Do you feel like everyone around you is making strides, getting things done and you are flying solo; stuck with no momentum on getting your own goal, challenge or project off the ground? According to research by the University of Scranton, 92% of people that set New Year’s goals never actually achieve them. That’s a staggering percentage of people who struggle with getting to the end zone. To what can we attribute this lack of follow through? A myriad of possible reasons come to mind: fear of failure (leading to the tendency to procrastinate), fear of success (tied into fear of change, if you try something new and succeed, you are suddenly in unchartered territory), perfectionism, lack of a clear vision, poor organizational skills or habits…
If perfectionism is what’s stopping you in your tracks and leading to procrastination, consider that “done” is better than “perfect”. In the words of renowned motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”. Imagine what life would be like if all the great masters of art: Picasso, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, didn’t pick up the brush or chisel because they were afraid their work would suck. None of us would be able to witness, wonder and be inspired by their work. Their perfectionism would have triggered a domino effect, wherein all the work that was born from the inspiration of their work would never have been created at all. It’s easy to see how our own perfectionism can stunt our potential. In the words of Picasso, himself, “Action is the foundational key to success”. So, make the first mark on the canvas of your life and don’t worry about the masterpiece; just take it brush stroke by brush stroke.
If you lack clarity, consider the words of Thomas Jefferson who said, “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask – Act! Action will delineate and define you.” When we lack clarity or feel overwhelmed and confused, we can ask ourselves, “What’s the next right step?”Just one question, with one answer. We know the answer, especially if we don’t second guess ourselves because we are worried that it’s not the perfect course of action. It’s easy to get overwhelmed about wanting to know all the right steps or answers before we are even started, but if we trust that we know the first step to take, taking it will give us momentum and we will discover and learn along the way. After that step is completed, we ask ourselves again “What is the next right step for me to take?” That step will reveal itself. It may not come to you immediately, but trust that it will come. Taking action will always lead to learning something about oneself. And that, in turn, will prompt a course of action.
When we don’t take the action steps towards our goals, we are left feeling far from good. It is easy to spiral down even further as we feel our self esteem plummet and at this point, it’s easy to throw in the towel completely. Taking action puts us in the driver’s seat. When we aren’t doing the driving, then life ends up driving us. That unsettled feeling of discontent is the knowing that we aren’t doing the driving in our life.
Grab the keys because you are going to hop in and take the wheel right now. Each of us has the power to move mountains. Take a moment, look into your past, and you are bound to discover a set of achievements which at one point may have seemed like far reaching, maybe even, impossible goals. And yet, you’ve done it. You got the job that you may have felt unqualified for, or you’ve trained and ran the half-marathon, or made it through college despite having to work and raise children … .You’ve challenged yourself and won and you can do that again; many times over.
Questions to ask yourself/ Steps to Take:
1. Clarify your goal. What does the ideal outcome look like, long and short term? What will achieving that goal bring to your life that you don’t have now? TIP – Write it all out (in the present time) What will it look like when you get there, how do you feel? Use descriptive words that exude the images, the excited energy, etc…Read it every morning and night to keep the dream alive and inspire action.
2. Download your current situation right now in relation to your goal. What steps are you taking now? How often are you doing them? What is the gap between your goal and your present reality? Is this goal conflicting with any other goals?
Exploring options – What’s in the way of taking action? What do you need to start or stop doing to achieve this goal?
TIP – Explore what habits of yours are conflicting with you taking your desired actions and institute new habits that support your movement forward. Example – If you need more time to work on your goal and the only time you can do it is in the early morning, consider going to bed at 9 PM the night before instead of 11 PM and waking up two hours earlier so you can do the work.
Motivating action – Ask yourself, “How important is it for me to reach my goal on a scale of 1 to 10?” also, “What opportunities could open up for me if I were to realize my desired outcome?”
3. Come up with a plan that’s broken down into realistic steps (give each one a timestamp that’s reasonable and not too demanding). Do one step at a time and make adjustments as you go. Remember, if a plan is too daunting to think of, do the next best thing. Take the first step and see where that leads you.
TIP – Determine who can support you on your journey and hold you accountable for taking your steps. Having an accountability buddy, maybe someone who wants to work on their own goals as well, is a great way to motivate and inspire each other. Be discriminating and spend time with those who support your goals. If you have friends or family who don’t encourage what you are trying to achieve, it may be best to keep them out of the conversation and spend time with those whose passion, determination and sticktoitiveness you admire. Read books and listen to podcasts of people who inspire you. Come up with a reward for yourself that you will treat yourself to when you cross the finish line. Create an affirmation that resonates with you and write it on a post it note where you can see it . One of my favorite affirmations is: “When I use my moments for my momentum, I create the life I want.”
Having a simple plan with clear steps and a realistic time frame combined with determined action will set the framework for managing your journey. Keeping an open mind and realizing that things will come up and making adjustments to your action plan to compensate for the unexpected is part of the process. Above all, keep your eye on the prize. There will be times when you will falter. When that happens, don’t beat yourself up. Get back on track. It helps to remember that those who “make it” out there, our models of success, the one thing that they share in common is that they kept at it. Through failures and adversity, they picked themselves up hundreds of times and inevitably, they got to their finish line. Your finish line is right around the corner. Say it, think it, plan it, do it. You got this.