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Summary: Do you have a hard time achieving goals you set? Learn why most people quit and how you can stick with it and achieve more.
At this point in the year, many people’s New Year’s resolutions are long forgotten, with journals sitting empty, gym passes unused and 2018 “to-do” lists sitting at the bottom of a drawer. Why do we have such a hard time sticking to things we begin or even just want to begin? It’s a common issue, even with the people who seem to accomplish so much from the outside. We all have things that we want to do, big or small, but can’t seem to stick to them.
Quitting doesn’t mean that we’re failures and we’ll never be able to be the people we want to be, but it does mean that we need to work on changing our mindset and our habits to make these goals happen. We’re used to taking the path of least resistance, choosing an evening of Netflix after a hard day at work instead of working on the book you want to write, spending more time with friends you don’t see, or heading to the gym. Most of the time, we don’t just have one issue that’s keeping us from fulfilling our goal. There are usually many factors at play, some hindering one goal and others hindering another.
Here are five common reasons that people quit their resolutions and goals and how you can overcome them:
You don’t make a serious commitment. We often hesitate to 100% commit to a goal because, what if we change our mind? Before you set a goal, think about whether it is something that aligns with your values and whether it is something you truly want deep down, not just something you think you should do. If it fits that criteria, then commit yourself and take it seriously. Write down your goal, create a real plan with big steps and small steps, and then tell people what you’re doing so that you feel accountable. Set dates to check in with yourself about where you are with your goal.
You forget. It’s so easy to decide you want to do something and then forget during your day to day life. Sure, you might think about it while you’re driving to work and resolve to do something that evening or weekend, but most likely you’re going to forget again and then slowly lose your momentum. Put reminders up around your home, set alarms on your phone and put reminders on your calendar. Make sure you’re being practically bombarded with reminders of your plan so that you can’t just push it to the back of your mind.
You renegotiate. Negotiating with ourselves is incredibly common: “if I make it through this child’s birthday party, I can go shopping for whatever I want” or “if I make it through this workout class I can go get ice cream this evening.” The problem with renegotiating is that we do it in a difficult moment, when our minds are their most vulnerable. The key to avoiding renegotiation is to stop it before the situation arises. Each week, plan out what you’re going to do to accomplish your goal and set hard limits. If, at the end of the week, you want to reconsider your goals, do it then rather than during that tough moment.
You beat yourself up. When you want to accomplish something that you’ve never done before, there’s a high likelihood that you’re going to mess up along the way. When we mess up or “fail,” as we often say, then we usually just want to quit. We beat ourselves up thinking that we’re just not good enough or capable of accomplishing what we had set out to do. We tell ourselves it wasn’t even important anyway. Instead of speaking to yourself negatively, recognize that every stumble is a learning opportunity and merely shows that you’re trying. If you don’t mess up, then you’re probably not trying hard in the first place. Speak to yourself like you’d speak to a friend in that moment and try again.
You forget why it was important in the first place. When things start to get tough and uncomfortable, it’s easy to forget why you even committed to doing the project in the first place. It’s easy to quit something when you forget why you wanted it at all. Before you start, take some time to write down why you’ve set this goal, why it’s important to you, and how you want to feel when you’ve accomplished this goal. Keep your “why” in a place that’s obvious and check back in on it when you’re struggling and it will help you keep moving forward.
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