The 5 Roadblocks to Our Success

obstacle-roadblockIn Marshall Goldsmith column, “The Five Reasons We Give Up,” Goldsmith discusses why it’s hard for us to achieve our goals. It’s easy to be caught up in the excitement and the possibility that we can change by evolving into something we want to become. But can we get there? What could prevent us from our destination? At times, we think change is easy, not understanding that there will be roadblocks preventing us from accomplishing our goals.

Yes, change takes longer than we thought, and the process is harder. Acknowledging that from the get-go can make a big difference in helping us stick to the plan

marshallgoldsmithThe Five Reasons We Give Up

Goldsmith outlines, “The five of the most common reasons for giving up on our goals are listed below. Understanding these roadblocks will help you apply some preventive medicine—and increase the odds that you won’t fall into the same old traps.” I’ve added my commentary to his main points.

  1. Ownership: “To have a real chance of success, you have to take personal ownership and have the internal belief that ‘This will work if, and only if, I make it work. I am going to make this work.’” What if you knew your future? Would you let it come to you, decreasing the chances of happening? Or would figure out how to get there and make it happen? We have to own it and not be passive.
  2. Time: “In setting our goals for behavioral change, it’s important to be realistic about the time we need to produce positive, lasting results. Habits that have taken years to develop won’t go away in a week. Set time expectations that are 50% to 100% longer than you think you will need to see results—then add a little more!” Like one of my dear development managers used to tell me, “I’ll give you the estimate, but we better multiply times two or three for good measure.” Be realistic, because things always take longer than you think. Today, when someone gives me an estimate on when something will be done, I usually multiply it by two, just in case.
  3. Difficulty: “In setting goals, it’s important to accept the fact that real change requires real work. Making yourself feel good in the short term with statements like ‘This will be easy’ and ‘This will be no problem for me’ can backfire in the long term, when you realize that change isn’t easy and that you will invariably face hard challenges in your journey toward improvement. Acknowledging the price for success in the beginning of the change process will help prevent the disappointment that can occur when challenges arise later.” Change is hard. Why do we assume that it could be easy? It takes tenacity and patience. I may want to change my sleeping habits from five to six hours a day to eight, but this requires changes in my TV habits, work routines, and other factors, that may be dependent on others.
  4. Distractions: “Plan for distractions in advance. Assume that crazy is the new normal. You will probably be close to the reality that awaits!” As a VP, I had to loose control over my schedule. I had last minute executive meetings that were formal or informal, like getting pulled into my CEOs office for quick discussions. My direct reports wanted me to review something or other random events would occur. I learned to targeted only two to three tasks per day, because I knew distractions prevent me from accomplishing my ambitious list of ten to do items. If you plan for it, factoring distractions into the equation, helps manage your expectations on progress and results.
  5. Maintenance: “Have the courage to face the truth up front when setting goals. Honest, challenging plans can help you make a real difference—both in your own life and the lives of the people you know.” Once we attain our goals or desired results, chances are that we need maintain the new habit so it does become a “habit.” I emjoy Goldsmith’s example, “When one of my high-potential leaders asked his boss, the CEO, the question, ‘Do I have to watch what I say and do for the rest of my career?’ the CEO replied, ‘You do if you plan on ever becoming a CEO!’”

What career management or personal development goals have been hindered by roadblocks? How can you improve your progress toward these goals by identifying roadblocks, using Goldsmith’s five pointers? Getting a realistic understanding of the potential barriers that could hinder or slow you down, makes you more successful, and happier as you make progress on the things that are important to you.

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