Understanding & Conquering Key Obstacles Standing Between You and Your Goals
Pinpointing the root cause enables you to remove obstacles to achieve your goals
Most people understand that it’s important to regularly set new goals for themselves. This process gives us drive and focus, and allows us to improve our circumstances both personally and professionally. After you have set a goal, however, you may find yourself facing some obstacles that prevent you from reaching your full potential.
There are lots of things that can get between you and your life’s dream. You may have tried before and failed, or you felt overwhelmed. Perhaps you are easily distracted, or maybe you just can’t find the momentum to get started in the first place.
While these challenges may seem insurmountable, you can overcome them. By determining the root cause of the problems, you won’t just figure out why you’re stuck, but you’ll be able to free yourself and move on with achieving your goals.
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The Science of Momentum
A lot of goal setting is centered on the idea of momentum. Goals are so much easier to stick to within the first few days because you’re excited about your new plans, and your objectives are fresh in your mind. To harness that momentum for the long term, we need to understand where it comes from.
According to an article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, achieving success actually gives the human brain a boost of confidence. This gives us a greater likelihood of success for our next task.
The opposite is true as well. If we suffer a setback, our self-esteem takes a hit, and we are more likely to give up going forward. The article goes on to show that this phenomenon affects every task that we complete, from doing our laundry to shooting baskets in a hoop, which argues why winning and losing streaks are psychological, not physical.
Understanding this gives us a few options to proactively make a plan for when we suffer a setback. Admit to yourself early on that you will most likely have imperfect days as you try to stick to your goal. Determine what you will do if your plans get derailed, and how you will recover your momentum.
Having a plan that allows for failures will mean that you have a greater chance of overall success.
Hooked on Distractions
Unfortunately for our goals, distractions have their own way of gaining momentum – dopamine. Dopamine is a naturally occurring chemical that our brains release when we fulfill certain tasks. Companies like Twitter and Facebook long ago isolated actions that release dopamine (receiving a notification, for example), and use it to keep us glued to our phones. Some research suggests that on average, we touch our phone 2,617 times a day!
This means that there are plenty of time wasters that can pull us away from focusing on our goals, and cause us to shift our momentum into something that is not advancing our objectives.
Luckily, recognizing that these platforms have such a hold on our productivity and time can help us overcome our little dopamine addiction, or at least use it to our advantage.
Try tracking the amount of time you spend watching TV, interacting with social media, or playing video games. Decide for yourself how much time is acceptable for these activities, and stick to your plan, so that you can avoid them creeping into the time you should be spending working at your goal.
On the flipside, dopamine is also released when we check items off a task list, or anticipate a physical reward, so you can actually use it to help you achieve your goals.
Set yourself up with a small daily or weekly checklist, and come up with your own reward system for each set of goals that you achieve. You will be surprised at how much effort you are willing to put into your goal when your next reward is just around the corner.
Don’t Bite Off Too Much At Once
We realize that having momentum is important when achieving goals. What if you find yourself unable to start working on your goal in the first place? If you are the type of person who gets overwhelmed by new goals, and you find yourself unsure of where to begin, you may be attempting to make too drastic of a lifestyle change too quickly.
Goals should be lofty, but they should not feel impossible to achieve either. To combat feeling overwhelmed, try a staged approach to your goal setting.
Instead of quitting smoking cold turkey, try cutting your cigarettes back by half, or even a quarter, just to start. Once you’ve acclimatized to the change, then you can add to the difficulty.
Give yourself the okay to make minor adjustments to your lifestyle, instead of attempting to do too much at once and feeling discouraged. Remember that a small step in the right direction is still a better scenario than going nowhere at all.
This does not mean you can’t still aim high – and in fact, some people thrive by making drastic changes to their lives. But if you are having trouble keeping to your goal setting, try a step-by-step approach to see if that might work for you.
Stop Striving for Perfection
Procrastination is a bad habit to fall into, and can easily kill your goal achieving momentum. There are a few causes that may be at the root of your procrastination, but it’s important to understand that it’s rarely pure laziness. Try to determine why you are procrastinating so that you can get to the bottom of why you are stuck.
The anxiety of failing to produce a perfect product on the first try may cause us to procrastinate. Our mind sets up the scenario that if we do not actually begin a project, we can’t fail at it. This is especially true of “active” goals, which require you to actively produce something, like a piece of art or a book.
To overcome this obstacle, remember the saying “perfect is the enemy of good.” Give yourself permission to fail, go easy on yourself, and recognize that even a bad attempt is better than not attempting at all.
Whether you are a procrastinator, easily distracted, or just aren’t sure how to get started, there is a strategy for you to achieve your dreams. It is inevitable that we will face difficulties when trying to achieve our goals, but by understanding the obstacles in our way, it makes it infinitely easier to develop strategies to overcome them.
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