The other week you promised yourself that come the weekend you’d clean out the garage, but you never got around to it. Why is that? Meanwhile, in the city an experienced office manager handles everything from ordering lunch for busy executives to personally picking up their dry cleaning when they need to work late. Considering how well she multitasks, you’d be surprised to know that her apartment is a mess. Of course, you’d have to see it for yourself. Good luck with that—she hasn’t invited anyone over in almost five years. And that explains why she hasn’t been out on a date in that long as well. When asked why she thinks her life has turned out this way, she shrugs her shoulders and says, “If you pay me $15 an hour, I’ll take care of your life. But do I take of my own? I don’t.” Then she adds, “Why is that?” Well, that’s a good question. Let’s try to answer it now.
We live in a demanding world. It often seems like sometimes, we almost have to steal time away for ourselves. Similar to the joyrider who’s stolen a car for fun, we often tend to squander the time we’ve stolen. Rather than recklessly squander our free time, wouldn’t it be better if we put it to good use?
If you’re having a difficult time meeting your personal goals, you may be unconsciously sabotaging them. To help, here are ten ways to avoid sabotaging your goals:
Plan your work—then work your plan – If you fail to make a plan, you’re planning for failure. In short, you ultimately sabotage your goals if you fail to make any in the first place. Become productive by getting out pen and paper. Start sketching out a plan.
What gets measured, gets done – In order to make a plan, you need to get into the habit of sizing up your chore. Instead of saying to yourself, “This will take a million years!” try to realistically size up the task before you. How much time do you think it will take to accomplish? Answer that in terms of, “How many minutes or hours you think it will take.”
Television is the number one offender – The same goes for smartphones, tablets and all the other flashy gadgets we toy with. Here’s a challenge: try working in silence. It can be a bit unnerving at first but I promise, you’ll get used to it. For me, working in silence just seems to always make for more productivity.
Always keep the promises you make with yourself – Get into the habit of keeping every promise that you make with yourself. This will teach you not to promise yourself more than you can deliver. Make sure your promises are reasonable. If you haven’t balanced your chequebook in six months, don’t make a promise with yourself that you’ll balance it regularly. You’ll feel like your tasks are much more manageable if you make promises for a defined time, like 15 minutes.
Perfection doesn’t exist. Good enough is great! – The perfect way to sabotage your goals is by becoming a perfectionist. Many perfectionists drive themselves crazy while attempting to attain a goal that’s impossible to reach. Teach yourself to accept rough drafts. Get going on them and be happy with well enough.
Overanalysis leads to paralysis – Perfectionism’s sibling is overanalysis. There are times when any action is better than inaction. Should over-analysis ever immobilize you, the best course of action to take—is to take action.
Yard-by-yard is hard. But inch-by-inch and it’s a cinch! – Perspective is something we all need to incorporate into our lives. Just as the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, cleaning out the garage starts when we open the garage door and take a peek inside. Look for small do-able tasks. Jot one down, take care of it, put a line through that task and then pick another one. You’ll be amazed how much you can get done using this simple method.
Disorganized thinking creates disorganized actions – The last tip was so important that I’m rewriting it here. If disorganized thinking creates disorganized actions then by organizing your thoughts on paper, your actions will reflect your newfound way of thinking.
Housecleaning is a mood changer – If all else fails, remember the Irish proverb: “Move a muscle, change a thought.” Whenever I just can’t seem to find my start button, I simply wet a rag and start wiping the dust from my furniture. After only a few minutes of that, I’m ready for larger tasks.
You can’t think your way into good action, but you can act your way into good thinking – How many times have you found yourself waiting to “feel like” dealing with an unpleasant task. Then, once you’ve begun actually dealing with it, you suddenly find yourself feeling eager to deal with it. The truth is, we never “feel like” dealing with anything that requires effort until we start the ball rolling. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself before a formidable task.