10 (Plus) Reasons Why People Never Reach Their Goals and Tips for Attaining Them

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Are you tired of setting out goals that you never accomplish?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  There is a whole industry dedicated to helping people accomplish their goals.  In this post I will highlight 10 of the most common reasons why people never accomplish their goals.  Perhaps you’ve made one (or many) of these mistakes?  Once we talk about the 10 (plus) mistakes people make when it comes to goal-setting, the article will then talk about 4 specific ways to help you accomplish your goals.  So what exactly are the 10 common mistakes people make in goal-setting?  Here they are:

1. Too specific of a goal

Many goal-setting advocates argue that for you to reach your goals you have to make it specific – because goals encourage a person to maintain focus. However, too specific of a goal can narrow focus and as such, you may overlook other significant aspects of your task. When you narrow your focus, your judgment and views may be clouded and you’ll be blinded to vital issues that may seem ‘irrelevant’ to your goal. Intense concentration on the task makes people disregard, ignore, or overlook an important aspect of their visual world.

2. Goal is not SMART

No, saying your goals are not SMART is not an insult on your intelligence.  SMART is an acronym used in the personal development circle.  It spells out the five specific facets of a fully-developed goal: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.  Here is what each characteristic essentially means:

Specific – Your goals need to be specific.  That means you will need to ask yourself what you want to accomplish, why you want to accomplish it, and who is involved in helping you accomplish this goal.  You will also need to identify any impediments and constraints to accomplishing your goals.  I know this may seem like a contradiction to the first point, but there is a difference between being specific and being too specific.

Measurable – Your goals need to be measurable.  If your goal is to lose weight, you need to zero in on exactly what that goal means by making it measurable.  So assign a (realistic) number to your goal; say you want to get down to 175 pounds.

Attainable – Your goals need to be realistic an attainable.  Losing 50 pounds in a week isn’t attainable (for most of us); however losing 5 pounds in a week is attainable.

Relevant – Are you choosing a goal that matters to you?  If you are choosing a goal that doesn’t align with what you are trying to do in the long-term, then your chances of achieving that goal is next to nil.  To assess relevance, you will need to ask yourself why you want to accomplish your specific goal and what it will do to your life.  Will it make a positive impact on your life in some way?

Time-bound – Are you assigning a time constraint to your goal?  A goal is not a goal if you have an infinite amount of time to attain it.  In not assigning a time limit to you goal, you will be more likely to slack off and never get to your goal.  By assigning a time limit to your goal, there is a sense of urgency to work towards your goal.  To assign a goal that is time-bound, you will need to most often pick a date you want to accomplish your goal by.

3. Too many goals

Goal-setting experts claim people with multiple goals have the tendency to focus on only one goal. Further, there are some goals likely overlooked than others. For instance, most people set quantity goals rather than quality goals. This means people set multiple goals at one time instead of concentrating on a single or few quality goals. Numbers drive quantity goals, whereas quality goals emphasize improvement in the general quality of work and life.

The problem with this is quantity goals are faster and easier to achieve and therefore, draw more attention than quality goals. When you are setting goals, focus more on quality instead of quantity because it has more impact when addressing crucial needs.

4. Too challenging of a goal

Many people think challenging goals inspire commitment, performance, and effort; however, make sure the goal is not too challenging that it seems impossible to accomplish. This is a logical sense because stretching goals can result to serious side effects. A manager, for instance, may set too challenging of a goal and his or her workers may not understand the point of trying. Or, it may lead to negative effects such unethical behavior and unhealthy competition.

5. The wrong goals

Individuals hugely influenced by other people, parents, spouse, or even friends, tend to set goals to please others more than themselves. As such, goals will never be reached because it is not their true desire. Allot enough time to come up with goals – goals that you truly want. Vagueness for what you desire is a hindrances to success. If you are not achieving your ‘set goals,’ it is may be because those goals are not clearly defined.

On the flipside, there are also people who will insist on their idea and may try to influence the goals you set. Maybe they want you to do certain things or choose a certain path. Perhaps they think they know what is best for you. In this case, be assertive yet still polite and decide what you aspire to do.

6. Contradicting goals

When two goals contradict, you will often fail at one or the other, if not both. Contradicting goals create friction in your long-term plans in addition to creating inner turmoil.  To make sure your goals align with one another, make sure that they do not go against your beliefs and are in line with what you strive to do and to be.

It is important to acquire a careful understanding of all your goals and create a detailed plan on how you can achieve them. A good way to begin is to check all your goals and compare each one. In this method, you can somehow spot any major contradictions.

7. Unrealistic expectations

This is one of the common reasons people never reach their goals. As we remember from point number 2, your goals need to be attainable.  If you are setting a goal of getting a job for only two weeks to do so, you are setting yourself up for failure. When deciding on a goal, ensure it is realistic – a goal within your control. Make sure you actually can reach the goal in a time frame you set for yourself.

8. Procrastination

How many times have you stayed up all night to finish a project or task? Perhaps you cannot count anymore. You may also be doing the same thing with the goals you set. If you are always underestimating completion time, you will easily get discouraged when the goals take longer to accomplish than initially expected. Most often, this is among the causes why people give up on their goals.  To stop procrastinating on your goals, assign a specific time limit and work towards attaining your goal everyday.  In addition, put your goals somewhere visible so you can be reminded of your goals daily.

9. Not reviewing progress

Goals take time to accomplish and sometimes you may feel as if you are not making progress. For this reason, it is important to set sub-goals between your main goals and keep checking your strategies so you can determine what is needed to keep going forward. Your goals are not fixed; don’t hesitate to make changes if it really calls for it. Make sure you set aside additional time for a specific goal activity.

10. Fear

One big reason some people could not materialize their goals is fear. You might desire possessing your own business or living in a beachfront mansion, but is it really what you want to achieve? Can you really see yourself having such things? Look closely and you might discover it is not really your goal. Perhaps you may be experiencing fear in achieving this goal. Don’t over analyze the situation, you can change the goal or make amendments on some of your personal beliefs.

11. Pessimism

Negative thoughts in every action cancel out a goal’s materialization. If you keep on complaining about everything, it will hinder you in reaching your goals because you keep on feeding your miserable disposition. By not believing in your innate abilities, you will easily get discouraged into taking action for your goals. Your goals will manifest once you stop complaining and extinguish pessimistic ideas.

Be positive and appreciate your failures. No matter how you persevere, you will still fail to reach goals once in a while. Take it positively because failure to meet your goals will test your character. Through failures, you will learn lessons that largely change your attitude and how you set goals. Research shows our brains think outcomes are complete by just imagining the end result without having active involvement. Possessing positive thoughts about accomplishing your goals will fuel your motivation to undermine the work needed for your goals.

Tips to Help You Attain Your Goals

So we have just discussed the 10 reasons why people fail at attaining there goals; so now let’s go and talk about the numerous things you can do to help you attain your goals.

1. Visualize completing your goals

Visualization (or mental practice) is a big deal in sports psychology.  It is the art of practicing and visualizing in your head before you set out to do the actual task (such as running a 1,000 meter dash).  The same thing applies to meeting your goals.  You need to visualize yourself acting on the goal and completing the goal.  Once you have a clear vision of what it is like to accomplish your goals, your goals will become easier to attain.  So every night, before you go to sleep, go ahead and visualize for a few minutes what it will be like when you are able to reach your goals.  If your goal is to amass $1,000,000 by the end of next year, visualize what it would be like to have that much money and what you will do with it.  If your goal is to lose 50 pounds in the next six months, visualize what you will look like and how you will feel when you are 50 pounds lighter.

2. Reflect

Reflecting each day is extremely important in accomplishing your goals.  Set out each night to review your goals and do some introspection.  When reflecting, you should do the three following things:

  1. Ask yourself how well you did today in working towards your goal(s).  If you did not do a great job of working towards your goal(s) today, what can you do to do better tomorrow.
  2. Write down and track how much you’ve accomplished thus far in your goal(s).
  3. Set out a to-do list for the next morning and visualize yourself doing it.

3. Write it down and have it easily reachable

Your goals can’t be in your head—you need to write it down.  Writing it down is a process of affirming a set goal. Not only do you have to write it down, you will need to keep it somewhere where it is easily visible.  What I do is post the goals on my desktop wallpaper and my phone so I am reminded of my goals each day.

4. Set reminders

If you have done the above three things, you will probably not need reminders.  However, if you do need daily reminders, then I suggest using some sort of alarm or reminder app to set daily reminders for yourself.  If your goal requires daily action, the mobile app Habit Reminder is a good tool to use.



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