Amity Institute Of Training & Development

What holds you back from achieving your goals? Read Time: 8 mins

We all know that goal setting is important because they build self-confidence and help you increase productivity. The beauty of knowing why something works make you more willing to embrace it and be more informed. Having a clear, compelling goal mobilizes your focus toward actionable behaviour. In other words, goal setting should motivate you. When you set a goal you naturally direct your attention toward the next step and, as a result, lead yourself in the right direction which forces your actions—your behaviours—to follow.

Whatever the mind believes, the body achieves. The body follows the mind. Goals sustain momentum. Seeing progress is addicting. No seriously, it is addicting because of the dopamine released in your brain after attaining a reward. Just as a snowball grows in size as it is rolled down a hill, momentum works the same way. Whatever you were doing you probably did not want to stop because you were what Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi called “Flow” which is the optimal state of mental performance.

But there are at times when we have a bizarre tendency giving up the goals that we desperately wanted to achieve. There is a sense of “freeze” or developing a cold foot before we think to achieve what we have decided for ourselves. We feel as if there is this sense of being chained and held back. Something that is making us captive and not letting us be there where we wanted to be. Let us explore together, what holds us back from achieving our goals.

#1: Fear of Success: Research first diagnosed the fear of success a couple of decades ago. Most scientists and psychologists agree that fear of success exists for both men and women. Fear of success is common, but many of us do not realize that we have it. Self-sabotaging activities – such as procrastination, negative self-talk, and fearing what the success will bring – may hold us back from achieving our goals.

Fear of success is similar to the fear of failure. They have many of the same symptoms, the biggest problem for many people is that their fear of success is largely unconscious. They just do not realize that they have been holding themselves back from doing something great.

If you experience the following thoughts or fears, you might have a fear of success on some level - You feel guilty about any success you have, no matter how small, because your friends, family, have not had the same success. You do not tell others about your accomplishments. You avoid or procrastinate on big projects, especially projects that could lead to recognition. You frequently compromise your own goals or agenda to avoid conflict in a group or even conflict within your family. Your self-sabotage your work or dreams by convincing yourself that you are not good enough to achieve them. You feel, subconsciously, that you do not deserve to enjoy success in your life. You believe that if you do achieve success, you will not be able to sustain it. Eventually, you will fail, and end up back in a worse place than where you started. So, you think, “Is it worth enough?”

How to overcome? The good news is that the more you face your fears, bring them to the surface, and analyse them rationally, the more you are likely to weaken those fears – and dramatically reduce your reluctance to achieve your goals.

Take a realistic look at what will happen if you succeed with your goal. Do not look at what you hope will happen, or what you fear will happen. Instead, look at what is likely to happen. It is important not to give a quick answer to this. Take at least 15 minutes to examine the issues and write down your answers to questions like these. How will my friends and family react if I accomplish this goal? How will my life change? What is the worst that could happen if I achieve this goal? What is the best that could happen? Why do I feel that I do not deserve to accomplish this goal? How motivated am I to work toward this goal? What am I currently doing to sabotage, or hurt, my efforts? How can I stop those self-sabotaging behaviours? Another useful technique is to address your fears directly, and then develop a backup plan that will overcome your concern.

# 2: Obstacle Thoughts: When you set a new goal, your mind automatically starts thinking about all the reasons why you cannot achieve that goal. This is normal. Your new goal likely involves doing something different and may take you out of your comfort zone. It might feel unfamiliar or scary, so your mind is doing its job of trying to protect you or maybe trick you. It is creating obstacle thoughts to stop you from leaving the safety of what it knows. Obstacle thoughts are the thoughts you are thinking now that is stopping you from producing the results that you want. Obstacle thoughts can sound like “I don’t know how to do it” or “I’ve never done this before”. They are the thoughts you are thinking about your new goal and if you choose to believe these thoughts, they will probably stop you from achieving your goal. They may also be holding you back from even starting to work towards your goal.

How to overcome? The good news is, once you are aware of your obstacle thoughts, instead of using them against yourself, you can choose to use them to create action steps or strategies to help you achieve your goals. The quick three steps can help you to manage your obstacle thoughts.

The first step in overcoming your obstacle thoughts is to write them down. Start by writing your smart goal at the top of your page, then list all the obstacle thoughts that pop into your head when you think about achieving that goal. Once you have your obstacle thoughts on paper, you can observe them objectively. You can start to see how they are optional or does not hold. The second step is to question your thoughts and come up with ideas to prove them wrong. The third step is to choose one of the new ideas from step two and put this action step into practice. Plan and put it in your diary. You have to keep taking the action step over and over again until it becomes a habit. Doing this provides your mind with the evidence that you do know what to do. This allows your mind to continue to look for more evidence to prove this new thought is true.

# 3 Too much of positive thinking: Dreaming of wonderful outcomes can feel great. Unfortunately, those feelings can stop us from doing the hard work necessary to make our goals a reality. If you want to change, you might want to confront your dreams with some hard, cold, even negative reality, studies show. “It’s so pleasant to believe that positive fantasies will work,” says Gabriele Oettingen, a professor of psychology at New York University and author of the author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation. “But it’s too good to be true.” Dreaming about a positive future “can entice you into thinking you are already there. Then you do not get the energy to go there. Instead, you just lean back and enjoy the moment.”

Psychological research shows that we should start making pragmatic plans to accomplish our goals instead of simply dancing in daydreams. This means comparing those rosy visions with our current reality, identifying the obstacles, and finding the best way to overcome them. Research shows that most people fail to effectively engage the strategy in their daily lives, meaning that our good intentions remain wishful thinking, and we never reach our goals.

How to overcome? Gabriele Oettingen introduced the concept of “mental contrasting” in the early 2000s. Oettingen (2014) described the entire process of Mental Contrasting in a few words. She said:

“Think of a wish. For a few minutes, imagine the wish coming true, letting your mind wander and drift where it will. Then shift gears. Spend a few more minutes, imagining the obstacles that stand in the way of realizing your wish.”

Learning how to mentally contrast effectively can improve our problem solving, motivation and self-control, all of which can bring huge benefits to our personal and professional lives. Mental Contrasting and Positive Thinking have some features in common, like self-awareness and acceptance, but the core idea of the two concepts differ substantially. Mental Contrasting is a visualization tool that takes us to where we want to be by reflecting on the pros and cons of the pathway. Mental Contrasting, therefore, is a more realistic and solution-focused thinking process where we prepare the mind to see both the good and bad and choose our actions accordingly.

Recent intervention studies show that mental contrasting can be easily taught and applied; it can be used by people of all ages and backgrounds to master their every-day life and fulfil their long-term goals. Mental contrasting is particularly effective in providing sustained behaviour change when combined with forming implementation intentions.

To be able to achieve your lifetime goals, it is important to set them effectively.

If you are looking for a goal-setting workshop to enhance your skills, our upcoming workshop is ideal for you.

Join us: Thursday, 30 Sep, 2021 | 04:00 PM IST


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By: Vaani Gandha

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