All of us have goals. Goals like losing weight, earning more money, finding a life partner, setting up our business, achieving performance targets, being fitter, building better relationships, and so on. Some people seem to have no problem achieving their goals. Some, on the other hand, don’t seem to be able to make any progress.
I’ve a good amount of experience with goal achievement, having been actively setting goals since 10 years ago. I’ve experienced setbacks and successes in my goal pursuits. Running The Personal Excellence Blog (which is all about how to live in excellence and achieve our highest potential), I often receive reader mail seeking help for situations they are stuck in. I work with clients who are not getting results in life and want to turn things around. This has given me a lot of insights on what keeps people from success.
At the end of the day, if you find yourself stuck in your goals, it boils down to one (or some) of these 11 reasons:
- You Procrastinate. You keep putting things off. You talk about how you want to do something but you don’t act on it. You are like the howling dog. I recently wrote the story of the howling dog at The Personal Excellence Blog. The story refers to this dog, who keeps howling because it’s sitting on a nail. However, he refuses to get up from the nail. Why? Because it’s not painful enough. You procrastinate on taking action because the situation is not painful enough for you yet. However, the times when it does become painful enough are often the times when it’s too late to do anything. Either you start taking action, or you forever lay in peace. Your call, I’ll leave it to you.
- You underestimate your goal. Achieving a goal is about getting from point A to B. From point A, you create an action plan that gets you to point B. Sounds foolproof, except the action plan isn’t 100% valid. That’s because you’re setting the plan from point A. You haven’t even been to point B, so how do you even know if it’ll get you to B? At most it’ll be help to bring you closer to point B, but it’s not going to be 100% accurate. Almost all the time, people fail because they underestimate what it takes to achieve their goals. What should you do then? Over-commit your resources and review your progress constantly. (See Step #11 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity). Adjust your plan of action and adapt accordingly.
- You spend more time defending your problems than taking action. You complain how you are not getting XYZ results. When people try to give you suggestions, you spend more time justifying why their suggestions will not work and defending your lack of results than brainstorm with them on how to get out of your rut. Spend less time talking about your problems and use that time to think about solutions. Then act on them. You’ll get a lot more results this way, and you’ll be happier.
- You’re too enclosed in your own world. You don’t venture out beyond your normal routine. You do the same things, talk to the same old friends, act the same way, circle around the same issues. It’s no wonder you stagnate. Open yourself up – take active steps to grow. Get to know more people – people who are driven, positive and focused. Get new, refreshing perspectives. Read new books. Add new blogs to your subscription. Ask for feedback on how you can improve. Read my other lifehack guestpost – 42 Practical Ways To Improve Yourself.
- You’re not working smart. You do the same thing over and over, even when you don’t get results. You apply brute strength to your goals, without strategizing how you can apply this strength more effectively. If you are not getting what you want, it’s a signal it’s time to change what you have been doing. See how you can do this in a different, smarter, more effective way.Look at people who have achieved the same results before, and learn from them.
- Avoidance (Fear). You avoid taking action because some of the things you have to do intimidate you. You rather delay the process as much as possible. Unfortunately, results are not going to come automatically from delaying. Results come to people who pay their dues, not people who avoid the work. The fear isn’t going to go away by waiting it out. Face the fear and do it anyway.
- You’re easily distracted. You get distracted by things thrown in your way. Your attention gets diverted from your goals. Your ability to stay focused is instrumental to achieving your results. Be clear of what you want and stick to it. Don’t let anything (or anyone) distract you. These are the obstacles the universe sends your way to see how serious you are about getting what you want.
- You over-complicate situations. Common among the neurotic perfectionists. If you are a neurotic perfectionist, you blow the situation out of proportion and create this mental image that’s so complicated that it’s no wonder you don’t get anything done. Things are usually simpler than you think – be conscious when you are adding unnecessarily complications for yourself. I wrote about this in detail in Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.
- You give up too easily. You give up before you even get anywhere. If you read “The Dip”, you’ll know all big goals comes with a dipping point – a chasm where it seems nothing you do is giving you results. It’s normal. This is the point that differentiates those who deserve the goal and those who are just taking a casual stab at it. I’ve a client who has a penchant for giving up in his goals early on. He realized soon that there’s no “easy” way out, and all goals have their own set of obstacles to be overcome. Persevere, press on, and it’s a matter of time before you reap the fruits of your labor.
- You lose sight of your goals. You settle for less, forgetting the goals you once set. That’s bad because then you are just stifling yourself and making do with what you have – and this isn’t who you are meant to be. You have to first reconnect with your inner desires. If you cannot fail at all, what would you want to do? What are your biggest hopes and dreams for your future? What is the future you want to create for yourself? Reignite your vision and don’t ever lose sight of it. It’s your fuel to your success.Read more about goal-setting in Step #1 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.
- You’re too stuck in your ways. You insist on doing things a certain way. You don’t open yourself up to new ideas. Guess what? You’ll remain stuck in your situation, too. Open yourself to new methods. Experiment. You can only improve if you are willing to try new things.
If you haven’t noticed, these 11 reasons are self-created problems – you can easily dismiss them just as you have created them. The more accurate title for this post should be “11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Successful – Yet“. Your goals are in your hands – you can achieve them as long as you strive for them. Address the 11 things blocking you from your success, and it’s a matter of time before you achieve results you seek.
I’m Celes and I write at The Personal Excellence Blog, where I give my best advice on achieving personal excellence. If you like this article, you might enjoy reader favorites like 101 Things To Do Before You Die and Are You Sleepwalking Your Life Away?. Get my RSS feed directly and add me on Twitter @celestinechua.