January is prime time for “how to” advice on pretty much everything. Whatever your New Year’s resolution might be, there’s a how-to solution floating around.
You’ve probably seen the basic summary a hundred times.
Clearly articulate your goal. Define small steps. Have a timeline. Measure progress.
It’s good advice. Without those pieces your resolutions will quickly fall by the wayside.
But it’s not enough.
There’s no shortage of smart, committed, successful people who set clear goals and have a solid plan but aren’t seeing progress. Within a few months (or even weeks), they’re frustrated and wondering, “What’s wrong with me?”
Sound familiar? I’ve certainly been there!
It’s the inner game that gets in the way.
The clearest goal and best plan on the planet aren’t enough.
Your thoughts, attitude, and choices are the foundation for creating what you want.
If you’re not making the progress you want, or if you’re just flat-out struggling to even get started, it’s time to look at how you’re getting in your own way.
Do any of the following seven internal barriers to success strike a chord?
1. Deep down inside you don’t really believe you’ll pull it off.
Your friends give you a million reasons why you can do this. But you’ve made this resolution (or something similar) umpteen times before, it’s gone nowhere, and you’re not confident this time will be any different. Or you’ve set a new goal, and you’re feeling anxious about whether you can pull it off.
Either way, your inner critic is whispering (or shrieking), “Oh come on, what makes you think you can do this?”
Committing to a goal is a leap of faith. It’s choosing to trust and believe that you’re fully capable of getting where you want to be.
Without faith, you’re defeated before you begin. Yes, you might have to choose to believe five, ten, even twenty times a day. And that’s okay.
2. You’re scared.
Most goals will require you to let go of comfortable patterns, habits, and mindsets. Stepping outside your comfort zone can be scary.
Chances are the resolutions you’ve made are about moving into an even better version of yourself, more fully inhabiting your potential. It’s exciting and a tad (or a lot) frightening.
So, acknowledge the fear, take a deep breath, and give yourself permission to keep going.
3. Your focus is on the outcome.
Of course we all want that feel-good moment of “Yay, I did it!” But too much focus on the outcome sets you up for a win-lose situation. Accomplish your goal – “I won!” Miss the mark – “Sigh, I failed.”
When the only two possible outcomes are succeed or fail, it’s far too easy to quit when it gets hard.
But here’s the thing: the path is rarely a straight line. It doesn’t matter if your goal is super tangible (run a 10-K, grow your business 20%, make a career change by X date), or a bit more broad (have more balance, improve your leadership skills, be more organized). There’s a 99.9% chance you’ll hit tough spots.
Instead of focusing on the outcome, focus on the process. Then your attention is on learning and growth, not success or failure. And as counter-intuitive as it may seem, when you shift from outcome-focused to journey-focused, you’re much more likely to achieve your goal.
4. You’re all head, no heart.
Obviously, not literally ;-). What’s real, though, is that your intellect has been the major driver of your success. But there’s tremendous wisdom that lives in your heart and your intuition. The information that comes from those places is just as important – sometimes even more so – than what comes from your head.
As you work towards your goals, give as much credence to what you’re feeling as to what you’re thinking. You’ll be amazed at the brilliance you can access when you get out of your head.
5. You never stop moving.
You’re running to meetings, slamming through your to-do list, flying from place to place with barely a moment to catch your breath. “Stop moving? Are you kidding? I don’t have time for that, I have goals to achieve!”
The irony is that slowing down helps you create what you want. You need quiet time to access your inner wisdom and to clear your mind. Ten minutes of quietly sitting, a meditative walk, yoga, a long soak in the tub … anything that creates a sense of calm, space, and stillness will boost your success.
6. Your internal conversations are filled with negative self-talk.
“Why am I so undisciplined, lazy, unmotivated, [fill in your favorite]? Who am I kidding, I can’t do, be, change, [place your word here]. Oh bleep, it’s only a matter of time till I’m busted and everyone realizes I’m not smart enough, good enough, ____ enough.”
Say things enough, you believe them. Good or bad.
Choose the thoughts you want to hold, the ones that will support you. Otherwise, your thoughts will kick your goals to the curb.
7. You don’t make time for self-care.
Taking care of yourself – physically, emotionally and spiritually – is an act of love. It’s an act of love for yourself, for the people you care about, and for the impact you want to have.
Self-care is what fuels you. It keeps your passion alive, gives you the energy to focus on what’s important to you, and keeps you healthy and grounded so you can take on new challenges and stay the course when things get tough.
Are you unintentionally sabotaging your success?
It’s an essential question.
Your inner game is the key to creating what you want, to having and doing what’s most important to you. The work you do to get out of your own way is the best investment you can make in your success.
“The road leading to a goal does not separate you from the destination; it is essentially a part of it. ~ Charles DeLint