There is a reason why some people find their goals easy – or relatively easy to achieve, and others (despite their best intentions, and all their blood, sweat and tears) struggle.
Maybe you are someone who finds it easy – and wonders why others struggle so much with the very same goals.
Maybe you’re a helping professional, and have discovered that for some people, what you’re trying to do with people who are struggling doesn’t work. (This post will explain why.)
Or maybe you are one of the ones that struggle – and want to know how to break through the struggle to achieve your goals.
Whichever space you’re in, in this post, I share with you why some people can simply set a goal and make it happen. And why others, for all the money in China, can’t.
I’ll also share why trying to develop ‘commitment’ and ‘willpower’ are a waste of time. Even though a lot of people think they’re critical to achieving a goal.
I want to start by sharing with you that a lot of things you may have heard about success simply aren’t true.
How What You Have Learned about Goal Achievement + Success May Be Completely Incorrect
There are a bunch of common theories out there for why people succeed or fail.
These theories imply that if you do the right things (think right, love yourself, believe the right things, trust right, visualise right, get and stay committed, align yourself, yadda, yadda) that you’ll succeed.
And if you don’t do them, you’ll fail.
Most of these theories are completely incorrect.
In fact, most of them send people (who are genuinely committed and genuinely struggling), down all kinds of rabbit holes searching for the answers in places that won’t get them to their goal.
I’m talking about this because it matters to me that people are able to create what they want.
It pains me to hear people’s stories of struggle and the ideas they’ve bought into. They genuinely don’t how to actually succeed.
But because they have learned the (so-called) ‘keys’ to success, they think that they are the problem.
The messaging they’ve bought into is bogus.
If they don’t know the real reason they’re struggling, and what they need to be focusing on instead, they have nowhere to go but the B.S. ideas on success that they’ve been sold.
It’s why I’ve decided to write a debunking myths series shortly. (You can subscribe below if you’d like to receive these posts).
The REAL Reason that Some People Can Achieve their Goals with Ease – and Others Struggle
To understand this, it will help you to first understand the two different patterns of creation.
The Two Patterns of Creation
There are two patterns people use when trying to create something.
One is an advancing pattern.
Decide what you want. Create it. Decide what you next want. Create it.
(This is the pattern we ultimately want to be using when working towards goals, and creating our lives.)
For many people, however, this pattern is not simple, or even possible.
….Or they can do it in some areas of their lives, but not in others. (Like weight loss, or making money, for example.)
The other pattern is an oscillating pattern.
Decide what you want. Move towards it. Make some degree of progress (maybe tiny, or maybe even reach your goal and have it for a little bit of time). Get pulled back by some unseen force. Decide you want it again. Move towards it. Make progress. Get pulled back. (Eventually get frustrated and confused about WTF is going on).
An easy example we commonly see is people trying to lose weight.
People in an advancing pattern who decide to lose weight just do it.
It might be hard, but they do it. And because they are in an advancing pattern, they keep it off.
People in an oscillating pattern either can’t lose weight – or they lose it, to only put it on again.
“Advancing is a structure in which the success you have achieved becomes the platform for future success. You can build momentum over time, and the sum total of your life experiences leads you forward. In an oscillating structure the success you have created is neutralized. Each step forward is followed by a step backward. Within this structure, success cannot succeed long term.
If you try to change your life and you are in an oscillating structure, success will only be temporary.”
What’s Really Going On (+ why willpower has nothing to do with it)
People in an advancing pattern might watch someone in an oscillating pattern and think that their issue is that they lack willpower. It’s not because they ‘lack willpower’. Even though it looks this way to other people.
Their issue is STRUCTURAL.
The behaviour of something is governed by its underlying structure.
(I say ‘something’ – instead of people – because the statement is true of all things. Societies, wind and air flow, businesses, communities, people, ants.)
The thinking that one needs to develop ‘willpower’ in order to achieve their goals demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of how the behaviour of something is governed by its underlying structure.
In an oscillating pattern, there is SOMETHING HIDDEN pulling you back in the opposite direction.
In structural dynamics, we call this ‘structural conflict’ – two opposing forces pulling you in different directions.
One, is the tension you feel when you want something.
The other, something else.
People often refer to this as ‘resistance’ that ‘needs to be overcome’ by willpower. But it’s not that.
The resistance you experience is caused by your underlying structure.
Willpower won’t do it, no matter how good you are at trying to manipulate your will.
Because your problem isn’t your will.
It’s your underlying structure.
The Problem for People in an Oscillating Pattern
In the same way that air flow in an air circulation system (or water in a series of pipes governed by gravity) cannot overcome the limitations of the structure they’re in, neither can people.
If you’re in an oscillating pattern, what you need is to create a fundamental change in your underlying structure to enable you to move to an advancing pattern.
I recently wrote a blog post on why creating change in your life is not as simple as the ‘make a better choice’ proponents would have you believe.
In that post, I explain the problem for people caught in an oscillating pattern:
“Most people don’t know how to see what structure they’re in – and they don’t know how to change it.
And that’s why they either don’t move forwards, or why they go towards – and even get what they want, to only oscillate back and lose it again.
And most people in the helping professions – coaching, mentoring, training, healing, counselling, psychotherapy, psychiatry – don’t know how to see (or work with) structure either.
Even with the best intentions, they ask irrelevant questions that don’t uncover the structure.
Not only do they ask questions that don’t lead to an understanding of what’s really going on (often because they are applying their existing theories about what they think is going on so they can’t see what’s actually there), they then offer ideas, strategies, models, methods, courses and programs to try to change behaviour without understanding what gives rise to the behaviour.
And yet, if you watch people over time…. no matter how well intentioned that they, or their helping professionals are, it often doesn’t work at creating a lasting change in behaviour or results.
To create change – and results – you need a structure consistent with that which you are trying to create. Or at least one that isn’t working against you.
It’s not a matter of intention. It’s a matter of understanding the structural dynamics that give rise to the behaviour we’re seeing.”
In that post I also share – and go into depth on – one of the biggest structural issues that cause oscillating patterns. You can read about that here. (Warning: it’s not a short post. It’s worth getting comfy for before diving in. Make yourself a coffee first.)
What Happens When We Observe + Work with Underlying Structure
When you can see the underlying structure of something, its oscillating behaviour and struggle makes perfect sense.
And when you can create a change in their underlying structure, behaviour change – and achieving new outcomes – becomes possible where it wasn’t before.
Until then, creating change or success with a goal will be temporary, at best.
If you’re grappling with an oscillating pattern, and you’d like some help, send me an email and let me know what’s going on. What are you trying to achieve? What are you struggling with? What resonated for you in this post that had you want to reach out?
Or feel free to subscribe to my blog. (You can do that below).
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Big love to you – and to creating what matters to you!
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P.S.S. Big thanks to my teachers, Robert and Rosalind Fritz – for teaching me everything I know about structural dynamics. It’s truly changed what I now see, which has changed my whole world – and my work. To learn more about them, their work and structural dynamics, click here.