It is tempting to blame circumstances in our life on our inability to achieve what we want. And yet, most common reasons why people fail to achieve their goals are self-limiting beliefs, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, procrastination, lack of motivation, impatience, lack of conviction. None of these are external factors - in fact, our fate is in our hands and our ability to see that we are not limited by our thoughts, but have all it takes to preserve and get what we want.
No need to be limited by your thoughts
Let’s start with limiting beliefs we have about ourselves. How many times have you heard people say: “I’m too old to do this”, “I do not have enough experience”, “I haven’t done this before, so I’d rather not try in case I fail”? Probably quite a few. How many times have you expressed similar sentiments yourself? And yet, what proof do you have that you cannot do something because of your age, gender, social status, education, work experience? The answer is: “none".You may have thoughts about your limitations. But thoughts are thoughts - they do not represent physical reality, they do not know what you are capable of. Any judgement about your limitations is your judgement, not a reflection on reality.
There are numerous people who succeed in spite of their personal circumstances - octogenarians who achieve university degrees, Paralympians who perform better than their Olympic counterparts, billionaires who amass a fortune in spite of the lack of formal education.
Be sure to know where you are going
To paraphrase Lewis Carroll, if you do not know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?
Sometimes people say that they want to have a better life, be more successful, happier and fulfilled and they expect their life to head in this direction and are disappointed when it doesn’t. In fact, this can only lead to a lifetime of disappointment as any setback can be perceived as a failure to achieve the overall aim of having a better life.
If you know what you aim for, it is easier to take actions towards achieving your goal. For example, if you are not happy in your job, what is it about your job you would like to change? What would you like to happen? There are various options, e.g. make your current job better, look for other jobs, acquire new qualifications and change your career path. Once you know what it is you want, you can take steps towards it. So if it is a new job you want, you can start looking at job adverts, sign up with recruitment agencies, update your CV and LinkedIn profile and so on and so forth. Simply saying, “I don’t like my job” is not going to change anything - if you know where you are going, your actions will take you there!
Don’t give up
Giving up at the first hurdle is the easiest way of not achieving your goals. And yet, success is all about showing up, taking action and perseverance. When you treat failure to achieve something as a learning experience rather than “the end of the road”, you will gain valuable knowledge about how not to do things, do them differently in the future or even keep doing them until you get a result. Just as JK Rowling knocked on many doors before finally one publisher recognised her incredible creativity and the selling potential of her first book, you may get to knock on many doors yourself until one opens.
Looking at obstacles as a challenge to overcome or a puzzle to solve is more likely to help you navigate your way out of the difficulty as opposed to looking at obstacles as something that stops you from taking action.
Look at the bigger picture
Setting goals should give you a direction you want to be pointing to. However, be open to the possibility that whilst the direction remains the same, your goals may change or even the direction may change too. Sometimes people pursue something doggedly because this is what they have set out to achieve losing sight of the fact that this may no longer be what they really want.
Whilst taking action to achieve your goals, do not limit your vision to just what is ahead of you - if you have tunnel vision, you will only see what is in front of you, not around you. On the other hand, if you are flexible and prepared to change the course of action if necessary, you may find that you see opportunities where there were none before. The road to success is paved with entrepreneurs who spotted gaps in the market, changed the direction of their business, expanded their horizon.
So what’s next for you?
If you want something, go and get it. Do not be held back by your thoughts, procrastination (also your thoughts!) or by lack of clarity about what it is that you actually want. Work out what you want, take action and do not give up. Keep going, even if it is a bumpy ride and sometimes you think it is best to turn back and not change anything. You have the power to have the life you want - nobody else can give it to you.