talk a little bit about the science of kindness as well, if we have time. So that is one of my personal favorite topics.

Given that kindness is a strength of mine and something I highly value. So I am very much looking forward to that. And now I've committed to meditation. I will, uh, be able to report back on how I go with that.

[00:49:04] Ellen: So we will be back next week. Thank you, Marie. I will see you then, and we're looking forward to having all of our listeners back with us.

[00:49:13] Marie: I want to hear, I want them to tell us what did they do? What, what habit did they do and how do they get on? So please let us know. Yeah, thanks so much, Ellen, and see you next week.

[00:49:25] Ellen: And that's a wrap on the fourth episode of our How to Thrive Series of the show, co-hosted with Marie McLeod. Marie has a resource page for this episode that goes a little deeper into the concept of accountability and your quest for the week and you can find that along with all of the resources that we mentioned in the show, in the show notes for this episode, head over to, or check out the links in your podcast player under today's episode, that's another way of doing it. We would love to know how are you going with your quest each week? What have you noticed? What have you learned? What's working? We have a brand new email address for podcast correspondence, just like that. It is [email protected] So please let us know how you're going.

And if you need a little bit of coaching on your quest, we can do that too. Just drop us a line at that email address [email protected] and of course you can chat to us via social media, just like Lynn, who let us know that she is loving the new series and that she's finding flow through service to others, making music and creative pursuits.

So thank you, Lynn. They are all wonderful pathways to thriving. And if you're not connected to us via social media, like Lynn is, you can find me by searching Potential Psychology and Marie by searching needtoseesomeone and of course the links for all of our social channels are in the show notes below.

Those episodes, those episodes for those channels as well. And now time for a little update on my new online Little Lessons for Leaders Masterclass, Creating Hard Stops on Meeting Creep and Zoom Gloom. We are now open for enrollments, which is really exciting. If you pop over to you'll find all the details of the program.

And I created this program because we know that work from home and hybrid work, so some office and some home is absolutely here to stay, but I have heard client after client in recent bumps, lament the fact that there are some unexpected challenges with this way of working for both leaders and their teams.

So we love the flexibility, but there are too many meetings and there are blurry boundaries between work and home and there's just not nearly enough bathroom breaks, which of course is no way to thrive but also we know that disruption on a global pandemic level brings opportunity. And there are some really simple steps that you can take as a leader to create a better hybrid workday for your team and yourself that fills happiness and health and productivity and purpose. And this masterclass will take you through those steps and help you to create a much more intentional workday for everyone. There's plenty of tips and strategies there from great leaders, people with remote work expertise, it's all best practice stuff.

And the really important side benefit of this little program is that it's a great way to create positive mental health at work too. So to find out more about the Little Lessons for Leaders Masterclass, Creating Hard Stops on Meeting Creep and Zoom Gloom head to potential. and I think that's about it for me this week.

Best of luck with your new quest, this week's quest for new habits and accountability. Next week, we'll be back to talk about compassion. So compassion for others and compassion for yourself and we're really looking forward to that and having you back to share that with us, but in the meantime, as always go forth on your quest to thrive and take small steps to fulfill your potential.