top of page

Why It's So Hard to Focus on Ourselves

It’s that time of year again. It’s time to set new goals for the next year.

This is the time of year when I look back at what I have accomplished (or have yet to accomplish) and set an agenda for the coming year. It’s torture.

Yesterday I sat at my desk with my SMART Goals worksheet and just stared at it. I read it over and over and drew a complete blank. What is your goal? The paper kept asking me. I had to get up and leave my office. I couldn’t stand the discomfort.

Why is it so hard to set goals? I am a doer, an implementer. I love to check things off my to-do list. I take great satisfaction in accomplishing tasks.

So, what’s the problem?

It goes back to that same old people pleasing pattern that makes it so easy to focus our efforts on others and so hard to focus on ourselves.

Every time I focus on my wants and needs, I begin to talk myself out of it. The inner critic whispers, “Who do you think you are? You’ll never accomplish that. What a stupid idea.”

That’s the default setting in my brain. You are being selfish. Stop focusing on yourself.

Many years ago, I participated in a mini triathlon. The race consisted of a 200-meter swim, 9-mile bike ride, and 2-mile run. I was most confident in the swim portion. I was a swimmer in high school and 200-meters is nothing. I failed to consider the fact that the race was taking place in Lake Erie, not a swimming pool. The waves were strong, and the water was cold. Most of the other racers wore a wetsuit, but I just wore my Speedo.

I stood at the start, looked at the other racers, and thought, “Who do you think you are? You’ll never finish this race. What a stupid idea.”

Dropping out was an option, but not the path I chose. I forged ahead, swimming against the tide, struggling to make it back to shore. Exhausted, I grabbed my bicycle and pedaled nine miles in a drizzling rain. Then I ran/walked two miles on shaky legs to the finish line.

I pushed through the self-doubt and completed the race.

The most interesting thing is, after the gunshot start, I wasn’t thinking about anyone else. I didn’t care how I looked or how I would finish against other athletes. I was solely focused on myself, my goal, my performance.

At the start of the race, I shut that inner critic down and persevered. I need to do that again today, as I set my goals for 2022.

Who do you think you are? I’m Naomi. I am kind, talented, and committed. I have unlimited potential.

You’ll never accomplish that. I have accomplished everything I set my mind to and will do it again.

What a stupid idea. Perhaps it’s a little crazy, but I am going to try anyway.

Our time and our talent is valuable. We deserve to focus our energy on what is important to us. Imagine what our lives would look like if we put more effort on fulfilling our goals and desires. We would accomplish amazing things.

We must tend our own garden. If we don’t cultivate flowers, we’ll end up with weeds.

What seeds can you plant today?

woman swimming

bottom of page