If your life isn't going the way you want it to...or if your goals are not going as well as you'd planned, read on. When you're not in the right mindset to more forward, you'll keep getting you your own way.
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You Hold The Key to Whether you Succeed or Fail
Have you ever noticed that when you think you can do something, chances are you can? On the other hand, when you think you can’t do something, you’re rarely successful?
Turns out, you are psychic 🙂 No really, you predict your own future by the stories you tell yourself.
This is because your thoughts directly affect your emotions and behaviors. When you tell yourself you can’t do something or that it’s too hard, chances are you’ll find some way to quit. Actually, you’ll probably find excuses for why you shouldn’t even start!
Think how it would be if someone else told you you couldn’t do something that you were already not sure of.
I imagine you’d back up and say ok and then feel relieved that you didn’t make a fool of yourself or go through the hard work of learning.
Your mind is always looking to find ways to avoid that which is uncomfortable. When you tell yourself something is too hard, you are absolutely going to give up on it and do something else unless you deliberately choose to do something different.
Let’s talk about what happens when starting out with a new goal.
Setting a New Goal
When deciding to work toward goals that are important to you, you feel mixed emotions. Emotions that change over time.
Usually you start out excited, and go all in with your decision. But then later things become more difficult. In other cases, distractions come in and pull you away from your goal.
I remember the first time I joined Weight Watchers. It was so easy because everything was so new and exciting. I jumped in and had success….but then it got boring. There were setbacks, things didn’t go as quickly as I’d like. My thoughts started to turn toward the negative and I said things to myself like “this is too hard,” “this will never work,” and “I should just quit.”
When working on goals, it’s so important to prepare yourself for the harder emotions that come along. Things get hard, the newness wears off.
Even if you’re making steady progress toward your goal, it may seem something else would be easier and you essentially quit or start over. But instead, you can train yourself to take control of your mind and reach your goals…
Reaching Your Most Important Goals is HARD (But Worth It)
Reaching for important goals is hard. After all, if they weren’t everyone would already have reached them!
There are a lot of things you have to do on a daily basis including managing temptations, delaying gratification, doing the hard things, and putting yourself out there (essentially you have to pay attention to your habits).
We are hard-wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure. Using diets as an example, when you get bored with what you’re eating, it’s so easy to just give in and get a pizza. It’s comforting (and delicious). It’s much harder to go search for recipes that will work for what you are craving and to make them.
It’s all about mindset. As mentioned above, the way we think affects our thoughts and behaviors. This ultimately affects the outcome. Because obviously how we behave or what we do to reach a goal is what will actually get us to the finish line. So we need to find a way to get control of our thoughts and create a mindset that gets us to the end goal.
Here are 5 mindset tips for setting yourself up for success:
1. Have a Strong (Emotional) Why
When you have a strong compelling reason for working on your goals, it’s a lot easier to keep going when the newness wears off and it feels like work. Think about the end goal and how it will affect your life. It’s important here to engage your emotions.
Think about it this way. We all know that losing weight is good for health and that weighing less reduces your risk for diabetes. Yet, places like Dunkin Donuts are popping up everywhere with lots of success. Why is this? Because the threat of some negative possibility in the future is not enough to keep most of us on track.
It will keep some on track. Maybe someone you knew suffers from diabetes and you don’t want to go through that. That would give you a strong emotional connection to the problem, so it could be a strong enough why for you.
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The way to get to this is to ask yourself some pointed questions. What would it really mean for you to reach your goals? When you imagine yourself in the future having reached that goal, how do you imagine your life has changed?
I’m working on creating and monetizing a successful blog. When I imagine what my life would be like when I’m successful, I imagine having the freedom to not worry about whether I can pay my bills and not having to worry about living by someone else’s schedule or having money based on someone else’s opinion of me. My ultimate why is freedom. This keeps me going with blogging.
What is your goal and if you were to reach it, how would your life be different? Dig deep because you want to be so attached to this why you will hold onto it during the hard times….like when you see others flying past you toward the goal.
2. Avoid Comparing Yourself To Others
Oh my gosh, there is nothing worse than comparing your progress with someone else’s. When you are dieting along with your husband and he loses more weight than you do, it’s easy to feel jealous and give up. But you forget that his body is different than yours.
When I thought about giving up on my blog it was because I was seeing so many people doing so much better than I was so much quicker than I was. This happens with all kinds of goals. Maybe you want to get a promotion but someone else got it over you. You may tell yourself all kinds of things about what that means about you and your own progress, but comparisons aren’t helpful. You don’t have all of the information.
You have to stop and ask yourself if the story you are telling yourself is really true? In reality you don’t know the story behind why they seem to be doing better than you are. They may seem like an overnight success, but in reality they’ve been working hard for awhile.
You just don’t know. Our tendency is to somehow feel that when others are doing better than us it means something is wrong with us. We also sometimes judge them, saying they are just lucky; however, we don’t know the entire story.
When we compare ourselves to others and then either say that there is something wrong with us or that somehow they are just lucky (or have some kind of advantage over you), it gets in the way of your progress.
Remember how I said in the last section that it is easier for us to just give up on things and go for the path of least resistance? Well, this is like that. We give ourselves excuses to stop when we compare ourselves to others… We say, well I will never reach my goal because there is something wrong with me. Or, I’m not as (whatever) as that person is so there is no way I will ever reach my goal.
The only comparisons you should be doing is comparing yourself to yourself. Are you seeing growth? Are you testing new things to see how they work? Measure things and then check on them again in the future.
The comparison trap is especially dangerous on social media. It can lead to self defeating thoughts. Because of this, I recommend that if you notice you are being affected by this you should unfollow people or groups. You need to remain focused on your goals and when you have negative thoughts about something being wrong with you, it’s easy to get sidetracked and derailed.
Always remember how easy it is to make yourself look good on social media. You write what you want to write and show what you want to show. When someone on social media is showing all the good things in their lives, it may or may not be true. All you really know is they took a good picture.
Right now my desk is a huge cluttered mess (because that’s how I roll haha). You can be sure that when I took pictures of things to sell earlier that none of that mess was showing. I pushed things off to the side so no one would see them. Doesn’t mean I’m all put together with an organized desk (haha I wish).
3. Celebrate Small Wins
As humans, we want everything to happen right now. I want to lose 20 pounds in a week, not a month. I want to become a millionaire by next year, not in the next 20 years.
When just getting started, it feels like things take forever. It’s important to make sure you celebrate the small wins you have. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting things to happen quicker than they do. When you keep track of the progress you are making, and see that you have shown improvement over time, make sure you celebrate that! Reward yourself in some way.
If you need to lose 100 pounds before you will feel satisfied, guess what? You’re not going to make it. But if you feel successful because you didn’t go get pizza even though you really, really wanted to! Golden! You are setting yourself up for success.
My favorite story about this was one where someone came on a Facebook group and celebrated that she made 3 cents on Google ads. Her statement was I just learned I could make money on my blog because if I can make 3 cents, I can make more!
Very true. It is the small steps taken together that lead to huge changes.
4. Take on a Growth Mindset
You are constantly in a state of growth and change. Part of that is trying new things and either succeeding or failing at those things. How you react to things that are hard to figure out is going to impact your ability to move forward.
A growth mindset is one where you believe you can learn and grow. (You can read more about how to have a growth mindset in this book).
When you run into an obstacle you know you just have to learn and practice and you can get over it. On the other hand, a fixed mindset is one where you believe you have a certain set of abilities and cannot do anything beyond that.
We have each had both a growth and a fixed mindset depending on the topic. Let me give you an example of growth vs fixed mindset:
I really like playing this one video game and can get lost for hours and hours doing it (who’s with me on this one…we can talk about addiction on another day 😉 ). However, there are some tasks within that video game where I feel completely incompetent. I shocked myself when I ran up against an obstacle with a group of other people and noticed I was giving up and saying to myself “I’m too stupid to do this.”
Are you kidding me? I was telling myself I couldn’t do this little thing that everyone else just did only because I hadn’t yet tried it or practiced doing it? I am not kidding, I nearly quit the game when I told myself I was too stupid. I really felt like I couldn’t do it.
Instead I chose to give myself a chance. I needed to get past this obstacle to progress in the game and I wanted to play the game. I loved playing the game. My “why” was stronger than my fixed mindset in this instance and I told myself I could probably do it with practice (growth mindset). I was right. I got through the obstacle.
When we tell ourselves there is something wrong with us (like I’m too stupid), we’re acting from a fixed mindset. When you have a fixed mindset you tell yourself that you have all the skill you will ever have right now. Instead you want to work on having a growth mindset. When you have a growth mindset you set yourself up to be a learner. You try different things, knowing they may not go as well as you’d like. You know that when things don’t go well they are learning opportunities. You see these as opportunities to grow. After all, the more times you fall, the more you learn!
Encourage yourself to try, to stick with things, and to compare your progress against your own progress. Remember that your journey is your own and your learning about how to reach your goals will be different than someone else’s and that’s ok.
Believe In Yourself
When you have a growth mindset you believe you have the ability to learn and grow. When you go through setbacks in reaching for your goals, you know that if you just keep going you will be successful. You believe in your why and you believe that you can learn the skills to get there.
You already have a lot of what you need to reach your goals. You really just need to make a decision and trust yourself to follow through on that decision. Sometimes that’s the hard part. Your brain will tell you to go back on this decision. It’s so much easier to make excuses and to go back to the way things were, to where you were more comfortable.
Don’t allow fear to get in the way of reaching your goals.
Fear? Yeah. Sometimes we get afraid of failure and sometimes we get afraid of success. When we make a commitment to a goal, it puts a lot on us. What if you fail? How will you feel? Will you let that stop you? When succeeding you might worry “what more will people expect of me?”
There’s so much that goes along with either way…but when it comes down to it, you need to reach a place where you’ve decided what it is you want to do. You are clear on a goal that you want to reach. You know your why and you’ve set your path.
Now you just have to take the steps to reaching that goal while avoiding the obstacles thrown in your path. The biggest obstacle will be your own thoughts and doubts. It all comes back to believing in your ability to take the steps you need to take in order to reach your goals.
So let’s start today. I put together a mini email course on clarifying your goals and what is important to you. If you’d like to take steps toward reaching the goals most important to you, sign up here for the mini course:
Sign up for my free email course on goal setting.
Marlena is the blogger behind apenandapurpose.com, where she writes about using journaling for self improvement and reaching goals in life and business. Using her experience as a Licensed Psychologist with a Master’s in Business, she teaches people how to break through negative thoughts and fear to do what matters. For more about me read my about page.