Sunday, January 24, 2010

Resolutions to Results VII: Identifying Obstacles

Identify Your Obstacles

So now that you are armed with this fabulously detailed and due-dated plan, what’s going to cock it all up? What’s going to get in your way and keep you from achieving this goal? (If your answer is “nothing,” you’re not trying hard enough.)

So, really: what stands between you and achieving your goal? Questions to ask yourself to uncover your obstacles are these:

  • Why haven’t you achieved this in the past?

What other goals have you attempted and quit? Do you want to approach this one the same way? If not, what will it take from you to do things differently this time?

  • What are you afraid of?

There are lots of things to be afraid of, but change isn't necessarily one of them. Are you worried that you'll have to work more, sleep less, sweat more? Are you afraid you'll have to give up your security blanket -- whatever that means to you? Be honest with yourself about what scares you so you are better equipped to face that fear instead of waiting to be sideswiped by it. And nobody's judging you on what scares you. This is between you and you, so be real.

  • What will change in your life if you succeed at this goal?

This question addresses both the WIIFM (which we talked about earlier) and the OGTSC (the Oh God, That's Scary Crap*) that is likely to come up as you make change. Really look into your future and see the stuff you WANT to change -- what else is likely to change as a side-effect?

  • What can I do to prepare myself for this?

Only you really know the answer for this. I know that I am challenged by feeling lonely late at night, and one of the things I do to compensate is to eat. So if my goal is to lose weight, I know I'm going to have to make a plan to handle the feelings of loneliness so that I don't throw myself off target by eating late at night. To address this, I could challenge myself to read 50 pages every night (which would be hard to do while foraging for snacks in the kitchen) or make a plan to call a different friend each weeknight to catch up. Your preparation will be different, but you'll know what to do!

  • Who doesn’t want you to change?

What are some of the “silent agreements” you have with people – those unspoken social contracts we make and get stuck to like library paste (the not-tasty kind). Are you the obedient daughter? The athletic son? The quiet roommate? The responsible husband? If you think you have no silent contracts, go back and look at your Roles and Responsibilities exercise. Which job do you have that interacts with another person? And would that person be happy if you were to change some of the responsibilities you had in that job? (I'm just sayin'...)

Tips for Handling Obstacles!
"Every successful man I have heard of has done the best he could with conditions as he found them, and not waited until the next year for better." – Edgar Watson Howe, publisher

Keep Anticipating Obstacles. Today you’re predicting what you think will get in the way, but as you make new progress, unforeseen obstacles can crop up. As you see them, write them down. Often just being aware of what’s in your way can help you to find creative ways around it. Look at both external and internal obstacles. Who are the people in your way? What are the circumstances blocking you? Do you have the tools you need to get the job done? What are the limiting beliefs you have that keep you from achieving your goal? Writing down obstacles takes them out of your head and puts them on paper, where it’s easier to be more objective about them.

What are the payoffs? What do you get by not reaching your goal? If you succeed, will you have to give up the fuzzy coziness your comfort zone? Will you have to work harder than you do now? Will you have to give up the image you have of yourself as a victim, and, as a result, give up the attention and sympathy that others give you? It’s human nature to want to stay “safe,” especially if it’s comfortable and secure. Forgive yourself for having been willing to hold onto the obstacles, and then let them go. Embrace change and be courageous!

Identify the moment it goes awry. If you have been diligently working towards your goal and then “slip,” identify the moment your thoughts turned from striving to settling. What specific thoughts did you think that allowed you to eat the sweets, spend the money, skip the audition? Have patience and gentleness with yourself on this one – this process takes time and energy, and often requires making more mistakes than you’d prefer. The benefit is that every “mistake” is a learning opportunity. There is no failure – only a chance to learn more and grow more.

Use traditionally “creative” techniques to open up your mind. Drawing, painting, sculpting, singing, writing… they can all contribute to deepening the vision you have of your goal. You can also use them to overcome obstacles – draw the things that are in your way, the things that you are afraid of, the people who aren’t helping, and then rip them up!

* not exactly a technical term, but close.

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