Facing your fears and pursuing a goal can be really scary and exciting. Doing something you think will make your life fulfilling is a great feeling and a wonderful accomplishment but many of us struggle to even get started. We all struggle with feelings that we are not worth it, not good or smart enough or just have a difficult time managing time and commitments to get started on our goals. Here are some tips that can hopefully inspire you to keep going.
1. Stop focusing on the past and what opportunities seem to be lost. It’s easy to get wrapped up in past mistakes or regrets and wonder how different your life may have been if you had made different decisions months or years ago. That feeling is natural and happens to everyone at some point in their life, or even during multiple points of their lives. An opportunity isn’t really lost, because you can grasp the opportunity now. Better to take hold of the opportunity now than even later.
2. Focus on what you can do right now. Reminiscing on your past might make you consider what if’s and focusing too much on the future can be overwhelming and scary. We often focus too much on the end result, which could be completing medical school before even enrolling in an undergraduate program or publishing a book before taking time to come up with an idea of what to write. As a result, goals may seem unattainable and we can often fall into the habit of giving up before even trying. Everything worth having takes time, energy, focus and patience. Focus on what you can do right this very moment to change your life. There are actions you can take this very moment, and try to avoid spending too much time reviewing your past or becoming overwhelmed by the future.
3. You aren’t the only one. A trap we often fall into is comparing ourselves to our peers. You might believe as a single parent in your forties that it’s too late to go back to school. However, many people of all ages attend university and pursue a career. In your late twenties you might feel like many of your peers have their lives figured out and you are the only one who doesn’t yet know what they want to do. Nothing is further from the truth. Many of us struggle to figure out our passions, what we want to do in life and what we want our lives to look like in the next few years. You aren’t alone. You aren’t behind. Remember that there are millions of people in the world who feel very similar to you and have their own personal struggles. Even people who you view as successful have battled with these feelings at some point or another.
4. You can learn new things, but it may be different and that’s probably a good thing. Learning as a child is much different to learning as an adult. This is particularly true when learning an instrument or language. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot become fluent at a language or talented at playing an instrument. This just means that the way you learn will be different as an adult, particularly when you take into account that you might be balancing a full-time job, children, school and other priorities. A child has the time to immerse themselves in a language or skill such as music. Although you may not have that amount of time, you still have the opportunity to learn new skills but keep in mind that the process of acquiring those skills will be different and that’s okay. And possibly even a good thing. Maybe you can take online courses, go to classes designed for adults to learn or have access to resources you never had before. Maybe pursuing something as an adult is even easier because you have the will power and excitement to take on a new challenge. Learning as an adult can be fun because you already have the passion to pursue an interest and can explore different avenues to achieving that goal.
5. Focus on the reasons you are pursuing something. Try to not get caught up in thinking about an overwhelming end goal or the fear of failing, particularly if you’ve failed before. Failing is scary and all of us will have something that we struggle with. You may need to fail several times before you can really succeed. Instead of placing your focus on fear or goals that might not be complete for several months or years, focus on the reason you are pursuing something. Have you always wanted to master a particular skill? Do you need to make a career change so that you can do something meaningful and makes you feel content? Are you working to create a better life for yourself and your family? Are you stuck in a cycle of depression and need to make some changes so you can get out of that cycle? Do you want to become healthier? Whatever your reasons, focus on the reasons and keep moving forward. No matter how scary or overwhelming something seems, remember why you are doing this and keep going.
6. Try to accomplish one thing, no matter how small every day. A good way to form a habit of staying motivated to pursue your dreams is to do something that makes you feel accomplished. For instance, you might choose to write a few hundred words a day for a book you hope to finish one day. Or if you are trying to create a healthier lifestyle you might choose to do some form of exercise each day, whether that’s a 20 minute walk, a jog, yoga or heading to the gym. What you accomplish doesn’t have to be directly related to your goals but it does have to leave you feeling like you did something that day. Some ideas that may not be directly related to your goals but leave you feeling accomplished, could be to read a book for 30 minutes, meditation, journaling your thoughts, learning to cook something different for dinner or reaching out to a family member or friend you haven’t heard from in some time. Doing something to help you feel accomplished each day, will remind you that there is plenty of time to achieve your goals and that there is always something you can start doing today.
7. Work on any anxiety you have about the amount of time you have left to accomplish something. A difficult aspect about achieving a goal is any thoughts about what you think you should have achieved by now or an impending deadline that you have placed om yourself. Stay focused on the present and be flexible and kind to yourself. Deadlines are a great motivator to get things done but don’t be so rigid that you view yourself as a failure if you don’t meet a timeline you set on yourself. You will have a higher quality product if you give yourself the time and effort it deserves. Learning a language is very difficult for anyone. Telling yourself that you must become fluent in 2 years may be ambitious but not realistic. Immersing yourself in a language and truly becoming fluent may take more time you anticipate and that’s okay. Having a fitness goal to be a certain weight or run a certain distance in X amount of months may be a great motivator to kick start a healthy lifestyle but realistically it may take you more time to achieve those health goals. Be flexible and understanding. Focus on the positives and the fact that you still have time to achieve that goal.
8. If it’s important, make it a priority. Procrastination happens to us all the time. Personally it’s a struggle I’ve always had, wanting to leave something very important to me till later. It’s easy to spend time watching shows, playing games, socializing with friends and finding pretty much any excuse possible to hold off on doing something that maybe even takes up less than an hour of your day. Recognize if you are very prone to falling into a cycle of procrastination. It can be easy to delay something today, but today often turns into weeks, months and sometimes years. Recognize any past bad habits that have stalled your progress. Are you constantly dropping out of school because you spend too much time doing other things that are less of a priority? Are you always looking for a reason to not learn the piano? Sadly, we can self-sabotage our own happiness with procrastination. Be honest if this is a problem you have and work on making the things you want a solid priority. If it’s a priority, do it first and the other commitments come second, or third to that.
9. Remember if you want more out of life, you have to move forward. You might be reading this because you feel stuck and unhappy in life, losing motivation to complete something important to you or having doubts about life decisions you have made. All these feelings are normal and happen to everyone at some stage in life. The only thing you can do is remember that if you want more from your life whether that’s a better career, learning a new skill, getting healthy or figuring out what you are passionate about, you have to move forward. Sitting around doing nothing will not get you anywhere. Becoming discouraged by past choices or feeling fear because of an uncertain future does not move you forward. If you want something more in your life, you have to take steps forward.
If something is important to you do it now. All of us have had our own personal obstacles when finding the time, motivation or energy to get something done. Don’t let those obstacles keep stopping you from making yourself happy with your life. You can do whatever you want right now, tomorrow or anytime. Choose to start today, for yourself.