Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why You Give Up On Your Goals

What are your January plans?Image by lululemon athletica via FlickrBy Monica M Regan

There is a tremendous amount of information out there on goals, and how to achieve them. Do a little research and you will find hundreds of books, articles and websites dedicated to goal achievement. Most of the information available to you will work if you apply it. Commitment, discipline and perseverance will take you where you need to go when it comes to goal achievement. So why do so many people give up on their goals?

The information on how is out there but something happens in between having the information, and applying it consistently to achieve what we want.

No matter how new or experienced you are to the world of formalized goal setting, you will find yourself dropping your goals over and over again until you understand one very important and powerful thing. It does not matter if your goal is to earn more money, weight loss, to advance your career, to become more physically fit, to learn to play an instrument, to study and apply information from a course, to start a new relationship or to give up a bad habit, if you do not understand this one key factor, you will not succeed in your goal.

You may have found yourself excited and on your way to your new life with Goal X, all set up and ready to go. You may have been using your will power to take the steps you need to take to get to Goal X and this may have been going well for a day, a week or maybe even more. Then out of nowhere a temptation arises. It may be just a simple thought, a craving, a behavior that will sabotage your efforts in achieving your goal.

That temptation is like a little snowball at the top of a hill that builds power and force as it rolls down the hill and suddenly you feel the temptation has not only taken over but nothing will get in its way and you find yourself standing in front of the refrigerator, ice cream in one hand, spoon in the other, and chocolate all around your mouth or (insert your choice of sabotaging behaviors here).

We find ourselves in these kind of situations over and over again because we have we have associated ineffective behaviors together with feelings of comfort and/or love. That is there are neural pathways in your brain that are deeply entrenched in keeping you going to your ineffective behaviors when you feel discomfort.

When you are stretching yourself and taking risks in order to achieve your goal, you often have take risks.  This can cause fear and anxiety. These feelings are uncomfortable and you have associated comfort and love with something that soothes you (alcohol, shopping, food etc).- so that powerful urge, that snowball at the top of the hill that starts rolling is not your lack of discipline, it is a hard-wired brain pattern that sends strong signals to soothe yourself (eat! watch tv! shop! etc!).

That powerful urge kicks in, in part, due to the fact that you have this new goal! You have stepped out of your comfort zone in order to achieve your goal and discomfort arises (fear, anxiety etc) so your brain sends a strong signal to comfort yourself and you feel an urge to do something that sabotages your goal. Until we put change into place, we will repeat the same behaviors again and again, regardless of how much willpower we think we have.

But not all is lost. Change is possible. In order to change, you must become aware of these patterns of behavior. You also must be willing to tolerate discomfort. You must be willing to feel the anxiety and the fear and to really effect change, you must be willing to find out what is underneath those feelings. Then you must begin to create new associations. There is no simple and quick solution to changing your behavior patterns. If you want transformation, you must do the work.

Remember these keys:

Awareness - bring to your consciousness what you are really feeling when the urge to comfort yourself and sabotage your efforts to achieve your goals.

Discomfort - notice your resistance to feeling uncomfortable and then check out what it actually feels like to not soothe yourself but rather work through the fear or anxiety.

Go Underneath - allow yourself to explore what is underneath your fear or anxiety - it comes from somewhere. What beliefs do you have that cause the fear and the feelings of anxiousness?

Create New Associations - affirm to yourself a new belief that is in direct and positive opposition to the negative beliefs that bring up fear and anxiety. Say them to yourself repeatedly and you will create a new neural pathway. The old one is never going to go away but when you create new pathways, you have a choice which one to respond to!

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Monica Regan is a Consultant, Coach, Teacher and Author of "The DREAM Power Goal System: 5 Simple Steps to Achieve Any Goal Guaranteed!" Monica works with people to create and achieve effective goals and through 1 on 1 sessions and groups. For more information or to purchase her book, go to:

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