If you feel like you are going around in circles instead of achieving your goals, check if any of these 10 culprits are to blame


DO YOU sometimes feel like you are stuck in a rut and not achieving the things you set out to do?

Do you wonder why you still have not got that dream job? Or why the right business opportunity just hasn’t come your way?

The answer could lie in the various psychological barriers that stand between you and your goals. Part 1 today discusses the first five obstacles:




This is the No. 1 culprit that prevents people from achieving what they really want.

At its extreme, fear paralyses people because fear impacts our ability to make choices. Who we are today is based on the choices we have made in the past, so in order to be happier, we need to look at the choices we have made in our lives and deconstruct backwards.

Start by thinking about this: If you were not limited by fear, what would you do? If fear didn’t exist in your life, what would you do for one week or a month?

That way, you can figure out your heart’s desires and construct your goals accordingly.



 Blind optimism and perfectionism

Are you always optimistic that everything will turn out well in spite of the obvious odds?

If so, it is time to take a reality check because you may be a blind optimist.

These are people who are in denial and refuse to examine the clear evidence in front of them. This could be due to ignorance or arrogance.

Ignorance can be overcome by education but arrogance is a thinking habit that is more difficult to combat.

Perfectionists, on the other hand, are obsessed about getting things right. They may be high achievers but the downside is that their compulsive way of thinking may also impair their ability to be flexible.

For example, perfectionists may only invest their time in doing things that they know they will perform well. They will not go out of their comfort zone and, as a result, they may not develop tenacity or even try new things, thus limiting their growth. 




It is great to be ambitious but if you find yourself juggling too many projects or major goals at the same time, you can be spreading yourself too thin.

Several recent studies have suggested that such a lack of focus can result in you neglecting important areas — and that could be why you tend to always fall short of achieving your goals.

Worse still, you may feel so overwhelmed from spinning too many plates in the air that you get burnt out and give up altogether.



 Barking up the wrong tree

Building on the previous point, you might be too busy with the wrong things.

Stop and take stock right now: Are you busy doing tasks that get you closer to your end goal or do you find yourself being busy all the time yet the really important things never seem to get done?

Are you currently just surviving or thriving wherever you are right now?

For example, if you are considering seeking greener pastures (with regard to a job or relationship), ask yourself whether you are just killing time or really flourishing in that environment.

Every once in a while, get off the treadmill and take stock of where you are at in relation to your life and career objectives.



 Keeping the ‘wrong’ company

After a stressful day at work, how do you choose to unwind? Do you mix with successful people or do you surround yourself with complainers?

People think that they should hang out with people they are comfortable with, especially after a long day at work. But we have all heard the saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

This concept is supported by the social psychology theory of “normopathy”, which describes the pursuit of conformity and social acceptance at the expense of individuality.

So if you surround yourself with people who complain a lot, the effect is that you will absorb that energy and tend to complain too.

On the contrary, if you hang out with people who are at the top of their game, they will inspire you to be at your peak and, in turn, you will inspire others as well.

Thus, you need to be more strategic and choose to surround yourself with people who will add value to your life and help you get closer to your goals.


Tomorrow: The next five obstacles

Article by Stephen Lew, the founder and director of the School of Positive Psychology, which provides positive psychology and psychotherapy courses, training programmes and seminar workshops at undergraduate, postgraduate and executive level. For details, call 6884-5161 or visit www.positivepsych.edu.sg