May 9, 2010
Stop Giving Obstacles Permission To Roadblock Your Goals
Some people keep track of goals in notebooks and others log them online, but most of us keep at least a few important goals in a special, time-honored place: the back burner. These are goals we tell ourselves we want to attain, but somehow we never seem to make it happen.
It’s not that we fail to achieve these goals; more to the point, we don’t even try. We just let them sit there, inert, and we kick ourselves every New Year’s or birthday or whatever event brings our lack of progress to our attention.
Why do we do this? Usually it’s because of one single, action killing word … “Until.”
“Until” is the worst word you can allow into your vocabulary when it comes to your goals because it gives you a free pass to avoid taking action. It’s easy to say you can’t get to something “until” something changes, like your finances, or your schedule, or some other external circumstance.
For example, it’s easy to say “I can’t start losing weight until I can get to (or afford) the gym,” or “until I can figure out a solid meal plan.” In this case, you’re naming something as an obstacle – it’s either time, money or information. You use this obstacle as an excuse, and you give it permission to roadblock your progress.
I say you “give it permission” because the very act of acknowledging this circumstance as an obstacle means you’re saying it’s okay for this to be a significant roadblock to your goals.
And once you give the “all clear” to the obstacle, it’s unlikely you’ll work very hard to change your circumstances. That’s not a knock against you, it’s just human nature. It’s just the way it is. If something gives you an easy way out, you’re likely to take it if you haven’t conditioned yourself to push back against it.
This is especially true if we’re afraid of the true cost of taking action – maybe we don’t think we’re strong enough, or we’re just not sure where to start and the effort seems overwhelming. And because we don’t see how we’re going to finish on our desired timetable, we don’t see the point in starting.
As another example, it’s difficult to get excited about saving and investing if all you can save is $10 a month. What’s the point in doing that if it’s not going to set you up for retirement? Wouldn’t it be better to wait “until” we’re making more money?
No. It’s far better to do what you can, with what you have, where you are. That’s how the snowball begins.
But because we’re conditioned to want results fast, or to only take action in an “ideal” situation, we don’t push hard against these obstacles. We let them be these big powerful forces keeping our goals on the back burner.
How To Strip Obstacles Of their Goal-Killing Power
The alternative to giving obstacles power is to refuse to see them as obstacles at all, and instead view them as simply life’s “usual” resistance to action that comes with any goal. The key to this is to focus on progress towards your goal, and to consider that progress inevitable. Tell yourself that achieving this goal isn’t an “if,” it’s a “when.”
If you position progress as something that’s going to happen come hell or high water, you’ll find a way around the obstacle. And you won’t even see it as a big scary obstacle anyway; you’ll just look at it as something to push through.
If you’re unwilling to see circumstances as obstacles, then you’ll be pre-conditioned to look for solutions, not excuses. Instead of being “okay” with a challenging circumstances, you’ll find yourself being “okay” with getting a limited result to start.
Maybe you can only save $10 a month, so do it now. And then push yourself to either find new ways to make money or stop wasting so damn much of it already. Focus on your goal (saving more), and you’ll find a way to make it happen.
Maybe this month you’ll save $10, then next month, $15. And as you continue to find ways to alter your cashflow and expenses, that number will grow – but it’ll never begin to snowball until you start. (And that’s on “until” you can live with).
Or maybe you can’t afford the gym (or can’t go due to scheduling right now). So what? Are you going to say “Maybe someday,” or are you going to go to hundredpushups.com and get started doing something? Or are you going to start taking a 15 minute walk every day just to make something happen?
There’s Always A Way To Start If You’re Ready To Stop Making Excuses
I get it, you’re busy. You can’t do everything. But if a goal is important to you, do something to move forward on it and work around an “obstacle” even if it’s tough. Just because you can’t go 100% full out doesn’t mean you can do 5% and get moving.
So often in life it doesn’t come down to can’t, it comes down to won’t, and if you’re honest with yourself you’ll see that’s as true for you as it is for me. You can say you don’t have time for the gym, but you’re still watching LOST every week. Couldn’t you take that time and do some exercise? OR even do pushups during the commercials?
Maybe you can’t run a big business while you do a day job. But can’t you set up a simple website and blog, and do phone consultations on your lunch hour to get an income stream going?
Maybe you can’t save money “until” you get out of debt. But can’t you pick one necessary expense and cut it, funneling that savings into a credit card payment?
Of course you can.
The question is, will you?
It all depends on how serious you are about your goal, and about living a life where you don’t settle for weak action.
So let me give you some first steps to take, and then you can leave a comment and start making progress.
Ok, so how do we get the ball rolling on this? Three simple steps:
- First, pick a back burner goal you need to make progress on and identify the “until” you’re hiding behind to avoid taking action.
- Next, decide you’re going to refuse to use that as an excuse. If you had to make progress starting from where you are (and not your “until”), how could you start? Brainstorm some ways to get started.
- Finally, write about it in the comments. Tell me what excuse you’re going to give up on and how you’re going to push back against it. If you’re worried about giving personal details, put “Ass Kicker” in the Name field below, that’s plenty good enough.
The more of you who leave this kind of comment on this post, the more people you’ll inspire to take action.
Leave your comment. Give up on your excuse. Define your new action. And then leave a comment.
Do it now. You’ll thank yourself for it.
That is all -
P.S. – Once you’re done, hit that “retweet” button below & spread the word so others will be inspired to take action as well. (And if you’ve come to this post via my Stop Settling newsletter, please forward it to at least one person today who needs to hear this!)