Motivation – for people who don’t do ‘Goals’

What if the goal

Today’s blog is for anyone who feels daunted by goals and self improvement and may want a different strategy to the ones that aren’t working.  If you are really motivated by setting Goals and SMART Objectives this may not be for you…

An amusing tweet appeared at the start of this year “All the gym bunnies moaning about the newbies. Get over yourselves. You didn’t see us moaning when you came to use our pubs in December.”  Of course, the inference here is that the newbies won’t last, the gym will go back to normal by week 3 of 2016.  As they say, “many a true word is spoken in jest”, so it got me thinking about motivation and how to sustain that initial burst of enthusiasm to develop a motivational strategy that lasts well beyond a 30 day trial membership.

I’ve been really happy with the changes I’ve made to my health and fitness, a process I started towards the end of 2014 and have continued ever since. It started with a photo someone took of me while I was delivering a talk. And I didn’t like what I saw.

I committed to doing something about it,  so with a vague notion of “looking better in a suit”, I started running again.  I say “running” though my first attempt could best be described as a “shuffle” round the local park.  Yet as painful as it felt, I enjoyed having done it and resolved to just being better next time.  The simple process of being slightly better each time and seeing an incremental gain in my performance has been my focus and it’s kept me going to the point of now running 10-11 miles regularly with a half marathon arranged in May. In short, I feel almost as fit as I was when I was 21 years old!

Now this flies in the face of the commonly accepted theory that we should all set specific and challenging goals for ourselves in order to improve. Note the absence of a defined Goal in my case, certainly not a SMART objective in sight and clearly not broken down into a plan with measurements attached. It’s a strategy I’ve noticed working in other aspects of my life too.

Speaking to personal trainer and good friend of mine, Steve Cooper of SWEAT  Fitness, we explored my approach and wondered if there may be different preferences at work here.  If you want to, you can hear us chatting about this via a Podcast Steve kindly recorded. What if, in certain contexts, for certain people, those specific, measurable and stretching Goals might be counter productive?

So for everyone who has promised themselves a “New Year, New Me” with a big audacious goal attached and may be finding things a little tough 3 weeks in, here are 7 ideas that just might help you take that resolution into February and beyond.

  1. Aspirations: a goal of sorts but make it meaningful.  Losing 2 stones is meaningless, it’s what it will give you that’s important, whether feeling great on your wedding day or being able to run about and play in the garden with your kids.  Focus on that.
  2. Find something that will enable you to be at your best and  works better for you.  I know I am a terrible swimmer and get bored in the gym.  I used to run a bit and have always found that easier = running for me.
  3. Seek and focus on enjoying  it.  OK, we already know it’s going to be painful at times, so look beyond that and pay attention to the pleasure it gives you in return.  That’s both while you’re doing it (you can find it) and in the huge rush you enjoy post activity.  Enjoy the process.
  4. Find others to do it with.  One of the biggest steps for me was joining our run club “Dockside Runners” and the camaraderie and sense of belonging is hugely motivational in terms of just showing up.
  5. Notice what is happening as you keep at it.  Notice the changes that are happening both physically and mentally.  This is a form of mindfulness. Simple things like the way you carry yourself or how you deal with life situations, just pay attention to those changes because they are significant.
  6. Seek reward in the incremental gains and notice the general trend of improvement. This helps deal with setbacks or off days if you know you are simply getting better over time.
  7. Reinforce your identity as the new you.  Whether you are a gym bunny, a runner, a dancer, a swimmer, a great thing you can do is invest in it.  I’ve enjoyed spending money I might have squandered on less worthy pursuits on new running gear and I took immense pleasure in being awarded a “Runner” t-shirt by my club. I am a runner.

There you have it, I hope these strategies might help someone, somewhere become just a bit better each day, each week, each month and each year.  If you have any comments or suggestions I would love to hear them. What has your experience been?

Remember this is context driven and I’m not discounting  those big audacious GOALS entirely. These have also been part of my own development and that of my business.  Decide for yourself which strategy is most motivational for you and go from there.  Enjoy being better!


  1. What is most likely to motivate you: a specific goal based strategy or one based on enjoying the process and noticing incremental gains?
  2. Who can help you achieve this?
  3. What will you do to be more “mindful” and pay more attention to the positive changes taking place?
Posted by John Drysdale
22nd January 2016
John's Blog


The ILM Qualified Coach

Your guide to choosing a qualification

In the last 12 months we’ve seen an upsurge in the number of people looking to gain one of our ILM Coaching & Mentoring Qualifications, which is fantastic.

One of the early discussions I have with candidates is to answer questions around: ‘what will it give me?’ or ‘what level of qualification should I go for?’ and ‘should I do a Certificate or Diploma?’.

I’m always very happy to have those conversations but I thought I might attempt to bring a bit of clarity to people considering an ILM Qualification in Coaching & Mentoring to progress their career.


An ILM Coaching Qualification; how will it help me?

I recommend that anyone in a coaching role considers getting a recognised qualification. It makes sense as Coaching is coming under increasing scrutiny as a profession with much debate about the quality of provision. Clients want to know their coach has received adequate training and people commissioning coaching will consider competence before contracting a coach.  I have been involved in tenders for contracts where commissioners specified the qualification level of coaches required within the framework.

For the individual, we have seen how our ILM programmes have opened up new opportunities, both for people working within an organisation and consultants or freelancers who now have an additional and credible tool or service that can add value to their client base.

In summary it makes you credible and attractive to anyone commissioning you and gives you the confidence to believe you are now ‘the coach’.


What Level of Coaching Qualification should I go for?

Levels of qualifications are set according to the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) in England.  A decent explanation of academic levels can be found here :

For coaching and mentoring I usually ask about the context you will be coaching and how you want to apply these new skills:


Coaching Executives, CEOs and Directors

This would suggest a Level 7 Certificate or Diploma may be right for you. Academically it suggests something at masters degree or post grad and requires a greater understanding of coaching in a strategic arena. We take particular care that people registering for this level are able to practice their coaching at a strategic level and can in some cases support them in finding ‘clients’ for the practical elements.  Freelance Executive Coaches need this one.


Coaching Managers and Leaders

The Level 5 Certificate or Diploma would be ideal for this target audience. This is also a substantial undertaking requiring in depth knowledge and demonstrating practice.  It is broadly equivalent to a foundation degree or some other types of degrees. I always recommend this to people working in large organisations going through change or growth and where there is an opportunity to introduce coaching as a development tool in the organisation. It is really useful to consider this within HR or Training functions and clients have asked us to deliver programmes to entire teams.

Level 5 may also be useful for those starting out as a business coach at the smaller end of the SME market and we know from experience that many people want to get involved with start ups or helping people transition from employee to self-employed business owner.


Coaching Front Line Staff or Team Leaders

Level 3 provides a foundation and is useful for people in a training role or coaching front line staff or team leaders. It provides a route into a training or development type role for those in an operational role and can open up some great career opportunities. The ILM Level 3 is highly work contextualised and suits larger work places e.g. large contact or service centres are ideal.


Your prior academic experience, continuous professional development and experience at the various levels is fairly important in choosing your path and we always discuss this prior to registering you with ILM.

For the coaching suite it comes back to:

Why do you want to do this qualification?

What context will you be coaching in?

Who will you be working with?


Certificate or Diploma?

Both our Level 5 and Level 7 qualifications have the option of achieving a Certificate or Diploma.  The difference between the Certificate and the Diploma is around the practical element and the ‘extended’ period of coaching for the Diploma. This carries additional credits (a measure of your learning).

This table shows how many hours coaching you need to provide evidence for each level at Certificate and Diploma.

Level Certificate Diploma
Level 5 12 hours 100 hours
Level 7 20 hours 100 hours


There are some other requirements around how you access supervision under the extended period but this is the main difference. The Diploma should be undertaken if coaching is a significant focus of your role.  We often get asked how many people (clients) you need.  Just as a rough guide we would normally expect you to work with a particular client somewhere between 6 and 12 hours in total for coaching (though mentoring relationships may be longer).


How long will it take me?

We believe the Certificate at both L5 and L7 can be achieved in a 9-12-month time frame but it varies according to the individual. The Diploma is harder to quantify, and we generally meet with those candidates to identify a realistic timeline.

Making good progress early in the programme generally means candidates complete in excellent time.


How can you help?

This article is simply to help guide your thinking. I will always have a call or a meeting with a prospective ILM candidate to identify what is the right qualification for you at this time and how we can help you progress.  I want all my candidates to succeed.  After all many of them are self-funded and it’s important to me that they not only enjoy the classroom sessions and engagement with the wonderful people we have on our cohorts but that they come away with a recognised Qualification to further their goals and aspirations.

One thing we do know is there is a direct correlation between attending our (now monthly) tutorial sessions and achieving the qualification. These are provided as part of our programme and follow the 6 classroom dates.  I really enjoy these sessions because I can see people remove the fear of assignments and become inspired to go out and develop their coaching practice and ultimately their ILM Qualification.

If you are thinking about a Qualification in coaching & mentoring I would be happy to have that call or cup of coffee and a chat.

Our next programme starts on February 23rd 2018 in Liverpool click here for more details

You can contact me on:

0844 873 1226

Or email:


ILM Approved Centre



Liverpool based training company, No Guru is ‘leading in learning’ as the ILM city region hub

North West employers now have access to professional development qualifications for management, team leaders and supervisory staff as Cotton Exchange based training company, No Guru becomes the Liverpool City Region hub for ILM accreditation.


University Contract extended for 2 Years

Leeds Beckett University relationship extended

We are delighted to announce our current contract to provide Staff Training and Team Building to Leeds Beckett University has been extended a further 2 years.

During the next academic year we will be running new programmes around:

  • Strategic Thinking
  • Leading Change
  • Leading & Empowering People
  • Working to Strengths
  • Designing and Delivering Presentations

Additionally we will continue to work with Teams to deliver on the University Strategic Framework as well as completing our first ILM Level 5 Coaching & Mentoring programme for internal ‘Coaching Champions’.

We would like to thank People Development and everyone at Leeds Beckett for making it a great place to work.



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