Let’s say it’s always been a dream of yours to write a book and now you’re finally ready to set a goal to achieve that dream. There’s excitement at first. You immediately visualize the outcome and you start to plan. Maybe you think about all the things you need to do to live your dream. If you’re organized you may actually start to break your items down into manageable pieces (tasks). Even better you may plan a timeline to go along with it.
You kick into your tasks and fly through the first few with zeal! As time goes on however, depending on how reachable your dream may be, perhaps you start to wane a bit on all that enthusiasm. Perhaps even a little bit of fear is starting to creep in. Perhaps you start to think you’re not quite worthy of that dream. Maybe you hit a roadblock because you have to learn or do something that takes you out of your comfort zone. And there go the brakes!
So what just happened? Well, there are at least a few things going on.
Your Brain Hates Change!
Neuroscience research has recently shown through MRI scans that the brain struggles with change, so any type of goal, especially one that introduces behavioral change, is a tall order. The brain is conditioned to seek pleasure and avoid pain. The limbic system in the brain controls emotions. A perceived threat, such as change, can have a strong impact on the limbic system. So, initially when you’re faced with even a small notion such as facing the unknown on a task that arises, your brain goes on alert and you put up resistance to creativity, new thinking and judgment. You freeze up. It’s the mountain out of the molehill effect. I know there are times I’ve visited that mountain.
When I started The Passion to Pursue, I was eager and excited! I could see the end game in my head. I could visualize what the website would look like. I figured out my tasks and off I went! Before long, I realized that yes, I could get a website up and running fairly quickly, but it wasn’t going to be all that easy if I wanted to customize it.
I found myself having to learn how to code. Whoa, I didn’t see that one coming! And how did I react? I got frustrated and I froze up. Here was a time consuming and challenging task I hadn’t taken into consideration. So I figured I had a couple of options. I could bug my partner from one of my other business ventures, who’s a coding guru (ok, I admit asking a question of her here and there!), or I could learn it myself. I made the decision to learn how to code and it definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but something really cool happened along the way. I had an all out brawl with my limbic brain and I won! The feeling of success and accomplishment of that task reminded me that it’s not all about the end game; it’s also about the journey.
Note: I have to say here, try not to get too consumed in tasks that take you away from your dream. Being productive and continuing to move ahead in a timely fashion with your tasks is the best way to go. Learning to code may not have been the best path to choose if I were under a tight deadline to launch my website. For me however, I thought through the pros & cons and knew deep down it was something I really did want to learn for future endeavors.
Drawback Of Only Focusing On The End Game
Dreams are often sabotaged long before they come into existence. Often people see reaching a goal as all or nothing. 99% just isn’t enough. I say hogwash to that.
I mentioned breaking items down into smaller, manageable pieces or tasks. As I was learning to code, I was celebrating a win. As I was picking out the fonts to use on my site, the color schemes, and the pictures to use – they were all a cause for celebration. When a number of tasks are grouped together and they’re finished up, this is commonly referred to in project management as meeting a milestone. The completion of each task and each milestone should be seen as a victory! Yes, living your dream is an amazing feeling, but it would be terrible to miss out on all that’s accomplished along the way.
No Control Over Outcomes
Sometimes, no matter how much effort you put into something, the truth of the matter is that you will never be able to have full control of its outcome. As the saying goes, sh@t happens. No matter how much you try to plan, you can’t take all the variables into account. Sure you can do a fine job of getting as much as you can planned and organized, but you still need to be willing to accept that the outcome may not be exactly what you wanted. Whether or not you’ve reached your dream, it’s important to remember how much you’ve grown from your experiences. Each time you face a new challenge you become stronger to face the next unknown.
So how do we keep goals from sabotaging our dreams?
- Be Aware!
Look for the signs that your emotional, limbic brain is coming in for a landing. If you face a challenge and you start to freeze up, recognize it, catch yourself and tell yourself there’s a workaround. Try to keep from climbing up the sheer face of the mountain in your mind. Start on the scenic path.
- Enjoy The Ride
Remember, it’s not just about finally reaching that goal. It’s also about all you learn along the way and feeling great about each achievement no matter how small.
- Let It Go!
I know this is a tough one for a lot of people, including me. Do all you can to get to where you want to be, but remember that you can’t control everything and sometimes by letting go even just a bit, you may be surprised at how well things still turn out.
Would love to hear your thoughts,
most especially if you think it can help others!
Take what flows for you and let the rest float by.