When people set goals and set out to achieve them, they’re often discouraged by the obstacles they encounter along the way. It would be nice if making the decision to do the “right thing” guaranteed us a simple and speedy passage to our end goal. But, life doesn’t work that way.
The truth is the path to success doesn’t resemble a clean, shiny, super-speedy escalator. The path will be dirty, dimly lit, paved with giant rocks, and packed with unexpected pitfalls and detours. This is enough to discourage a lot of people from setting goals; after all, where’s the fun in embarking on a journey that is tough and has a chance of failure? However, I’ve followed enough rocky paths to know that the best lessons and the biggest growth opportunities are found in conquering the big rocks and going through detours. Those same experiences were also frustrating, scary and a pain in the rear. But I wouldn’t possess many of the strengths and skills that I use daily without those challenges.
Having learned that the path is usually rocky, I try to anticipate the challenges I might encounter along the way. It helps neutralize some of the fear that comes from embarking on a new big, hairy, audacious goal. It also helps get me fired up and excited about the possibilities involved in what I’m trying to achieve. One strategy I find useful is to talk to or research the stories of people who have achieved what I’m working towards and those who have not. The people who succeeded become my motivation; my “proof” that what I’m trying to achieve is possible. They also become an ‘antidote’ to the opinions of those trying to convince me that I’ll fail. While the experiences of those who “failed” act like warning flags, helping me anticipate where I could get off track, highlighting mistakes that I should avoid making.
I also try to figure out what beliefs, habits or fears might drive me to sabotage myself along the way. We’ve all heard the phrase “mind over matter” – usually, as a positive example of how our brain can help us overcome fears and achieve great things. However, it can also subconsciously drive us to trip ourselves up to protect ourselves from going down an unknown (and therefore potentially dangerous) path. This is especially true when it comes to finances, as money is an emotional subject and not all of the emotions it evokes are positive.
When you set a goal and create a plan, it’s important to be prepared mentally, physically and emotionally. Knowing every detail ahead of time might take some of the fear out of the journey, but it also takes out a lot of the fun and value. When I look back, there are a lot of things I would have done differently if I’d known how they’d turn out. No matter what I do to prepare myself to tackle a new goal or challenge, there will be things that happen that I didn’t anticipate. However, there’s something about approaching the journey with a realistic mindset that makes it easier to deal with the curve balls. And, sometimes, it’s your ability to bounce back, that gives you the greatest chance of success.