I hate to admit it, but I’m definitely guilty of having a few unfinished projects and unmet goals. These things can haunt you, and as much as you try to ignore them, the specter of unfinished business follows you around. That is until you make the decision to complete the project, or you set it aside for good.
As someone dear to me once reminded me of a wise old saying,
“ Sh*&t, or get off the pot!”
But if these things are so important, why have you not completed them yet? I hear you ask.
Well, my friend, sometimes, life just gets in the way. To be honest, lately, I’ve found myself thinking or saying this way more than I’d like to. So it got me thinking, how does life keep getting in the way, and more importantly, what can you do when you feel like life keeps getting in the way of your goals?
How Does Life Keep Getting in the Way and Why Does it Happen?
There are many reasons why we might feel like life is getting in the way. While some reasons are unavoidable and legit, some of them can be avoided.
Here are some of the reasons that I’ve experienced myself, and what you can do about them.
You’re always busy helping someone else AKA you’re a people pleaser
Do you struggle to say no to people’s requests, even when your plate is already overflowing? If this resonates then you, my dear, are a people pleaser.
While we all have a deep desire to fit in on some level, this need to please goes deeper. From a psychological perspective, it can be rooted in past rejections as a child, having to deal with parents who played victim, or having parents who punished you for not going along with their thoughts, opinions, and demands. ( Not that it’s all your parents’ fault!)
If you’re a people pleaser you’re likely plagued by guilt even at the slightest thought of turning anyone away. But while it’s great that you want to be as helpful and supportive as possible, it’s important to remember that your needs and your goals, and priorities matter as well.
It definitely won’t be easy because by now, people-pleasing is embedded deep in your psyche, but you can change things. And while it’s going to be uncomfortable at first, it will be worth it in the end. You’ll be able to support people a lot better in the long run, because you’ll no longer be spreading yourself so thin.
You never have enough time to do what you need to AKA you need to better plan and schedule
No matter how much or how little you take on, you still don’t seem to have enough time to get things done. If this is the case, then it might be time to assess how you’re planning and scheduling.
There are tons of different time management apps, tools, and techniques out there, and speaking as someone who has tried and tested my fair share, it all comes down to finding what works for you.
Even if you like to keep things flexible, you need to have some kind of process or method in place. Flying by the seat of your pants seldom works long-term ( speaking as someone who has tried it once too often) and you’re more likely to drop the ball, not to mention you’ll have higher stress levels.
[For plenty of ideas on how to improve your time management skills, check out this ultimate guide to time management ]
You feel overwhelmed by everything AKA You need to stop and prioritize
When you feel overwhelmed, nothing gets done. Tasks appear like mountains that are impossible to climb, you feel scattered, and flit between this thing and that, never completing anything.
If this rings true, then it’s time to STOP. Don’t do another thing until you’ve prioritized your workload. Without prioritization, everything takes longer than it needs to, and it’s easy to waste time on things that are better off removed from your to-do list altogether.
Remember, if everything is important, nothing is.
Feeling overwhelmed is common, and when we get into this mental state, what’s needed is a moment of calm. A moment to clear your head and refocus.
[If you often feel overwhelmed, read this article on How To Overcome Avoidance & Stop Feeling Overwhelmed ]
You constantly feel tired, drained, and exhausted AKA You have no self-care routine
If you feel exhausted and lacking in energy, getting motivated to take action on your goals is going to be a struggle.
Identify what’s draining your energy and remove it, or put a plan in place to manage it. And while we know that self-care is essential, too many of us still don’t make time for it.
Don’t put off self-care any longer.
Create a self-care routine that works for you and make it a priority. Whether it’s a 10-minute meditation, or a quick walk around the block while listening to your favorite tune.
If self-care seems self-indulgent then you need to read this!
You’re struggling with difficult emotions AKA You need mental and emotional support
It’s easy to keep things bottled up, but whether it’s because you’re a people pleaser, you’re an introvert, you feel like your troubles aren’t important enough, or you just don’t want to bother anyone, this well-trodden path is one of the ways that life can get in the way.
Sometimes you just need outside help. Whether that comes in the form of a friendly ear or a professional depends on your circumstances and the cause of your distress.
Either way, if you want to stop life from getting in the way, getting help and support is crucial. Because life does happen!
You’re too busy sorting out other people’s dramas, AKA You don’t know how to let go
Have you ever laid awake at night worrying about someone else’s problems? If you haven’t then we must talk!
Most of us have gotten wrapped up in someone else’s drama at one point or another. And even if it didn’t keep you up at night, it still sucked your energy and took up valuable mental and emotional space.
Not to mention, thinking uses energy, no matter what you’re thinking about, so if you’re rushed off your feet trying to sort out someone else’s business, then it might be time to let go and take a step back.
You have constant distractions big and small AKA You’re not setting AND sticking to boundaries
If you can’t get the space to do what you need to, physically or mentally, then you may need to set some boundaries.
Boundaries with yourself as well as boundaries with others.
Setting boundaries looks like…
- Giving yourself undisturbed time and space to get things done
- Deciding not to take calls, check messages, social, or email until things are done
- Having a sacred space where you will not be disturbed
- Saying no to certain people, activities, or invitations
The truth is, we know we need to set boundaries, but even when we do, sticking to them can be hard. According to an article in Psychology Today, there are many reasons why setting boundaries and sticking to them is so difficult.
Why setting boundaries is hard
If you’re known as the person who always says yes to going out on a Friday night, then saying no isn’t easy. Likewise, if you’ve always said yes to doing things for other people, or you’ve always been the most accommodating person at the expense of yourself, changing is hard. This is because these behaviors have become part of your identity.
The first step to breaking free is deciding on the new identity you want for yourself, and then doing what that new identity would do instead.
Feeling like you’re missing out on anything isn’t nice. But to succeed and achieve your goals in life, you will have to break free from this trap, and the sooner the better.
Instead of focusing on what you’re missing, focus instead on what you will gain as a result. Life is yin and yang, there is always another side. It’s all about perspective.
Perfectionism has its benefits, but for the most part, it’s a battle you can’t win. Being a perfectionist, you want to bring your best in every situation. You want to do everything you can do for everyone, all of the time, and you won’t accept that sometimes good is good enough.
If perfectionism is not managed it’s yet another thing that can get in the way of your goals.
So, instead of trying to be perfect in every way, set some realistic boundaries with yourself and with those around you.
To Wrap Up
There will always be one more thing to do, someone who needs your time and support, somewhere you could be. But rather than wondering “why does life keep getting in the way?” Decide to make progress.
Life will always try to get in the way, heck sometimes it definitely will, and with good cause! But by implementing these strategies you can be sure the only times when life gets in the way are those critical life moments when goals and achievements must take a back seat to the most important matters in life.
So the next time you feel like life keeps getting in the way, ask yourself; “ Is life getting in the way, or am I getting in my own way?”