I am not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I am a huge fan of setting goals and intentions. You might ask what is the difference? For me, a resolution is a goal that’s set and is based on sheer willpower. Willpower is not sustainable long-term, which is why I prefer setting intentions, goals and creating action plans and strategies.
Life is continually evolving and changing, therefore, it is likely more effective to assess goals more frequently than once a year. Personally, I do an assessment every six months. The start of a new year is a great time to do a check-in with yourself.
There are certain steps that are necessary if you want to be successful in reaching your goals. For example, writing down your goals, clearly identifying action steps you need to take, and perhaps finding a way to hold yourself accountable to follow through. The remainder of this article is going to be describing one particular strategy that can be very effective in ensuring you follow through with your goals.
One major reason we don’t follow through with our goals and intentions is that somewhere along the way we hit some uncomfortable emotions and start telling ourselves a story that works against us achieving success. An example of this would be that we start to feel like we might fail, or we start to feel stupid, tired, silly, humiliated, embarrassed, ridiculous or scared. We may feel like we’ve tried this a million times, why would it work now? We could tell ourselves that if we were really destined for success, we wouldn’t feel these negative emotions. We maybe tell ourselves that people who are successful don’t feel these emotions. The list is endless; this is just a sample.
Any of this sound familiar? Chances are that you have a few ‘go to’ negative emotions and/or stories that you tell yourself. I know I do. They are big triggers for me and I experience lots of different emotions, none of which I particularly enjoy. What’s worse, is that we often beat ourselves up for feeling these negative emotions. That’s a train going nowhere. It’s not likely that you are going to feel very motivated to proceed with your dreams feeling that way.
It is guaranteed that anyone who has worked at their goals and has achieved some success has encountered all of the above emotions. There isn’t anyone on this earth that doesn’t have these feelings. Some people may mask them differently, but they exist in all of us. The difference between achieving your goals and giving up is how you handle them.
As part of your goal setting planning process, spend some time pondering and writing down the times when you hit your “walls” and stall out. If you can identify them beforehand, when you experience those times, you are prepared. You are almost expecting the emotions and they won’t catch you off guard.
The thing with emotions is that you can’t just will them away. You have to feel your way through them. Ignoring them and pretending they don’t exist doesn’t help. Having said that, if you are feeling negative emotions, the quicker you can move through them, the sooner you can get back to the positive, happier, more productive emotions.
Accepting your emotions is key to being able to move forward. When I start to feel those negative emotions coming on, I literally say to myself “it is ok to feel scared”, “it is ok to feel alone” or “it is ok to feel stupid”. I don’t fight or resist my emotions. I accept them as they are. Once I accept them and make it all ok for me to experience the emotions, they lose all their power. They lose their hold on me. I am able to move through them and past them.
I take some time to tell myself a new story; a story that empowers me. I tell myself that anyone who has achieved great success in their life has experienced these same emotions. I tell myself that I will feel so proud of myself when I’ve worked past these uncomfortable emotions. In fact, I would go so far as to tell myself that these emotions are indicators to let me know I’m getting closer to my goals. I also hold a firm belief that the moments in my life that I will remember most and will hold dearest to my heart are the moments when I felt the most scared, the most out of my comfort zone, but kept moving forward anyways. Those are the stories I tell my children to inspire them, when they’re feeling scared themselves.
There are just as many positive, empowering stories, as there are negative, victim stories you can tell yourself when you hit that proverbial wall. The stories you choose to accept as your own will largely determine the level of success you achieve. Why not tell yourself a juicy, fun and exciting story of your life surpassing your wildest dreams?