January brings a tailwind of inspiration to pursue big goals. It’s a great time to renew commitments to life aspirations and healthier habits. Once the motivation of the New Year wears off, momentum can quickly fade. Whether you are working towards losing 10 pounds, launching a business or increasing revenue, it’s important to cultivate an environment where success can take root and grow.
That means confronting the obstacles that stand in your way. Here are five common challenges that may limit you from reaching your goals, and ways to rise above and stay on track.
Not backing up your goals with a plan.
The difference between a vague wish and an achievable goal is creating a course of action. If you are hoping for a promotion this year, begin thinking of what you can do today, tomorrow, next week and next month to move you in that direction, such as additional training, asking your boss for new responsibilities or setting up a lunch to get to know a colleague better. Make a list of steps that will help you inch closer to your target and start checking them off.
Under-utilizing your time.
Whatever your objective, you’ll need to find space in your already busy schedule to move towards it. It’s a matter of prioritizing how you spend your 24 hours each day. Conduct an honest evaluation of what you do with your time. Over the course of three days (or even better, a week), write down how you spend each hour of the day. Note both the commitments in your schedule that are non-negotiable, like work or family, as well as the things you can let go of to create more room for pursuing your goal. Warning: don’t fall into the trap of cutting corners on your own health and well-being, for example, by eating too much fast food, foregoing sleep or neglecting to exercise. You are placing new demands on yourself, so do the things that will help you perform at your best.
Skipping your physical well-being.
You may admire a colleague who has the discipline to work out each morning before work. But keep in mind that everyone is different. While a fit friend might enjoy hitting the gym at 5 a.m. every day, that may not be realistic or sustainable for you (especially if it makes you fall asleep at your desk at 2 p.m.). Examine your own nature, lifestyle and habits to hone in on a time that coincides with your schedule. Exercising your body does wonders for your attitude and your mind.
Reaching new heights involves going beyond your comfort zone, and that can be scary. One helpful way to manage the inevitable terror of doing something new is to surround yourself with inspiring, supportive people. Build a team of individuals who are on board with your plan and see the value in it. Ideally, this will include a mentor, someone who has done what you are trying to do and can share their insights. Turn to your sounding board when doors close or the road gets bumpy. Staying away from naysayers is important but can be difficult, especially when it’s a close friend or family member. If talking about your dreams with them leaves you deflated, discuss other common topics. Also, stay motivated by reading whatever you can about people who have done what you want to do – or who have achieved things far more difficult.
Your big aspiration will veer between exhilarating and exhausting, achievable and impossible. When the odds seem insurmountable, remember that success is a series of small steps, taken consistently. If your goal is to run a marathon, you have to put in every single ounce of training before you get to the starting line. There’s no rushing it and no shortcuts. Persistence pays off. Keep pressing towards your dream and don’t give up.
For more business etiquette tips, read my article, How to Be a Better Listener, via the Huffington Post.