It is the end of January and what has happened with your ‘new years resolutions’? Have what most people consider their goals, gone by the wayside already? What about other goals you set throughout the year – do they come to fruition or do you falter on those? When we fail to achieve our goals not only do we fail to achieve the changes we identified as being desirable (the purpose of the goals) but we also do our self-esteem harm. If you have tried to lose weigh every year for the last twenty years and not achieved what you set out to do, you may feel a failure. Why bother this year… you never win? Sound familiar?
There are many reasons why people fail to achieve their goals. The top ten reasons are listed below. Have any of these held you back in the past? Identifying what it is that prevents you following through and successfully implementing changes in your life might be what helps you succeed with your next goal.
- Waiting for something to happen? I will start on Monday; I will start once the kids go back to school. When you first set a goal you are most passionate about it. Start then. The longer you wait to start, the less likely you will be to get things done. Starting, even a first step, builds momentum.
- Not knowing what you want. In our society thinking of others before yourself is encouraged and thought of as praise worthy. We are not encouraged to know ourselves and to pursue our dreams, those things that make us happy. Constantly putting oneself last makes it difficult for you to truly identify what you want and what your priorities for your life are. Goals you set that actually represent what other people want will rarely come to fruition. Your goals have to represent what you want. Learn to dream.
- Thinking you need to tackle the whole project at once. Sometimes the sheer size of a project can be daunting and discouraging. By breaking a large project into smaller task, setting milestones along the way and celebrating the achievement of each milestone keeps us motivated and makes achieving a large project much more likely. Take a bite and chew, then take another bite…
- Failing to set goals. Some free spirits believe that setting goals would impose a rigidity on their life that they resist strongly. Setting goals does not constrain you or take away from your freedom. In fact it helps gain clarity and increases your personal freedom. 90 percent of people who set goals achieve them. Everyone’s life is directed by goals so remember if you don’t live your life by your goals, you will be living by someone else’s.
- Fear of failure. Some of our best lessons in life come from learning from our mistakes, yet we as a society place such a stigma on ‘making a mistake’ that they indulge in blame and self-criticism when ever things don’t go as planned. Some don’t even start in fear of not getting it right. Remember there are no such things as mistakes, only consequences we did not plan for. Run your life like an autopilot in a jet – constantly off-course and making constant adjustments. The autopilot does not give up or blame and criticise itself or the compass for moving off-course, it simply re-adjusts and gets back on-course. Even if you do not fully realise your dream, the process of trying will teach you about yourself and develop skills… and surely losing 5 of the 10 kilograms you set out to lose is better than not losing anything at all.
- Comparing yourself to others. Comparing ourselves to others and feeling that other people are smarter, better educated, more attractive than ourselves only leads to poor self-esteem and sense of self-worth. Have you ever thought “Well I would really like to do that but I’m just not good enough”.
- Going it alone. Some projects you embark on require the assistance and support of others. Don’t forget to think about what resources you need, including skills and support of others, when planning your goals. Even if it is only encouragement you need, creating your own cheer squad of supports will help. Having an accountability partner also keeps us motivated. Ever gone to the gym on a day you really wanted to sleep in, simply because your friend was picking you up in 5 minutes?
- Failing to prioritise our time. “Life” can get in the way sometimes – unexpected projects come up, you get distracted, you fail to say ‘no’. Remember our lives are dictated by goals. Being clear about your own and spending time planning your day so that your priorities are factored in is the only way to ensure we live our lives according to our wishes and not those of our boss, spouse, community committee etc.
- Lack of skills. There are times when we lack confidence in tackling a task or project because we believe we do not have the necessary skills. On occasion this is only our perception and a reflection of our own sense of self-worth or perfectionism, but on other occasions it is true. Identify what skills and attributes you do have and make a plan to acquire or improve the skills you need to achieve what you want in life. Doing an honest self-assessment is the key.
- Lack of willpower. Having the willpower to continue with a process or task when encountering obstacles is not easy. It is a matter of self-discipline and focussing on the benefits in the long-term. Lack of will power is sacrificing the long-term benefit for a short-term gain. Thomas Edison once said “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration”. Willpower is what keeps you going.
Being successful in achieving your goals is being successful in completing projects and achieving changes in your life. A first step is to know ourselves, our strengths, our weaknesses, our habits and patterns of thought. It is these that help us achieve our goals or hold us back.