What goals have you set for yourself this year? Have you already forgotten them? Are they perpetual goals that are stated yearly without moving in that direction? Funny thing about goals; and maybe annoying; they do not achieve themselves. Achievement is directly proportional to the individual creating them.
To accomplish desired outcomes in life requires effective goal setting which of course entails removing excuses. Benjamin Franklin said, “I never met a man (person) who was good at making excuses, who was good at anything else.”
One reason making excuses is easy is because that is the habit that has been honed. The process of honing habits is non-discriminatory. Anything repeated – thought patterns, feelings, behaviors – becomes a habit, whether beneficial or detrimental.
Overcoming excuses requires the skill of discipline. Your difficulty implementing a desired change in your life is indicative of your level of discipline. Proficiency in this area is determined similar to the functioning of a muscle. The higher level of strain to act in accordance for a desired outcome is the indication of a weaker muscle. The difference is, discipline is invisible and intangible compared to say our bicep. The strength of the discipline muscle is seen by what is produced, however the muscle itself remains invisible and intangible. As with any skill development, the more you apply yourself the easier it gets.
I used to think successful people always felt like taking appropriate action. That’s how they appeared to me. Aha! How they appeared is the key. A mentor once shared with me, “you cannot think your way to good acting, you have to act your way to good thinking. Are you aligned for success?
It is important to clarify here to set a goal based on what is in your control. For example, modifying your weight ten pounds closer to your ideal weight is in your control. If on the other hand a loved one is out of reach; such as military personnel providing a service in a different country; connecting with them in a manner desired includes aspects out of your control. Inherent limitations may be present in a variety of conditions. Therefore, be sure to word the goal in a way that sets you up for success. What is in your control? Though some circumstances will pose greater challenges than others; your thoughts, words and behaviors in any situation are for you to decide.
Whatever your goals or your circumstances, consider the following:
- Is the goal stated YOUR desire? Often we claim to have a goal that is actually someone else’s need or aspiration for us. Other times an alleged desire is an obligation (perceived or stated). These are often stated as “shoulds” – I should exercise (more), I should eat better, etc. Bottom line, attempting to achieve something other than your own true desire is a sure formula for a vicious cycle of frustration and failure. Following this pattern is more damaging than simply preventing attainment of the goal. This also leads to continual depletion of self-esteem. The solution is simple, change your claim or modify your approach! When we state claims that are different than our thoughts, words and actions we elevate our stress and align with entitlement. Any known success, people have taken steps and implemented a process to achieve.
- If it is YOUR desire, are you interested or committed to achieving your goal? You know you are only interested when you monitor and align your thoughts or implement behavior based on if you feel like it or it’s convenient. Commitment on the other hand is when you find yourself doing whatever it takes (WIT); without harm to you or others; instead of spewing excuses. Larger goals may need to be chunked down into smaller manageable pieces. This concept is applicable when facing challenges of life as well. Individually the immediate may be unappealing or appear to lead nowhere. It is however the culmination over time that makes the difference. Also, keep in mind that the steps you wish you could avoid are often necessary for the subsequent more desirable and more meaningful pieces to occur. What can you do TODAY that moves you in your desired direction? Be careful to steer clear of what you cannot do!
- Where is your focus? Successful people have a way of reframing everything; even the most unpleasant of events; as having purpose to benefit them. En route to our goals we tend to experience what we perceive as set backs. If you’re living; I assume you are if you’re reading this; life has a tendency to deliver some curve balls. Whether setbacks or curve balls it isn’t what happens, rather how we respond to what happens. Sometimes some pretty crappy things happen in life, ugh, yet it is essential to keep focus on progress instead of how far yet to go. Remember, embarking at the start of any journey can feel like an eternity and/or overwhelming. Coaching is a powerful tool successful people use to stay on track and overcome the discouragement that otherwise tempts abandonment of a goal. As you begin to see progress, belief strengthens and momentum builds. Continue the process daily and eventually the progress; no matter how minimal in the moment; overtakes the “yet to go”. Then you finally experience the phew and the WOW for having achieved.
Goals help give us direction and propel us forward in life. Without them we tend to question what we’re doing or where we’re headed. When we attain them we often feel satisfaction and other uplifting emotions. Value yourself enough to set goals and establish the support you need to continually move toward them. If you’re new to the practice, start with one. Stay on track and persist, when complete, then start again. Yes, this is an ongoing process. So is brushing your teeth, bathing, you get the idea . . . now stop the excuses, stop the procrastinating and get going!