So here you are again, at the beginning of a new year, and you’ve probably set yourself a few new and re-set a few old goals or resolutions to be achieved this year; ‘I’m gonna eat healthier / exercise more / spend more time on creative stuff or with people I love / work towards my dream job or business / get that qualification / quit that annoying habit / spend less time in front of the screen etc.…and this time, I’m actually gonna make it happen. Or at least I’m gonna try harder…!’
“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.” ~ Zig Ziglar
Maybe you’re someone who’s into new-age stuff such as the Law of Attraction; perhaps you’ve read some self-help motivational books, been to a workshop or two or watched The Secret a hundred times, so you know to use daily affirmations, imagine yourself at your end result, and ‘fake it till you make it’. You might also know how critical it is to identify with your goals on a strong emotional level. Maybe you’re the type who dislikes the ‘hippy-talk’ and prefers getting your tips on entrepreneur.com or Business Insider. Either way, ‘aligning with the universe’ isn’t in fact much different to other concrete and practical advice; they’re both simply describing, albeit in different words, strong states of focus, determination and certainty. So you start off inspired, full of enthusiasm. For a while, you’re on top of the world, you hop out of bed with new energy and spend your day making to-do lists and vision boards, having conversations with the universe or your future self, commanding the health and abundance that is rightfully yours, and you might even be taking those ‘3 small actions a-day’ – you’re truly unstoppable now!
But then…you begin getting distracted. You’re in fact looking for distraction. You feel like you’ve been doing loads and you just need a bit of a break. Your to-do lists seem to insist on their length, your 3-actions turn into 2…and 1…and none. Your daily dialogue with yourself or personal god has become more of a task in itself and you’ve almost abandoned your visualisations as surely the universe shouldn’t be taking this much time to respond. It’s not long before you’re again back in your same old pattern, pressing the snooze button, dragging yourself through the day, spending your free time looking for entertainment online and telling yourself you’ll get back on track tomorrow. Sound familiar?
Having goals is of course a positive thing which gets us to focus, make certain decisions and take a certain path. But while we want them and try to pull them towards us we also push them away at the same time. We might take a few steps in their direction but then we step back again. So why do you do this? Why do you so quickly give up on your goals when you seem to want them so badly? Why do you continuously procrastinate so much, and most importantly – how can you overcome this and finally get going and achieve what you want? The answer to this lies in increasing focus, building more willpower, confidence and motivation to accomplish them, while at the same time dropping your desires; letting go of what you want to achieve altogether. Be less bothered. This may seem paradoxical but let me explain why having goals actually keeps you stuck in place.
1. Your goals create fear and bring up limiting beliefs
Let’s look first at improving your affirmative mind-set. You probably know that in order to achieve anything, you should have a clear goal in mind, think positive, believe in yourself and have complete trust in the possibility of making it a reality. But often, no matter how many times you repeat your affirmations or how strongly you try to imagine how things will be and how it will make you feel, it all seems too far-fetched and it brings up fear; of failure or of success. And as you know how essential it is to have complete faith in your dreams, you push the uncomfortable doubts, fears and negative self-talk aside. But these of course don’t really go away, they just settle nicely in the back of your mind, chatting amongst themselves having a laugh at your expense. Sometimes you don’t even notice them anymore as you insist on not looking their way. At other times maybe you can still hear their whispers, and in some moments they may even be shouting at you and telling you off for being so silly to expect such awesome things… so again you try to ignore them, silence them or use another positive statement voiceover. But not even a thousand affirmations a day will help if you’ve got conflicting negative beliefs and fears you’re trying to fight, consciously or not, such as “I can’t”, “I won’t succeed”, “It’s really difficult to achieve”, “It’s nearly impossible, especially in this financial climate” “I’m not good enough” etc.
But the struggle doesn’t end there. So now let’s look at letting go of our goals altogether. Why would you do that, as surely aiming somewhere is a good thing; without goals no one would be doing anything at all! This is because they create even more strong subconscious conflict, a negative emotional charge which keeps you in a state of inner battle and stuck in place, making it very difficult to take action or keep on the path without being pulled back.
2. Your goals create resistance to where you are now
Just by having a goal, you’re automatically going to be experiencing some level of resistance to what’s already here now – as you want things to be different; you want to be there, not here. So underlying frustration, tension or some degree of suffering will be present whether we’re consciously aware of it or not. There will also be resistance towards the action steps you need to take in order to achieve these goals – as you don’t really want to be doing all that hard work – you just want to get there (and get there now rather than later)! This resistance expresses itself by feeling confused or overwhelmed by how to go about things and what to do in order to start or keep moving; so you often already get lost in this early stage, constantly procrastinating instead of simply starting by starting; taking each little step at a time. You often ‘give up’ on the goal or postpone it for later so that you don’t have to (subconsciously) experience all this tension right now. But this giving up is very different to letting it go, as of course within us you still want it, and the tension isn’t gonna be going anywhere.
“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week” ~ Spanish proverb
3. Your goals create a feeling and state of lack
As you continue focusing in our minds on things you ‘want’, what you’re actually focusing on, or the message you’re actually sending our mind, subconsciously again, is the feeling of lack, as of course you wouldn’t be wanting something you’ve already got. This feeling of ‘not having’ continues to create even more frustration within you, perpetuating that same state of resistance. I’ve heard so many times from people “but I’ve been doing my affirmations a thousand times a day, I visualise constantly, I don’t understand why it’s not working”! So this is why. And not only do you create a state of lack internally, but as a result you also create this in the external world as your actions, decisions and behaviours come out of and express this state of mind, producing more of the same.
4. Your goals make you feel unhappy
Lastly, and this is a very important point to understand, you feel that your contentment, wellbeing or self-worth are dependent on whether you achieve the goal or not. “I’ll be happier when…” or “I’d be feeling so much better about myself if…” etc. So to top it all up, this creates, and again often outside your conscious awareness, not only more resistance but also anger and resentment towards having the goal in itself – as of course you don’t want your well-being to be dependent on anything! So you push it aside: ‘how dare it stand in your way to happiness!’
For these reasons, unfortunately, many of us don’t go after our life goals, let alone achieve them. Imagine you were angry, resentful, and trying to push someone away, do you think they would be likely to want to hang out with you? Well success too would probably prefer to keep its distance from you…
So, what can you do about it?
Going back to the first point – so while there are highly effective tools you can use to help change your beliefs on a subconscious level, the first thing you need to understand is that fear and doubt are in fact completely natural to experience, and that there’s no need to fight them at all. By doing this, they’ll have no reason to stick around for very long demanding your attention. The more you resist, the more insistent they become; as just like any part of you, they just want to be welcomed and expressed. What’s more, the fact that they’re there is an indication that you are on the right path; because doubts are simply part of the process. Once you’re able to accept this idea and allow fears to be as they are, they’ve no longer got any power over you; they haven’t got the need any more to shout when you’re trying to focus nor whisper behind your back. They no longer try to stand in the way of your affirmations and potentially new beliefs becoming a natural part of you as you no longer try to stand in their way of being natural either. Soon enough, the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ self-talk learn to coexist, cooperate and motivate each other; the positive encouraging and inspiring the negative, and in turn the negative promoting more ideas, problem-solving and more action by questioning and inviting you to prove it wrong (and don’t we love to!).
Secondly, you need to learn how to ‘strive in contentment’; how to operate out of a state of ‘have’; wanting to express, share or create, rather than a state of desire, wanting to gain, accumulate or get anywhere in particular. Sure, you should continue to imagine, visualise, affirm and plan – but at the same time it would make things a hell of a lot easier to take real action. This is because you didn’t feel that so much was hanging on it; you recognise the difference between your end result and your state of fulfillment. I mean, we’re all heading towards the inevitable ‘end result’ anyway, right? Is there anywhere, really, we can ‘get to’ at all? Perhaps, the purpose of goals is not necessarily to achieve them, but simply to be focused on the true path of your choice and passion and to experience all that it’s got to offer along the way? This way, not only would you be enjoying your time more (and isn’t this the ultimate goal?), but you’d find it’s a win-win situation too; as you become less attached to reaching a particular destination the fears around it drop; it no longer matters that much where you end up so movement forward suddenly becomes easy, and so you’re both less bothered about the whole thing while at the same time much more likely to arrive!
“If you don’t like where you are, then change it. You’re not a tree” ~ Unknown