Why Are We So Bad About Reaching our Goals?

These common mindsets can give fear the fuel it needs to hold us back.

It happens every year.

We start off strong, but fade. We start out excited, but fizzle. We work hard in January, but 80% of the goals we set are forgotten by February.

That number eventually climbs to 92%. Out of every hundred goals we set, only eight of them actually happen. The rest are cast aside, abandoned, waiting to discourage us the next time we set a goal.

Why does it happen? There’s probably a limiting belief, old habit, or bad strategy in play that we’re not aware of. The specific reason can be different for each goal and can change over the course of a goal.

Here are some of the most common reasons we don’t reach the goals we set.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Jumbo2010

  • They’re not our goals. When someone else sets a goal for you, how committed to it are you? You’re not, right? It’s your boss’s goal, your doctor’s goal, or your spouse’s goal. We’ve given each of these people permission to speak into our lives, but if we don’t make the goal our own, we’re going to ignore it.
  • Life gets in the way. If we aren’t intentional, we can let other people put their priorities on our calendar before we do. We let the immediate crowd out time to work on our goals. Don’t give up what you want most for whatever you happen to want right now.
  • We forget what we were doing. Let’s face it—we can lose track of what we were doing going from one room to the next. As we go from one day to the next, one week to the next, or month to the next, we can definitely let things slip through the cracks. Have a trusted system that lets you track your goals—both the big picture and what you’re actively doing to reach them.
  • We forget why we’re doing it. Change is painful. And scary. Goals take us outside of our comfort zone and our bed is pretty comfortable at 5:00 am. We had an idea once of why we wanted to change, but now, we’ve lost our commitment. Like an engine whose fire has gone out, we’re going to lose our steam without a strong why burning inside us.
  • We’re afraid of failing (and succeeding). If we don’t try, we can’t fail. “Oh, I could do it if I really wanted to.” And if we do make it? Things are going to be different. Deep down, we cling to the familiarity of where we are now. It’s okay to fail—that’s learning. And if we succeed? That’s the whole point, isn’t it?
  • We feel no sense of urgency. Sometimes we want to change, but where we are right now just isn’t that uncomfortable. We have no impetus to break with the status quo. Be sure to give your goals a deadline (it’s the “T” in “SMARTER”).
  • We don’t feel in control of our lives. Maybe we’re too concerned with things outside our circle of influence. Maybe we don’t have a good track record with reaching our goals. It’s a seductive philosophy to blame everyone but ourselves for the situation we’re in. In order to control the path forward, we have to accept responsibility for the path we took to get here.
  • Old habits chain us to the past. If we want new results, we need to take new actions. But habits are strong. If we can’t get out of the rut, we’re going to be stuck in the past. We need new habits.

How many of those sound familiar? I know I deal with these regularly in one form or another. Productivity is a constant battle.

The good news is that each can be overcome. Once you’ve recognized the limiting belief, old habit, or bad strategy that’s holding you back, you can start to change your thinking.

Successfully reaching your goals and changing your life requires constant adjustments. The seas change, the winds change, and sometimes our destination can change. Through it all, we change, too.

Question: What’s holding you back from reaching your goals? How will you overcome the challenge? Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

About

Colter lives in the heart of Silicon Valley with his wife and children. He enjoys golf, sings baritone, and watches mostly British TV shows.

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