In my previous blogs I have talked about compassionate goal setting. In this blog I am going to talk about barriers to goals.
Often when we are planning a goal we are thinking about how much better are life will be when we reach the end point. Even when you are experienced at setting goals it’s all too common to forget that life is not a nice linear path and we can experience obstacles. When I talk to people about what has stopped them achieving their goals previously it is usually that something unexpected has happened and that they haven’t found a way to get back on track.
“I was ill and it fell out of my routine”
“It was harder than I expected”
“I lost momentum”
“I always give up”
Dr Kristian Neff, a researcher into positive psychology, talks about self-esteem and self-compassion. She says “Whereas high self-esteem depends on successful performances and positive self-evaluations, self-compassion is relevant precisely when self-esteem tends to falter: when one fails or feels inadequate,” So we need to develop a loop, we need to perform well at a task to build self-esteem and we need self-compassion for the times we don’t perform. For a goal to be compassionate it also needs to allow for disruptions to the plan and to have a “shame free” way of getting you back on track.
Your barriers are not to be ashamed of, often we fall into the trap of attempting to ignore barrier in the hope they will vanish. I want to know the barriers and understand them so that we can make realistic steps towards addressing those. Often it is the emotion shame that means that we do not stick to our goals. We do not allow for an obstacle. When planning your goals allow for obstacles.
Let’s see if we can predict the barriers- jot down previous things that have got in your way and what advice you would give your past self in overcoming these. Write this as a recovery plan for when goals get off track.
Notice if you are making judgements: If we are labelling something as "good or bad" we can experience emotions such as guilt and shame which are designed to make us hide away and avoid the situation. If you notice that you are placing judgement on then reframe it. Rather than “This should be easy” we can say "I would prefer this if it was easy": this was it gives us permission to find something difficult. Or if we are anticipating "I won't like it/ I can't do it/ it will hurt" identify that this is a thought designed to keep you within the safety of your comfort zone. Allow yourself to experience the thought but then let it pass and continue to engage with the goal orientated behaviour.
Plan in regular evaluation in which you review what hasn’t worked. Rather dismissing the goal as impossible, scribble down ideas about how you could overcome that barrier.
No one ever picks up a novel with the intention to be to get to the end. Or listen to a song just to hear it finish. The same need to be true for your goals. Make the journey to achieving the goals as exciting or as meaningful as the end result. This will make it more motivating to try again.
So I have covered all aspects of writing the goal, If you have any questions do get in touch for a free 20 minute consultation. Come back next week when in my blog I will be talking about how to get started from a place of safety.