Dalene Bickel (@DaleneBickel) encourages and instructs people on how to impact future generations by writing their life stories. Subscribe to her free Weekly Writing Prompt and her monthly newsletter, Legacy Today, full of nonfiction writing tips, resources, and information. We’re thrilled to share this post on Growing Bolder!
You’ve probably had at least one idea about how nice it would be to do something someday, such as learn a new skill, achieve a fitness goal, or turn your passion project into a part-time career. Many people hold on to their dream for years, occasionally kindling a spark of action before ultimately letting the dream die out completely.
It reminds me of the movie, “Up,” in which an older couple saves money throughout their entire marriage in the hopes of going on a particular trip, only to have life get in the way. The irony is that the wife dies and then the husband visits their dream destination. Why? Because suddenly there are circumstances beyond his control that force him out of his comfort zone. The result? He makes a positive, significant impact on the lives of many people (and animals).
But how does this animated children’s movie tie into your own goals? I believe many of us make the same mistake as the couple in the movie. We put things off for so long for perfectly legitimate reasons, but unless extenuating circumstances push us, we never take action. This sometimes leads us to become resentful, jealous of others who do follow their dreams, or pessimistic about life in general.
I don’t think it’s healthy for us to fall into any of these mindsets. I’m what I consider to be a realistic optimist: you should have goals to strive for and do what you can to achieve them. However, use common sense. You shouldn’t spend indiscriminately and go into massive debt or pursue your dream to the detriment of others. It should also go without saying that whatever your dream is, it should be ethical and legal.
With all of that being said, here are seven ways you can stop limiting yourself, achieve your goal, and make a positive impact on those around you.
7 Ways to Stop Limiting Yourself, Achieve Your Goal, and Make an Impact
Declare your goal.
Don’t just say, “I want to someday” or “wouldn’t it be nice if…” Instead, state it as fact: “I am going to do XYZ.” Write it down and post it where you’ll see it often – on the refrigerator, on your office desk, perhaps even on your car’s dashboard.
Set a realistic deadline.
Sometimes the date will be set for you, such as a race event or an anniversary celebration. But if it’s up to you to determine your end date, research how long it typically takes others to accomplish similar goals, honestly evaluate your fitness or knowledge level, and factor in any existing commitments that will require your time and energy along the way. Without an established and declared end date, your project or goal is at a greater risk of floundering indefinitely.
Create an action plan.
List every step you’ll need to take to achieve your goal. Will you need to learn a new skill? Will you need to involve others? Work backward from your deadline to create an action plan, divided into monthly, weekly and daily tasks.
Find a mentor or accountability partner.
As an athlete in high school and college, I understood the importance of a coach, but I used to downplay the benefit of a mentor in my career as a solopreneur. That is, until this year when I finally joined a mentor group. I’ve been held accountable for taking action and have received the encouragement I need to begin to really grow my business. This concept will carry over to anything you’re trying to accomplish – from losing weight or running your first marathon to writing a book or coordinating a volunteer event.
You probably already know someone who has successfully achieved a goal similar to yours; approach them and ask them if they would share some tips and check in with you occasionally to see how you’re progressing. If you don’t know someone personally, ask friends or professionals in that space for recommendations. You can also search for a relevant Facebook group.
Put aside your limiting beliefs and stop making excuses.
Limiting beliefs are your negative self-thoughts that include “I can’t” or “I’ll look like an idiot” or “I’m too old/young.” Excuses are the reasons you give to others to explain why you’re not doing something. A few common excuses include “I don’t know how” or “I had an issue with my computer” or “I was stuck in traffic.” If you want something badly enough, you’ll work through and around whatever life throws at you to accomplish your goals.
I’ll provide you with two personal examples. After being accepted to a private college, my parents told me that I couldn’t attend because it cost too much. This was an excuse in my eyes, a limiting belief in theirs. I was certain that the school was the one for me, so I looked for ways to make it happen. I obtained scholarships, grants, a work-study job, summer jobs and a student loan. My parents’ share ended up costing them less than if I had gone to their preferred state university.
Later in life, for my fortieth birthday, I set a huge goal: run a half marathon. When I first began training, I was very self-conscious and was certain that the neighbors were laughing at me from behind their curtains – definitely a limiting belief that could have easily turned into an excuse not to run at all. To combat the issue, I decided to run in a different neighborhood where almost no one knew me. I also found comfort in running at local parks, where lots of other runners convened. I discovered that I wasn’t necessarily the slowest and even if I was, there were many faster runners who offered encouragement as they passed by. In this manner, I went from couch potato to running 13.1 miles in seven months.
Do something every day to move you closer to your goal. Some days you’ll be amazed at all that you’ve accomplished whereas other days, you might only take a single baby step. That’s okay and that’s normal. The key is to consistently take action, day after day. Don’t stop until you’ve reached your goal.
Share your success.
This is how you can make an impact. Tell others how you overcame your challenges along the way, share your best practices, and encourage others in similar journeys by becoming a mentor or accountability partner. Write about your knowledge in a blog, submit articles to a magazine or newspaper, or even write a book. You just never know who will discover your story and receive the information and encouragement they need to continue on and accomplish their goal.
Let me assure you that with some hard work and dedication, you can successfully achieve your goal – and the end result will be worth every moment of the journey.
Now it’s your turn! What has prevented you from reaching your goals or alternatively, what has helped you achieve them? Please share in the comments!