I have lots of dreams, and lots of goals. Some have been easier to achieve than others, and quite a few of them I have been struggling to accomplish for much of my adult life so far (ahem, getting in shape, hi, someday).

Thinking about accomplishing your goals is the smallest part of the equation. It’s important to visualize and clarify for yourself what your goals are, but that cannot be the only thing that you do. You’ve got to assess what it is that’s stopping you from working towards creating the life you want. Even the most productive people battle personal obstacles that stunt productivity. Here are some things you might be doing to get in your own way.

Being satisfied with the knowledge that you could do it if you just put your mind to it.
Sure, you could write that book, if you just sat down to do it. You know you’ll lose that 15 lbs you’ve been dying to lose as soon as you find time into your schedule to start swimming/doing yoga/taking brisk walks in your jaunty fall cardigan (just bought a new cardigan). It’s very easy to become stagnant and satisfied with the knowledge of what you could attain if you put the work in, rather than taking the time and effort to actually put the work in and see, not just visualize, results. Just DO the things you’re dreaming of DO-ing, already.

Getting overwhelmed by goals that are too vague.
Having an overall goal is a great first step. In order to make those bigger life goals more manageable, you’ve got to break them down into smaller steps. If your goal is to buy a house, then your goal isn’t just “to save x amount of dollars, eventually” it’s to put aside a small amount each week to put toward the overall amount. This is the same for everything you want to achieve for yourself. Break it down into the smallest, most attainable steps.

Seeking approval
While it is important to feel valued by the people you spend a lot of your time around, seeking the approval of other people is such a recipe for disaster. Getting into the habit of seeking approval lets you off the hook for any responsibility to do things for yourself. At the end of the day, if you’re not doing things to please yourself, then what are you going to do when the going gets tough and you’re not getting the accolades you’ve grown accustomed to? If there isn’t anyone around to impress, what will motivate you to do the things for yourself that you want?

Becoming discouraged by minimal progress
This is a long-distance marathon, baby. Believing that the immediate results of our efforts are indicative of the trajectory of our lives is foolish. It takes a really long time to build a lasting career/save money/work through emotional hurdles/finish artistic projects/etc. If you don’t see progress right away, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t any. It means that you need to turn off the little voices in your head that say it’s pointless to invest any more energy and time into whatever it is that you’re working on. Listening to those voices is too convenient. Progress is not supposed to be easy.

Comparing your achievements to other people’s success/judging other people’s accomplishments
It can be so easy to get sucked into a conversation about who is succeeding at what and whether or not you think they’re talented and/or deserving of said success. In all honesty, who cares? Your opinion of other people’s successes does. not. matter. To break that idea down further, what I’m saying is that holding on to judgements (whether positive or negative) of anyone else’s life is a way of distracting yourself from evaluating your own.

Avoiding the risk of failure by choosing to do nothing
If you don’t attempt to create the life you’d like to have, then you won’t ever fail. Makes sense, right? Except you won’t ever succeed, either. This type of inaction goes hand in hand with being satisfied with knowing you’re capable of achieving something if you just decided to put your time into it. It is a dreamer’s way of thinking – completely out of touch with reality. The reality is that if you have a project or goal you’d like to accomplish, and you spend a great deal of your time thinking about accomplishing it, but never translate those thoughts into action, well, you’re the one standing in your own way.

The best kept secret about accomplishing goals you’ve set for yourself is that once you start to knock things off of your list, you’ll become so motivated to continue that the discipline to work towards your dreams will become a part of who you are! Ready, set, DO.