In honor of the new year I thought I’d tackle the topic of goals and what’s stopping us from achieving them. January is the month of new beginnings and fresh starts. It’s a time when we reassess our goals not just for the new year but we often recommit to a dream or aspiration or something we feel destined to do.
Have you ever felt, however, like there is some mysterious force stopping you from reaching one of these goals or dreams? You wake up every morning with good intentions but at the end of the day you’ve done nothing that get’s you even a step closer. The good news is you’re not alone so don’t feel you’re the only one. The bad news is the average person struggles to live up to their God given potential, reach their goals and fulfill their destiny. Most of us get to the end of our lives with a very long unfinished “bucket list.” If God gave out grades we would get an “I” for incomplete.
If God gave out grades we would get an “I” for incomplete.
Whether it’s losing weight, being successful in your network marketing business, finishing that degree, exercising regularly, meeting a partner and settling down, spending more time with family, volunteering for our favorite charity, climbing a fourteener, traveling abroad, writing that book, or just cleaning out the attic or putting in a garden, most of us have goals that get kicked down the road from year to year. We think big but we act small. We start out with good intentions but somehow manage to sabotage our efforts in a variety of ways. Then we find all kinds of rationalizations as to why we haven’t accomplished more and done what we said we wanted to do. Most days we go about our everyday life quietly suffering from frustration, resignation and feeling somewhat defeated. Even our closest friends may not know how unfulfilled we feel.
Now for some more not so good news. Which is, if you don’t decide to do something different you’re going to continue feeling stopped. Whether you have an immediate goal, of let’s say eating healthier and losing weight or a long term goal of building a business or saving for retirement, you’ll keep on getting what you’re getting because you keep on doing what you’re doing.
Why can’t we seem to do what we say we want to do? We know what to do.
After all we’ve read a multitude of books on the subject of our endeavor. Started programs or we’ve gone to numerous workshops and seminars. Joined organizations and support groups. Some of us have even hired a coach or a mentor and invested lots of money and time and written out a great “action plan.” And yet, for some unknown reason, we haven’t reached our goal. We haven’t stuck with it. We haven’t done what we know to do. Something thwarted our efforts. Something stole our enthusiasm. Do you ever feel like you’re pushing against an invisible wall?
Do you ever feel like you’re pushing against an invisible wall?
To be fair, there are some days you do feel motivated and so focused on the goal you can taste it. You wake up and are excited about the day and ready to tackle the short term goals that lead to a big accomplishment. You feel on purpose and on track. You feel confident and with that winning “just do it” attitude you begin your day.
Then it happens. It could be anything. An unpleasant conversation with a family member, friend, client or co-worker. You hear bad news on the radio or TV. You read a Tweet, email, a Facebook post or headline. Something you ate didn’t agree with you. You develop a headache. Or a negative thought simply pops into your head. It could be literally anything.
And suddenly, poof! That wonderful, “can do,” unstoppable, invincible feeling is gone. It vaporizes into thin air! That feeling that you could accomplish anything you set your mind to was just here a minute ago. Where did it go? You know longer feel what all the self help books you read told you – that you have seeds of greatness inside, that you are captain of your ship, master of your soul, you are the little engine that could.
A wave of anguish and despair comes over you. You can no longer focus on the task at hand. You have a heaviness in your chest so you let out a big sigh. You then feel a pit in your stomach. No matter how hard you try to keep a positive perspective and get your focus back the dark side wins out. The self doubt creeps in. It invades you not just with a annoying thought making you feel “not quite so sure anymore” but with a loud, authoritative voice in your head that says “You can’t do that. It’ll never work. You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re doing it all wrong. What were you thinking?” Then some version of the word “enough” barges into your stream of consciousness. You hear the thoughts “I’m not good enough. Smart enough. Talented enough. Brave enough. Strong enough. Confident enough. Worthy enough?” Yadda yadda yadda ya!
You’re caught in the proverbial “monkey mind” where your negative thoughts keep looping back around and cause you to literally feel the energy drain out of you. Discouragement has firmly re-established command of your being. You wallow around in this state for a while. Then when you can’t even stand to be in your head any longer you decide that you need to beat yourself up even more to snap yourself out of it. A good mental thrashing. That’ll do it. So you start in and admonish yourself for being so negative and wasting time on such pessimistic thoughts. (See how the monkey mind works?) You realize you got virtually nothing productive done, at least not where your goal is concerned. So you now decide to punish yourself further by forcing yourself to do something productive whether you like it or not.
OK, alright, alright already…
I’ll PUT on my tennies and go for a walk!
I’ll MAKE the sales calls!
I’ll OPEN my books and study!
I’ll GET back to my desk and work on my project!
And like a bratty child talking back to their parent you say to yourself “SEE. I’m doing it! Are you happy now?”
Have you ever been there? Agreeing to do what you think you “should” be doing and grumbling the whole time. Which brings me to the wonderful word “should.” Do you do things that are goal oriented because you want to do them or is it that you feel you should do them. Are you guilty of “shoulding” all over yourself?
Are you guilty of “shoulding” all over yourself?
We want to feel productive and have a sense of accomplishment but we can’t seem to decide what is the best use of our time. Confusion sets in. You feel stymied. Your head spins with “do this…no, do that.” You don’t know what to do next. The weight of the dilemma conjures up the negativity again. So what does one do?
Go online, of course. When the going gets tough the tough go surfing and shopping or binge watching. Or better yet check out our favorite social media site and make someone else feel good by “liking” the umteenth picture they posted of their kid. Yes, that feels good – superficial “liking” to show to everyone else what a positive, thoughtful, caring person I am. Oh and let’s not forget there’s always watching and laughing at the viral video of people running into poles while texting.
Yes, the internet is a great place to escape and avoid taking action. After all, laughter is the best medicine. It’s good for the soul. But like coming down from a sugar high we come crashing down from our computer generated chuckles to face the fact we haven’t made any progress toward what we said we we’re going to do earlier that morning. The realization that you just spent the last hour (or even longer as the case may be) in the black hole of the internet makes you grimace as you look at the clock. The power of procrastination got the best of you. URRRR!!
The power of procrastination got the best of you. URRRR!!
So how do you get out of your funk? What is your next step? Ah yes! You have a brilliant idea. You find your action plan (the one your coach had you create) and write the all hailed “to do list” for the day to get you back on track. You come up with five great tasks and you began with item #1 and commit to doing that “one thing.”
But, that one thing somehow has a mind of its own, doesn’t it? The “one thing” starts to take forever because since you haven’t worked on what you should be doing, you think, or better yet feel, (as you’re not thinking logically at this point) that whatever you’re going to work on you’re going to do it perfectly. Quality over quantity, right? Ah, the word perfect?! Yes, ladies and gentlemen this is now the moment when perfectionism has taken over and sabotaged your good intentions and has become even more powerful than the mighty art of internet procrastination. Drat! You have come to a screeching halt yet again.
But let’s not stop here when we’re on such a roll. You’re not finished torturing yourself quite yet. Between your negative thoughts, distractions, procrastination, and perfectionism you manage to now twist your mind into thinking the worst thought of all. “I’m lazy and can’t be held accountable. What if I never do what I say I want to do?” Oh God! NO!! That feels worse than trying, albeit lamely, and coming up short. “No!” You tell yourself. “I’m not going to give up. Quit! Never! I’m not a quitter!!!”
Quit? Never! I’m not a quitter!!!”
You vow to get back on the horse and muster up the energy to give it another try. Which you do. You pull out some motivational material and repeat the appropriate affirmations 100 times in the mirror. And you begin once more. But over time, like it has happened a million times in the past, you’re right back where you started. Face to face against the almighty, impenetrable, invisible wall. Feeling defeated, an underachiever and unfulfilled.
Want to find out how what’s stopping you and break through the invisible wall?