Dare180: The One Question to Ask Yourself to Keep You Focused on Achieving Your Goals

 Image |  Jonathan Simcoe

There are a ton of articles, books, videos, and podcasts out there that will give you so many different ways to help you break through your particular screwy psychology and get you on the road to actually doing those things you said you were going to do. Procrastination, fear of failure, and self-sabotage have been studied by more scientifically astute minds than my own and it has been determined that these behaviors are meant to protect us. It is in our nature to maintain the status quo. It makes sense: better the devil you know than the one you don’t. And yet we know better. We know that the status quo isn’t always good for us. We know when we can do better and yet we keep falling short time and time again. Sometimes we make progress and then get angry with ourselves that it isn’t quite good enough. Well, there’s a way to disrupt all of that. It takes a bit of mental gymnastics and it’s not something you’ll master overnight, or even in a few weeks. I realized this was the best way for me to knock down the walls coming between me and my goals; the ones that were really there and the ones I built up in my mind. It’s simple but it takes practice to learn how to bring yourself back to your senses quickly when you’re in the throes of an emotional/mental/creative downward spiral. Ask yourself:

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Our brains are marvelous things that have evolved to automate a lot of what we do so that it’s easy to keep track of all the many millions of things we do that we aren’t consciously aware of. We should use this ability to work for us and not against us. The biggest obstacle to getting this to work is recognizing when you’re going off track. Habits are hard to change and recognizing them for what they are isn’t always easy. The best way to do that is to start taking inventory of your own behavior. I recommend [link]writing down your observations so that you can see your habits in black and white on real paper [link]. Here are some of mine that I’ve worked on changing:

  • I wake up and instead of getting out of bed and starting my exercise routines, I start scrolling through Instagram or watching videos on YouTube.
     
  • I know I need to begin or finish working on a project but keep finding other things to do because doing what I need to will be tedious
     
  • I know I need to be planning and balancing my meals and eating with nutrition in mind but take the easy way out which isn’t always kind to my body.

Once you see them staring back at you it’s a lot easier to notice when you’re doing them. When you notice you’re acting through habit and not with intention is when you begin to force yourself to refocus. It won’t always stop procrastination from setting in. It won’t stop you from blaming or criticizing  yourself from time to time. But it does help you snap your brain back to thinking about what you really need to be doing to accomplish your goals. It is then up to you to decide to shift your behavior. Now what you do has become not just a habit but a decision whose consequences you’ve chosen to accept. This method has helped me but it took a long time to get here so don’t expect overnight it will fix all your habits. Consider it another tool to help you to keep moving forward.