As a psychotherapist, I get the honor of helping people tackle their goals. Some clients are really inspired to change their lives and they just want a little direction getting there. Other clients are feeling a bit more hopeless and discouraged about creating positive changes. Either way, my job is to help them take the steps they need to make their lives better.
Over the years, I’ve learned that no matter what kind of goal someone is trying to reach–health, financial, parenting , relationship, or career–there are some common traps that might keep them from living their dreams.
Here are nine most common traps that could prevent you from reaching your goals and the strategies that will help you avoid them: 1. Putting your goals off until ‘someday.’
Since ‘someday’ never appears on the calendar, you’ll never accomplish your goals if you keep pushing them off. The best of intentions won’t do you any good without a clear plan.
Solution: If a goal is important to you, create a timeline. Even if you can’t start working on it today, at least tell yourself when you can tackle it. Whether you want to apply for a promotion once your child starts school or you plan to return to college when you turn 40, stop using the word ‘someday.’
2. Waiting to take action until you ‘feel’ ready.
If you wait until you feel ready to tackle something tough you might be waiting a long time. It’s unlikely that you’re going to gain a sudden burst of inspiration out of the blue.
Solution: Change your behavior first. Sometimes, the emotions change later. Take action and you may gain the ambition you need to keep going.
3. Not anticipating the tough times.
Whether you want to get out of debt, or you’re hoping to lose weight, change isn’t easy. You’ll encounter some days that are harder than others and it’s important to accept that there will be a rough road ahead.
Solution: Think about potential pitfalls that you might face and develop a plan for dealing with those times when you might be tempted to give up. When you have a plan, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to keep going.
4. Viewing mistakes as failure .
Progress rarely comes in a straight line. But sometimes, people think one step back means they’ve gone all the way back to square one, which causes them to give up.
Solution: Recognize that you’re going to mess up sometimes. But rather than declare yourself a dismal failure, use your energy to create a plan to get back on track. 5. Not making your goal a priority.
Procrastination is not an unfamiliar concept to students. Be it studying for a tough statistics mid-term, doing a boring and monotonous 2-hour transcription, or planning a daunting group project, students can often find solace in putting off doing tasks like these and find ways to disengage and browse cat videos on TikTok for hours. This type of procrastination is referred to as academic procrastination, as it’s related to putting off doing important things related to one’s coursework and schooling. I’ve invited my colleague and friend, Reza Feyzi Behnagh of the School of Education at SUNY, Albany, to write this post with me.
In the past two years and with the funding support from the National Science Foundation, Behnagh (a learning scientist) and Shaghayegh Sahebi, a computer scientist, together with their research team of graduate students, studied academic procrastination . (I have been a recent consultant.) They are looking at how students make plans, set goals , and break large projects into smaller chunks, how they go about studying and checking their progress, and whether and under what conditions they procrastinate.
To gain this understanding, they developed a mobile app (Proccoli) to help students plan and study for their coursework. Why Proccoli? Just like broccoli that kids avoid eating (or procrastinate eating until the end of their meal) while it is good for them, getting things done toward one’s goal might be unpleasant and daunting at first, but learning a cool concept, a nice grade, praise, or a degree or course to complete, make all the effort worth it. Their app is designed to help students set goals, break their goals into smaller chunks, keep track of their studies in a Pomodoro-style timer, and check out their progress in continuously updating charts.
The goal of the SUNY Albany team has been to model and understand academic procrastination in college-age students, how it happens and individual differences that affect it, and to be able to identify the ‘behavioral signature’ of academic procrastination, predict it, and ultimately to help students manage their emotions (e.g., anxiety , boredom ) and get things done!
How do we understand academic procrastination? Unless students tell us what they are doing, how long, how often, and when they are studying (are they pulling an all-nighter the night of their exam? Are they preparing well in advance?), there is no way for us to know for sure. The app and data we are gathering through the app give us a unique perspective to understand under what circumstances and how students procrastinate.
In the past two years, a large group of graduate and undergraduate students have used the app (80-120 a semester), creating hundreds of goals and subgoals (1100 goals and 400 in the […]
Have you ever envied anyone who has better grades, bigger house, more recognition, popularity.. and grumbled “Why did she get xxx and not me?!?*#” It’s easy to look at people who seem to have it all–beauty, fitness, great career, wealth, freedom and tell ourselves that it’s all luck. Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his bestseller book, Outliers, that all successful people who achieved mastery in any area have devoted at least 10,000 hours to it. No exceptions.
We live in a culture of instant gratification and overnight fame. The youtube star that you believe to have gained fame overnight has hours of disciplined practice that people don’t see. . 10,000 seems like an insurmountable number, but when you’re consistent, a small step forward each day adds up to a lot of mileage over time. Your life is too important to just leave it to chance. To guarantee success, harness the power of discipline.
Free Success Fortune Telling Chart
What it takes to top the Billboard chart, win the Wimbleton, best-selling author, Nobel prize winning scientist, world renowned violinist
5 days a week
6 days a week
1 hour / day
38.5 years (260 hours / yr)
32 years(312 hours / yr)
27 years(365 hours / yr)
2 hours / day
19 years(520 hours / yr
16 years624 hours / yr
14 years730 hours/ yr
3 hours / day
4 hours / day
5 hours / day
P.s. If you’re aiming for the best in your city, country, the bar would lower and you’d get to your target level of mastery sooner than what the chart below indicates.
Time is an egalitarian, limited commodity. No matter your age, race, intelligence, wealth, we all have the same number of hours each day. The power to steer the direction of your life is in your hands! How do you choose to spend your time? Are the little things you do each day adding up to something positive? Do they lead you to where you want to go in life?
With consistent action over the next 10 or 20 years, what could you accomplish? 30 minutes of extra math practice each day / 5 days per week equals 130 hours in 1 year–surely a time investment that would get you an improvement of a full letter grade in math. Five small pieces of chocolate over the same duration is roughly 25,000 calories, or the equivalent of over 7 lbs. 4 hours in front of the TV everyday gets you to become a world class TV watcher in less than 7 years.
Are your consistent behaviors helping or harming where you want to go in life? Be disciplined enough to make your dreams come true.
If you re-live today for the next 10 years, where would you end up? (It’s a classic. Go watch it here if you haven’t seen it yet.”)
An effective way to predict your success is to honestly examine your average day and project the likely logical outcome into the future. It’s a no brainer that if you saved just a small amount of money each day, you’d eventually be wealthy. If you overeat slightly each day, you are guaranteed to gain weight. Your teeth aren’t clean because you brushed them for an hour straight. They’re healthy because you brushed them for 2 minutes twice a day for 365 days straight.
For one week, carefully record how you spend your time in 30-minute increments everyday. Consider where your daily habits and behaviors are leading you academically, financially, socially, spiritually, and physically. What logical conclusions do your daily activities predict?
3 Steps for More Self-Discipline
1. Set success on auto-pilot. Good habits decrease resistance and help make self-discipline easier because research shows that people have a finite amount of self-discipline . By building good habits, you’re creating helpful, positive actions that are automatic and don’t require you to use up your reserve of self-discipline. Relying on discipline day after day is an uphill battle. While discipline can grow with effort and the right training, having helpful habits is more effective and much less painful. To make sure habits stick, Tie them to environmental triggers or something you already do to encourage consistency. I discussed habits more in this article.
2. Just do it. The greatest barrier to self-discipline is procrastination. Each day, you have the choice to get closer to making your dreams come true. Each day lost is lost forever, so if it’s the right thing to do, then isn’t it worth doing right now?
3. Have reasonable expectations. When your time horizon is unrealistic or when you ask too much of yourself too soon, disappointment and frustration are sure to follow, and you doom yourself to give up. Be positive and enthusiastic, but be reasonable. Focus on your trajectory and aim for regular and consistent improvement. Perfection isn’t required.
Whatever your dreams are, you need self-discipline to make it happen. What you do once in a while doesn’t impact your life significantly. Rather, it’s what you do consistently with discipline. All of curaJOY’s social emotional training programs build up children’s self-discipline with consistent practice of critical skills in dynamic, gamified formats. Click here to find a program appropriate for your child today with a 30-day money-back guarantee.