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7 Common Mistakes That Stop You From Reaching Your Life Goals

7 Common Mistakes That Stop You From Reaching Your Life Goals

David Foster Wallace once said, “The most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.” That’s the first mistake most of us make with life goals: we don’t talk about them. That’s not to say you don’t have a general idea or even a grand vision for how you see your life unfolding. But so many of us tend to get lost in the daily shuffle of life and wait and hope that things will get better. We choose to rest on our laurels instead of taking action to identify and learn from our missteps.

Here are 7 common mistakes that may be stopping you from reaching your life goals. And more importantly, how to fix it if you find yourself making any of these mistakes.

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You pursue too many goals at once.

Setting your sights high is a good thing in most cases. But when it comes to setting life goals, there is such a thing as “too much.” Having too many life goals can muddle your focus and prevent you from accomplishing what you want to achieve. So here’s some advice. Keep it simple. Create one or two life goals for each area of your life that’s important to you (family, health, career, etc.).

You set unachievable, unrealistic life goals.

Here’s another common mistake people make: setting goals that are completely unrealistic. That’s not to say you shouldn’t set lofty, ambitious goals. But do it within reason. Saying “I want to be a billionaire” will probably result in disappointment down the road. Set goals that you honestly believe you can achieve in your lifetime. And don’t focus so much on material things. What would you rather have: a spouse who is your best friend and children who grow up and make the world a better place… or to be a multi-millionaire with no friends and family? Set your goals based on the people and things you value most in life.

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You only dream about the outcome.

If you only focus on what’s at the end of the road, you’re likely to miss all the amazing things that happen on the way there. In other words, along the path toward achieving each of your goals is a magnificent journey. And it’s often the journey that’s the most fulfilling part. Blink, and you may miss it. So don’t be so focused on the end result. Instead, be consciously aware of those little moments along the way that make you laugh and smile.

You focus too much on the past.

We often get mentally stuck on things and events that happened in the past. But here’s the thing: life becomes infinitely more enjoyable when you realize you have the ability to dream, wonder, create, build, transform and love… right now at this very instant. Leave the past behind you and focus on the present. The fact that you’re alive and breathing is a miracle in itself. So embrace the here and now, and leave yesterday behind. You don’t need it.

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You cultivate negative thoughts instead of positive ones.

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice. Every achievement and every failure in your life is the direct result of your thoughts. Belief in yourself is the single most important factor in reaching your life goals and achieving true happiness. So look up at the stars instead of down at your feet.

You keep doing the same things over and over.

Change is the ONLY thing that’s constant in life. If you’re stuck in a rut, it may be because you keep trying things that aren’t working. Yes, you’re probably working hard as hell. But ask yourself the tough question: is this producing the results I’m looking for? If not, it may be time to go in another direction. Reaching your life goals is about constantly testing, adapting, and changing until you find the best way to make your life better.

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You don’t create an action plan to achieve your goals.

Too many of us focus on tactics and tips rather than creating a specific action plan. The truth is, I can give you a list of mistakes and tips, but unless you create an action plan to get you where you want to be, you will find yourself in the same situation time and time again. Here’s how you do it: break down each of your life goals into manageable milestones that you’d like to accomplish each year, each month, and each week. If this sounds like it’s a lot of work, you’re right, it is. But in the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” So set your goals today and start working on your action plan for how you’re going to get there. Then sit back and enjoy the ride.

More by this author

Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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