When asked about my military experience, I usually respond by simply saying “I was in the Navy.” However, if they need more details, then I will share that I served as a member of SEAL Team. When I share this story, my listener often responds with "Wow! I was going to be a SEAL too!" followed by an explanation as to why they never became one. When asked what kind of products my Perfect Fitness team created, I often hear “Oh, I have an idea for a fitness product!” but it is usually followed by “but I don’t know how to make it or market it.” When someone looks at me surprised when they discovered I am an author, some respond with “I want to write a book,” but soon after they tell me about all the doubts and challenges that prevent them from even starting the project. The list goes on, from climbing a mountain to moving my family overseas, inevitably someone responds with “Oh, I want to do that” or “I woulda/shoulda/coulda done that” followed by a litany of reasons why they couldn't.
I want to be clear: I am NOT superhuman. I don't have a lot of special talents or skills. I do not think I am better than you. You have gifts too and you can use them to do great things that you dream of doing. When I talk about things I have done, I am sharing my dreams with you. These are goals that I wanted to make real. I decided to try to make them happen. In other words, I decided to take a plunge and uproot myself from my current position. That meant leaving the harbor of familiarity and starting anew in another location.
Taking that first step to get the ball rolling can be incredibly daunting. Getting up to speed is always a challenge, whether we are talking about getting a car on the road, launching an airplane from the runway, or propelling a boat forward in water—it takes energy and effort. That said, when you start moving forward with your goal or project, then things will begin to move more easily and quickly. When beginning something new, similar rules apply—particularly when striving to accomplish a goal. In this situation, it is mainly mental strength and endurance that are necessary (even if the desire involves an activity such as training for an Ironman triathlon). Initiating a project can be disheartening; you are putting in effort but not seeing the fruits of your labor, making it difficult to move forward. In some cases, there may appear to be no progress at all. (Try writing the first paragraph of your first book—if you are like me, I stumbled on this obstacle for a month!)
We all know how easy it is to make New Year’s resolutions. The hard part is following through and achieving them. According to research from 2016, only 9% of the 41% of Americans who make New Year's resolutions report feeling successful in achieving them by year-end. An earlier study showed that only 12% of people were successful, even though 52% of the participants were confident of success at the beginning. Those are pretty low success rates, but why? It turns out that the biggest barrier we face in reaching our goals is ourselves—namely, those negative voices in our heads that tell us we can’t do something. Battling doubt may be the key to overcoming this obstacle and achieving your New Year’s resolutions.
The Power of Doubt
Doubt has a powerful hold on us. It can prevent us from doing things that make us feel uncomfortable or uncertain, like trying something new or pushing our limits. For example, if you have a goal of running a marathon this year but you don’t know where to start, doubt might keep you from taking action because you don’t know what to do first. This will lead to procrastination and eventually giving up altogether on your goal due to a lack of progress and motivation.
Identifying Your Doubts
The first step in breaking through doubts is identifying what your doubts are. We all have different doubts whether it be financial worries or a lack of self-confidence. It can also be helpful to think about why you have these doubts so that you can begin to understand their origin and how to move past them. After all, understanding your thoughts and feelings is essential to overcoming any challenge, including breaking through doubt.
Taking Action for Success
The key to beating doubt is taking small steps toward your goal and building momentum along the way. Instead of focusing on the result (running a marathon), focus on the small actions you can take each day towards reaching it (like running 3 miles). Each time you complete one of these tasks, you will gain confidence and motivation which will help propel you further down the path to success. And with each milestone achieved, it will become easier and easier as doubts melt away in the face of progress.
Another thing that often holds us back from achieving our goals is fear; fear of failure or fear of not knowing how to get started or even fear of being judged by others if we fail or succeed. But once again, by taking small steps towards your goal—and celebrating each victory along the way—you can slowly build confidence until any fears dissipate into nothingness and success becomes inevitable.
It’s important to remember that developing confidence takes time and practice, but it is possible! To start building your confidence, try setting small goals for yourself that are achievable within a short period such as a week or a month. This will help you build momentum toward reaching your larger goal over time. Additionally, celebrate each success no matter how small—this will help increase your overall confidence as well as motivate you when things get tough or you don’t see immediate results.
Get a Goal Buddy/Build a Goal Team
One way of the best ways to build up your confidence further and keep your persistence engine fueled is by building a goal team. Start by finding what we call in SEAL Team a swim buddy—I call these teammates Goal Buddies. They are supportive friends or family members who will be your accountability partners on your path to achieving your goal. Who you surround yourself is as important as what you tell yourself on a daily basis. The power of peer pressure is real and can be used to push you forward or hold you back. Start by finding just one Goal Buddy, make daily commitments, and report your actions. You will be surprised how much more motivated you are to take action when someone is counting on you to do it! Having people around who understand what you’re going through can make all the difference when it comes to achieving success!
Doubt has a powerful hold on us which can make it difficult for us to achieve our goals—especially when it comes to New Year's resolutions! However, by breaking down our goals into smaller steps and taking consistent action over time, we can slowly overcome doubt and build confidence until success becomes inevitable. So, this year, let's take control of our lives and battle those demons of doubt so we can finally reach our goals!