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Unable to keep up with your goals? What if a gun is put to your head!

Would your life be different if you understood the value of goals? I grew up, like so many of us devoid of familiarity to the value of goals thus not appreciating them. Later along, I realized it’s hard to pursue and achieve prominence and standards without having clear goals

I have several goals that I have been working on for a long time now, and I never seem to keep up with them. They’re pretty standard – stick to my budget, develop an exercise habit, build my spirituality, spend more time with friends and family, write often, read more books, attend networking meetings etc., and I usually start out well, but fizzle quickly.

I know that goals need to be measurable, realistic, and attainable, and I have set pretty good goals for myself in those terms. They include things like exercise 30 minutes per day, at least three days per week, write down all my expenditures daily, spend 45 minutes before I sleep reading among others. I usually can sustain my goals for a few weeks to a month, then things get chaotic and I let them fall. I know that prioritization is a big part of this, and I have to make achieving these goals a priority. I have read and also witnessed stories about people with much busier lives than mine achieving incredible things, and I feel like my goals are pretty modest, so there’s really no reason I can’t do what I need to make them happen.

If you have followed my blog you know I write so much on goals, it is a cherished subject to me. I seek to understand behaviors one can develop to enhance the ability to achieve laid down goals. I have shared an article on willpower (strength-of-mind) and on impulses. How we manage our impulses play a significant role on whether you will make any progress toward achieving your goals or not. I have been a victim of impulses especially when a home theatre system makes more sense than clearing a debt, when an extra hour to sleep makes more sense to reading or working out.

Lately I have been reading a book on impulses which has attention-grabbing findings by some researchers who argue that willpower (which I use here to imply the drive and desire to pursue and achieve a goal) is a limited resource that wears out, like a muscle exhausted by overuse but on consistency gains resistant. That developing willpower in one area may lead to lack of it in another. A Researcher by name Inzlicht gives an example, “if you’ve recently exercised a lot of self-control (pursuant to a goal), you might feel like you deserve recompense. At that moment you just don’t feel like controlling yourself anymore,” asserts Inzlicht. “It’s not that you can’t, but you don’t feel like it. You just worked hard, now you feel like you deserve a break.” It’s analogous to physical tiredness,” adds another psychologist Roy Baumeister.

When you’re depleted (that moment you do not feel like doing it), it’s not that you cannot; it’s that you don’t feel like engaging in restraint, (else bearing the weight of pursuing a goal) says Inzlicht. If someone puts a gun to your head, no matter how tired you are, you’re going to try to do what they say. That shifts the question to, why don’t you feel like doing it? If I offer a strong enough inducement, you can overcome that fatigue or that feeling; I need a break!

That means that to improve your willpower (what I refer here to mean the drive to achieve goals), you need to keep many factors in balance. When you are facing short-term challenges, believing that your will is indomitable helps. For longer or more stressful goals, knowing your actual limits can help you pace yourself and allow you to avoid temptations when you’re most vulnerable to them.

Another point to note is that those who have the most self-discipline don’t spend all their time resisting temptation, but instead create environments that limit their exposure to anything that would distract or drain them or slow them down while pursuing a goal.

I hope what I shared helps you understand some reasons that make us start out a goal with so much motivation and when more willpower is needed, the motivation fizzles. Now you know that you can adjust yourselves to overcome the temptation to slow down.

What has been the greatest challenge while pursuing your goals? Ever felt like me, feeling motivated to start a goal and then the motivation taper off? Feel free to share on the comment section below.

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