Most of us have a list of things we want to accomplish in our lives, but very few of us have a sense of confidence that we’ll actually be able to achieve these goals. We’ve tried in the past and missed the mark. We’re afraid we’ll fail again and wonder if setting goals is even worth our time.
If you’re serious about getting what you want out of life, giving up on goal setting isn’t the answer. Instead, you need to learn to recognize what’s standing in the way of your progress and make a plan to move beyond these limitations.
1. Failing motivation
By far, the biggest challenge that we face in reaching long-term goals is failing motivation. We start out strong – we’re excited about what we want to do and what it can mean to our lives. But, inevitably that excitement fades. We fall back into our old habits and patterns and the energy we relied on to make progress begins to fizzle. We know we need to get motivated again, but we just don’t know how.
The solution to failing motivation starts early in the goal-planning process, while we’re still in the excitement of new possibilities.
We must remind ourselves that this excitement won’t last and force ourselves to get specific about why achieving this goal matters. What is the benefit to us once we’ve crossed the finish line? How will our lives change if we can where we want to go? Write down your answers as part of your planning process so that they will be right in front of you when motivation starts to fade. These reminders provide the nudge you need to keep moving, even when you don’t feel like it.
2. Not seeing what else needs to change
Almost always, our goals require us to shift our behavior, habits, and routines in some significant way. Too often, however, we fail to take these other shifts into account when setting our goals. We act as if we can make major changes in one area of our lives without disturbing anything else. Later, when we bump up against these barriers, we’re surprised and run the risk of losing momentum.
Again, this problem is best solved in the earliest phases of your goal-planning. When setting a goal, ask yourself what else will need to change in your life for this to have the best chance of success. Will you need to go to sleep earlier, step away from some of the other commitments on your calendar, or distance yourself from someone who is a negative influence? Much better to recognize these realities early on and make a plan to deal with them than to get derailed when you least expect it.
3. Not measuring our progress
Many of us set goals that are extremely challenging or take a long time to achieve. We keep pushing toward the mark, but if we aren’t careful we can find ourselves getting frustrated by what seems like a lack of progress. Will we ever be able to actually run a full marathon? Or lose those last few pounds? Will the opportunity for the promotion we want so badly ever come fruition?
To keep ourselves on track, and to keep our motivation high, it’s important that we measure our progress along the way instead of focusing solely on how much more we need to do. Try to check in on your goal periodically and notice how far you’ve come. Make note of significant wins along the way and take the time to celebrate them a bit, even if it’s only a mental pat on the back. These little successes fuel progress for the rest of the journey.
Achieving our goals is critical to our sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. A bit of planning on the front end can help ensure that these common roadblocks don’t derail your success.