How to Achieve Your Most Important Goal

10 tips for breaking through the barriers that stand between you and accomplishment

It happens to everyone, but we don’t always realize it.

We have a goal in mind, but we just can’t seem to make progress on achieving it.

It could be a personal accomplishment related to our health, finances or career. Or, it could be a work-related initiative that involves a project we need to complete.

Whether it’s at home or at work, it’s just something we can’t seem to gain traction on.

And that’s ok.

It really is. But, most often, we get bogged down in beating ourselves up for not living up to the expectations we have for ourselves.

That’s not healthy and you don’t need to stay in that place. Instead, try these methods for overcoming the barriers standing in your way.

Know what you want and why. It can be tough to reach your destination when you haven’t defined where you’re going, so ask yourself exactly what you want to accomplish. Be specific. What does success look like?

Then ask yourself why you’re doing it. What benefit does accomplishing this goal provide to you?

Having these answers will give you the energy you’ll need to stay focused and motivated. Or, you may realize that this goal simply isn’t right for you or isn’t right for you right now.  

Use visualization for motivation. When we envision the ideal completion of our goal, we achieve clarity. Our brain and body can fall in line to smooth the way for helping us progress quickly. See yourself in the moment after fulfilling your goal. What does it feel like? Experience those feelings throughout your body.

Do this exercise often. It helps to keep your brain, body and energy aligned with your goal. Consider using a vision board or a collection of reminders that keep you focused on where you’re headed.

Become temporarily short-sighted. Reaching a goal typically includes movement from one place to another. Realizing the number of steps needed between here and there can feel overwhelming and impossible.

So break up all the steps and set manageable, realistic expectations for yourself. Sit down with a piece of paper and start writing out each step. Sometimes getting it on paper will reveal the situation to be simpler than your brain led you to believe.

On the other hand, sometimes capturing every step can reinforce the feeling of having too much to do. In that case, keep breaking it down — into phases, chapters, buckets or categories. The idea is to see your short-term goal as achieving a portion of the activities needed.

Face the fear. Simply because we’re human, one of our biggest fears — personally and professionally — is the fear of failure. All too often, this is the cause of our own self-sabotage. It stops us from taking action. And it happens non-consciously — the brain works against us, preventing us from moving toward our goal. Sometimes, we even chalk it up to fate. “I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Be honest with yourself. It’s tough, but it’s worth it. Find quiet time to reflect and acknowledge the fears you have related to your goal. Are you afraid of what failing will mean to how you see yourself? Or maybe how others will see you?

Sit with that for a while. Don’t judge or criticize yourself. Just observe. Then, decide if that fear is worth stopping you or if you should push past it.

Talk back to the voices in your head. We all experience negative self-talk to some degree. They’re the voices swirling around inside our heads telling us what we can’t do. Become aware of these self-limiting beliefs and decide if they’re real or not.

If they aren’t true, write down the negative beliefs. Right next to them, enter the true statement. This will help the logical part of your brain realize the disconnect between your thoughts and what’s real.

Acknowledge what’s not working. When you feel like you’re taking action but things aren’t moving along the way they should, take another look at what you’re doing. Is it working? If not, switch it up and try something new. And if that doesn’t work? Keep changing your approach. You’ll find a way to get there. It’s rare to accomplish a goal without making adjustments along the way.

Enlist an accomplice. Encouragement and moral support can go a long way. Find a partner in crime to give you perspective and accountability. Keep in mind that emotions are contagious. Surround yourself with people who fill you with positive energy.

Reflect on past goals. When you accomplished a difficult goal in the past, what worked and what didn’t? Think of how you structured your goal, how you envisioned it, how you felt when you were pursuing the goal and how you felt when you achieved it.

We’re all wired differently, so what works for others may not work for you. Think of your own experiences and use that insight to structure an approach that works best for you.

Think about quitting. Sometimes, abandoning our goal is the right choice. What happens to your body when you think about quitting? Are there queasy, fluttery fear feelings in your stomach? Or, is there a release of tension in your shoulder muscles because you feel relieved? Listen to what your body is telling you.

If thoughts of stopping the work to achieve the goal bring you peace, consider the reasons that might be. A common reason is that we realize we aren’t trying to achieve the goal for ourselves. We’re doing it for someone else or because we think we’re supposed to accomplish a certain goal. This is one of the items that leads to self-sabotage. The resentment we harbor expresses itself through our non-conscious behavior that prevents our progress.

Be gentle with yourself. A dear friend once shared this poignant piece of wisdom: “Life is like Nintendo. There’s always a reset button.” It’s tough to be perfect — especially when you’re making a major change. Go easy on yourself, celebrate your successes and reward yourself often. And when things don’t go as planned, just remember you can always start over when you’re ready.

About the Author

Jessica Walter is a Communication Strategist and Certified Leadership Coach with a passion for inspiring individuals and companies to live into their full potential.

Jessica has been a strategist and consultant for a communication firm, a marketing executive for a regional bank, a communications director for a health system, a public affairs officer for a Dept. of Defense command, and the assignment editor for a TV newsroom.

She has recently been quoted in Training Magazine, Becker’s Hospital Review and the Central Penn Business Journal on accelerating business growth through culture and employee communication.

She holds a master’s degree in Leadership & Business Ethics from Duquesne University, a bachelor’s in Mass Communication from Towson University, and the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Universal Accreditation Board.

She is also certified as a Lean Systems Leader and as a Professional Leadership Coach.

You can reach her at

© 2018 Jessica Walter, MS, APR

All content provided here is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of any organization with which the author is involved. Although the author makes an extensive effort to provide a complete representation of facts, it is recommended to gather information from many sources. The author sincerely hopes that you find this information helpful and urges you to be inspired, to inspire others, and to be gentle with yourself as you continue on your path.

Published by Jessica Walter, MS, APR

Speaker, Consultant, and Certified Leadership Coach

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