There are few among us who don’t have dreams, desires, projects or goals that we haven’t been able to achieve. Or perhaps it’s a nasty habit we want to break. Often we haven’t even been able to take the first step.
For some it’s career goals; start your own business, change or advance your career, or continue your education. For others, it may be a health goal: quit smoking, lose weight, or exercise more. So many seem to struggle with disorganization and clutter (if you have piles, you know who you are.) Financial goals can be especially difficult, as can habits of procrastination and lackluster productivity.
The good news is, we can be successful in any area. The bad news is, we do have to put in some work. Simply deciding what we want or making the decision to change a behavior is not enough.
We first need to understand, that it makes no difference what we’re trying to achieve, the process, preparation and strategy is the same. The most important step is the first; START. Just take that first step, it the most difficult. As with anything, it gets easier as you gain momentum.
1. Be aware of barriers – Examine past failures. It’s important to gain an understanding of what has stopped you from getting what you want or making positive changes in the past. Look back at personal failures (failure is not a dirty word, just an opportunity to learn,) as well as professional aspirations where you just couldn’t quite hit the mark.
What got in the way? Why did you stop trying?
If you want a different outcome this time, you have to eliminate the obstacles, the barriers to success.
2. Examine patterns of behavior – We are creatures of habit, easily slipping back into behaviors we have learned and practiced in the past. Unfortunately, many of these behaviors are not helpful. In fact, they may be the biggest reason we are unable to change.
Do you have a certain pattern of behavior that keeps popping up and getting in the way of your goal? Do you self-sabotage, or make excuses? Do you keep so much on your plate that there is no energy left for something new? Do you tend to give up or refuse to ask for help?
All of these are common disruptive behaviors that stand in the way of change. As the famous saying goes, we are our own worst enemy.
3. Watch out for triggers – What situations are most likely to cause a relapse? Do you slip into unhealthy habits around particular people? Are certain surroundings more difficult than others are?
If you want to quit smoking, don’t take breaks with other smokers.
Trying to lose weight; minimize eating out, especially buffets.
Is the mall a temptation to spend money? Stay away or leave credit cards at home.
4. Plan ahead – The secret is to determine what has prevented you from succeeding in the past and to plan for a different outcome. Develop a strategy to overcome obstacles before they happen. Put a strategy in place before a problem arises. That’s much more effective than trying to use willpower at the time.
If you struggle to exercise with regularity in the morning, put your clothes out the night before.
Always wanted to start a business, but just couldn’t get started? Find a mentor to walk you through, to help identify pitfalls and suggest strategies that work.
Has procrastination become a habit? Or spending too much time on Facebook? Set a timer.
Whatever your goal, get help, enlist support, find a partner, or ask someone who’s already been successful at what you want to do.
You can do it. Change is possible.