By Dennis Collins
One of the most infuriating circumstances you can find yourself in is when you genuinely want to do something and achieve something, and then when you set to it the results are far from perfect. Why is it that even when we have our minds set on something, that either it doesn’t get done, or the results are unsatisfactory? Is there a disconnect between what we think and what we do?
Let’s Start With An Example
The best, most simple and most common example is when you are in the bath and you want to get out but for some reason you don’t. You tell yourself you will get out in ten minutes and end up spending another 45 minutes in there. Such circumstances are not uncommon. They are the reason why sleep/snooze buttons were invented for alarm clocks. Let us examine some of the possible reasons why we seem to be mentally motivated and yet do not achieve our goals.
Are Goals The Problem?
No they are not, but our understanding of them is. There are quite a few modern myths that surround motivation and goals. The most common is that if you have a goal and you write it down, or if you visualize success, that somehow it will happen.
Just because we set our minds to something, no matter how strongly reinforced, it doesn’t mean it will happen, and yet some people think or feel that setting their mind to it is the hardest part.
Setting your mind to something often gives you an excuse to put it off, especially if you think that writing down your goals or visualizing your success is in any way going to affect the outcome. In many people, setting a goal actually gives them an excuse not to act.
How Do We Fix This?
Only set goals that you are going to start working on right away. If you want to get something done, then decide to do it right now and set your goal in the moment. Even if you only have a few moments spare, then set a goal for how much you will achieve in those few moments. You should then forget the idea of goal setting until you yet again have the time to act on the goal.
Is Discipline A Problem?
In many people, discipline and their motivation go hand-in-hand. People that have problems with self-discipline are often able to shirk a task and put it off more easily. The problem is that most tasks and goals require some degree of work, and it takes self-discipline to work. The desire to avoid action and work is very strong in many people. Many will opt for the easier or more comfortable route.
How Do We Fix This?
If you often find that your mind is willing but the results are unfulfilling, then improving your self-discipline may be just what you need. The ability to push yourself out of your comfort zone is more difficult for some people than it is for others, and the biggest reason is their self-discipline. Work on that and you may not achieve all the goals you desire, but you are far more likely to act on the goals you set.
Are Negative Habits The Problem?
Actually, the problem is not negative habits at all. The problem is habit itself. You are not under-motivated because you are in the habit of over-eating, smoking, or lounging around. The habit doesn’t help your case, but it also doesn’t hinder you in the way you think. It is your habits of inaction, indecision and procrastination that are stalling your motivational efforts and leading to poor quality results.
Habits are born from repetitive behaviors that become ingrained in our minds. We start to consider them a norm, which is why it feels so uncomfortable when we try to break habits. What people consider normal is what people also associate with comfort and security. Break a habit, and you push yourself into uncomfortable territory that doesn’t have the warm and cozy feeling that normality and consistency holds. Even the habit of procrastination, indecision or inaction may be as difficult to break as a drug addiction, where people keep slipping back into their usual habits whilst feeling it is completely out of their control.
How Do We Fix This?
As odd and simplistic as it sounds, the best solution may simply be practice. Motivating yourself to set goals and feel the pleasure of achieving them is not something you are born with. It is something that many people pick up as they grow older, but just how well the lesson is learnt seems to vary from person to person. If you practice setting goals and achieving them, you will find it becomes easier as time goes by.
You slowly build a new habit to replace the old one, which is often a lot easier than trying to break a habit on its own. It is the reason alcoholics become coffee addicts and gambling addicts become sex addicts. It is because replacing one habit with another is easier than breaking a habit and leaving a hole in their lives. What is more encouraging is that, just like riding a bike, the more you learn the pleasure of setting goals and achieving them, the easier it becomes.