Think back to a time where you accomplished something challenging. It doesn’t have to be winning the Noble Peace Prize. Feats of any size will do. It could be completing a one thousand piece puzzle with colors that all seem to look a like, finishing your first 5k race or learning a new song on the piano. Imagine admiring your work. The beautiful picture that the pieces created with a pattern that finally makes sense. Admiring the finish line and the long path it took to get there. A melody with the notes in the perfect order and your fingers moving smoothly along the keys. How amazing does it feel to see all your work come together into a masterpiece?
Was it all worth it? The moments staring at the puzzle with no clue what your next move was. Putting pieces together that just wouldn’t fit. Going out for a jog on a cold rainy day when your warm cozy bed was calling your name. Blisters from all the miles you put in or cords you played. Having to practice the same lines over and over to gain the muscle memory to play the correct notes in the correct order. All these moments created challenges that you learned how to overcome. Think back to what your biggest challenges were and what strategies you used to bypass them.
Today I’d like to highlight some of the most common barriers I come across with my patients and helpful strategies to overcome them. The first (and most common) is “I don’t have enough time.” This barrier is one we can all understand. We have all experienced that feeling of not having enough hours in the day. But I am here to assure you that there is more time out there than you might think. The second obstacle I frequently come across has to do with lack of resources. Some examples include but are not limited to, not being able to afford working toward their dreams, lacking support from family or friends and difficulty finding childcare. The last challenge I’d like to discuss is fear of failure. I come across this in the clinic and with friends and family. Everyone has their own self doubts but they do not need to stop you from achieving great things.
To start, time is our most precious resource. Unlike the money in our bank account, once we spend it it’s gone forever. In other words, we can always earn more money but we will never gain back the time we have wasted. For this reason, it is important to use time wisely. I am going to encourage you to take inventory on how you are spending yours. Obviously there are parts of our day that are dedicated to necessities such as work, eating and sleeping. Let’s say that takes approximately 18 hours (8 hours of work + 8 hours of sleep +2 hours of eating). What is occupying the remaining 6 hours of the day? Are you spending this time learning a new skill, exercising or spending quality time with your children? Or are you scrolling through TikTok, binging Netflix or gossiping with a friend? Trust me. I am guilty of all of the above. And that’s okay. Sometimes we need to unwind with a show, a bowl of ice cream or some adorable puppy videos on TikTok. But as I always say, life is about balance. If TikTok, Netflix and gossip are getting in the way of our goals then we need to tip the scale back in our favor by limiting our time spent with these outlets.
Identify the moments during your day that are hindering your ability to move forward. How can we change this situation to suit your goals? One way to do this is by blocking out designated time for the steps you need to achieve your goal. If you’re aiming to eat healthier then schedule times during the week when you can meal prep for the week and sit down to eat instead of getting food on the go and eating while you work or when you drive. If your goal is related to fitness you can schedule periods of time during the day to work out. Reminder: Work outs can fit into any part of the day and can be divided into smaller durations and spread out throughout the day. This is helpful in any arena whether it is diet, fitness, finance, sleep hygiene, meditation, etc. Find a clear and organized space to do this. I prefer to do this on paper as I find it more powerful to see my own handwriting. If you choose to use your phone calendar for scheduling, that’s great. Do what works for you. Just be sure to make your schedule as clear as possible and hold yourself accountable for following your schedule.
After finalizing your schedule help yourself follow the schedule as easily as possible. Picking out your clothes the night before, making your lunch the night before and putting healthy habits right in front of you all work together to make it harder to veer off course. This works in reverse, hiding treats and social media apps will prevent you from feeding into them when you don’t really have the time to pursue them.
This is also a positive way to address our second barrier of discussion today. If you’re low on funds avoid buying potato chips and dessert while you’re at the store. By doing this you can allocate those funds to healthier options. Then, once you are home the health options are easy to find and the choices that might not be as healthy won’t be available. Having the right choices in the house makes decision making a little easier. In addition, prioritizing your resources forces you to be more creative. Instead of using the newest and heaviest dumbbells you can hold and lift books or reusable grocery bags with cans in them. This is something I would love to help you through. If you’re stumped on ways of modifying your activities to your budget please reach out and we can work through it together. This is something I work on with my patients on a daily basis. So don’t hesitate to ask for help.
I also mentioned barriers having to deal with lack of family support or difficulty finding childcare. I’d like to give you one solution that addresses both. Children of all ages are sponges and learn from what they see. Regardless of what you are trying to achieve, your kids will want to be a part of it. Include them in making delicious meals that nourish our bodies, workouts outside to burn some energy or calm guided meditation. Not only will you be spending quality time with them but you will be teaching them valuable lessons AND you’ll have someone to keep you company while you are working hard.
No kids? No problem! Most people are out walking through life working toward being their best self too. Don’t be shy when if comes to asking for help. Talk to a friend, parent, sibling, mentor or co-worker about your goals and if they’d like to participate with you. Find someone who is working toward something similar and use each other as motivation. You’d be surprised who is out there looking for the same kind of support that you are looking for.
Similarly, If you’re looking for a hype girl to carry you away from the fear of failure I am here for you. I am a firm believer in anything is possible and you can do anything you set your mind to. We’ve all had those thoughts that convince you that your goals are too big and someone like you could never make it happen. But that is just not true. You might have to work for it and it probably won’t be easy but if it’s your dream it can happen. Identifying what is holding you back and taking small steps forward. Eventually you will get to where you want to go. You just have to try. So let’s get a discussion going about what obstacles are in our way and work together to plan out a strategy to overcome them. I’m on your team and will root for you every step of the way.