Posted September 14, 2017 Psychology Today Online
by Beverly D. Flaxington
Ever have the feeling the months, and years, roll by and you are not getting any closer to what you promised yourself you would one day do, or be? It happens to so many people—the elusive goal remains elusive even though you work hard, keep the goal in front of you and take the steps you think are necessary to make things happen.
You are smart, talented and hard-working—what is going wrong? You might beat up on yourself and curse your luck, but maybe there is something you can do to pull yourself up and get back to making that important progress you desire.
- Start by reviewing your goals. Take the time to write them down, and be as explicit and clear as possible. If you have been using a goal like “Find a new job”, that’s far too vague. A new job—where? Doing what, exactly? What kind of culture and environment? How much money do you hope, or need, to make? What elements are important to you on the job, or in your career? The more explicit and specific you can be, the more able your mind is to grasp an idea of exactly what you want. When you are vague, your mind goes in far too many directions and can’t really focus on the specifics of what you want.
- Identify your obstacles to success. Something has been getting in the way—make note of what those things are. If there weren’t obstacles, you’d already be at the goal you desire. Obstacles can be anything from time, to money, to motivation, to family concerns or issues. Obstacles can be large or small, and they can seem daunting when you actually list and review them. For this reason, make your obstacles manageable—those you can control, those you can influence and those out of your control. The fact that there are only 24 hours in any given day is out of your control, but how you use that time is within either your influence or your full control. It can be helpful to organize what’s in the way to be able to step back from those things keeping you stuck and devise a plan to get around or overcome them.
- Renew your commitment to your goal. Sometimes people develop goals because they think they “should” do or be something; your parents pushed you, the media said so, your high school teacher predicted it. There are messages in life events that often result in a list of what you should do, but when you really examine it (or even achieve the goal) you find the “should” isn’t really a “want”. It’s not always the case, so take the time to step back and review what you are striving for and make sure it’s the priority you need it to be.
- Take baby steps. Nothing big was ever accomplished overnight—even seemingly-overnight sensations worked for years and even decades to get where they are. It can be daunting to change something or achieve something when the rest of life intervenes, so break down what you need to do into manageable chunks. Always dreamed of living on an island and finding work as a bartender to make a living? Get some experience as a bartender. Research islands to see which ones are most appealing to you. Take a trip to one of the ones you identified, and talk with the locals about what it’s really like living there. Do some costing to figure out how much money you will need. The more you can break down a big goal into smaller, bite-sized pieces, the more likely you are to start to move in the right direction.
- Focus on what you do have. While goal setting and goal achievement are both admirable things, oftentimes in the quest to get somewhere, you might cease to focus on where you are now and what you already have. Take stock on a daily basis of what you have done, what you have achieved and accomplished, no matter how small or unrelated to your big goals they may seem. The journey to get to where you want to be should be as uplifting as the experience you have once you get there. Stay focused on what’s good—specifically what’s good now—as you climb toward your future achievements.