Do you have a goal you’d like to achieve but have yet to get around to it? When I graduated with my doctorate in 2008, my first post-grad school goal was to write and publish a book, inspired by my research on successful Black Women leaders. I’d work on the manuscript for a few months and then put it aside for a year or two. I’d pick it up and work on it again for a few months, only to set it aside once again, for a few years. I did this dance at least three or four times before I admitted to myself that I wasn’t getting any closer to my goal.
Being unsure of how to get out of the vicious cycle, I took some time to be reflective about what was getting in the way of me doing what I wanted to do for so long. I found it was three things that stopped me: perfectionism, comparison, and fear.
I had locked myself into a mindset that what I wrote, and the effort I made, wasn’t good enough, it had to be perfect, and so I had to try harder. I kept writing and ten rewriting my work. I was trying to perfect all that I considered imperfect, which was just about everything. That feeling of not being good enough and needing to be perfect was fueled by my comparing myself and my work to others and fearing how either would stack up.
But I was determined to get the book out. Doing that required that I break the negative self-talk and beliefs and start replacing them with more powerful thoughts.
If you’ve ever found yourself not being able to attain something you want, here are five steps to take to get off a negative merry-go-round.
1. Identify and acknowledge what’s holding you back. Be honest with yourself.
- Is it fear? Are you procrastinating, being lazy, or finding excuses why you can’t achieve your goal?
- Is it a lack of resources? Do you think you don’t have enough time or money to do what you want to do?
- Is it comparing yourself to others and not feeling confident? Do you look at what others are doing and have low or no confidence that you can do the same?
2. Look under the excuses for the root cause. Disarm its power over your ability to achieve your goal.
- What’s causing the fear? Is it realistic?
- Why are you procrastinating? What are you making more important?
- What’s causing you to not believe in yourself? Is what you’re thinking a fact, or is it a feeling?
- How are you sabotaging yourself? What’s causing you to do that?
If you think it would help, work with a counselor that can help you identify and work through any issues that might be deep-rooted. I am working with a therapist Ito break through some very limiting and unconscious beliefs I had about what I could accomplish.
3. Start problem-solving.
- Brainstorm how you can overcome some of the roadblocks you’re encountering.
- Choose one or two actions you can take immediately to bring you one step closer to your goal.
4. Ask for help.
- Find someone to help you brainstorm and identify solutions.
- Get an accountability partner to help you ensure you follow through on your committed actions.
- Share your goals and action steps with at least one mentor or loved one (if not more) to get encouragement and support.
5. Set an intention.
- We know how to prioritize. Every day we make choices about how we’re going to spend our time based on what we think is essential. Make time to go to work, spend time with friends, or care for our children or parents, for example. Make achieving your goal just as important and commit to working towards it weekly, if not daily. If you stay steadfast, you’ll get there.
Once I made up my mind that I wasn’t letting fear, comparison, and lack of confidence stop me from writing the book, even when I felt fearful, compared myself to others, or didn’t feel confident, I persevered and completed the book last month. I’m happy to say it will be published by April 2020. Ain’t no stoppin’ me now! And there ain’t no stopping you either!
To your success!