How many of you have set New Year’s resolutions or goals and not followed through on them? There’s a large percentage of people who will have given up on their good intentions within a few days or weeks. In this blog I’ll let you know if you might be sabotaging yourself, the reason for that, and tell you about a wonderful solution on how to actually accomplish your goals going forward.
First off though… Do you know when I usually set new goals for myself?
I prefer to start something new in September. There is a shift in the air from summer fun to getting back to work. It is also my birth month and a natural new beginning for me.
I’m curious, when do you like to start something new? Is it at the change of seasons like September or April, or the New Year, when there isn't any change in the weather, just a change of the year?
Other than a diet and new exercise routine sparked from the abundant indulging over the holidays, how many of you actually feel the need to reboot your life on January 1st versus, implementing a renewed energy into those unaccomplished projects and goals you set for yourself last Fall?
What goals did you set for yourself last Fall?
If you didn't accomplish them, what got in the way?
For those of us with adult kids, the anticipation of their arrival home is enough to deter our focus on ourselves. During this lull between Thanksgiving and Christmas / Hanukkah, is the perfect time to to re-energized your current goals instead of waiting and making new ones.
After cleaning up from Thanksgiving, it will also distract you from the sorrow of an empty house!
Rather than making New Year's resolutions, let's look at that list you have already been working on.
Are there a few things on it that you just never seem to be able to get to, or get started and can't finish? Have you ever stopped to wonder why seemingly easy things are the hardest to start? How is it that when faced with a deadline from a boss, or an outside source, we can put those on the top of our to-do list, and when it comes to organizing our garage or reading that book, or even planning healthy meals for the upcoming week, are always at the bottom and left for when we have run out of energy?
Sometimes, just thinking about the list drains our energy, doesn’t it?
I get it! We are all human, and as humans, it is in our nature to reach for the low hanging fruit, and choose the path of least resistance.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? When we are faced with a challenge, like making a weekly list of healthy meals to prepare and shop for them on Sunday, it's so much easier to linger in bed with a few cups of coffee scrolling through our social media. Maybe we’ll be taking a shower, and making some french toast, and then sitting and watching football while thinking we should be making that list and hitting the grocery store. Somehow the day passes in a flash of scrolling through social media, only for us to realize that our to do list has been left undone.
Understanding why our to-do list is hard to accomplish is challenging, and easier to give up on rather than digging into the why of it.
As a Relationship Coach, I help people find balance and fulfillment in their lives with others but also with themselves. Many clients get stuck on the journey to achieve their goals. They know what they want and they have the tools to go get it, but for some reason, like that to do list, there is a wall they find they cannot scale.
Now, I hear you that a simple to do list not done may seem not such big a deal on your journey to a fulfilled life. But what if every weekend you’ll not get this accomplished and your time flies by seemingly meaningless without you actually taking charge of what you really want? Where else does this show up in your life and what impact does that have?
We humans have a sophisticated neurological system that is well developed to keep us safe. We learn what harms us from the moment of birth and learn to avoid it as well. We also learn what pleases us, and learn to move towards that. What harms us is much more important for our survival, and so the neural pathways built up in our brain that protects us is much stronger than the path that increases our pleasure.
Do you ever wonder why it's easier to believe the negative things people say to you rather than the positive?
It only takes one time to believe something bad about ourselves and three to four times to believe something good. It follows the same principle as the survival neural path. We are programmed to avoid what may feel bad/harmful/dangerous and the result is avoiding following through on goals and to-do lists that you are not fully aligned with and perhaps perceive as either unimportant or difficult in some way. But even if you really want to accomplish something that you truly want, something else might keep you from accomplishing it.
Stay with me here.... If your goal was to clean up the garage, and it will make you feel good to accomplish this goal, then what is lurking around your head keeping you from doing it? The lurker has a name, and is based on research done that contributed to Shirzad Chamines work on Positive Intelligence. It is called the Saboteur.
The Saboteur is that voice in your head who tells you they are keeping you safe by avoiding doing something that will harm you. So in our case what does the saboteur tell you about completing your task? Maybe, if you finish the garage, you will have to go clean the basement next, or in order to organize the garage properly you will have to spend money on a sophisticated system from the Container Store you can't afford.
Check in with yourself.
What does your Saboteur tell you about the goals you can't seem to reach?
There are ten different Saboteurs, from Avoider to Pleaser, to Controller, and many more that each one of us has a ‘preference’ towards. We all have varying degrees of the ten Saboteurs. The Judge is our most prominent, everyone has it. It shows up when we judge ourselves, judge others, or judge situations.
My most prominent saboteur is The Avoider
The Avoider avoids conflict and says ‘yes’ to things one wouldn't want. It downplays the importance of real problems and tries to deflect others, and has difficulty saying no. It resists others through passive-aggressive means rather than directly communicating, and makes us lose ourselves in comforting routines and habits, while procrastinating on unpleasant habits. The Avoiders feelings are even keeled, and anxious about what has been avoided or procrastinated on. People with an Avoider Saboteur feel fear about their hard won peace of mind being interrupted, and they suppress anger and resentment rather than express anger.
The Avoider Saboteur also tells us justification lies that we are good to spare others feelings, and that no good comes out of conflict. It tells us it's good to be flexible, and that someone needs to be the peacemaker.
The impact of the Avoider is the missed opportunity to actually work with the conflict and turn it into a gift.
Feeling numb to pain is different than knowing how to harvest the wisdom and power of pain. What is avoided doesn't go away, it festers, and relationships are kept at a superficial level in order to avoid conflict.
As I mentioned all Saboteurs grow in response to survival from our childhood. The Avoider grows from either a happy or difficult childhood. In happy childhoods, one might not have learned the resiliency of dealing with difficult emotions. In a childhood of high conflict and tension, the avoider might come into play the peacemaker and learn not to add any negativity or tention to one's own on top of the existing tensions.*
My own Avoider tells me that I can take care of everything myself and don't need to ask for help. The Judge is the voice behind my Avoider telling me that I may be judged as incompetent if I need help. Refusing to ask for help backfires on me because I get overwhelmed with a huge project like organizing the garage, and it never gets done. Then I get mad that no one offers to help me and I don't let them know I am mad. My ensuing bad mood affects everyone in the house, while I pretend no to be in a bad mood! You get the idea!!
The good news is there is a way to quiet these Saboteurs and be more effective and in alignment in your life.
One way of doing that is by training yourself to intercept your the Saboteurs when they show up cloaked as shame, guilt, anger, stress, anxiousness and many other negative feelings. Another way is to shift into a sage perspective - the happy place. There are many different ways to shift into a positive mindset that need consistent training. However, the exercises themselves are not difficult and don’t take a lot of time. Two examples are by relaxing and focusing for two minutes on your breathing (focusing on your breath is just one of any ways to shift), and asking yourself if you can accept or to look for the gift in the situation the Saboteur has you flustered about.
So yes, organizing the garage really was on my to do list this past Fall, actually last Spring which turned into Summer, which turned into Fall! I finally "engaged my sage" called my friend and asked her for help. We had a great time and turned a negative task I had been avoiding into a positive experience! (Bonus! My friend was honored I asked for her help, versus the story my Judge was telling me!)
The other secret to get me moving was that I read the book Positive Intelligence and enrolled in the six week course offered on the website, and started incorporating the learning in my coaching sessions. It has been a game changer for me and my clients!
If you are struggling with following through on something or thinking about starting something new in 2021, I am happy to help you with actually achieving your goals.
You can also participate in the same course I took but for FREE when you either sign up to coach with me for 6 months, or join my 9-Month Parenting 2.0 Program. Click on the link to get started. https://www.stellamariscoaching.com/positive-inteligence
For more information about which saboteurs prevent you from getting things done, go to www.positiveintelligence.com and take the saboteur assessment test and then:
Reply in the comments to share your Saboteurs!
Contact me after you have taken the Saboteur Assessment Test for a complimentary coaching session to discuss which Saboteurs you have and how they get in your way!
Join the next Parenting 2.0 Virtual Social for more discussion around our goals and how to keep them alive! Save my Spot
* Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine