Are you having a difficult time achieving some of your goals, with no inclination as to what the problem might be? People are often dumbfounded by the fact that they are unable to achieve success despite being very organized, going through a variety of different techniques and methods and having all the best intentions starting out, etc. What you may not read in many self-help resources however, is that you could be using the most effective techniques in the world and doing everything by the book, but if you’re not completely honest with yourself, all this could go to waste.
So what do you need to be honest with yourself about? The two main issues that I’ve found to be holding people back from achieving their goals are 1.) the disconnect between their actions and their goals, as well as, brace yourself, 2.) the lack of desire and will to achieve their goals – even if you want it badly!
Misalignment Of Actions And Goals
The disconnect between your actions and goals not only prevents you from achieving your goals but could also lead you down the path of wasting precious time and effort trying to achieving something that you couldn’t care less about. This disconnect can manifest itself in two ways:
1. The right actions towards the wrong goal:
Have you ever found yourself setting a goal based on what others deem to be important as opposed to what you personally value, enjoy and find fulfilling? Unfortunately, if the goal isn’t something that you personally place value on, then even taking the right actions towards it is rarely successful. It usually results in a conflict between what you really want to do, versus what you think you have to do – this conflict will leave you feeling demotivated and will pull you into a cycle of procrastination. If your goals comes from a ‘have to or should do’ – instead of a ‘want to’ – those are warning bells there already!
2. The wrong actions towards the right goal:
The process of assigning actions to specific goals can be influenced by a wide range of factors that you need to be aware of. Perhaps you don’t have enough information on what the right steps to take may be? Perhaps you’re afraid of the changes that may result from the actions? Alternatively, you may not be confident enough in your ability to carry out the necessary actions, or may even be unwilling to invest the effort into making a necessary change and therefore, either consciously or subconsciously, you end up prioritizing actions that are easy but not helpful to your goal.
My advice: Simply having your heart in the right place won’t get you success. Likewise, doing all the right things halfheartedly isn’t likely to do you much good. In order to achieve your goals you need to take the right actions with the right attitude. The only way you can achieve that is by making sure you’ve chosen goals that are inline with your personal values, as well as by selecting (and pursuing) actions based on their importance to your goal, as opposed to how easy/convenient they may be. Often, this requires us to be more honest with ourselves, even if we don’t like what we hear.
Insufficient Desire To Achieve Specific Goals
It may be a painful (and sometimes a scary, life-altering) realization to make, but if you find yourself unable to take action towards a goal, it’s quite possible that your desire to achieve the goal simply isn’t enough to motivate you into action! We’ve all heard/read about people who defy the odds to achieve their dreams; the reason that they were able to do so was that they were motivated enough by the end result to make a massive effort!
The sooner you’re honest with yourself about what you really want, the less time you’ll waste trying to achieve something that will never make you happy. As the saying goes, “you can never get enough of what you don’t really want” (Eric Hoffer); in other words, until you acknowledge your real desires, you’ll keep pursing many different paths to no avail – nothing will ever seem fulfilling/motivating enough.
So how can you tell just how much you really want to achieve your goals? If you identify with some of the points below, you may want to re-assess your goals:
When an opportunity to cut corners presents itself, you take it.
If you really want to learn a new language for example, you would accept the challenges and invest in the benefits of delayed gratification, rather than cutting corners and seeking quick, short term solutions with immediate, and strictly short-term gratification such as only learning a couple of words that you know you’ll need.
When things get difficult and require more effort, you give up.
For example, if your goal is to learn more about running your own business, but you can’t bring yourself to read any books on the topic or to attend relevant seminars. You only find the energy and motivation to take action on the easy things.
When a situation becomes uncomfortable, you always look for a more convenient way out of it.
For example, if your goal is to work out more frequently but you can’t increase your weekly exercise hours because you’re not willing to experiment with different, potentially more effective forms of exercise. There is no cookie cutter to achieving your goals, you need to find the right recipe for you if the one you currently have tastes bad!
You don’t re-adjust your plan
For example, if your goal is to wake up at 7am each day, but the next day, you hit the ‘snooze’ button. What most people do is give up after trying a few times. Instead of re-adjusting the plan until it works – which is what is often needed – most people won’t get it right the first time.
My advice: It’s important to differentiate between the quantitative focus of your goals (being more financially secure, etc.) and the qualitative experience that you seek to achieve from them. If you don’t acknowledge the real WHY behind your goals, you won’t feel motivated enough to stick with them. Find a WHY that is important enough to act as your metaphorical water-skis – it should launch you forward and keep you going even when you’re struggling to stay up! Once you have found your WHY – the plan to get there is much easier!
Are You Ready To Be Honest With Yourself?
If you identify with some of the issues mentioned above, don’t despair! The first step to solving a problem is diagnosing it correctly in order to fix it and learn from it. If goals were so easy to achieve, they wouldn’t be called goals, but rather “to-dos” – achieving them isn’t going to be easy, but if they’re the right goals for you, you can count on the effort being completely worth it!
Set a Goal For Yourself
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