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Why We Don’t Stick To Our Goals
We've all started something without finishing it. Personally, it's one of the things I hate most, but I still do it. For some people, it's a regular lifestyle. For instance, if I start watching a movie, eating something delicious, or watching a football game, I have to see it all through. Abandoning any of it makes me feel almost incomplete!
For people like my wife, however, she can start a movie and go to bed after watching 75% of the film and be just as content with life, never seeing the conclusion. She has no problem throwing away food when she's full. And she has no problem moving to the next task when she sees no benefit in seeing it through to its conclusion.
When it comes to people like my wife, the nagging question I try to explore is why people like her don't stick with something they started. How can they start something if you never intend on finishing it?
But to presuppose that my intentions are a better approach in life would not only get me in some trouble with my wife, but it's also a faulty assumption. In each case, it's essential to evaluate why we make these decisions to continue or not continue, as well as the contexts for each decision. So, this may sound counterintuitive for a motivational geared toward starting and sticking with a goal, but before we evaluate the importance of consistency for purposes, let's assess some reasons why it might be time to stop pursuing a dream.
I was recently asked by some high school students in Cleburne, Texas (shoutout to their English teacher Mrs. Katie Arellano!) what makes a good teacher. I stole my answer from Peloton instructor Jess Sims who, throughout her workouts, encourages athletes not to be afraid to modify their workout movements if they are too complicated. "No ego, amigo," she says when prompting a modification.
The same concept applies to me as a coach when evaluating our workouts. Sometimes workouts don't work or don't match the type of athletes we have. Like Jess Sims prompts me when working out, I can't have an ego and expect positive results from movements that negatively impact me. To be an effective coach, I must put aside my pride and learn to adapt to my reality. I may have a goal as a coach I want my athletes to reach, but if they don't have the talent to achieve those goals, or we don't share those goals, it'd be like ramming my head into a brick wall every practice to lead athletes to a place they're incapable or uninterested in reaching.
Unfortunately, this is the approach and attitude we can develop after setting goals or making plans without correctly identifying our motivations. However, here is where we can learn from people like my wife. Before sitting down to watch a movie or start a book, my wife is content with not finishing. Finishing those things isn't that important to her. People like my wife have no problem adjusting or dropping their goals and plans if they see it isn't beneficial because they identify the benefits beforehand. Sometimes we must let go of our dreams and goals—or our processes. Continuing to do something just for the sake of doing it can be harmful at worst or a waste of time at best.
So before we evaluate why we shouldn't drop our plans on a whim, let's assess some beneficial reasons to let go of a goal or a process.
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1) It's no longer beneficial. As I mentioned before, you may just be wasting your time. Some goals or processes that worked in the past may not be helpful for you anymore. The world changes rapidly. It's essential to be comfortable with changing also.
2) It's harmful. You may be hanging on to a process to reach a goal that is not good for you. For example, when I changed my dietary habits, I saw the results in my body I desired. However, I wasn't eating enough good carbohydrates, which meant my body didn't have enough energy. By the end of the workday, I was worn out and lost focus quickly. In this case, I needed to add a process, not eliminate it. Is it possible you've given up on goals because you chose the most extreme route that caused you mental, physical, or emotional harm?
3) You're uninterested. This conclusion is one of the most difficult to realize or admit. Sometimes we start chasing a goal because we are intrigued about it. Then, after a while, the interest is gone—interest was all we had at the beginning of our pursuit. We'll get into this later, but a good practice to help evaluate if you have an interest or a genuine desire or passion for achieving a goal is patience. Before committing to a plan, wait 3-7 days—or longer—to evaluate your interest versus desire. In this way, patience can save much time.
4) The goal has been reached. You may look up someday and realize that you've achieved your goal. But the point is not to acquire success and then be done with it. The objective for many plans—to become more organized, lose weight, exercise more, read daily, pray more, etc.—is to make the journey a lifestyle, which is the best reason to let go of a goal. The destination is a lifestyle.
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