Read advice and get tips from JKP author Barbara Bissonnette, The Complete Guide to Getting a Job for People with Asperger’s Syndrome: Find the Right Career and Get Hired, on how to successfully achieve your New Year’s Resolustions.

Stop Relying on Motivation to Accomplish Your Goals

Barbara Bissonnette, Principal, Forward Motion Coaching

The fresh start suggested by a new year provides the impetus for many a January resolution. People vow to find new jobs or careers, improve their communication or organizational skills, or make changes in their personal lives. Unfortunately, the initial enthusiasm is usually short-lived, and within a few weeks, the bold, new plans are abandoned.

This is not to suggest that New Year’s resolutions are bad. The trouble is that motivation is just the catalyst for change. Achieving a goal requires consistent action over a reasonable period of time. Here are five common barriers to avoid, so that you can achieve your goals in 2013.

Barrier #1: The one giant leap to change. This is when you set a goal, and then envision yourself moving from your current situation to the new one all at once. Suddenly, your mind is churning as you think about the dozens of steps involved, and wonder if you will be able to execute them. You don’t know where to begin, so you do nothing, and remain stuck.

First, break your goal into manageable steps. Make them specific, and small enough that they are not overwhelming. Assign a date for when you will take or complete each step.

Next, be willing to utilize the expertise of other people. Many people I coach who have Asperger’s Syndrome are reluctant to ask others for assistance. They worry that people will judge them. Ryan had a habit of giving up if he could not figure something out on his own. He had many good ideas that never materialized.

If you are not sure of how to proceed, ask yourself, “Who could help me with this?” Don’t limit yourself to people you already know. Kate needed information about how to become a technical writer. She joined an online group of technical writers so that she could get advice from professionals.

Barrier #2: Unachievable goals. Be certain that you have the knowledge, skills and resources necessary for success. If your actions are not getting results, you may need to revise your goal, or take an interim step to make it attainable. Ron sent out many resumes, but was not invited for interviews.  After carefully reviewing the job posts, he realized that he needed to acquire a particular skill in order to qualify for the position he wanted.

Barrier #3: Isolation. Support is virtually a prerequisite for sustaining the effort required to reach a goal. It can come from a friend, family member, colleague, mentor, coach, or a group of like-minded others. If you are uneasy in group settings, seek out online groups. Facebook and LinkedIn are two places to start.

One or two people who are committed to your success can make a big difference. Share your goal with those who will provide encouragement, ideas, and resources. Make yourself accountable by scheduling regular check-ins so that your supporters know that you are taking action. Ask for, and accept, feedback about what is going well, and what you need to do differently.

Barrier #4: Unwillingness to change. Doing more of what hasn’t worked in the past will not bring a new result. Some of my clients have tolerated very bad situations for long periods of time, because they are uncomfortable with change.

Be open to learning new skills and doing things in a different way. Start slowly, with one or two small changes. Treat change as an experiment. Commit to something new for one or two weeks, then assess your results.

Barrier #5: Chronic negativity.  Some people sabotage their efforts by focusing on everything that could go wrong. Anticipating poor results makes it hard to take effective action.

If you have had negative experiences in the past, learn from them and move on. Make a list of the benefits you will receive once you reach your goal. Place this list where you will see it several times per day. Challenge yourself to find two positives for every negative thought you have.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Again and again, I see people make remarkable progress simply by taking two or three actions per day related to their goal. Begin today, and keep moving!

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