Got goals? Also got people or pets who need you, a demanding job, complicated life situations that take up your precious time? What do you do with your goals when they perpetually get pushed to the end of day when you don’t have enough energy left to care if you accomplish them or not?
What happens when day after day the plans you make fall prey to emergencies and urgent distractions? If you aren’t having this discouraging experience, then you have figured out some crucial keys to organizing your life. If you are, you are right there with many of the talented and ambitious, yet frustrated, goal seekers that roam the earth.
The following are some effective ways to evaluate what is going on if you are chronically time and energy challenged. First, if something you want to do is not getting done (and is being pushed aside by other activities), ask yourself some questions and journal your answers. This will likely start a flow of writing that will provide insight you can’t get from merely thinking. Writing allows for your heart to answer while thinking is dominated by your head. Both are necessary for authentic and truthful answers to show up.
Are you sure the goals you are setting are what you really want?
- What is the “big why” behind the goal?
- What would it really mean to you if you achieved it?
- Is it a false goal? Meaning, are you going after it because you think you have to, should, or to please others?
- What words do you use when describing your goal to yourself – are they positive or negative?
- What if you took a particular goal out altogether? Would it free you up to do something else that is more meaningful?
- What else could you let go of to create space for this goal to develop?
- Why haven’t you made progress to this point? Answer this question without blaming anyone else and see what comes up.
- Have you truly decided that you want the goal and are you willing to do what it takes?
Be careful of what you see as a “sign.” Avoidance is not necessarily a sign that you shouldn’t be pursuing a particular goal. It may mean that the goal represents playing a bigger game than you’ve become accustomed to playing. In this case, avoidance is more related to hiding.
Keeping the next version of you hidden feels safer, unconsciously you will be drawn to that option. There is a magnetic pull in that direction that stems from the part of your brain that cares most about safety and survival. Recognizing this, will allow you to exercise your conscious will to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Through this vulnerability, you can come out on the other side, a few steps closer to your desired outcome.
That’s how breakthroughs happen. Knowing you did it (not perfectly, mind you), is the experiential information the brain needs as fuel to do it again. And again. At a point, it is far less uncomfortable and you have suddenly transformed who you are, which sets you up psychologically and emotionally to achieve the grander targets you set for yourself.
With this awareness, you are in a better position to determine whether avoidance is a form of “flight or fight” response or a positive decision.
Once you are more clear on your aspiration, why you want it and what it means to you, chunk it down into small, here and now pieces. Your goal may be huge and audacious, but in order to tackle “eating an elephant” you must do it “one bite at a time.” Whatever you want to do, break down the process into smaller and smaller steps so you can clearly see the tasks and the proper order of what needs to get done. Create a timeline and schedule time for each chunked down piece of the process.
Schedule the time for the pared-down, individual activities in the smartest way possible, as if this time is precious (which it is, to build the confidence you need in your ability to do what you say you want to do).
- Schedule the activity for a reasonable amount of time (an hour to two).
- Find a time when you are at your best (if you are most creative in the early morning, and it is a creative task, schedule it for an hour in the morning).
- Even the chunked down activities do not have to be completed in an allotted time slot, allow for task one, part one, then schedule the “to be continued” portion as soon as possible to not lose momentum.
- Set a timer and get rid of all distractions for that allotted time (it’s not that long, you can do it. If it is that long, rethink it once again).
- Just sit down to do the work, for the allotted time, even if very little happens. Do not judge your result. Congratulate yourself for making the time. The habit is as important as the outcome at this point. Continuing the habit, will bring about the results you seek.
- Get yourself some accountability and fast. Do not attempt to do this on your own in secret.
This is a great start, but you aren’t done. The problem isn’t solved immediately even by the recommended introspection and organized action planning.
Try the ideas above, and then observe yourself. What is happening now? Have you made progress? Where is this great plan still getting messed with? What has changed for you and what is still a challenge?
Remember to set your intentions daily for what you want to see happen or who you want to be. Then act “as if” you are that person (even if you don’t fully buy it yet).