As a coach I get to observe a lot of people making decisions, setting, achieving and sometimes failing to achieve goals. I’ve noticed some very simple patterns that underlie why people whether get what they want or not and i’d like to share those here with you.
Here are the 3 reasons why people don’t get what they want…
- They don’t know what they want
- They don’t know how to get what they want
- They don’t really want what they want
That’s it. Let’s look at each reason in more detail and look at how you can turn any blocks around.
What do you want?
Strange as it may seem a lot of people simply don’t know what they want or can’t articulate it. Sometimes because ‘life gets in the way’ and they’re stuck in fire-fighting mode rather than a strategic, creative mode and they end up travelling a long way down the wrong direction because they ever decided where they were heading.
Sometimes people never articulate what they want because they think it’s selfish or they don’t want to end up let down or they think there’s something inherently wrong with having desires. You’ll often see people setting half-hearted, weak goals because they’ve talked themselves down from being ‘unrealistic’ and so they end up with a goal that wouldn’t satisfy them even if they got it.
Take a moment to get really clear with yourself. What do you really want to be, do, have in your life and business?
Do you actually want it?How can you get it?
The second reason is that if people do know what they want they have never clearly planned out how to get it. There are a number of ways to do this…
- Use common sense. Map out the most likely steps and fill in any blanks. You can always rejust later on with real-world feedback. [Often in mapping out a goal as a project we find out that we were massively over exaggerating the amount of effort we think things are going to take. Often it’s small actions repeated often then get us further forward.]
- Find a mentor. Find someone who has already achieved the result you want and ask them how they did it and then do the same. [Ask them also about what challenges they faced, how they overcame them, what they would do if things didn’t work out etc. Dig into the details, the mindset and beliefs as well as the actions.]
- Go on a course, read books, study online etc. [You can find out how to do most things these days, all it takes is initiative.]
For each item above write down how you can achieve it. Break it into manageable steps…
This is the one that normally catches people off guard. Whenever I explain this simple model this is the point that makes people say ‘tell me more.’
If we know what we want and we know how to get it then the only thing that’s stopping us is…ourselves. Because we are multifaceted individuals who can have entirely different thoughts, values, behaviour depending on the time of day and who we are with. This is just how our brains operate. Each of our habits reflects a neural pathway that we have laid down in our brain. These can be changed but it requires effort and time.
If you’ve written down a goal and a pathway to get there and you’re not taking action on it, it reflects your brain choosing the more well-worn (and comfortable) pathway. Every time your brain chooses a familiar pathway over a new one it gets a shot of dopamine (the feel good chemical.) Is it any wonder we can want something and yet not want it too?
The key is to check for each goal if you have enough motivation for the job and a way of keeping yourself on track until a new habit is developed.
There have been whole books written on the subject of personal change* but the simplest thing is to get really clear on your ‘big why’ for each goal i.e why it is a MUST and then remind yourself 3 times a day for several weeks. If you slip up just go straight back into the loop of action.
For each goal write down your big, motivating why…
I hope this system helps you to get more focused on the results you want. Don’t be fooled by simplicity, if it isn’t simple then it won’t work.
*Here are two good choices…
Changing for good- James O. Prochaska
The Power of Habit- Charles Duhigg