The 5 Obstacles Standing Between You & What You Want

Here’s a secret most coaches and therapists won’t admit: We know within the first 10 minutes of meeting you whether you’ll achieve your goals. What?! How's that possible?!

While I can’t see the future, I do see the same 5 challenges hold people back from achieving their full potential. Not surprisingly, there are 5 traits that propel people forward. Coincidence? I think not.

Whether in our personal or professional lives, we've all been guilty of self-sabotage (myself included!) Thankfully, you can spot and stop the obstacles getting in your way, replacing them with behaviors that serve you instead:

Obstacle #1: You don’t accept responsibility for EVERYTHING.

Whether it's other people, the past, or the outcome of the presidential election, there are many things we can't control. There are times when life simply sucks. And when that happens, those who bounce back focus on opportunity instead of blame. They don’t wait for an answer or apology because they know that solving any situation requires owning it in its entirely. Bluntly put, if you feel shitty, it’s YOUR problem, not theirs. The good news is that the fix is also up to you. Whether it’s stating your truth, leaving, getting help, or anything else, you’re in charge of how you feel. This is by far the most challenging obstacle on the list. But once you’ve mastered it, it’ll lead to the biggest results. 

Shift It: Accept that no matter your situation, change is up to you.

Obstacle #2: Your thoughts and actions bring you down.

For any outcome, there’s a specific way of thinking and acting that will get you what you want. Your current situation is the result of your current actions and beliefs. To create a new outcome, you need to identify the thoughts and actions of those who have what you want and then adopt them. For someone who's in debt, she might ask herself "what do financially savvy people do?" As challenging as it might be, she might start tracking her expenses, going to Debtor's Anonymous meetings, etc.  It might feel foreign at first, but soon these new actions will create new thought patterns (and lead to new results!) Over time, you’ll transform your beliefs into ones that serve you and release the ones that previously held you back.

Shift It: As they say, “fake it til you make it.”

Obstacle #3: You want the new without giving up the old.

There’s always a price to pay to achieve what you want. New results come from new actions. If you want to run a marathon, but you don’t want to get off the couch, don’t be surprised when things don’t go as planned. This doesn’t mean change has to be filled with pain, the truly successful view paying the price as a positive instead of a negative. They focus on the joy of what they’re doing, rather than the pain of what they’re giving up.

Shift It: To view new steps more positively, focus on the pleasure of achieving your goal rather than the pain of change. Simply put, look at what you’re adding instead of what you’re giving up. 

Obstacle #4: You imagine the worst-case scenario…and unknowingly create it.

Whether or not you believe in manifesting, vision boards, or the law of attraction, one thing is always true: What you think is what you see. For example, I have a good friend who wants to be in a loving relationship. But, since she’s convinced that “all the good ones are taken,” she doesn’t put herself out there. She won’t go on a dating site and thinks that any guy who comes up to her must be “a loser.” Not surprisingly, her fear of being alone forever ensures that she will be.

Shift It: Focus on what you want, not what you want to avoid. This subtle difference creates massive change.

Obstacle #5: You buy your own bullshit.

Harsh, but true. “Reasons” are just excuses that we’ve bought into. When people tell me they “don’t have enough time” to meditate/exercise/respond to emails, I often wonder how they still have time to stalk their ex on Facebook. If you truly want to achieve your goal, you’ll trade your rationalizing for resourcefulness.

Shift It: Prioritize your goal by creating more time and questioning why you haven’t achieved it thus far.

The Takeaway:

Don’t blame your friends, finances, or fiancé- You are your biggest obstacle. And that's a good thing! Because changing your mindset is within your control. Remember, you have everything you need to succeed, you simply need to get out of your own way.

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5 Steps To Turn Your Resolution Into Reality

Today, we’re getting down to business.

Fair warning: If you want me to validate that you can keep doing the same thing and that 2017 will magically bring you new results due to some cosmic alignment finally working out in your favor, this is not the post for you.

If, however, you really want to make a change and are willing to risk trying something new, then I urge you to read on.

But first, if you haven’t checked out Part 1 of this 2 Part Series on New Year’s Resolutions, I highly recommend you stop and read “How To Reflect & Select Your New Year’s Resolution.” Not only because Part 1 comes before Part 2 (duh!), but also because the warm, fuzzy, spiritual, half of me wrote that post and she is notably absent from this post. Why?

Because today, we’re turning all your introspective work from last week into an actionable, tangible, goal for 2017 that you can (and will!) achieve. I tested out this exact methodology on myself and of the 10 outcomes I wanted to achieve in 2016, I accomplished 9. Not too shabby! So, let’s jump in:

Ever wonder why most New Year’s resolutions fall apart in the first 3 weeks? No, it’s not your willpower or because “life got in the way,” it’s because a vague goal leads to vague actions which leads to…you guessed it: vague results! We avoid setting real goals and instead make resolutions like, “I want to get healthy” so we don't have to be held accountable to what we truly want. Sounds harsh, but it's true. And trust me, I get how terrifying it is! An undefined intention means we don’t have to feel like a failure when it doesn’t happen. And while it keeps us safe, it also keeps us stuck.

If you’ve typically set resolutions that are dreams and not goals, you’re not alone. I see this with my clients all the time. A busy mom recently told me her goal is "to create more work-life balance.” And while that sounds great, it isn’t clear what actions she'll take or how she’ll even know when she achieves it. You may have heard of SMART goals before (the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound), but chances are that if you’re creating resolutions or setting goals, they aren’t hitting each point.

Here’s how to define your goal and make it happen:

(BTW, I’ve included a worksheet you can use to implement the steps I outline below. Bonus: It includes my go-to strategy to maintain motivation when the couch calls my name. Download it here.)

1. Select the Specific thing you want to achieve.

Your goal should clearly define what you’re going to do. It should outline what you’ll achieve and how you'll get there. Be sure to include the exact steps you’ll take.

Example. Instead of “I want more work-life balance,” try “I will take daily action to create more balance by prioritizing self-care in the form of: Meditating for 10 min each day, action #2, action #3, etc.”

2. Make it Measurable.

Here’s where most people get tripped up. Not only does your overall goal need to be quantified, but so does each action step. This will help you to take feasible steps, maintain motivation, build momentum, and tell you exactly how much progress you’ve made toward your goal. 

To make actions measurable, be precise:

Example. Instead of saying “I’ll leave work at work,” try “On weekdays, I won’t check my email past 8 pm. On weekends, I will only check it once per day.”

To make your overall goal measurable, define your starting point:

Measure how many actions you currently take toward your goal and compare it to the number of actions at the end of your goal. Or, rate your ability/level of success on a scale of 1-10 now and at the end of your goal.

Example. If you exercise once per week, instead of saying “I’ll work out more,” try “I will go to the gym 3 times per week for 45-60 minutes.”

3. You only Attain what you act on.

An attainable goal is not dependent on others, your circumstances, or winning the lottery. In our work-life balance example, a poor indicator of success would be the amount of work assigned to you. While that relates to your goal, you can’t control what your boss tells you to do. You can, however, change how you respond.

Example. “When I’m assigned a new task at work, I will communicate with my boss about due dates, project priorities, what’s currently on my plate, and what can be delegated.”

Goals should be achievable. They should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but still be within your grasp. A common mistake I see clients make is trying to break goals into smaller pieces in an effort to make them more attainable. This is a slippery slope. For example, while saying you want to lose 5 lbs in 1 month is more realistic than losing 10 lbs., you can’t control your metabolism. Instead, focus on the action steps that promote you achieving your goal.

Example. “I will take daily action to increase my self-care by drinking 8 glasses of water each day, action #2, action #3, etc.”

The goal is not about the outcome, it’s about your ability to take consistent action toward that outcome.

4. Relevant, not random.

EVERY action step needs to be directly related to your goal. Don’t throw random “nice-to-haves” in there. For example, I had a client whose goal was centered around finding a new job. In her inspired and motivated goal-setting state, she wanted to add an action step of 20 minutes of yoga per day. While some may argue that yoga is great for everything, it’s not directly related and, thus, doesn’t belong in her goal. When selecting relevant action steps, ask yourself, “does this action directly impact my ability to achieve this goal?” If it doesn’t get you closer to your goal, don’t include it.

5. Time-Bound = Success-Bound.

It doesn’t matter whether you love or hate due dates, your goal still needs one. Pick a date that’s far enough that you’ll see results, but close enough that you can maintain motivation to achieve it. Linking your goal to a timeframe creates a practical sense of urgency and creates a healthy discomfort between where you are and where you’d like to be. My advice? Choose a date that’s 1, 2, or 3 months from now. It’s long enough that you can see a change, short enough to be relevant, and will allow you to fine-tune your actions should you continue for the rest of the year.

The Takeaway:

Use these steps (and bonus worksheet) to ensure you get results. Or, you can have the same new year’s resolution next year. The choice is yours.

Here’s to a bigger, better, and brighter 2017!

To learn more about virtual coaching or one-on-one support with your goal, click here.

How To Reflect & Select a Meaningful New Year’s Resolution

With the New Year right around the corner, this is generally the time when people take stock of where they are, make the same resolution they made last year, and swear that this time things will be different. Sound familiar? 

"This is the year when I'll finally:

  • Get in shape/a raise/a husband
  • Give up smoking/gluten/FB stalking my ex
  • Gain more money/more followers/more success"

And while all those are desirable changes, they aren’t going to happen.

No, it’s not because there’s something wrong with you, your wishes, or your willpower.
It’s because it’s an amorphous dream and not a tangible plan. And while I'd love to jump to the part where I give you a strategy to achieve your goals (it's coming), it’s important to get clear on what you truly want.

Today, I’m sharing Part I. of the 2 step system I use with clients to help them choose and achieve a meaningful New Year’s Resolution.

But before we begin, I’ve got a disclaimer: While I’m one of those no-nonsense coaches who likes actionable plans, I'm also a spiritual, contemplative, “ask the Universe for the answer” type of gal. While these 2 parts are seemingly contradictory, I believe that action for action’s sake will only result in a long, un-scenic, detour. At the same time, I believe hippy intentions that aren’t grounded by a plan will leave you setting the same resolution next year. So, in an effort to honor both the intuitive and the achiever that exists in all of us, you first need to get super clear on which change will give you the most ‘bang for our buck.’ In other words, you need a goal that’s aligned with who you are and where you want to be.

And that’s why today is all about: How To Reflect & Select Your New Year’s Resolution

Get Honest. Get Focused.

Since most of us choose a resolution or goal based on what we’re trying to avoid (job loss, being single, poor health), we tend to focus on and attract more of what we don’t want. (For more on that see links to the right --->) 

Choosing a meaningful goal that addresses all of you requires that you take an honest look at ALL the parts of you and your life. And chances are, not everything in your life is crappy or broken. Some parts are likely going well. You simply don’t notice or value it because it isn’t causing you pain.

While it may seem counterproductive, the first step in choosing a New Year’s resolution is to look at what’s working. That’s because the answer to your problem might not be creating a new habit from scratch, it might be doing more of what you do well and translating it to a new area of your life. For example, if you are able to accomplish work tasks and maintain motivation in your career, but can’t seem to make it to the gym, you may want to look at how you can apply your career skill set to your workouts. (More on that here.)  To reflect and select a meaningful resolution, 

Start by asking yourself what’s working:

  1. When I feel like my best self, what am I doing? Where am I? Who am I with?
  2. What parts of myself do I love?
  3. What brings me joy?
  4. What would I like to be known for (characteristics, accomplishments, etc.)?

Then, consider what’s not working by asking yourself:

  1. In what areas of my life am I not being true to myself?
  2. In what areas am I not expressing myself fully?
  3. In what areas do I feel one way, but act another?
  4. What parts of me would I like to cultivate more of?
  5. How can I cultivate more of those through my actions?

Take a few minutes and write the answers to these questions in order (don’t cheat!)

If you want new results, you need to take new actions. Sometimes, those actions involve slowing down and writing down answers to things you think you already know or can skip. (Yes, I’m talking to you!)

Stay tuned. Part II., “Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work (and what to do instead), will help turn this hippy, soul-searching, journaling into some actionable, take-no-prisoners, achievable goals.