Have you ever decided to do something – a goal you wanted to achieve, whether it is physical, emotional, financial or otherwise – and started working on it like mad, just to see how, all of a sudden, everyone started doing it like it’s just another part of life? While you’re working yourself to death – body, mind, and soul – everyone else is just doing what you dream about as though there’s nothing to it? I think we’ve all been there, and it is difficult to not let the green-eyed monster in…
“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist
Imagine for a moment that you are 40lbs overweight, living in suburbia, but you dream of an healthy, alternative lifestyle on a Greek Isle. Every morning you drag your tired bones out of bed, exercise, eat healthy, and think good thoughts and save up every cent to make your dream come true, while your neighbor jets off to Greece for a week… But you wish her all the best, because she’s the sweetest person and really to nice to be envied. Besides, you know how toxic envy can be.
So, what do you do? Why does this even happen?
Our brains are strange animals. When we become aware of a goal, something that we really want, we will be tested. Do you really, really have the resilience to do what it takes? Every truly worthwhile goal will almost always require super-human strength to achieve, but in the end, the joy you get from it will be directly proportionate to the hard work you put in at the beginning.
I came across some interesting views on the topic and it explains how our brains can fool us, when we really want something. It may even feel like your very own mind is turning on you and sabotaging your goals. Read on to find out how your brain can sabotage your goals and how you can fool it to get what you want.
1. Your Brain Likes to Procrastinate
You know how, when you are faced with a particularly big project or goal, you start visualizing all the obstacles and the most time-consuming aspects of achieving what you need to.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
We all procrastinate from time to time, but when it starts becoming an issue that stands in the way of our goals and dreams, it needs to be dealt with.
Kenneth McGraw conducted a study in which participants were given an unlimited amount of time to complete a puzzle. However, they were interrupted before they could finish it and were told that the study had been completed.
90% of the participants continued building the puzzles despite being told that the study was over.
Lesson: Just get going! Once you have started, you will be much more likely to see it to completion.
2. Most of Us Take Flight
Every long journey has its own set of stops and starts. If you have been on a fitness or weight-loss journey, you will know that there are tired days and there are cheat days. Some days you will feel great about what you have achieved, while you other days could leave you feeling like a failure.
It’s important to remember that a small temporary setback is nothing in the greater scheme of things. Instead of abandoning your goal, rather focus on how far you have come already.
3. Your Brain Tricks You With Over-Fantasizing
All the self-help gurus tell us to fantasize, to be as specific as possible and to eat, sleep, and breathe our goals. A psychological study found that while positive thinking is generally good, fantasizing too much can have disastrous results.
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The study found that subjects who spent the most time fantasizing, performed worse than those who didn’t on a range of critical data points.
According to psychological researcher, Jeremy Dean, those of us who spend the most time on positive fantasies tend to expect success right here, right now. The fantasies don’t alert us to the obstacles along the journey, which can leave us feeling less motivated, as our brains believe that we have already achieved the goals.
The Law of Attraction gurus say that we should be specific about what we want, enjoy, and be grateful in the here and now.
Perhaps, learning to enjoy every day and implementing realistic milestones can help us find a practical middle ground that helps us stay grounded in our reality and in the journey to our goals.
“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson