WHY WE DO NOT ACHIEVE OUR GOALS
Success does not come easily but requires planning and a large dose of personal investment. Personal change is not easy to attain and maintain. Overconfidence helps us to keep our spirits up, but it will not necessarily help us to achieve our goals. Many of us trying to improve our fitness and change our body shape fail our health goals because we expect it to be easy. We believe that success is around the corner. Psychologists consider that it is unrealistic expectations of the ease with which the goals can be attained, which lead to failure. We fail because we do not prepare for personal change. There is no good fairy that will come to you in the night and transform your body for you.
Then there are others who have limiting beliefs. They believe that they will never achieve the goal. They may have something stirring in them, but they believe that the fitness goal or any goal for that matter is not within their control. They dwell on the automatic negative thoughts rather than reward themselves with positive thoughts. They do not believe that they have the innate ability to achieve any personal change, so they do not try hard enough.
Sometimes we are our worst enemies. If you believe that things are beyond your control, they are hopeless, you stop trying and as a result it does appear that they were as bad as you feared. It is not the misfortune that is the real problem, but the way you appraise the situation, your pessimistic outlook.
On the other hand, the persistent form the view that the setbacks are temporary and caused by factors which can be changed. It is this belief that things can be changed that distinguishes the successful from those who assume instead that the obstacles cannot be overcome.
The successful see failure as a source of lessons for them; it teaches them valuable lessons as to what needs to be altered in order to achieve the goal. The persistent are pro-active, they are willing to consider the causes of the failure, and if a change is required in the deepest part of their personality, they will introduce it in order to gain what they want. This explains why some flounder, and the successful ones bounce back, completely transformed. The persistent ones have a history of repeatedly reinventing themselves, till they get the right formula for success. The saying, ‘Failures are the pillars of success’ sums up very elegantly what I am trying to convey.
Failure is often better than therapy, because we can learn from failure. The key is to listen carefully, so that we can hear what it is trying to tell us. It will tell you what you need to change and what you need to retain to succeed. If you want to succeed at what ever goal you set for yourself, be it about your personal development, your health or your career, the major obstacles you need to remove are not placed by others, but the impediments are erected by yourself.
Listen to the language or self talk which you make in your own head. If you are self-aware, and you examine your language, you can often see in your statements your attitude or your approach to a certain task that you want to undertake. The language of negative people absolves them of responsibility. When a person says: “That is the way I am”, what the person is really telling us or himself / herself is: I am not responsible. There is nothing I can do about it. Let us take a closer look at the statement: ‘I can’t do anything about it’. It is what psychologists call a ‘limiting belief. Albert Ellis the founder of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy called it an irrational belief. He states that people hold several key irrational beliefs. The approach encourages us to use the rational brain or our logic or wisdom to overcome the irrational Emotional side. The irrational or limiting beliefs are the problem, and once you have changed the limiting beliefs, you can change your Behaviour, which is also a vital part of personal transformation.
Such views are also called ‘Automatic Negative Thoughts’. Cognition is concerned with the way we process our thoughts and Psychology is the study of the mind and its functions. One of the fundamental techniques of Cognitive Psychology is to examine the advantages and disadvantages of holding such beliefs. If I say that ‘I can’t do it’, it is possible that people who want me to complete a certain task will leave me alone.
A serious problem with holding negative beliefs is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. People become reinforced in their view that they are not free to choose their response, that they can do nothing about it, and they produce evidence to support their irrational belief. They perceive themselves as ‘victims’, without any control. They blame other people, circumstances, even the stars and other factors for their situation. They will allege that they are facing the facts. A Coach would examine such core beliefs with clients, dispute how rational or reasonable they are, and then make them realise that they will be more realistic if they choose a positive response to their situation
Let us examine further how pro-active people, and those with limiting beliefs perceive similar situations. If we do not do a job well, some of us hold on to the experience which influences our future thinking and behaviour as well. We tend to generalise a single experience thus: ‘I am awful. I can’t do this job. I am no good’. By adopting and acting on such automatic negative thoughts, we do not subject them to logical analysis. As indicated earlier, failures can be our best teachers, if we only listen to them.
A pro-active person with a similar experience would probably say: ‘I didn’t do well in this job, but I learnt a lot which will help me to work more effectively. Those with pro-active tendencies learn for themselves how to do the job better. They accept themselves a little more. They accept the consequences of their endeavours, what ever the results, calmly and peacefully.
If you are really committed to positive change, then please attempt the following activity:
Write down five limiting beliefs which you normally make to yourself or to others.
• What are the advantages and disadvantages of holding the specific beliefs?
• Where is the evidence that supports your specific beliefs?
• How does this way of thinking help you?
• What is the impact this thinking has on you?
• REPLACE YOUR IRRATIONAL BELIEFS WITH HEALTHIER OR MORE REASONABLE IDEAS