“Yeah, I tried, it just didn’t work out”.
“It’s just not for me so I stopped”.
“I’ve never been good at this anyways”.
“I tried a few years ago, no point in trying again”.
“See? I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it”.
“I ended the relationship. They’ll break up with me anyway. They all do.”
“I applied twice and was rejected both times. I’m not trying again.”
Do any of these statements sound familiar? Perhaps you have said something similar to yourself or have heard similar statements from others.
These statements reflect the giving up of a desired outcome and goal.
I want you to take a moment here and think of a goal you have worked on or maybe are working on and have stopped pursing it or are thinking of stopping. Maybe it is a short-term goal of completing a 10 mile run or a longer term goal like learning a new language.
Found something? Now ask yourself,
“Have I given my self a chance? /Did I give myself a chance?”
Have I really given myself a chance?/Did I really give my self a chance?
Yes, of course you did somewhat as you tried. My bet however is that you may not have given yourself the full chance at achieving your goal as you deserve (but would likely encourage others to do so). I did read once that we often give up on ourselves far sooner than we do on others….Now, what is up with that? Yeah, right?! Actually a lot. (Give me a call and we can work through it)
Ok, hold that thought and let’s get started.
As a Life and Career Coach I help clients establish and achieve their goals whether that be performance goal (getting a promotion at work), a learning goal ( enhancing communication, doing your own taxes )it is tax time!) or a fulfillment goal (discovering a new hobby, creating a family,etc) and finding a way forward through situations and challenges,
You are more likely to reach your goal when you use some form of structure and framework ( i.e TIGER, T-GROW and SMART), coupled with a system and habits that will support you along the way.
And that’s great.
But having worked with clients over several years in personal development, life enhancement and career coaching, I have observed that there is often something missing….and its a BIG obstacle.
The obstacle I am referring to is:
NOT GIVING YOURSELF A CHANCE
What I call the “GYaC obstacle”
*The GYC was taken. Hence the “a”
I believe giving yourself a chance (GYaC) and by this I mean a true, fair opportunity to reach your goal, which I will explain, is a crucial component to achieving your goals and may be what is missing in these goal setting formats.
Every goal setting format and structure could use a GYaC approach added to it!
In order to address this obstacle and help you reach your goals, I want to share 8 approaches to help you GYaC your goals.
But before I do so, I will provide a little background on:
- How and why not GYaC’ing your goals is an obstacle (or roadblock)
- Giving up on versus a healthy departure from your goal
- What may be behind you not giving yourself a chance
GYaC as a Roadblock
Let’s start (and stay) with the positive:
Not giving yourself a chance is an internal, controllable obstacle.
Why is this positive? Because YOU are in control. Only YOU have the power over the effort you put into something and this includes giving yourself a chance.
Understanding Internal versus External obstacles (or roadblocks)
Yes! GYaC is an internal and controllable roadblock. This means that YOU are the one responsible for not giving yourself a chance, thus blocking your own way, as opposed to an external roadblock, where something outside of you is blocking your way, likely not in your control, in which case you will have to find alternate solutions and implement coping strategies (like adaption, acceptance).
For example, let’s say you have a goal to complete a marathon and have signed up for one which is dependent on the weather. An external roadblock or something out of your control would be if you did not do the marathon because it rained therefore it was cancelled. Of course, you can still GYaC and have options by signing up again and attending when the weather is good, doing a different marathon, running your own for the sake of it, etc. But the actual event is cancelled.
An internal, controllable obstacle might be that you did not GYaC at running the marathon because of fear, anxiety, self-doubt, that you would not be able to finish it, which to you might mean failure -and a plethora of uncomfortable emotions that accompany the “F” word. So, you just didn’t run it. Easier to avoid the unpleasant emotions than lean into them, right?
Yes, external obstacles can get in the way but again, you are in control of how you perceive, interpret and address the external obstacles.
Giving up versus GYaC
Before plunging into how to give yourself a chance -and give my article a chance while you are at it- I want to quickly highlight the importance of distinguishing between “giving up” versus making a healthy, conscious, evidence-based, methodical and rational decision to discontinue something or delay or postpone it/come to an end (for the time being) is.
I like to look at giving up as intentionally stopping something you had your mind set on doing (a goal) but not necessarily because you can’t do it or do not want to anymore. You may still have the desire for reaching the goal but you give up.
It s totally normal, healthy and occurs regularly where we stop doing something we at one time wanted to. Goals change! But the key difference here is that when you give up, you haven’t given yourself a true, full chance. You are making a preliminary judgement that you will not succeed and acting on beliefs and thought patterns that are hindering attempts.
So why would someone not give themselves a Chance?
Many things contribute to giving up. Some common reasons I have encountered with clients (and myself!) include:
- Self-limiting beliefs i.e you don’t believe you can do it, or maybe you feel that others do not believe in you (and hey, maybe they don’t),
- Certain unsupportive mindsets such as perfectionist attitudes
- Making emotionally driven and reactive-based decisions
- Fear-of failure, rejection, loss, shame
- Misaligned and unclear values and/or following someone’s else’s (family, society, culture)
- Low areas in one of the ‘selves” i.e low self-efficacy, low self-confidence, low self-worth
- Cognitive distortions i.e “polarized thinking”, “catastrophizing”. Here is a list from Therapistaid.com: https://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/cognitive-distortions
- A thought or behavioural habit (i.e whenever you do not reach your goal/target you default to giving up)
- Poorly designed goals (ie untimely, in realistic, not measurable, not emotionally relevant (not your goal), no clear motivator, not attainable.
On the other hand, a decision to discontinue or stop something (change your goal or behaviour) because you feel you have given it your all and decided it was something you no longer want to pursue or is no longer a feasible goal is different. This is often a healthy departure or change in direction, paving way for new goals and is a decision often reached and influenced by the following:
- Some evidence, fact, proven attempts
- A shift in priorities and values, interests,
- Healthy and constructive thought patterns
- Change in environment and/or situation (health, family, financial, etc) or external, uncontrollable obstacles.
Now by “healthy” I am not implying that you may be content with the decision (departure) of leaving or changing your goal but it is different than giving up. It is not a result of all or some of the “BIG 10”. In where external and uncontrollable obstacle are in the way of your goal, there are still options. Once accepting the situation, some may postpone the goal, alter the goal or revaluate the importance of the goal in their lives at this current time.
8 Approaches on how to GYaC your Goals (and you can start by reading this article!)
To be clear, this is not a “how-to” to reach your goals but a how-to GYaC so you are more likely to reach your goal.
1.Take a fresh look at your goals
It’s natural and healthy to stop, change and reassess goals but don’t do it because you think you can’t. Or because someone else thinks you can’t.
You are more likely to GYaC by incorporating these 3 ways of getting clarity into your goals:
a Stop and ask yourself this 1 question that can be asked in 4 (or more) ways::
Is this still what I want?
Is this still WHAT I want?
Is this STILL what I want?
Is this still what I WANT?
2. Have a structure. To fully engage in GYaC it helps to establish a structure
This is where goal-setting structures like the TIGER, T-GROW, SMART come in.
The SMART goal format may be one that you are familiar with: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. If you want to train for a full marathon that is set for 1 month from now and you have never run past 5km in your life – in one go-this is not particularly a SMART goal and you may find yourself not giving yourself much of a chance and “giving up” because you couldn’t do it but because this is rather an unrealistic, non-timely, unattainable goal for where you are at today.
To GYaC, make sure you set a goal that is set up for success, not failure, otherwise you really haven’t given yourself a chance (and possibly self-sabotaging your own success)
3. What’s your system?
In addition to a structure, it helps to establish a system. You are more likely to GYaC in optimal conditions – in conditions with minimal external and uncontrollable disturbances and obstacles. In a system that allows you to work towards your goal with a realistic and manageable dose of tension, exertion and struggle.
A system means not only having a goal-setting structure but having healthy habits and routines that will support your progress, including having strategies to use when you do encounter set-backs.
The less external disturbance and the better the system, the more likely you are to GYaC.
4. Process your Emotions
This imperative no matter where you are in your journey to reaching your goal.
No, a discomfort or ego disturbance (such as not reaching your intended goal) does not feel great. Feelings of self-doubt, failure, rejection, anger, are not fun. It takes a lot of emotional courage to work through these but they are sometimes necessary. I encourage clients that instead of running away from these feelings , try leaning into them.They can be useful and provide opportunity for personal development, growth and a different way forward
How? Emotions are what drive action or inaction. They can be what drives you to success, to keep going, but also to give up. They are behind what pushes you to go on or quit. If you do not acknowledge, validate, explore, understand and regulate your emotions, this could lead to making a decision, and then to an action or inaction that may end up in an undesirable outcome (such as quitting too early).
Before making any decisions take a step back and observe what is going on. Give yourself the space and time to do so.
PROCESS the emotions. Then make the decision.
If you are going to do 1 thing only to GYaC your goals. This needs to be it.
You may feel you want to quit in the moment. Give yourself some space. GYaC needs space to cultivate and grow.
The approaches hereafter work best when emotions are regulated. Some ways to do this include journaling your thoughts and emotions, talking it out with others in your emotional safety net and working with a healthcare professional and/or Life Coach.
5. Create a metric for GYaC
First, define what GYaC means to you. How will you measure that you have given yourself a fair chance?
Here are some questions I use with clients to explore before coming to a conclusion to stop something or give up.
- Have you given yourself a chance?
- Have you truly given yourself a chance?
- Common now, really?
- How do you know? What did you do? Is there something you have not done that you could do?
- How would you feel leaving this where it is at and discontinuing this goal in 10 minutes, 10 months, 10 years?(from Suzy Welch’s model on decision making https://youtu.be/Zu-Rj2xdhyM
If yes: Good for you and I hope you learned from and enjoyed the journey
If not, try the following questions:
a.What else can you do?
What specific things have you done to give yourself a chance?
What specific things have you NOT done that you could possibly do?
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself on how much of a chance you gave yourself? (Ideally it should get to 10/10)
Then reflect on this one:
Are you giving up on your goal or on yourself?
6. Nurture a Growth Mindset
A growth mindset, a concept by psychologist Carol Dweck and colleagues, is the “belief that a person’s capacities and talents can be improved and developed by hard work and dedication” https://www.edglossary.org/growth-mindset/#:~:text=The%20concept%20of%20a%20growth%20mindset%20was%20developed,Dweck%E2%80%99s%20theories%20to%20inform%20how%20they%20teach%20students.
It can be challenging to give yourself a fair chance with a ‘fixed mindset”. Unless you are fixed on reaching your goal!
Interested in developing a “growth mindset”? Well, the fact that you believe in this concept is an indication that you may have a ‘flexible mindset” and are already towards adopting a growth mindset
Haven’t’ reached your desired goal? Carol Dweck recommends adding the word “NOT YET”
7. Challenge your Limiting Beliefs, and Try an “Enabling” belief (this requires a “growth mindset”)
Our beliefs have a profound impact on what we do, who we think we are and our view of the world.
A limiting belief, by definition in the NLP world, is “a Belief or decision we make about ourselves and/or our model of the world that limit the way we live” https://www.nlpworld.co.uk/nlp-glossary/l/limiting-belief/.
An “enabling belief” is quite the opposite – a belief or decision we make about ourselves and/or the world that allows for growth and success and happiness.
For example, let’s say you want to apply for a job that you are very interested in but notice that it says “must be proficient with Excel”. Your limiting (often automated) belief, delivered often by your inner critic, of “I’ve never been good with computers” kicks in and you decide not to apply to the job. You thus do not GYaC.
Is it possible that you could learn to use Excel? By challenging your belief, you allow pathways for a new, enabling belief.
Do you believe you could learn to be “good” with computers or at least in an employable capacity and level?
New, enabling belief (which requires a growth mindset): I can learn to use excel
You then register for a course to learn excel and apply for the job you want (and maybe get it-if not you now have a great new set of skills, whch may lead to other opportunities, right?)
8. Assess your Self-Efficacy
Self-Efficacy is a term I find ‘thrown around’’ with little understanding but something to really pay attention to. For those unfamiliar with this concept, Self Efficacy refers to “the belief we have in our own abilities, specifically our ability to meet the challenges ahead of us and complete a task successfully.”
I like to see it as faith in yourself-believing in something where there is not necessarily proof (guarantee of your idea of success). (https://positivepsychology.com/self-efficacy/)”. If you find yourself having low levels of self-efficacy, you are more likely to not give yourself a full chance of achieving your goal or overcoming an obstacle. You can read more about this, take some fun assessments and also learn how to increase your level of self—efficacy via this link provided by Positive Psychology https://positivepsychology.com/self-efficacy-scales/?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=%5BPP+Round-Up%5D+Measure+Self-Concept+More+Effectively+With+These+Self-Esteem+Questionnaires&utm_campaign=%5BPP+Round-Up%5D+Measure+Self-Concept+More+Effectively+With+These+Self-Esteem+Questionnaires
Yes, I have GYaC’s my goal.Now what?
If, after going through some or all of these strategies, you really feel you have given yourself a chance (because you deserve at least that) then I hope you walk away proud of yourself and enjoyed the journey and learning that comes with it.
Remember that NOT NOW does not mean NOT EVER.Maybe NOW is not the time for this goal. It is important to meet yourself where you are at.
Not reaching a goal is not a failure. Not giving yourself a chance is failing yourself.
Give yourself a chance. Because if you don’t, the consequences may result in much more uncomfortable emotions and thoughts than defeat, rejection and failure.
Yes, you may still have these, but what am I talking about?
Possibly resentment, regret and a continuous flow of “I should have” statements on repeat.
For the rest of your life. Ugh.
Because real failure, well, it’s walking away…from yourself.
So next time you find yourself working towards a goal, short term or long-term, and feeling you want to quit or give up,
Give yourself a chance.
Add some GYaC to your goal by trying some of the strategies listed above.
And if you walk away? You will walk away knowing you have really given yourself a chance.
Now get to it:)