Failing to Achieve Your Goals? This might be what’s getting in your way…

failing to achieve your goals

We all have things in life that we think we want. It might be a question of quitting our jobs to realise an old dream, launching a business, losing weight, meeting a partner. Some of these goals may have been around for years, we may have analysed them to death, we may be completely committed to them; we may even think we’ve done “everything” we can to achieve them – and yet something is stopping us from doing so.

We tell ourselves we’ll go to the gym but we just can’t get into the routine. We say we want to quit our jobs and yet we stay put. Time is ticking away and we’re no closer to achieving a particular goal, even though it’s really important to us.

When we find that we’re committed to a goal but still not achieving it, one of the things that might be stopping us is our underlying BELIEFS. We’re often not even aware of having these and yet there they are, busy sabotaging our best-laid plans. These beliefs have usually been formed during our upbringing, inherited from our parents, reinforced by teachers or by the media, or by the friends and colleagues with whom we spend our time.

Some examples, in different areas of our lives:

e.g. “I want to quit my job and start a business BUT…”
“I need the security of a full-time job and a steady income.”
“I should be grateful that I have a really good job in this economic climate.”
“I’m not good enough to start up on my own.”

e.g. “I want to meet someone BUT…”
“All the good ones are taken.”
“I need to lose weight first.”
“Most relationships are unhappy and I’m better off alone.”

e.g. “I want to do X / Y / Z BUT…”
“I don’t have the time.”
“I don’t have the money.”
“I don’t have the ability.”

And so on.

The fact is that we’re unable to achieve our goal because we’re more committed to these contradictory beliefs than we are to the goal. It can be incredibly frustrating and disempowering to go through life wanting things that we just aren’t achieving – I talked for years about leaving my job without actually acting on it, and over time this wore me down. Once we’re aware of having these contradictory beliefs, however, we can decide whether or not we want to keep them; and this can free us to do those things we’ve always dreamed of.

It’s not quite as easy as the famous law of attraction, “The Secret”, i.e. that all you have to do is believe that you’ll get money / love / work and you’ll get it; overturning your disempowering beliefs requires a bit more work on your part! Let’s go back to that first example:I want to quit my job and start a business BUT…” We can write down all the beliefs that we have around this topic, and then ask ourselves: why do we believe this? what is the evidence? what might be a more empowering belief? what is the evidence for this?

So, for example:

Old belief:
“I need the security of a full-time job and a steady income.”

New beliefs:
“I can actually earn more money running a successful business that uses my skills and talents than I do working for an employer in a job where my heart isn’t in it.”
“If I save money while in my current job, I’ll have a buffer in case the business doesn’t work right away.”
“I value creativity and fulfilment much higher than I do security, so I’m willing to take the risk.”

Old belief:
“I should be grateful that I have a really good job in this economic climate.”

New beliefs:
“I am not ungrateful simply for wanting to leave my job to pursue my passion.”
“No one benefits from me staying in a job where I’m unhappy.”
“I deserve to have a job that uses my skills and talents and that I’m passionate about.”

Old belief:
“I’m not good enough to start up on my own.”

New beliefs:
“Lots of people start up on their own; I’m no less talented and capable than they are.”
“I have a lot of skills I’ve learned in my current job that I can apply to my new business, like problem solving, negotiation skills and effective communication.”
“It may be difficult at the beginning but I’ll work hard and I’ll learn.”

It can be pretty scary to challenge a fundamental belief that we’ve held for as long as we can remember; it can shake the very foundation on which our lives have been built. When we make the choice to change a belief, however, the effect can be immediate. Changing our beliefs changes our behaviour, and action is what leads to achieving our goals.

Of course, we can also choose not to change our beliefs; we can decide that these underlying beliefs are more important than a particular goal. This is equally liberating, as we let go of the goal and move on to focus on something more important to us.

So what about you? Do you have goals that you’ve had in mind for years but for some reason haven’t managed to achieve? Can you think of the underlying beliefs that might be stopping you? Have a go at the exercise and see if you can’t change those beliefs into some more empowering ones, and so change the outcome.

Good luck!


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