TOP FIVE REASONS WHY YOU KEEP FAILING AT REACHING YOUR GOALS: LEARN HOW TO AVOID THESE MISTAKES TO REACH SUCCESS
The end of the year is fast approaching and we all know what that means; NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS! Everyone wants to be a better person, a richer person, a happier person, a healthier person etc… but sadly most will fail at fulfilling the goals they have set for themselves. This is not to say that some will not achieve their goals… but before you rush to sign up for a gym membership, or rush to visualize that life will have in the next year; lets explore why most of our goals never leave our head and why they never become a reality. Why do we keep quitting, making excuses, or simply forgetting about our goals?
Trust me, I am in the same category of those who have suffered from goal failures, the resolution revolution, and the “I will start tomorrow” troopers. Why do our goals remain simply that; goals? Lets face it, we do not want things go bad, we start our goals so optimistically and we begin to dream of what the success of these goals will be like. However, another reality that is more common is that we are often not willing to do the hard work it takes to make these things a permanent reality. So why does this happen? Lets explore.
Top 5 Reasons Why We Do Not Reach Our Goals
- WE SET UNREALISTIC GOALS THAT WE PAIR WITH UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
- Of course a lot of us want to be better people, and this may usually include improving our image or health. Those are amazing goals, but the reality is that sometimes some of these goals are also a little unrealistic.
Example: We may set a goal to lose 60 pounds next year by summer. We create an image in our heads of what that will look like but we do not plan the steps along the way that will get us there. I am not a fitness coach or nutrition specialist, but most people will tell you that without proper planning and discipline, these goals may not be possible.
- We may not be honest with ourselves when we set these goals and as a result we may fail to see the possible obstacles that we may encounter far before our goal is even a possibility.
- We have high expectations but not very high will to accomplish the steps needed to get to the end.
- We may say we want to loose 60 pounds and believe that because others have done it and have posted their end results that it will happen for us too. We forget the journey and commitment it took to get there.
- WE SET GOALS THAT ARE NOT SUSTAINABLE OR EASILY ATTAINABLE GIVEN OUR HISTORY OF PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS AND FAILURES TO COMPLETE A GOAL
- This is similar to the first problem but the key here is sustainability. Are our goals easy to maintain once we reach the end?
Example: A few months back I set a goal to drink one gallon of water a day because I saw a YouTube video of someone who did it. This goal required a lot of effort from my part because I had to remember to consistently drink water throughout the day. I met my daily goal for about a month but then stopped because this goal for me was not an easy goal to keep. I could not space out my water intake properly throughout the day and the constant bathroom breaks did not fit into my schedule. I simply quit. Why could this have happened?
- We often fail to tailor our goals to our needs and life. What worked for someone else may not work for you.
- If your goal is too unattainable or is not easily met it may lead to discouragement and like in my case, total failure. Do not set goals that require too much drastic change at once. Start small.
- Be advised that I am not saying that goals are typically unattainable or impossible, but they may be too ambitious if you have struggled in the past to meet goals. We often fail to take baby steps when setting our goals. The bigger goal is usually comprised of smaller goals
- WE SELF-SABOTAGE OUR GOALS WHEN THINGS BEGIN TO GET HARD
- This one is a big one. If we set a goal to become better people but we continue to use a negative view of other things, then we may begin to sabotage or hurt our own goals.
- Example: You have planned to go to the gym and workout everyday, but your week at work or at home has been so busy that you missed a few days of working out. You begin to think “well maybe I will start again Monday since it’s a fresh week.” Monday comes along and you are still so busy that you fail to meet that goal again. You become used to the idea that working out is just not for you. You have now adopted a negative view of yourself and your circumstance and have killed your goal before it was set into action.
- WE DO NOT SET MEASUREMENTS OR MARKERS TO EVALUATE OUR GOALS
- This point is one that I learned very quickly while in college. I would set a huge goal for myself, but I would forget to measure my progress along the way.
- Many people set goals that they will measure three months by now or they say “by the summer,” “by next year,” “by the time I am 30 years,” but they fail to set up a plan to measure milestones.
- You cannot simply set a goal and leave it unmeasured or unmarked. I will explain a little later how you can give your goals mini-deadlines or mini-check-ins.
- WE DO NOT MAKE OUR GOALS PERSONAL OR CONTROLLABLE
- We may at times set goals based on others’ expectations, or based on comparisons we are making with someone else. We do not begin with the right motivation.
Example: You are a new mom and your best friend has also recently had their child. You notice that she has lost the baby weight quite quickly and you set a goal for yourself to lose the baby weight as fast or faster than she did. The problem with this is that your initial motivation is not based on realistic or personal goals. If we allow our goals to be shaped by the goals of others, we may become discouraged when the results are not favorable or positively comparable.
- We may set goals that are not completely in our control.
- Example: We may set a goal such as the following: “By the time I am 30 I will have a kid and I will be living in a big house with my husband.” Although this goal is a beautiful one, it is not completely in your control. Having a kid is not completely in our control, and neither is finding a partner.
Again, I am not a professional goal setter, and I am especially not one who meets all my goals; but if Graduate school thought me anything it was that with proper training (of the mind that is) we can achieve a lot more. There are ways in which we can train ourselves to become better goal setters and achievers.
Three Ways To Change The Outcome of Your Goals
- SET REALISTIC GOALS THAT ALSO MEET YOUR LIFESTYLE
- This can be done by setting mini goals that you can expand on when they are achieved. For example: Set the goal of drinking one more glass of water each day than you normally would. When this goal is met, then you can easily increase it.
- Do not overcommit to your goals. Overcommitting, or setting aside too much time for your goals may be unrealistic at the very beginning.
- Set goals you can directly control.
- Example: Instead of setting a goal to be married or have a child by a certain age maybe you can set a goal to graduate by a certain year, or apply for a job by a certain time.
- Be careful when setting the language of your goals. Making huge goals at the beginning of your journey by using words like “never” (I am never going to eat fast food again) “everyday,” or “from now on,” you may actually be setting your goals for failure. The truth is that life at times gets in the way of our goals so start small and work up from there!
- PRACTICE HEALTHY THINKING:
- What do I mean by this?
Every time a negative thought crawls into your thinking space, learn to find a positive thought to replace it with. This is hard and takes a lot of practice. Example: If you find yourself thinking about how bad you ate today and about how hard it is to meet your healthy goal try to change the outcome (quitting or self pity) of that thought by finding the positives in being aware of that thought.
- Have I confused you? Lets review: The positive thing about being aware of your negative thoughts is that now you have the POWER to change them or how you react to them. Yes you may have eaten badly today… but the positive in that is that you are AWARE of that, which can in turn allow you to make a better choice the next time you are faced with the temptation to eat badly. There is power in awareness.
- The more you practice this positive thinking, the more it will occur naturally or with little effort.
- Do not Punish Yourself! Every goal will have its setbacks. Setbacks are not failures. Let me say that again SET BACKS ARE NOT FAILURES.
- MAKE YOUR GOALS MEASURABLE AND ATTAINABLE:
- Make them measurable: This can be as easy as writing them down, putting them in a calendar, repeating them every morning in front of the mirror or putting them on a vision board.
- Become Accountable: You can do this by setting mini check-ins to assess your progress. Instead of setting a long term goal, set goals that can be measured in shorter periods such as weekly or monthly.
- You can also find someone you trust to hold you accountable and responsible for your goals or goal.
- Rewards/ Reinforcements: Find a way that works for you. Try to find ways to reward your milestones. If you have not reached your milestones, you may need to change your goals a bit to fit your current needs.
Thank you for taking the time to read. I want to remind you that I do not claim to be a professional, and I know many of the points I made here may be obvious, but sometimes reading things we already knew remind us to be aware! I have worked with many people whom tried to set goals and have failed. I myself have tried and failed and quit and started my goals again. In graduate school we were trained to set goals and become accountable. I just wanted to share some of the things I have found. As always, I would love to hear from you! Let me know if you found this helpful or if you have tips to share.
Be scientists! Check out the resources below for some more reading about goals and goal settings. Some of the information on these articles is similar to what I have stated above, but more information equals more chances to pick what works for you. If you have trouble finding or accessing the sources I would be happy to help you.
Resources and Electronic Sources
Kruglanski, A. W., Pierro, A., & Sheveland, A. (2011). How many roads lead to Rome? Equifinality set-size and commitment to goals and means. European Journal Of Social Psychology, 41(3), 344-352. doi:10.1002/ejsp.780
LOU, N. M., & NOELS, K. A. (2017). Measuring Language Mindsets and Modeling Their Relations With Goal Orientations and Emotional and Behavioral Responses in Failure Situations. Modern Language Journal,101(1), 214-243. doi:10.1111/modl.12380
Your Future: Dear Younger Me. (2017). Scholastic Choices, T9