By Nina East
“Fail” is a 4-letter word – the ultimate “F” word, you might even say. In this article, I’ve identified the Top 5 reasons people fail at achieving their goals. You may find that one, two, or even all five of these relate to your life and experience with goal setting. If that’s the case, don’t despair. Following each reason are some questions you can use to turn them around. You’ll start to experience real progress – not just movement that seems to go nowhere. As you read these, be honest with yourself – but not harsh. Take the time to answer the questions and think about alternate ways of doing things so that 2003 will be a year of massive goal ACHIEVEMENT for you!
Reason #1: People don’t take action. OK, this sounds obvious. Surely we all know that we have to take action in order to get somewhere. Even so, you would not believe how many people I talk with who sit there and wonder why their life doesn’t go the way they want it. (I know this b/c I’ve been there.) The thing is that they often don’t know what action to take, OR, they aren’t being honest with themselves about whether they really are taking action.
Here are some questions to consider: If you had already achieved your goal, what actions would you have taken to get there? What do you feel inspired to do right now? What are 20 possible actions you could take? Which ones are the most inspiring? Will this action I’m considering benefit me and/or my business? How do I know? How can you make a game out of taking action? (My coach and I have created a game I use. I am alternately cursed and blessed by being an incredible idea generator. What I’ve realized is that I get so juiced by creating new ideas that I have to pay attention to actually taking action. My game is to see how short I can make the time span from the time I get an idea to the time I take an action – any action – toward its completion. Yes, it’s a game, but it works! – And if you remember the article from last month, one of my key philosophies is “use what works!”
Reason #2: People are afraid. They might be afraid of failure, or of success. And sometimes they are afraid of both. A bit of a catch-22, wouldn’t you say?
Usually when we are afraid to go for our goals, it is because of a belief we have about what it means to achieve it, or to go for it and not quite make it. Unfortunately those beliefs are usually based on stories from our past, or even on complete falsehoods.
So the solution is to get really honest about the truth of the situation. Ask yourself questions that give you a different perspective: What is scary about having this goal come true for me? What is scariest about going for it and not making it? What am I really afraid of? Where does it come from? Is it REALLY true? Really? What’s the real truth about this situation? Do I actually want this goal?
Reason #3: People have poor internal programming. Think of yourself like a computer – whatever you put in affects what you get out. As you set goals and think about achieving them and the actions required to achieve them, what thoughts are you “putting in”? What is the internal dialogue you have running? What do you imagine will happen?
All of these things – thoughts, words, and your imagination – affect your real results. I won’t go into tons of detail here, but here are some questions to stimulate some positive internal programming:
If this goal were already achieved, how would I feel? What would be different in my life?
Imagine yourself (or your business) with the goal already achieved. Imagine it in Technicolor ways. Describe your experience to someone else (or yourself) as if it were already true. How did it feel taking the steps to achieve it? What did you learn? What did you like best?
Reason #4: People’s environments don’t make success automatic. Most of us have been taught to use willpower to get ourselves to do what needs to be done. While that can work short term, it is also draining and doesn’t usually sustain the change or action. Instead, think about designing your environments to get you to do what you know/think you ought to be doing.
In your physical environment – What are the obstacles/distractions that make it hard for you to follow-through? How could you change or remove them?
In your support/administrative environment – What sort of prompts or triggers can you set up to remind you and nudge you to follow-through on things? (I actually have my assistant send me reminders and nudges to get me to do the things that I tend to put on the backburner. And since I’m paying her to do this, you bet your booty I’m more likely to follow-through.)
What about your human environment? Who do you surround yourself with? Are the people you hang out with naysayers who don’t achieve their own goals, or are they people who set goals, think about what they want out of life, and then take action toward them.
What other “environments” can you think of? How would you redesign them to support you better?
Reason #5: People give up too early. Yep, while most of us like to think of ourselves as persistent, the truth is most of us give up just before we’re about to have a breakthrough. We let discouragement and obstacles become barriers, rather than using them as launching pads for the next approach.
What if your last discouragement actually holds within it the key to getting what you want? How important is this goal to you? If it is a “must”, then you can’t give up. That doesn’t mean you beat your head against the wall doing the same thing over and over again, but it also means you find another approach.
How will this action benefit you and/or your business?
If this “problem” is actually the foundation of an even better solution or goal, what would that be?
What if all of this is perfect and teaching you exactly what you need to know? What would you do then?
What will the rest of 2008 hold for you? How will you take action, transform the fear, and program yourself and your environment so that you will exponentially increase your chances of achieving your goals?
Nina East is the founder of the Association of Personal Growth Professionals. You can read more about her articles, books, and teleclasses at http://www.PersonalGrowthProfessionals.com.