Having goals will help you achieve the life of your dreams. Some of life’s most satisfying experiences are those that involve staying focused on a goal until you achieve it. Yet you’ll likely experience times when, no matter how hard you try, you’re stymied by obstacles blocking the way.
Obstacles are challenges that block your way and prevent or hinder your progress. Whatever it is that you decide you want – a better job, more success in a business of your own, a bigger house, or a more polished and attractive wardrobe – there will be something that stands in your way.
Road construction during your morning commute can become an obstacle that backs up traffic and prevents you from taking your normal route to your destination. You can see it ahead of you, but there’s not much you can do to avoid it.
Physical obstacles are easy to recognize, but mental or psychological obstacles can be just as difficult to maneuver around, and just as much of a challenge to your plans and goals. They may also be harder to define and clearly identify.
Obstacles come in all shapes and sizes. Here are some typical blocks to goal achievement:
- Lack of creativity. You might have your own struggles determining how to best work toward attaining what you want. Perhaps you’ve temporarily run out of ideas on how you’re going to make your goals and dreams happen in the past – I know I have!
- Negative thinking. We’ve all been plagued by negative “stinking” thinking at some point in our lives. You feel you’re just not going to be able to achieve your dreams. Negative thinking is a potent block, because once it begins, it tends to escalate and can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Lagging confidence. Following closely on the heels of negative thinking, sagging confidence is the bane of goal achievement. You begin to seriously question your skills and abilities to complete the work required to reach your goal.
- Focus follies. Who among us can say unequivocally that we’ve never lost our way on the path toward our dream life? We want to reach that milestone but we keep getting thwarted by distractions. How can you work on an important project when your wife keeps asking you why you aren’t painting the house or spending time with the kids?
- Refusing to put in effort. It goes without saying that every goal requires you to work and persevere to reach success – but there are still those “gurus” out there that would have you believe that all you have to do is focus your mental intent, do no physical work, and you’ll achieve your goals – simply NOT true.
- Time traps. Making your way toward goals is challenging enough without having the irritation of not enough time to do it, or having “time-suckers” that prevent you from focused application of effort over a consistent amount of time.
- Vague aspirations. If you’re unsure about what you really want, it’s a challenge to continue steadily toward your goals. Vague aspirations equal unmet goals – how can you achieve what you can’t describe or define?
Now that you’ve seen some of the blocks you might encounter on your way to goal achievement, take a look the suggestions below (corresponding to above-numbered items) to determine how to best avoid them.
- Take responsibility to keep creativity going. Draw pictures of what you hope to achieve. Make a storyboard of your plan of action, listing the major steps to give you a “roadmap”. Design a vision board of what your goal pathway looks like and include how your life will differ after achieving your goal.
- Arrest negative thoughts. As soon as they creep in, think, “Stop it now” and mean it. You can even say the words out loud, and then say out loud what you want to focus on instead. The verbal reinforcement – hearing your own voice saying the positive message – will help increase your level of success. Replace that habitual negativity with an “I will persevere and achieve” message. Tell yourself, “I can and will do it.”
- Review past achievements. Give yourself a pat on the back for goals you’ve achieved before. What were those goals? What steps did you take to achieve them, and how did that feel? Use these reminder techniques to find and connect with your confidence.
- Commit to goals. Remind yourself daily about why you want to reach a particular goal. Perhaps you’ll earn more money, get a better job, live in a place you prefer, or protect your family’s future. Stay the course by re-committing to goals each morning.
- Along with committing wholeheartedly to your goals, you’ve got to define them using a framework. Use the SMART framework – choose goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable (with a stretch), Realistic, and Time-based, and use that the help you define how you’re going to put in the work. Tell yourself your effort will, in the end, be worth it.
- Use your schedule. No matter what your goal, consistently schedule the time to work toward it. If you don’t keep a calendar now, start. Look at your entire week or month and what’s scheduled with a quick glance. Write in when you’ll work toward goals.
Maybe it will be Tuesday evenings from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. or Saturday mornings from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Follow your schedule consistently.
- Clarify goals. Write them and place copies everywhere inside your house, briefcase, and calendar. Use any electronic or technology-based aids you have to help keep you focused and on track. When you’re sure about what you want, then you can diligently work toward those goals.
There will be obstacles to block the pathways toward your goals. But if you can identify the sources of the blocks, you can develop solutions or use these time-tested strategies to navigate those obstacles and claim your success.