Friday, September 21, 2012

Why You Don't Achieve Your Goals

Lately I've been hearing a theme that seems to be gaining popularity. It shows up in all kinds of situations. It's shared by all types of people. The theme is: I really want to... but...

Whenever I hear it, my first thought is: "Uh... actually, you don't." 

It's my first response to me whenever I hear myself drifting along the same theme. It's a highly-compressed phrase full of logical sequences that provides me with great economy. It helps me efficiently sidestep the distraction of "I really want to, but" and get down to what's really going on.

Unfortunately, it's a phrase that's lost on others who haven't worked through the process that takes you to another phrase: You can tell what someone values most by what she does, not by what she says. (This is includes you).

Who's First
In the end it's a matter of priority. We do the things that are most important to us. Those are the things we really want. However, it may not seem that way at the time. For example, the thing you want most may be only be indirectly related to your current activity. You may hate your job, but really want the paycheck. You may not particularly care about the paycheck, but really want a nice house. You might not even like your nice house, but like what others think about it. You might not like the others who think about it, but you like someone who does.

The thread can roll on and on until you finally unravel the knot and get to what it is you really want. So sure, the current distraction may not be what you want. However, it's tied to something that you do want, something you want more than "what I really want."

Problem is, we tend never to tug long enough on the thread to get to what's keeping us from what we want. Sometimes we don't tug at all.

Why? Because we feel badly about not achieving or having achieved what say we really want. We feel guilty. We feel as though we've failed. So we give ourselves relief by deciding our not achieving was unavoidable. "It' not my fault. I really wanted to, but..."

Here's another phrase that goes over really well: Of course it's your fault. 

Judge Not
You're in your situation because of choices you've made and (more importantly) are making. If you react defensively to this, you never realize that its being your fault is good news. If your not getting what you want is a result of something that you did or are doing, then you have the power to change it. If you were truly a victim of circumstance, then there'd be little you could do. But you're not, at least never completely.

So the first step to achieving what you want is to put yourself on the hook for not having done so, to say out loud: "No one is to blame for this but me. It's all my fault." 

Stretch out the ALL MY FAULT part, take a deep breath and then say, "Therefore, there's no one better to fix it than me!"

If you say it with clarity and conviction, it'll feel really good. If not, try it again until you do.

The key is to stop judging yourself. It's OK that it's your fault. It's downright empowering. 
If you stop judging yourself and fully accept that it's your fault, then two things will happen. First, you'll no longer hear judgment in the voices of others who ask you about how that project is going. Second, you'll be free to explore paths to success that can actually be followed.

For Example
Let's say that every time you find a free moment to work on your goal, your partner decides it's time to talk. You sigh. You stop what you're doing. You talk. Your time evaporates. 

Who stopped you? Why? What was the most important thing for you at the time?

You might say that it's your partner who stopped you, that he interrupts you and won't let you work. Even if he does interrupt you, how you respond is up to you. Even making yourself available to interruption is up to you. You're a smart person. You can see that. Therefore, there must be a reason that you do make yourself available to interruption. What is it? There must be a reason you don't nip the interruption in the bud. Why don't you?

Let's say that you've reached a point where you feel overwhelmed by all that's required to get to your goal. You just can't deal with it. So you stop. 

Who stopped you? Why? What was the most important thing for at the time?

You might say that the overwhelmed-ness stopped you as if it came upon you like a storm on a ship at sea. You might feel powerless to do anything abou it. However, getting overwhelmed isn't simply an involuntary response to being around things you can't figure out. We're all surrounded by them daily. Instead, it must result from some significance you attach to the specific set of things that are overwhelming you. What are the attachments? Why are they there?

I Believe?
In the end, it all comes down to belief. You respond to your partner as you do because of what you believe would happen if you did not. You get overwhelmed because of beliefs you have about failing. Oftentimes, when you finally dig down to the belief and ask yourself, "Do I really think that?", the answer is "No!"

However, you can't get to the belief until you decide, "It's my fault and no one else's fault. There's obviously something I want more than what I'm saying I want."

So, next time you hear yourself saying, "I really want to... but...", tell yourself, "Actually, you don't!"

Happy Friday,
Teflon

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