Many people have them, but few people attain them. Why?
There are a number of reasons people with great goals don’t achieve them. Tons of articles talk about how to achieve your goals, but not nearly the same number address the why behind unachieved goals. If we can figure out the pitfalls, we’ll all be better equipped to not only have a goal, but also how to achieve it. So, let’s get started!
#1 – Distractions
Will all the people who visit Facebook instead of finishing their “to-do” list please raise their hand? I’m so horribly guilty of this! My goodness. Give me a task, I’ll open my browser, and without even thinking I’ll start to type “f” to head to Facebook. What on earth? Why am I here instead of xyz website? I’ll think to myself. It’s THAT much of a habit. It’s bad folks. But, I digress.
When you have a task at hand that you must complete, removing distractions is key. I’ve gone so far as to use a chrome browser plugin that blocks you from getting to any site that is not on your whitelist. It does so for a designated period of time – usually a half hour. You can disable it at any time, but that defeats the purpose. It wasn’t until I began using it that I realized how often I get distracted! It was such an eye opener and proved just how easily I get distracted. I would bet money (if I gambled), that I’m not the only one who works on a task for all of .0005 seconds and then decides I need a break to check my SnapChat or Instagram. Distractions of the worst kinds come in the forms of social media. It’s the devil’s child, I’m nearly certain.
So, if you’re like me and need some help in the area of removing distractions, try this:
- Try adding a plugin to your browser that you can easily turn on when you need to seriously focus without getting distracted online. My favorite one currently is called Forest and you can check it out by clicking here.
- Use the “Do not disturb” function on your phone and PUT IT AWAY. Turn the ringer off. Put it out of sight. I am so much more productive when my phone is not in reaching distance.
- Go somewhere you don’t know anyone and work from there. Try a Starbucks or Panera Bread – a place where you won’t be interrupted and you can zone out to some good music, fast WiFi, and something yummy to eat or drink. Some of my best writing happens when I’m working from one of those places.
#2 – Lack of Intentionality
Goals aren’t going to get up and get themselves done. It takes work and planning! Do you want to be fit for summer? Plan healthy meals, cook them ahead of time, and allocate time in your schedule to workout. Want to get your degree? Set aside time to go to school. Want to learn a new language? Research the places that offer classes and be intentional about when you will do it.
The best goals fall to the wayside because people aren’t intentional about them. You must set aside time and prioritize your goals. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself spending 2 hours on Facebook or Instagram at night, instead of attending that hip hop class you’ve always dreamed of. (Okay, I was preaching to myself with that one a little bit. Can you relate?)
So, whether or not your dream is to learn how to popdroplock it like someone from the Bronx, any goal you have must be purposefully planned out. Writing a goal down and sticking it on your mirror won’t change behavior. Doing that will simply remind you of where you’re failing. Instead of reminding yourself of what you haven’t accomplished, write out an intentional plan of how you will accomplish that goal, and put that somewhere you’ll see it often. It’ll be a reminder of what you’ve committed to and the steps you need to take to get there.
If you need some help becoming intentional, try this:
- Use your phone’s calendar to set reminders to workout, meal prep, study, etc.
- Create a schedule that you stick to as much as possible. It should include the approximate time you’ll commit to going to sleep and waking up. It should also include designated times on a daily/weekly basis that you set aside to help achieve your goal.
- Write a timeline of when you want to achieve certain goals. This will help you prioritize the more time-sensitive ones first.
#3 – Lack of Discipline
Ouch. This one hurts. We’ve likely all struggled with a lack of discipline at one point or another. You’ll often find me lacking discipline the moment I smell pizza. Goodness, I hope Heaven has pizza….
Interestingly enough, here I am writing about discipline and I just missed an opportunity to practice it myself. It’s after midnight and I said I’d stop typing at midnight. Worse, I wanted to workout in the morning, buttttttt I just set my alarm clock for my normal wake up time, since I wasn’t disciplined enough to go to sleep when I said I would.
See the pattern?
It’s a vicious cycle. I read a book recently that talked about the importance of keeping your own word. She shared that if you don’t keep your word to yourself, you train your mind that you can’t be trusted. The same way our brains decide others can’t be trusted when they say something but don’t follow through, our brains do the same thing even when we’re the ones breaking our own word. Wild!
Since reading that book, I’ve become much more aware of the times I break my own word. This is why I woke up early this morning and went on a one mile walk, even though a few paragraphs above, I was about to break my own word and sleep in.
Keeping your word with others is important, but it might be equally (if not even more) important to keep your word to yourself. Each time you reinforce that your brain can trust you to keep your word, you’ll be more likely to follow through. Likewise, each time you “commit” to doing something and break it, your brain will have less willpower to complete the task, because it will already know you are unlikely to follow through.
Break the cycle. Keep your word to others and to yourself.
If you need some help disciplining yourself, try these tips:
- Pick a task that needs to be done but maybe isn’t necessarily fun and commit to it. Each time you commit to an idea, you’ll reinforce discipline and will reinforce to your brain that you keep your word.
- Ask a friend to keep you accountable!
- Better yet, ask them to do it with you. If you want to commit to working out 3 times a week, ask a friend to do it with you. You’re MUCH less likely to break plans when you know that you’ll be letting someone else down in the process.
In the course of writing these, I was preaching to myself as well. During the first point, I think I checked Facebook twice. During the third, I nearly broke a promise to myself, but was able to catch myself before that happened. I’d love to hear some ways you overcome obstacles in order to reach your goals. Let’s start the conversation in the comments below and encourage each other to keep reaching for our goals, together.