June 17, 2020
Ever felt stuck when it comes to trying to achieve a goal? This 5-step plan should help you get out of a slump and more!
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Have you ever experienced feeling stuck and unmotivated to try and reach for your goals? If you've found yourself struggling with trying to check things off of your goal list, this 5-step plan to achieving any goal should give you the right push!
With my guest Dr. David Turock, we discuss some key components in goal achievement and we dive into a bit of his background, where his methods of goal attainment have helped him through a rough childhood and a difficult period in his first marriage
Dr. Chloe Carmichael: [00:00:00]
Hi, and welcome to the high functioning hotspot with me, Dr. Chloe Carmichael, I'm a clinical psychologist and former yoga teacher in New York city. And I specialized in working with high functioning people. Thanks for joining me once again. On today's episode, we go into one of my favorite topics and a favorite topic of many high functioning people, which is the topic of goal attainment.
[00:00:29] To help, I've invited a very high functioning person, Dr. David Turock to join me. David holds a key patent on VoIP . It's about amazing technology that powers two thirds of the 9 billion calls placed every day on planet earth. That's 6 billion of the 9 billion placed every day on planet earth.
[00:00:54] And he holds a key patent on that. He also has a PhD in cognitive psychology, which of course I think is pretty cool. We'll also cover his marriage and his childhood and how he got started as an inventor by making zip guns to protect himself, you have to listen to this story. I'm going to start by sharing my thoughts on goal attainment.
[00:01:16] And then I will go right into the interview with David. Enjoy! The five-step plan to achieving any goal is a blog that is located at drchloe.com/goals. It's also going to be linked in the notes of this episode and rather than actually read the whole blog, I'm just going to summarize a large part of it for you.
[00:01:41] And then really talk about the main part which is different about the system, which is that you take your emotions into account. So in the five-step plan for achieving any goal, steps one through four are pretty straight forward. There are things that I would imagine most any high functioning person has kind of heard of before.
[00:02:01] So you define the goal in specific and accountable terms. Step two is breaking it down into major components. And step three is adding the sub tasks or objectives underneath each of the components. So just a basic organization of the steps in a goal. And then step four is organizing those to-dos into a timeline, which you know, something else that is a little bit unique about the system that I have posted on drchloe.com/goals
[00:02:35] is that I also look at how to stack those timelines up for different components of goals in a complimentary manner using a color coded system, but it's really almost impossible to describe that on a blog. So I'm going to skip ahead to the part where we get into emotions and self care.
[00:03:00] So what we do then once you have your goal and all of the tasks and subtasks listed, what you need to do is to look at each of the items in your task list and start noting down some of the emotions that come up around your tasks. In the example, on the blog, I give an example of somebody who's trying to get into graduate school.
[00:03:30] And so one of the things that they need to do is get a good score on the GRE or the GMAT. And one of the emotions that they have when they start looking at the steps for that component of the goal which includes things like signing up for a study course and taking practice tests and all of those to-dos that would go with the main goal of getting a good score on your test and getting into graduate school.
[00:03:56] Some of the emotions that they put up around those things are test anxiety or feelings of pressure or even feeling judged, for example, when it came to the part about writing a personal statement. And listing out the emotions around those to-dos I think, as a psychologist, is a really important step, because what that does is that then enables empowers you to do the final step.
[00:04:24] The cherry on top of the goals approach that I have, which is to add in self care plans around your emotions. So for example, if the person was struggling with test anxiety. And they knew that that test anxiety might make it really hard for them to even study then they could do a little theme of like ordering their favorite takeout to enjoy for study night or learning about a variety of test anxiety techniques.
[00:04:56] And then when it came to concerns about the personal statement and feeling pressure and fears of feeling judged what they could do is start maybe practicing some low stakes free writing exercises or having a really close, supportive friend to review the first draft. So again, the idea here is that we start thinking about our goals a little bit above and beyond the standard way of just breaking them down into components and then listing out the sub tasks and making a timeline.
[00:05:30] All those things are wonderful, but for high functioning people, and in fact for everybody of course, but my specialty is high functioning people. I think it can be really exciting to also notice some of the emotions that we have around our goals, note them down and then think about self care strategies that we can practice. So that in case any of those emotions are along the lines of feeling anxiety or pressure, we don't have to just sit there with those emotions and be battling those emotions because then they can bottleneck is around our goals.
[00:06:05] So again, the idea is that we list out the emotions and then we think objectively about how we could add in some self care or some support for those steps. So thanks so much for listening. If you would like to read the whole blog or see any of the visuals, please go to drchloe.com/goals. Thanks.
[00:06:29] So David, what did you think of the goal attainment blog? Did it seem like it mirrors what you do or do you have a different type of a process?
[00:06:39] David Turock: [00:06:39] It's very consistent I think with what I've done, both in my personal life and my professional life. When I've been able to gain enough clarity to understand and basically focus and define the goal.
[00:06:55] I think it's a great process actually. I think you've articulated it, you know? It's a more cogent articulation than that I've ever come up with for myself. So actually, I'm going to read over this in more detail and try to apply it to some more things that I'm working on now.
[00:07:14] Dr. Chloe Carmichael: [00:07:14] Well that is really deeply flattering. Again, David coming from someone with your level of accomplishment, it really is an honor to talk to you about goal attainment. When you were, for example, working on that patent for the VoIP stuff, did you say to yourself, my goal is to get a patent doing X, and now I'm going to work backwards to figure out how to create that technology, or was it like an open-ended study that you were doing and then it evolved into something?
[00:07:48] David Turock: [00:07:48] No, I think patented inventions are not at least they don't have that kind of specificity, at least not for me. A goal like that would be odd. I want to finish a doctorate in neuropsychology, or I want to go work for Bell Laboratory or I want to start my own company or something like that.
[00:08:08] And those kinds of goals, I think require a lot of thinking and a lot of planning and you have to figure out what sequences are there and what things need to come together. Where you need to facilitate various confluences and so on. Inventing, I have found to be something that's just a spur of insights.
[00:08:28] You working on some problem. Sometimes it's not even related to the thing, the invention that comes up. And I just wake up in the morning and go "Hmm. I wonder if you could do that". Or actually one of the other things I admitted that I actually ridiculously failed to patent was this concept of iTunes, where you have digital music stored and people can purchase it and download it and everything way back from the 1980's.
[00:08:56] And I was looking at how do you store things digitally and how can you move them around and set up this server out of University of California, Berkley and had one at Bell Laboratories where I was working at the time and we're just experimenting, tinkering, really.
[00:09:13] I'm trying to understand a new technology and out of that sort of new ideas and insights have come out. Differentiate that from the debit card company that I had helped to create the, what was at one time, the world's largest telephone debit card company. And there, there was a specific problem that the way debit cards work is people would call in to a number which would serve as a gateway.
[00:09:40] And then they'd have to enter a pin number, more of an access code. And the problem was that the access codes all had to go through a centralized database because otherwise you could pick up a card for $5 and give the pin code to 10 of your friends and then they'd all dial in at the same time and they'd wind up on different databases and so a bunch of people would be stealing calls.
[00:10:02] And you couldn't get that to work very well because on Friday night at six o'clock everybody quits work and they want to call their family or their friends or whatever and the systems that were out there were crashing. And there you had a very specific goal.
[00:10:17] It's like all right, we have to figure out a way to prevent fraud and be able to serve a million simultaneous calls or something like that. That sort of problem is very amenable to the divide and conquer strategy. It was just what I call how you described it where you took it down. Well, let's see, what are the pieces of this?
[00:10:41] There's a database lookup and there's a telephone rival problem and so on. And so those kinds of things, yes. You have to kind of break them down into their smallest units and figure out which ones you can solve and when they have to be solved and so on. And that works very well but inside for patents and new ideas, I don't know.
[00:11:01] That hasn't been my experience anyway. I suppose it is true for some people like that, right? You read the famous stories of Edison or Belle or someone. And Edison supposedly went through about a hundred thousand different light bulb filaments before you figured out that you could do this with tungsten and he patented that, right?
[00:11:20] Well, I've certainly used both strategies at different times.
[00:11:24] Dr. Chloe Carmichael: [00:11:24] Okay. And so shifting gears a little bit, David. You have also met some really exciting goals in your personal life. During the time that I've known you, you were a widower and you expressed a real desire to meet a woman and to partner and to potentially also be able to start a family again.
[00:11:55] And that is such a huge goal and such a heartfelt goal. Can you talk about how you approached a goal like that one that such a combination of being logistical that also so personal and heartfelt?
[00:12:12] David Turock: [00:12:12] Okay. That's a great question. I'm sure I have more time to think about that. So how did I approach that?
[00:12:19] First thing I did was I went away for a while and did a lot of just prayer and meditation and thought about what had gone wrong the first time around and how my first wife, Wendy, was deceased, but she was deceased because she consumed too much alcohol and actually died at actually the exact same age that her father died from what I later discovered was the same disease, Alcoholism.
[00:12:45] First thing I did was let's do a postmortem to use that term in a funny way, but let me go back and understand how did I get involved with this person? How did I miss the signs? What signs did I miss? And of course that led me into all kinds of things, but I had to be explored and counseled and so on.
[00:13:10] And then the guilt of how I could have done something differently. Could I have saved her? And it took quite a while actually to pull out of that. And then it's like, all right, we have to move on in life. And I thought about what are the qualities in another person that I would want to be with?
[00:13:29] And what are the qualities in me that I bring to that. And where are my strengths and weaknesses as a partner? And how would those strengths and weaknesses combine with someone else's, right? So there are certain-- a weakness in me and a strength in someone else could be complimentary. And could bring us together or it could be something terrible.
[00:13:53] Maybe I have a gambling problem or something. I don't appreciate gambling but maybe somebody else wouldn't appreciate that let's say. So I thought about that for awhile and then I realized I was doing the exercise too much in my head. And so I was just went around and just meeting people.
[00:14:17] Just engaging in all kinds of social situations. And actually you've introduced me to a number of people, as I recall. Thank you very much!
[00:14:25] Dr. Chloe Carmichael: [00:14:25] I did. I love to be a matchmaker.
[00:14:28] David Turock: [00:14:28] That was very helpful, actually. That was extremely helpful. And gradually the intersection of meeting people and seeing what people like and understanding what were, what were the hearts and minds of the contemporary women out there that were good potential partners and so on, and seeing where I fit into that.
[00:14:51] Dr. Chloe Carmichael: [00:14:51] Yeah. So you kind of alluded to this where you said you realized at one point that you were like too much in your head and that you needed to just kind of get out there and pursue your goal just simply by doing, but when you were in that early stage of thinking about the goal of partnering again and you were thinking about what do you bring to the table?
[00:15:12] What do they? All that kind of thought stuff in your head. Was that all actually truly just in your head or were you journaling were you, if you don't mind sharing, were you seeing a therapist? The reason I'm asking is because I feel like a lot of people that have really personal goals that don't always necessarily lend themselves to such a straightforward format like the divide and conquer goal strategy can be.
[00:15:38] It can become really amorphous and confusing to them, like how to really think about their goals. So how did you think that went through?
[00:15:49] David Turock: [00:15:49] That's really interesting, actually. You've nailed that one. You've you've articulated that very well in the confusion.
[00:15:55] Because in going simply inside my head in the first round, I really felt like I was lost in the cloud. I was grasping for all right. My PhD is in neuropsych but I have masters of science in engineering and electrical engineering and computer science.
[00:16:19] So there's a side of me that's very algorithmic and write down all the rules, like a computer program, then go execute them on life. And so my first stage of that praying and meditating and so on, on my own. I realized I was lost in this very gray cloud and grappling with how do I turn this into an algorithm?
[00:16:39] Right? How do I get this into something that I can do? The breakdown and do the thing where you break it into two parts and then sequence it and so on. And it was then that I realized that I actually needed some help doing this. I needed a foil, a guide or something like that.
[00:16:58] I also realized that there was still a lot of unresolved issues with Liz's death and so on. And so I did, I sought counseling and that was enormously helpful. Just sometimes you just need another person to talk to that's got a really good brain in their head that sort of understands this and helps you say well, okay, is this what you mean?
[00:17:20] Or is this what she means? Like, wait a minute. I don't know. Let me think. Right. And so that... It's still never really got completely to the point where you could break it down as a divide and conquer kind of algorithm in lockstep or something. There's a kind of factual, rational side to life.
[00:17:36] I think in an emotional one and feelings side of life and feelings don't often organize themselves that way, right? Feelings don't necessarily organize themselves into a series of steps or something but counseling helped enormously and then just meeting up with people that you trust, that other people like yourself, you trust them.
[00:18:01] They're going to introduce you to someone who's beneficial to you and not. Someone that's going to take you down or something like that. Actually, the thing that was really surprising too was that in that journey, I made the mistake to think that everybody else would act and think the same way I do. Which is a totally foolish mistake, right?
[00:18:23] But some people that I would go out on dates with, wouldn't tell me they were married until stopped down the road or would say, well I'm getting a divorce and I'll be true any moment now and then we can go together. I said, well, that's great. You know, when can I sit down with your about to be ex-husband?
[00:18:40] And she said, no, no, no, no, no, you can't talk to them. Maybe this isn't as imminent and it makes you think really sort of understanding that everybody is unique.
[00:18:51] Dr. Chloe Carmichael: [00:18:51] Yeah. And you know, you're getting towards something else that I think is important and goal attainment too. Which is when sometimes our goals are a little bit dependent upon other people or at least our ability to find the right people and get the right people around us.
[00:19:08] So it's great that you were able to do that. Now I just want to ask you another thing, David, just circling back to something from earlier in this conversation, you had said when I was like, Oh, well you have all these big accomplishments, you hold this incredible patent and you've done all these things, your PhD, and you said, well, you know, it's just how I was raised.
[00:19:32] It's just what was expected of me. I just never really thought about it. There's a lot of people who are raised with those types of expectations upon them, but they don't actually ever amount to anything. Sometimes people who come from such families, actually, end up nothing but like a big pile of entitlement and over privilege.
[00:19:55] What do you think stopped you from becoming that way and actually kept you hungry to still go out there and get your goals.
[00:20:09] David Turock: [00:20:09] At a very early age, I was exposed to the concept of wisdom and became absolutely fascinated by it. What is this thing mean-- wisdom? Does it mean to be wise, to think and make good choices and everything else? So in my young teens, I started reading. I always read a lot. My mother was the president of the American library association.
[00:20:37] We always had a lot of books and things in the house and libraries and knowledge, everything was revered. And I started very hungrily reading everything I could that the world designated as wisdom. Obviously, the Bible, Old Testament and New, the Tongue of the Torah, the Qur' an, in all their different variations and languages, as much as I could stomach Aramaic and things like that.
[00:21:05] I tried to glean from all those things. What are the things that wise people do? Right? Why is life is a good life? It's a life well lived. And from there I sort of reading sort of the psychological works of Victor Frankl, right? Life is not primarily quest for pleasure or a quest for power, but a quest for meaning I think was one of the famous Franco quotes.
[00:21:37] And so I tried to, at all times, keep in mind the following. Another thing that I read was the books by Raymond Moody. Moody was a medical doctor and a psychiatrist who studied people in their dying moments or their dying hours and sort of what they report. He did some studies on afterlife phenomenon and things like that but also how do people die?
[00:22:10] Dr. Chloe Carmichael: [00:22:10] I'm curious though. If you were coming from kind of an impoverished education in high school, and then you tried to make up for it in junior college. It must've taken some pretty serious goal attainment skills for you to then do well, once you finally made it to the college.
[00:22:32] Can you say anything about if you recall anything specifically about your mindset about the goal of doing well and how you accomplished it?
[00:22:42] David Turock: [00:22:42] Sure! When I left North Carolina, going back now, there was a gap of us had three or four years there where I was going to school in the ghetto, but I hadn't always been that way.
[00:22:58] I was in the advanced classes and everything when we lived in Arizona before he moved to North Carolina. And when I left North Carolina, I said, good, this is the time for me to start over. This is a chance for me to remake myself. Right? I don't want to be this ghetto kid that's riding around in a motorcycle and getting in knife fights on weekends and things like that.
[00:23:18] I said, I'm going to take a real stab at this. It's like, all right, what do I need to do? Well, I got to even junior college. And as I said, I was learning things in sixth and seventh grade. They were teaching 12th grade in North Carolina and the ghetto. And I was like, Oh boy, am I in trouble? And so I literally had to go to the local high schools and borrow the textbooks from the local high school so that I could read enough that I could go to the remedial college lecture and make it up there.
[00:23:40] So it was a real bootstrap process and so first step in this, let's just try and do well in college and see how far I can go. The first step was I've got to make up for all the deficiencies I'm walking into this world.
Chloe Carmichael: [00:23:55] Well, the first step, actually, I think that's important that you're talking about is the sense of discomfort. You know, that, that you, you felt a sense of fear and discomfort with your current circumstance and that's what made it worth it to you to take on the discomfort, the sweat, the hard work of wrestling through.
[00:24:17] Learning some stuff that wasn't always pleasant because you were comparing that against the alternative of just remaining without the goal. Being done. So I think that getting in touch with discomfort is actually a really important thing for people when they think about goal attainment. I don't think we have to have discomfort as a motivator but it certainly can be something that will really focus us
[00:24:48] So I always encourage people to not be afraid to acknowledge that if they're having that discomfort.
[00:24:56] David Turock: [00:24:56] Absolutely! The first step in making changes, realizing you don't like where things are and then taking an honest look at it.
[00:25:02] And I absolutely did not like those years in the ghetto. And I realized that they were lacking the wisdom that I so much was interested in a theoretical sense, but it was really just a matter of survival. My first invention was a zip gun. I'm embarrassed to say, but it was. That's what's settled in school and kept people away from me so I stayed alive long enough to make it to junior college.
[00:25:25] Dr. Chloe Carmichael: [00:25:25] What do you mean your first invention was a zip code? I'm confused.
[00:25:28] David Turock: [00:25:28] No, a zip gun. A weapon.
[00:25:33] Dr. Chloe Carmichael: [00:25:33] What do you mean? I'm sorry. You invented a zip gun?
[00:25:37] David Turock: [00:25:37] Um, ghetto is a rough place
[00:25:39] Dr. Chloe Carmichael: [00:25:39] What is a zip gun? I don't even understand.
[00:25:43] David Turock: [00:25:43] So, basically I had people waterboarding me and threatening my life on an almost daily basis. Cause remember now I'm in school, in the middle of the ghetto, I'm the only not person of color and that's not saying anything about the people there. They were more terrified of me than I was of them in many ways.
[00:26:02] It's like, who is this person? And what is this idiot doing in our school? How dare you invade my space. This is like our space, get out of here. We don't come to your neighborhood, you stay out of ours. And so there are many times that I was afraid for my life and people were getting up on me and everything.
[00:26:19] I studied Taekwondo for about 23 years, but it started then and one of the things that he chose, right. Run when you're outnumbered and tell him. Anyway, to sort of rebalance the balance of power, I built I guess the best thing to do is describe it to you. You take a chair leg and you saw the leg off the chair, and then you saw the two pieces.
[00:26:41] If you can imagine this and you put a hinge on it, you drill a hole through it and take a piece of metal like from a tent pole and insert it in there. And then you could a 22 caliber bullet in it, close the hinge, put a nail with an end, and then you have a what? Basically a one shot weapon like a Derringer that's made out of a tent pole.
[00:26:58] And so if someone throws you to the ground or something, and as you're down on the ground on your knees, you take this out of your pocket and you put it against someone's knee. You pull the nail back and it fires a 22 caliber shell into their knee. And once you do that, once or twice, in the ghetto, people start leaving you alone because they realize you're packing heat.
[00:27:15] Dr. Chloe Carmichael: [00:27:15] Wow. I had no idea. David,I had no idea that you were such a tough guy.
[00:27:26] David Turock: [00:27:26] Survival will make you do incredible things. Actually, I don't mean credible in a good sense. It'll cause you to make choices that you never thought you could ever do. Never thought you could ever do.
[00:27:40] Dr. Chloe Carmichael: [00:27:40] I can understand that. Absolutely! At the same time though, I think that really gets back to this idea that when we have adversity, we have to figure out how to use that as a springboard, to propel us towards our goals. That discomfort that we feel, I'm always telling clients that anxieties healthy function is to stimulate preparatory behaviors.
[00:28:06] And so it's really great that you're able to take that and convert it into energy to achieve a goal of getting into a different identity and a different situation. So David Turock, I just want to thank you so much for joining me and sharing with me about your truly stunning journey.
[00:28:29] When I asked to talk to you about goal attainment I was really just thinking a lot about your incredible business and academic accomplishments, as well as, the personal accomplishment. I was asking you about the relationship stuff and I just want to make sure I also finish that story, which is that David started as a widower, went through all of this personal work on relationships, and he's now married to a wonderful, beautiful, fantastic woman named Heather that I just adore and I went to their wedding and it was wonderful.
[00:29:02] So David Turock, I'm excited to keep being friends with you and keep seeing what life brings and what other goals life brings for us.
[00:29:11] David Turock: [00:29:11] Thank you very much. It was wonderful talking with you. I think that you've really captured the essence of it, anxiety and things like that. Use it as a motivator, how they bring you forward.
[00:29:24] Dr. Chloe Carmichael: [00:29:24] Thanks again to David Turock for joining me today. I've known David for years but I had no idea about his childhood and how he literally had to fight for his life with a zip gun that he made himself. The way that he used the discomfort of his early experience as a stimulus for success is amazing to me.
[00:29:45] I'm so glad he shared that. I also, of course, liked that he shared how he used counseling to help him with his personal goal every marriage after he became a widow. David, thanks again. That was awesome. Next episode of the High Functioning Hotspot, we're going to discuss the value of silence. As a yoga teacher and as a psychologist, I've studied silence in different ways.
[00:30:08] The bottom line is that silence can be an amazing way to recharge in solitude or even to actually deepen your relationship with another person or even with yourself. You won't want to miss it. Thanks for listening to the High Functioning Hotspot with me, Dr. Chloe Carmichael. I hope that you enjoyed it.
[00:30:27] And I hope that you will hit the subscribe button or follow button if your player has one so that I can stay on your radar. And of course, if you would like to actually read the blog post, this episode was based on just click through in the details section of this episode, right in your listening app, or go to thehighfunctioninghotspot.com
[00:30:45] Also, I'm all over social media. So whether your thing is Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, or whatever. I am there in some way, shape or form as Dr. Chloe. That's D-R C-H-L-O-E and my Social media accounts are linked in the details section of this episode on your podcast player. Or you can just go to thehighfunctioninghotspot.com and there'll be all kinds of links and things where you can sign up for my newsletter, if you want.
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Have you ever vowed to do something — whether it’s as small as crossing an item off your weekend to-do list or as big as a career change — and then procrastinated for so long you never got around to it?
Sometimes, the things we really want to accomplish are so important to us, they induce a level of anxiety that can keep us from getting started. Other times, the sheer excitement we feel when we picture our goal can get overwhelming. And sometimes, we may just not even understand yet why we’re procrastinating at all.
Whatever your emotions, there is a way to address them and create a foolproof plan that allows you to achieve any goal. By creating a plan that not only breaks down the steps you have to do but also builds in steps to deal with the emotions that accompany your goals, you’ll be on your way to crossing off that to-do list or embarking upon the career you’ve always wanted. Here’s what to do:
1. Define the goal.
First, you want to get clear about what you’re trying to achieve. Think big but also think in a measurable way. You don’t want to get lost in the details, but you do want to be specific. So for example, if you want to get fit, instead of saying, “I’ll do 12 jumping jacks and 6 sit-ups and 20 push-ups on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays,” it’s better to commit to “I will be working out twice a week.”