Change isn’t easy; especially big, lasting change. You may be aware of something you’d like to change. You may even be painfully aware of something that really has to change, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to make that change.
That’s because we all experience blockers that can prevent us from starting, committing to, and following through on our goals. These are mental blockers that you may not be aware of. Unfortunately, as long as these blockers exist, reaching your goals is going to be incredibly difficult – if not impossible.
Luckily, by recognizing these barriers you can take steps to remove them.
You’re convinced it won’t make any difference
When you think about big picture goals and major life changes, what are you telling yourself? Most goals never get out of the “thinking about it” phase because we tell ourselves that it can’t work before we’ve even tried. Maybe you’ve tried before and had no success. Maybe you’re letting the weight of other past setbacks weigh you down. Either way, once you have it in your mind that a goal will fail, you almost certainly won’t pursue it with your whole heart.
And it’s not about pretending the past didn’t happen. It’s really about challenging your beliefs. Because change can happen, but you have to believe in what you’re trying to do. No matter what you’re looking to accomplish – shed debt, lose weight, give up smoking – you have to learn to leave past failures behind and embrace the possibility of success. If you can’t do that, you won’t succeed.
You’re unable to separate your successes from your setbacks
One of the more damaging things we do to ourselves is to amplify our failures, while downplaying (or completely ignoring) our successes. In your pursuit of change you will have setbacks. That’s normal. But if you allow your setbacks to overwhelm you and outshine your successes, you’ll eventually find yourself losing your resolve.
The healthiest course is to accept both success and failure and learn from each. Don’t wallow in a setback – ask yourself why it happened and what might be done to prevent it from happening again. Don’t ignore your successes, either. Embrace them. Learn from them.
You don’t need to turn off your emotions. It’s okay to feel let down when things don’t work out. But if you want real change, and you want to reach big, challenging goals, you need to be willing to examine every outcome, alter your course accordingly, and push forward with renewed determination.
You focus on the goal, but forget the motivation behind the goal
A good goal is usually something measurable and specific. “I want to lose ten pounds before August.” “I want to save $1,000 by Christmas.” These are aspirations you can track over time. You’ll know whether or not you’re making progress and whether or not you’re on track for success.
So now ask yourself: What is it about that ten pounds weight loss that’s meaningful to you? Why do you want to lose weight or build your savings or find a new job?
In truth, it’s not the goals themselves that we’re striving for – it’s the feelings behind the goal. If you want to lose ten pounds, that’s probably because it will help you feel better about yourself. You might have more energy. You might prefer the way you look. The motivation itself is unique to you and it can be whatever your heart tells you it is.
But a change won’t stick and a goal won’t be achieved unless you can recognize those deeper motivations and keep them in your mind as you move forward. When you’re finding yourself lagging behind on a goal, saying, “I have to do this because I promised myself I’d put $100 in savings this month” probably won’t put you back on track. Remembering what it feels like to go on vacation with your family, however – how much fun you’ll have, what great memories you’ll create – is much more likely to provide that needed spark.
Big change is always possible, but you need to have the right mindset. If you can overcome these barriers, you’ll be that much closer to reaching your goals.