Having career and business goals are great, but the follow through on the plans it takes to reach those goals can be a struggle. It’s easy to feel the excitement of planning, but the motivation can quickly dissipate when you need to execute those plans.
And this is part of the human experience. It is also a key difference between people who are successful and unsuccessful people in their careers.
Having career goals and dreams is great, but there are so many people who live with unfulfilled potential because we are taught to just “push past” our negative feelings if we don’t feel like doing something. And if you don’t, if we aren’t able to do this, it provides some kind of shameful commentary on our innate abilities.
And this whole internal dialogue we as a society have on motivation, planning, and career success is really ingrained in the fixed mindset (which describes talents and abilities as something we are born with instead of something we grow with). A lot of the rhetoric around motivation comes around external factors when we feel it lacking inside.
Buy the right planner. Wake up at 5AM. Download all these apps. Drink tons of caffeine and find the next hack.
Sure, while these things can be aids; true motivation comes from how we process our thoughts in relation to our circumstances. Because no, we do not all have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé because her circumstances are different (i.e. being able to hire people to help with her everyday routines and needs). So instead of comparing yourself to these types of standards, it’s really important to deep dive into how to truly follow through with your career plans. If you are struggling with motivation, you are in the right place – let’s get started!
1. You don’t pinpoint what feeling you are avoiding
What do you do when you come up against resistance to a task? You usually ignore it which is what leads to procrastination. For example, if you are on a job search or preparing for a presentation. You might start doing ANYthing to avoid that task, like start cleaning or reorganizing your email inbox.
But instead of asking what task you are avoiding, start asking what feeling you are avoiding. Are you not searching for a new job because you are “lazy” or because you are scared of rejection? Or actually, getting a job and having to quit and start something new?
As a perfectionist and high achiever, usually, we avoid tasks out of uncomfortable growth. Because we strive for ambition and achievements, we know it’s not laziness. As a high achiever, you are probably procrastinating out of the avoidance of completing a task you don’t feel prepared enough for and won’t complete in accordance with your own internal standards.
If you are normally able to complete a task, like posting on Instagram to promote your side business, but find yourself procrastinating, it’s important to note that it’s probably not the actual activity that you are avoiding. You are probably on Instagram quite a bit, and you can post something, but it’s probably the overthinking thoughts that are standing in your way – like what if no one likes it? What if it doesn’t perform well and what does that mean about you and your business? Is this the right photo/graphic? How about another caption revision?
So while some usual strategies like “use an app to schedule your posts” might work if you were actually unable to complete the task, it’s not helpful when you are unable to process the mindset behind it.
If you are struggling to follow through with your plans, remember not to rush in “pushing” past the motivation to feel your feelings and ask what you are truly avoiding.
Looking to take this even further to really overcome impostor syndrome and overthinking to achieve your dream career WHILE maintaining work-life balance? Make sure to book your free Career Clarity Call to define what’s holding you back and how I can help!
2. Thinking you have to be in balance all the time
Something I teach my clients in my program is how to move past the all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to balance. And a fundamental part of that Is internalizing that you don’t have to be in balance all the time.
Work-life balance seems allusive to most people because it can be approached with a fixed all-or-nothing mindset. So ask yourself, what is your definition of work-life balance? If it’s looks something like a pie-chart where the segments are neatly defined with X% to work, X% to family, etc….than it’s actually hindering your ability to follow through with your plans because you can resent it.
What part of the world operates in perfect divisions? In order to follow through with your plans, you need to be able to create workable and contingency plans as a part of the process. One of the things I really dislike about career planning is that a lot of it revolves around the pretense that nothing bad is going to happen.
That’s why sometimes you might look at your planner and feel a lot of resentment towards it. Now, for some people “pushing through it” might work, but as a high achiever, you’ve most likely overworked your schedule in order to try to be productive every minute of the day.
Something I help my clients do when it comes to executing their career goals is learning how to move past this all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to work-life balance. And it’s something that takes practice because it feels extremely uncomfortable when you have such a high standard of yourself to not show up as the perfect employer, friend, and partner.
So instead of aiming to be in balance all the time, remember that your career spans a lifetime. It’s okay to have messy weeks, months and even years in order to achieve balance in the long run.
3. Taking on More Than You Can Handle Because You Are A People Pleaser
Now a part of not following through with your plans can be because you are taking on too much. And a common trait within high achievers is also people-pleasing and the struggle to say no, both to other people and to ourselves because then we would have acknowledged that we can’t “do it all.”
If you are struggling to follow through with your plans, it’s important to review which plans they are and if they are a priority right now. Are they needle movers in your career and side business? Or is it something that is on the to-do list for the sake of it? Yes, of course, we can always manage our time better or find the next source of “motivation” to help us accomplish our goals, but sometimes the tasks that are truly important are muddled with the people-pleasing tasks.
If you are taking on more than you can handle, it’s important to reflect on why. Are you taking on tasks so you can avoid disappointing others, because you can’t say no, or are you trying to please an internal standard for yourself on what you “should” be able to accomplish each day?
We are not robots, and one of the reasons you might not be able to follow through on your plans is because your schedule doesn’t allow you to be human. To be tired. To not be able to switch tasks on at the drop of a notification.
If you are having trouble following through on your plans, try taking out some tasks instead of trying to squish everything in. One of the things that made the biggest difference in my productivity was being able to plan for less and actually get it done, instead of having these grand plans that would constantly fall to the wayside over Netflix.
4. Not Understanding That Discipline Is A Practiced Skill
Lastly, following through on your plans is a skill. And the problem with relying solely on something like motivation or external resources is that they can only help so much. There will be times when you feel unmotivated no matter how pretty the calendar is or how well the schedule was created. And at that point, it takes more than motivation; it takes discipline and self-trust.
And self-discipline builds upon itself alongside self-trust. So if you are not following through with your plans immediately, give yourself grace and allow yourself to practice it. It does not have to be all at once. You don’t have to go from never following through with your plans to being able to magically meet all of your plans 100% at once.
All you have to aim for is to get better at it and then it gets easier. When I first started really planning my time, especially as I was building my side business, I did not follow through with my plans MOST of the time. I used to get caught up in all the small things, but gradually I got better at it.
If you are not following through with your plans remember that all of this takes practice.
And if you need additional help, I would be honour to be a part of your career journey! Don’t forget to book your free Career Clarity Call to define what’s holding you back and how I can help!