What Stands in the Way of Reaching Your Goals?
Do you have ideas of a future you'd like to have, but find yourself doing other things and not focusing on your goals? Maybe you don't really want what you dream of having.
I’ll help you recognize what’s really important to you and discuss how to make it a goal you can achieve.
Determine If It's Important to You or Not
If you feel that something is missing and your dreams are unfulfilled, you need to put a little effort into analyzing where you're going and what’s important.
If you don't fully understand the reason why you want something in life, you may not be motivated to get it. Sometimes we just need to determine that it's not that important—and move on.
When something is important enough to me, I find that when I focus and put my attention to it, I can make it happen—but only after I've determined that it truly is important to me.
Some of the things you procrastinate about may not be important to you anyway. Maybe it's time to let go of those goals because they're not significant.1
Some things are just not that important. You’re wasting energy keeping it in the back of your mind. Making a decision to eliminate certain goals is part of the puzzle. If it's not necessary in your life, or if it's not something that you need, then let it go.
Recognize the Difference Between Needs and Wants
Do you know the difference between needing something and wanting something?
- Needs are necessary to live a healthy life. They sometimes tend to be dismissed or placed on a low priority basis, but they really should come first.
- Wants are desires or cravings that are usually for enjoyment. They are usually on our mind more often than our needs.2
If we could do better with being in touch with our needs, and recognize why they are important to us, then we would find it easier to make a choice, set it as a goal, and work on it. Many people overlook the things that are important and tend to focus on what they want instead. It's only natural, because that’s what is enjoyable.
If it's not something you need then let it go. However, it gets complicated. Our desires may be much more involved than just for simple pleasure. They might be important life plans, such as choosing a career, wanting to get married, making a family, buying a house in the country.
Are those needs or wants? Sure, you want them, but look at it this way:
- A career might be a need because it sustains your future (sometimes).
- Getting married and raising a family might be need because it leads to happiness (hopefully).
- Buying a house might be a need because it assures security (maybe).
Note that there are no guarantees in life, but that's another matter.
Set Your Priorities
I’ve noticed that among the people I know, those who don’t achieve their goals are the same people who don’t have their priorities set right. Work on meeting your needs first. Desires are nice, but should come last.
- Our needs are mandatory. We can't live without them.
- Our desires are things we want, but not life-threatening to be without.
An important point to understand is this: If something is necessary for a comfortable life, it's a need.
Take some time to sit and think about all this. Once you get in touch with your feelings you can start to do something about choosing the right goals and changing what's missing.
"All too many of us only dimly perceive even where we want to go with our lives, much less how to get there."— George L. Rogers, editor of Benjamin Franklin's The Art of Virtue³
Visualize Your Future
If you only dimly perceive where you want to go with your life, you will have less chance of getting there.
- Is your life not turning out the way you expected?
- Are you feeling a sense of failure because you keep procrastinating?
- Do you feel you’ve taken a wrong road and wish you could get where you originally dreamed of being?
Lack of focus and not visualizing your future can hinder your progress. You have no idea how much you can accomplish until you allow yourself to see what it’s like when you get there. You just need to make sure that you put your mind to it.
I just discussed how important "needs" are for our future, but that doesn't mean to rule out your "wants" as well. That's why I explained the idea of setting your priorities in the previous section.
Once your priorities have been met and you already took care of your needs, if you really care for something that you classify as a desire, go for it. Go and get what you really care for. Don’t hesitate. Just do it without giving it a second thought. Otherwise you will get in the way of your own dreams.
The trick is to visualize your future in your mind as if you are already there.4 See what it's like. See how you feel with it.
Take It One Step at a Time
I always found it easy to avoid procrastination by taking things one small step at a time. We may not have all the options available to immediately get where we're going, but we can start with whatever options we have.
In addition, our vision of our future might bring on stress because it’s unfamiliar to us. This is another reason why taking it one step at a time has an advantage. Every step closer allows us to gradually get used to the new reality. That is how we can get somewhere without feeling stressed.5 Pursuing our goals in any way that works is important in order to be successful with any endeavor in life.
Think about the things you’ve already completed. They are real because you truly really wanted them. You worked on them and you made them happen. Give yourself credit for those accomplishments.
Fulfill Your Dreams in Five Steps
- Think about the times when you really needed to get something done, and how you did it.
- Hold on to that thought and reward yourself for achieving the outcome you wanted.
- Now, analyze in your mind what it was that made it work. Did you just do it without thinking? Sometimes thinking too much makes us procrastinate. Sometimes it’s best to just do things without further judgment.
- Do you really want to do whatever it is you're thinking about? You may be in denial and fooling yourself, using up mental energy constantly thinking about those things you never really intended to do. This wasted energy could be better applied to that what’s important.
- Last of all, look into the future. Visualize it. Place yourself there in your mind. Focus on the way you feel about it. This can bring it closer to reality. Next thing you know, you’ll be getting it done. You will be reaching your goals and living your dreams.
- Shoba Sreenivasan, Ph.D. and Linda E. Weinberger, Ph.D. (Jun 15, 2018). Procrastination Can Be Viewed Two Ways. Psychology Today
- Values and Goals; Needs vs. Wants. University of Illinois
- George L. Rogers, editor (1996). Benjamin Franklin's The Art of Virtue: His Formula for Successful Living [Pg 14]. Eden Prairie, Minnesota: Acorn Publishing
- Aldo Civico Ph.D. (Sep 17, 2015). Champion Novak Djokovic Reveals the Power of Visualization. Psychology Today
- Susan Weinschenk Ph.D. (Oct 16, 2013). Use Small Steps to Motivate. Psychology Today
© 2012 Glenn Stok