Why is it so difficult to keep our New Year’s resolutions? If I’m being honest, some of my resolutions have barely made it past February, and I don’t think I’m alone here. Despite our best intentions, many of us struggle to attain the things we desire, especially when there is a lot of work involved and risk of failure feels high. There are many culprits to blame of course: time, energy, other people, money, etc, etc. Yet I suspect that there is more to our lack of follow-through then extrinsic barriers. In fact, I think that our mindset, which is made up of thoughts, feelings and beliefs, holds much more power over our successes or failures then we give it credit for. Imagine what would be possible if you let go of fear, excuses, negative thinking, criticism and comparison when it comes to setting and achieving goals? Below you will find a list of mindset pitfalls that creep up on us and keep us from accomplishing what we really want . I’ve also included some tips to help challenge these sticky thoughts feelings and beliefs. Enjoy!
1. You set the bar intentionally low: i.e. choosing goals that don’t push your edge or challenge you. These are the goals we feel reasonably confident we can accomplish but they take up our time and focus so that we can avoid the possibility of failure. When we restrain ourselves from going for it, we reinforce self-doubt.
- TIP: Make a list of the things you would like to accomplish. Then read over the list mindfully and notice when you start to feel anxiety, nervousness or excitement. Do you find yourself saying, “I’m too busy,” or “I’m so unmotivated at the moment.” This is a good indication that the goal is triggering fear, doubt, or insecurity. Lean into it and get curious rather than resist. Read below for strategies to adjust your mindset so you can say yes to the challenge instead of “maybe next year…”
2. You experience fear around what change actually means and having to give up the status quo: We may be unhappy with our current status (weight, finances, job satisfaction) but at least we know what to expect. What happens if you actually reach a goal? Will people still love and accept you? Will you be happy? Uncertainty can hold us back from attaining goals because we are fearful that change will disrupt our lives and comfort zone.
- TIP: Reframe your thinking-what are the costs to you if nothing changes? Challenge your fears, and beliefs such as “ I’m not smart enough, motivated enough, brave enough.” Do you have evidence that any of these are true/real? Write these things down as a reminder of why you are working towards your goal.
3. It’s too much pressure to maintain “success:” Imagine that you just landed your dream job. Now what? Sometimes pressure to keep succeeding can subconsciously drive us into self-sabotaging mode, especially if we secretly don’t believe we deserve the good feelings that come with achievement.
TIP: Keep some form of tracking method as you work towards your goals. That way you can look back and see evidence of the hard work you put in to get to where you are. Also, focus on the strengths that earned you success in the first place, such as persistence, good people skills or planning. Know that these things come from within you and will still be there even in times where you fail.
4. Your are worried about failure and rejection: If I don’t put 100% in then it won’t be as painful if I fail right? With this type of mentality we might not tackle goals wholeheartedly in an effort to protect the ego.
TIP: Write down the worst things that could happen if you fail. Are any of these things so bad that you can’t handle it?
5. Too many resolutions cause the mind to swim - keep the main thing, the main thing and find one or two things you desire to change.
- TIP: If you’re stumped by trying to narrow down your resolutions, ask your self the following: 1) Is this something I want to be, do or have? 2) Is this getting me to my goal? 3) Is being, doing or having this benefitting the growth of my life? 4) Is being, doing or having this going to violate the rights of others? With a 3-Yes and a 1-No combination, you can rest assure that your resolution is the right one to embrace for 2016.