Do you feel like you are working hard on your fitness or in your business but are not getting results?
Does it look like other people out there have it all figured out and they just keep taking giant leaps that yield massive success?
Do you feel that some people have the secret to succeeding in business, fitness and life?
Are you tired of seemingly “running fast” yet at the same time standing still?
I’ve certainly felt that way on numerous occasions, both in fitness and in finance so if you’ve answered “yes” to any of the above questions, I can definitely understand where you are coming from and what you are going through.
It took me over three years to save for a downpayment but it took a lot of extremely hard work to put myself in a position where I was able to even begin to save for a downpayment.
It took me six solid months of progressive training before I was able to run my first marathon, which was after I had already trained for several months to run my first 10k.
What I’ve ultimately come to realize is that real progress takes several months (and even years) of solid, consistent effort.
When I was still in university, I was more in love with the final result than I was with the process. Unfortunately, loving the results without embracing the process that would get me those results is what delayed my progress and ultimately slowed me down.
After digging deep for almost a decade, observing numerous people (including myself) in various situations, I’ve put together a list of 10 biggest reasons why people aren’t making progress, regardless if they are working on their fitness or financial goals.
However, rather than just putting together a list of problems, I’ve come up with some possible that you can implement immediately so you can start moving closer towards achieving your goals.
1.You are inconsistent.
You know how every gym is packed for the first two weeks of January? Then, after two to four weeks, gym members slowly start to abandon their resolutions and never end up reaching their fitness goals.
How about when you go to a business conference and you want to implement everything you learned immediately? Then, you get back home, push yourself to take action for the first couple of weeks, and after that you never look at your notes from that conference ever again.
It is my belief that a combination of overwhelm and the expectation of immediate results ultimately create inconsistency. We all know that it takes longer than two weeks of going to the gym before we see a change in our bodies and we all know that it takes longer than two weeks for a business to get any traction.
Avoid overwhelming yourself within the first two weeks, regardless of what you are doing.
Create a plan that allows you some flexibility and that focuses on 1–3 small things that you can do each day (or week) consistently to work towards your goals (thanks, Jonathan Goodman).
For example, it’s better to only do three workouts per week but do that for a full year or longer than it is to do 7 workouts a week and only do that for two weeks.
2.You spend a lot of time looking for a shortcut.
If you Google, “how to lose weight fast”, you will come across millions of “resources” that claim to offer rapid weight loss. Clearly, it’s a popular topic because profit-minded individuals and corporations are always looking for a way to get you to buy their rapid weight loss product so they can make some quick cash. However, some of those products and ways to lose weight very quickly are not healthy in the long-term.
At the same time, if you search for “how to make money fast”, you will come across millions of search results claiming to offer you a method that will help you get rich quickly.
Typically, what ends up happening is you end up reading countless articles that offer a “quick solution” to your “problems”. You end up consuming information, a lot of which is not from credible sources. This leads you to confusion, frustration, internal conflict, and overwhelm. This takes up a lot of your time, which leaves very little time for taking action.
Instead of trying to look for a shortcut every spare moment you get, start with the basics that you know for sure will work. Yes, this method will take longer to achieve a result but at least you know that you are more likely to accomplish your goal. If you spent as much time following a process as you did looking for shortcuts, you’d already be significantly closer to your “desired outcome.”
So, pick a process that you know you can follow consistently and stick with it. As we all know, there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
There is not one particular diet or exercise program that is the perfect solution for everyone looking to lose weight, run faster and lift heavier.
At the same time, there is no perfect business plan that will guarantee you will make over $10,000 a month after a few months.
Stop wasting your time and energy searching for a quick fix when you already know what you need to do.
3.You compare yourself to other people.
When you scroll through your social media feed, doesn’t it look like “everyone” is having more fun than you? Doesn’t it also appear that many people are more “popular”, more “beautiful” and more “successful” than you?
The truth is, social media is most people’s highlight reel. We all take the best moments of our lives, capture them and share them on social media. Some of us do it because we genuinely enjoyed those moments and want to share that joy. Others carefully curate their social media feed in order to appear more successful and popular than they really are.
The problem with comparing our lives to the lives of those we see on social media is that we don’t see everything. We only see what they want us to see.
For example, a friend of mine who appeared to have everything going perfectly was, in fact, suffering in silence from depression. Another friend of mine who seemed to have a perfect family life ended up going through a nasty divorce. It’s very unfortunate that they had to go through this, but based on their social media posts, where they shared their seemingly perfect lives, I didn’t really know they were suffering in the background.
Not only does social media not fully represent real life, but also you have to consider how long and how hard that person you are comparing yourself to has been working to achieve what they are achieving. For example, you cannot compare your pace to an elite runner who has been training for over a decade while you are in your first year of running and training for your first 10k.
The next time you find yourself comparing your life to the lives of those around you, take a time out. Then, get out your journal and spend a few minutes writing out your own accomplishments and things that you are grateful for. As you do that, you will begin to realize that you did, in fact, accomplish great things and that you do have a lot to be grateful for.
Once you’ve taken an inventory of your own accomplishments, set some new goals that you want to achieve in the next few months. Then, commit to them.
You have to realize that comparing yourself to other people is a waste of your time and comparison truly is the “thief of joy”. The more time you commit to your own goals, the less time you will have to look at what everyone else is doing.
Don’t worry, your time will come too, but you must realize that when you let go of comparing yourself to other people, you will set yourself free to go after your own goals and dreams.
4.You are not intrinsically motivated to achieve your goals.
Intrinsic motivation is defined as behavior that is driven by internal rewards. It is something that comes from within you rather than your environment. Therefore, you take action towards achieving your goals because those goals are important to you, giving you a sense of purpose and a feeling of joy when you achieve them. Simply put, intrinsic motivation is your “why”.
For example, if you want to run a fast marathon because it gives you a sense of personal accomplishment and satisfaction, then you are intrinsically motivated. However, if you want to run a fast marathon because you know it will impress your running friends on social media, then you are extrinsically motivated.
Similarly, if you want to have a successful business that makes a lot of money because it will help you create a healthy financial future for you and your family, then you are intrinsically motivated. However, if you want to make a lot of money because you want to show off your wealth at your next high school reunion, then you are extrinsically motivated.
People who are intrinsically motivated typically enjoy the process more and the end result is like a cherry on top. Those who are extrinsically motivated love the result more than they love the process.
Extrinsic motivation may lead you to pursue goals that you know will impress others as opposed to chasing your own passions. Unfortunately, extrinsic motivation does not last the moment the going gets tough.
When you set a new goal, ask yourself these questions:
“Why do I want to achieve this goal?”
“Why is this goal important to me?”
“Will I enjoy the journey more than the destination?”
If any of your answers have anything to do with how others will perceive you, then perhaps you need to dig deeper on why pursuing this goal will bring you joy. If you are still struggling to find your “why”, then maybe it’s time to reassess the goal and pick something that you know you will enjoy doing. There is no sense in being miserable and stressed for the sake of potentially impressing other people.
Ultimately, you are the only person that you have to impress.
5.You don’t ask for professional help.
Many times, the best way to achieve a desirable result is to ask for professional help. There is a reason why fitness professionals, dieticians and financial advisors exist. They help people just like you achieve their goals.
I know that you may be hesitant to ask for professional help because you want to figure it out on your own. Some people genuinely take pride in figuring things out on their own. However, getting help may be exactly what you need to take your life to the next level, especially if you are not making progress on your own and you feel “stuck”.
There is no shame in asking for help or hiring someone to help you. When you hire an expert to help you, you will benefit from the several years of knowledge that they’ve acquired so you don’t have to figure it all out on your own.
If you have been trying to achieve something for a very long time and you feel like you are getting nowhere with whatever it is that you are trying to do, you most definitely should consider asking for help.
When you are looking for help, it’s important to hire someone who is trustworthy. Before you blindly give your money away to the first person who makes a bunch of promises, do your own research and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Before you hire someone to help you, ask yourself:
“Does this person have experience working with people who have the same or similar problem as I do?”
“Do I feel comfortable around this person and do we have a good connection?”
“Is this person trustworthy and do they have a good reputation?”
“Am I committed to putting my ego aside so that I can learn from the expert that I hired to help me?”
6.You let other people’s negativity influence your actions.
Sadly, some people mistake their negative outlook on everything for “realism”.
Sometimes, you will share your goals with someone only to hear them respond with one (or a few) of the following:
“I don’t think you can do it.”
“People with XYZ have tried it and failed, so why do you think you can do it?”
“You know, only 1% of people who attempt what you are trying to do actually become successful at this.”
“My [friend/mom/dad/sister/brother/coworker] has tried this before and they couldn’t do it because they’ve encountered problems XYZ.”
“Before you can start this, you have to have XYZ figured out.”
“Have you thought about what would happen if [insert problem here]?”
While they feel like they are protecting you from a world of hurt in the event that you fail, they don’t offer any real value that will help you move forward towards reaching your goals.
At the same time, some may have ulterior motives when they tell you that you can’t do it or come up with potential problems that may get in your way. They do it in order to discourage you from attempting to achieve what you want. They will create obstacles for you so that you stop trying. If you stop trying, then you won’t achieve your goal and you will not be a threat to their ego.
When I was cleaning the gym and collecting refundable bottles to make some cash in 2010, I told a few people I wanted to save for a downpayment. They laughed at me and told me that I need to be realistic in my expectations and that there are many people with higher incomes than me who still don’t own their own homes. However, I committed to that goal and made it happen anyway.
Later, when I was training to run my first 10k after a number of years off running, I said I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I got laughed at again because at the time, my 10k pace was a long way off from qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Despite their negativity, I ran the Boston Marathon in 2015.
If someone responds negatively to your goals, consider the source. If the person who says negative things to you is someone who has given up on their dreams, then you can understand why they want to put you down.
It’s very important to recognize the difference between constructive criticism, helpful advice and malicious negativity.
Constructive criticism would typically come from someone who is experienced in the area that you are trying to improve upon. It usually comes from someone who actually wants to help you. The best example is when a coach you trust tells you that you need to improve your running form in order to run faster so you can qualify for Boston. Furthermore, not only do they tell you that you need to improve your form but they also show you how you can improve.
Genuinely helpful advice also typically comes from someone who has done what you are trying to accomplish. They also genuinely want to help you and they have nothing to gain if you fail. These people want to help because they are confident in themselves and they don’t need to see others fail to make themselves feel better.
Malicious negativity is when friends, or even family members, act like they mean well but, in reality, they want to see you quit. They typically have never done what you are trying to do and they see your ambition as a threat.
Furthermore, you must understand that they have given up on their own goals and they want to drag you into their own vortex of negativity. Deep down, they don’t want to see you succeed because they believe that your success is a threat to their self-esteem. They are afraid that if you look good then they look bad.
The best way to deal with malicious negativity is to block it out (yes, this is very hard). When you are responding to someone’s negativity, don’t be emotional about it. It’s important not to show that negative person that they had an impact on your emotional state.
Recognize that their negativity is a reflection of their own life experience and it has nothing to do with you. It’s important to limit the amount of contact you have with people who bring you down. The less you interact with them the more you will be able to protect your dreams.
So, go forth and conquer.
7.You lose momentum after a setback or a failed attempt.
When you are trying to achieve an extra-ordinary goal, setbacks are almost inevitable. Life will keep happening and there are a number of setbacks that can derail us.
Unfortunately, we cannot always succeed the first time 100% of the time. For some people, a failed attempt is so heartbreaking that they quit and never try again (this makes me very sad).
Of course, being disappointed is natural after you put your heart and soul into something only to “fail.” It’s also absolutely within your right to be extremely upset when an injury or an accident forces you to take time off training.
I totally get that it can be frustrating to work so hard at something and not see results after trying to approach the problem in so many different ways (trust me, I’ve been there more times than I can remember).
I’d be lying if I told you it was easy to look at failure or a setback as a “learning and growing opportunity”. It’s not easy but that is exactly what we have to do.
The ability to reframe setbacks and failures in a positive light is what keeps people’s dreams alive.
The next time you experience a setback or a failure, ask yourself:
“What did I learn?”
“How can I do better next time?”
“What can I do to increase the chances of my next attempt being more successful?”
“Who do I know has experienced similar setbacks and can that person share with me how he/she was able to overcome them?”
Then, come up with a few new solutions. Think of the pros and cons of each of them. Then, choose one and try again. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until you reach your goal.
You can make changes to the process as many times as necessary but I urge you not to give up on your goals because the first attempt (or few attempts) didn’t work out the way you had hoped.
8.You are attempting to do too many things at once thus not getting results.
Ever heard the expression:
“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape?”
The same thing applies to goals. If you have too many goals, you are not able to focus on one goal or one project. When your “to do” list is a mile long, it can be difficult to complete tasks on that list.
Having too many goals at any given time causes us to be overwhelmed. When we are overwhelmed, it’s difficult to focus, so we end up going in a million different directions. As a result, we end up with a number of projects that are “half done” but we don’t achieve that end result because we never completed any of them (yet).
Write down some of the goals you want to achieve and projects you would like to complete. Then, look at that list carefully and pick one that is the most important and exciting to you. When you focus on one goal, you will be able to direct all your energy towards achieving it as opposed to diluting your efforts.
After you write that goal down, determine an appropriate length of time that you believe it will take for you to reach it. You should write your goal in this format: “Complete a 10k run in three months from now.”
Once you write your exciting goal down, it’s time to get to work. It’s important that the goal you choose to pursue is achievable. Once you achieve that first goal, go back to your list of goals you wrote earlier and pick the next one, preferably one that’s slightly more challenging. Achieving that first goal should give you more confidence to pursue the next goal.
9.You are waiting for “the perfect time” to get started.
We’ve all been there. I’m sure you may have spent a lot of time over-thinking, researching and coming up with reasons not to start immediately. If you often tell yourself that you will start when XYZ happens, then you may have to be waiting for a long time (or forever).
Some examples of that include:
“I will start when I have more time.”
“I will do this when I have more money.”
“I will start running when the kids are older.”
Unfortunately, there will always be something going on that prevents us from getting started immediately. We have to realize that life will continue to happen even though we are busy making other plans.
The time will pass anyways and the longer you wait to get started, the longer it will take you to reach your goal. Therefore, it’s important to break your goal down into a series of small and manageable tasks.
Also, take an inventory of what you do with your time and create a list of “time wasters”. For me, for example, one of those time wasters is “social media scrolling”. If you can list your top 3 time wasters and eliminate even one of them, you will be well on your way to getting started with working towards your goal.
10.You are afraid.
The truth is: we are all afraid (I’m afraid, too). We are afraid of failure and we are terrified of what people will think of us if we fail.
We fear that if we spend so much time working towards something and fail, then our peers, social media friends, family members and former high school classmates will laugh at us.
We are also afraid to invest our time, effort and money into something that may not work. We are so terrified of the fear of failure that we fail to start. That way of thinking is 100% guaranteeing our failure.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that failure is bad so we spend a lot of time contemplating and thinking of all the things that could go wrong. This is why the graveyards are filled with products that were never launched, businesses that were never started and books that were never written.
The only way to move forward is to fail forward. It’s important to get control of your fears so that they don’t control you.
How can you do this?
First, take an inventory of your fears including what the potential worst case scenario is. You need to be very clear on all the potential setbacks and roadblocks that you may encounter when you take action towards your goal.
Then, you need to think of ways that you can decrease the probability of those bad things happening. Go through each one of your “worst-case scenarios” and come up with preventative measures as well as solutions (in the event any of those bad things actually happen). Write them down.
After that, write down what would happen and how you would feel if you succeeded or even tried. Every time you make an attempt, hopefully you will recognize what you learned and how you can build upon that experience for your next attempt.
Lastly, you want to weigh your worst-case scenarios against the “results” from never trying.
“Am I going to be better off if I never start or can I recover from the worst-case scenario in the event that it happens?”
“Am I going to be substantially better off if I succeed?”
“Is the risk of failure ultimately worth it?”
Only you can answer those last three questions but I urge you to think carefully about how you answer and what you tell yourself.
Chances are, whatever it is that you want to do is worth trying.
If you’ve spent so long thinking about it, coming up with solutions to the problems you might encounter, I hope that you have come to a conclusion that many risks can be mitigated or eliminated, failure gets you one step closer to success and fear shouldn’t stop you dead in your tracks.
Ultimately, the best case scenario is you succeed. The worst case scenario is that you learn. If people want to laugh at you for trying and failing, then you should find new people to spend time with.
If you’ve read this far, I want to THANK YOU for your time.
I genuinely hope that this article will help you take inspired action towards your goal (whatever that goal may be). I am rooting for you and I wish you success.
If you found it helpful, please share this link with others who may benefit from any part of this article.
If you have any questions, I’m here for you.
(header photo by: James Patrick)
Originally published at https://www.yanahempler.com on April 11, 2020.