Have your internal doubts kept you from reaching your goals? Learn the importance of silencing your inner critic and reach your goals once and for all.
This post is brought to you by Activia. The content and opinions expressed below are mine.
When we try to reach for our goals, we run into surprising resistance. It’s not the obstacles that make it harder to get to where we want to be, or discouragement from others.
Activia hosted an inner voice interview asking women to share their goals and the factors holding them back.
Turns out, 80% of the time, it was themselves.
We let our inner critics convince us we can’t do things. If you imagine someone else telling you the same things you sometimes tell yourself, you might feel insulted or angry. Maybe you brush it off, ignore or laugh it off.
But when it’s ourselves, we listen to that inner critic too much.
Silencing your inner critic
I can’t tell you how many times my inner critic spoke too much. It could be hearing the news of my colleagues’ success, especially when they seem to reach it with hardly any work in half the time.
Other times, it’s one negative comment or feedback that sends me doubting myself, feeling like an imposter in my own work.
And still other times, it’s all the goals unmet, the failures that don’t seem to let up, leaving me feeling so far from where I want to be.
I’ve learned it’s dangerous to let your inner critics keep you back. That inner critic is there to keep your ego safe, to prevent you from taking risks or moving out of your comfort zone.
But it comes at the expense of staying at a standstill. You begin to feel guilty and doubt how much you can accomplish. You wonder whether you should even keep going.
So, how can we beat our inner critics enough to reach our goals?
#1: Give yourself a short time frame
Don’t you hate it when someone hands you a project at work due in four hours when it would normally take you a week?
But when it comes to reaching your goals, a short time frame can be all you need. A short deadline plucks you from the planning stage to the “doing something” one. All your plans won’t work if you don’t get started.
#2: Commit to doing, not trying
Notice how your attitude changes when you switch the word—and your mindset—from “try” to “do.” Trying seems safer. It accommodates too many other factors to excuse a potential failure. You’re giving yourself a pass, in case things don’t work out.
Change that to doing. Don’t try to perform well at work, make an outline of all the ways you can perform well and get them done. Don’t try to find a better work-life balance, make clear distinctions when the work day ends and when time at home with the kids begins.
#3: Break enormity down to pieces
A huge goal can loom ahead of you so much that you’re frozen in inaction. Get a promotion? Too outrageous. Look for a new job with a shorter commute? I don’t even know where to start.
Big goals can feel so overwhelming that sometimes we don’t know where to start. How to fix it? Work backwards.
Start with that big goal and ask yourself how long you expect to get it done. If you’re thinking a year, divide that into 12 months. Then ask yourself what you need to do in that first month, then that first week, until you can see what you need to do today.
Chip away at the mountain of big goals until you have an actionable task you can do now.
#4: Focus on quantity, not quality
Yes, I’m flipping the old adage. In the case of reaching your goals, focus on quantity, not quality. Keeping your eye on that perfect project holds you back for fear of making mistakes and denies you the opportunities to “practice” often.
Hold that inner critic back by giving yourself permission to create many attempts, not just one.
#5: Remind yourself of everything you’ve accomplished
One of the challenges of working mom life is the constant pull of everyone’s needs. Your boss needs you in the office at the same time as your child’s holiday concert. You scramble home from a long commute, juggling making dinner and playing with the kids.
No wonder our inner critic speaks loudest when we think about how we’re doing as moms.
It’s too easy to focus on how we fall short and lose sight of everything we’ve accomplished. To combat that inner critic, remind yourself how much you’ve done for yourself, your work and your family and friends.
Remember that moment when your child said he loves Saturday pancakes, or the snuggles you spent as you read a book in bed together. Think about how you’ve inspired your kids with the work you do, and the example you set of balancing work and family life.
We hear enough resistance as it is from others and our circumstances. We feel guilty for all the ways we come up short as a mom, despite being so busy as it is. We don’t prioritize mom time, even though our families need us to take care of ourselves.
Don’t let your inner critic hold you back from getting things done. Activia believes that when our minds and bodies align we can harness our greatest potential.
No other group needs to hear this message more than girls. Activia will be donating $250,000 to Girls Who Code to support our future generation of empowered women and game changers.
Take care of what’s inside to reach your goals and hush that inner critic once and for all.
Tell me in the comments: What is a goal you hope to do? What are some of the doubts your inner critic is telling you? How will you change it to reach your goals?