Have you ever failed to reach a goal? You’re not alone. According to a study from Scranton University, 92 percent of people fail to reach the goals they set for themselves at the beginning of the year.
This doesn’t mean we’re all underachievers. It means we’re just really bad at setting goals, says Bernadette McCarthy, a psychologist based in New South Wales who specializes in personal growth and development.
“People often pursue goals that originate from all kinds of unconscious agendas that may be out of alignment with their true desires and personal strengths,” she says.
Why? We strive for lives we think we should be living based on other people’s expectations, McCarthy says, rather than the one we’re best suited to.
Fair enough, but how will you know if that’s you? How can you be sure if what you’re working toward is what you really want? According to McCarthy, these three simple steps can help you figure it out:
Step 1: Check Your Language
“Look out for shoulds, musts, *and *oughts when you talk about your goals,” McCarthy says. “They’re often signs that you may be forcing it.” A well-aligned goal is challenging but comes naturally. You shouldn’t feel guilt.
Step 2: Check Your Commitment
If you’re ready to throw in the towel at the first sign of struggle, it could be because you don’t feel your goal is worth the effort. “Check in regularly to ensure your goal still resonates,” McCarthy says. “Appreciating your successes along the way can help you maintain your motivation. If that’s difficult, it may be because the goal is creating internal contradictions for you.”
Step 3: Check Your Path
Finally, being inflexible around your goal may be definitive proof you’re paying lip service to someone else’s passion. When you truly desire something, you’ll cross hell and high water to get it, says McCarthy, even if that means having to detour. “Being flexible and open to creative ways to achieve the goal,” says McCarthy, “is a given when it’s genuine.”
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