I am all about goal-setting and working towards them. Anytime I’m ready to move forward in my life I sit down and set goals. Whether I’m wanting to improve my physical fitness, improve my relationship with Christ, or focus on something new in life; I will sit down and write out goals to make that happen. It’s harder to forget about my goals if I plan them out and write them down. When you stop making goals, whether written down or in your head, you stop moving forward.
A huge hurdle to overcome when you’re focused on your goals is anxiety. If you struggle with anxiety setting goals can trigger it…. You set a goal and anxiety creeps in… Here are 5 ways anxiety is keeping you from your goals.
1.Self-doubt/Fear of Failure
Anxiety can sneak in the second you make a goal. It happens in the form of doubt. You create a goal for yourself and you already visualize yourself failing. You think to yourself that it’s too big of a goal, or you’ve set a similar goal in the past and didn’t accomplish it. Self-doubt will keep you from your goals faster than anything else.
The fix: When you set your goals give yourself a clean slate. Don’t let anxiety bring up the past. You are focusing on goals that will be accomplished in the future… So stay future focused. And give yourself grace! Anxiety will tell you that you are not good enough, or that you will fail. So let’s define failure when we set goals… Failure= Not trying. As long as you are moving forward towards your goal, even if progress is slow, you are on the right track! If you need some extra words of encouragement write down some! Find words of affirmation that will offer you a positive voice when the negative voice of anxiety appears.
2. Lack of Focus/ Procrastination
Anxiety often shows up in the form of lack of focus and procrastination. When you struggle with anxiety keeping your mind on one task can be tricky… Anxiety not only contributes to your mind beginning to wander, but it wanders to things that stress you out or worries you. You may start to focus on the dishes in the sink that need washed, the floor that needs vacuumed, you may think about a friend who you forgot to call or text back and now you should do that first, you have homework due in a couple days and you haven’t even looked at the assignment… Before you know it, 45 minutes has gone by, and you are no closer to accomplishing what you meant to…
The Fix: The best way to beat procrastination is by giving yourself no time to procrastinate! If your goal is to learn to play the piano, then make it a point to wake up, and begin your day by practicing the piano for 30 minutes. If your goal is to spend more time with Jesus, wake up and pray! And I mean before your morning coffee, before your am news, if you have kids, before they wake up! Now you are talking to a new momma, so believe me, I get it if you don’t have that option right now. So if you don’t have that option, set reminders in the form of alarms on your phone… Set one for mid-morning, one for noon, afternoon, and one for evening… “Have you practiced piano today?” Set them to go off when you can, so when you are halfway through your day and your mind is on 100 other tasks, you can see it and remember to make time for it.
Often when you let yourself think about your to-do list, there’s always something that is more pressing you could be doing or something you may have previously procrastinated that you need to do…. Laundry could be piled up, dishes in the sink. Sure your goal is to workout 3 times a week, but how could you justify working out when you’re so behind on everything else?? Am I the only one? Anxiety starts to manifest itself as guilt. Guilt for not getting your daily tasks done first, guilt for not being the perfect housewife and mom first. Working out means you’re using time you could be cleaning, playing with your kids, running errands, even relaxing to work on your goals and work on yourself, and anxiety will tell you that’s selfish.
The fix: First and foremost, you’re not selfish for working on yourself, you are brave, strong and better for it! So even if your goal is to prioritize your mental health and that comes in the form of taking a bubble bath all by yourself to relax and recharge, there’s NOTHING wrong with that! In fact, give yourself a pat on the back! It is well deserved. I understand though, just saying it’s not selfish doesn’t make the guilt go away. So if you have to ease yourself into it… that’s okay! If you only feel good about 10 minutes of time, then start with 10 minutes. Ease your way into it. A 10 minute workout is better than no workout. Start with small increments of time and then work towards larger amounts of time.
4. Can’t make up your Mind
Being indecisive is a sign you may be struggling with anxiety. I don’t just mean when your husband tells you to pick a restaurant and you giggle over not being able to agree on a place to eat. But say your goal is to remodel your home… anxiety will lead you to covering your home in swatches of paint samples, and getting frustrated at each decision… before you know it, your exciting goal of making your home yours, is stressful and has you on the verge of tears. This may seem silly to people who don’t struggle with anxiety, but if anxiety makes you indecisive you know how making a simple choice can bring you into a full break down.
The Fix: So what has helped me through moments like this, is by narrowing down my choice… So you’re trying to decide on a color for your new living room… instead of feeling overwhelmed by the 500 color swatches in front of you, narrow it down to three choices that you would be happy with… Three colors that no matter which of the three you choose you could make work. Now that you’ve found three that might work, either give the final choice to someone else. Or, pick at random. Whatever is chosen, is what you will go with!
5. Being a Perfectionist
I’m going to be honest this one is not as easy for me to relate to. But anxiety will often manifest as OCD or being a perfectionist. This can be particularly difficult if your setting goals, and you have to accept that the result will not be perfect. Let’s go back to one of our previous examples. Your goal is to learn to play the piano. You have a piece of music in front of you, and you set aside 30 minutes to practice. A perfectionist will have a hard time feeling as though they accomplished anything, if they have not performed that music with no mistakes. This could result in a 30 minute practice session becoming an hour, or leaving that practice session feeling defeated, and wanting to stop all together. After all, if you can’t get it perfect, what’s the point? Or so says the perfectionist.
The Fix: So, just like when you battle with fear of failure you have to redefine the terms. So when you get ready to practice piano, it’s not a realistic goal to play through your music perfectly… especially since you are learning. So rather than define “perfect” as no mistakes. Define it as playing through your song with only 5 mistakes, or playing through the first verse with no more than 3 mistakes. If you begin with clear goals that allow mistakes, and your definition of perfection changes each time, you eliminate the self-defeating behavior that can come with being a perfectionist.