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7 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want To Achieve Your Goals And Dreams In Life.

7 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want To Achieve Your Goals And Dreams In Life.

No matter what goals, dreams or personal changes you want to achieve in your life, the reality for you and everyone else, is that it requires commitment, focus, hard work, courage and the determination to succeed. There is no way that you can hope to create change in your life or achieve your goals and dreams without these key elements.

Even when we  all know this, when it comes to us achieving our goals and dreams  many of us will start and then stop, then start again and then stop and then finally give up because it is all too hard.

In 2015 I identified three short term goals that I wanted to achieve by the end of 2016.  To date I have only completed one goal.  The other two goals I have started, stopped, started and then stopped. Now this scares me because 2016 is flying by so fast that before I know it, it will be December 2016 and I haven’t achieved either goal.

What is also annoying me is that these two goals are realistic and totally achievable. I just can’t seem to get on top of them.

Recently I read this quote from Randy Pausch in The Last Lecture

“The brick walls are there for  a reason. The brick walls are not  there to keep us out. The brick  walls are there to give us a chance to  show how badly we want  something. Because the brick walls are there to  stop the people who  don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop  the other people.”

When I read this I realised I needed to figure out how to get over or around the brick walls that were stopping me from achieving my two goals.

What I eventually discovered was,  that when we set our goals and our dreams and begin our journey of transformation, we fail to consider these 7 factors. The result of this, is that many of us fail to achieve what we so badly wanted and we end up giving up on our goals and dreams in life.

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When embarking on your journey of personal change avoid these 7 common mistakes and you will enhance your chances of achieving any dream and goal you set in life by 200 percent.

1. Expect Fast Results

This mistake can have a significant impact on your belief and motivation to succeed. If you expect fast results and you don’t get them, what happens is you lose your belief of your goal or your dream being possible to achieve. Never underestimate the power of patience when it comes to setting and working towards a goal or your dream.

It is your patience that will keep you on your journey to achieving success.

2. See Failure As A Sign To Give Up

I have failed many times in my life and it is tough but not impossible to pick yourself up and start all over again.

The point in life when you have most control of your life, is when you are facing failure or you have failed. It is only you that has the power to choose how you want failure to impact on your life. You can choose to see it as a sign (the easy option) to give up or you can choose to pick yourself up and start again.  It is all down to you.

Here are 3 important questions that you could ask yourself to help you keep moving past your failures toward your goals or dreams.

  1. What was the reason for my failure – what can I learn from this and how can I improve?
  2. Why did I want to pursue this goal or dream to begin with – and has anything changed?
  3. What would I tell someone else if they were in my shoes?

3. Fail To Expect Or Plan For The Unexpected

With your life goals expect the unexpected – it will happen. When we are not prepared for the unexpected and it happens, we let these events bring our world to a crashing halt.

Preparing for the unexpected is the best we can manage when it comes to life goals and any other goals we set for ourselves.

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The key steps to preparing for the unexpected are to:

1. Acknowledge the Unexpected

2. Prepare for the Unexpected by having an Action Plan that considers the following 2 questions

a. How would you deal with this obstacle when it comes up?

b. What steps would you put in action to overcome this hurdle?

3. Commit to keep moving forward toward your goal or your dream

4. Get Bored With The Daily Grind

To achieve what you want in life requires you have to change, to do things differently, to create new habits, new thoughts and new behaviours. All of these aspects do not appear over night. They come as a result of you repeating on a daily basis the actions that you need to do over and over again to take you closer to you achieving your goal or your dream.

Successful athletes will train and practice  one technique or one drill for many hours just to get that one thing right. That is the difference between being great or being ordinary.

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Be prepared for boredom as there will be times when you just have to keep going and keep doing the same thing day in and day out.

5. Never Visualise What Is Possible

If you want to increase your chances of achieving your goals and dreams then, visualisation is where it all begins.

It one of the most powerful mind exercises you can do to achieve specific goals and make important changes in your life. Visualisation works because your mind can’t tell the difference between visualisation and an actual event. It helps your brain to recognise what resources you will need to achieve your dreams and goals.

A vision board is a way for you to bring your thoughts, dreams and desires to life. When you are visualising you are doing two important things,

  1. You are creating a visual space of possibility which is your inner fuel (motivation) for you to draw from on your journey to achieving your goals and dreams.
  2. With possibility comes hope and optimism and it is these positive thoughts and feelings that help you stay on track to success.

Visualising what is possible helps you to keep your eye on the big picture. When you take your eye of the big picture you slowly lose your desire, your faith and your belief in you.

6. Easily Distracted By Others & Life Events

I have found that when I am feeling unhappy, have low self confidence or feel frustrated with myself it is usually as a result of me spending a lot of unnecessary time comparing myself to other people and their success in life.

This action of comparing my life to others does not serve me well. I have learnt to recognise when I am doing it and how to quickly shut that behaviour down.

One of these techniques I use to keep me on track is that I keep a Gratitude Journal. In here I write down all the the great things that have happened or are happening in my life that I am grateful for. Helps me to keep things in perspective.

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When you start to use excuses such as “this not the right time,” or “I am not quite ready or too many of my friends think that it is not a great idea,” or “there are too many others have the same idea and they failed,” you are moving further away from achieving your dreams and goals in life.

Know that when you do this you are at risk of accepting the short term comforts of life over the long term benefits of achieving your goal or dream in life.

7. Set Unrealistic Steps To Achieving Your Goals

If you are setting goals that you have never achieved before then it is expected that part of you is not going to believe it is possible. Too often when we set our goals we focus on the future of achieving the goal – not the everyday steps we need to take to get us started and to keep us on track.

Losing weight is a goal many of us have tried to do but not always achieved. One of the reasons why we start, stop and then give up is because we focus on the total amount of 10kg or 20kg that we have to lose – not the 100 or 200 grams we could lose every week. It is much easier to focus on losing 100 to 200 grams than it is to focus on 10 or 20kg.

So take action and identify the obstacles that will block you from achieving your goals. Once you have identified these obstacles then:

  1.  Look for proof that your goals are realistic and achievable
  2.  Argue with Your Negative Self –tell it to take a hike!
  3.  Find a supporter to share your feelings, your dreams
  4. Acknowledge your past successes – CELEBRATE YOU

By avoiding these 7 common mistakes you will find that focus, discipline, commitment, courage, self belief, and determination will flourish with in you and you can not help but succeed in all the things that you want to achieve in your life.

I have now taken up the challenge and I am on my way to achieving my two goals by the end of 2016 – to lose 8kg and to grow my coaching business by 30%. Watch this space.

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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