You’ve probably seen, or at least heard of, the show Hoarders. It’s about people who have become so attached to their things that they can’t bear to let them go or throw them away. It gets so bad in many cases on the show that houses are unsafe to live in. Junk clutters the entire house. There’s no place to sleep, much less eat or prepare food each day. Often, bathrooms don’t work and refrigerators are full of spoiled, moldy food.
It’s so bad that it requires an intervention like the kind you do with addicts. Mental health professionals are called in. Yet as bad as it looks to those of us who aren’t hoarders, they don’t think there’s anything wrong. They can’t see that having piles of clothes, books, furniture and God knows what else stacked to the ceiling in every room is at best unhealthy. Potentially it’s life threatening. Some houses have been truly unsafe to be in.
What does this have to do with Goal Setting?
We can hoard more than just physical stuff. We can hoard mental baggage as well. When it comes to mental baggage, we don’t even realize it. Mental baggage is the crap we carry around in our heads that either isn’t true anymore, or never was, or is stuff we can’t control and shouldn’t even try. Mental baggage is the stuff that occupies our minds and keeps us from achieving our Goals, or even working on them.
For instance, we might be worried about our job. What if I get fired? Why does the boss hate me? What am I going to do wrong today? This sort of baggage is the worst kind, because it’s not even about things we can control or things that will happen. It’s all about what might happen. It’s all about things that most likely aren’t going to happen too.
Sure, sometimes we should worry about our jobs. Sometimes we should worry about what other people are going to do. Sometimes we should worry about things that might go wrong.
Sometimes. Only sometimes.
We should plan for possibilities, but not worry over the unlikely events that we can’t control. It’s hard to do that. I get it. I have to remind myself of this all the time.
We also tend to dwell on “what-ifs” far too much. What would happen if I did this? What would happen if my spouse does that? What would happen if I win the lottery?
Then there’s the “why did I” thoughts. Why did I do that? Why did I buy that expensive car? Why did I say that to my child? Self-recrimination is not helpful. Self evaluation is. Asking Why without actually looking for a real answer isn’t helpful. Asking Why when you’re trying to fix something is much better.
We worry. We fantasize what isn’t going to happen as if it would. We dwell on the past by blaming ourselves over and over for things we may not have controlled.
All of this keeps us from working on our Goals. We can’t devote mental energy to achieving Goals if we use it all up on the mental clutter. These thoughts can dominate our minds and keep us paralyzed. They keep us looking inward and backward without learning anything or fixing anything.
Goal Setting and achievement both require a tremendous amount of physical AND mental energy. We can be physically fit and fine, but if our mental energy has been drained by the mental clutter, our efforts will be less than optimal. Our results will be even worse. Which of course will drain our mental energy even more.
Mental hoarding will KILL your Goal achievement deader than you can imagine.
How do you get past it then?
Just like on the show Hoarders, you have to get rid of what’s not important, essential, useful or working in your mind. This means getting rid of limiting beliefs. It means getting rid of unproductive or negative thought habits. It means getting rid of the things that hurt you instead of helping you.
In decluttering our minds, we discard what holds us back. We change our focus. We learn to let go what we don’t need and replace it with things we should be working on. We still have to keep certain things though. We should be concerned about our job if we have one. We should be concerned enough to work hard and well. We should be concerned enough to make it unthinkable for us to be fired. We should be concerned about what we say and do as far as it affects others. We should be concerned with how we treat others. We should learn from our mistakes, not relive them over and over.
Once we declutter our minds, we’ve got the mental energy to move forward. We’ve got the mental energy to give our best to our Goals. We’ve got the mental energy to attack what needs to be done instead of surrendering before we even begin