Day 11: REACH your most challenging goals
Hello and welcome to Day 11 of Confidence Boot Camp! Today’s topic, Reach Your Most Challenging Goals, falls into the Cognitive component of The Chemistry of Confidence.
I’ve put a lot of thought into this topic and this post. I think we can all agree that when you set a challenging goal, work hard for it, and then accomplish it, your confidence grows to incredible new heights.
If that’s such a given, though, then why do so many of us still struggle to set and hit challenging goals? That’s what I want to talk about in this post. I’m going to go over the greatest mental obstacles faced in hitting challenging goals and the 5 things you can start practicing immediately to overcome them.
I’ll give you an assignment at the end (a “challenge”, if you will ;) ) so you can start working on action steps towards accomplishing your biggest goals ASAP.
But before we jump in, I hope you don’t mind me getting personal for a moment. This post makes more sense with some back story and context. My name’s Haley Fields. I’m a 25 year old single mom entrepreneur who enjoys traveling the world and running half marathons. I feel very blessed and grateful to be living my dream – but it wasn’t always that way.
About 5 years ago, I made the very wise decision to get married at the ripe old age of 20. I was raised in a very religious family and was thus married in a private religious ceremony. About 2 years into the marriage, not long after the birth of my beautiful daughter, I decided to trade in my fear of rejection in exchange for an authentic lifestyle. I admitted openly to my husband that my spiritual beliefs were more aligned outside of this particular organized religion. I assured him that I’d still fully support his beliefs and even attend church with him; I simply wanted to be authentic about my own beliefs.
My worst “fears” became reality – but remember, I had left my fear of rejection at the doorstep. Genuine authenticity had become my North Star and guiding light. As long as I was living wholeheartedly, I knew I could handle whatever came next.
My husband’s family shunned me. I was blocked from their phones and social media profiles and banned from coming to any family events. My husband became more abusive. He constantly used fear and belittlement to coerce me to re-believe in his religion. He would often hide the car keys, rendering me unable to leave the house, and tell me I had “nothing, no one, nowhere to go”. Despite attempts at marriage counseling, it only got worse.
Eventually I fled with my daughter to my brother’s house for safety. My husband came to my brother’s house in the middle of the night and took my car (we had 2 cars). He also, without warning, turned off my cell phone and cut me off from our bank account, leaving me with no money, no phone, no car, and one very sweet little girl to care for.
And he eventually took her, too. About 2 weeks later, he kidnapped my daughter. He disappeared with her and would not tell me where she was, who she was with, or when I would get her back. 9 VERY LONG days later, the judge signed a restraining order against him, ordering my daughter to be returned to me. I will never, for the rest of my life, forget that night when I finally had my daughter back in my arms. Before that point, my 18-month-old had never been away from me for more than a few hours. 9 days felt like an eternity.
At that point, I had my daughter back, and that was the very best thing I could hope for. But I was still broke, homeless, car-less, and now thousands of dollars in debt from a nasty legal battle that was going to continue on for another year.
After I got her back, I had a lot of time to think. I began to see my life falling into pieces as an opportunity to put the pieces back together – but this time on my own terms. I realized I could do and be anything I wanted, and I promised to never put myself in a position where I could be abused and left with nothing ever again. Though I had no previous experience running a business, I became determined to pursue my lifelong dream of being an entrepreneur.
Here is a snippet from my journal entry in January 2016, not long after this all happened:
“It is ironic how, at a time when we have next to nothing, I have never felt so alive – so thrilled and ecstatic to wake up every morning to the adventure of living. Physically, I don’t have much. But the suffocating artificial limits and superficial boundaries that have kept me confined for years are gone. I am limitless. Everything is in my grasp. I can finally be me – free of guilt and shame. I can embrace all the complexities that make me me and know to my very core that I am good. I am strong. I am capable of all things. This is my beginning! This is where my life finally begins, here where the rope that kept me bound ends, where I’m finally free & able to embrace the unknown confident that I can cross the uncertain waters and always get to my destination – happiness, success, love, family, friendship, and adventure. Even if I get lost sometimes – and I will – I’ll always have that confidence that I’ll find my way back. I am good, I am strong, I am capable. I feel so empowered here, in this moment where I have so little, in this moment where I get my beginning.”
A lot has happened in the past 2 years. It took a lot to get from that point (fresh out of an abusive relationship with nothing to my name) to now, living comfortably with a successful business under my belt. While I still have a long, long way to go, it all started in that moment back in 2016 with that mental shift. It changed everything and gave me the steadfast fuel I needed to face all of the ups, downs, failures, and struggles it took to get my business off the ground and build my dream life from scratch. There were 5 key principles that played into that mental shift and those 5 principles are what I want to go over in today’s post.
1. Be Authentic
It all starts with a commitment to being authentic. This means being clear on who you are and what you want most out of life. This will then become your guiding light for determining action steps and behavior.
Often, the biggest fears people face regarding authenticity are fear of rejection and fear of being selfish. Part of choosing to be authentic is accepting that you cannot please everyone. You will attract those that resonate with your genuine self and those relationships will be more meaningful and genuine because of it.
In your journey for gaining clarity on who you are and what you want most, you will likely come to discover that showing love, kindness, and gratitude towards others is a key facet of a fulfilling and genuine lifestyle. Once you make this mental shift, you will be free to be kind to others out of genuine authenticity – rather than out of fear of rejection.
This is why being authentic is by no means synonymous with being selfish. In fact, it is often quite the opposite. Being authentic enables you to become more genuine in your key relationships while putting an end to any artificial or inauthentic relationships that are unnecessarily sapping your time and energy.
For me, going on long hikes, walks, and even multi-day trips in foreign cities and countries completely on my own helped me to get really clear on who I am and what I want most out of life. Even if all you can manage to do is take a couple hours to yourself walking around a park or going on a hike, take a journal with you to write and help you process your thoughts and feelings.
This process requires shedding all of the cultural pressure that have been put on you since birth, all the fear of social rejection (even if just momentarily), and being able to look yourself in the eye and say “This is who I am, this is what I want to do most with my life, and I know that my intentions are good.”
If you’ve never read Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” on living wholeheartedly, I highly recommend it. Making the shift to authenticity is the first important step towards accomplishing big, challenging goals.
2. Trust in your capabilities
Once you get clear on your authentic values, ideals, and goals, the next step is to re-organize your life to align with your authentic self and your authentic goals. This is almost never easy, especially if you’ve been allowing societal pressures and artificial expectations to determine your lifestyle up until this point. However, once you’re able to trust in your capabilities, the challenges that arise along the way simply become opportunities to learn and grow your confidence.
As human beings, societal and familial acceptance is a key driving factor of our behavior. It is literally a survival mechanism built into our DNA. In the times of early humans, rejection by your tribe meant certain death. Though times are not so harsh and dire anymore, the possibility of rejection can still tend to feel like a life or death scenario. You can, however, learn to process this in a way that leaves you empowered and moving forward rather than scared and stuck.
Trusting in your capabilities means trusting that either:
1) You have the skills necessary to readjust, rebuild, and figure out your next steps, no matter what results from your shift towards an authentic lifestyle, or
2) If you don’t currently have the necessary skills, that you are capable of finding the right resources, people, and opportunities to learn the required skills necessary to progress forward
Even if chasing after your authentic dreams and big life goals means upsetting people and shedding toxic relationships along the way (which it almost always does), trust in your capability to handle conflict, surround yourself with the right people, and make new friends and partners (those who share your same values and vision) along the way. Expect struggles and challenges as you go, but trust in your capability to do whatever it takes to always find your way back to equilibrium (happiness, clarity, and confidence in your next steps towards your big life goals). You don’t have to have all the answers now. You can step into uncertainty boldly, trusting that you are capable of handling whatever challenges arise along the way.
3. Change how you view and experience failures
As a kid, I was TERRIFIED of failure. I avoided situations where I had low self-confidence and thus could see myself failing. The possibility of failure meant the possibility of having to stare my deepest, darkest demons straight in the face, an outward confirmation of my internal beliefs that I was inadequate, inherently flawed, and eternally “not enough”.
Now, my view of failure has completely changed. In fact, I often go looking for opportunities to fail. I don’t even like the word “failure” anymore and often use the phrase “learning opportunity” instead. Expecting challenges and failures from the get-go will make it a lot easier to deal with them as they arise.
“Failure” is a 1000% necessary part of the process to becoming our best selves and accomplishing our greatest goals/challenges. Facing and experiencing failure is not some confirmation that you are inherently and eternally inadequate and not good enough. It is a normal, necessary, permanent facet of the journey towards success. We MUST fail to learn, we MUST fail to grow, and we MUST fail to know where our next steps need to be. Every time you fail and readjust accordingly, you are immediately leaps and bounds closer to success than you were when you first started. Fail hard, fail often, and fail fast. Learn and grow through each opportunity. As you do so, you will not only move light years closer to accomplishing your big goals and challenges, your confidence in your ability to handle failures and learn from mistakes will grow as well.
4. Live in Context
This one has been huge for me. It can be so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutia of life, making it easy to feel overwhelmed, lost, and stuck. However, all it takes is stepping out to get a bird’s eye view of your life to get back on track.
When you step back and put your day-to-day struggles in the context of the bird’s eye view of your life, your struggles become small, your sense of “overwhelm” becomes empowerment, and your next steps to get back on track become clear.
For example, the day to day struggles of being a single mom and running my own business as a woman are immense. If you’ve ever watched Bad Moms, I fully resonate with Mila Kunis as the main character in the opening scene. Some deadline is always missed, there’s always at least one person unhappy with me, my house is a disaster 99% of the time, there’s always some overdue bill or email unanswered, and it’s not uncommon for me to break down in my car at least once a day from feeling so overwhelmed. I’ve stress-binged on Krispy Kreme donuts more times than I’d like to admit.
In those days, it would have been easy for me to give up – but stepping back and putting my day/struggles in context have saved me, without fail, every single time.
Yes, my life is stressful. But 2 years ago, I was sleeping on an air mattress on the ground, my daughter and I were living off food stamps, and I had to walk over a mile in the middle of winter just to catch a bus to get to job interviews. I’ve come a long way in just 2 years, and I still have a lot of life left ahead of me.
Where ever you are, you have come a long way and overcome a lot of challenges to get to this point, here and now. That’s pretty amazing. You’re still here and you’re still fighting. That’s incredible. Give yourself a break and live in context. Today may be hard, but you’ve already come such a long way, and as long as you’re living, there’s always hope and opportunity for new accomplishments, new feats, and new joys to come. It’s not over until it’s over. On rough days, make sure to congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come and maintain your vision of the limitless potential the future holds. Writing in your journal and reading through past entries, if possible, is also a great way to live your life in context.
Live in context and know that these challenges are a result of your determination to live authentically and accomplish challenging goals – and that’s something to be proud of.
5. Keep Momentum
Finally, when it comes to accomplishing big goals and challenges, keeping momentum is key. Start every day with a plan and live with purpose. Even if you’re not sure on what your next steps should be exactly, make an educated guess. No one ever has all the answers. The only way to learn and grow is to apply the scientific method (make an educated hypothesis, try it out, pay attention to the data and outcome, then readjust as necessary with a now slightly more educated hypothesis).
The key is to always start where you are, with what you know, and have an action plan to move forward. This continual growth, movement and momentum is essential for accomplishing big goals. You will fail and learn and grow along the way. Readjust as necessary – but never quit moving.
I start every day by writing out a to-do list and making sure that every to-do item is aligned with my overarching authentic values and goals. It took a while, but by practicing this daily, I was able to weed out a lot of the unnecessary daily minutia from my life that was sapping time and energy away from working towards my authentic goals. Villa Leadership has an excellent exercise to help you do this called the Big Dot Little Dot exercise. I highly recommend checking it out on their blog.
Your assignment for today is to go through each of the 5 points above and write out each concept as it applies to you:
1. Get clear on your authentic self. Who are you? Who do you want to be? What do you want to accomplish most in your life? What things/people/accomplishments leave you feeling the most genuinely fulfilled, happy, and accomplished?
2. What skills have you developed that you’re proud of? What skills do you want to develop further? What opportunities, mentors, and resources do you have available to you to work on those skills?
3. Where in your life are you allowing fear of failure to hold you back? If you WERE to fail, what would that look like in a worst case scenario? Would you be able to recover from it? What lessons, skills, and confidence could be earned should you proceed and fail?
4. What’s your context? What obstacles and challenges have you overcome and fought through to get here? What potential does your future hold?
5. Write out an action plan for the next week. Break your big goal up into a series of key steps, and then break those key steps down further into bite-size baby steps. Be specific, give yourself deadlines, and create a system to hold yourself accountable.
At the end of the day, remember that life is short. We all have a short, limited, finite time to live on this earth and chase after our dreams. Live authentically with heart and passion. Find the things and people that bring you to life and ignite a spark in you. Start every day where you are, with what you have, and with what you know, and know that what you are is enough. Make this your foundation for setting and working towards accomplishing big challenges and goals. Your confidence in your ability to do so will grow with every step. Lastly, make sure to share your journey with us along the way!
What big challenges have you set for yourself? What big goals do you want to accomplish? What are you most passionate about? We’d love to hear from you – and possibly even feature you in one of our blog posts! Share your big goals and challenges in the comments below! You’ve got this.
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