It’s almost funny to me how self-sabotage can still sneak up on me and take me out.
For anyone that has spent any substantial amount of time trying to accomplish a goal, you know first-hand how hanging on to your “why” is critically important.
If we don’t have a well defined “why” that you are doing something then it is virtually impossible to summon the strength, courage, and endurance to make it through the seemingly endless battles and encroaching hopelessness that inevitably comes up while in pursuit of our dreams.
What is super important to recognize, however, is that challenges only become roadblocks when we lose perspective.
As I talk about constantly, our life experience is filtered through our belief system and values. What we believe is true will ultimately become true, either through perseverance or sabotage.
Case-in-point: as an IT Manager I was called upon to tackle incredibly challenging projects quite often. From finding new ERP Software to replacing a legacy phone system with a new IP based system. From evaluating evolving infrastructure hardware and software requirements to rolling-out entire enterprise-wide solutions for both.
Oh, and did I mention I was a department of one! I had no employees working for me in the IT department, I was it.
With nearly 200 employees in 5 different offices throughout the entire Western United States region, my hands were full. And when I started working there, they had only 5 AOL dial-up computers (yes, that just aged me).
I had to research, develop, roll-out and manage all of the projects without ever having done any of them before I joined the company as their IT Manager.
And literally, EVERY project was a success.
How is that possible?
When I look at my relationships, health, finances and other areas of my life at that time, I was a complete trainwreck.
I was 70lbs overweight with pre-diabetes, hypertension, and asthma, an active alcoholic, and hadn’t dated in nearly 20 years. I also had 1 bankruptcy in my past and the once-again maxed-out credit cards were threatening a second.
How could my career be stellar and the rest of my life not be working?
I was the same person in all those areas of my life, with the same capabilities, brain, and strengths.
As I reflected on that incongruency in my own life I realized it was mindset; that failure never entered my mind in my career, and giving up was never an option, and fear never took me out.
I was the IT Manager and I had a task to accomplish. I loved the challenge. Inevitably every project started with a Google search; how did others accomplish this.
And then I would begin to cast a vision of what the end-game would look like.
Then start assessing where we were now, what did we have already that would support the project and what did we need to dump and acquire.
Invariably a thousand knowledge deficits arose, and sacrifices had to be made, compromises and constant risk assessments continually restructured the process… BUT QUITTING WAS NEVER AN OPTION.
I realize now, in hindsight, failure wasn’t even on my radar, that was an absurd thought.
We needed a new phone system and I was going to roll one out, come hell or high water.
But when I thought about dating: what if she’s not the right one, what if I blow it, what if we date for a while then she goes crazy and I can’t get out of the relationship, what if everything goes great and it might lead to marriage, what if… what if… fear fear fear!
How about my finances: I really want to go on that motorcycle trip over the Continental Divide next Fall in Colorado, I’ll just put in on a credit card. I really want to go out to dinner with my friends, I’ll just put in on a credit card. My car’s a piece of crap, I’ll put the downpayment on a credit card. I need a new computer, I’ll put it on a credit card… I’ll put it on a credit card… credit card… credit card…
And what about my health: It’s a busy day, I’ll just grab fast food… 3x per day for 30 years! Insane eating habits.
Yet every year I would jump on the New Years Resolution with millions of others who dreamed of living differently in various areas of their life, make great plans, but never able to stick with it.
In every area of my life other than my career, when I envisioned a goal (dating, get out of debt, get healthy), the minute it came to actually “doing the work” I would get “lost in the weeds”.
I would make choices based on immediate desires (temptations and feelings) instead of long-term visions. Or begin ruminating on my fears of what could go wrong instead of being driven by what could go right.
In my career, failure wasn’t even a consideration, success was inevitable, it had to be. I just had to figure out how to do it and take the necessary steps every day. And every day I loved the process because every successful benchmark took me one step closer to the goal.
I can’t begin to tell you the hundreds of hours I have spent personally and with clients trying to gain focus and clarity and drive and passion to get through the hard work of achieving goals, when in reality it comes completely natural with no awareness at all if we can just stay focused on “the vision and the why”.
I have an exercise for you, should you be interested in seeing just how good you are at this already, maybe without even realizing it.
The Success Mindset
Step One) Think of a past success that you are especially grateful for or proud of.
- Graduating from college?
- Landing a killer job?
- Getting that first date with the guy or gal you’ve been crushing on forever?
- Paying off your last credit card
- Losing 50 lbs
- Starting a new business
- If you are younger and can’t think of anything major, how about getting your drivers license.
Step Two) Get in touch with your mindset during your road to success
- Was failure even a consideration?
- Did fear stop you from progressing?
- Did you see challenges as insurmountable or “just the next thing to solve”?
- Like getting your drivers license, was the thought “I’ll never get my license” ever a belief that made you quit trying? Everyone gets their license, even if it takes a few tries, right? But did you have a clue how to drive when you started?
Step Three) What did the process look like for you?
- Did a lot of it suck but you did what needed to be done and in hindsight glad you did?
- Were you embarrassed to ask for help or did you instinctually and effortlessly seek out others for support?
- Did you think of yourself as stupid for not having “all the answers” at the beginning of the process, or just took the “next step” without realizing it?
- Did not having a clue “how” you were going to pull this off create debilitating fear that stopped you from trying?
- If it was a weight, financial or other type benchmarks, was the daily sacrifice difficult during the entire duration or did it become almost fun as you saw the end-game coming closer into view
Step Four) Contrast and Compare the areas of your life that you struggle in vs your successes
- Are your “thought processes” the same in both scenarios?
- Is your focus on the goal any different?
- Is your confidence, attitude, or beliefs about the situations any different?
- Is your commitment, drive, and desire for success any different between them?
Invariably, it is our beliefs about our chances of success that keep us from being successful.
So, what were the important variables for you when looking at a successfully completed goal vs one you keep failing at?
My guess is we will always find mindset, attitude, emotion and beliefs at the center?
Whatever the difference, ask yourself “why do I think differently about this area of my life than I do in the successful area(s) of my life?”
The Pursuit of Successful Attitudes
A clear vision of what success looks like is a critical first step.
“I will get my drivers license, I will get out of debt, I will get down to 150lbs, I will start dating and find my perfect mate, I will get sober, I will succeed in my business, I will, I will, I will!!!”
We cannot ask ourself “what happens if I fail” or get stuck believing “I’ve tried before and failed”. Those are a freight-train to the weeds!
We achieve what we focus on, trial-and-error prior to success is not a failure. Failure only arrives when we quit trying.
Taking a drivers test and not passing simply meant you studied harder and tested again, right?
Having an unshakeable “why” is another critical step.
“I want my freedom and my driver’s license is how I get there, that’s why I will keep studying and training”.
“I want to live longer and play with my kids and watch them grow up, that’s why I’m losing the weight”.
“My business depends on me finding an edge over my competitors, that’s why I will keep searching for new innovation”.
“My company needs a new phone system and that’s my job, bring it on, let’s do this!!!”
Our “why” is what powers us through. If the goal is all you can see then the steps to get there are almost insignificant, they just are part of the process.
No stress, no drama, no fear… just “what’s next” as a matter-of-fact.
Never losing sight of the fact that YOU CAN DO IT
In looking at our past successes instead of our past failures, we can see that our mind, body, emotions, and will, combined with our faith and determination made the seemingly impossible, possible.
We must realize that we have all the internal goods needed for everything we need for success in every area of our life, we just need to tap into it, nurture it, develop it, whatever “it” is.
The greatest challenge is keeping our minds out of the weeds so our emotions stay positive and enthusiastic, which in turn feeds our mind’s creativity and resolve.
Gaining High Self-Awareness
For many, if not most of us, or even EVERYONE… recognizing when our self-talk becomes negative, extreme, black-and-white, all-or-nothing or worse, self-condemning or fear-based, we must punch-out IMMEDIATELY
So what do we do if we find ourselves in the weeds?
Steps to Avoid/Recover from THE WEEDS
- Refocusing on your “why” and reclaim the commitment to success
- If there were significant trauma, abuse or childhood neglect issues, counseling is warranted. Some of those negative beliefs run really deep into the subconscious and with a self-sabotaging inner-child running amock the chance of getting off course is significant.
- Learn to engage the emotions. I am personally a big fan of mindfulness meditation and I use a Muse Headband and Headspace App nearly every day to help stay focused and present.
- Start each day with a priming exercise of some sort, something that kicks off the endorphins around achieving your goal(s) and being connected and filled with gratitude.
- Practice your faith, meditation, journaling, exercise… do the “self-care” stuff that helps keep you sane.
- Get an outside perspective, especially if you find you have been stuck in the weeds for months, years or even decades (as I was). Get a coach, one who specializes in the area you are wanting to excel. Relationships, health, finance or just a general life coach can be super helpful in gaining new insight, focus, and motivation.
- Take a time of solitude, either in a hobby or go for a walk or whatever that looks like for you. Reflection and refocus is healthy and necessary occasionally, even if only for stolen brief moments.
Do you have others? – please share below!
The point is, it is always our thoughts that lead us either further down the path or into the weeds. We may not have much control over the 95% of our brain that operates outside of our conscious awareness, but we can work miracles with the 5% that is under our control once we recognize we are losing sight of the big picture and our motivation is waning.
Take control back today!
Join the conversation: How do you “stay out of the weeds” as you move towards your more abundant life? Feel free to comment below!
My desire for LMP (The Life Mastery Project) is to create a fully-engaged community of overcomers who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other
Let’s Do This!
Certified Life Coach & NLP Practitioner
Founder of Nikaos Strategic Coaching
Developer of The Life Mastery Project and Life Mastery Series
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