Meeting Your Goals: A Quick Way To See What’s Holding You Back

Find your hidden reasons for not following through and meeting your goals.

by Christine McDevitt, MS, OTR/L

How many times have you said you wanted something and then not done what’s needed to make it happen? Whether it’s breaking a bad habit, losing weight, or setting time aside for a spiritual practice, we’ve all had the experience of a strong start to meeting our goals only to fizzle out before getting the results we want.

While it can be demoralizing, especially when the pattern keeps happening around the same issue, there are ways to figure out what’s going on under the surface. Here is a short process to help you do just that.

Stop sign that says "Stop wasting time." Discover what's holding you back from meeting your goals.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

1. Check to make sure the goal feels good in your body when you think or talk about it.

Sometimes what we say we want isn’t really what we want deep down. There are different reasons for this. For example, maybe the thought of making a change doesn’t thrill you, but you know it would make your spouse happy.

Maybe the change is something you think you should do because you can see the potential benefits. However, if you’re not totally on board with your goal, it’s easy for excuses to sneak in and derail your best plans for success.

To make sure you want what you say you want, you need to get out of your logical mind. One way to do that is to check how your body reacts when you think or talk about your goal.

Try this:

Imagine what your life might be like if you met your goal. Get as clear as you can about the details. It can be helpful to watch yourself in a mirror while you talk about your desired outcome.

Notice what’s going on in your body when you think or talk about this future scenario.

Do you look and sound happy about what you say you want?

Are there signs of hesitation as you think about what life might be like if your goal is met? These signs can include body sensations such as

  • shrinking,
  • bracing yourself,
  • tightness,
  • a lump in your throat,
  • a sinking in your gut,
  • panic,
  • other discomfort in the body.

Don’t analyze anything. Just notice what shows up.

If thinking and talking about your future scenario feel good in the body, you’re on the right track. If not, move on to step 2 to explore what part of making the change is causing the feeling of hesitation.

2. Identify the underlying concerns about meeting your goals.

If what you say you want doesn’t feel good in your body when you think or talk about it, then part of you has concerns about the change.

These concerns are the hidden downsides to succeeding. Examples might include needing to give something up (e.g., time, money, comfort), other people’s reactions, or feelings of insecurity about the outcome.

Often, we’re not aware that the concerns are there. Sometimes we’re aware they’re there but don’t want to deal with them, so we push them aside and pretend they don’t exist.

However, if these concerns aren’t addressed, resistance will kick in. This is when self-sabotage, procrastination, perfectionism, confusion, or indecision start showing up to keep you from making progress.

One technique for finding out what your underlying concerns are is to pay attention to what pops into your head when you think or talk about your goal.

Try this:

Say what you want out loud then pause. What is the next thing that comes to your mind once you stop talking? It could be a thought or an internal voice that you hear. It might be an emotion or even an image of someone or something unexpected.

For example, you may say, “I want to lose ten pounds,” and then immediately have the thought, “It’s going to be hard and a lot of work. I’ll be miserable.”

You might want to repeat this exercise a few times. Write down whatever comes up – even if it seems ridiculous – so you have an objective look at what’s lurking behind the scenes in your thought process when you think about meeting your goal.

3. Give each concern proper attention – even the ones that aren’t clear or don’t make sense.

Once you’ve identified your underlying concerns, go through your list and take some time to explore each one. You will likely find that some are valid while others may be based more on fear rather than fact.

For example, let’s say you’re goal is to stop drinking. The two concerns that came to your mind after doing the exercise above were not knowing how you’re going to relax without alcohol and thinking that you won’t have fun anymore without alcohol.

Whether those thoughts are fact-based or fear-based, they’re still operating in the background and working against you. It’s important to acknowledge them if you want to move forward. Once you name the concerns, you give yourself the power to find solutions to address them.

Journaling may be helpful here. Being honest with yourself is critical. Only you know your level of willingness to work through potential roadblocks to get the results you want.

If no specific thoughts came up during the concerns exercise, but something still doesn’t feel right about meeting your goals, don’t ignore the feeling.

Sometimes no specific thought or image comes up when doing the concerns exercise. Instead, there’s an unexplainable and uncomfortable sensation in the body. Something just feels wrong about moving forward or succeeding.

In this case, you might consider consulting a qualified professional if you can’t get to the root of the issue on your own. Sometimes the body sensations that feel like a “no” can be rooted in earlier life experiences that aren’t always obvious. Addressing these body memories of earlier experiences can help you overcome some of the barriers to making a change successfully.

Working with a certified Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT tapping) practitioner can help you move through the places where you feel stuck meeting your goals.

If you’re curious about how EFT tapping might help you with your specific needs, schedule a free consultation today.