The antidote for falling short

Last time I wrote about the five reasons we fall short of turning our dreams into reality. This week I focus on the antidote for each of the five pitfalls. Antidotes are great because it means there’s hope of rescue; that you’re not damned. So if you’re feeling like a loser (I sometimes do) because you’re off the mark, far from the shores you visualized you’d be by now do take heart. You can make it better. It won’t get better on its own though so be ready to put in some work to turn your ship around.

Pitfall number one is fear. What’s the antidote of fear? I’ll give you a hint – action. If you wait for the fear to fade or go away before you try something new you’re in for a shock! You’ll die waiting.

We’re designed to fear what we don’t know. That’s why there’s such a thing as courage. There’s three common responses to fear – do not attempt that which you fear for whatever you fear will come true. In fact move in the opposite direction (flee). Second alternative response is to do nothing until the fear goes away. Which amounts to doing nothing. Ever. Last and recommended response, do that which you fear. That is actually the definition of courage – taking action despite fear. This however doesn’t mean you jump with your eyes closed. You need to consider the dangers ahead and plan for them.

Poor or no planning is the second problem I identified in my last article Five reasons we fall short. Obviously the antidote is to plan and plan well at that. I used to get really upset when things didn’t go as planned but I quickly (maybe not so quickly because I can sometimes be a control freak) learned that life rarely goes according to our plans. Plans are guidelines and not cast in stone. We must be flexible in our implementation of those plans, tweaking them and re-evaluating them as we assess our journey. Planning not only means thinking through the actions you want to take but also any challenges that may come your way and how you will deal with them. Plans are incomplete if you don’t factor in the resources you need – from you as well as those you may need the input of others. Lastly, a plan on paper prompts better commitment than when you just think about it. In this age paper also means digital. Type it up if you have to. It is also easier to refer back to. My computer is full of folders of plans – gardening, traveling, speaking, etc. Even my wedding plans are still on my computer.

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Third pitfall that keeps us from achieving our goals is impatience. With ourselves, others and God. The attitude is (drumroll….) adopt an attitude of patience. One of my new hobbies requires A LOT of patience: gardening. You start with soil, some manure and seeds. Then you plant the seeds in the soil and wait. You watch and you wait. While you wait you must do your due diligence. Make sure the pot can get enough light and is well watered. And then one day a stem and leaf emerge. Yippee! Some more waiting. I planted tomatoes from seed back in January and we ate the first fruit this month. That is almost five months! And now the plants look sick. I’m still trying to figure out how to prevent their death. Researchers and experience business people will tell you it takes an average of three years to break even and start to make profit. Promotion doesn’t come overnight. Very little does. The trick though is that while you wait you need to be diligent in taking care of the seed you have planted and you also need to prepare for the next stage that is coming. Tend your garden and your patience will be rewarded.

In fourth place is plain old laziness. Waiting for everything to be right before you make your move? That’s an excuse for inaction and laziness. Every time you think of just bumming on the couch, sleeping an extra hour or two, skipping your workout visualize how great it would feel to have your dream come true. If you want to lose weight see yourself in that killer outfit or going up two flights of stairs without feeling like your heart will stop. See the solutions you want to offer through your business changing the lives of people and feel the satisfaction of being significant. I like the message on some of the public benches in the city “I refuse to sit here and do nothing.” Aim to do at least one thing towards meeting your goal(s) each day.

Lastly I wrote about the pitfall of setting wrong goals. Your goal setting needs to be on point to set you off on the right path from the beginning. Own the goals is the first thing you can do for yourself in this area. Make sure the goals make sense to your life. How? Make sure you can answer the “so what?” To each of them. So what if you achieve that goal? What difference will it make? What do you seek with each goal? This will be key in days when you wake up or are lying in bed about to fall asleep and you ask yourself – why am I doing this/why should I bother? Then as the management gurus have reiterated for years: make sure your goals are SMART. Specific means not general. I want to spend my time better is general. You have to think of things you would like to do that qualify as time spent better. Measurable means you can count it or track it. If it can’t be measured it can’t be achieved. Saying lose weight is not measurable. Even 1gram will count as success so you’ve got to put a number to it. Lose 10kg, read for 30minutes every day, walk 5km every week… You need a yardstick.

A is for Achievable. Don’t set goals that are impossible. Yes I know everything is possible…so this is tricky. 🙂 Ask yourself “how can this goal be accomplished?” If you can’t answer that it isn’t achievable. Realistic means practical; that you have or can get the resources you need to make it happen. Time-bound simply is that you’ve got to say the when, give a deadline. Set timelines that will stretch you rather than comfortable timelines. My problem most of the time is that I give myself too little time to achieve some of the goals I target. And then I feel really disappointed when it doesn’t happen. I’m learning to break the goals down to establish more realistic time lines.

So as we get to the mid-point of the year, set aside some time to sit down and evaluate your progress. Rejoice and celebrate the achievements, review the goals you’re yet to achieve and based on your findings, reevaluate those goals to determine whether they are relevant to you. Identify where you need to change and then change. Because your success depends on it. I’ll be having my mid-year review this coming week and plan to meet with my accountability partner so we can have an even greater second half of the year. Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living”.

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