Most of us set ourselves goals, based on the ultimate life we want, whether these are health-related, career-focused or just being good at something.
And yet sometimes we have thoughts or feelings that block our progress. These may include low feelings of self-worth, fear, guilt or lack of self-belief or motivation.
Challenging these barriers to progress takes courage. We may have to examine difficult areas and long-held beliefs. This can involve making excuses such as, ‘I cannot exercise at all because I am revising for exams.’ But moving forward includes removing those barriers to success.
There are lots of ways to overcome this. Exploring and understanding your mindset is the first step. Writing down your feelings on a regular basis can be helpful in gaining self-awareness as can talking with a trusted friend. Like a computer that works well after you turn it off and on, sometimes a break from routine will help you reboot your thinking processes.
When setting goals, it can be useful if we divide them into three types, long term, medium term and short term, and to give these types exact dates. This can help prevent us from becoming frustrated if our goals are set too far into the future. We must be precise here. There is little point in resolving to ‘lose lots of weight’ if we do not make clear to ourselves the exact weight loss needed and the time frame involved.
One of the best ways of doing this is to use a method that has been around for decades now but still stands among the more successful ways of getting to where you want to be. This method is known by the acronym SMART. This states that your goals must be:
S: Specific, detail exactly what your goal is in practical terms
M: Measurable, so that you can see your progress. (How much weight to be lost, or how many miles to be walked)
A: Attainable, make sure the goal is achievable.
R: Realistic. Choose a goal that is realistic for you. (Are you really going to become a billionaire?)
T: Timeframe - short, medium and long term.
By using SMART, you can ensure that what you plan for yourself is likely to be attainable. If you merely resolve to ‘get fit’, or to ‘eat more healthily’ your aims remain vague, and therefore, poor habits can creep progressively into your regime. More helpful is to resolve: ‘eat 10 helpings of vegetables per day: no more than one pizza per week’ etc. This is more precise and carries more authority.
Remember that every small achievement is a step closer towards your ultimate goal. Use any shortfall as a positive experience and make a note not to repeat it. Motivate and encourage yourself just as you would your very best friend. Whenever a negative thought or a perceived failure comes into your mind, reframe it in positive terms, even if you say to yourself that this is something that will not be done again. That way, your goals will be attainable, and your self-esteem will rise.
A positive attitude of preparing for success is an essential part of achieving what you want. Sometimes the easiest thing is for us to give up. But if you are dedicated to changing your life, have courage, self-belief and determination, you will succeed.
You only have to consider the great inventors, philosophers or athletes to see that they rarely gave up. When Roger Bannister ran the first four-minute mile in 1954, people were amazed because experts had previously stated that this feat was humanly impossible. Just 46 days later, Bannister’s record was broken by John Landy of Australia. This was because people now knew that it was possible to break the four-minute barrier and believed they could do it. So remove those barriers and let yourself achieve all those goals that you thought you could not take seriously.