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Top 7 Obstacles to Your Goals and What to Do About Them

By Sue Brenner, PCC, PMP

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If you're serious about reaching your big goals this year, the trick is to break through the obstacles that arise along the way. You know—procrastination, lack of time, self-sabotage, and the list goes on…

Sometimes the pile of daily responsibilities, long days at work and distractions can make even attempting goals unlikely. Few people know that there are some simple steps for reaching goals faster and not letting obstacles get in the way.

So, how do you know if common obstacles are stopping your success? Think about these 7 things. Which ones get in your way?

  1. Procrastination

    Is there a voice lurking in your head, whispering to put projects off? Shouting, even, to wait another day, or week, or year? Procrastination may have made a nest for itself, right in the middle of the things you need to get done. That means that you're looking at your key tasks, or trying to look away, and actively avoiding them...

    Try this instead:

    Notice procrastination early on—right when the creature first begins to rear its ugly head. Then ask yourself an important question: What do I need to do to get the job done? Quickly write down your answer. Don't think about it too much. For example, say you've been tasked with planning the department’s summer party and planning is not your strength. Instead of staring at your blank MS Excel spreadsheet entitled "Party," start typing out the key things that need to occur: Location, Invitations, Activities, Food, Entertainment. Then type out the tasks that go with each area. This will spark momentum and build an action plan. Note: This is the first of four procrastination busters that I give in my book The Naked Desk (p. 52).

  2. Lack of Time

    No matter who you are or where you are, each of us has 24 hours in a day. That’s a fact, right? Yet with all of the things that tug at your attention (work, family, commute, etc.) dedicating time to your goals can be tough. To get through your day and get to what's important, you have to stop your to-do list from growing…

    Try this instead:

    Narrow down your top 3 priorities of the day. How many things are on your to-do list right now? Change the way you use your list by focusing on what's important. Ask yourself, "If I could only do 3 things today, what would they be?" Then go to work on those things first. If you schedule and check off things that matter that day, you'll feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day. Wouldn't you enjoy that more than trying to cram in the 54 items on your list and wondering what you actually got done? Create a challenge at which you can win. The 3 priorities a day is that challenge.

  3. Not Knowing Where to Start

    You walk into your work area and feel your heart pound. You look at the 6 project piles spread across the floor, then scan the 17 sticky notes with tasks on your computer desktop. Your chest tightens as you ask yourself, "Where do I start?" Walking into a scene like that can stall even the most disciplined professionals…

    Try this instead:

    Pick one project and spell out a specific goal around it. For example, suppose you've been collecting vacation days for the past 3 years so you can take some time off. It's hard to know where to begin because the idea, "It would be nice to take a vacation some day" is vague. So what do you do? Get clear on what specifically you'd like to do with that time off and by when. Do you want to attend a workshop? Travel? Sit at home for 5 days and read? Pinpoint the goal by writing out what are you going to do by when. So, if you want to use time off for travel, your goal could read: "Go on a family vacation to the Bahamas by June 30, 2008." Then take one action toward that goal.

  4. Self-Sabotage

    As you walk along the path toward your goal, suddenly someone stands in front of you and blocks the way. But it's not your boss, your sister, your spouse or your kids who are pushing you off track. What blocks your path is a giant mirror. You're staring right at yourself. As one woman, Trish, says, "I keep sabotaging my own efforts." If you're like Trish, read on…

    Try this instead:

    The key to breaking through self-sabotage is to first notice that you're doing it. Listen carefully if friends and colleagues tell you that you're getting in your own way. Trust them when they say you're interfering with your own success. It could be because you equate success with something painful or challenging. Let's say you're in real estate, for example, and you say you want to sell more houses. Yet, at the same time, you fear losing your friends if you become wealthy. The way out? Alter your all-or-nothing thinking. Accepting one thing does not automatically cancel another. Think it through. Talk it over with the key people involved.

  5. Lack of Organization

    Did you know that January was "Get Organized Month"? According to National Association of Professional Organizers President Standolyn Robertson, “Getting organized is one of the top 5 New Year's resolutions… NAPO will help over 10,000 people get organized during this month-long event.” Did “get organized” make it to the top of your resolution list? Do you long to dig your way out of disorder and clutter, but have no idea where to start?

    Try this instead:

    Pick a specific area that you want to work on. Then open a word document or grab a sheet of paper and write "Get Organized Challenge 50" at the top. As fast as you can, jot down 50 things you can do to organize that area. For example, if you chose your cubicle, you might write: reduce paper pile on my desk by one inch; combine paper calendar with digital calendar and ditch the paper version, etc. Look at your list at the beginning of the week and decide how many items you're going to knock out. Put them into your calendar and get them done. Do both big and small things because you don't know what's going to make the most difference for you.

  6. Lack of Motivation

    One problem is that a lot of goals are set from the head or from the ego. For example, you set a goal to go to law school because your father's a lawyer and your sister's a lawyer, and you want to make them proud. But is it really your goal? If it is, go for it. If it's not, you'll experience much more resistance. It’s tough to motivate yourself for something that in your heart of hearts you don't want to do…

    Try this instead:

    Review one of your yearly goals. Why is this important to you? Your answer gives you your purpose for doing something. If your "why" is compelling, it will motivate you. If it's not, make your "why" stronger or re-consider the goal altogether. For example, a manager says, "I want to make more money this year." But money for money's sake isn't that motivating. It may interest you when you think about it, but it has to be enticing enough for you to work toward. Why more money? "I want to make more money so that I can send my daughter to a private school where I know she'll thrive." When you clarify the "why" behind what you want you’ll feel much more driven and connected to your goal.

  7. Distractions

    How can you block the world out to get the important stuff done? Co-workers stop by, friends call, e-mails pop up in your inbox, the Internet lures you, your iPod ear buds beg for a listen… Our world today brims with distractions. Do you long for a moment of peace before you rush out the door in the morning? Do you wish you could find a quiet 2-hour block of time to get that project done? What can you do to close yourself off from distractions?

    Try this instead:

    The solution links back to Obstacle 2: Lack of Time. Carve out concentrated blocks of time for priorities. For example, if you're meeting a client in a conference room, close the door, let mobile calls go to voice mail, and mute any “ding” reminders that come from your PDA. This will allow you to give your full attention and provide the quality your clients deserve. Also let people know when you're in a no-interruption time or focused work time. In a cubical environment, get creative. Wear a phone headset so that when people peek around the corner they’ll have a signal that you're busy. Or wear earplugs to buffer out office conversations.

And to keep moving past obstacles toward success, I invite you to claim your free access to join me at the next goals tele-seminar. Just go to: http://www.suebrenner.com.

From Sue Brenner – Performance Coach and Author of The Naked Desk.

Source: http://Top7Business.com/?expert=Sue_Brenner,_PCC,_PMP

Article Submitted On: March 14, 2008