If you are one of those people who consistently fails to reach your goals, it may be that you see goal setting as the whole process, rather than just part of the process. Setting effective goals is essential but unless you take action to achieve the goal, it will never truly be a goal, merely a dream. Napoleon Hill said, ‘A goal is a dream with a deadline.’Setting a deadline, for the achievement of your goal is another critical step in the process but unless you strive to meet that deadline, you are still just dreaming. Are you great at dreaming but struggle to reach your goals? If so, you must identify what it is that is holding you back. Once you do, you can take corrective action to get back on track and reach your goals.
Why you fail to reach your goals
Here are some of the most common reasons why you may fail to reach your goals:
1. Lack of purpose
Your purpose is the overall meaning and reasoning behind the way you live your life. Those who live with purpose understand that their time on Earth may be short but the positive difference that they make can last much longer. To live your best life, you must have a clear sense of purpose. Your goals should, at least in some small way, help you to live your purpose. They certainly should not contradict your purpose.
When you set goals, you are encouraged to write down any potential goal that pops into your head. It is important that you suspend evaluation and judgement during this process as it interrupts your flow of thinking and can cause you to miss out on identifying a valuable goal. Once the process is complete, you can then begin to evaluate each goal to determine how important it really is i.e. does it serve your purpose? Those goals that are deemed unimportant at present, should not be deleted; they should be added to a list where they can be considered again in the future.
Too many people skip this evaluation step and end up pursuing the goal that looks coolest, rather than the goal which is most important. This may work for a short while but eventually you lose motivation for anything which is not really important and so the goal remains unachieved.
Discover your purpose.
2. You cannot remember why
Many of your most important goals will be medium/long-term goals. You can become so caught up in the day to day grind required to achieve the goal that you forget the reason that you set the goal in the first place.
On the first coaching course that I ever attended, it was hammered into us that we should never ask someone why they wanted to achieve a goal. Over time, I came to realise that this approach was a load of nonsense. Knowing why you want to achieve something is the most fundamental form of motivation. On those mornings that you are struggling to get out of bed and get started; you can visualise yourself upon completion of the goal. This is usually enough to kick start your engine and get you going.
Once you have set a goal, write down every possible benefit that you will experience upon completion of the goal. Ask yourself why you want to make this change and answer it as honestly as possible. This list should always be kept close to hand. At least once per week, you can read the list and remind yourself of the reasons that you are pursuing this goal. Keeping a written statement of why you want to achieve your goal keeps that initial excitement with you to push you forward.
3. You take on too much
There is a great old saying which we regularly use in Ireland – ‘A Jack of all trades is a master of none’. You may wonder how this applies to goal planning but there are 2 ways in which doing too much can impact on your ability to reach your goals.
It is easy to get excited with goals and try to take on too much but if you do, you’ll be spending your energy all over the place. Rather than get a lot done on a small number of goals, you will be getting a small amount done on a lot of goals. You won’t have the focus that you need to reach your goals as your focus and energy are too divided. The end result will be burnout, stress and a no results worth talking about. It is best to focus on a small number of goals and, as you reach one goal, add another in its place.
The second problem with taking too much on is that you get bogged down working on tasks that you are not particularly good at. Most goals will require the completion of many tasks. It is unlikely that you will be talented at each task. Rather than waste time trying to do the things that you are not good at, find somebody who is better suited to the task. Delegation and outsourcing are your friends and, if you want to succeed, you need to make use of them.
4. Focusing on what you do not want
The average person can tell you what they do not want but successful people will always tell you what they do want. Knowing what you do not want can be useful but to make it work for you, you must be able to use that information to define what you really want e.g. it is good to know that you do not want to remain in the job you currently have but that does not tell you what job you do want. You will struggle to reach your goals if you do not know what the end result looks like.
As well as giving you a sense of direction, knowing what you want and, focusing on it, will help you remain positive until you reach your goal. Knowing that you do not like your job may give you the impetus you need to start looking for alternative work but if you keep dwelling on the job that you dislike, you will be focusing on negativity which in turn will lead to loss of confidence. Instead, focus on the wonderful new job you’re going to get.
Many people fail to take the necessary action to achieve their goals because of a sense of overwhelm. The goal appears to be too large and too difficult to achieve. They may be lacking in some of the skills required to achieve the goal.
When you’re overwhelmed, it is easy to doubt your abilities. However, you are making a major and, common, mistake here. You are evaluating a future date with your present circumstances. When you do this, you are completely ignoring the fact that with time, you can grow, learn new skills and improve your current knowledge and skill levels.
With proper planning, this isn’t an issue at all. You can break your goals down into sub-goals and daily actions that will get you closer to the end result. In the process, you can identify the knowledge and skills which you need to gain and set sub-goals to achieve them. Once you have done this, you can then focus on the sub-goals rather than constantly looking at the bigger goal. This will reduce the sense of overwhelm and increase your confidence.
To learn to set effective goals which motivate and inspire you; check out theUltimate Guide to Goal Setting.
The main reason that we fail at goals is not the failure to set goals. Most people do set some form of goal, either formally or informally. While most of these people could set their goals in a more effective manner, the bigger problem is the lack of action that they take to reach their goals. There could be many reasons why people fear to take the necessary action but the most common have been listed here. When you recognize that you are experiencing these problems and, you take the necessary action to overcome them, you will become more decisive and proactive; leading to greater success where you reach your goals with relative ease. Goal setting and achievement is a life-long process and we are forever learning but if you overcome the problems above, you will have taken giant strides to reach your goals.