By Kristine Steinberg, CEO of Kismet
Goals, commitments, resolutions… we set them, we intend to achieve them — and for many of us, some of our best set plans to follow through get consciously or unconsciously derailed. What is at the root of our lack of follow through? How do we close the gap between our intentions and our goals?
Most of us are very good at following through on certain commitments, and not so good with others. For example, a “people pleaser” might be very good at completing everything they told their boss they would do, because they are driven by external validation. But that same person might not be attending to their own personal goals such as health and exercise.
Take a look at the nature of what you follow through on easily. What is the common thread? Why do you think those goals and commitments come easy for you?
Now, take a look at commitments that tend to be much harder. Is there a theme? What resistance emerges around these types of commitments?
What Gets in Our Own Way
Sabotage of our intentions and goals can take many forms, including poor boundaries around our time, getting stuck in old patterns of behavior, or finding that you actually don’t have the capability, tools, or resources you need. If following through requires interacting with others, maybe your shyness is getting in the way. Or, maybe it requires you depending on a coworker or friend, but your control issues are creeping in and making you believe that you are the only one who can do it well. Sometimes, it’s deeper, like a lack of confidence or self-worth that makes you feel like you don’t deserve to succeed. Other times, old narratives take over — the myths and stories we’ve been told by ourselves or society, such as, “you can’t quit smoking, you’re addicted.”
Break Down Your Blocks to Following Through
- Write down your goal. It could be a personal (i.e. spending less time on your phone) or professional goal (i.e. taking that professional development course), and a commitment to yourself or to another person. Write down all of the steps that will go into achieving this.
- Identify what’s blocking you. Get to the bottom of what’s holding you back from what you want to achieve. Which parts of it are you avoiding or dreading? What’s the energy of this commitment that makes it feel more difficult, compared to the easier items on your to-do list? What feels hard about taking action towards this particular goal or commitment? What are you afraid of? What’s at stake if you fail?
- Reconnect with your future vision. Remember why you wanted to achieve this goal in the first place. What originally drove you to make this commitment and challenge yourself? What is the overarching dream behind it? When you reach that goal, what is going to feel different, better, and more exciting for you? Envision the future and imagine what it will feel like to be your future self. This dream phase creates a new narrative, and your neural pathways will actually start to change. (Bonus: Create a vision board to remind yourself about what the future can look like).
- Consider the tools for the job. Think through the logistics. If you were to do this, how much time would it take? What resources do you need to get past what’s blocking you? Who can help support you through this? Is there a community you can engage with who is working on similar goals? What accountability system do you need? Put this into place.
- Break it down into small chunks. Revisit your list of each step that will go into achieving this goal. What will you do in the next hour, day, week, and month to make progress? Include reaching out to the people who will support you and hold you accountable to your commitment. Be as specific as you can.
- Listen to Adam Grant’s TED Talk, “The real reason you procrastinate,” to learn the complex truth behind why you are putting off important tasks (it’s not because you’re lazy!).
- Read David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, for a strategy on how to be less stressed and more productive.
Kristine Steinberg is the CEO of Kismet. She believes that your life should be deeply fulfilling — not tolerated. Partner with Kismet to dismantle fear, define your path, and lead with courage. Start your transformation today.