Written by: Theresa Agostinelli, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
All of us start out with high expectations when we set goals, but why do we so often fail to reach our goals?
Research shows that many people have goals they want to achieve in life, in relationships, finances and business as well as health and wellness. Unfortunately, 1 out of 3 people interviewed shared that they never really reach their goals. There are many kinds of goals that people try to set. Goals for optimum health, mental wellness, great relationships, financial freedom and more. They can also include business or career goals.
As someone who has been in the field of human behavior and helping others reach their potential, I have seen that in many of those people I have coached or counseled in almost 20 years that the one ingredient for success we all agreed upon is the planning and executing of goals. Studies in the behavioral sciences revealed that there is a disconnect in our setting the goals and then focusing on the goals when trying to carry out the goals. We all know that success means different things to different people. However, all the successful people that I have had the pleasure of interviewing and meeting over the last several years have been in complete and unanimous agreement on one point. Goal Setting!
According to some studies, most people focus on the reward of the goals and less on the effort needed to achieve those goals. In other words, focus on the rewards of said goals excited the goal setters but lacking the focus and the motivation to keep up the efforts caused them to abandon their goals in only a few short months. When we make choices about what effort to put in, we are motivated by the rewards we expect to get back. But at the point at which we must keep up the effort, we tend to focus on the level of effort we have to actually put in rather than the rewards we hoped we would get in the first place.
In my work as a business development coach, as well as a licensed clinical psychotherapist, I have found that human beings are survivors. We want to achieve goals for success and yet we often fail. The question is Why? Over the years neuroscience and behavioral science studies have shown that the disconnect between our understanding of the reward of the goals and the effort factor does influence behavior. Our brains are reward-driven organs supercharged by neurotransmitters that fuel our drives and desires, especially the feel-good chemical in our brain called dopamine. In other words, our brain likes to focus on things that feel good and avoid pain and discomfort.
When you prepare to set goals, you should focus on a few things to get the job done.
First: Remember not to take everything on yourself. Find a coach, a counselor, a mentor.
Second: Pick goals that make sense and are aligned with your core values.
There is probably more information available today on goals than at any other time in recorded history and it seems there are only three or four people out of 100 who properly select and achieve goals. I want to stress here that there is a tremendous power within us that we have in our brain which is continually at work. It will either prevent you from achieving your goals or it will help you achieve them. It’s called your MINDSET. Studies have proven that 97 times out of 100 most people are subconsciously unaware of the power within the human mind to achieve anything we desire. It’s called limiting beliefs. I call it LBS: Limited Belief Syndrome. You might recall that LBS is also associated with weight and pounds. It comes from the Latin word “libra” meaning a pound by weight. Think about your life right now. How much extra mental, emotional, relational, physical, finacial weight are you carrying by not reaching your potential? Limited Belief Syndrome keeps about 95% of the population from reaching their potential. Limiting beliefs can cause a person to focus on past failures and weaknesses and sadly when they continue thinking with limited beliefs, they give up on themselves. Yet there is a force that surrounds you. It is in every cell of your entire being. It’s called resilience. It is that inner source, that inner reserve within you that never runs out of resources. The purpose of this article is to assist you in developing all of the good things that you desire in life by setting, reaching and maintaining your goals for success.
You might be thinking that this is all made up in my mind. Perhaps you might be thinking that I have no idea what I am talking about. However, I must tell you that I do know why goal setting is so important for success in any area of life. You see, when I was 19 years old, I was married and had a baby. By the time I was 26 years old my husband died suddenly. I was devastated. I found myself a widow, a single mother and I had no job, few resources and limited education. So I understand the struggle to set goals and achieve them. But the one thing that is important for you to know is that we are all able to do and become all that we can ask for or imagine. It is equally to important to have mentors around you. You can never have enough positive influence in your life.
This article is meant to encourage you to think of that one big goal. That one main objective. If you can see in it your mind you can achieve it with your hands.
I once read this quote from Dr. Magda Osman, a Psychology Professor at Queen Mary
University, “Getting up early to exercise for a new healthy lifestyle might seem like a good choice, but once your alarm goes off on a cold January morning, the rewards aren’t enough to get you up and out of bed”. In other words, we stay focused on the effort, and the more we stay focused on the effort and the discipline part of the goal, the more likely we are to fail.
In my interviewing successful landowners, many of them have told me that “an empty lot is just an empty lot, but in your mind, you can see a supermarket, a house, a office building and then you can achieve it by preparing the correct blue prints”.
Keep in mind the purpose of this article. It is learning how to set and achieve goals and change your blueprint for life. You can either move forward with your goals or stay stagnant and never reach your full potential. I remember a time when I was so terrified of not moving forward in my life that I made myself reach out for help. I learned so much by finding the right people to coach me and mentor me in developing and achieving my goals for success.
Here are 4 tips to help you achieve your goals
1. Keep your focus on the objective
Most people tend to focus on the obstacles. Keep reminding yourself about how great you will look for feel when you have achieved that one goal. Tell yourself things like “I can’t wait until I start my new career” or “I am going to look so good once I reach my health goal”. It’s easy to start out full of energy and motivation at the beginning of your goal but you must continually remind yourself about the objective and the end result. The key is to redirect your focus back to the reward as often as it takes to push through.
2. Make sure your goal is clear
Perhaps you want to start a business, move to a new town, or start dating after a bitter divorce. Well, that’s great, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but how do you plan to make any of this happen? Without a clear definition of your goals, they will ultimately get pushed behind all the other things on your plate and you will never clearly define the goal or the objective. If you are not clear on your goals, you’ll end up becoming frustrated due to a lack of progress or lack the enthusiasm to stay motivated.
3. Give yourself a time frame
Maybe you want to lose 20 pounds. It is important to pick a beginning date and an ending date. A time frame holds you accountable. If you have a coach or a mentor, you will want to share your time frame with them. A time frame puts pressure on you to get up and get to work! It also helps you clearly define how you will set your goal and reach it and it also psychologically helps you to stay focused. The human brain likes order and routine. So, start today and get an end date.
4. Stop making excuses
Abraham Lincoln reportedly once said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” It’s easy to tell yourself that you have so many other things you need to do first or seeing that first or second obstacle as a “deal breaker”. We are often prone to want to start our goals “tomorrow”. Too many excuses will cause you to put your goals on hold, and tomorrow will never come.
In conclusion, understand that you have a limited amount of time and that you can’t do everything. Realize that by not finishing, you might be missing out on opportunities that will open when you reach your goals. Keep in mind that thinking up a goal is the easy part. Finding the specifics of a goal, developing a plan, and following through on your goal is so important. Commit yourself to pushing past any obstacles and keep your focus on your goal and its objective.
Theresa Agostinelli, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Professor Theresa Agostinelli is a licensed psychotherapist as well as a certified personal and professional coach. A widow and single mom at age 26, she found herself with few resources, no job and not many skills. She dramatically changed her life and rose from widow to successful business owner, entrepreneur and author. She has dedicated her life to helping others by teaching them how to maximize their mental and emotional well-being. Theresa is the author of the prolific book, The GRID System which speaks to unlocking your potential and living your best life. Her mission is helping people create more of what is good in life.