It’s a time-honored tradition at the end of year to make lists of our new year’s resolutions – of all the ways we’re planning on bettering ourselves in the upcoming year. But then, of course, despite the best of intentions, our aspirations often slip, and we don’t necessarily achieve all of our self-improvement goals.
So it got me thinking. In addition to creating a list of our ambitions and resolutions, how about a list of our typical New Year’s stumbling blocks: the things that typically hold us back from reaching our self-improvement goals.
Here’s my top 3 list. I’ll be curious to see how it compares to yours.
Stumbling block 1. Substituting an easier task for the task you really should be doing. You know you really should go to that networking event to meet people, but you decide to send out LinkedIn invitations instead. Your gut tells you it would be the perfect time to actually stand up and give an old-fashioned speech to your team – to rally the troops… but you happen to hate public speaking. And so you send a nice email instead. These examples are all avoiding by substituting. And they hold you back from achieving your true goals by avoiding what you fear by substituting with something easier – but, ultimately, far less effective.
Stumbling block 2. Kicking the can down the road through perfectionist procrastination. Your new idea could be just what the market needs –and this would be a perfect time to get real feedback from real people… but you tell yourself you just need to work out the kinks a bit more – and optimize just a few more elements of the ideas to make it “perfect.” But at the same time – right down the street, your competition speeds their beta version to market, gets critical early feedback, and ultimately produces product that meets the mark in terms of what customers really need. And you? You’re left twiddling your thumbs and perfecting something that will never actually see the light of day.
Stumbling block 3. Justifying your way out of giving something a try. It’s OK, you tell yourself, not to go to that professional conference that you know deep down would be key for your career. Or: It’s not that important to give critical feedback to a difficult colleague you know will not take it well. He’ll probably find some other way of getting the information. These are examples of justifications — of rationalizing yourself out of something you truly don’t want to do. And chances are, if you’re anything like the rest of us, you justify your way out of important, but unpleasant tasks on a regular basis.
So these are my top 3 stumbling blocks: substitution, procrastination, and justification. Any of them ring true? What are your top avoidance strategies? And, most importantly, what are you going to do about conquering these barriers to personal growth in the new year?