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NBSV 169


Transcript of the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast, episode 169

Dr. Esther Zeledón discusses veganism, setting goals, cultivating a positive mindset, creating habits, and more

 This transcript is AI-generated and [lightly] edited by a human.

Karina Inkster:

You're listening to the No-Bullshit Vegan Podcast, episode 169. Dr. Esther Zeledon is on the show to share her vegan story and to discuss setting goals, cultivating a positive mindset, creating habits, and more

Hey, welcome to the show. I'm Karina, your go-to no BS vegan fitness and nutrition coach. I thought I would mention the No Bullshit Vegan ebook, just in case you haven't downloaded it yet. It's completely free, and I put it together a while ago to celebrate the fifth anniversary of this podcast. It covers fueling strength training on a vegan diet, busting soy myths once and for all, and the links between body composition, athletic performance, and veganism. Get your hands on it for free

Introducing my guest for today, Dr. Esther Zeledon, often referred to as Dr. EZ. She specializes in turning dreams into reality. With a remarkable background as a former international diplomat, scientist and life coach, she has crafted a proven formula for success that transcends cultures, communities, corporations, and countries. Dr. EZ’s innovative approach has garnered global recognition as she collaborates with NGOs, governments, academia, and individual coaching clients. Her mission is to empower high achieving individuals and teams to uncover their true purpose, leading to enduring impact, boundless joy and sustainable growth. Her favorite meal is vegan mushroom ceviche. Here's our conversation.

Hey, Esther, nice to meet you. Thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Esther Zeledón:

Thank you so much for having me.

Karina Inkster:

I'd love to get a little bit of background on what you do, and I know that we're going to go into a little more detail around goal setting and the coaching that you offer, but what's the quick elevator pitch of who Esther is and what she does?

Esther Zeledón:

Yeah, so my elevator pitch is that I am in a movement. So basically 92% of people give up with their dreams. Only 8% really go after them like their dream, dream, not the check marks their dream. And so I'm on a mission to flip that statistic and that is the birth of my company and everything I do. It's really based on my purpose of really helping people identify their purpose, their big why make it happen, and more importantly, keep it going. There's so many people who even get through the first two steps and then just give up when life gets challenging. 

So that's basically in a nutshell what I do. And so that encompasses coaching, that encompasses facilitation, retreats, workshop speaking, and I have a book and workbook because part of my legacy was that when I was growing up, I didn't have access to money or anything, and so books were my resource on everything how to, and they were my inspiration in the world. And so I wrote a book and workbook to share with everyone like that how so many books talk about purpose, but they don't tell you how to. And so I really wanted to put out there in the world a book and a workbook that gives you all the questions, all the steps, so that if you really are interested in creating your own limitless life and becoming that 8%, it's all in there.

Karina Inkster:

Love that. The percentages really get to me. I'm kind of a numbers person, so when you start talking about percentages, I'm like, yeah, I can get behind that. Although I guess you could go down a whole rabbit hole of how are we measuring whether people actually are achieving their dreams or not. But I get the concept. I think that's a good way, explaining it pretty powerfully actually. And you have a plant-based connection, right? You eat a lot of plant-based foods. You're not fully plant-based, but kind of on the spectrum somewhere. Is that right?

Esther Zeledón:

Yes, I do. I do actually. We're all on this journey and we mainly eat a majority of plant-based foods. Well, one, my background, how I started, when I started, I guess on my career journey a long, long time ago, I actually started as an environmental scientist. And how that connects to coaching is interesting because I was really, really wanted to always solve global problems and global issues. And so I went into that field to make a difference. But in that field is when I realized that a lot of it is based on individual actions, individual purpose. It's really based on psychology. 

And so it was a lot of linkages between solving environmental problems with individual actions and individual psychology, behavior change behavior models. And so that's how they're linked. But since I have such a close connection with the environmental world, that part is super tied with me and why being mainly plant-based is so important to me. I don't want to, that's everything I do. I don't take, I use reusable bags when I go to the market. I want to eat in a way that's ecologically friendly, but also even nutritionally and just better for your body. And so I try to practice as many eco social sustainability habits in my life.

Karina Inkster:

Love that. I think it's really important to keep in mind that of course there are systemic issues, and on an organizational level, there's a lot that needs to change. However, as individuals, we have a lot of agency, we can affect a lot of change. And especially being someone with the background that you have in environmental science, our diets are one of, if not the most effective things that we can change to positively impact the environment and animals. 

And you know what as a long-term vegan, and a lot of our listeners are vegan, of course, we want a hundred percent vegans in the world. But really what's going to make a huge difference overall realistically, is the human population globally decreasing their intake of animal-based foods. Sure. That means a lot of people are going to go vegan, of course, and that's great. And I think maybe that's the end goal for a lot of people who are currently decreasing their intake of these foods.

But part of why this show exists is to bust some of the stereotypes around vegans. And I think there's a lot of like, oh, you're doing it wrong, or, oh, you're not going far enough, or there's kind of moralizing in veganism and sure, yeah, I agree with that to an extent, but I also at the same time, acknowledge folks who are making changes. There's a lot of logistics for folks. You've got a family. I don't know how it works in your household if it's fully or mostly plant-based for everyone, but it's definitely a step and it does make a difference.

Esther Zeledón:

No, absolutely. And I love what you stand for and I love this podcast for that because we do need to normalize this and have more awareness around this issue and give people that light that well, one, that there are other people like this in this world and normalize it a bit. 

Because one of the challenges I have in becoming a hundred percent, and maybe a lot of listeners can relate, is that I travel a lot where I connect with a lot of communities. And where it's hard for me is not accepting a meal and not eating it fully from a community member. But I also think that's part of the movement and change as we start to normalize this more, less and less of us will be in that situation of having to choose between one or the other, that it's normalized worldwide.

Karina Inkster:

Absolutely. And we all have different starting points. We all have different reasonings, the why that you mentioned before, which we can go into in a bit too. We have those for the way we eat and it's individual, and I think we need to acknowledge that, but also acknowledge that maybe the ideal is still fully plant-based, just saying.

Esther Zeledón:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Karina Inkster:

Awesome. Okay, well, let's talk about a little bit more in depth what you do and the book that you have and the kind of services that you offer for folks. So there's a lot of goal setting. These are high achieving folks that you work with and that you speak to in your talks and in your book. So can you tell me a little bit more about, you mentioned before finding a purpose and helping folks with how to of that. Can you tell me a little bit more about how that works and how you are engaging with people?

Esther Zeledón:

Yeah. So a lot of my methodology is around how do you discover your why and your why is going to be different for other folks, even what you were mentioning, the why, even vegan is going to be very different for different people depending on their touchpoint and what they care about. So a lot of the purpose work I do is really asking people really to dig deep and really introspect. So the questions I have in there are, if you had 2 billion or unlimited resource, a lot of high achievers, 2 billion is not enough, what global problem would you solve? And then with that, how would you do it? And the reason how is important is that many people will say the same. 

Global problems, maybe water, maybe poverty, maybe animal welfare or climate change or population growth, there's going to be a lot of different answers, but some are similar, but how would you do it is unique to each person. I have yet to meet one person with that same answer. And how is the unique value add that you bring in the world? That's how you solve problems and that's what you bring in. So really it's like helping everyone unpack that question. I mean, even if we could do this now together, what would you solve?

Karina Inkster:

Oh, well, that's a good question. Where to even start, but probably making plant-based, eating more accessible to folks. I think that the education around, again, the individual actions that we can take to have positive impacts on our planet, but it needs to be more normalized, as you mentioned before in society. And it needs to be more accessible. And I think there's a lot of food deserts and income disparities and cultural backgrounds and all sorts of different factors that go into that. But yeah, I think it would mostly come down to plant-based eating education, accessibility.

Esther Zeledón:

Right. Yeah, that's amazing. And I am super aligned with you. And then how would you do that? I mean, you mentioned some of it already, but how would you solve it if you had unlimited resources?

Karina Inkster:

Well, that's a damn good question too. I think there would be two angles. So one angle would be a grassroots, a bunch of individuals going out there to have conversations with people, to go to schools. This would be the education arm, so podcasting speaking, but a huge network of people, not just me as one human. So that's kind of on the ground, folks getting out there to spread the message and to educate the masses. But then I think there would have to be something else too, something bigger. But I'm not sure what that is exactly, the systemic grocery store food availability and how we grow our food and how expensive things are. So there's that piece too.

Esther Zeledón:

That's awesome and that's super aligned with you. That makes sense. Why you have a podcast, why you interview other people. So when you think about your how to, I'm showing up every day to the world, those tools and even the stuff that you don't know how you could break it down to going, how would I figure that out? How would I tackle those systemic issues? 

And so how we want to show up every day, and a lot of times so many of us don't have that opportunity to show up in our authentic self and our authentic how every single day. And then there's some of us that can or create these opportunities too. And then it's figuring out how can I do that in my every day so that I'm aligned with myself. So first of all, it's like that one, it's like that and your why, and then unpacking what was your childhood dream.

But most people would be like, oh, doctor, lawyer, firefighter. Those are the careers that we saw as a kid that we aligned those characteristics with. But the thing is, it's really not about the career. What are the characteristics of that person, of that career that we liked is you can have 20 kids that say, doctor, lawyer, anything, but the characteristics of each one are totally different, and that's what we need to dig into. So many of 'em were like, well, I wanted to be a doctor, but I didn't do it. I'm like, wait, wait, wait. Let's go back. Why did you want to be a doctor? Oh, I wanted to help people. Oh, I wanted to have that one-on-one time. I'm like, okay, so let's go back. Are you doing that today? How can we do that? Is there something missing in those characteristics that you are not showing up?

Because it's a mirror of who our potential self is, who is our aligned self? So then it's unpacking that. Is there something we're not doing there? And then what do you love? What can you teach the world? What impact do we have? And then there's a legacy question. If we were to die, I put my clients into this space of like, okay, you know what? Death is a possibility. If you were to die tomorrow, what would your obituary say? And everyone's like, ah, I can't believe it gave me death. But it's like it's introspection. What would it say? What bothers you that hasn't been said? What would you want it to say? And that gives an indication of A to B, something that we haven't done yet. And then I do this other exercise because your purpose, we always talk about it in a positive light, but it also opens us up to vulnerabilities.

So for example, with me, similarly, I want to change the world and change this narrative similar to you, we're going against systemic pressures. I'm fighting against the American dream. You're fighting against this whole model in society that's based on meat-based eating and packaging. And so while we're doing those narratives, we're also very susceptible to hyper scrutiny, to criticism to people, naysayers being having to be a trailblazer. And so that's the other side of it. 

So what are the things we've overcome and what has helped us? Because that's the piece that keeps us going, not just using that in times of crisis, but what are those how to that we've already utilized in our past and how can we utilize them in our every day? So a lot of my coachings around that really looking at, I don't believe in cheat sheet self-care checklists or anything like that, because we all have our own tools that have worked with us before, and it's really tied to our purpose and legacy and the work that we're trying to do every day to make a global change.

And I really do believe we all want to do something good in the world. It's just a matter of over time, right? Society has put these pressures on us, these expectations, we've been jaded and we forget that. But as kids, because I do this workshop with kids when they're in first grade, they all want to change the world, and it's just something happened to us along the way and traumas that we forget about that. 

So a lot of my job is resparking that, and then aligning your life so that you can still do that. And I really believe that if everyone is really living in their alignment and really creating their own limitless life and not chasing the check marks, we'd all be changing the world together. I do think then it would also help your cause it'd help everyone around cause because everyone is more willing to do something. I think a lot of people don't want to make changes. And I saw this when I was doing my work as an environmental scientist because they're like, oh, what difference is my individual thing going to make? And then they give up on it. But the thing is, our own individual actions have a huge impact, but it's going back and believing that we do have impact. Let's analyze the impact we've already made and resparking that movement forward so that all of us that are trailblazing can change the world together.

Karina Inkster:

Oh, brilliant. I love that. So I have to fess up that my initial response to most professionals who are in this, so-called self-development sphere, and I'm lumping you in here, but don't worry, it's not in a bad way. Anyway, my initial response to most people is like, ah, whatever. It's just like it's bs. It's not, these people are just pulling stuff out of their asses. It doesn't make any sense. 

My usual response to that kind of world with very few exceptions is I want to see the peer reviewed research, and I think this person is just using their own personal experience and trying to generalize it to other folks, and it may or may not work any number of things that make me just discredit the movement in general. And I used to read a ton of personal development, goal setting books, all this kind of stuff.

I still read business books and I'm still interested in moving forward in my career, of course, but I have changed a little bit. I read a book called Goal Free Living, which was kind of mind blowing. And I have to say, I do relate to your approach because not only is it not really woo and not really bullshit, a lot of other ones are honestly, but it's also taking into consideration, first of all, larger systemic, you mentioned scrutiny and things that we might be experiencing as folks who are going against the grain. A lot of people don't take that into account. And then there's also the piece about, well, what's the real why? Well, you say you wanted to be a doctor when you were a kid, but why is that? What's the actual action that you want to be performing in the world? And so that I can relate to, I used to want to be a music therapist.

I'm a musician, but I don't do it as my job. So I chose to do that part as the side hustle, very involved level of hobby I guess. Although now I do teach music, you could argue that I also do it professionally. But anyway, I wanted to be a music therapist. I wanted to be a psychologist. I went to grad school, I did my master's in gerontology thinking I'd work with older folks. And it all came down to the same concept of working one-on-one with people and helping to increase the quality of life for other humans. So it all comes down to those things, which I'm sure you see all the time. I mean, there's probably really only a hand of those kind of whys that come up, but they show up in lots of different careers and lots of different arenas I would guess. But I'm not the pro in this world. So you could probably speak to that better.

Esther Zeledón:

No, but I mean that's a lot of what I unpack people who are like, well, I had 10 different pivots in my life, but then when we dissect it, we're like, yeah, but it's all centered around the same way of how you want to solve problems. So it's actually not that far off different what you're saying. So that's why I'm really against titles, you know what I mean? Because the title is the title. So people, I put all their identity to that, and it's not about the title. It's like, why did you go in that? Why did you pursue that? Right? There was something that you thought that you could bring that solution to that space or that you could bring some sort of connection to that community, and that's why you went there. And so if you've changed the law is because you found other places you could do that in, but it doesn't mean that you're scattered.

So I like to debunk a lot of these limiting beliefs. Some people are like, oh my God, this means that I have no focus. Wait, that's not true. I mean, there's a reason behind that and we just need to find the umbrella where all that came in. And you bring up a good point about self-help. I read, I used to read a lot of self-help as a teenager and then a lot of autobiographies because I wanted to learn how did they do this, and I really wanted to get out of my neighborhood and out of my space. And so I tried to follow their models. And I think that's why I delayed my book for a really long time because I had been testing the approach. I had always been thinking about purpose. And then I had been testing it in the international development world in communities and looking at can I unpack people's purpose, mission, vision, purpose is individual, but mission and vision of groups is of a group concept and of teams.

And I didn't feel ready to write my book until I had tested the model with a large sum of people. And I was like, okay, this works. This has this. And I wrote my book for a combination of folks, because you mentioned a really good point. Some folks want the case studies, and I put those in of actual people who did it themselves, but then some people wanted the story of how I did it for myself. And I remember going into write my book. I didn't want to share my story, like it's irrelevant. I just want to show the case studies of where I know this works. And they were like, well, you have to show your story as well because for some people, the personal story is the credibility. And for other people it's the case studies. But it goes back to your point.

Everyone is different. And so at least I try to tackle it with people who, some people need statistics. Some people need the qualitative data, and it's also how we've experienced life. But what I have seen that when people unpack this though, the clarity they get, it's just helping the person unpack what already exists inside and helping them create their own system map of themselves. That's the way I see it, right? It's analyzing. You are a system and it's putting all the parts together, and then you're seeing how it all connects, and you have then clarity in any other decision you make in the future or any other step you want to take. And I think we brought up goal setting, even when we're talking about my own journey in the plant-based vegan, you don't have to do it tomorrow. The change for some of us, it will be a quick change in a month, in a week, but for other of us, it could take five years.

And I think it's less important about how long it takes, as long as you get to where you want to go and the desired outcome, and it's at the pace that you feel the most comfortable in doing, and that's going to be sustainable to you. For me, when I'm going on this journey, I didn't want to go on those journeys like diets where you start a diet and then you do it for three months and then, okay, then I'm back to my old habits. For me, it's about, okay, I'm going to break down my goal. I'm going to break down milestones and do it in a way that I've created long-term lifestyle changes that then become permanent. And that's the type of thing too. I work with people is that everyone is different. And they may have, like you said, there's different systemic reasons for other people. What is the barriers? So depending on what the barrier is to get to whatever milestone they want to get or build out this legacy and their purpose, the timeline's going to be different for folks. But what matters is that we're doing it, that we're every day, we're practicing it and making the changes that we want, and that better the world somehow, right?

Karina Inkster:

Yes. Okay. Well, there's two points here in what you've just said that I would like to go into a little more detail on. One is your own story, and then the other one is more about goal setting and habits and where those fit in. I'm huge on habits, by the way. So that's like we can nerd out on daily practices, how to figure out what your goal is in the first place and then how to break it down. But are you open to sharing your own story? What started all of this? I mean, this does sound like a switch in at least maybe not the why, but a switch in career industry from environmental science to what you're doing now. So there must have been some kind of happening there.

Esther Zeledón:

There definitely was something that happened. So for me, I always had the why in me, which was to help people discover their own purpose. But I started doing that throughout. So even if I was studying in graduate school and in college, I was still helping always people do that and being a coach, but I grew up with no money. So I mean, actually my story starts when I'm two years old. I almost died and I was given three weeks to live. And my dad, who's not very religious, but spiritual, he played the lottery and won, and this was in Nicaragua. And so they won, and then they sent me to Miami and spent all the money on me to save my life. But what that did was my life was saved, but I felt like I owed it to them because then by the time we had to immigrate to the United States during the Civil War, we had to leave with nothing.

And so I always lived with this guilt and burden that had I not been sick, my parents would've had a cushion and I wouldn't have to grow up working class. So I grew up with the American dream. I can't waste the opportunity given to me. And so I felt that I didn't deserve to follow my purpose. So even though I had that voice in my head of what I wanted, I didn't think I deserved to follow it. So I followed all the check marks. I went, got the good student, perfect child, but I struggled with depression. I struggled with anxiety because I'm following all this, but it's in complete misalignment to my larger mission. And even though I try to find always spaces, because it's always there, you know what I mean? I always try to still do the coaching and help people and bring up people above with me and help them find alignment.

I was doing that in my spare time while I was chasing these accolades. And then that led me to the workforce. And even in the workforce, I joined an organization to make a difference there. Even there, it was not full alignment. And I said, oh, well, it must be because, and I always, because society teaches you that first I was like, it must be because I haven't gotten married by the age. So first I got married again, that was a decision. I got divorced later, but I first did the marriage part. Then I was like, oh, it's because I need the director title. So then I chase chased his and got that. And I started to realize at one point when I had the full American dream and all the check marks, the five bedroom house, the full staff, the whole thing, and making a huge impact in communities.

And I was like, but this isn't my legacy. This isn't the narrative that I want to change. It's a part of it, but it's not the full narrative. And that's when I decided it was my best friend actually had passed away, and we had talked about, oh, we'll do this in 10 years. I'm sure you've heard a lot of conversations. And later, oh, in five, 10 years, oh, when I retire, and I used to have these in retirement, so I used to have those with her. And when she passed away, that's where I have that death exercise because before I used to just have it as a legacy exercise for folks, and I changed it to an actual death moment because that for me was pivotal. And then I started noticing it was for other people I worked with. And even in communities that putting yourself in that perspective, you realize, wait, I don't have, why am I waiting till this check mark of when I think I have the freedom to make the difference?

I should just do it now. And that's when I got the courage and I made an exit plan. So when you're talking about goal setting and milestones, at that point, my goal was exit, exit in a way that's comfortable for me, that I'm not letting other people down, that I can do it in a way that it's in transitional for my immediate family and my external family. And so I did an exit plan, and then I got out, and then I started this movement and started building my business. I knew nothing about entrepreneurship. I knew nothing. I've always been a coach, but I still didn't know how to create that into a movement and how do I transition from being a public figure in a place where I couldn't have social media to being outspoken? Even that was a whole transition in itself, but I broke it down.

That's what I used. The methods that I had helped communities and other people, and I basically used the coaching program on myself. I gave myself permission to do it for myself. Then I was like, okay, let me break down. What do I have to learn? This is where how to comes in. Well, I know how to research. I know how to talk to people. I can go read some books and I learn, okay, what do I need to learn to make this happen? I do it in a way that's aligned with me where I can still do some pro bono work where I can still give this service internationally to communities. And that's where the book and workbook came to me. I was like, wait, I can't coach everyone. I need to have an accessible resource because that's really important to me. This isn't just an economic thing for me.

It's about a movement. So what can I create that could be accessible? And that's where that came out. And then that's how it's evolved over time. But that's my story now. And then once I did that, all the anxiety went away. I had so much anxiety before, I had so much fear before I had a suffocation feeling before, what am I doing? And once I started doing it every day, it's not even where I am now. I think it started even just three months of starting. Once I knew that I was beginning my journey to full alignment, all those feelings went away with that. And now I have this calmness and peace around me that I didn't have. And that is my end goal for everyone I work with, and I actually work with them until they get that I'm not the coach that's just like, oh yeah, have a session. Be goodbye. I like to see the I'm invested in you, the transformation. I want you to have that peace and that clarity to do what you're meant to do in this world.

Karina Inkster:

That's brilliant. Okay, I want to talk about the goal setting, but first, what does purpose mean to you? So you've mentioned purpose a lot. This is one of the main things that you help folks with, but how do you define that? What is purpose?

Esther Zeledón:

Yeah. So for me, purpose is your complete. Why are you doing it? Your why, how, and your values all in one. For me, it's like your north star, your inner calling. I call it, there's a lot of names for it, your gift, your value add to this world. But for me, it's not as simple as some people confuse purpose with a goal. I've heard people, oh, well, my immediate purpose right now is to get this title or this job. No, your purpose is the thing that doesn't change. It's the thing that's always been there. It's what you care about. It's what you want to give back to this world. It's all those questions I've tackled on about. It's like, how do you want to change the world? Why do you want to change the world? What is the impact you want to give? What are these things that you want to embody? And then I turn it into a phrase for each person. And so it becomes like your mantra. It's your daily mantra and how you show up in the world. It's not a destination. Your legacy is a destination. That's the ultimate thing. You want to leave in this world, but not your purpose. Your purpose is how you want to show up and your most authentic self every single day.

Karina Inkster:

Love that. I think, of course there are different definitions. I mean, it's a pretty nebulous word, honestly. I do have a screenshot that I keep in my little coaching inspiration file from one of my business mentors, Jonathan Goodman, who's been on the show as well. He has a really interesting idea around life's purpose. And I'm curious what you think about this little paragraph because it's a bit different. But I think there's probably ways that you can kind of see where he is coming from or see where your philosophy fits in. And this speaks to me, which is why I saved the screenshot in the first place. 

But John Goodman says: "The idea of a life's purpose is one of those nice sounding platitudes that lacks an understanding or definition in the real world. Life is long and variable and unpredictable, and ever-changing to claim that you have found your life's purpose diminishes the beauty of the complexities of life. I intend to have many purposes in life and look forward to re-imagining my purpose, reinventing myself, and as a result, reemerging a new many times." I do immediately see a few overlaps already, but I'm intrigued as to how you approach that.

Esther Zeledón:

Yeah, yeah. No, there is a lot of overlap. I have in my, I call the Purpose Son, and it has a little bit of different philosophies in there, igi from the Japanese and some other theory and research. And even in my own practical experience, what I saw that was missing in there, the overcoming and how, but where I see the overlap is I do include the legacy piece inside purpose. And so for me, the legacy piece is what changes a lot, and that's part of purpose. So I completely agree with his statement in that sense, because your legacy can change even at this point. Even where I am right now, I have achieved, I guess you could say, if you want to use the word achieve, my legacy that I had written when I first started this movement, my movement was to create a community, change the narrative, reach people, make an impact.

And I feel like I've done that already. I have this piece, but it doesn't mean that now I can't expand my legacy and change it directions, but the why and how remains the same. So I'm not actually, I'm in the same wavelength as him. I do believe that your legacy is ever, it's always evolving and changing, and we can show our unique why and how in so many different spaces, and we should experiment that. But what I do believe that doesn't change is the why and how you want to show up, but where you do that and the scale you do that and the way and the places you want to test that absolutely, that's evolving. And that's why I do have that included there. But I also center my folks around, okay, what's the part that's static? What's the part that's always been there for you and that hasn't changed? And what are the parts that can evolve over time and can change even when you're looking at your five to 10 year plan out?

Karina Inkster:

And I think maybe that's what he's getting at actually is not maybe the itself, although maybe he is, I don't know. But maybe more the legacy that you're talking about and the implementation thereof. I mean, that's kind of what it's been like for me. I mentioned music therapy and psychology and gerontology. Those are all different implementations, but the mission is still the same, just kind of slightly different. And now with coaching and fitness and nutrition, very different field, still the same mission. So I think those things maybe just need defining, but I appreciate your thoughts on that.

Esther Zeledón:

That's why I really wanted a how to book because there's so many books that talk about purpose, but very little talk about how do you do it and how do we dissect that. And I'm hoping that mine is one of the many that come out for that, right? Because I think we need to have these discussions and think about, put more meat around it and have more people come out with these how to, it was so little around the how to in the world and more about like, oh, find it, discover it, but not really on the practicality and how you dissect it. But I love how you said that I do this exercise, another exercise with my clients to show that too. A lot of 'em are like, well, I don't know because I've done different implementations. Does that mean it's so different? I have them do exercise where they reach out to five, 10 people in their lives and ask 'em, how have I impacted your life?

And when they get it, even if it's across different decades and different time, when you bring it all together, it's all the same themes. And so it gives that person a chance to even ground truth that themselves. Because when you go back and you start reading, how did I impact you? You start realizing the same words pop up your same, how to pop up, how you've changed their lives have pop up or in that industry. And so that helps people also get that clarity to, oh, that is me, that makes me, that hasn't changed where you did it. The rest has, but that also helps the person ground truth it more tangibly with people they have known over a long period of time.

Karina Inkster:

Right? Yep. That makes sense. So how do you work with folks in the goal setting and the habits arena? I mentioned I'm really into habits. So James Clear Atomic Habits, one of my favorite books in the world. And with things like fitness and nutrition, I mean that's my career world. A lot of folks come in with what they think are goals or they just come in having goals lose 25 pounds or deadlift 200 pounds or nail my first pullup, which is all well and good. I mean, I have some strength and open water swim related goals too, but I don't necessarily think that those are useful starting points maybe in some way, but we need to create a daily or weekly practice or habit system. It's really about the system that will then eventually get you to that endpoint. And the endpoint has to be almost like another starting point. A lot of people think, oh, well, when I achieve X, Y, and Z, then I'll be happy when that's not actually the case. So how do you approach goal setting and making habits out of them?

Esther Zeledón:

This is a great question because a lot of people also, you were saying similarly, they'll come to me and be like, can you just organize my calendar? Very organized. I'm also a time management master, but I tell them no, I still do the whole purpose exercise with them and legacy, because even if it's something like that of health and fitness, it still needs to tie to a larger why and legacy part, right? What's going to keep you going with it? How does the health thing tie to you? How does the fitness thing tie to you? Why is it that you want to become more fit? Why do you want to change it? Not just like the, oh, well, I know it's something that I have to do, or because of my health check mark, right? No, let's dig deeper. How would it benefit you? Right? And then we start going to deeper categories.

Maybe it's like, I want to live long to be there for my kids, or maybe I don't want to have problems later with my body. Or you know what? I want to start a new nutrition thing because I don't want to get sick later, or I want to have healthy habits. But really digging deeper as to why are you interested in this? How is this going to improve your quality of life, lead you to your legacies? Because legacy is one part, but it's broken down to many parts. How is this tied to that? And then how does it tie to it? Okay. Then they realize it's not a thing we're going to do for six months if this is tied to a larger thing. This is a lifestyle change. So first I do all those exercises of putting like this is not a six month in.

This is not a three month thing. This is a lifestyle. Now let's go to the thing that what you've overcome. There's a lot of people who've overcome, I haven't stuck to things or people have criticized me, or I'm going to am a recovering people pleaser and I get tied to all these things. So I need to understand what are their triggers in a way vulnerabilities. So when we're doing those goal setting and mapping out, we need to make sure we're addressing those triggers. Some people have emotionally eat all these things. We need to address that because if we're not addressing that root, the daily things aren't going to stick. So that's why that overcoming thing I was mentioning is so to the goal setting because we have to understand what are the things that keep the person from sticking to it, and how do we address that on the day to day?

And so the day-to-day habits become not just the exercise or I'm going to eat better, but also the habit of how am I going to keep this going and addressing the triggers along my way that make me stop reaching my goals and my milestones and doing it in a way that has lifestyle change. And that's realistic for them. If you're someone that it doesn't stick to things that needs help with consistency, there's no way I'm going to be like, you need to do this every day from the start, right? Okay, we're going to start with weekly until you have the habit of every Wednesday where you don't think about it anymore. Then we're going to add twice a week, right? At three times a week. Well, there's other people who are like, I need to go full fledge for this to become a habit, and that's what works with me.

Okay, then we're going to do that on your calendar, but then what are we going to take out for you to be able to do this? And that's why there's some boundary work, some limits work sometimes with folks. What are the things that they have to adjust to make room for something like this? That is the priority. I like to show people a triangle with purpose then comes priorities. Priorities becomes productivity or progress and productivity. That then becomes you become successful or long lasting in your habits. And so we need to know what are your priorities in life and how is this fitting in there so that you become productive and motivated to keep it going? And another part that I help clients with is celebrating all these little steps like you mentioned, right? It's not about getting the pull up, but let's celebrate that you went for 30 minutes today.

At the end of the day, let's celebrate that you can move a little more without pain. Let's celebrate that you're a little more flexible. And I make them write it in those free calendars. They send you whatever it is they're working on, like you need to look at it. So when you look at the end of the month, be like, wow, at the beginning of the month, I couldn't even walk a mile, but now look at me. I can walk two miles without. So it's less about I want to, you're looking at everyone else where you should be and more celebrating the progress that you're making on your own at the pace that's healthy and that makes sense for you.

Karina Inkster:

I like that. There's a lot of different points there. I think the goal itself is maybe the, I don't know what you want to call it. It's not really a destination, but it guides our habits and it guides all these smaller pieces that we're then going to implement on a more daily basis. So for example, my supposed goal is to swim a half marathon in a lake in the summer. So I'm an open water swimmer. I haven't done a half marathon before, which is 5K. And so sure, yeah, that's the goal. Fine. But what does that mean then on a daily practice level, on a weekly level, how many kilometers should I be swimming? What do my actual workouts look like? What am I going to do with my swim coach who's looking at my form? Are we going to change it because of this goal?

So it kind of gives us information about what we should be doing on a smaller scale, but I still don't feel like it's the be all end all right? Am I going to be stoked that I did a half marathon? Yeah, for sure. But is this the achievement of the year that's going to make me feel different about myself? Probably not. It's the process of getting there and the training that I'm going to do and being with my swim club that I run and having all these awesome humans who are doing the same thing. So part of it is around that.

Esther Zeledón:

Exactly. Exactly. And we always overestimate we can do in a year and underestimate we can do in five. And so even when we're goal setting, I tell people to give another huge buffer to that because then we're not this disappointed. If we don't make that milestone, we're not then beating ourselves up or we give ourselves that buffer and space. Life happens and things, and we don't do that in enough. We try to pack it all in, and it's like we need to give ourselves grace for a lot of things that can happen along the way. And I always tell people the story too, that when I got my PhD, it actually was, I felt really deflated because I was expecting this, like you said, stars to come down and lightning to strike, but nothing happened. But that's also because I was so focused on the destination rather than celebrating each piece of it along the journey, I collaborated with my colleagues.

I had a title, I had an idea that should have all been celebrated along the way, but instead I was waiting for the end result and thought it would solve all my problems. But no, we need to celebrate all, like you said, you mentioned, right, being part of the swim club, celebrating one day you improved your stroke. So when you actually reach it, you're like, okay, cool, I reached it. But you've been feeling good about it throughout the whole entire process and giving yourself leg room. And in my workbook, you brought up a good point. I did talk about that. It's a lifestyle change, but you can definitely break down your legacy into goals, milestones, steps, and tasks. And I tell people don't have more than three, four big goals a year. We're always trying to overpack it, have just priorities, three or four big rocks that you're like, these are things that have to happen this year and milestones that have to come.

And then you have pebbles, which lower right? But that makes it more realistic that we can stick. And then once the rocks become habits, then we can move those to pebble category and get new rocks added on. But when we try to change all these things that we're doing like 12 at a time, it's not sustainable. You got to pick three, four, that's manageable, of course. And that might be different for different people. That's manageable within your own time. So I do have that in my work, but that people can outline, this is my goal, this is how I break it down, and I can have that all in a calendar and then celebrate it and walk people through that. It is hard to take sometimes things that are abstract and make them to tangible day by day. And then how do you schedule that in your calendar too?

Karina Inkster:

Yes. Well, how do you schedule the goal at all? Because I think that's the problem a lot of times is I was doing a coaching call with someone the other day and she said, I want to do five pullups this year. How many pullups? Five pullups in a row, not just five pull-ups in 2024. And so I'm like, okay, well, how many pull-ups are you doing now? And she said, zero. I've never done one. I said, okay, you got to give yourself 12 to 18 months to do one and then work your way up to five. So a lot of times these timelines are based on what people see on social media or what their friend achieved or whatever. And it doesn't necessarily apply to where I'm at, where you're at, where this person in question is at. So I feel like the timeline is problematic, but what we did instead was, okay, so pull-ups are a strength goal that are important to you.

Let's work toward achieving your first pull up. That's step one to getting five, right? The first one's the hardest. It's not as hard to get more reps after that. And here's a 10 step process. You do this move, you do this move, you practice this, you use a band, you do negative reps, et cetera. And the whole time you're doing this, there are milestones that you can check off, Hey, I just did three negative reps. Hey, I just did this training program that took 10 minutes, that specifically for pushups, right? So there's all these small wins along the way, and you're getting super strong in the process, even though you're not doing a pull up yet. Now, does it really matter if it happens in a year? What if it happens in 10 months? What if it happens in 17 months? I mean, we don't know. But I think the idea is the pull up is that North star perhaps. And then the process and the plan and the progressions are really where we're trying to focus our positivity and our wins and our progress in general, I suppose.

Esther Zeledón:

Exactly. And she's tied the pull-ups to something else that she wants out of that, right? And so what's nice is that you're helping her get all the things that she associates that check mark with along the way. Exactly. That's exactly the approach I take as well. It's about celebrating along the way and all the benefits you're getting. That's how I see the purpose working out. If you are doing the small steps every day, you're already feeling better. So when you're ready, get there. I celebrated every step in my book. I didn't wait for the book to be published. I celebrated the paper, the fonts, doing the research on the cover. 

And so it was a really enjoyable 18 month process. People ask me, I mean, my writing, my story was really hard, but I enjoyed the thing. It doesn't feel like, oh, I published it and that was it. No, I was intentional. And it was a whole growth for me in the sense of being authentic, sharing my story, gathering the research, and putting it all together, but celebrating it is key. The writing the book was so much more satisfying than getting my PhD, but this because my approach changed to the goal and the milestone. 

Karina Inkster:

That's huge. Yep. That's huge. Well, I've got to let you go, but do you have any last thoughts for our listeners? Anything to keep in mind as they're thinking about all these concepts we've talked about today?

Esther Zeledón:

No. Just keep it going. Don't give up whatever your milestone. And it's okay if no one else around you is working on these goals, it doesn't mean that other people around the world don't exist and have your same motivation, same goals, all those things. So just keep it going, keep your alignment, keep true to you, and yeah, I wish everyone the best of luck and all that. Thank you so much for having me here.

Karina Inkster:

Of course. Thank you so much for speaking with me, Esther. It was great. 

Esther, thanks again for joining me for this episode. Access our show notes to connect with Esther. And thanks so much for tuning in.

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