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Four Ways to Get Out of Your Own Way

Having trouble achieving the goals you've set? Feel like you just aren't making the progress you would like to see? Here are four ways to get out of your own way and start moving.

We all have things we want and tough decisions that we have to make. You want to take a trip to Thailand (goal), so you make a choice to forego your morning Starbucks (plan of action) and bank the RMB for Bangkok (desired outcome). Identifying and working toward goals is not always as straightforward. Often, we are the ones standing in our own way.  

Identify what you want

At the most basic level, what do you want? You are more likely to achieve your goals is you are specific about what you want and how you plan to achieve it.  

Unpack the loaded words that you use to state your goals. Rather than, “I want to have a routine that starts my day with a sense of calm,” ask yourself “what kind of routine do I want?” and “what will a sense of calm look and feel like?” or “I will know my routine is calm because…” The more specific you are about what you are aiming for, the closer you can get to your target.  

Develop discrepancy

If you’re lacking the motivation to get started, consider what value achieving your goal would bring to you. When you consider where you are now versus where you will be when you’ve reached your goal, what is the difference?  

Currently, you can communicate with your ayi, your morning baozi lady and if you’re lucky, the taxi driver. If you practiced Mandarin 20 minutes a day, you would be able to do what, instead? What, specifically, about being there is desirable versus being where you are now?  

One little thing

Progress isn’t always about massive change; it’s often about little changes that add up to big things. Consider the following three questions as they relate to creating an action plan to reach your goal:

What are you doing, that if you did more of it, would move you toward your goal?

What are you doing, that if you did less of it (or stopped doing it altogether) would move you toward your goal?

What are you not doing, that if you started doing it, would move you toward goal?

If you drink less during the week, you would be able to get up earlier to work out. If you worked outmore in the morning, you would make progress toward your goal of running a 10K. If you startedto eat a healthy lunch, while working out more and drinking less, you’d likely lose weight, making running easier.

6 month perspective

Imagine it is six months from now and you have committed to making the small changes you identified. What has happened? Consider, specifically, how your life is different if you’ve made these changes. Now, imagine that it is six months from now and you’ve taken no action. What are the consequences?  

As you visualize these two outcomes, consider how you would feel in six months in both scenarios. If the way you feel by taking action improves your quality of life, then think about what you can do to take those first steps and get going. If you realize that you aren’t ready to make those changes, consider what would make taking action more valuable and evaluate how important that goal really is in your life.