Move past the struggle
Do you set goals but give up as soon as the going gets tough? Do you find it difficult to stay motivated and give up on yourself as soon as you hit an obstacle?
Perhaps you have decided to learn a language or maybe you want to lose weight or you want to save money for a trip. Maybe you want to write a book or kick a bad habit or have a better social life. No matter what your goal is though, as soon as you encounter a difficulty you feel deflated and find it hard to stay the course.
Maybe you are excited about finally writing that book but when you look at the blank page nothing seems to come out and you feel deflated. Or maybe you want to get fit but you haven't been to the gym for so long that the exercises seem way too hard so you never go back. Or maybe you decide to learn to play guitar but after the first few lessons you realise there is so much more to learn than you expected and it feels just too overwhelming to continue.
It doesn't matter what the goal is. Sometimes you take a few steps forward but end up stalling. Other times you don't start at all. You say to yourself: "maybe I just don't have what it takes... I am too lazy, old, unfit, stupid etc. Other people seem to have it so much easier than you and you don't know why. You wish there was an easy way to just skip ahead and get it done but you don't know how.
After a few times of going through this pattern you start to feel nervous about trying something new, worrying that you might fail again. If you soon don't stick to your goals you will never achieve anything of value - you say to yourself. You will never be able to learn French, run that marathon, start your own business, ask a woman out. You are afraid you might never make that dream come true and that just feels depressing.
You know what? You aren't alone. Believe me, I have been there, plenty of times. The good news is there is a way to get past your struggle. Your goal may at times feel like an unattainable dream but they may be closer than you think. Let me show you how to stick to your decisions and overcome challenges even when it feels like an impossible feat.
Be the captain of ship, not a victim of the crew
Imagine you have a ship, but the crew is out of control. It has been captain-less for as long as you can remember, and the crew just does what it has always done. It's got an old map and it keeps going to 'failure island'.The crew needs a captain to change course otherwise it will just always only use the maps it already knows and has always used. So in order for you to go to 'success island' you need to take charge. Set your destination, set sail, and whenever the ship strays course due to bad weather or unexpected sea conditions you need to remind the crew of the new destination. Remember, your crew (your subconscious) is used to go to "failure island" so they will try to get you there, but you need to remind them again and again of why you are going to the new destination until it becomes a given.
When you try to do something new you are at some stage going to be uncomfortable. This is because new things are by their own nature out of your comfort zone: you haven't acquired the skills yet needed to navigate this new territory. On top of that there is always something that can go wrong which is out of your control As humans we try to avoid discomfort as a matter of course. We are optimised to chase pleasure and avoid pain. This means that when we feel discomfort we will fall into an automatic habit of trying to find the easiest way out of it.
The problem with that behaviour is that the short term benefit might also carry a hefty long term cost. What causes the problem is being stuck in the present discomfort (and wanting to avoid it) and not being able to see the long term consequences of your short term actions. So what do we need to do? We need to take a pause, lean into the discomfort and understand it like a scientist would, or an outside observer. What meaning are you giving to this temporary hiccup? And what are the real consequences of taking the easy way out? When you understand your emotions and are able to properly see the long term benefits and costs inherent in your decisions you can make a conscious choice that takes you closer to your goal, not further away from it.
Your head is very good at keeping you safe, but safe in this case means staying small and stuck. The best way to get out of your head is to connect to your heart.
How to feel so confident nothing can stop you
How do you make conscious choices? How can you get out of the immediate short term gratification mindset into the long term benefits mindset? Taking time out and developing awareness is the key. You need to be clear on what is really at stake here as well as deal with the uncomfortable feelings that come up so you can change your self talk around them. It's never what happens to us that causes suffering. It's the label we put on the events, the interpretation we give to them. What if we could reframe what is happening in a way that can help us rather than hinder us? Being more mindful of your own thoughts and feelings is essential. What more helpful interpretation of what is happening inside of you could you come up with? Here are three easy exercises that are going to help you do this so you can start to feel like no matter what happens you can deal with it. You may feel temporarily scared but you can get yourself out of the mire, be more objective and stay in control of your direction by always focusing on long term benefits of the hard way and costs of the easy way.
The power of choice: The Crossroads exercise
Here's a powerful exercise to do when you feel tempted to give up on your goals.
First of all you need to relax. When you are calm visualise being at a crossroads. Imagine you could go left or right. The left road is the easy familiar way. You know what this looks like. Take a few steps forward until you come to a mirror. In this mirror sees a reflection of what you will be like in five or ten years time if you give up now and get back to your old behaviour. Take this in. How does this future you look like and feel like? What is their life like? Do you like what you see? What feeling do you get when you see what you have become? Take a snapshot of this and imagine putting it into your left pocket. This is your reminder of the reality of the consequences of your actions if you decide to go down the left path.
Now go back to the cross in the road and take a step on the right road. This is the more challenging road which nevertheless takes you closer and closer to your goals. Here you stay with the temporary discomfort and find your way through. Take a few steps forward and see the mirror. In this mirror you see a reflection of you in five or ten years time having achieved your dream. What does that person look and feel like? What is their life like? Do you like what you see? How do you feel when you see this picture? Once again, take a snapshot of it and put it in your right pocket. This is your reminder of the real consequences of your actions should you chose to decide to go down the right path.
Now go back to the cross in the road and make your decision. Step into the right road. And know that every time you repeat this process when faced with a challenge you get better and better at making the right decision. It becomes more effortless and natural because repetition creates habit and every time you repeat this process you get better at it.
The power of the vision: Your Future Self exercise
This is a shortened version of the previous exercise. Once again, relax and imagine making the wrong decision when challenged by difficulty. You give up. You take the easy way out. And now it's ten years later and you are your future self. How do you feel about the decision the 'you' in the present made? Do you have any regrets? If you could speak to them what would you say to help them through this difficult time? What do they need to remember or become aware of? How can you help them?
The power of wisdom: Connect to the heart exercise
This third option works well especially if you feel so wrapped up in the problem that it is hard to see anything but the problem. The truth is you are too much in your head space. Your head is very good at keeping you safe, but safe in this case means staying small and stuck. The best way to get out of your head is to connect to your heart.
So, take a few minutes to ground yourself, relax and close your eyes. Place a hand on your heart and connect to its wisdom. There are many ways to describe this including connecting to your inner teacher, the wise woman / man archetype, your soul, your guides, God if you are religious or simply your Higher Self.
When you feel the connection tell it all about your issue: I am confused about... I am scared that... I don't know what to do about... and ask what it thinks about it. What is the deeper truth about this problem? What do I need to remember that I have forgotten? Now stop and listen. Be patient , be quiet and listen. Trust the answer you get.
3 Simple exercises to keep going
For a detailed explanation of what these are watch the video below
How to use the exercises to make them effective - relax first, visualise it daily and every time you feel stuck. Remind yourself with a phone reminder / sticky note / board
If you find it hard to implement these practices you may need extra professional help. Feel free to give me a call and discuss your case with me in detail.