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  • Jenny Ingles, CFCP

Failing to Reach Your Goals?




Last week Natalie discussed New Year's Resolutions and how the busyness of life keeps many of us from doing the things we need to do to achieve spiritual, emotional, psychological, and physical health. I know I find myself in this trap often. Orienting yourself to a new, challenging, and beneficial habit can be difficult or impossible. In this blog, I will discuss some of the barriers women face (sorry guys, I'm a lady and don't understand you), and then some ways we can overcome those barriers to achieve greater balance in life. If you don't care to read this entire blog, skip to the bottom for some practical tips for everyone.


I've worked with women for 7 years as of this writing, and there are some themes that have emerged in that timeframe that I believe constitute the biggest challenges we face. Natalie nailed the first one in her previous blog - busyness. In addition to that, there are other factors at play. Anxiety and Depression, Stress, lack of support, health conditions, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Learning Disabilities, All or Nothing Thinking, Previous Trauma, Sexual Abuse/Assault, Domestic Violence, Progressive Exhaustion, Disorganization and Failure to Plan, Blaming Others/the Church, Rejection of Redemptive Suffering, Impulsiveness and Failure to Delay Gratification, Quick Fix Mentality, Negative Thinking, Perfectionism and Control, Social Media Use and Comparing Yourself to Others, substance abuse, and Unrealistic Expectations all contribute to failure to accomplish our goals. At this point you may be thinking, "Jenny, that's a hefty list and a lot of these apply to me. I'm never going to move forward." Fear not. If you struggle with one or more of these issues, then there's hope for you. But before I go any further, it's important to note that many of these things are interconnected and feed off one another causing a cycle that looks like this: motivation to change, failure, giving up, reaching a breaking a point and then starting over again.


There are countless excellent blogs out there dedicated to overcoming many of these things (like Disorganization, Failure to Plan, Stopping Social Media, etc...) so there's no need to discuss them further. And it's true that each topic could have it's own dedicated blog, and I don't have time to discuss them all here. But there are a few that are worth mentioning. Previous sexual abuse/assault, past trauma, domestic violence, substance abuse, depression and anxiety, and ADD and learning disabilities are not go-it-alone issues that will-power and a good plan can address. These are serious, life-altering problems that need the support and care of others. Seeking counseling to help heal and acquire tools to overcome these are a must. A side note regarding ADD and learning disabilities - many women with these conditions do not know that they have them because women are grossly underdiagnosed with these conditions compared to men. This is because women with these conditions typically didn't get in trouble in school. They simply flew under the radar and were labeled as "ditzy, flighty, aloof, or dumb". If you struggled in school or with keeping a job, then it's important to get evaluated for these conditions.


Some of the topics I would like to highlight are progressive exhaustion, unrealistic expectations, all or nothing thinking, and perfectionism and control. Progressive Exhaustion is when you start the day out great and as the day progresses you slip back into old, bad habits. This is often a result of having too much on your plate, having unrealistic expectation, and/or all or nothing thinking. For women who have too much going on to maintain a good balance, it's important to discern what can and should be dropped, even temporarily, and then commit to saying "no" until you've established good and predictable habits. Women with unrealistic expectations are often trying to live up to a consumer-based social ideal that says you should have a perfect house, perfect kids, a super-model body, and a lot of stuff. I touched on this briefly in my last blog, and it's important to recognize that this mindset is not healthy. If you're suffering from the consistent feeling that you aren't living up to your ideal, then it's time to take a look at what you truly value and what your actions say you value. Perfectionism and control are a serious issue in our society. The chaos of the world, suffering, fear, unrealistic expectations, and anxiety can result in a closing in on yourself where you, and only you, can do it correctly. I've found that this issue is also linked to past trauma of disappointment and/or abandonment. Perfectionism and control are enemies of progress because they paralyze you and place undue burdens on your ability to achieve goals. Do you think this doesn't apply to you? Ask your spouse or a trusted friend if they think you have this issue. Warning - be prepared to hear something you don't want to hear. This can be a very difficult thing to overcome because your will-power is distorted by this so it can't help get you out. Counseling may be in order. Finally, all or nothing thinking is detrimental to achieving your goals. This is when you look at all your goals, decide to conquer them all at once, and then when you blow it (i.e. eat junk food and skip your workout), you say to yourself "the whole day is shot, I might was well not do any of it today." You should start small (see tip 3 below).


Here are some practical tips for everyone:


1) Plan based on your menstrual cycle - Women feel their best during the time between the end of menstruation through until ovulation. Instead of looking at the calendar and picking an arbitrary date, start your goal on day 5 of your cycle and commit to it daily. This will give you a week or more (for most women), when you feel good, have high energy, are in a good mood, and are generally more motivated to find some success. Think about it. If your goal is to eat healthy and exercise, then starting during your period or when you have PMS is setting you up for failure. Be smart and set yourself up for success.


2) Discernment - If you have goals that you are continually having to restart, then it may be time to discern the cause of your failure. My list of common issues above is a good place to start. Examen why you aren't achieving a specific goal to find the root cause. For example, if your goal is to stop eating junk food but you fail every night, then you can examine why. You might find that it's because around 5pm you're feeling anxiety and your way of coping is junk food. You can examine the anxiety further to discover that it's because you get home from work and the house is trashed, the kids need help with homework, and you still have laundry to do. It's time to discern a few things at this point. Are you struggling with perfectionism, do you lack household support, or is your stress response out of whack. Maybe it's all three. Maybe just one. Suppose you discern that it's your stress response to the situation so your goal of not eating junk food needs a new mini-goal of taking 5 minutes after getting everyone situated to breathe and be mindful.

Start Small - Add in one new goal (or a mini goal that moves you to a goal) and master that for a period of time. Once you've got that down, add another. If overeating (or eating junk) is your problem, then commit to eating well on the meal that is easiest for you to eat well before moving on to others.


Find support - The first place to look is your family for support. Tell them your dreams and goals and ask them to support you. If you are living alone or if your family isn't supportive, then find a friend that will help you succeed. Again, be smart. If you're trying to quit smoking then don't hang out with your friend that Vapes. If all of this fails, then seek support Online. There are plenty of support groups out there for people who are trying to achieve the same goal you are.


You may be thinking that this blog isn't relevant to NFP or charting. You may even be wondering what possessed me to write it. The reality is that it is very relevant, and when I teach couples Creighton, we always set goals and ways to achieve those. At Groesbeck, we often see women who are struggling to chart. Maybe they can't remember to make observations prior to using the restroom, or bearing down at the end of the day. Maybe they are charting several days at once or are overwhelmed by the instructions. Maybe they're struggling with infertility, but can't seem to motivate themselves to do the things that their Practitioner has asked them to do. These are real issues that can be overcome by approaching them with a goal mindset. Some women struggle with progressive exhaustion. They make 100% observations at the beginning of the day, but as the day wears on, they get more laxed. This is a perfect time to set a mini-goal. That mini-goal could be remembering to bear down every day before adding the goal of making 100% observations every day. Progress. You're Creighton Practitioner can help you set these charting goals.


And with that I end the longest blog in the history of blogs. Congratulations if you've stuck with me. You deserve a cookie - unless, of course, you're trying to stop eating junk food. In that case, you deserve a kale smoothie.


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