If you want to reach your biggest goals in the coming year, start with a mental readjustment in four key areas: Your relationships with other people, your relationship with your circumstances, your relationship with time, and your relationship with yourself. That advice comes from Wendy Capland, executive coach to such companies as IBM and Bank of America. Capland is the author of the best-selling book Your Next Bold Move, and she’s also my coach. For the past few years, she’s been coaching me and I’ve been writing about it.
Capland says that when people are blocked from reaching for their goals, or even setting big goals in the first place, one or more of these relationships is almost always the reason. “These are the four things that show up most often, that stop you from dreaming, that stop you from thinking that something is or is not possible for you. They can just stop you in your tracks.”
How can you keep these relationships from becoming obstacles in your work or life? Here’s Capland’s advice.
1. Rethink your relationships with others.
“The problem could be your relationship with your boss, and how they perceive you and how they treat you,” she says. For example, when Capland once asked her boss for a raise, she was told that she already had the maximum salary for her position–she couldn’t possibly be paid any more. “Then she left, another boss came in, and she said, ‘Oh, we’ll just give you a promotion. That’ll do it.'”
If a relationship like the one Capland had with the first boss is blocking you from reaching your goals, you can work on changing that person’s perceptions, making sure your boss, customer, or co-worker knows just what you can do and how much your work can benefit them. That may help your boss or customer rethink the relationship and see you in a new way.
If not, it may be time for you to rethink the relationship and whether it’s time to move on to another one. Whatever you do, if someone in your life or work has a limiting view of you or your abilities, don’t let that limiting view bleed into your own view of yourself.
2. Rethink your relationship with your circumstances.
Sometimes your external circumstances may prevent you from going after your goals. “For example, if for some reason, you really need to quit the job you have in order to go after the career you really want, and your circumstances are that you just can’t afford to do that,” Capland says.
You may not be able to do anything about that, she says. But then again, maybe you can. “You may be letting your circumstances control you when you don’t need to. For example, a lot of people are blaming things on the pandemic. And that may be true. But it may also be a really good excuse.”
Only you can determine whether you truly are bound by your circumstances or not. Ask yourself some what-if questions. What if this circumstance could be changed in this way? What if you could ask someone for help with part of it? What if there is a way to turn this circumstance to your advantage?
3. Rethink your relationship with time.
“I cannot tell you how often I hear, ‘I just don’t have the time,'” Capland says. “But if I told you you needed to drop everything right now and go to the hospital because someone you love had a terrible accident, you can be damn sure you would do it. People just use the excuse, ‘I’m too busy, I don’t have the time.’ If you want something, you have to re-prioritize what you’re doing so you have time for it.”
As Four Thousand Weeks author Oliver Burkeman has pointed out, we all have a limited amount of time on this planet, let alone in our work week. So Capland is right that if you can’t find the time for something that you truly care about, you should re-examine your priorities. Figure out if any of the things you spend time on could be reduced or eliminated. And make a date with yourself–write it in your calendar–to set aside time for whatever it is you want to make sure to do.
4. Rethink your relationship with yourself.
Your own beliefs could be stopping you from reaching your biggest goals, Capland says. A limiting view of your own capabilities could rob you of the success you deserve. “Our beliefs create our thoughts, create our actions, create our results. You can look at everything you have around you and in your life, and you can tie all of it back to some belief you have.”
If your beliefs are holding you back, how do you change that? How do you change your relationship to yourself? “If you could have done it by yourself, you would have,” she says. “So you need outside help. Get yourself a counselor, a coach, a trainer, a mentor. Someone who can help you see what you cannot see yourself, someone you’re willing to listen to.” This could be a formal arrangement, like coaching, or it could be a more informal arrangement with a friend or work mentor who helps you see what you’re able to achieve. A peer group or mastermind group to support your career can also be an extremely effective way to challenge your own limited view of what you can achieve.
There’s a growing audience of Inc.com readers who receive a daily text from me with a self-care or motivational micro-challenge or idea. Often they text me back and we wind up in an ongoing conversation. Many are successful entrepreneurs and executives, and they often tell me how changing their beliefs about themselves has made a huge difference in their lives. To help with that transformation, starting today I’m sending out special texts throughout December to help prepare you for reaching your goals in 2022. (Interested in joining? You can learn more here.)
Changing how we see our circumstances, how we prioritize our time, our relationships with others and, most importantly, with ourselves–rethinking all these areas can help move you forward in your career. It can take you places you never might have imagined. Will you give it a try?