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"New Year, Still You" - Authentic Goal Setting with Deena Redman

Yesterday we had the chance to chat with holistic health coach Deena Redman (Deena Redman Holistics) about how to set authentic goals and make the best of our fresh new year. It was an encouraging and insightful conversation, and we hope you enjoy!

Photo: Deena Redman

Mykaela: To start with, not everybody is going to know who you are — at least for our followers — so I would love if you told us a little bit about yourself, what kind of work you do, and just a little brief intro.


Deena: Yeah, for sure. So my name is Deena. I am all about health and wellness. I like to consider myself to be a projector. I like to really just dive into the things I love and that I am passionate about, and then find ways to share that with others — and so far, so good. I’ve been able to do that.


So having said that, I work with holistic nutrition as well as advanced sports nutrition. I teach yoga, barre, and Pilates. Right now, I’m in life coaching, which is really bringing me to life. I’m actually gearing my practice more toward that — health coaching, but more of the life coaching, though. I also make malas. I have my hands in a bunch of things and I just like to keep myself busy. But it’s all-around health and wellness.


Mykaela: I think that is so exciting — how you’re doing so much but they all really tie together in a way that suits you really well.


So I just thought that you would be a perfect person to talk to about creating positive shifts in our lives and goal setting, especially around this time of year because so many people are making goals.


New Year’s resolutions are really common, but along with that ends up coming a lot of negativity because a lot of people unfortunately have a negative view around goal setting, because it reminds them of what they’re not doing, of how much work they need to do, and how much they need to change.


So the first question I wanted to ask you today was kind of around that. Some of us make of goals just because we feel that we should. A lot of people are making health and fitness goals — to be more active, to take their nutrition more seriously, or to meet certain landmarks in their professional life — but they’re doing it just because they feel like they have to and it kind of feels like a daunting burden.


So I was wondering what your thoughts are on how people create goals that they actually feel excited about and that feel really authentic to them.


Deena: I love this question because I think the word “goal” has exactly that built into it — just the way that we have gone about goals for so long, it just seems to have that negative connotation right of the hop.


Goals are essential. You have to have an end goal in mind, but I think you said it right in your question — the best indicator is “How do you feel about your goals?” If it’s something that brings you to life, it’s exciting, it makes you feel curious, it’s new, or it’s something you feel good about, you’re going to end up achieving that. If you have a goal in front of you that doesn’t feel good, or it’s not exciting, or there’s no emotional leverage, or it’s not important to you — even if you achieve it in the short term, it’s never going to last. That’s not lasting transformation.

"If (your goal) is something that brings you to life, it’s exciting, it makes you feel curious, it’s new, or it’s something you feel good about, you’re going to end up achieving that."

So I would say that you need to tune into your feelings, tune into what’s important to you — whatever you’re curious about, whatever your interests are. It all has to align with that because it’s more about you as a person than the actual goal — which I imagine we’ll get into. It’s all about the feeling.


Mykaela: I was wondering about your perspective on that question specifically from a health and fitness perspective, because one of the main parts of your life is being a fitness instructor. So I was wondering — from your view as a fitness instructor and also your life coaching and mindset coaching — what do you think happens to people when they have a really negative view toward their health goals?


A lot of people almost view it as a punishment. They’re like, “I need to do this. I need to get in shape. I need to take care of myself.” So it has a lot of that negativity around it. So how do you think people should go about specifically their health goals?


Deena: You’re so right about that. It just breaks my heart how that is the approach — that it’s a punishment and not a celebration. But I think that, collectively, we’re working on that. Check back in a decade. See how that’s going.


Mykaela: I was just thinking that all of the times in my life that I’ve heard people talk about their fitness goals, usually you get this feeling of dread from it. They’re like, “Ugh, I really need to do this.” They’re like, “Oh, crap. This is going to be really hard.” So I’m interested to hear what you have to say from a more positive perspective.


Deena: You know, this is so huge. Actually, this question is kind of what lead me from nutrition into coaching. I found this to be super interesting. It comes back to the same thing: You have to be excited about your goal.


"It comes back to the same thing: You have to be excited about your goal."
Photo: Deena Redman

A common goal is to lose weight. Let’s say your goal is to lose weight and you’re looking at that, and you’re like, “Yeah, that would feel good. My life would be great. I would be so much happier”— and all those things that we tell ourselves — but maybe there is a disconnect between us and what’s written down on that paper.


A lot of people have a goal but it doesn’t feel good. Like you just said, all that dread — especially with health stuff — is because we’ve tried every single January! Every single year, we try again and then we fail. Well, I’m not going to say “we fail”. We say that we fail. And what happens is, after 12 years of that, we just give up. We’re like, “Okay, that’s way too much work! I know because I’ve tried.” But we don’t question the progress or the process that we took. We didn’t question the systems that were in place. We just take it personally: “I’m a failure. I’ll never be able to do this.” But it’s never actually about that. It’s always about what we’re choosing to do — the decisions we make, the little habits and rituals, the structures, and the systems that we have in place.


So if you have something written down in front of you — again, let’s say mine is to lose weight. For me to make that something that is actually approachable for me, I have to, first of all, have some sort of importance as to why I want that. And it can’t be the first layer of “why” — like, “because I want to fit into my old jeans again.” You have to go probably, like, 12 layers deep and get to the actual feeling that you’re chasing from that. Because you’re actually just chasing a feeling. And then once you channel that, that is going to bring you to life.


The second thing I would say is that you have to believe that it’s attainable for you. So every January, if my goal is to lose weight and my goal is to lose 100 pounds in one month, I don’t believe that’s attainable for me. Like, my subconscious says, “No!” but my five-percent brain, my conscious brain, is like, “Oh, yes! I’m going to lose it! I’m so excited! I’m so driven!” And on the third day, we’re in a puddle on the floor because it’s just not working. And it’s not our fault. It’s the systems we’re choosing. We’re going about this the whole wrong way.


"You have to believe that it’s attainable for you."

I think that goals are so important, but I think an even better word for them is actually “habits”, which I think we’ll continue to get into, as well.


Mykaela: I like that.


Deena: I would say it’s about the feeling and it has to be attainable. We’re going to have another January. We’re going to have time. Then there’s February after January. Like, you can have approachable little steps and think longer term. There’s this short-term, “silver bullet” type of addiction, obviously. That’s really the sucker point of January, I think — of this “new hope”. It’s a new year, maybe there’s a new product! [laughs]


Mykaela: That actually leads into my next question really well, because my next question is about goals and timeframes. Oftentimes people make a goal or they say they’re going to commit to a certain structure and they’re like, “I’m going to finish that in three months” or they give themselves a time goal. So I was wondering, in your experience, do you think that can be a helpful thing or do you think that it’s more so dangerous or discouraging?


Deena: You know, that’s such a question. Nice work on that one!


I think for something like that, it really depends on the person. I hate to answer a question that way, but that one is really true because I know, for some people, when they sit down and they have their New Year’s resolutions, they’re very specific. It’s like, “Okay, by this time, I’m going to have this many dollars” or “By this time, I’m going to have lost this much weight” — or whatever. That can work for them.


However, that’s not for everybody. Because, personally, I’m not like that. I know that if I set a goal and if I have times around it and certain numbers around the whole thing, that ends up just putting a lot of pressure on me and then I get disappointed. I feel guilty. I feel icky. Again, it’s all about the feeling of pursuing this goal or becoming this person, ultimately, that means the most. So as soon as you start to feel stressed out by your goal, you’re in a default perspective and we need to flip that for it to work.


So I think everybody has to kind of play with that one and see if they are that kind of person or not. It’s the same with manifesting. It’s like, “Oh, I’m sitting here, manifesting the house of my dreams and I know exactly where it is and how many windows there are. It’s facing the ocean on the west.” I can’t do that. I’ll say, “Okay, I want it to be hot and I want it to be spacious. I’ll figure out the rest.” You know? So everybody is so different.


Mykaela: Yeah. That makes sense. So timeframes can work for some people but what I got from that is that a timeframe can work, but if you find that it is stressing you out or it’s causing you to feel unhappy about your goal, then it’s not working for you and you should not do that. Okay.


Deena: Totally — or at least adjust the timeframes.


Mykaela: My next question is about the mindset around our goals and what people think that it takes to accomplish our goals.


I have seen professionals and fitness instructors online saying, “Well, it really comes down to you just putting in the work, and at the end of the day, if you’re not accomplishing your goals, I hate to say it, but you’re lazy.”


A lot of people think getting their goals accomplished is just about that blood, sweat, and tears, putting in the work, being determined, waking up and crushing it. So I’m wondering what you think about that. How do you feel when you see people sort of promoting that mentality? What are your thoughts on that?


Deena: [hesitates] You know, people are so, so funny. That’s the first thing that comes to mind. That’s so funny.


Mykaela: So funny. [laughs wryly]


Deena: A positive spin on it — “funny”. Yeah. I’m just kind of stuck here on that.


Mykaela: Just absorbing that.


Photo: Deena Redman

Deena: So I kind of touched on this briefly earlier. When we have a goal, it’s never our personal fault if we get that or not. Like, it is — but it’s the systems that we’re choosing to operate in our lives, if that makes sense. So for people to take that personally and call themselves “lazy” and things like this — it just doesn’t make sense. It means that their approach needs some adjusting and some fine-tuning. Some adjustments have to be made. But it all comes down to beliefs.


To be totally serious, it comes down to your belief. If I believe that this is going to be a hard road, I’m looking for the path of most resistance. I am choosing to take that route and I’m probably going to give up and resent it, and then start to have that whole downward spiral that we talked about — as opposed to if I believe that I can do something.


I personally love the laws of nature, because I can’t question nature. I can’t question that, so I like to just follow that. Nature takes the path of least resistance, always. The subconscious mind takes the path of least resistance, always.



"I personally love the laws of nature, because I can’t question nature."

So it’s beliefs first! There’s a square — beliefs, thoughts, feelings, actions — and then results. That’s how this whole thing works. But it all starts with your beliefs. Not just on the surface level, saying “yes, I believe this will work” — but if you, with every cell of your being, believe something, that’s how it’s going to be. Because your subconscious mind filters through reality, and it filters it through all of your beliefs. Then, all of a sudden, a neutral thing out in the universe is now a “good” or “bad” thing for you. It’s a “push” or a “pull”. We give it that meaning.


Mykaela: So if you were talking to a friend or a client and they were talking about their mentality toward their goals and they’re like, “You know what, I’m really struggling, but I just need to keep working really hard” — what kind of advice would you give them? Would you say, “Hey, maybe take a step back and think about how you feel?” What would you encourage them to do?


Deena: If my client said that to me, I’d shake them. No! [laughs]


Mykaela: Just stop it! [laughs]


Deena: This is stuff that — before my clients and I really get anywhere, we work on this stuff for quite a bit of time first. All of this is why I went from holistic nutrition to coaching — because it’s all about mindset — everything — whether it’s physical, whether it’s movement or nutrition or whatever!


So if somebody said that to me, I’d say, “Okay, you’re going on the wrong path. Where are you trying to get? Because you’re not going to get there. You’re actually going to end up somewhere totally different.”


Instead of making your life better, it’s going to make the quality of your life way worse, and you’re going to be stressed out. You’re going to be overwhelmed. You’re going to resent it. The body holds onto all of that. That’s why, next year, when we set this resolution again, the body is like, “NO!” Then we start to blame ourselves: “Why can’t I willpower through this?” or whatever.

"What is important to you? What do you want to feel? Who do you need to become?”

I keep going back to the same point because I think it all comes down to that. But yes, if my client said that, I would say, “No, we’re starting over. What is important to you? What do you want to feel? Who do you need to become?” We take a totally different route. But I will not let them slip that by me. Because if they truly believe that, any goal that they want — it’s not going to work. Their subconscious mind and their conscious mind are not in alignment. So it can’t be received.


Mykaela: I was thinking how sometimes, for myself, I will have a goal or a vision for myself for the future but, intuitively, sometimes I know that now is not the right time. And I don’t know how to put my finger on it and how to say what changed, but sometimes I’ll think that I want something and it won’t be until eight months later that I’m actually doing it, because if I tried to do it eight months ago, it would have overwhelmed me and I would have had a bad attitude about it. But then some time went by and now I’m feeling good about it and I feel like it’s a positive part of my life. So just noticing how you feel about it, and maybe timing something is also something to consider.


Deena: Definitely. It’s called “the law of rhythm”. It’s the same as nature. It goes through seasons and it goes through rhythms. We’re the exact same way. If we’re trying to force something and our fate or our path or whatever you want to call it is actually meant to be going a different route, you’re just going to go there.


I think that it’s really smart that you didn’t try to just force it anyway. You’re like, “Okay. I planted the seed. It’s going to harvest, but just not quite yet.”


That attachment piece is the biggest thing. People get so attached to those timelines and the way that things “should” work and all of this. Just, like, open up! This world is magic. Just open up a little bit! So I love that you did that.

Photo: Deena Redman
"This world is magic. Just open up a little bit!"

Mykaela: I really like your analogy about planting a seed because so much of growth when it comes to nature and plants is actually something you can’t see at all. It’s all internal. So that can be a part of our goals as well — that it just sits there for a little while.


My next question is about discouragement. I feel like it goes along with all of what we’ve talked about so far with maybe setting a timeframe or your attitude about your goals and whatnot.


For a lot of us, we set a goal or intention and when we realize we haven’t lived up to it or it’s not going as we planned, we get really discouraged and a lot of people give up entirely. They’re like, “Well, it’s not working.” Or they’re even like, “Okay, 2021 is my year!” and two months in, it’s not going as they planned — “Okay, 2022 is my year!”


Deena: Totally!


Mykaela: So how do you think we can avoid discouragement when we notice that we’re not really on the path that we were wanting to be on?


Deena: I kind of hate to say this because I feel like it’s so cliché, but in those moments, it’s all about how we talk to ourselves. Because at the end of the day, when we’re talking to ourselves, that forms our beliefs. Those beliefs inspire our actions, which ultimately give us the results. So a lot of times, people are like, “Okay, yeah, I believe I should talk nicely to myself right now, but I’m not going to!” And then they just go into their habits of beating themselves up — which, again, if we go back to how it’s all about how you’re feeling — they’re just digging themselves into a hole.


"It’s all about how we talk to ourselves. Because at the end of the day, when we’re talking to ourselves, that forms our beliefs. Those beliefs inspire our actions, which ultimately give us the results."

Some people don’t even get into this until 45 years into their life or something, and they’ve already been doing that for 45 years. They definitely don’t know any better. To even try to break that down for them is really, really hard. People get so set in their ways.


The way I would love to approach the issue of discouragement is to take the word “goal” and swap it for “habits”. Because ultimately, to achieve any goal, you have to implement new habits and you have to do new things. That becomes a part of your lifestyle and all of that. That is how you achieve those goals — unless they’re insanely immediate and that type of goal.


Let’s call “goals” “habits” for that reason. The best approach, I think, is to track your input rather than your output. So track exactly what you’re doing and who you’re being.


There’s a way of doing and there’s a way of being. There’s the goal and then there’s the intention. There is what you want and how you’re going to be when you going about getting it.


So when you set a goal, you should always set that way of being too, because there is going to be a time when your motivation dies. That is because of the law of rhythm! It happens in nature. It happens with us. If you have a journal of the past week of all the input that you’ve put in to go toward your goal. “On this day, I practiced being patient all day and I did these actions. Okay. Now, Tuesday…” You’ll have these things to look back on and say, “Yes, I’m working toward my goal. I’m being impatient right now. That’s my conscious mind and my ego being a little bit bossy. But I’m going to shut them up because look at what I’m doing. I know that if I keep going this route, in 10 years, how can I not achieve my goal? If I’m doing it and I’m being it, how can I not?”


So I think in those moments, it’s really important to check in with your thoughts.


Mykaela: Would you recommend journaling your habits so that you have a record of your progress on days that you are feeling discouraged? What is something that you typically recommend to clients?


Deena: Totally. So even when I start on goals or habits with clients, I always send them a sheet that they can check off. I put their goals on it, their ways of being, things that they want to commit to doing. Every single day, they either check it or they don’t. That can work really well because obviously you don’t want to break that streak — that’s just human. We just want to keep going. We’re competitive. But then the other side of that is, if, at the end of the week, we look at their goals and they’ve only checked off two days’ worth, something tells me that our approach to them achieving their goal is not working for them. That’s when we can adjust.


So I highly recommend tracking that. Because then, next Sunday, I can be like, “Okay, I struggled with drinking three litres of water for five days this week. Maybe it’s a bit too much. Let’s bring it down to two litres.” And then, the next week, I had a check every day that week, so I can say, “Wow, okay, I can up it again! Two and a half!” That is a really smart way of tracking and reflecting on what you’re up to instead of just hoping for the best — like throwing a firework and running away — saying, “All right! Good luck! See you later!” It’s you actually doing it. It’s inspired action.


Mykaela: I like that. That is good.


I was wondering about your personal experience. Can you remember a time when you’ve had the mindset we’ve been talking about — where maybe you had a negative outlook toward the habits you were trying to create? What was your experience? How would you compare that to your approach now? What does it feel like when you do create goals that feel really inspiring to you?


Deena: Flow!! It feels like flow. I think, as a woman — and I think a lot of us go through this — when I was younger, of course I tried diet pills, I tried diets — I tried everything. I tried skipping meals. I tried the juice fast. I did all of that, and that’s actually what lead me to holistic nutrition. I was like, “Okay, none of this is working. I need to know how to actually do this for myself.” So that’s kind of the last thing I can think about. I’ve worked really hard for 10 years on that, though. That took a lot of work.