NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Staying Positive and Focused on Your Goals

Staying positive and focused on your goals, especially long-term goals, can be challenging.

Many people who made New Year's resolutions in January have already given up on keeping their resolutions (see my article: Making and Keeping New Year's Resolutions).

There are many reasons why people, who start out motivated at the beginning of the year, lose their motivation after just a few months or even a few weeks.

Here are some of the primary reasons why people give up on their goals:

Having Unrealistic Goals
Many people have unrealistic ideas about what they can achieve.

New Year's resolutions tend to be about things like losing weight, exercising more or eating healthier.

These are all worthy goals, but the problem arises when people set unrealistic goals, like wanting to lose 50 lbs in a month.  This is an unrealistic and unattainable goal for most people and it sets them up for failure.

In addition to being realistic and attainable, you're more likely to succeed at accomplishing your goals if they're specific, measurable, relevant and time bound.

Engaging in All or Nothing Thinking
When goals are unrealistic and unattainable, people usually become discouraged and give up rather than recognizing that the goal was unrealistic and modifying it.

It becomes an all-or-nothing proposition for them (see my article:  Overcoming All or Nothing Thinking).

Having False Expectations that Accomplishing Your Goals Will Create a "New You"
The idea of people "reinventing" themselves is a part of the American culture.

We read in self help books and hear ads all the time that say that you can create a "new you" if you only lose weight, have whiter teeth or ____________________ (fill in the blank).

This cultural stereotype appeals to people who want a "quick fix" as opposed to people who recognize that change is a process that usually occurs over time.

Avoid False Expectations That Accomplishing Your Goals Will Create a "New You"

When people focus exclusively on external change without focusing on internal change, even when they succeed at their external goal, it's harder to persevere in that goal if they haven't done the psychological work that's necessary to maintain the process.

For instance, I've known people who had lap band surgery to lose weight.

After the surgery, they lost a lot of weight.  But if they didn't work on the psychological issues that triggered overeating, they often either reverted to overeating and got sick or they developed another addictive behavior, like gambling.

Allowing People in Your Life to Discourage You
When you have an important goal, it's important to share your intention with people who are going to be supportive of you (see my article: Beware of Emotional Saboteurs).

Emotional support to accomplish a goal can make the difference between accomplishing your goal or giving up.

Don't Allow Emotional Saboteurs to Discourage You From Accomplishing Your Goals

In an ideal world, everyone in your life would be supportive and encouraging.  But, as most of us know, this just isn't the case.

When you share your intention to accomplish a goal with people who tend to be discouraging, you're exposing yourself to their negative thinking and, possibly, allowing their negativity to derail you.

People who tend to be negative and discouraging aren't always doing it to sabotage you.  Sometimes, without even realizing it, they project their own discouragement about themselves onto you.

If you know you have a healthy, realistic and worthy goal, you have to become more self protective and talk about your goal with other motivated people who are doing positive things in their lives and want the same for you.

Allowing Self Sabotage and Negative Thoughts to Keep You From Accomplishing Your Goals
Even more detrimental than other people's negativity are your own negative thoughts that can creep in so easily, before you realize it, to discourage you from accomplishing your goals (see my article:  Are You Sabotaging Yourself With Negative Self Talk?)

Negative thoughts (also known as negative self talk) can be so insidious and so automatic that, before you know it, you've talked yourself out of pursuing your goals.

Staying Positive and Focused on Your Goals
Remember that change is a process.

Staying Positive and Focused on Your Goals: Change is a Process

Keeping a journal where you write down your progress along the way to accomplishing your goals can help you to stay positive and focused on your goals (see my article:  Are You Able to Celebrate Your Progress or Are You Only Focused on How Much More You Have to Go?).

Along the way, keeping a gratitude journal can also help you to appreciate all that you have to be grateful for throughout the process of working on your goals.

Getting Help in Therapy
It can be challenging to stay positive and focused on your goals even under the best of circumstances, but if you have a history of emotional trauma or there are other psychological issues that are creating obstacles for you, it's even harder.

If you realize that psychological issues are preventing you from fulfilling your dreams, you owe it to yourself to get help.

Working with a licensed mental health professional who has expertise in helping people to overcome psychological issues that create obstacles to realizing your goals can make the difference for you of being successful or falling short of your goals.

Getting help can lead to a more meaningful, fulfilled life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

I have worked with many clients to help them to overcome emotional obstacles in their lives.

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

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.