3 barriers to achievement, and what you can do about them today
We’re all a lot more capable than we often give ourselves credit for. Every day, I work with people who want help to achieve their goals, both personally and professionally. Some of them want to take their business to the next stage of growth; others come to me because they’re essentially ‘stuck’ in their current ‘status quo’, and aren’t sure what to do next. From my experience of providing coaching and business advisory, I’ve identified three key problems that are holding us all back; and the simple actions you can take today to help get yourself ‘unstuck’, and move yourself forward to achieving your goals.
PROBLEM #1: AMBIGUITY. It’s much harder to know how to articulate what you want to achieve than it is to talk about what you don’t want. Consequently, people spend more time talking about what they don’t want (the negative), than what they do want (the positive); which further confirms the negative state in which they can (easily) continue to exist.
PROBLEM #2: TIME. Not lack of time, but how you spend your time. Generally, I find that people have not aligned their time with their goals, even though they think they have. Often, when they are made aware of this misalignment, they realise that some simple adjustments to their time management can help them achieve real progress towards their goals. I plant this question in a coachee’s mind; “Is what you’re doing right now, helping you to progress your goals?” If the answer is ‘no’, then read on!
PROBLEM #3: MOTIVATION. It’s not that you aren’t motivated, it’s that you’re so motivated, you can’t see past your excitement and desire to get to the end point. Many people have all the motivation and ideas in the world, but they become overwhelmed at the first task, and find themselves not knowing where to start.
Here are 3 simple ways to help you get ‘unstuck’, and move forward.
SOLUTION #1: ARTICULATE WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE
I bet you can easily tell me what you don’t want. You can even talk about what you don’t want for hours at a time (we call this ‘letting off steam’), but I bet you can’t easily tell me what you do want, not in a succinct, measurable, realistic and actionable manner anyway. Not many people can. In short, you’re lacking clarity of your authentic goals and what it is you want to do about the thing that gets you revv’d up and makes you feel extremely motivated. So, how can you get rid of this ambiguity? Try this exercise.
- Switch off all electronic devices and sit down at a clean desk with no distraction, two sheets of blank paper, and a pen (you must use a pen, not a keyboard!).
- Now write. Just write down everything that’s on your mind. Everything that’s driving you crazy, keeping you awake at night, bothering you, worrying you, annoying you, draining you. Write down everything that you don’t want anymore. Ignore spelling and grammar mistakes, and don’t allow yourself to stop.
- Keep writing until you have filled at least 3 sides of the paper. If you can easily fill the 3 sides, then write a 4th.
- Now, take a 5 minute break – make a coffee, walk around the block, whatever you need to do to clear your mind from what you’ve just written.
- Come back to your desk and take a blank sheet of paper. Now, write down what you DO want. You will find yourself much more able to write it down now that you have cleared your mind of all the clutter that’s been bothering you. The exercise you’ve undertaken has enabled you to open up the part of your brain that creates ideas and certainty.
- Now share it with the people around you. Be bold! Be confident about what you want out of life! Why not take a leap of faith and share it in the comments below?
SOLUTION #2: RE-DISTRIBUTE & ASSIGN YOUR TIME
Now you’re clear on what you want, you’ll need to assign some time to making it happen. When was the last time you stopped to assess how you are spending your time right now? You might be surprised just how many people don’t plan their time out, meaning they never get the day-to-day things ‘finished’, and constantly find themselves complaining that that they don’t have time to achieve their bigger picture, long-term goals. They end in a status quo of; “I’ll work on that next month”, or “I’ll get to it at the weekend”. Of course, the weekend and next month come and go, and still no time has been assigned or spent on their goals. So, even if you don’t suffer from ambiguity of your goals, you still won’t get very far if you’re directing your attention elsewhere. When you direct your determination at what you do want, rather than at what you don’t want, magic happens! Try this system for assigning your time.
- Firstly, decide if you’re a ‘horizontal’ or a ‘vertical’ person! Horizontal people like to assign a little bit of time each day to multiple things they want to achieve. For example, an hour each day to work on creating content, 3hrs of client work, 1hr of business admin etc. Vertical people prefer to assign big blocks of time to focus on specific areas. For example, Tuesdays are for meetings etc., Fridays are ‘blue sky’ days. There are pros and cons for each, and I can spend some time on this in another article, if anyone is interested to hear more!
- Once you’ve decided, then develop a colour-coding system for your calendar and group into no more than 5 focus areas; or categories of what needs to be worked on to achieve your goals. For example:
- Long-term goals progress & planning
- Client work
- Business administration & finances
- ‘Me’ time
- Pipeline & Networking
- You can even assign a percentage split to each, in order to ensure you are spending ‘enough’ time in each area. If you want to get really smart about it, then get your Accountant to align it back to ‘the numbers’ too!
- Now assign your time. Not just the actual meetings, but every single hour of your life! Assign it, and then stick to it.
SOLUTION#3: STOP TRYING TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF
Everyone knows that motivation is one of the keys to achievement. If we’re not spurred on to get something done, we simply won’t. But the problem comes when we try to motivate ourselves. How many times have you woken up with a sudden rush of motivation to take action and turn a goal into a reality; only to find yourself very quickly overwhelmed at the thought of the time investment, or financial investment, or the complexities of the process. Suddenly it all just seems ‘too hard’, and then what happens? You don’t know where, or how, to start.
Not knowing where to start is largely due to the first problems outlined; but it’s also often due to the fact that people don’t commit to their goals, partly because they have already decided sub-consciously that they won’t be able to achieve them. That’s where the visious circle of overthinking begins, and often quickly ends the potential you had for achievement.
There are only ever three reasons people give for not (yet) achieving their goals (or tasks); lack of time, lack of money, or lack of some other kind of resource, usually related to overall self-confidence, or a lack thereof. Once we allow these ‘reasons’ to take hold of us, we often create a vicious circle where we tell ourselves; “I don’t have the time to work on this right now, and I can’t afford to get someone to help me with it”. Once the time becomes available, then the perceived lack of resource creeps in; “I’m too tired to work on this right now”, “I can’t start this until I’ve done another thing”, “I don’t know how to do this, maybe I can’t”. And on we go. Why don’t we give ourselves a break?! Try this for size.
- Firstly, be honest with yourself and identify the excuse you’re using for not achieving a specific goal. If it’s not a lack of time, or money, then it’s likely about a deep-rooted lack of self-confidence. Let’s just shut that down now, shall we? Because you can do it. You already have all the resources you need; I promise.
- Now, make an actual step-by-step written plan of how to achieve your goal.
- If you think you don’t know the steps, use the resources you have around you to discover the answers – Google it, ask a friend, quiz a colleague, pick the brains of your mentor, read the book of someone who has ‘been there and done that’; ask yourself; who has already achieved this, or something similar? What did they do to achieve the goal?
- Now share it with someone you trust who can help to motivate with an encouraging voice – someone who’ll be in your corner for the fight ahead. Often a mentor, coach or business advisor is the very person who can be your sounding board and your motivator all rolled into one. They will always have your back, especially during those times when you don’t even have your own!
In summary, get clear on what you want to achieve, actively make the time and priority for it, share the plan, and the burden with someone who believes in you.
Why are you still here? Go forth and achieve! Thanks for reading, let me know what you thought in the comments below.