Notes of Pete Quily's Talk on Goal-setting and Following Through, Part 2

You've seen part 1 of my notes on Pete Quily's presentation on setting goals and following through. Part 2 takes us through Pete's coaching demonstration. He took a volunteer from the audience and demonstrated for 10 minutes (enforced by his $20 timer) how he would coach someone through setting a goal and following through on it. I've omitted the answers to the questions, but they illustrate that Pete would almost exclusively ask questions and rarely give advice, only offering suggestions along the way when the interviewee got stuck. Pete asked us to listen to the language and questions he used:

Coaching Demonstration

  • what's the one specific goal you would like to work on today?
  • do you know what you need to do?
  • what do you need to do?
  • what's stopping you from doing it? (interviewee identified two specific goals as part of his larger goal)
  • which would you want to focus on?
  • should you be the one doing? (interviewee indicated that possibly he wasn't the right person for the job)
  • how much time do you think it'll take?
  • do you know where you could go to find the person who can do it?
  • (some digging down to the main problem)
  • how could you get the money?
  • Pete elaborates on the interviewee's answers, repeats them back to him
  • let's the interviewee talking it out
  • do you have any skills you can teach the person to do it?
  • repeats out what could be done, suggested by the person wanting the goal
  • what's easier among your options? can the students write the grant?
  • empathizes with interviewee, who identifies that a student could do part of the work
  • what do you need to do to get a student to say yes?
  • gets the interviewee to suggest options, ideas
  • are you clear on what to do?
  • when are you going to do it? (interviewee indicates he could start in April)
  • why April? presses on why that specific time, gently presses interviewee on getting confirmation about assumptions, nudged interviewee into a very small specific task that gets interviewee closer
  • how are you going to remember when to do that? is paper or computer better for you? (interviewee indicates a calendar might work)
  • when are you going to buy a calendar
  • what's the reward you're going to give yourself after the micro-goal is done? let's schedule the reward in first

Pete mentioned the term "onemoreitis", that is, the idea that we can do "just one more" before getting out the door or moving on to what we need to do. The assembled group discussed clutter and hyper-organization—ADD people can leap over to the other extreme; physical clutter is mental clutter. Perfectionism can look different ways to different people. It will stop you from moving forward, as it's attached to an idealized outcome. "It has to look like this" will prevent it from even getting started. Pete suggested giving up on the idea that "someone else said I should do it like this and I'm wrong if I don't". Other notes:

  • if you can't accept the way you are now, you can't change to where you want to be.
  • from that point of acceptance you've drained a lot of negative energy
  • from the audience: understand the mechanism of change
  • strength and weakness of ADD is curiosity
  • if things aren't going your way, get curious about why, what to do differently
  • different goals may require different tactics
  • that said, a strategy in one situation might work in another.
  • what motivates you to action, what demotivates you to action


  • systems should be as simple as possible
  • break down the goals into component pieces
  • Anthony Robbins - books are pretty interesting. when you schedule it, it's real.
    • schedule the pieces, if not all of them then at least enough of them
  • don't assume you'll remember
  • system to identify resistance and friction to working on your goals, don't get judgmental on it. instead of "what's going wrong?", ask "what's going on?"
  • different word for failure == feedback
  • learn how your individual brain works
  • feed your brain - take regular breaks

In Part 3 I will wrap things up and talk a little more about the books that influenced me on this subject, both directly and indirectly, and the changes I hope to make in the next few weeks.