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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Success: Developing Determination and Perseverance to Accomplish Your Goals

Many clients come to therapy because they have a hard time completing their goals.  They begin a new project with enthusiasm and then, after a while, they find "reasons" why they can't find the time to do it.  There are times when you need to re-evaluate or change a goal.  But that's not what I'm referring to in this blog post.  I'm really talking about people who abandon their efforts because they're lack determination and the ability to persevere.

Lacking Determination and Perseverance
There are many reasons why people lack determination and perseverance to see their goals to completion.  Sometimes, people allow self doubt to get in the way and they have a hard time seeing themselves as a success.

A Lot of People Have Problems Sticking to Their  Goals to Completion
Anxiety and Depression Can Get in the Way of Completing Goals
Anxiety and depression can also get in the way of people completing their goals.  If you're feeling anxious and depressed, it might be all that you can do to just get through the day--let alone have long term goals.

Difficulty Sacrificing Short Term Pleasure For Long Term Goals
For many people, what gets in the way of completing their goals and achieving success is an inability to stay focused on the benefits they will derive if they persevere.  They get bored and allow their boredom to distract them.  They also have difficulty sacrificing short term pleasure for long term goals.

The following vignette, which is a composite of many different cases, so that no identifying information compromises confidentiality, illustrates this problem:

John, who returned to college when he was in his late 20s, was at the end of his junior year of college.  Originally, he left college when he was 19 because he wanted to earn money.  But after a while, he realized that his lack of a college degree was holding him back.  He had reached a plateau at work.  Senior positions required a college degree, so he returned to college at night.

Working full time and going to college at night was a challenge.  But what John found even more challenging was that he felt like he was "missing out" on socializing with his friends during the week.  They had all graduated college a few years before, and so they were free to go out to social clubs and parties while John was in night school.

This made John feel miserable and stuck with a dilemma.  On the one hand, he knew that he made a mistake in leaving college the first time, so he didn't want to quit again.  But, on the other hand, he also wanted to be able to go out more often with his friends, and he was too bogged down with his studies to do this.  Since he was not sure what to do, John decided to go to therapy to try to understand why he felt so ambivalent.

John discovered in therapy that he lacked the ability to stay focused on his long term goals.  He also realized that, when he was growing up, his parents, who struggled just to get by from day to day, also didn't have the ability to focus on long term goals.  So, he didn't grow up in an environment where these skills  were modeled for him.

Part of the problem was that his long term goals were undefined.  So, John's therapist helped him to define his goals more clearly.  John also learned tools to stay motivated and focused.  Getting organized, having clearly defined goals and a sense of purpose helped John to stay focused on his long term goals.  At times, he still wished he could go out more with his friends, but he held onto what he wanted to accomplish, and after he graduated college, he felt a real sense of accomplishment.

Getting Help
If you find that you tend to get discouraged and abandon your goals because you're lacking determination or a sense of purpose, you could benefit from getting help from a licensed mental health professional who can help you to develop the skills you need to succeed.

Therapy Can Help You to Develop the Skills You Need to Be Successful
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.

photo credit: Brandon Christopher Warren via photopin cc

photo credit: thetaxhaven via photopin cc


Sam Wahl said...

I actually fit the vignette of "John". Parents living paycheck to paycheck. First generation born to immigrant parents. Long term goals were not seriously discussed enough.
Last spring, I left grad school b/c of termination and I am feeling stagnant. Pursuing in finding a different path of work that fits my hobbies and interests. Yet, I am very inconsistent in following my goals. Self-confidence could use a major boost. Finding comfort in reading lots and lots of news and fan fiction. I find myself wondering if I am running away from the real world and resorting to escapism.

Josephine Ferraro, LCSW said...

Sam, thanks so much for your comment. Your experience isn't usual. I see many clients in my psychotherapy private practice who are going through the same thing, which is why "John," which is a composite of many cases, is someone that many people can identify with this scenario. Thanks again.
Josephine Ferraro, LCSW