Several weeks ago I went to an entrepreneurial workshop. It was part of a membership program I’d signed up for in 2015. At the workshop, I saw several new faces and a handful of regulars. What I noticed about the regulars was that they seemed to be marking time. They were in the same place they were when we first met a year ago: still struggling financially, having less clarity about their goals, and appearing to be less enthusiastic about their futures. As I interacted with them I saw myself in stark contrast to them and realized I was outgrowing this program, a program, that just a few months earlier, I was getting so much value from.
This begged the question: Why was I making such strides in working toward and reaching my goals, and in setting new ones, while my classmates, who felt compelled to come and “get fed”, were making little progress and still struggling? I see this phenomenon not only with my classmates, but with others, as well. Many people say they want a better or different life, yet they do little or nothing to make changes in the direction they want to go. They talk a good game–they want to start a business, they want to lose weight, they want to earn more, they want a new job that is more rewarding, they want improved health, they want to find their soul mate–however, the actions they take to achieve these things are short-lived, that is, if they take any action at all. Why?
As I pondered the question, the explanations listed below came to mind.
People are afraid of so many things. They are afraid of failure.They are afraid of not fitting in. They are afraid of being taken advantage of. They are afraid of not being able to pay their bills. They are afraid of standing out. They are afraid of success. And the list goes on and on. Taking action in the direction of your goals requires change. Change requires some degree of risk and uncertainty which can result in fear; however, if you are swaddled in fear, doing the things necessary to reach the goals you espouse to want, will be difficult or impossible. Identifying your fears and learning how to combat them is essential, if you want to reach your goals.
- Lack of Belief
People don’t truly believe that they can attain the things they say they want. Their stated goals turn into vague, lifeless hopes and dreams that languish and go nowhere. Two ways to get unstuck and move in the direction of your goals are 1) identify the beliefs that limit you and 2) challenge them.
- Adopting Incompatible Goals
The goals they set really are not their own. They see others achieving certain things, owning certain material possessions, and appearing to be happy. They make the leap that the things others are doing and attaining will make them happy too. Setting goals that are not tied to your own values and principles lack meaning. Without meaning, the strong desire necessary to overcome obstacles that will arise as you work toward your goals will be absent, leaving you short of attainment and the happiness you seek. Identifying your values and what is important to you as you set your goals is key to getting into motion, staying focused, and reaching your dreams.
- Not Living Deliberately
Many people have not deliberately thought about what they want out of life or envisioned what they want their legacy to be. Too often they are trying to fit in, not rock the boat, and be liked instead of creating their ideal lives. The question is what is your goal: to be liked and accepted, while not feeling fulfilled or to live your dream life, while liking and accepting yourself? If you want to achieve a life of contentment and purpose you must first identify your values and why they are so important to you. Then you must create a vision of your ideal life that supports those principles.
- Lack of Discipline
In an era where we can get so much instantly by the click of a mouse, so many people want and expect instant gratification in all aspects of their lives. Achieving your goals and living the life that is perfect for you requires exercising discipline. Too many of us slip back into our old ways at the first sign of discomfort or challenge. If you want to reach your goals, you must develop discipline.
- Mismanagement of Finances
Many people struggle to reach goals because their financial house is in disarray, either because they don’t know how to budget, economize, and live within their means or because they lack the discipline to apply their knowledge about finances. Being over-extended financially takes up a lot of energy and it’s difficult to focus on the future as you are struggling to survive the present. To make progress on your goals you must first get control of your finances, by developing a budget, sticking to it, and eliminating debt.
- Poor Critical Thinking Skills
People who struggle to work toward and attain their goals consistently make decisions without considering the next thing that is likely to happen as a result of that decision. Then, they find themselves dealing with unpleasant, sometimes costly circumstances. Thinking three, two, or even one step ahead helps to limit emergencies that require your time and attention, and deplete your energy. Making a habit of asking yourself the question, “If I do this, then what is likely to happen next as a result?” will help you avoid self-created urgent situations and allow you to stay focused on the goal at hand.
- Looking to Others to Make it Happen
They expect the desired change in their lives to come from outside sources. When it does not materialize, they find themselves wondering why life is passing them by and blaming something or someone other than themselves. It is vital to take ownership of your life and circumstances, and to do the work necessary, without taking shortcuts, to make the changes you want to see, if you want to live the life your love.
Which, if any, of these reasons do you see at work in your life? Take the recommendations for those and apply them. Then note the improved results you experience. In my new book Growing Bold: How to Overcome Fear, Build Confidence, and Love the Life You Live I tackle, in depth, many of the challenges I’ve listed here and provide detailed activities to help you work through them.
My experiences have taught me that life is short, sometimes shorter than we expect. The time we have to grow, improve, and do more than merely exist draws shorter every day. Given this reality, what will you commit to change in your life in order to live the life you deserve?