We have all had experiences of wanting something to be different, but staying stuck in the same place. Wishing things would be different doesn't make change happen. Wanting things to be different doesn't make change happen.
There are many factors involved when it comes to whether or not you accomplish a desired goal. Your level of confidence, your motivation, your resources, your support system - all of these elements play a part, but there is another essential and often overlooked factor that comes into play.
When there is a discrepancy between what you think you want, and what you actually want (and what you’re actually willing to commit to), the discrepancy creates cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is basically that feeling of tension and angst that occurs when you simultaneously want two different things that are in conflict with one another. There will be times in your life where choosing to commit towards one goal could be in direct conflict with your ability to work towards another goal. The truth is that you cannot give 100% of your energy to both and when you have conflicting goals, oftentimes instead of fully realizing either one, you end up half-assing both.
If you find yourself not fully committing to a goal, here are some important questions to ask yourself:
- What do I want to accomplish with this goal?
- Why do I want to accomplish this?
- Does this goal conflict with another goal or desire I have?
- Does this goal bring me closer to or further away from my life values and the person I want to be?
Can you let go of one goal to make room for the other? Or can you let go of how you are defining success with each goal? Can you clarify what is truly important to you in your life and choose goals that fit in line with that? We sometimes get hooked by setting goals that we think we should or by feeling like we have to always continue to raise the bar. It's important to step back and make sure that your goals are still in line with what you really want for your life.
I have a list of equanimity mantras hanging up above my desk. The first three on the list are:
- I am responsible for my actions and for the choices I make.
- My suffering and happiness is created through my relationship to the experience not by experience itself.
- My happiness and unhappiness depends on the actions not my wishes.
If you’re feeling some cognitive dissonance or distress related to your goals – these are powerful mantras to remind you that wishing and wanting something to feel different will not make them feel different.
You need to clarify your goals - what do you want to accomplish and are you ready to commit what you need to do in order to accomplish it? If you want something to change, you have to take action. If you ask yourself this question and the answer is NO, it might be time to reevaluate what is important to you right now and let go of the thing that was important to you in the past or might be important to you in the future. Be OK with the goal you have chosen. Don’t worry about anyone else’s goal or where you stack up. It’s YOUR goal and what’s important is how that goal makes you feel about yourself – not how your goal stacks up against anyone else’s goal. So what are you ready to go after and what are you ready to let go of?