by Howard Cohen

Have you ever made a to-do list and didn’t do it? Or, have you ever said I’ll take care of this tomorrow and tomorrow never came? Isn’t it amazing how other activities can take place, like the graduation of a loved one, or the planning for a birthday party or maybe even having another addition to the family? Do you ever feel like your own needs never get met or fulfilled? You are truly not alone.

In this article, I plan on showing how life gets in the way of our dreams and aspirations and how we can get back on track. Let’s begin to put our action plan into motion and reach its destination.

Whether we admit it or not, our health—physical or mental—can get in the way of attaining our goals. If you are sick, in pain, stressed out or depressed, your personal goals are most likely not going to be accomplished. If you want to lose 20 pounds quickly, you may want to re-think your time frame to achieve your goal weight. Sometimes, you have to set a more short term goal, like losing five pounds over two weeks, rather than in a few days. You get the desired result, but you have to be a bit more patient.

Another big obstacle in the achievement arena is lack of motivation. Sometimes, we don’t have the energy or the desire to make changes in our life. We settle for the way things are and are somewhat adjusted to the chaos or drained by the drama we face every day. These are hard habits to break so you’ll need to make changes in smaller pieces. You may want to exercise a little bit each week or try saying “No!” to someone when you are asked to add one more task to your already full plate.

Procrastination is our own worst enemy in the battle of goal attainment. Putting things off for another day only finds another day of failure and disappointment. As Nike says, “Just do it!”

Negativity can be a real drag when you are trying to make some progress in your life. If you have recognized that some people in your world have negative energy, you may want to re-think how much time you spend with them. Negative relationships can limit your progress. Try to choose, more consciously, who you surround yourself with daily. Some people may be bringing you down, so try to be in the presence of those who reinforce you getting what you want and not those who think it’s impossible to do so.

Sometimes, you will work with negative co-workers, so it’s difficult to avoid their messages of gloom and doom. Don’t just ignore them, but hear what they have to say. Learn to understand how being unhappy or dissatisfied is just their way of accepting the way things are in their world. But, you don’t have to accept that for yourself. You can be happy and achieve your dreams in spite of the adversity around you by not giving into hopelessness. Stay positive and upbeat. It really makes a difference!

Being spiritual and attending religious services can ground us and help us to focus clearer. Even reading an engaging novel, going to the library to research a topic of interest, or visiting a local park can be a relaxing and invigorating way to fuel our desire for goal achievement. It helps to reduce the stress in our life in order to achieve our aspirations.

Staying healthy is critical in order to achieve our aspirations. Take the time to plan your nutritional intake by creating convenient and healthy menus and stick to them. Make sure you build in a moderate exercise plan to your weekly routine that you will actually carry out and complete. Be sure you get seven to eight hours sleep. Sleep deprivation is a leading cause of lethargy and will zap the energy you need to achieve your goals. All of these areas require some discipline on your part and that discipline is the key to your success in getting what you want out of your life.

Here’s some homework for you if you have become an “under-achiever”:

Set one goal this week.

Write down all the steps you need to take to fulfill your goal.

Did you do it? If yes, start again at number one and keep going.

If not, then write down what got in your way and try again.

Don’t let anything or anyone stop you!

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” – Booker T. Washington

Yours in personal change and growth, Howard M. Cohen, Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern, 2312 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, 954-980-9628, [email protected], See ad page 19.