With the New Year upon us, it’s time to start thinking about the goals and resolutions you’ll work towards throughout 2013. Really, the possibilities are endless – you could lose weight, work towards a major career milestone or even make an effort to seek out that special somebody you’ll spend the rest of your life with.
But with all these inspirational goals in mind, why does it seem so hard to get started?
The truth is that most of us experience a significant disconnect between the goals we set for ourselves and the actions we eventually take. It’s one thing to think about how much better you could make your life with just a little effort – it’s another thing entirely to take definitive action in order to bring about the end results we desire.
As a result, the key to being successful in our endeavors is to determine exactly what’s causing this disconnect and to minimize the impact of these road blocks on our lives. If we can eliminate the barriers that exist between goals and actions, we stand a much greater chance of eventually bringing about the success we so desire in our lives.
The following are a few scenarios that can create this disconnect between your overall goals and your eventual actions. Read through them with an open mind and see if any of them might be contributing to your inability to make progress on your stated goals.
Scenario #1 – Your goal is too large
New Year’s resolutions always seem like the perfect time to make broad, sweeping changes to our lives. After all, what better impetus is there to drop the 50 pounds we’ve been carrying around or to finally ask for that big promotion than the start of a new year?
Unfortunately, resolving to change major pieces of our lives all at once makes the entire process more intimidating than it needs to be. As a result, we may feel too overwhelmed or burned out to take even the first baby steps towards achieving our goals out of fear for how long the journey will be.
To make big goals seem less challenging and to minimize the chances that this fear will derail us from working towards our future visions, break down your overarching goals into smaller, “bite sized” pieces. Instead of trying to lose 50 pounds all at once, work towards losing 10 pounds, five times over. Or, if you’re to work your way to the top of the corporate ladder, isolate a series of smaller career moves you’ll need to make and give yourself a timeline for achieving them.
By breaking things down into smaller chunks, you’ll ultimately make it easier to realize your eventual goals without your fear interrupting your progress.
Scenario #2 – You lack the information needed to make a change
Sometimes, the barrier that prevents you from making progress on a major goal isn’t fear of the process itself – it’s a lack of the information needed to make the change in the first place.
Say your goal is to lose weight. While you might logically know that you need to eat less and exercise more to bring about this result, this isn’t the same as knowing the specific steps you should be taking.
For example, should you be eating fewer carbs, fewer fat grams or fewer sugary foods? Should you walk, lift weights or take up kickboxing for your exercise routine? There are dozens and dozens of different diet and exercise plans out there, which makes navigating through all the different options that are available challenging for even the most educated of dieters.
The solution here is to seek the advice of experts who can help you to come up with the concrete plan of habits that will allow you to meet your goals. In the case of weight loss, a personal trainer, nutritionist or dietician can help you find a diet and exercise program that will work for you. If your goals are more career-oriented, a mentor or life coach can help you to identify possible career moves that may not be immediately obvious to you. Even if your New Year’s resolutions are romantic in nature, trusted friends or information products are available that can help you develop the skills needed to be successful in love.
Really, no matter what your goals are, there are professionals out there who can help you achieve them. Don’t look at seeking help as a weakness – look at it as a way to eliminate the barriers that may ultimately prevent you from carrying through on your New Year’s resolutions.
Scenario #3 – You’re scared of achieving your goal
Finally, it sounds strange, but in some cases, the thing that prevents us from achieving our overall goals is a fear of how our lives will be different if we’re eventually successful.
Take our example of significant weight loss. While dropping the extra pounds might seem like a dream come true, the reality is that your life will change tremendously as a result. You’ll likely experience increased – and sometimes unwanted – attraction from the opposite sex, and amongst those you know, your weight will become a central topic of conversation. You’ll almost certainly need to purchase a new wardrobe (which is an expensive proposition in and of itself), and you’ll always live with the fear that you’ll regain the weight as the result of any misstep.
Not to be a Debbie Downer here, but there can be down sides to achieving our goals – and sometimes these down sides can subconsciously prevent us from taking action in the first place.
So what’s the solution here? This one’s a bit tougher to answer, as the best solution depends on your own personal tolerance for risk. In some cases, simply identifying fear as the root cause of your inability to move forward on your goals is enough to eliminate these barriers entirely. In others, you may decide to modify the scope of your eventual goal, in order to make the end result easier to bear.
Whatever scenario best describes your situation, the important thing is that you identify the root cause of the barriers that are preventing you from moving forwards towards your ultimate goal. Only by identifying them can you take the necessary action to minimize their presence in your life and to ensure that you’re able to successfully complete the vision you hold for your future.