Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I can move on and share with you why I believe that goal has gone by the wayside for me. I believe it’s because the ‘why’ behind that goal changed. Originally, I felt a strong need to get a particular message OUT THERE. But what I found was that just going through the process of getting those thoughts and ideas out of my head and onto paper (my rough draft) was enough for me. I didn’t really need to get those thoughts out into the wider world, I just needed to simply give them an audience of one – me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have OTHER ideas that I feel need to be shared with a wider audience. It just means that the way I needed to satisfy that particular ‘itch’ or goal looked different than I originally thought it needed to.
There are lots of other reasons why many of us get off track when striving toward a goal, but they tend to be things that we have an element of choice over. We know that we all have the same number of hours in each day – 24. Steve Jobs had 24, Oprah Winfrey has 24, Richard Branson has 24. You and I have 24. But often, the choices we make don’t reflect that we’re keenly aware of that fact.
Most high achievers tend to choose NOT to engage in things like watching television every day or surfing the web. Most high achievers tend to invest their time more wisely. Am I saying you should never surf the web or watch TV? Certainly not. I enjoy a great Game of Thrones episode as much as the next person. What I AM suggesting is that if you or I find ourselves mindlessly watching TV or surfing the internet for long periods of time that we be more aware of the fact that we’re likely letting ourselves down in another area by choosing to engage in that activity.
On the other hand, sometimes we fall into the trap of making ‘unconscious’ decisions. That almost seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? How can I make a decision that I’m not aware of? Let me share a few ways this can happen:
- We allow others to drain our energy and resources. Sometimes we fall into the trap of chronically putting ourselves and our goals and dreams on the back burner while we look after the needs of others. We can spend an entire lifetime doing this and never re-focus on what we want to accomplish for ourselves!
- We’re resistant to working to a schedule and budgeting our money. Hmmm…there’s a hot topic for a lot of people. Many of us, myself included, don’t really like the idea of feeling restricted in any way. But there came a point in my life where I realized I could achieve so much more by putting a framework around my time and finances to keep myself (and my family) focused. It became a matter of flipping my internal dialogue from ‘I hate feeling limited’ to ‘I have so much more CHOICE when I have guidelines to keep me on track.’ If you are like me and are resistant to working within boundaries, try switching up what you tell yourself about scheduling and budgeting!
- Sometimes we give in to the feeling that we ‘deserve’ something that runs counter to our plan. Have you ever found yourself well on the path to achieving a financial goal (for example) and at some point during the process you get the bright idea that you’ve worked so hard that you deserve to splurge a little? Unfortunately that splurge often sets you back several steps and then you begin to lose a bit of motivation to move forward because you feel guilty. What a vicious cycle it can become. When you feel the ‘urge to splurge’ as you make progress toward your goal, STOP and reflect for a moment on the consequences of that action before you blindly act.
- We lose track of our ‘why’. I mentioned earlier that my ‘why’ around writing that book happened to change once I began the process. I never actually lost track of a ‘why’ around that goal. I believe we regularly need to review why we’re pursuing a goal in order to stay motivated to move forward. Perhaps we consciously journal about it each day. Maybe we write that ‘why’ down in a prominent place where we’ll see it each day. Choose a mechanism that works for YOU to keep your ‘why’ front and centre.
- We often underestimate the time demands of various activities and roles in our lives. The way this undermines our efforts is that we aren’t honest with ourselves. We don’t realistically identify how much time we will be able to invest in achieving a goal because we refuse to acknowledge how much time the other things in our lives take. I do this sometimes too! I put on my rose-coloured-glasses and think “I can do that” within a time frame that is totally unrealistic. What I find useful when a new goal turns up for me is to sit down and create a calendar for myself with time blocks assigned to all the various existing things I need to accomplish in a week. The ‘blank’ blocks of time, then, become the blocks I can choose to allocate to other things like a new goal. The simple act of getting that on paper, for me, is powerful because when I can see if in front of me, it becomes more of an objective decision rather than a subjective one.
- We fall prey to negative self-talk and self-pity. When the going gets tough, we humans are awfully predictable. The first thing many of us do is say to ourselves, ‘It’s too hard! I can’t do it!’ and we take our foot off the accelerator. The thing I find helpful when my self-belief flags a bit and thoughts that don’t serve me start flooding my brain is to ask myself ‘Is what I’m thinking TRUE?’ and the answer (every time) is ‘nope.’ Once I realise my brain is lying to me in order to keep me safe in my comfort zone, I can move forward. But I have had to practice consciously catching those negative thoughts and taking stock of them.
On your journey toward achieving your goal, stay focused by refusing to allow these ‘unconscious decisions’ to pull you off track. You have 24 hours in every day. Use them wisely.