In part one of this article, we explored four of the most common reasons people give up on their goals. In part two, we will explore the remaining barriers to making progress and completing your goals, projects, and plans.
You Don’t Believe That You Can
Believing is half the battle. So often, people reference the biblical story of David and Goliath to prove that you can achieve great things. And while there may be many reasons why David overcame the giant Goliath, the most important one is that he believed that he could.
Build self-confidence by using positive statements, encouraging yourself, and avoiding “should and must.” Most importantly, pay attention to your negative self-talk such as “I can’t,” “I’m a loser,” “I’m so stupid,” etc. Reframe these into more positive and motivating statements: “I’m getting better,” “one step at a time,” and “I’m doing the best I can right now.”
You Spend Too Much Time Planning (And Not Enough Time Doing)
Planning is my kryptonite. I can plan everything over and over, make beautiful calendars, and set reminders. Planning gives me a way to organize ideas and thoughts. And then, not do any of it.
But if you never stop planning, you never get to the doing.
Imagine planning an exciting vacation trip. You gather the information on where to go and what to see. You explore flights and hotels, outings, and excursions. And then, you never request time off from work or book the flight or the hotel. Your plans are great. It looks like it’s going to be a fun time, but you’re not going on a trip. You’ve only made a plan. Choose one small part of your goal and work on it today.
You Want Instant Gratification
You must be patient and work through the steps to reach important goals. You don’t wake up one day and decide to run a marathon. Instead, you plan, train, and practice, and you run a marathon approximately 5 to 6 months later when you are ready. Increasing your ability to practice patience and successfully reach your goals requires work: focus on the present moment, be mindful, accept where you are on your path and that you may feel uncomfortable for a while, and most of all, slow down to enjoy the experience.
You Don’t Enjoy the Process
Sometimes we don’t enjoy working towards our goals, but we want the results. I often share examples of how much I’m not too fond of cleaning bathrooms but love the sparkling clean shine at the end. Unfortunately, there is no way to get the sparkle and shine without the work. Check-in with yourself. Do you want the end goal? How can you make the process less miserable? Can you connect with a friend, listen to music, and engage an accountability partner?
You Are Overdoing or Depriving Yourself
When we start working on a goal, it can be exciting, and we want to accomplish things quickly, so it’s easy to overdo it. But soon, reality sets in. And we are trying to balance the tasks of this new goal with existing work, relationships, and other commitments. Manage feelings of overwhelm by breaking the goal down into smaller pieces and scheduling it in your calendar like you would any other activity.
You Don’t Track Your Practice
Many years ago, a friend working to improve his health and lose weight said that if he didn’t write it down, meaning what he ate, he wasn’t being fully honest with himself.
Tracking your progress helps you maintain accountability with yourself. This can be as simple as a checkmark in your calendar noting that you worked for 10 minutes on your task, took a walk, or made a phone call. Or tracking your progress can look like creating a spreadsheet and tracking progress on tasks. Regardless of the complexity of the method you choose to use to track your progress, tracking the progress gives you helpful information.
Dialectical behavioral therapy clients complete a weekly diary card tracking urges, behaviors, emotions, and skills usage. One of the things that come up over and over again for people is that when they complete their diary card each day, they’re easy to it’s easy to remember the things that happened during that day and make notes about it. However, if they wait until the end of the week, looking back and remembering what they were thinking and feeling on Tuesday becomes just as challenging as trying to make the changes in life.
Additionally, tracking your progress hopes you to notice things like which days you feel more productive. Is there a pattern to your motivation level? Can you use this information to help you in the future by doing more on the days you feel more motivated and scheduling lighter on the days you struggle?
You Don’t Have Enough Social Support
We’ve heard the saying that humans don’t live in vacuums. This is especially true when trying to make changes in our lives. Having a robust social support network is critical for making a long-term change. Who is on your support team? Is it your partner? Your spouse? Your best friend? Figure out who is the person who will support you in achieving your goal. Check-in with them regularly, at least once a week. Let them know how you’re faring on the project. Share any challenges you are experiencing and allow them to help you brainstorm ideas or provide comfort and validation.
You Know Your What but Not Your Why
Months ago, you worked hard and set a goal to accomplish a thing. Whatever your goal, whether it is about being healthier, making more money, stopping smoking, decluttering your house, etc., you know what it was that needed to get done. Did you spend enough time exploring why you want to reach your goal? For example, one of my smaller goals is to declutter my living room. The goal is easy to understand as it will be visually apparent when I have reached that goal. However, the “why” keeps me motivated and working on the changes needed. My “whys” are simple. First, I want to feel calm and peaceful when I work in that room. Secondly, I want to feel like a friend can drop by anytime and sit and have coffee with me without having to move things or do a quick tidy-up before they arrive. Review your goal and identify what is your why. Now you are ready to move forward.
It’s likely that at least one of these barriers to achieving goals stood out for you. If your goal is important, set aside time to reflect on the changes you need to make to continue working towards your goal. And begin moving forward. You still have time to achieve what you want.
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Seeking Health and Happiness One Day at a Time.
Marcy Berg is a writer and therapist living in the Pacific Northwest and exploring thoughts on mental health, wellness, and happiness. She can be found at Growing Through Life and Seeking Greener Pastures.