By: Katey Collins, LCSW

On December 31st last year did you make a “New Year’s Resolution?” Did you have exciting ideas and ambitious dreams about making drastic changes in your life? If so, you are not alone. This time of year lures people into making such “resolutions.” Unfortunately, little success is found when tackled from this standpoint. The “New Year’s Resolution” approach often lacks a process of extensive research, planning, insight, reflection, implementation, and review.

Think about the people you admire and aspire to be like. From first glance, it may appear as though their life is easy, that they had no obstacles to achieving what they desire. The actual time-intensive, logical, extensive steps taken to get to their happy place may not be so obvious. Consider someone at work who just went back to school and is excited to be completing an internship doing the work they are drawn to. Perhaps you know a Dad who beams with excitement and happiness when he is spending time with his children. Or that friend who just completed another marathon and posted her euphoric finish photo. When you see people this happy and content, are you jealous, envious, happy for them? Do you consider or ask them what steps they took to achieve their goals?

Effective planning and goal setting methods involve ongoing, consistent, extensive processes and habits. It is no mistake that the athlete who qualified for the Olympic Trials ended up there. Some will say this dream began for them as a young child watching their sport in the Olympics on television. A key factor in an athlete’s success is their ability to take consistent steps toward their goal over an extended time period. Also, an important step is measuring progress, evaluating what is and is not working, reflecting on thoughts, feelings, experiences, and trusting one’s own insight.

I have been fortunate to learn from many inspiring people who have accomplished tremendous things such as run ultra-marathons (100-200 miles), Ironman triathlons (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run), completed a Master’s or Doctorate Degree, lovingly raised children alone, created a successful business with no college degree and barely enough money to provide for their family, heal and recover from abuse and trauma, and become a caregiver for a family member.

I would like to share with you some observations I have made below. I have always been fascinated with ways people improve their outcomes, better their circumstances and create such a positive impact on others.

I would like to share with you some observations I have made below. I have always been fascinated with ways people improve their outcomes, better their circumstances and create such a positive impact on others.

Senior women meditating on grass

Things People Do to Achieve Their Goals

  • Embrace ways to challenge themselves and grow. The idea of pushing themselves outside their comfort zone is one they have come to understand will enrich their lives
  • Understand mindset will hurt or help you. A flexible, adjustable mindset is key
  • Have a detailed plan and schedule and follow through with it
  • Support and encourage others
  • Review, evaluate and adjust goals regularly
  • Daily self-care habits and routines: such as meditation, reading, exercise, visualization, mantras, prayer, journaling
  • Keep goals in a place where they are visual and frequent reminders, such as an alarm on your phone, posted on the bathroom mirror, on sticky notes on bedroom walls, etc.
  • Collaborate with others who hold them accountable
  • Understand that achieving something great is not done alone, and are willing to accept support from others
  • View other’s success as inspiring and encouraging rather than threatening
  • Expect that failure is a part of the process

There is some level of comfort in a predictable life, even if it is a miserable life. Research shows how the brain tricks us into wanting things to be the same. You see, our brains are hardwired for survival and protection (Lewis, 2016.) In order to challenge ourselves to grow, we need to do some careful examination of where our fears stem from.

After plenty of my own failings, questioning and learning from others, below are some notable pitfalls to avoid.

Reasons People Do Not Achieve Their Goals

  • They do not have a detailed plan in which they researched how to actually accomplish the desired outcome
  • Beliefs they have adapted from other’s feedback, such as, “I do not deserve to be happy, I am not good enough,” are ingrained and accepted in their mind.
  • Fear of the unknown prevents them from taking a risk
  • They look to the norm and society to see if what they are after is commonplace or considered socially acceptable
  • They ignore their passion and intuition
  • They believe that reaching out for support is a sign of weakness, which prevents them from utilizing resources that would benefit them
  • Accountability is not structured into their plan
  • They start with a plan, get sidetracked and started over again and again with different ideas, strategies and methods.

Perhaps these do’s and do not’s will help you navigate your journey forward. It is not an exhaustive list, yet hopefully enough to get you started. As a coach and therapist, I am trusted amidst people’s most vulnerable stages of life, which is something I take seriously. When supporting clients, and in my own life, I incorporate these guidelines above to foster growth and progress. The path to healing, recovery and one of creating new opportunities is an intensive process, that is well worth the contribution.

The confidence that people gain after achieving such goals leads to a domino effect of positivity in life. After each small win, confidence grows and builds, setting up for the next goal to work toward. My favorite part of coaching and being a therapist is witnessing firsthand the aha moment of achieving a goal and seeing the genuine happiness that accompanies it!

Colin BullenKatey Collins is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, with a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Her career roles are/have been Therapist, Life Coach, Executive Director, Associate Director and Founder of non-profit organizations, Swim Coach. She owns two businesses, Tri Life Coach and
Bee Happy Therapy in Lake Geneva.

Katey competed through college in swimming and now enjoys endurance racing: Ironman Triathlon, Running (5k – 50K) and open water swimming, most recently a 10k in Barbados.