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How to Not Talk Yourself Out of Your Goals and Dreams

How to Not Talk Yourself Out of Your Goals and Dreams

    We talk a lot about setting goals, living your dreams, reaching your full potential and even give you some great ways to plan out those goals and dreams. But, I have found that it isn’t the thinking and planning process of goals and dreams that is the hard part, oh, no.

    The difficult part of reaching your goals and dreams is following through and not letting yourself talk yourself out of them. That’s a mouthful, so let me clarify.

    Why we fail at accomplishing our goals

    Call them goal, dreams, projects, whatever. If you are a Lifehack reader then you have a list of them somewhere. These are the things that you want to accomplish or the things that someone else wants you to accomplish.

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    Even after intense brainstorming, planning, and following through with some of the steps that you have outlined to reach your goals; something happens. Plans change, people quit, things get tough, your idea doesn’t seem so revolutionary anymore; you get stuck and with that your goal starts to fly away to failure.

    Don’t get me wrong, failure is a good thing and we must fail and fail often, but what about those things that you truly want to accomplish? What about your “life’s work” that you must do? What happens when those goals go up in a puff of smoke?

    There are four reasons we fail to accomplish our goals and reach our dreams:

    1. The goal is more of a “pipe-dream” than you thought and should be thought through more thoroughly. Maybe you don’t have the resources you need to accomplish it or something in your environment or life has changed. Your plan may need some work and you may have to “regroup” on the entire goal/dream/project all together.
    2. Your priorities completely changed and the goal isn’t important anymore. Maybe that’s not a complete failure, but the goal is now gone.
    3. Your goal/dream/project just sucked and you found out it wasn’t worth doing.
    4. Things got too hard to accomplish and you thought your way out of your goals. This is the worst of all offenders.

    We have a decent amount of content at Lifehack about how to plan things more effectively and how to deal with priorities and “areas of focus”, let’s look at how not to think yourself out of your goals and dreams.

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    The “Stinking Thinking” thought process

    Sometimes we think too much. So much that we can think ourselves out of a good idea. Not good.

    How does it happen?

    Yesterday I was doing a bike ride (know about our Fitness Challenge?) and I was about 20 minutes into it. My legs were burning, I was cramping up (not enough water, again), and I was sort of close to home. I reached a slower point in my biking and a thought entered my head, “you’ve done enough and you are spent, just head home”.

    I’m working on a personal project that I am extremely excited about and I got to a place in code where I ran myself into a wall. I thought, “I should probably just start over with a different framework” which led to, “I’m never going get this done or make it right.”

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    This is where most goals stop dead in their tracks. The going gets tough, and we flee from the task at hand.

    How to stop the process

    Stopping “stinking thinking” is somewhat easy. Instead of convincing yourself that failing at your goal is the right thing to do, stop yourself, take a breather and regroup until your thoughts become more positive. Then act.

    It only took me about 1 minute to change my tune completely from, “I can’t make this last ten minutes” to “I’ve come this far, push yourself forward.” Once you hit that “positive self-talk”, that’s when you push forward. Don’t second guess yourself and don’t consider alternatives.

    Another way to get your positive thinking back is to review your goal and write about it a little bit. This will bring you back to a more positive state as your thoughts can be better organized and will be much clearer on paper (or screen). Once you find the positives, act.

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    Of course this only works with goals and projects that are good ideas or good for you; the others will be weeded out by priority and planning processes.

    Don’t let your negativity get to you and destroy your dreams. Any goal worth anything will be difficult and you will reach the elusive “I can’t do this anymore” moment. Don’t give up. Wait for positive thinking to take over and move forward.

    (Photo credit: boy drawing sales report on the wall via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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