Overcoming Obstacles to Reach Your Goals: The Perils of Perfectionism

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a character trait characterized by a person’s quest for flawlessness and often involves critical self-evaluations and concern regarding others’ evaluations.

How does perfectionism hurt you?

Perfectionism is a really common obstacle that can hinder you from reaching your goals. It is closely tied to anxiety and the result is that you are so focused on everything being “right or perfect” that you prevent yourself from taking any action at all. That fear-based paralysis kicks in and you are so caught up in worrying whether something is totally ready that you don’t move forward. This is not to say that you should not worry about quality and go through life doing a half-assed job at everything; it’s saying that you should do the best you can and then keep on moving. Interestingly, perfectionism is more common in those who were identified as gifted/talented when in school so consider it an honorable problem to have.

Action breeds action while the reverse is also true. If you just wait and wait until you feel that something is “just right,” you will likely be waiting for a very long time. Conversely, if you do your best and then put something out there, that step helps you to create future steps.

The Car Analogy

If you’re planning to drive your car from, let’s say Missouri to California, and you look at Google Maps or whatever you use, and do some planning about the best route to take and pack your bags and plot out how to avoid rush hour, etc., you will still never get to California unless you turn the dang car on and start driving! Could you get lost? Yes, and luckily, you can turn the car around or go a different direction and learn as you go. Could it get dark out? Yes, and then your headlights will turn on to help you navigate in the dark. What if something goes wrong? Flat tires, dead alternators, and other assorted car problems happen—that’s part of being a car owner but those things can be remedied even if it causes a delay in your travel.

I don’t even live in Missouri so what’s the point? All goals involve some challenges and detours, but if you start taking action, you figure out how to overcome those challenges and sometimes the detours end up being even better than your initial intended goal. Basically, a car parked safely in your driveway will never go anywhere.  

3 ways to handle perfectionism:

  1. Take a step. Any step. Figure out the most logical place to start with your goal and then take that first step. Remember: there is boldness in action.
  2. Plan on missteps. If it goes smoothly, great—now you can plan the next step. But if something goes awry or a challenge presents itself, use it as a learning tool and make adjustments. Remember: you learn more from what goes wrong than what goes right! My son once complained about getting 98% on a test and missing one question. I asked him what that question was and he knew it right away (and the correct answer) and said he would never forget that one again.
  3. Get help. There are multiple things you could try to address perfectionism. Try a meditation practice for anxiety, such as through Headspace or Brainsync. Read The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (I’ve recommended this book to many of my clients and they have gotten so much out of it). If your anxiety/perfectionism is crippling or preventing you from living your dream life, consider getting professional help from a therapist or counseling. Remember: getting help is a sign of strength because no successful person did it all on their own.  

Start today by taking a step toward your goal even though it might be scary or make you feel vulnerable. The more steps you take, the less scary it becomes and perfectionism will become a thing of the past. I’ll leave you with this quote that eloquently speaks to letting go of fear.

“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”—Andre Gide

Make sure to like the Prosperity Facebook page if you’re not already following! Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Overcoming Obstacles To Reach Your Goals: Stop Should-ing Yourself to Death

What Do You Want?

The Common Shoulds of Society

We’ve already covered several common obstacles to reaching your goals, including those pesky negative thoughts and having a lack mindset. Today, we will address how to stop “should-ing yourself.” We live in a society driven by “shoulds.” Finance websites are more than happy to tell you what you should be doing with your money—save for retirement, invest in bitcoin, flip real estate, etc. Well-meaning friends and parents also have a multitude of opinions of what you should be doing with your life—get a stable job (“Be an accountant”), get married, buy a home, have children. I’m not saying that those things like having kids or buying a home are bad things—I’ve happily done both of those—I’m just encouraging you to take in all of the information and make your own informed decisions based on what’s best for YOU!

I can’t tell you how many clients sit in my office and ponder whether they “should” make a certain decision based on a variety of factors. They’ll ask me: “Do you think I should (insert “should” here: change jobs, go for the promotion and so on)?” and then wait expectantly for my answer. I often answer them with a simple question of my own: “Do you want to?” They sometimes stare at me as though I’ve asked a question in a foreign language. More often than not, I get a response along the lines of “I never thought about it.” They’ll go on to tell me they’ve been trained in a certain job field and figured it was logical to continue in that industry even though they dreaded going to work every day, or felt they would let their parents/friends/partner down if they left a stable or highly-regarded industry (have I mentioned how many lawyers I’ve had as clients?), or they felt stuck because they valued their salary even though they felt the job was crushing their soul.

Why Should is a Red Flag Word

Whenever you feel that you should do something, take a closer look because the word should usually indicates that it’s coming from somewhere (or someone) outside of yourself. For instance, a client told me he felt he should take a promotion in his company even though he couldn’t stand the job. When asked why he felt he should do that, he acknowledged that the people around him, including his parents, would view him as a success if he accepted a promotion. When I asked “Do you want to take the promotion?” it became crystal clear to him that he did not want it.

I point out that if I tell clients what I think they should do, they’ve again given their power away to an external source rather than empowering themselves. It shouldn’t matter what I think they should do; it only matters what they want for themselves. My job is to help them step into that power, discover what they want, and then help them to achieve it. Here’s the thing: nobody is more of an expert about you than you. Yes, in my role as a career coach, I help clients to unlock their potential, clarify their goals, and then break those goals down into achievable steps, but I would never presume to tell someone what those goals should be.

Is Should Always a Bad Thing?

No. For instance, you should pay your taxes because that’s part of being in a society, even though it’s not necessarily something you want to do. Let’s look at another common should. It’s common knowledge that exercise is good for you and has lots of benefits so you should do it. But it’s what you tell yourself that matters (remember the power of words we addressed in the negative thoughts post), so I encourage you to reframe those shoulds into wants if they are areas you want to improve. Figure out the want that is behind the should. Look at the following two sentences:

I should exercise more and lose some weight.

I want to be healthy and have lots of energy to care for myself and those around me.

Which of those statements is more positive and attaches personal empowerment to it? See the difference between the should statement versus the want? Let’s try one related to finances:

I should save more money for retirement.

I want to be financially independent in order to pursue my dreams and provide for my family.

Try saying the two statements out loud. Which statement is more motivating to you? In another post, we will look at the importance of the WHY behind your goals, but for now, we will look at how to focus on what you want rather than what you should do.

Here’s a quick exercise where you will reframe two should statements into want statements. Pick two areas in your life that you want to improve (not an area where others think you should improve) and write a should and want statement for each one.

  1. I should _________________________________________________________.
  2. I want ___________________________________________________________.
  1. I should _________________________________________________________.
  2. I want ___________________________________________________________.

2 Quick Steps to Refocus Your Shoulds

Step 1: Catch yourself whenever the word comes out of your mouth or pops into your head

Step 2: Stop and ask yourself, “What do I want?”

You will be surprised how quickly your real truth comes out when you pause to ask yourself that question. Next week, we will address the common obstacle known as “perfectionism.” Have a great week!

Make sure to like the Prosperity Facebook page if you’re not already following! Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Overcoming Obstacles to Reach Your Goals: The “Lack” Mindset

This series of posts addresses common obstacles that people encounter when trying to reach their desired goals. Last week, we addressed how to overcome negative thinking. This time, we will talk about the common perceived obstacle of “lack.”

When people have difficulty reaching their personal and professional goals, they often point to a lack of something as a reason. Lack of time. Lack of money. Lack of energy. Lack of knowledge. Lack of skills. Lack of resources. And so on. This obstacle is common because if reaching goals were easy, everyone would do it. If your common lack belief is something along the lines of “lack of smarts” or “lack of being good enough,” then I encourage you to go back and read the first post in this series about negative beliefs. Also, what you tell yourself matters, so if you tell yourself that you can’t succeed because of some “lack,” then that will be the case (see above quote). For the rest of you, here are some tips for 3 of the most common “lacks.”

  1. Lack of time. I can’t tell you how often I hear this one from my life coaching and career coaching clients (hint: it’s a lot.) Here’s the thing. Everyone has 24 hours in a day: you, your boss, your friends, and even Bill Gates, and Beyonce. Whenever someone begins describing this lack to me, it becomes evident that the issue is actually “lack of time management” rather than time. I will do an entire post on time management in the future but people take great pride in listing off all of their responsibilities and things they do in their day and why they can’t possibly find time for anything extra. You don’t find time. You make time. If something is important enough to you, you will make the time. One quick tip: schedule that thing in your calendar and you are way more likely to do it. I am also a published sci-fi author, and someone once said to me, “I wish I had time to fritter away to write a book.” As though the magical time fairy sprinkled me with extra time that she didn’t have. I get up at 4:30a on weekdays before my kids get ready for school so that I can make time for writing before my other work. Make time for what matters to you.
  2. Lack of money. Unless you are the aforementioned Bill Gates or Beyonce, you likely have some limitations with your money. I tell clients that the quickest way to determine what they really value in life is to look at every penny they spent in the past month that wasn’t for a roof over their heads and electricity. Then, look for any areas where you could shift even a few dollars toward your goal. There are a ton of posts out there on ways to save more money (a google search is great for this), but start a fund for that goal, no matter how small it is. Online accounts even let you name the account whatever you want so make it your goal name or something fun, such as Trip to Ireland account, Start My Own Catering Business account, Freedom from Corporate Enslavement account, etc. In the meantime, be creative. What can you do with the funds you have now? I guarantee you can start somewhere, even if it’s a small step. All big things start with smaller things that add up. I know someone who sold their blood plasma to pay for editing of their first book. How badly do you want that goal?
  3. Lack of knowledge. Most of us are knowledgeable in certain areas but we may have goals that stretch beyond our expertise. I encourage this because I strongly believe that all growth happens outside our comfort zones. I’ve had clients want to shift jobs into entirely new fields, clients who wanted to remodel a room in their home, and even one who wanted to build a motorcycle even though they’d never done it before. Luckily, we live in an age where a plethora of information is literally at our fingertips. I’ve had clients take online classes through places like Harvard X to learn new information, look up YouTube videos on how to install/repair/remodel various things, and send out the word on social media and email that they were interested in a new career field. Remember: knowledge can always be obtained. Plus, being a life-long learner is the key to continued growth and evolving as a human.

In Summary: Those are the top 3 “lacks” that I hear from clients though there are obviously more. I’ve said this before but if you try to view challenges more as “opportunities in disguise,” you will become more creative to your approach in solving them and future challenges won’t seem as daunting. You can absolutely achieve your goals. The key is believing it.

Make sure to like the Prosperity Facebook page if you’re not already following! Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Overcoming Obstacles to Reach Your Goals: Challenging Negative Thoughts

We started the year with a series of posts on how to set amazing goals for yourself. However, setting goals is always easier than accomplishing them, so next, I thought I’d address some of the common issues that cause people to stumble along the way. Today, we will tackle the super common obstacle of negative beliefs or negative thoughts.

What is a negative belief? Any thought you have that undermines your belief in yourself, others, and the world. It’s that little voice in the back of your head that acts as a naysayer to your hopes and dreams. We will focus on one’s beliefs about themselves rather than others/the world, as that is what primarily impacts your goals. As anyone’s perception of themselves is truly their reality, isn’t it better to create a reality you love instead of a negative one? Research from Cleveland Clinic found that we have about 50,000 spontaneous thoughts per day and the negative thoughts tend to be “stickier,” meaning they stay with you longer. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change how you think; and those researchers found that your brain does, in fact, change when you learn to think more positively.

What are some common negative thoughts? Some very common negative thoughts that I hear from my career coaching and life coaching clients are: I’m not experienced enough; I’m not lovable; I’m not smart enough; I’m not worthy; I’m not as good at “something” as others; etc. There are also extreme examples of this, such as when people say things to themselves, like: I’m stupid or I’m ugly.

How do negative thoughts impact my goals? Big goals aren’t easy to reach; otherwise, everyone around the world would be hugely successful and happy. Yet the difference between people who reach their goals and those who don’t isn’t typically incredible luck, skill, or lack of any obstacles. It’s perseverance and resilience. Talk to any so-called “overnight success” and they will tell you the hours of hard work and challenges they overcame to become successful.

Challenges are inevitable. They are a part of life. Plenty of people give up when they hit an obstacle due to negative thoughts, such as, I’ll never be able to do this or I’ll never be good enough. Learn to see challenges as opportunities in disguise and your life will change.

One of the greatest (if not the greatest) basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, who didn’t make the Varsity team in high school (he made JV) and interpreted that as being cut from the team, said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” He used his “failures” to drive him and motivate him to get even better. Everyone falls at times; the successful people are the ones who get up again.

How do I change my negative thoughts? Here are a few ways to tackle your negative thoughts.

  1. Identify them. Half the battle with anything in life is identifying the problem. Pick a day and catch yourself anytime you have a negative thought and stop and write that thought down (either on paper or in your phone). Do this for the entire day (or several days if you can). You will notice your patterns of typical thoughts and will likely be surprised at how often you have those thoughts. Don’t be hard on yourself. Negative thoughts are common and normal but if they’re keeping you from living your best life, you can address them.
  2. Challenge them. This is often hard to do at first which is why I have people do it on paper first. Look at your list of negative thoughts from the day and then write down a positive challenge to each thought. People who really believe their negative thoughts may have a hard time coming up with something positive they can believe. That’s okay. Start by pretending you’ve just told your best friend, a therapist, or a loved one the negative thought. How would they respond to you to challenge that thought? Write that challenge statement down even if you don’t believe it at first.
  3. Be consistent. Once you’ve written down the challenges to your negative thoughts, you are going to start catching yourself in the moment. As soon as the negative thought enters your head, immediately counter that thought with the challenge. You can do this anywhere since it’s a mental challenge, so your co-workers won’t wonder why you’re yelling “Yes, I am smart enough” at the office meeting.

Example:

Negative thought: I don’t have what it takes to get this promotion.

Challenge thought: I’m qualified for the job and have as good a chance as anyone.

Now what? After you consistently challenge those negative thoughts, you actually create new neural pathways in the brain. Eventually, instead of following the negative thoughts with a positive challenge, you will think the positive thought instead. Or you will have the negative thought and immediately dismiss it and not give attention to it. Then return to the positive statements that will help power you through to the next step. Next week, we will address the “lack” obstacle that can impact your goals (lack of time, money, resources, etc). Until then, challenge those thoughts!

Make sure to like the Prosperity Facebook page if you’re not already following! Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!