Fed up with failing? You need a Personal Responsibility Coach. Nat Rich, founder of the ‘Unf*ck Your Life’ workshops, explains how to boost your chances of getting where you want
Words by Rosie Mullender
Striving to achieve a personal goal often feels like an uphill struggle – especially if you’re trying to kick an addiction, or aiming for a long-term achievement that offers few short-term rewards – dreaming of being hailed as the next E.L. James for example, isn’t always enough motivation to sit down and write your magnum opus right this second.
Personal Responsibility Coach Nat Rich has an alternative way of looking at setting and reaching goals. Her six-hour ‘Unf*ck Your Life’ workshops look into simple ways of getting things done – and she believes the secret is to let go of goals altogether, focussing instead on communication. ‘When we have a goal, we use our energy to plan for something to happen in our future,’ she explains. ‘We build up expectations around that future event taking place and then, if we don’t reach our intended goal, we can feel like a failure, which causes anxiety and feelings of depression. But the truth is that nobody’s guaranteed to get what they want, exactly when they want it. Instead of constantly designing and manipulating the outcome you wish to have, the idea is to learn how to relax and allow life to show us what it has to offer.’
Unf*ck your life by facing your fears
Whether your goal is to take up yoga or sort out your finances, the first step is working out what’s motivating you. Procrastination is a form of avoidance – ‘there really is no such thing as procrastination, you’ve just found a benefit of doing something else more appealing,’ Rich says. So you need to face up to exactly what you’re avoiding before you start. ‘You have to look at how your avoidance impacts all areas of your life: social life and friendship circles, work life, financial life, love life and family life. Then break everything down to the very basics. For instance, when I gave up alcohol, I made a list of every area of life my drinking was affecting. It wasn’t just impacting my health – it was everything, from my social life to my finances, without even being aware of it. The final list was enormous, which gave me the awareness I needed to face up to the issue and give up alcohol for good.’
Next, look at all the (real!) reasons you’ve dodged achieving your goal in the past. ‘We tend to be more honest with ourselves when we write things down,’ Rich explains. ‘When we simply think things over, it’s easy to start lying to ourselves, because thinking gives your ego the chance to gloss over the situation – for example, by telling yourself you’re avoiding yoga because of the cost, rather because you’re nervous about being the largest person in the class. Putting pen to paper and getting your fears down really helps you see the size of them.’ Alternatively, try an online mind map such as Simple Mind to help organise your thoughts.
Unf*ck your life by starting big
Once you’ve identified what’s held you back from in the past, it’s time to tackle each issue one by one. But instead of taking baby steps, Rich recommends a plaster-ripping approach to dealing with your goal-related gremlins. ‘It’s not about starting small, it’s about starting with your biggest issue first,’ she says. ‘Because that biggest issue will be affecting everything else, and secondly, by starting big, it just gets easier as you go along. Also, if you start small, you know you’ve got your biggest issue waiting for you, which allows procrastination to sneak in.’
If your messy finances have evolved because you’ve got a pile of unopened bills, you can’t face organising debt repayments, or you’re avoiding asking for help, the step you’re most dreading is the one you should tackle first and, says Nat, it’s asking for help that most of us will find the hardest. ‘Asking for help is every person’s biggest problem but by letting someone else in, you can halve your worries,’ she says.
Unf*ck your life by not comparing yourself to others
You might see social media as the perfect place to find inspiration. If other people have done it, you can do it too, right? But research shows our self-esteem plummets when we make ‘upward comparisons’ – comparing ourselves against people who seem fitter or have more friends than us. Looking at your own reflection then at the perfect physique of an Instagram gym bunny will deflate anyone whose goal is to just step foot in the gym. ‘Personally, I don’t have any social media, and it’s changed my life,’ Nat says. ‘I actually became far more productive when I let it go. I used to compare myself to other people and panic, thinking, ‘They’re doing something I want to do, but I’m not doing it.’ Just by looking at somebody else’s life, I felt like a failure.’ So before you start, ditch the accounts of people whose lives you aspire to match – at least until you’ve reached your goal.
Unf*ck your life by modifying your goals
Once you’ve listed all the ways your goal (or lack of it) is impacting your life, you might realise you were heading in the wrong direction all along – and that’s fine too. Perhaps you’ve worked out you don’t actually want to be slimmer, you just want a more successful dating life – which means accepting the need to shift your focus elsewhere. ‘I dreamed of DJ-ing, but once I started, I realised it wasn’t what I really wanted,’ Nat says. ‘But it was very hard having to admit it, because I’d told everyone and had landed a job DJ-ing in Dubai. The worst thing you can do is change your mind about a goal, but end up carrying on because you don’t want to tell people you’ve changed your mind. But that’s just another form of procrastination – admitting you don’t want to reach your stated aim anymore can be an achievement in itself.’
Find out more about Nat Rich’s Unf*ck your life workshops and hacks on: www.wheresnatat.com