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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 December 13, 2019

    7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It

    7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It

    Are you keen to reinvent yourself this year? Or at least use the new year as a long overdue excuse to get rid of bad habits or pick up new ones?

    Yes, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when we feel as if we have to turn over a new leaf. The time when we misguidedly imagine that the arrival of a new year will magically provide the catalyst, motivation and persistence we need to reinvent ourselves.

    Traditionally, New Year’s Day is styled as the ideal time to kick start a new phase in your life and the time when you must make your all important new year’s resolution. Unfortunately, the beginning of the year is also one of the worst times to make a major change in your habits because it’s often a relatively stressful time, right in the middle of the party and vacation season.

    Don’t set yourself up for failure this year by vowing to make huge changes that will be hard to keep. Instead follow these seven steps for successfully making a new year’s resolution you can stick to for good.

    1. Just Pick One Thing

    If you want to change your life or your lifestyle don’t try to change the whole thing at once. It won’t work. Instead pick one area of your life to change to begin with.

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    Make it something concrete so you know exactly what change you’re planning to make. If you’re successful with the first change you can go ahead and make another change after a month or so. By making small changes one after the other, you still have the chance to be a whole new you at the end of the year and it’s a much more realistic way of doing it.

    Don’t pick a New Year’s resolution that’s bound to fail either, like running a marathon if you’re 40lbs overweight and get out of breath walking upstairs. If that’s the case resolve to walk every day. When you’ve got that habit down pat you can graduate to running in short bursts, constant running by March or April and a marathon at the end of the year. What’s the one habit you most want to change?

    2. Plan Ahead

    To ensure success you need to research the change you’re making and plan ahead so you have the resources available when you need them. Here are a few things you should do to prepare and get all the systems in place ready to make your change.

    Read up on it – Go to the library and get books on the subject. Whether it’s quitting smoking, taking up running or yoga or becoming vegan there are books to help you prepare for it. Or use the Internet. If you do enough research you should even be looking forward to making the change.

    Plan for success – Get everything ready so things will run smoothly. If you’re taking up running make sure you have the trainers, clothes, hat, glasses, ipod loaded with energetic sounds at the ready. Then there can be no excuses.

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    3. Anticipate Problems

    There will be problems so make a list of what they’ll be. If you think about it, you’ll be able to anticipate problems at certain times of the day, with specific people or in special situations. Once you’ve identified the times that will probably be hard work out ways to cope with them when they inevitably crop up.

    4. Pick a Start Date

    You don’t have to make these changes on New Year’s Day. That’s the conventional wisdom, but if you truly want to make changes then pick a day when you know you’ll be well-rested, enthusiastic and surrounded by positive people. I’ll be waiting until my kids go back to school in February.

    Sometimes picking a date doesn’t work. It’s better to wait until your whole mind and body are fully ready to take on the challenge. You’ll know when it is when the time comes.

    5. Go for It

    On the big day go for it 100%. Make a commitment and write it down on a card. You just need one short phrase you can carry in your wallet. Or keep it in your car, by your bed and on your bathroom mirror too for an extra dose of positive reinforcement.

    Your commitment card will say something like:

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    • I enjoy a clean, smoke-free life.
    • I stay calm and in control even under times of stress.
    • I’m committed to learning how to run my own business.
    • I meditate daily.

    6. Accept Failure

    If you do fail and sneak a cigarette, miss a walk or shout at the kids one morning don’t hate yourself for it. Make a note of the triggers that caused this set back and vow to learn a lesson from them.

    If you know that alcohol makes you crave cigarettes and oversleep the next day cut back on it. If you know the morning rush before school makes you shout then get up earlier or prepare things the night before to make it easier on you.

    Perseverance is the key to success. Try again, keep trying and you will succeed.

    7. Plan Rewards

    Small rewards are great encouragement to keep you going during the hardest first days. After that you can probably reward yourself once a week with a magazine, a long-distance call to a supportive friend, a siesta, a trip to the movies or whatever makes you tick.

    Later you can change the rewards to monthly and then at the end of the year you can pick an anniversary reward. Something that you’ll look forward to. You deserve it and you’ll have earned it.

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    Whatever your plans and goals are for this year, I’d do wish you luck with them but remember, it’s your life and you make your own luck.

    Decide what you want to do this year, plan how to get it and go for it. I’ll definitely be cheering you on.

    Are you planning to make a New Year’s resolution? What is it and is it something you’ve tried to do before or something new? Why not pick one from this list: 50 New Year’s Resolution Ideas And How To Achieve Each Of Them

    Featured photo credit: Ian Schneider via unsplash.com

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