Welcome to 2015. A new year not only signals new opportunities but also a chance to start over and recalibrate. Many of you have already set your goals while others are still contemplating what they want to achieve this year. While we may have occasionally set goals on a lark when pressured to have some, most of the time, we set goals with the intention to achieve them. Yet many of us won’t.
This is one reason why many people choose not to set goals. Why bother if you won’t achieve them anyway? This may seem logical, but as an unapologetic goal advocate, I find it to be short-sighted too. How can you live your best or ideal life if you don’t even know what it looks like? After all, goals are simply markers to create your dream life for you and your family.
Next Monday, I’ll share some tips to help you achieve your goals, but today I want to tackle what I see as the greatest enemy of your goal success. Most of you will face it at some point and need to be prepared to conquer it.
This is the first step to goal success and one that many people overlook, which sets them up from failure from the get-go. We don’t intentionally set goals that don’t matter, however, we subconsciously still seek the approval of others. We mimic the goals of friends and family without thinking about whether they are right for us. Or we don’t know what we want but only know we should want something, so we latch on to what others say they want.
It is very hard to do the work to achieve your goals if you aren’t highly motivated. If you find yourself struggling to achieve your goals, you need to first ensure you have authentic goals. Ask yourself the following: Why does this goal matter to me?
You should be able to answer the question easily. If not, then your goal may not be authentic or something you no longer truly desire. Be honest and don’t feel ashamed if you discover your goals need to be adjusted. Be grateful that you realized it and can now set authentic goals that matter.
A lack of authentic goals is the first stumbling block to goal success, but the real culprit behind goal failure is fear. Fear makes us doubt ourselves and abilities. We don’t like admitting our fears or confronting them. Instead, we tend to run from them or ignore them. This, in turn, means we ignore our goals and let them whither away, even if we truly want to achieve them. Our money emotions become unbalanced, leading us to make poor money decisions.
Our fears break down into two categories: tactical and emotional. Let’s take a closer look at how to identify and resolve them.
These are more knowledge-based fears. They prevent us from getting starting but once we address our fears, we can move forward quickly.
We set lofty goals but then what? What do we do next? This stumps many people. They want to make the change, whether it is losing weight, saving for their retirement or getting out of debt. We get caught up in the initial excitement of being free of debt or excess weight, but once the high leaves us, we don’t know how to actually get rid of debt or lose weight or accomplish whatever your goal(s) may be. We stress over where to begin and worry about making a misstep. We get to the point where we become paralyzed to do anything.
Goal Success Tip: Don’t feel like you have to jump in, feet first. Take the time to educate yourself and create a plan with micro steps. Don’t be afraid of making a mistake. The greater mistake is to do nothing.
In the perfect world, we would proudly announce our goal success and accept our accolades. We’d blush and say it’s no big deal. The reality is most goal success requires not only hard work, but often times requires help from others. It’s not that we couldn’t do it by ourselves, but sometimes asking for or seeking guidance can make a huge difference in the speed and ease we reach our goals.
Some equate asking for help as failure because we feel we should be able to do it ourselves. But that’s not true. It’s smart to seek the counsel of those who have the knowledge you need and already succeeded in the area you seek success in as well. In some instances, you may need to pay for their services, but there are also plenty of free resources too. Either way, don’t let your fear of admitting you need help or confessing your mistakes prevent you from working with someone who can help put you on the path to the life you want.
Goal Success Tip: Remember your mistakes do not define who you are. Most likely the person who can help you has already heard stories just like yours and/or experienced something similar themselves. Know that a good professional or someone truly dedicated to helping you will not judge you and you should not fear telling them your story.
Our emotion-based fears are probably the more debilitating of the two. Our tactical fears can slow us down while unaddressed emotional fears can cripple us if we let them.
We want to succeed but we deeply fear failing. We were taught at a young age to root for winners, not losers. We see failing as losing and are humiliated by our failures. In fact, the fear of failing (and having to share our failure with others) prevents us from moving forward. We’d rather not even go down the rabbit hole, then to fail publicly.
I don’t like to fail either. No one does. But I also know that my failures aren’t really failures either. They are attempts that didn’t work as intended. If I can take a step back and look at my actions neutrally (and yes, I recognize that is easier said than done), I can also learn something too. And if I apply what I learned, my next attempt may be a success or at least take me another step closer to success. It’s adjusting your perspective as to what really constitutes as failure.
Goal Success Tip: If the fear of failure is holding you back, then take a closer look as to why you fear failing. Was there a time where you “failed” previously that still haunts you? Adjust your definition of failure because the road to success is littered with failures. They only stop you if you let them.
We put a lot of pressure on our goals. If we get out of debt, reach financial freedom, lose weight, etc. … then we will be happy. Without a doubt, goal success does bring us joy, but it doesn’t necessarily change who we are though. Confucius said it best, “No matter where you go, there you are.” And that reality also stops people from taking action on their goals. They worry it won’t matter because they will still be themselves.
This mindset can sometimes lead to self-sabotage. We do well with our goals for a period of time, but as we get closer to goal achievement, we intentionally derail our forward movement. We may even decide to stop working towards our goals. I can’t tell you that goal success will make all your problems go away or that you’ll never experience a setback or a loss again. Goals are powerful, but not that powerful. What I can tell you is that you do deserve to live a good life and be happy.
Goal Success Tip: This is a tricky one as there are likely deep-seeded fears inside that need to be addressed. Don’t ignore them because they won’t go away on their own. You need to understand why you self-sabatoge your efforts. Do you do it because once you achieve a long-held goal, you’re not sure what to do next or fear the unknown? Do you think you’re not worthy of your goal? To help you uncover what holds you back, you may need to seek professional assistance or counseling. Once you get a handle on your emotions, you’ll find taking action to be much easier.
The idea that fear prevents you from achieving your goals may not sit well with someone of you. And it is an uncomfortable reality that I see regularly in successful, capable people. All of us has some fears that dwell inside of us. When left unchecked, they can also cloud our judgement and prevent goal achievement. Recognizing your fears and their affect on you goes a long ways towards overcoming them. I wish for everyone to see great success in 2015 and confronting any fears you have will increase the likelihood of 2015 being your year.
How has fear affected your goal success in the past? What did you do to overcome your fears?
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