Goals. A rather fickle subject. Everyone at some point makes them, but few actually achieve them. The ‘New Years Resolution’ for example, is notably the collective first attempt to set the first goal of the year, yet it’s likelihood of ever being completed usually disappears by February the next month. So why are goals so difficult and elusive? Is it limited by the individual, or is it the goals itself that are hard to achieve? What if we looked at it through a black lens? Does the setting and achievement of goals become that much harder?
The simple answer to all these questions would be yes goals are hard because we make them so. As individuals, we often create them as an aim to strive for yet we often don’t plan a method of putting them into action so they can actually be achieved. Put simply, we say we are going to do them but never really do anything about them. We are all talk. Success, then, must come not only in activity but also in willpower – we must be willing to do what it takes to get to where we want to be. As black folk we must further be willing to stand against the stereotypes that may hold us back from achieving our own goals, because let’s face it, we not only have to contend with the universal difficulties of goal setting but the perception of our capability in doing so.
Let’s look at the common stereotype ‘black people are lazy’ for example. This assertion hinders our capabilities and self-belief in the most obvious way as it says that we are incapable of achieving our goals simply because we lack the motivation and drive to do so. Not only are goals hard for the black person, they are hard-er because we are ‘typically’ incapable to begin with. With that knowledge, our hopes to ever get to where we want to be and succeed in life becomes that much more difficult due to the extra obstacle. To believe that this obstacle diminishes the hopes in achievement of our goals though, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we believe that we are lazy, we won’t ever try, making that stereotype true. The task instead becomes a way to prove this negative stereotype wrong by persevering and attempting to succeed anyway. That way, when we do succeed the result is that much more satisfying because one would have achieved it despite the odds.
So how do we prove the stereotype wrong? Simple, start by setting goals that though ambitious, are achievable and realistic. Saying you want to lose 10kg in a month for example, isn’t going to happen. Stretching that time frame to six months eases the pressure and allows you to work at it in a more realistic way. Next start writing the goals down, research shows that a goal that is penned reinforces a person’s commitment to achievement, increasing the chances of success. Similarly make the goals when in the presence of others, particularly your significant other, as it reinforces the commitment once again and increases likelihood of it being kept. Fourth, don’t make too many goals to be achieved at once, psychologically speaking this depletes your willpower as it wears your mind out thin due to the self-control you have to maintain to make sure everything is being adhered to. Stick to one or two that you can focus your attention on. This will increase chances of success. Finally, don’t berate yourself for slipping in your commitment once and a while, as long as you keep correcting yourself and stay on target, you’ll be successful. Remember, perfection is overrated, every little step made is to be celebrated as it gets you closer to the milestone. No matter how long it takes for you to reach it, as long as you’re making your way there, you’re winning.
For an added bit of motivation also remember that black folk have that extra obstacle to contend with in the simple task of goal setting, highlighting the extra struggle many have to deal with on a daily basis. This struggle, though unfair allows us to showcase our work ethic and drive to succeed in a world that seemingly doesn’t want us to. Once we consistently work together to prove society wrong we establish a credibility and poise that readily sticks its middle finger up in solidarity. We will not and shall not be held back. Success is our only option, and thus will be the subject of the coming posts.
Until then, the song of the week goes to Black Men United – U Will Know