“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes. “

~ Andrew Carnegie

Last summer I had a great conversation with Steve Hardy, Chief Marketing Officer with Prophix … all about GOALS, and what it means to be a goal getter. Since February is a great time of year to revisit your goals (away from the pressure of January 1), I thought I would share that chat with you today, so you can give yourself some ‘goal setting love’ on Valentine’s Day.

With goals, you can love them, hate them, set and then forget them, or you regularly crush them, but no matter what how you feel about them, you can’t deny their effectiveness.

Want to learn how to do goals BETTER? Grab a cup of tea or coffee, maybe a pen and paper, and set aside 20 important minutes to learn what it truly means to be a Goal Getter!

Watch the video below, or read the transcript that follows. AND, if you want to check out the whole Goal Getters Series you can find all the videos here.

Steve: Welcome back to Goal-Getters, a video series that looks at what it means to be a goal getter. You push forward in the face of risk, you go all in, you speak up, lean in, and take your seat at the table because being a goal-getter means you believe in seeing what you can do. Today I’m joined by Michelle Cederberg, a health and productivity expert. Michelle is driven by the power of human potential, and her innovative methods help organizations increase productivity by cultivating energized and engaged employees. I’m really looking forward to this session. Michelle, welcome to Goal-Getters.

Michelle: So happy to be here, Steve.

Steve: So I gave you the shortest of introductions, but you have an incredible career and then some amazing accomplishments. Will you tell our audience a little bit about yourself?

Michelle: Absolutely. I have been a professional speaker for over 17 years, and I focus on health and productivity, as you said, and I came to that through health and fitness. I was a personal trainer, and I have a Master’s in Kinesiology. I taught in the fitness department at a college in the town that I live in – Calgary, Alberta, and I’ve just moved all of that towards now talking about health for high performance. I’ve written a few books, I’m a coach, and I really love what I do.

Steve: That’s awesome. So obviously you are driven by the power of human potential. What road did you take personally to discover this as your passion?

Michelle: Oh, it’s so interesting. I was working in the health realm and presenting on the side here and there, when I started to realize that in my personal training sessions I was saying the same thing over and over again to different clients and thought, what if I could get in front of bigger audiences and share the message to have a broader reach? And so I started to dabble in presenting when my sister, who’s a teacher in British Columbia, Canada, invited me to do a presentation at their teachers convention. I went there to speak for 250, 300 people and I was in my element. Being able to share the message of the things that are important to me to so many people, and then have conversations about it afterwards lit a fire in me that said, “you know what? I think I need to do more of this.”

Steve: That’s awesome. Sometimes just having that spark, that inspiration, can really light a fire in somebody, and discovering that purpose is really, insightful for me. I’ve been in marketing my entire career, progressive in different parts of technology, always in tech, but I always had a passion to be in marketing and just got more and more engaged. And when you see the impact that you can have, it can be important. So from that very first stage, how did your purpose evolve and how did it grow from those early stages?

Michelle: Well, I think that we start off examining all sorts of different possibilities to find out what gets us inspired. When I was doing my undergrad, I was majoring in Psychology, minoring in French, and I don’t know where that came from, but I realized fairly quickly that it wasn’t resonating with me. And so I started to take other classes, and I discovered this thing called Kinesiology. I was still very much interested in the psychology bit, but then I started to discover this whole world of mind and body, and it grew from there. I got a degree in Psychology with a minor in Kinesiology, and then when I went back to grad school, I got a masters in Kinesiology with a minor in Exercise Psychology. And so I chose the mind body realm, and started to go deep in to what  “lit me up.”

I think for most of us in discovering our purpose, it’s not a one size fits all approach, and depending on age and stage, it can change over time as well. So yeah, we need to pay attention to what lights us up.

Steve: So talk to me a little bit more about this combination of mind and body, setting goals, and how the mind and body work together in helping us achieve our goals?

Michelle: For me, the connection between mind and body is an obvious one. When we listen to what we need for ourselves as individuals, what “lights us up,” and we also listen to what our physical body is asking for, then the two can work together so we can have the energy to pursue the goals that we want. We listen to our mind to tell us what excites us, and then in order to do that thing, we have to take care of ourselves. I don’t know if that makes sense, but for me it really does.

Steve: Yeah. What does it mean to set goals with purpose then for you personally?

Michelle: Setting goals with purpose? For me, setting goals with purpose means that we have to set meaningful goals that are aligned with our values, that are aligned with our passions, and that are aligned with our long-term vision. We need to be excited about the things that we’re going to be spending that much time and energy on. So when you set goals with purpose, you have to not only consider the “what I’m doing?” but “why am I doing it?” We have to reflect on our core values and what it truly means to us.

And I also think it’s really important when we’re setting goals with purpose, we need to think about how achieving that goal will change us. How will it improve us? I think we’re all familiar with how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals, (the Smart goals acronym of specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based) and I hate to say this, but I think S.M.A.R.T. goals are kind of dumb because when you set smart goals in that framework, they don’t always help you set goals with purpose. Can I share a leveled-up version of smart goals with you?

Steve: Yeah. I’d love a smart goal that’s not dumb.

Michelle: I hope people will agree with me because a lot of organizations will talk about how you have to set S.M.A.R.T. goals, and well, we do have to set smart goals, I absolutely believe in that, but I like to turn it upside down and begin with the A.R.T. in smart. So specific, measurable, attainable, realistic , time-based, yes, time-based is important. If we start at the very end, we have to have some sense of when we’re going to get to that goal. Two years to achieve a masters degree or a year till you can apply for the program, a year to improve your health or reduce the balance on your credit card… The time is good, but I think that we need to get more excited about the why, and that’s where setting thrilling goals comes in; to set a goal that thrills you to think, “oh my gosh, when I achieve that, it’s going to be a good day.”

Add ART to Your SMART Goals michellecederberg.com

For me, one of my thrilling goals was running a marathon and one of them was writing my first book. It didn’t get me any closer to my goals, however, I think that the R needs to be the next one that we pay attention to. R is usually realistic, but for goal-getters, I think that realistic is a little safe. We want to push outside the boundaries just a little bit and have goals that are just a little scary. And so the R to me should be resonant. You have this goal that when think about it, you go, “ah, that’s the thing!” So I thought about writing a book, and I still didn’t have a topic. The thrilling part though was writing the book. The resonant part was once I landed on the idea of energy because it’s an umbrella over everything that I speak about.

And so then I thought, all right, this goal now is making sense to me even though I still wasn’t writing the book. So this is the one I want your listeners to really pay attention to. The A is normally achievable, which is redundant. If we’re going to set the goal, we’re setting it because we want to achieve it. So I want everybody to push that one aside and replace it with the A that is the difference maker, and that is accountability. It’s the one that nobody wants, but everybody needs. So accountability means you’ve got a mentor or a coach or a buddy that’s helping you stay on track.

For me, writing the book, I had two other professional speaker colleagues and our book coach. We would meet once a week and we had to deliver the pages, or we were out of the group, no questions asked. The accountability means we have to do the work even when we don’t want to, which will help us get closer to the goal.

And then specific and measurable are the same (how many pages, by what date?). It’s got a little more energy to it as long as we really hold true to that accountability piece, because most people, they set the goal, and then they look at it and say, well, that’s going to be hard. So accountability will help you make those steps.

Steve: I love that. I love that. So setting goals that are not dumb and that are beyond smart. So again, thrilling, resonant…

Michelle: Add accountability… and then specific and measurable.

Steve: I love it. That’s awesome. In a lot of this series, we’ve talked with leaders and thought leaders who talk about setting audacious goals, and so that really resonates as well. I like the framework there that you’ve set out, but one of the frequent topics that we talk about as well is around “how do you prioritize that?” I’m an ideas guy, right? I wake up every single morning with thrilling ideas or big stretch goals that we could go get. How do you really decide which goals you are going to focus on?

Michelle: It’s a great question. I think most of us set goals with the best of intentions of really driving towards them. I just came back from a big speakers conference and got all this inspiration from watching high level speakers, and now I have this list of all these things that I need to do, and as I’m writing them down, I’m thinking, “I’m going to do this, but now I really have to find the time.”  We have the best intentions anytime we set goals, but life will get in the way and we need to be aware of that.

For me, when I set goals, it’s really about giving myself that touchstone about what I need to say yes or say no to. When we set those goals that are exciting for us,  we get excited about wanting to do them, but then when somebody asks us for our time, we need to ask ourselves, if I do this, will it help me move my goals forward? And if the answer is no, then you might need to rethink whether you say yes to that ask.

I’ll always say that if it’s something that you’re really excited to do, or it’s something that’s going to help you grow, if it’s a heck yes, then say yes, even if it’s not going to drive your goals forward. But if you find yourself saying yes out of obligation, or yes because you don’t want to let somebody down, or yes, because you’re a helpful person, it’s not helping. That’s number one. You want to make sure that you pay attention to those things that are going to drive your goals forward.

Number two, if you regularly find yourself putting out fires and find there’s never time left for you to pursue your own goals, then you might need to take a look at what you’re saying yes to and to do an inventory of all the things you’ve got on your plate. Then ask yourself if it’s relevant for what’s important to you. Are you doing the right work on the right things to help drive your goals forward? Sometimes we have certain things on our to-do list that have just been there. We just do them out of habit and haven’t really paid attention to the fact that they’re redundant or they’re no longer serving our higher purpose. So that can be a valuable way to say, “how am I going to find time to prioritize those big purpose filled goals?”

Steve: Yeah, you mentioned it almost in passing, but I think it’s a really good tip. I mean, sometimes you do have to just take the time for inventory, to audit and understand the activities, the work that you’re doing on any given day, and make sure that it is aligned to your goals. Otherwise it’s for not. So I think that’s a super helpful tip.

Michelle: There’s a quote by billionaire investor, Warren Buffet, who says “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” And it’s not that they’re saying no out of spite, it’s because they’re learning how to prioritize the things that are going to help drive their business forward. And I know that you want to be helpful and all that, but sometimes you also have to be a little bit selfish in the pursuit of next.

Steve: Yeah, a hundred percent. So then in that vein, how do you commit to something when you are unsure of what the end result might look like? So you’ve set this thrilling goal, “I want to be a billionaire,” “I want to run a marathon…” but how do you commit to something when you don’t know exactly what the path might look like or what the journey is going to look like to take you there? Any advice that you would give?

Michelle: Do we ever really know how something’s going to turn out or what it’s going to look like in the end? I spent two years driving towards my masters in Kinesiology, and at the start of it, I didn’t know how it was was going to turn out. I just knew that it was something that I really wanted, and so I worked at it. I just dug in and did the work. And yes, there were times during that two year journey where I needed to adjust my goal a bit, changing specialties midway, adjusting my course load, things like that. But the big goal of achieving the masters, that never changed, and I think that’s the important thing.

When we set those purpose-filled goals, when we spend enough time upfront really getting clear about that which lights us up, then we’re going to have less doubt along the way. But I also believe that it’s okay to course correct along the way. It’s okay to stop and say, “some things have changed. I’m going to continue on, but I think I’m going to shift a little bit this way…” rather than sticking to the goal simply as it was laid out. You need to have a little bit of a flexibility. You’re still driving towards the goal and it’s still going to give you success.

Steve: Yeah, I mean in business and personal life, 100% in the life, although I talked about my career being pretty linear, there has been lots of ducking and diving along the way, and in business I set a goal at the beginning of the year, but we’re constantly changing and you have to remain agile and flexible in the light of the environment that you’re operating in for sure.

Michelle: I think that if we get to the midpoint or the end of the year and we have made progress, then you can call that success. We don’t often pay attention to the small steps that get us there. I think many of us have this mindset of “go big or go home.” If you’re success seeking, like so many of you I’m sure are, then it is this, “if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right.” But doing it “right” can happen in small consistent steps, and we’ll get to the end of the year and say, well, not much has changed. If you really think about what you’ve accomplished, you’ll see that it probably happened in small daily efforts, and that’s a win.

Steve: And celebrating those successes and acknowledging those successes along the way is critically important. So what does it mean for you personally and professionally to go “all in” on your goal?

Michelle: I am an Aries, so that’s “ready, fire, aim.” It’s like, “jump in, here we go.” But as a health and productivity expert, my definition of “going all in” was probably a little bit different than for others because I think that if we’re going “all in,” we also have to do that without having high stress or low life balance. I don’t think that fatigue and stress need to be a part of success, so in that case I think going “all in” means you set the goal, and then you become fiercely protective of that goal, and you give it light and air. We’re very quick to schedule meetings, we’re quick to give our time to our colleagues and our clients, we’re quick to schedule ourselves in all day long, but we don’t always schedule in time for our goals.

So “going all in” does not have to be “sweeping my plate clean” and “I’m just focusing on this.” It means that you’re giving it some time because in our busy worlds, we’ve got so many competing priorities. And what ends up happening is that the goal sits alongside us just waiting for us to give it some attention. Set the schedule and add some time to work on your goals, if not daily, then weekly.

I’ll use exercise as an example because it’s something everybody can get behind. If you’re scheduling in your workouts, we can be really quick to skip that time if somebody else asks for it, rather than saying to ourself, well, my client doesn’t need to know that the very important meeting I’ve scheduled at four o’clock happens to be with my treadmill. And so don’t give it up. Schedule the time for yourself to work on those goals. I’m a big believer in small steps. You can work consistently towards the thing, and that to me is “going all in” because you committed to giving your goal some light and some air so that it can actually move forward. And that excites me. So be fiercely protective of the time that you give to your goals and make it a regular occurrence.

Steve: I love that because in a lot of our conversations, we think about “going all in,” like aim, shoot, deliver versus stop and think, and be considerate, and sometimes slow down to speed up. It’s not necessarily going at a hundred miles.

Michelle: Also I think it’s important to consider the big picture. What does success look like for you? To me it’s a balance of health, happiness, and financial stability. You have to have all three or you’re not going to be successful. You can have all the wealth in the world, but if your health is declined, or you’ve lost connection with your family, or you don’t have that sense of purpose around it, then it’s not going to be as enjoyable. If you have great health but you haven’t focused your energies towards anything that’s going to help you have a roof over your head and a lifestyle, then it’s not going to be great either.

And if you’re working on all these things but it’s making you miserable, then the question is “what is the point?” So trying to keep health, happiness, and financial stability in the mix means that you need to decide what “enough” looks like for you, what “going all in” means for you at the end of the day. If you have all those things in a good balance and you’re feeling proud of yourself for the steps that you’ve taken, to me, that is 100% going “all in” on your goals. If you can achieve them and still have life balance, and people that love you, and your health on your side, that’s a good thing.

Steve: Superb. So I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. I see it right behind you there, your book “The Success-Energy Equation.” What’s the key theme? What’s the one takeaway?

Michelle: Well, the subtitle is “How to regain focus, recharge your life and really get sh!t done.” But the idea is that on the path to success, there are four factors that we need. We need to have the goals, we need to have the belief in ourselves above those goals, we have to have the discipline to do the work. And then for me, with my background as a Kinesiologist and a health expert, we need to have the energy to drive the mission. So it talks about how to find the energy to drive success, and to have fun along the way.

Steve: Super. Michelle, it was an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for spending some time with me today.

Michelle: Thanks so much. A real pleasure to be here with you, Steve.

Until next time I’m Michelle Cederberg reminding you that to Ignite High Performance, design your goals in a way that makes you excited to get after them!

I’m booking 2024 speaking engagements across North America RIGHT NOW. If you’d like to chat about how to bring me in to your organization to help your team eliminate burnout, increase engagement, and ignite high performance, pop me an email at hello@michellecederberg.com. I’d love to chat.

Don’t forget to join me on my social channels below.

Resources Galore!

1) Hey, I’m super excited to share a great product that I can’t wait for you all to see. It’s my new Success-Energy Equation mouse pad. Remember the equation? Some of you have seen it. Links to purchase are below. SO FUN!

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2) Don’t forget to check out my new ‘What’s Your Motivation Type?’ QUIZ!  Click the link and answer 5 quick questions to identify your Motivation Type. It’s going to give you daily doses of inspiration based on your category, and you’ll get all sorts of resources along the way.

3) SPEAKING: Does your workplace or conference need a good dose of re-energizing in the months ahead? Ask me about energizing keynotes, or half and full day Success-Energy Equation sessions (or any of my other topics, which you can download here: MichelleSPEAKS) to help you fire up your drive, recommit to growth, and ignite high performance in all you do. Contact me to chat.


4) Buy my new book via my website and I’ll send you a signed copy!

5) Sign up for my socials below, because there’s all sorts of interesting stuff coming down the pipe.


Michelle Cederberg, Health and Productivity Expert, MKin, BA Psyc, CEP, CPCC
Hall of Fame Speaker, CSP, Certified Coach & Best-Selling Author



Using science-based strategies to eliminate burnout, increase engagement, and ignite high performance


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