I used to be a person who set goals like a boss. For (too many) years, I designed spreadsheets, tracking tools and creative reward systems that were really quite impressive.
But none of those things got me any closer to actually accomplishing my goals”¦until I figured out what was really getting in my way and made a change.
Most people decide to set a goal because they want to make something in their life better. They have good intentions. They are motivated. They have decided that they want change. With all of these things going for them, you would think that the next steps would come naturally.
But for many of us, they don’t.
Here are the top five reasons why most people do not accomplish their goals:
Fear is a really helpful evolutionary tool. It kept your ancestors from being eaten by saber-toothed tigers, and it helps you cross the street during rush hour traffic.
But it also has a way of keeping us stuck when getting what we want involves change and uncertainty (which it almost always does). As a professional coach and consultant, a large part of my job is helping people become friendly with feelings of fear. The first thing I help people understand is that the opposite of fear is not courage. In fact, the most courageous people I know are often joined to fear at the hip.
Changing your relationship with feelings of fear in order to see that those feelings accompany every great success you’ll ever pursue is the most important step you can take when you are feeling stuck and scared. In reality, the opposite of fear is joy, and once you have accepted fear as a partner instead of a saboteur, you will look forward to your next encounter.
Your goal isn’t aligned with your values.
If you’re trying to achieve a goal that doesn’t sit with who you are, who you want to be, or what you believe”¦wait, why are you trying to achieve a goal like that? This is an often overlooked area that blocks a lot of progress plans.
On the flip side, some people find that they can accomplish their goals, but get little satisfaction from their achievements. The problem is the same. You will never feel fulfilled by succeeding at something that doesn’t align with what’s really important to you.
You haven’t figured out what’s REALLY important to you.
Most people think that they know what their values are, but when asked to define them, many start to stumble. If you can’t clearly articulate your values, it’s going to be really tough to make sure your goals (or your actions, in general, for that matter) are appropriately aligned with what’s important in your life.
You are making goals to satisfy someone else’s expectations for you.
If any part of your goal starts with “I know I should”¦”, or “People are supposed to”¦”, it is a good indicator that you are trying to achieve someone else’s version of what is ideal. This is the fast-track to feeling empty and bitter, not to mention creating vicious loops of negative self-talk that add nothing worthwhile to your life.
So, if your boyfriend is nagging you to lose 10 pounds, perhaps you should do him one better and lose all 150 pounds of his sorry self–because, really, you are destined for greatness and don’t need that kind of anchor weighing you down.
Your goal is an energy vampire.
Goals that focus on perceived character deficiencies do not create lasting motivation. In fact, they drain your energy and lead to self-defeating cycles of negativity. Think about it–would you rather spend your time focused on plugging gaps in your personality, or utilizing your strengths? And notice that I called these perceived deficiencies–who decided that these so-called gaps even exist? Refer to point #4, above, and carry on with your badass self!
Now that you know how to set better goals, get out there and start creating the life of your dreams!
Your turn: Do any of these pitfalls sound familiar? What steps do you take to stay on track towards your goals?