We bet it happens to you too: you have those good intentions (taking more time for family, applying key insights from a book, communicating better towards your teams, …) – and after some time you realize you didn’t progress at all (or worse – you forgot about your intention). The reason? Most will answer ‘no time’. But is it no time? In our experience, lack of progress on good intentions is in fact created by 6 deeper obstacles. Understand these and you will overcome lack of progress!
Anne-Marie Demoucelle explains with a personal example: In the past, every year around January 1st, she decided to start doing sports. It would be beneficial for her health and wellbeing (and for her looks). Every time again, by January 10th, her good intent had vaporized. With a busy schedule like hers, she had no time – what else do you expect? Until… 3 years ago she decided to Run for Parkinson and found the necessary time… Not because suddenly she had over 24 hours in her day – but because she overcame the 6 REAL obstacles to progress. Here they are.
Obstacle 1: ‘not that important’
As long as Anne-Marie considered sports ‘not that important’ – no wonder her willpower didn’t last. Once however her husband Patrick decided to run the 20km of Brussels (notwithstanding his 10 years with Parkinson’s) everything changed. Supporting him was so important. In addition, running the 20km would allow them to raise funds for research on Parkinson’s. Talk about a shift in importance
Takeaway: if you consider your good intentions ‘not that important’, be assured you won’t make a lot of progress. So get inspired! Find reasons it’s so important to act on your intent!
Obstacle 2: ‘not a real priority’
Like many, Anne-Marie procrastinates when she has no deadline (or when the deadline is far off). However, when the deadline is looming, and she feels accountable – she will do what she can. Given that they organized their own ‘Run for Parkinson initiative’ (with 250 runners joining them) she had her deadline – and she felt accountable! There was no chance she would forget about this intent…
Takeaway: only when something is a real priority, it will remain top of mind. So decide if your good intention is a ‘must now’. If you decide it isn’t, you don’t have to feel bad about not acting. If you feel it should be a ‘must now’, find all the reasons it’s critical to act NOW.
Obstacle 3: ‘that’s not me’
In the past, Anne-Marie kept telling herself and others: “anyway – me and sports – we’re just incompatible. I’m not made to do sports. And I live extremely well without doing sports”.
However, suddenly she realized that running the 20km was absolutely coherent with who she was and who she wanted to be: somebody being there for her husband, somebody doing what it takes to help find a cure, somebody proving that there’s always a way when you’re committed.
Takeaway: we all want to be coherent with our own identity. When something feels ‘unlike you’, chances are high you won’t set through. So link your good intentions to your strengths and your values. They will feel so much more authentic.
Obstacle 4: ‘too daunting’
Anne-Marie remembers her previous (short) attempts at running: from the start she would set big ‘goals’ – and begin with a 3km run. After 100m, she would already be out of energy. A nightmare… Imagine how she felt the next time she had to run – ‘oh no… so long … so difficult… I’ll do it later… or never… ’ But then she found the ‘start to run’ program. A clear, stepped approach. Smooth progress, one step at a time. That she liked. That at least wasn’t too daunting.
Takeaway: when something looks huge and difficult, it’s so easy to postpone (forever…). So make your good intention KISS! Break things down in easy steps, and feel the progress and the satisfaction at every step.
Obstacle 5: ‘too awkward’
“This is so embarrassing… here I am running with this red face and out of breath. I’m sure everyone is laughing at me”. The past experiences of running had not been very favorable for her self-esteem. And had been another reason giving up came so easy… When preparing for her first 20km however, she saw things different: yes, it felt awkward, but it felt sweet at the same time: ‘I at least dare to set through! So much better than those who give up!’
Takeaway: you worry about how others will react? Realize that you are now acting at a higher level than before! And that deserves a lot of recognition (including from those who react badly)!!
Obstacle 6: ‘it doesn’t work’
The thought ‘this is not working – I will NEVER be able to do this’ came up several times during Anne-Marie’s preparation for the 20km. Luckily her husband Patrick, the sports coach, and a lot of friends were there to tell her this was normal. Not only did they comfort her, they also gave her great advice. Which made her motivated again.
Takeaway: don’t give up when you are stagnating! Realize it’s part of the game and get input from others – they might see ‘the obvious solution’ that you hadn’t noticed yourself.
What about you? Do you recognize these obstacles? Which applies to the situation where you are not following through on a good intention? You now know what to do to overcome the lack of progress!