The Things that Hold us Back


We all have big dreams about the person we want to be and the life we want to live. Maybe 2016 is the year you'll lose the weight or meet the financial goal that always seemed impossible. Perhaps you'll meet the love of your life or restore a friendship that has fallen apart. Our goals, big and small, define the shortcomings that we currently feel make our lives inadequate. Too many of these goals, if we're honest, have been on our hearts for months or even years at a time, never to be realized. The start of a new year is full of promise and a good dose of hope. It's a time of new beginnings, and we'd be lying if we said we weren't encouraged by that. However, towards the middle of month one, we find ourselves falling back into old habits.

The gym was a nice experiment, but I'm really not cut out for early morning workouts.

Eating healthy sounded like a good idea, until it became too time consuming.

Being intentional with my time was a lofty aspiration, but when the busyness of daily life resumes, a text is a fine method of communication, right?

And so, our resolutions take their place once again on the back burner, where they will remain until inspiration strikes us or another calendar year begins. Have you ever really thought about the things that hold you back? I don't think the reasons are really that different from person to person. We all want to be successful, and we're all equipped with the tools to follow through, so what gives?

You've got the wrong goal

One of the biggest errors in our goal setting strategy usually boils down to the "why" behind the goal. If you don't understand why you're doing something, you won't have the motivation to push through when the going gets tough. For instance, if you began 2016 with the goal to eat healthier foods, did you stop to analyze why this is what you want? Do you want to improve your health, or do you want to lose weight? Do you want to be around longer for your children or set a good example for them? Or, did you set the goal because it seemed like a good goal to set and you've been feeling guilty about your nutrition choices? There are a million different reasons that you could have made this decision, but if your choice wasn't rooted in the desire for a lasting change and a game plan for how you will overcome old temptations, there's no foundation to get you there.

Throwing in the towel too soon

A habit takes at least 30 days to form, the experts tell us. That's 30 days of choosing something different, pushing yourself in a new direction, and not reverting back to old patterns. If your goal in 2016 was to wake up every morning and do a devotion or journal before work, 10 days won't cut it. Most of us don't meet our goals because we give up too soon. We crack at the first sign of adversity and make an excuse for why it's not feasible for us. We decide that we are the exception, not the rule, when it comes to changing our lifestyle.

From 0 to 60

Fresh starts can be encouraging, but there are those of us that take it too far. If you have a shopping problem and find yourself gravitating towards retail therapy every time you're down, maybe the decision to give up shopping altogether isn't the best strategy for the goal you really want to meet. You probably are aiming to spend less money and be more intentional with your choices, but the thought of never shopping again is not a realistic goal. You set your resolution without any form of balance in the mix. In order to create a lasting habit, the goal is to realign your priorities, not deprive yourself of everything that brings you joy. 

A little bit of groupthink

Have you heard the saying, "You're the average of your 5 closest friends?" Depending on your social circle, that phrase will either encourage you or terrify you, and for good reason. If you surround yourself with people who have values that are wildly different than your own, it will be increasingly difficult to go against the crowd. Maybe you know your goals and feel confident in their attainability, but you find yourself constantly going off course when you spend time with others. Accountability is not a suggestion when it comes to following through, it's a necessity.

Not every goal is a worthwhile goal, and I'll be the first to admit it. There have been so many things that I thought I needed and desperately wanted that weren't conducive to the person God was shaping me to be, and I had to figure that out the hard way. Priorities shift and certain things need to be given up, I know that. However, I never want to be the type of person who doesn't follow through because I threw in the towel too soon or decided that something was just too difficult. I don't want to live a life without balance or surrounded by people that don't encourage me to be my best self.

In a season of change, take a moment to discover the things that hold you back from being the person you are called to be. It's January 17. That's 17 days into a new year and, maybe, a new habit. If you feel like quitting is the easiest route, don't throw in the towel without looking back. Quiet the voice to give up. Give your goals a second thought because you might just reconsider.