Each and every one of us has a dream buried deep inside our heart. Dreams of travel, of creating a successful business, of finding the perfect relationship, of quitting that unhealthy addiction or habit, of becoming a certain someone or something. However, why is it many of us find achieving these dreams challenging; sometimes daunting? Many times change is one of the most terrifying aspects of human experience. We grow comfortable in habit and routine, even if that routine is detrimental to our own health and happiness. In order to give up what’s “comfortable,” we need to have enough incentive to shake off our old ways of thinking and living and create a roadmap and plan to become the person we dream of being. Psychologists, sociologists, and scientists have been studying human behavior and specifically our abilities and methods for evolving throughout the decades. Some of their common conclusions show that there are several stages to creating sustainable change, especially when we are trying to alter deeply ingrained habits and rooted fears. In an article published in Harvard Women’s Health Watch, researchers discuss the various ingredients necessary to create long-term positive change. The article highlights the various stages of change creation and how understanding them can empower you to not only get off the couch and put on the gym clothes but also maintain a steady commitment to that new workout regime or diet plan that leads to lasting results.
Another key to achieving your goals and implementing desired change is to create a long-term plan. Every new business entrepreneur knows that a business plan is absolutely essential in creating a structure and backbone for the company or enterprise they are building. The same can be said for achieving health, wellness or personal goals that have been hiding in the back closet for quite a long time. What about that old dream of writing your first novel or meeting the love of your life? These ideas or desires could be sitting in your heart, churning and churning without ever being moved into action? Why?
Forbes contributor Brett Steenbarger asserts that a big part of the failure of any new plan or goal is due to the lack of preparation for potential failure. Seems counterintuitive, right? In the self-help world we are constantly inundated with the idea of positive thinking. Yet, it seems that most successful business entrepreneurs, life coaches and therapists all say that having a good defense is actually the best offense for major set-backs in our personal or professional aspirations. To believe that there will be no challenge to the commitment you have made for yourself is in some ways hiding your head in the dirt and avoiding reality. Yet, if you create a plan of action and anticipate obstacles that might arise in achieving your goals, you are much more likely to overcome your own resistance to success and will continue moving forward to reaching your desired outcome.
In addition to having a roadmap, there are a variety of tools which will support you in achieving your goal. First would be to set realistic, focused and achievable benchmarks. By creating a few attainable targets that are building blocks towards your goal, you can garner strength, courage and inspiration to keep moving forward, compounding goals that build on the success of the former. Next, having an accountability system is a key component to forward progress. Whether it be a family member, friend, or professional (coach, therapist, advisor), having someone who is aware of what you’re looking to achieve and is there to support you in holding yourself accountable can be a game changer. Many times this added support creates incentives to help you move through any resistance that might arise. In addition, creating a reminder system that allows you to constantly check-in with the vision you are forging helps you maintain focus on the endgame. Whether it is a vision board, goals sheet or positive affirmations posted somewhere visible, these reminders can help you to feel inspired and reminded of why you are working to create the change you wanted to make in the first place. Lastly, having a schedule and consistency in the actions you take towards reaching your goals is essential to navigating self-created and external obstacles that might appear on your path.
Yet above all, what does it take to bring your dreams to life? A commitment and desire strong enough to help propel you forward through whatever adversity might come your way. So check in with yourself. If you’ve been feeling stuck or finding your mind seeking comfort in that space of complacency and avoiding whatever it is your heart has been yearning for, perhaps it’s time to step up and finally make that commitment to change, make a plan, find a friend and allow your fear to take a back seat as you move forward in building the life you truly want to live.