What stops us from sustaining and reaching a goal? Is it the fear of failure or that changing historical habits is too difficult? How do we break down barriers, that come at us or that we create to hinder success, and ultimately achieve our objectives?
These are all legitimate questions but the reality is that you have what it takes to succeed, whether that is locked away just under the surface or deep in the vaults of your inaction. We all have what it takes to be successful and this often comes down to momentary, random events and decisions in our lives, which create opportunities to help us on the path to deliver success.
People tell me all the time that they don’t have enough time. It can often seem that we don’t have enough time and when we do, the best intentions take 2nd place to tiredness, cooking and eating a meal, or to the needs of loved ones and family. Even if you are the busiest person in the world, you do have enough time, you are simply choosing not to make the time.
As a father of 5, and the owner of 3 businesses, I know how much the family, work and other distractions can interfere with time for yourself, and making the time to do the things you really want to do often get superseded by something else but we all have the time, we just don’t make or create it. We are often inefficient with our time, and don’t pick the best times when considering activity.
In terms of time of day to keep an active habit, ask yourself at what time of day do you generally feel good and if you are free from work or routine. If you aren’t free at that time, consider two other options: Early morning or before you eat lunch. Evenings can be a good time for some, but this is best reserved for relaxation, a healthy meal and spending time with loved ones.
Overcoming inertia & maintaining momentum
Starting a new habit is often the greatest challenge in achieving a goal. How do you change potentially bad habits of a lifetime? Evidence proves that it takes us roughly a month to form and maintain a new habit, so the first 30 days are the time to commit to your new schedule.
· Start with small steps
· Reinforce those steps and build gradually
· Seek help from a professional or a friend
Struggles with boredom…
Genuinely unique workouts every time you exercise, or regular changes, are very difficult to sustain. Boredom is a state of mind, and if you have too much stimulation around you in your everyday lives, you will seek to replicate similar levels in all things. In our modern world, we are constantly bombarded by sensory stimuli, so how best can we cope with
Is your goal realistic? Again this comes down to honesty, and experience and it’s ok if you fall down the same rabbit hole as you always do, just this time, be objective and honest with yourself, reset and move on.
Variety is the spice of life for some but a curse for others.
It is either depending on what you need.
You can’t do it. Never have, never will
Proving somebody wrong feels good. The naysayers are actually essential people in our lives who help to motivate us. Newton’s 3rd law states every action has an equal and opposite action, just as someone saying one thing can polarise us into the opposite action. Do this, don’t do that will often inspire a journey directly the other way. Stubbornness can be both a hindrance or an asset and in this instance fight to prove someone wrong, whoever it is saying you can’t!
Honesty is the best policy, always. Being able to take a look at yourself in the mirror, metaphorically and physically, and be honest with what you see and feel is an essential life skill. Surrounding yourself with others who are objective and honest will also enable your success.
What habits and triggers are negatives for you? Do you have any dislikes that create barriers for achievement? Once you have acknowledged these, ask yourself are these rational perspectives, or could you adjust your mindset to free up some opportunities?
What do you need to achieve success? I don’t mean a long list of material items, that may not be affordable or achievable. If it is time, or childcare, can you ask someone to help? If it is a trigger or a bad habit, lean on someone. Your health is your priority and if others rely on you, it’s still your top priority!
What does success feel like to you?
“Reach for the stars, and you may catch them at a treetop”, as my late father used to say. I’ve always set myself the highest goals, and to be honest, hardly ever achieved them. This form of goal setting may result in achieving a very high level of success, if falling slightly short of your ultimate goal but it’s also fine to have an ideal to aim for where success may be more readily achieved if you lower your bar slightly, regularly achieve smaller successes and head towards your ultimate objectives.
“I want to be this size, this level of fitness, run this marathon, feel 20 years younger in several weeks’ time”. I hear these sorts of goals all the time, and unless you can train every day and manage your lifestyle in a 100%, guaranteed way, your plan is going to fall short. At this point, metaphorically, my eyebrows raised and my eyes starting to roll to the back of my head, sorry to be a killjoy folks, but it’s unlikely to work out the way you planned it, because your plan isn’t realistic.
Dealing with setbacks
Embracing failure is not a concept that we readily apply to our life experiences. It’s not something we are taught to value but failure is the most valuable experience in life. We learn all of our best life lessons from failure, not from successes or what we have been taught, especially in a physical and emotional sense.
It’s easier said than done, but the next time you fail, acknowledge it openly to yourself unapologetically, and be that little bit more determined to reshape how you can achieve moving forward.
I failed today… what am I going to do about it?
Trouble needs company
We all have friends or family who can sometimes drag us back, and some who uplift, and those who are super persuasive, especially when it comes to something that you know isn’t going to do you any good.
You can deal with a negative influence by pushing that influence away, however very often that is wholly impractical, but you can use the negative as positive motivation and a way to prove a point, both to your detractor and to yourself. You’ll soon find out if that person really cares about you or not, and if they do, you may well have inspired them in turn on their own journey.
Mentor or motivation partner
We all need help and it’s mature to acknowledge that. Help may come in the form of a professional (physio or PT), a buddy or someone you don’t know with a similar goal. Finding someone who suits your personality is easier than you may think. You want that person to inspire you and inspiration can come in the form of someone very direct and focused or someone calmer and easy-going. This decision comes down to your personality, the goals you have set and the time in your life.
Balance in your life
A misconception of embarking on something new and disciplined is that it is somehow going to render you obsessed and as a result, boring. As a rule, obsession is not a good thing in anyone’s life, balance is.
Whatever your goal or where you want to go, balance in your life is an absolute, non-negotiable. A healthy pursuit will bring balance to your force.
Have fun, love the skin you’re in, maybe lower your sights slightly, but don’t be afraid to fail, help is always nearby, go for it and you won’t be disappointed in the long run.
The author is a former UK Decathlon champion, and co-owner of ESPH, who struggles with motivation, success and failure the same as you..