The 3 Things That Stop Most People From Achieving Their Goals

04/20/2015 07:00 am ET | Updated Apr 20, 2015
Melissa Ross

How many goals have you set in your life? A hundred? Ten thousand? Even more?

How many of these goals have you actually achieved?

If you're like most people, this second number is going to be a fraction of the first. A big reason is that as soon as you set a goal, three things emerge to stop you. But most of us don't even realize what they are, and as a result, we are just left with our unaccomplished goal and an unshakable feeling of failure.

What if you could not only identify these obstacles but also learn to welcome them? Well, the good new is that you can....

Author Jack Canfield says that if you can identify these three things and accept that they are simply part of the process, then you can treat them as what they are--just things to handle--rather than letting them stop you.

No. 1. Considerations

These are the thoughts that pop into your head as soon as you come up with your goal. The voices telling you why your goal isn't worth the effort, or that it's not even possible.

Let's say you want to double your sales next year. Within seconds of setting that goal, all kinds of negative thoughts pop into your head:

  • I'm going to have to work twice as hard, and I'm already maxed out!
  • We'll have to hire new reps, and there aren't any good ones out there
  • I'm going to have even less time for my family :/
  • Our competitors already have a lock on the market....

"Negative thoughts stick around because we believe them, not because we want them or choose them." -- Andrew J. Bernstein

These thoughts are called considerations, and they are all the reasons why you shouldn't attempt your goal, all of the rationalizations of why your goal is impossible to achieve.

How to Overcome This Obstacle: Bring all of these harmful considerations to the surface. These thoughts have been there in your subconscious mind all along, and they have been holding you back. So get them all out so that you are consciously aware of them and can confront them. Then, simply acknowledge these considerations and move past them.

No. 2. Fears

There's a great acronym for FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. And when you start going after your goal, you are going to start experiencing lots of feelings of fear and your mind will come up with lots of false evidence (and it will seem really real).

Going back to our earlier example of doubling your sales this year, here are some of the fears that might start popping up:

  • What if I'm not able to do it? (Fear of failure)
  • What if I do it and it winds up being so much more work, or people resent me? (Fear of success)
  • What if they say no? (Fear of rejection)
  • Why do I even want to risk this? (Fear of being uncomfortable)

"Always do what you are afraid to do." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I've never met one person who hasn't had thoughts just like these. From CEOs to someone starting their first job out of college, we all have fears.

How to Overcome This Obstacle: Acknowledge your fears. Talk to someone you trust and ask them if they've ever felt the same way. Know that fears are just a part of the process and move past them.

No. 3. Roadblocks

So now you've gotten past all the negative considerations and overcome your fears.... It should be easy sailing from here, right? Wrong. The final things that will try to stop you are roadblocks.

"If you're trying to achieve,there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it." -- Michael Jordan

The first two obstacles were purely mental (all in your head) while roadblocks are all of the external circumstances that get in the way. They are the trying circumstances that always seem to pop up on your way to success.

Sticking with our same doubling-our-sales example, let's look at what kind of roadblocks might show up on your way to achieving that goal:

  • Your biggest competitor lands the prospect that you have been courting for months.
  • Your flight to a client renewal meeting gets canceled.
  • A shipment from your factory gets delayed by customs, pushing back your release date by two months.
  • Your top salesperson unexpectedly quits and leaves to start his or her own company.

Roadblocks are unpredictable. They can come suddenly or build up over time. They can be big or small. But one thing is for sure: They will show up. They are the obstacles that are going to be thrown at you and that you must overcome if you want to succeed at accomplishing your goal. Think of them as the universe testing you to see how badly you really want it. And then act accordingly.

How to Overcome This Obstacle: Act like a 5-year-old. If my daughter really, really wants something, it doesn't matter what obstacles are thrown in her way, she will overcome each one in order to make it happen. Little kids don't take obstacles personally, they just look at them as a game. Parent said no, it's raining, I've never done it before--it doesn't matter what it is, they will figure out a way to get past it.

Don't Stop

As Jack Canfield points out, when these considerations, fears, and roadblocks come up, most people unfortunately see them as a stop sign and say, "Now that I'm thinking that, feeling this, and finding out about that, I think I won't pursue this goal after all."

"Life takes on meaning when you become motivated, set goals and charge after them an unstoppable manner." -- Les Brown

But you can be different. You can now look for these considerations, fears, and roadblocks and know that they are simply a part of the process. You can welcome them, face them, process them, and ultimately overcome them. Once you are able to do that, there won't be anything that can stand in the way of any goal that you want to accomplish.

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