It seems impossible. You set a goal, you come up with a plan, and you work toward it. But no matter how diligent you are, you never seem to make your goal. Assuming you’ve set a reasonable goal, what in the world could be going on!?The truth may be hard to believe, but you may be holding yourself back. The kind of holding yourself back I’m talking about is a mental barrier to success. I know I’ve been guilty of it in the past. How you ask?
When I was younger, I was always trying to get stronger. I wrote workout plans, worked out regularly, and kept track of my progress. But no matter how much I applied myself, I’d always hit a plateau. You could say that it was because I lacked the skill and knowledge to reach my goal.
But I suspect I was actually sabotaging myself. You see, I always told myself I wanted to get stronger, but I didn’t want to get bigger. I was constantly telling myself that I would only accept the goal I’d set for myself under very specific conditions. Conditions that possibly made my goal unreachable. It’s highly likely that to get any stronger than I was, I needed to add muscle mass. But I was constantly mentally telling my body not to add muscle mass.
I know this sounds esoteric, but if you can’t imagine something coming true, the odds of it coming true are almost nil. I’m willing to bet that you can’t play the piano with your toes. What’s interesting is that I’m also willing to bet that you can’t even picture playing the piano with your toes. That’s because your brain doesn’t have the wiring to make it happen and so thinks it’s impossible. Give it a try! I’m curious to hear how it works out! I can’t do it.
When you set a goal, you often don’t think about what will have to be sacrificed to achieve that goal. Often times the things that have to be sacrificed are things we’ve come to identify with and we’re hesitant to let go of them. It feels like losing part of yourself. Assessing this should be part of the goal setting process. Evaluating what will be required to meet the goal, that is. If the cost is more than you’re willing to pay, don’t set the goal or leave it till later.
It’s easy to notice when you’re fighting yourself on a goal. That little voice in your head will start saying, “but what if?” This is your mind trying to maintain the world that it’s comfortable with. The longer this has been your world and the more you identify with it, the harder your mind will fight to maintain it, even if it’s not in your best interest.
This doesn’t just apply to the good things in your life, though. It’s completely possible to identify with things that you want to change. If you’ve been telling people for years that you’re a light sleeper, your subconscious has grasped onto that and it will work to keep it a reality. Just like if you tell yourself everyday that you’re fat, your body will work to maintain that image. All your mind hears is “I’m fat” and so, to the mind, that’s the truth.
We fear, even if only subconsciously, losing those things we identify with. It can be a major hindrance to meeting our goals. We have to accept the path to our goals as they come and understand that some goals could have life altering effects. That’s all part of the goal.
But also understand, that these things we perceive as possibilities while pursuing a goal are only possibilities. They may come to pass or they may not. If you really, really want to meet a goal, then you should accept the things that must be gained or lost to meet that goal. I should have just accepted that when I got stronger, I may have also become bigger.
During my younger years when I was fighting getting bigger, I also told everyone that I didn’t gain weight easily, referring to muscle. At the time it was true, probably because I told people over and over again that it was true.
A few years ago, I decided again that I wanted to get stronger. This time I didn’t put any restrictions on myself. I just wanted to get stronger. I did get stronger. A lot stronger. But you know what else. I also get bigger. A lot bigger. Bigger than I have ever been before or after. And it happened a lot faster than I expected.
And the other thing I did to get stronger… I made it my only goal. I gave up everything else, extra activity wise, that wasn’t related to getting stronger. I made it a priority and accepted that it meant I had to lose some things, at least temporarily, to make my goal. I succeeded and moved on to a new goal.
And in case you think I’ve got it all figured out… all these post on goal setting help me look at my goals so I can realize when I’m being a jackass about ’em. I’ve got a few I’m being a jackass about…