Sarah May Bates
Updated February 28, 2015

If you prefer to listen, here’s the Podcast Version of this blog.

A lot of the time you don’t get the things you want because you are unknowingly acting against yourself. Most of the time it’s because you are operating based on your subconscious. So if you’re not getting the results you want in your life, I invite you to examine yourself and your habits so that you might discover what might be working against you.

Whether your goal is related to love, work or health, begin by taking an inventory of your behavior. Literally, just begin to take notes and observe your habits, related to this goal. Create a “behavior log” in your phone and write down everything you do that is tied to achieving this goal. The point is to try and objectively see if there’s something you are allowing to happen in your life that’s not aligned with what you want. You might surprise yourself, because most of the time this behavior is totally unconscious. We have no idea how we are blocking ourselves — and sometimes it’s actually self-sabotage. It comes from a strange unconscious fear of the thing we think we want. For example, when you are looking for a real relationship but you are biding your time with flings with people who are not who you really want. You THINK you are desperately seeking love when you are in REALITY staying comfortable with the ones you don’t feel threatened by: the easy and available. Your actions are not aligned. So, to hopefully help you become more aware of the accidental misalignments in your actions and goals I will go over three topics in detail: Love, Career, and Health.

Part 1: Love

If you’ve been looking for “the one” or just a solid relationship for a while with no success, you might want to take a look at your habits for clues. Here’s a good visualization test. Imagine your ideal match. Imagine what they look like, what they do for a living, etc. Now, take a snapshot of yourself. Would the person you’re looking for be in love with you? If they met you as you are right now at this very moment, and if you were to disclose everything about yourself to them in all honesty? If not, why not? If you’re looking for someone fit and healthy but you’re not taking care of yourself physically or eating right, then you are not aligned with the person you are looking to match. That’s an example of denial in that you are not acting ready for “your one,” though it’s something you want.

As a start: Look at your habits on a daily basis related to your pursuit of love and a particular kind of person. Circle anything that’s definitely not aligned with your goal. The next step? Confront.

It can be difficult, but your aim is to really examine where you are misaligned in your behavior. Look at it and try to take it apart. I don’t mean hate on yourself for not having a perfect body — no, definitely don’t do that! This is about making sure you are taking actions that support who you want to be and also being accountable to yourself.

When you meet this other person, you should be proud of yourself and acting as the self who is ready to receive love, all out. This process is about choosing to act in alignment with your bar — for yourself, so that you know your value and are proud to present it to others who are worthy. You can gain this confidence JUST via aligning your behavior. It’s not like you have to be finished with your self-work or be embarrassed of the areas you are still struggling — in fact, quite the opposite. Be proud and own them, because that’s quite impressive and a sign of confidence. It also shows you are not about playing games or trying to misrepresent yourself in any way. It’s where you are — there’s nothing to hide about that, and that you’re working on You is awesome!

A simple way to think of it is you are making sure you are acting as a person you love. Meaning, act as your best self at all times. I think a lot of the time we dismiss the importance of our opinions of ourselves. Like, we don’t act our best FOR ourselves because we think it doesn’t matter. Or that the “behind closed doors” self is our “true” self separate from the self we show the world. Nope. All of it is the same person. Self-love is built by making that person completely seamless. The goal of doing this inventory is to align all of your actions to be lovable and pride-worthy. Actions don’t disappear just because you’re the only one who knows them. They all count toward creating the lens of your mind — and affect your behavior and how you live your life: where you hang out, why, when, with whom. Your actions influence everything that surrounds you, including who is drawn to you. So if you’re accepting less than ideal relationships to bide time, you are acting as a person who is not fully aware of what they want. Your behavior is not single-minded. You are obviously not ready because you’re not making yourself completely available for the perfect right “one” to see that they want you.

When you meet someone who’s ready to be in a relationship, it shows. There’s no BS and nothing is unclear about what they are looking for. It’s totally on the table. So if you’re really looking, put yourself out there and mean it. If you are in it for the relationship that only meets a certain bar, then act like it. There are no grey areas. You get to decide who is going to make you happy, and then it’s your job to look for them. (Which we will get to shortly.) What happens when you half-look for it and accept less-than, is you stop along the way to finding that person. You didn’t stick to your own alignment and now you’re taking a detour toward “like.”

A lot of us struggle with alignment when it comes to dating jerks. We end up with jerks again and again, despite knowing completely we’re looking for someone nice. It’s a common tale. So if that’s you, your alignment problems lie in your relationship with yourself. Somewhere you are not SURE of your own value, therefore you are allowing someone else to dole the attention out to you and define it to you. So I would start there and do some investigative work on yourself: why would I ever believe someone who doesn’t treat me well? What is it that is making me spend any time with someone who doesn’t immediately see that I am a prize?

Setting your goal so that you can align with what will make you happy:

If you don’t know what you want in a partner, as a starting point:

  • Write a list of who you deserve to date based on how you treat your friends.
  • Ask your friends to write a list of traits in who they see you with, based on your best traits. Like, who they see your ideal match as.
  • Write about what is valuable in each of your friendships. Humor? Someone you can be yourself around? Someone inspiring or confident?

Once you have the bare bones of your list, just periodically add to it. You might add items based on your new growth — for example, you might want to add, “Someone who shares your desire to grow.”

If you are one of those people who says they’d be down for any relationship at all because you just want to not be as lonely, it’s still important that you go through this process! Because, whether you know it or not it BETTERS your chances of success, not limits it. Right now you’re aiming for “iono” and “whoever” instead of someone who will make you happy and also love who YOU are, right back. To put it simply: Bad Target = Bad Trajectory. Your efforts are being wasted by heading in all directions at once.

If you are “flexible” in what you’re looking for in a match, there’s a strong likelihood that you don’t know the value of your values, yet. Meaning, you don’t really have absolutes or rules you are looking for in others because you don’t know how extreme the manifestations of particular traits can be. For example, casual boundaries or a lack of honesty in someone can destroy your life. Which is why often in life, we are tested with others who show us just how valuable our values are to us. And it is in the wake of a trauma that we realize and commit to what we really want and need in a significant other.

If you haven’t been through a relationship that defines your boundaries, to you, you might be choosing to settle for “whatevs” or “this kinda fits my needs” because that’s all you know to see. Maybe you can’t really distinguish what a bond should feel like, or what loving and being loved is like because it’s never happened to you.

If you don’t know how you feel about others, not knowing can come from a more pervasive state of numbness in life. You can’t love someone else if you don’t know yourself or understand yourself completely. You might find there’s a lot of ambivalence and confusion when you approach dating because there’s a lot left unsolved on the inside — you cannot tell how you feel. When you are unable to sense your own feelings, this is likely the result of issues that need to be addressed and confronted. I always say it, but therapy is a great way to get to know yourself — and a whole lot faster!

If you just don’t think you have a match (or don’t believe in that stuff), that’s understandable, especially if you’ve never arrived at anyone close before. If you want to know if I think there’s a match for everyone, the answer is yes! Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt. If it’s taken too long for you to have faith, I will pose this: think about you — how intricate you are, how quirky or special you are — you are a needle in a haystack! The match for you is out there and waiting, but a lot of you finding them depends on you keeping your commitment to look hard enough and enduring the length of the search. It also depends very much on whether or not you can become the person who is in the state — this “ready” state — that matches theirs. So get ready now!

No matter who you are, if you’re planning on dating I want you to start by defining a target — no matter how big the circle is. Just start with ANYTHING you want in someone else. Make it something meaningful and trust that you mean it. Why? Because unlike temporary things like work, this is (in theory) eternity, or at the very least, several years of your life. This is the one area you might as well do for real, so think long and hard about the truth of you — what it is you align with that will be a divining rod to your match on this earth.

Once you have the goal, assume the ready stance. Walk like you deserve it. Unconsciously, you might act as though you don’t — which is a fear of rejection taking a back door to alter your path away from meeting the person you want. Stay there and mean it; meaning, if you want this, you might need to take a few hits! Yeah, they might hurt, but this is “the one” you’re looking for. They’re looking for you just as hard. When it comes to singular gifts of great value, there will be tests along the way challenging you to PROVE you deserve who it is you want: you’ll think you are seeing that person, but one thing is off — but those tests are very important because they force you to commit absolutely 100% to the values that align with your perfect match. So your “one” will pass that last test. Stay aware and align your actions with your goals and values, at all costs.

Part 2: Professional Goals

When it comes to work-related goals, I think a major factor for a lot of people is an unconscious fear of the change that their success will bring. I know what you’re thinking: “Not me, that’s ridiculous! I want this, damn it!” But as an experiment, picture yourself at the pinnacle of a day in your future life — you are given the green light to your dream. All eyes on you. Stepping into this new role, your whole life is different now — everything about it: your time, your stress level, your weekends, who you hang out with. And in this new arena, you’re totally green. There’s a lot of pressure on you and you’re not totally sound in your footing — “What if I fail?” Whether you can imagine this or not, it can be pretty scary to start anything new no matter how much you want it in your heart. That fear should never be the reason to stop yourself, because it happens with any big change, regardless — plus, if you have this goal, you’ll probably be a success.

All fear is insipid — it seeps and alters behavior and if it’s something we’re unaware of, it’s what can inspire half-hearted action. When you’re unknowingly afraid, you might have lazy efforts and not be fully invested in the way you reach out toward this goal. One foot is staying inside the door of your comfy home instead of jumping in, full throttle.

The key to overcoming this? Two steps, and together they equal Awareness. They are Observe and Confront. Because career pursuits are often affected by unconsciously getting in the way of your own success, your two steps are to first observe yourself and take notes on your unconscious behaviors, and second analyze any that result from unconscious fears — aka confront them.

To Observe: Become aware by observing yourself in key moments and efforts surrounding your career. Take notes on your iPhone. If someone suggests something that will really help you get closer to your dream, and you say, “Nah, not going to do that. . .” Or you don’t follow through, or feel really hesitant to do that thing, write it down.

After observing yourself and your behaviors for a month, examine the areas that puzzle you or clearly contradict your aspirations. Whatever they are, highlight or circle them.

To Confront: Analyze the question marks you see in your own leanings and call them out into broad daylight by asking yourself about the potential emotions motivating them. Literally analyze them based on your feelings, “Why don’t I want to call that person? Am I afraid of them saying yes?” Reflect to yourself in your journal and try to explain to analyze your motivations. If you want this, but you’re holding back in certain areas — that’s likely fear.

Another common misalignment with professional goals is a fear of finishing. That can be a fear of actually having the interview at the place you’ve dreamed of working your whole life or a fear of sending off the first draft of a screenplay. When it comes to a fear of finishing, there are two sources: a fear that you will find out that you are not good at this thing you want so much, and a fear that the excitement and passion you felt for this thing will be gone with its completion. When you have a dream, you can fantasize about its success, and when you lose that dream — especially if you’ve built it up for many years — it can be a loss you don’t want to confront. Dreams become like a comforting friend: something familiar and pleasant, that you look forward to visualizing and progressing toward.

So what’s the trick to these two? Because the fear of finishing is often buried, it affects you subconsciously and therefore it can affect your actions — it’s unconscious. So you won’t know why you “just aren’t ready to send the first draft out,” but you won’t. So again, the tool is awareness. Observe your behavior, analyze the misalignments, and confront the emotions that might be behind them.

When you observe you are feeling this fear and basically bring it from your subconscious into your consciousness, the next step is to force yourself into concrete actions. Your job is to correct your path and let go of the outcome. When you are trying to control the results of your dream, you are not allowing a natural evolution to take place – which is where you get the most help and feedback and also find an opportunity to go to the next step. I can guarantee that if you go for it and stop trying to control how you are going to get there, you will reach success a whole lot faster. No doubt.

I know there’s a lot of smart planning that needs to happen when pursuing a goal, and there can be valid and legitimate reasons for not jumping in all at once. I get that. But the most important thing I want to say is never let the motivator for anything you choose be FEAR. Even a fear of “not having enough money” or “having to suffer” — those are not valid reasons if they’re stopping you from pursuing a goal. Because this is life! You only get one and you can always return to what you know! What else is the point if not to live your life to the fullest? Why else are you here? To stay safe? What’s fun about that? If you know your priorities lie in family and stability, then you know yourself well. But I would like you to think about the possibility that both your dream and your commitments can coexist. Just make that extra planning a part of your process.

If you’re biding your time on pursuing something, let it be because it’s “just not really what I want” or “I haven’t figured out who I am quite yet.” But it should be around YOU and not the invisible affects of FEAR and how it can stop you from your own ability to empower and move yourself toward a goal. It’s such a waste of your talent and potential, and once you move past it and overcome it ONCE, you will see how powerful you really are. You’ll think, “Wow, was that all I was afraid of? Ha! That was not that hard. What’s next!” Of course you can do anything you decide to — and of course your pursuit is a valid one.

Part 3: Health

Aligning your behaviors when it comes to health is a big one for many people. It can be a total mystery if you’re trying very hard to be healthy and yet you’re seeing none of the results. There can be a million different reasons you’re not achieving your health goals, but the simplest place to start is becoming accountable to yourself. That’s right! You’re going to observe and analyze ALL of your actions each day, just like Love and Professional Goals.

To create the best chances for your success, leave nothing to mystery. If you’re looking to be in shape, be accountable for your behavior at all times and examine any and all weak spots. By writing things down, you’re creating a form of consciousness during the times you are unconscious. For example, the times you might unknowingly sit in front of the TV and eat a bag of chips while you’re totally zoned out.

Having done this process of accountability myself, I can say it will likely illuminate quite a bit of behavior that you might be totally unconscious of. I recommend the app “My Fitness Pal” because it has a lot of pre-loaded information, or you can just write everything health-related down. ALL of it. That includes your activities, how long you slept, how long you exercised, plus the level of intensity. There are a lot of factors that can play a role but the most universal, in my opinion, are the factors that are unconscious. Once you have this account, if you’re still not seeing the misalignments, at the very least, you have something that you can research. It gives you knowledge to build upon and learn from when you can take this to other professionals and ask, “What am I doing wrong here?”

A lot of the time, when you are acting against your goal of health, it’s because in the moment, you actually want something ELSE, more. There is a split in your priorities — almost like you have two different minds. There’s one mind who wants to savor life and/or soothe yourself after a rough day. Then there’s the other self who wants to be totally healthy and stick to clean living. That is what you have to merge together, almost like you’re bringing those two opposite selves to a marriage-counseling meeting. Instead of deciding one is right and the other isn’t (which leaves you right back where you started), acknowledge the needs of both your selves as a part of you. You have to find a solution that works for both of them — a compromise that is actually doable and doesn’t pretend the other one doesn’t exist. This is about honesty with yourself, not “All or nothing, Social-Me, shape up; or else!”

For example, let’s say you find you are constantly losing your health goal when it comes to hanging out with friends. You need to create a plan for yourself that is actionable — meaning, a plan that will keep you aware and therefore aligned with your other goal and still allow you to participate. The solutions should be empowering and not impossible. I would suggest you set an alarm for yourself reminding Social-You of a pre-planned, less sinful option for your friend hangout, something you have rehearsed aloud. For example, “I am going to order a salad with a protein that’s somewhat healthy and put ice in my beer — plus I’m going to keep it to under two drinks.” Even if that’s less than ideal for a diet, it won’t destroy your progress AND it’s something you actually might do.

The key is to empower yourself so that you can act from awareness, in that moment. It’s the results of a goal-blackout that hurts you the most. You might find that when you make yourself empowered in the moments of weakness, BECAUSE of the fact that you’re aware of your other half and the truth of what you want, you will more easily choose better. It will organically feel like something you really want.

You can help your highest goals be present in your mind at all times in other ways — for example, putting visual reminders on your wall or on other “problem areas” of the house, like the fridge. I am a big fan of writing your alarm descriptions to be in a very personal tone of voice. If your alarm at 6 am reads, “Yoga! Go to class because it makes you happy!!” instead of just “Yoga class,” your awake voice can convey to your unconscious self your own truth. Awareness is key.

In closing, I know I covered a wide array but the universal theme and point I am trying to make is when you are not getting the results you want — in any area of your life — instead of doing the same thing even harder, stop and examine yourself so that you can empower yourself. Look for any holes in your armor. Because if nothing’s happening, there’s likely a change that needs to take place. I think most of the time when we keep doing the same things over and over again, we think somehow it will eventually take. But why not skip the wasted time and energy? Go right to the aggressive, solution-finding part!

I hope this helped and I send you my love — smile peeps! xo

Featured image via Flickr