Obstacles to change. What stops you from achieving your goal? Part 1.

Blocks to Сhange. What obstacles do you need to consider when setting a goals?

When a goal is set hopefully you feel committed to get into action and raring to go. You have a clear vision and feel super determined. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and sometimes, even though we have a very clear and specific goal, we still feel there’s something missing or perhaps that something is just not right. Sounds familiar?

​There are some blocks why we don’t achieve what we want, despite our best intentions and efforts:

  1. Possible Goal Conflict.

A goal conflict is the existence of two or more competing goals leading to the cause of conflict in your mindset. It occurs when two or more motives block each other. That can cause great strain on our emotional and physical well-being. For example, your goal is to lose 1 stone in 8 weeks yet you don’t want to cancel Friday night’s takeaway routine with your friends. What’s the end result here? Good case scenario – workable compromise. Bad case scenario – frustration, no weight loss and overall disappointment.

​Goal conflict can also occur in the following situations:

* The goal is not congruent with who you are and your values, morals and principles. It’s not in sync with you. Ask yourself – How does this goal sit with me? Am I being authentic?

* The goal might not be yours and has been imposed on you. You will not internalise someone else’s goal and resist it until you find a working compromise on it that would sit well with you.

* The goal might interfere with another goal you wish to attain. Have your cake and eat it scenario.

* Goal is not SMART. Successful goal = specific & explicit goal with a clear time frame.

* Your self-efficacy is low. In other words, you don’t believe you have the right skills or resources to do it. That affect self-esteem too. If fact, it kills it.

* You are simply not ready to change. You have to be honest with yourself here. Do you really want to do? It can be extremely difficult but it is worth it.

  1. Lack of Motivation.

​Self-motivation is intrinsic, which means it is within you. Change always starts from within. Self-motivation is the ability to energise, direct and sustain your goal-related behaviour whether or not you have the support and encouragement of friends, family or your boss.

​Lasting and meaningful change can only occur when you are intrinsically motivated. Motivation to change is being ready, willing and able.

Possible solutions may include looking for exceptions to see when your self-motivation was high and see what other resource were available and helpful or what you were doing differently. Ask yourself the following two questions:

* What do I do that stops me from achieving my goal?

* What do I need to do in order to achieve my goal?

You can also use motivation imagery (developed by Professor Stephen Palmer and Michael Neenan), that is handy if you are ambivalent or reluctant about addressing problems, challenges or issues in your life. It consists of two parts – inaction and action. Powerful stuff, trust me. Here are the steps:

  1. Visualise the rest of your life not having undertaken the changes that you would like and not achieving your desires goal. Imagine the effect upon yourself and perhaps on significant others too, for the rest of your life until the day you die if you do absolutely nothing. Think of your regrets too. Imagine the effect year by year.
  2. Now imagine yourself undertaking what you want to do and see how your future unfolds without this particular problem after having worked hard to deal with it.
  3. Now consider how you are going to put action step into practice.

​Practice this technique every time you feel demotivated until you feel like you are back on track.

​If you still feel you are not getting anywhere and your motivation levels are low, consider hiring a life coach who is trained to perform Motivational Interviewing and also uses cognitive techniques too.

  1. Ambivalence.

Old keys won’t open new doors. When you set a goal for yourself, that usually means you want to achieve something new by changing or optimising old ways. Ambivalence is seen as a natural part of the change process and resistance is the heart of change. Change happens in a cycle. If you are ambivalent about making the first step towards achieving your goal and also showing some resistance (e.g. ‘Why me?’/‘Why should I even bother?’ scenario), you can assess at what stage of the change cycle you are right now. See diagram.

  1. Lapse and Relapse.

Preventing and managing lapse or relapse is an important part of setting a goal especially health & well-being related and if you have failed to achieve it before. Lapse is a small, temporary slip in goal achievement efforts, while a relapse is a return to previous habits that is associated with blocking goal achievements. In other words, a lapse is a single slip or set back while a relapse is a series of backward steps or set backs away from the goal. Everyone has lapses – small slips, moments or brief periods of time when you return to an old habit. Relapse is often referred to as the unofficial sixth stage of the change cycle model described above.

As a rule, when you experience relapse you are likely to have feelings of disappointment, failure and extreme frustration. This is where a lot of negative self-talk and self-downing beliefs would stroll in to make matters worse and this in turn will significantly bring motivation down.

cycle of change

When you relapse, you will go back to one of the following three stages – contemplation, planning/decision or action. Depending where you land after a relapse would ultimately determine what you should do. Planning/decision and action stages are where usually most of the barriers and blocks to change would crop up too. Be mindful of that.

In order to deal with lapses most effectively, it is important to be prepared for them. Outline the chain of events or triggers that can lead to relapse so you can see if there is clear pattern, then develop and highlight coping strategies or action plan for keeping a lapse from progressing to relapse.

In my next post I’ll continue this subject and look into other block to change such as procrastination, perfectionism, resource depletion and inner critic.

Stay tuned and follow me on social media.




Perfectionism: does it harm performance more than it helps?

Perfectionism can be described as the uncompromising pursuit of exceptionally high standards. In other words, perfectionism can also be described as refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. Perfectionist people are those who have high standards beyond reach or reason to sustain and who strain compulsively and relentlessly towards impossible goals and measure their own self-worth based entirely on their accomplishments and capabilities.

There are 3 different type of perfectionism:

  1. Self-oriented perfectionism – strict high personal standards, rigid evaluations of self, fear of failure, etc.
  2. Other-oriented perfectionism – setting unrealistic and high standards for others.
  3. Socially prescribed perfectionism or what we think others might expect of us – perceived external pressure to be perfect.

There is a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection.

What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its pursuit desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so there is a negative orientation goin on.

Perfectionists have difficulty in recognizing when enough is enough as reasonable performance is never quite good enough. This is called maladaptive perfectionism. Maladaptive perfectionists are people who have an immense fear of criticism, concern about making mistakes, overemphasis on order and desire for complete admiration and they strive for personal superiority.

Striving for perfection has a lot of unhelpful characteristics or perils that can have an adverse effect on one’s performance, such as:

  • Excessively high standards
  • Not satisfied by success and continually striving for more
  • Fear of failure leading to rejection, criticism or disapproval
  • Emotional disturbance when standards not met
  • Inflexible and overgeneralised high standards
  • Overly self-critical and self-doubt
  • Procrastination
  • Fear of competition
  • All-or-nothing thinking such as ‘I have to do my job perfect otherwise I’m a total failure’
  • Intolerant of mistakes by self or others
  • Conditional self-acceptance
  • Not learning as focusing only on avoiding errors
  • Faulty definition of success
  • High levels of anxiety before, during and after a performance
  • Feel a fraud or phoneyism
  • Non-acceptable of fallibility

Most people who are successful set very high standards for themselves and they seem to be happy in their lives. However what turns life into agonising pursuit of perfection is the extent to which people strive to be perfect and are worried about mistakes. I think that fear of making mistakes and doubts about actions are absolute prerequisites for perfectionism. Perfectionists fear that if they make a mistake, it will lead to others thinking badly of them, criticisms or disapproval. The performance aspect is intrinsic to their view of themselves. Low self-esteem is also quite often accompanied by perfectionist tendencies as individuals place more and more demands on themselves and others in order to demonstrate and prove their worthiness and value. Low self-esteem can often set up a cycle of avoidance and procrastination especially amongst rigid perfectionists.

Overall, perfectionism harms performance more than it helps.

If you have any questions or wish to arrange a coaching session, please email me direct  – anastasia@execsalescoaching.com / 07852474343.



Rice, KG. and Preusser, KJ., (2002), The adaptive/maladaptive perfectionism scale, Measurement and Evaluation in Counselling and Development, Vol 34.4:210, [Online], Available: http://search.proquest.com/openview/bb8e76c6362136df09966437b4b55d97/1?pq-origsite=gscholar

Palmer, S. and Williams, H., (2012), Struggles with low self-esteem: Teaching self-acceptance in Neenan, M. and Palmer, S., (2012), Cognitive Behavioural Coaching in Practice. An Evidence Based Approach, East Sussex: Routledge.



Stressed Out? Learn how to relax. Benson Relaxation Response.

Benson relaxation response is of the most helpful way to turn off fight or flight response and bring the body back to pre-stress levels that I have ever tried. It is a physical state of deep relaxation which engages the parasympathetic nervous system.

This technique  Benson Relaxation Response was developed by Dr. Herbert Benson, professor, author, cardiologist, and founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute.  The response can be defined as your personal ability to encourage your body to release chemicals and brain signals that make your muscles and organs slow down and increase blood flow to the brain.  Dr. Benson described many scientific benefits of relaxation, explaining that regular practice of the Relaxation Response can be a very powerful and effective treatment for a wide range of stress-related disorders.

How was it developed? Benson once wrote in his book where he demystified meditation and proved its benefits, “We claim no innovation but simply a scientific validation of age-old wisdom”. People from the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement, who felt they could reduce blood pressure using meditation, visited Harvard Medical School in 1968, asking to be studied. The school, which at the time was studying the relationship of monkeys’ behaviour and blood pressure, told them “No, thank you, not interested.” But when they persisted, Benson told them he would study them. That is how Benson Relaxation Response was developed.

Stress is a biological and psychological response experienced on encountering a threat or pressure that we feel we can’t to cope with.

Firstly, our body judges a situation and decides whether or not it is stressful or life threatening. This decision is made based on sensory input and processing (i.e. the things we see, feel or hear in the situation) and also based on past similar experiences. If the situation is judged as being stressful, the hypothalamus is activated that is a part of the brain in charge of the stress response. When a stress response is triggered, it sends signals to two other structures: the pituitary gland, and the adrenal medulla.  These short term responses are produced by The Fight or Flight Response.

One of the most valuable things we can do in life is to learn mindful relaxation – making an effort to spend some time every day quieting our wondering minds in order to create inner peace and better health.

When stress kicks in, our sympathetic system is activated that prepares the body to either fight or flight.  Once the ‘threat’ is over the parasympathetic branch takes control and brings the body back into a balanced state. The Relaxation Response is a helpful way to turn off fight or flight response and bring the body back to pre-stress levels. Dr. Benson describes the Relaxation Response as a physical state of deep relaxation which engages the other part of our nervous system—the parasympathetic nervous system.

Sometimes, it’s hard to switch off from ‘stressed out’ mode or we simply don’t know how. Benson Relaxation Response is a very powerful tool and if you use it regularly, you’ll see what difference can it make to you. I practice the breathing part quite frequently when I need to calm down or just as a mindful breathing exercise and I can always feel the benefits of it pretty much within 2-3 breaths. This is powerful!

The basic technique of concentrative meditation used to achieve significant levels of relaxation is essentially very simple. Four components are basic to all techniques of concentrative meditation: a quiet environment, a mental device, a passive attitude, and a comfortable position. Here’s how it works :

  1. Find a noise-free place where you won’t be disturbed. Sound, even background noise, may prevent the elicitation of the relaxation response. Select a convenient, suitable place, for example, a comfortable chair in a quiet room or you may prefer to lay down.
  2. Find a comfortable position and sit / lay down quietly.
  3. Close your eye.
  4. Relax your muscles in groups starting at your face and progress down to your toes.
  5. Focus on your breathing. Breathe naturally in through your nose and out through your mouth. Avoid letting your shoulders rise as you breathe.
  6. In your mind, say a number such as ‘one’ every time you breathe out.
  7. Continue for 5-20 minutes.
  8. Finish in your own time.

Remember not to worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation–maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace. When distracting thoughts occur, ignore them and continue to repeat the mantra as your breathe. The technique should be practiced once or twice daily, and not within two hours after any meal, since the digestive processes seem to interfere with the elicitation of the expected changes. With practice the relaxation response should come with little effort.

Below are some more tips for reducing cortisol levels every day and naturally calm yourself down:

  • Mindfulness – people who meditate daily for four months decreased the hormone by an average of 20%.
  • Music – music can have a calming effect on the brain.
  • Social connectivity – simply anticipating laughter is enough to reduce cortisol levels by nearly half.
  • Go to bed early.
  • Treat yourself for a massage
  • Eliminate caffeine – 200mg of caffeine increases blood cortisol levels by 30%.
  • Take anti-stress supplements such as vitamin B and minerals like magnesium, antioxidants like vitamin C or coenzyme Q10.
  • Use positive relaxation imagery
  • Switch off – have a relaxing bath, massage, read a book, etc.
  • Keep your blood sugar stable – try to avoid sugar in the diets and refined carbs. Eat frequent small meals balanced in protein and complex carbs.


Overall, implementation of targeted dietary and lifestyle approaches is an extremely powerful way to reduce stress, improve health and reduce the risk for illness and chronic disease.

If you have any questions regarding stress management or if you want to be coached on stress, please don’t hesitate to email me direct on hello@empoweredcoaching.pro.

Keep Calm & Breath!


Benson, H. (1974).  Your innate asset for combating stress. Harvard Business Review. 54, 4.

Mitchell, M., (2013), Dr Herbert Benson’s relaxation response, [Online], Available: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/heart-and-soul-healing/201303/dr-herbert-benson-s-relaxation-response

Palmer, S. and Cooper, C., (2015), How to deal with stress, Hong Kong and Croydon: Kogan Page Limited.

Svoboda, E., (2011) 8 Ways to Beat Your Stress Hormone, [Online], Available: http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/how-lower-cortisol-manage-stress

5 Keys to Effective Sales Coaching: How to Supercharge Your Sales Skills?

Benefits of Sales Coaching,
Sales Coaching,
Sales Skills,

effective sales coaching

You hear a lot about sales coaching these days but what exactly does it mean? What are the benefits of sales coaching that everyone seems to be raving about?

In this competitive world, team do what it takes to hit this sales targets and succeed but sometimes it’s a struggle. Or it may even feels like it’s a sales marathon but without a finish line. Once you reach one target, there is another one, and another one and it just keeps going on and on and on. If you work in sales, you know what I’m talking about. You are like a dog a bone. When things are great, it’s uplifting and motivating but when you struggle, when your team is under a lot of pressure  and underperforming, what do you do? If you are a sales manager, you’ve probably tried some traditional training, or team activity or incentives or carrot & stick approach but it probably didn’t work. Why? Because these are all external factors that has little or no effect on our self-motivation. John Whitmore, the father of performance coaching, once said – ‘I perform better when I want to than when I have to. I have to for you but I want to for me. Self-motivation is a matter of choice’. So how do you get you or your team to want to for ‘me or them’ to smash those targets and go an extra mile? What is the solution here? If you are wondering about it, keep on reading.

The answer is – sales coaching. So what does sales coaching entail and why is it highly effective?

Sales coaching is the new most effective alternative to sales management. Sales coaching focuses on sales effectiveness. In my opinion, sales performance coaching helps a coachee (you) define and set clear line of sight between sales goals and sales actions that result in desired business outcomes as well as boosting intrinsic motivation – I want to for me feeling I’ve mentioned earlier on. Sales coaching is the best known productivity investment to improve sales executives’ performance. It works, it’s delivering results from first session and also promotes accountability for actions. It’s a win-win.

According to the International Coach Federation, on average a company can expect a return of 7 times the initial investment in coaching. Good news is with sales coaching ROI can be even higher. One thing to be mindful of here –  although sales coaching often focuses on immediate sales effectiveness and it delivers great results, it is not magic though –  it’s important to remember that change does not happen overnight, it is a long process that requires a lot of hard work, persistence and determination. Success takes effort and development over the long haul.

When it comes to coaching, be it business, performance or sales, there is no ‘one fits all’ approach. From my experience, sales talent is developed in a field mainly through ‘on the job’ skills developments, different experiences, mentoring (if you are lucky to have a mentor) and coaching of course. Unfortunately, most training efforts fail to reach their objectives, in large part because of the absence of any kind of reinforcement or coaching. When managers reach certain level, traditional good old training is not effective anymore and any further professional development and personal growth agenda has to be reached through realising and reflecting on individual challenges and needs. According to some research, if there was no coaching or reinforcement activity including in a traditional training approach, there was a drop-off of 87% of the knowledge acquired.  So it is no surprise that sales coaching is becoming new flavour of sales management.

In my opinion, the future of management is coaching.

From my experience in sales (7yr+) and as a sales performance coach, here are 5 keys as to why sales coaching is so effective and successful:

  1. Goal-focused: Coaching is a goal-focused activity and every session starts with you setting a goal. Goals are internal representations of desired states or outcomes. Goal theory suggests that people will work harder and use more resources when the goal is harder to achieve and the harder the goal the higher the level of performance. Goal setting has been shown to improve performance in 90% of the relevant studies. Studies have also found that developing goals helps a person to enhance motivation  and remain focused on tasks or particular issues that need addressing both personal and/or work-related. The development of goals is an important aspect of overall coaching, time and life self-management.  You can read more about performance goals here or SMART goal setting framework here.
  2. Action-oriented: Coaching is aimed at actions. You don’t dwell on your mistakes, you learn from it and move on. If you talk about the problem, you become an expert of that problem but it doesn’t help you solve the challenge. After you set a goal, you develop an action plan that you execute. That’s why coaching is so effective even after the first session. You come out of it with an action plan ready and raring to go.
  3. Solution-focused: Coaching is a solution focused process that has 3 key characteristics:
    • It is outcome-oriented and competence based. E.g. ‘What are you going to do about it?’.
    • Fits well with the future-focused, goal-oriented coaching spirit of ‘here and now’.
    • Focuses on your skills, strengths, knowledge, resources, personal qualities and experience. It’s a skills development process.
  4. Motivation: Self-motivation is intrinsic, which mean it is within you. Self-motivation is the ability to energise, direct and sustain your goal-related behaviour whether or not you have the support and encouragement of others.  Lasting and meaningful change can only occur when you are intrinsically motivated. That is proven fact. Motivation to change is being ready, willing and able. Setting clear, defined goals and devising a plan is a motivating process. An experienced coach would also aim to tap into your inner resources and boost your self-efficacy, your belief in your abilities. It’s  win-win, isn’t it?
  5. Promoted executive presence or gravitas: In a nutshell, the word gravitas is an expressive term for dignity and strength of character, however in a modern-day the meaning of gravitas has been extended significantly and can imply the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively, network, influence others and develop meaningful, lasting relationships be it socially or professionally. People with gravitas manage and lead teams better, present and connect better which translates to winning more business, being successful in all areas of life. Three pillars or 3 C’s of executive presence are – Courage (how we are seen in action), Communication (how we are seen communicating) and Composure (our appearance). We live in a very competitive world and I strongly believe that people who know how to tap into this quality and develop their gravitas, can achieve higher levels of life satisfaction and self-actualisation.

As you can see, the benefits of sales coaching are outstanding and this is real game changer. Choose your coach wisely, strive for excellence and go get it!

If you have any questions or you would like to discuss sales coaching or training with me, please feel free to email me on hello@empoweredcoaching.pro and I would be happy to help.

Anastasia Antonova

Sales Performance Coach




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Dixon, M. and Adamson, B. (2011). The dirty secret of effective sales coaching. [Online], Available: https://hbr.org/2011/01/the-dirty-secret-of-effective.

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Henderson, AD. (2015). Identify those with gravitas to increase boardroom diversity. [Online], Available: http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/identify-those-with-gravitas-to-increase-boardroom-diversity.

Palmer, S., Grant, A., O’Connell, B., (2007). Lost and found, Coaching at Work, Vol 2 Issue 4.

Passmore, J. and Whybrow, A., (2008), Motivational Interviewing. A specific approach for coaching psychologists in Palmer, S. and Whybrow, A., (2008), Handbook of coaching Psychology.  A guide for practitioners, London and New York: Routledge.

Schultz, M. (2017), 5 keys to successful sales coaching. [Online], Availabe: https://www.rainsalestraining.com/blog/5-keys-to-successful-sales-coaching.