Struggling with “A” and “R” problems? The problem is likely self-sabotage.

Last Sunday, I chose my word for the year during a ceremony at my spiritual center. In the lead up to this ceremony, I believed worthiness was The One.

But during our meditation, the phrase, trust that I’m on your side kept rolling through my head. I wanted to say, “Hey there, weird voice from nowhere, I’ve already chosen my word,” but I’ve learned these voices are here to help us.

Besides, it’s not like trust and worthiness are mutually exclusive. Trusting that someone or something is on your side requires you to believe you’re worthy of having someone be there for you. So, trust is my word for 2023.

Trust is something I’ve needed over the past few days.

At the start of most years, I’m ready raring to get started. But this year, my body and mind have wanted to take things slow. Every time I think of an initiative I want to launch or a post I want to share on social media, that weird voice from nowhere says, “Not yet.”

In case you don’t know, I absolutely hate the phrase not yet.

But Mercury and Mars are in retrograde, which makes this a time for pausing, resting, and taking stock, no matter what the calendar says. So, I said, “Okay voice, you win.”

One of the things I’m taking stock of is my list of 2023 intentions.

Last week, I wrote about how seeing your goals as intentions can heal you. Often, what needs to be healed are the unconscious stories you’re telling yourself—stories like I’m not good enough, or I don’t have what it takes, or I’m not someone who finishes what I start.

Knowing your inner stories can help you choose goals that are S.M.A.R.T.
Time Sensitive (meaning there’s a due date)

Most people can easily identify a specific, measurable, and time-sensitive goal, but many of us suffer from what I call “A” and “R” problems. These problems arise when we choose goals that are so far beyond our abilities we’re bound to fail, or we establish timetables so aggressive we’re unlikely to meet them without causing harm to others or ourselves.

There are a few reasons we struggle with A & R problems:
We’re so new to whatever venture we’re starting we don’t yet know what’s achievable or realistic.
We think we have the skills needed to do something, then learn we don’t.
We love to “stretch ourselves.”
We’re secretly afraid to succeed.

The first two are part of the normal ups and downs of life. The third isn’t as innocent as it looks.

Stretching yourself isn’t a bad thing, but if it’s your constant go to, and yet you never quite reach your goals, you might be reinforcing an unconscious story around not being good enough or having what it takes to follow through.

It can be tricky to spot the difference between healthy striving and the kind of stretching that’s a cover for self-sabotage. Here are a few signs:
You tell yourself it will all be okay or things will settle down when you complete X. 
You leap into stretch goals without thinking about what else you’re committed to.
After committing to a stretch goal (like completing your book), you continue to add things to your schedule.
As a result, you frequently get close but never quite reach the finish line.
When that happens, you tell yourself it’s okay, and maybe even feel proud of how far you’ve come, but deep down, a part of you sees this as failure.
You tell yourself this time will be different, then you follow the same pattern.

I’m a master at this kind of self-sabotage.

I grew up in a world filled with angry, wounded people who felt very small. It’s likely they wanted to live out their dreams but didn’t believe they deserved them. Shining around these people by being my best self only amplified their sense of shame and unworthiness. To keep from confronting their pain, they beat, berated, and shamed the glory out of me until I wanted to be small too.

Yet my soul has always yearned to be as big as it possibly can be.

Those yearnings have led to ambitious dreams that give me an opportunity to heal these old wounds, if I radically love myself and continue to show up.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely some small part of you yearns to be bigger than you currently are.

I have good news. You already have everything you need to do this.

But, as I heard this weekend, “you can only grow as quickly as the smallest part of you feels safe to go.”

That’s why S.M.A.R.T. goals are so important. They give you an opportunity to achieve the success that begets more success. When you do this, you incrementally change the tapes that hold you back. That’s how you become your biggest, brightest, and best self. It’s also how you carve out the time to write, revise, and finish a writing project.

As you prepare for the week ahead, consider the following questions:

Who would you have to be to achieve your goals? 
What word can serve as a guiding principle that steers you toward the success you deserve? 

Until next week, listen to your weird voice from nowhere—even even when it says things you don’t want to hear. Heeding that message will help you write on.

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