In many challenging situations, we all know what we should do.
It’s just that doing what we should do can be difficult.
If you want to lose weight, eat less and move more. If you want to find a new job, update your resume and network. Easy, right? And, in fact, the basic steps are straightforward. But it easily falls apart in the execution.
It takes a lot of self-discipline to actually make a change. It requires making a plan (easy) and working the plan (hard). A myriad of barriers to success will inevitably spring up, and achieving goals requires overcoming each of them.
Otherwise, all you have is a fantasy, not a goal.
So, taking it to the next level, here are some things to think about when pursuing a goal:
• What will you do when you’re disappointed? Job searches have disappointment built into them, almost by definition, because few people are offered the first job they apply for. And only you control your reaction to that disappointment.
If your response is harsh, either anger against the potential employer or negative judgment of yourself, try turning that around to acceptance that this is part of the process. If you find that you’re inclined to just give up, take a deep look inside: Is that how you react to all challenges, or is this one different?
• What will you do when you’re tired of the pursuit? Every goal has a boring aspect, and practicing scales or writing yet another cover letter can get old. Think about breaking down self-discipline into some concrete steps you can take. Identifying energizers and rewards can help: “I’ll get one more done, then I can walk around the block.”
Remind yourself of the value of your current activity to your goal. Make sure you have enough fun in your life so that this isn’t the only thing taking up your time and emotional energy,
• What if you really dislike doing the things that need to be done? Evaluate your plan to make it fit your preferences as much as possible.
Many people think they dislike networking, for example, and have a stereotype in their mind of business-style speed dating.
What if you convert that to connecting with people from your past whom you know and like? Build in the pieces that you like less in manageable chunks, and ask for support to help with them.