According to the Business Dictionary, goals are observable and measurable end results of one or more objectives achieved by a certain time. A goal is an end result or desired outcome that a person or organization want to achieve. When the end of the year is around the corner, do you ever wonder what in the world happened to all of those goals you wanted to accomplish for the year? Like most creatives, you get your pretty planner all set up, colorful pins, stickers, and you’re ready to start planning out your year. Your creativity and excitement are in full gear and then when you look up, the year is almost over and you didn’t achieve half of the goals you set out to do.
I’m super passionate about setting goals and getting them done. Everyone should have goals in life because I believe everyone is born with a purpose. Goals should motivate you and challenge you do go beyond your current potential, but so often, goals get put on the back burner or left floating around that dreamy headspace of yours only to remain a dream.
Dreams and ideas are like the precursor to a goal but the difference is goals are just dreams without a deadline and action plan and dreams are thoughts and ideas that don’t require action or have to be rooted in reality. I love setting goals, but sometimes it can be hard to love the day-to-day work that’s needed to reach a goal.
When you don’t reach your goals you should ask yourself was it really a goal in the first place or just a dream. What you do with that great idea or dream determines its destiny. Because so many goals end up in a mental or digital blackhole, I want to go over a 9 reasons you don't reach your goals and a few ways to fix it too.
1. Your Goals are Not Realistic
The saying goes that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Our goals become realistic if we’re not willing to implement the right habits and discipline needed to reach the goal. Having realistic goals means you have to be honest with yourself. If your goal is to be a New York Times Best Selling Author or run a marathon, but you never make it a habit to start writing or run a few miles a week, then you goals are not realistic and you’re just living in a fantasy land. Goals require a plan and action, otherwise, you’re just dreaming. Big dreams are great, but I’d much rather accomplish a small goal here and there rather than be filled with never-ending big dreams that get me nowhere. So be honest with yourself about what you’re willing to do and what you’re capable of doing when setting your goal.
2. Your Goals are too Vague
Saying you want to be a writer, lose weight, start a business, or be a coach is simply not enough. When you set vague goals it’s usually because you don’t have a clear understanding of what it is you really want to do. Being vague about your goal is just another way of saying, I don’t know what my goal is. A goal that is too vague will inevitably end up in a black hole each every time. Zig Ziglar said it best. If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. If all you have is an idea, that’s ok. You have to start with something and start somewhere. It’s worth taking the time to think about what you’re passionate about, what your purpose is and see if you can start setting some specific goals from there. So to fix this, just be specific. And if you’re not sure, don’t make it a goal just yet.
3. You Don’t Write Your Goals Down
I love all the technology we have available to set our goals, but nothing beats the ole’ pen and paper. The first step to making your dream a goal is to write it down and write them everywhere. Write them where you will see them every day. This is especially important if you’re trying to break the bad habit of not reaching your goals. Put your goals in your face every day. Even if you don’t work on your goals every day, the daily reminders can make a huge difference because you may be less prone to slacking.
Write your goals down with a simple why as your tagline.
Say you want to write children’s books about geography, then your ‘why’ could be “I want to inspire children to travel and learn about different cultures.’ Doing this will help you remember why this goal is so important to you and how it will impact you and others.
4. You Don’t Have an Action Plan
Creating an action plan for your goals is difficult for some, but it’s a must-have. You can’t dream a goal into existence. You’ve got to get up and do something. Goals need roadmaps to get you to your desired outcome so don’t waste time writing out goals if you won’t give it an action plan. You can check out my 1:1 goal strategy if you need help with this.
To create an action plan, start with the desired outcome and work your way backward. The more detailed the action plan the more likely you will get there.
5. You Goals Don’t Have a Deadline
If you don’t set a deadline for your goals, trust me, you will drag on it and procrastinate. Take it from a former procrastinator. Procrastination will happen! This can be tough for some people because procrastination is such a bad and tough habit to break. You need to decide on when you expect to reach this goal and make sure that the deadline is reasonable. Don’t try to lose 20 pounds in one month! Not gonna happen, my friend!
Set a deadline that gives you the amount of time needed to reach your goal without losing your sanity. Crazy never looked good on anyone. I always add a little buffer when setting deadlines because I’ve got a lot going on. This goes back to being honest and realistic with yourself. I’m a Pastor’s wife and mama to three little kids 6 and under so things happen in my world that I world that I can’t control. Giving myself a buffer helps me not stress if things don’t go as scheduled.
6. You Don’t Have an Accountability System
Having an accountability system is extremely important in getting things checked off your list. An accountability system should include someone else you can share your goals with and a way to track your progress. Sharing your goals and your plan of action with someone can make you feel very vulnerable. If you put it out there, then there’s no way to take it back and so you’ve got to do something about it. This was my major hang up. I wouldn’t tell anyone what I had going on that way if I didn’t do it, then so what, because nobody knew. I didn’t have to give an excuse (cause that’s what they are) about why I didn’t reach my goal.
Instead of feeling vulnerable or thinking you might be embarrassed if you don’t make the mark, redirect those feelings into something more positive to help you reach your goal. Reaching our goals is a process and life journey we never stop living. We’ve all missed the mark here and there. It’s better to be honest and transparent about your journey rather than hide behind your excuses for not getting something done.
Having an accountability system will help you stay on track, pick up the pieces wherever you left off, and keep you focused on your goal.
7. You’re Too Busy Looking at Everybody Else
Simply put, YOU'RE NOT FOCUSED! You see other people with similar goals that are crushing it and you wonder why you are doing the same thing or getting the same results. Everybody’s journey is different and has their own story for success. What makes your success story so great is not because of someone else; it’s because of you and your hard work. Stop looking at what everyone else is doing and feeling like you should be doing something different or better than them.
Align your goals to who your purpose and why you’re doing it. When you focus on someone else’s accomplishments, you’re not honoring the value of your purpose, skill, and gifts. We all have a different mix which is what makes us unique. Use what you have and stay focused on your goals. There’s more than enough room for you to get to the top of the success ladder.
8. You’re Trying To Do Too Much
You should have no more than 3-5 big goals for the year. If you set too many goals, you will lose focus and not have enough time or energy for any of your goals. Focus on hitting one goal at a time by implementing the right daily or weekly habits needed to hit that goal. You will feel and be more organized with your time and resources - two precious commodities that you don’t want to waste!
9. You Get Stuck on Your Past Negative Experiences
You may have tried to reach the same goal over and over again only to fail at it every time. So what do you do? Do you stop trying and move on to the next goal or just brace yourself for the same negative experience again. I say don’t do either one. Some goals are hard to accomplish, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Don’t let your negative experience shape your future and predetermine your desired outcome. It just means you have to do something different.
Treat failure like a scientist. I have a master’s in biochemistry (don’t ask!) and I’ve done a gazillion experiments in the lab just to answer one scientific question. If I got the same negative answer more than once, I used a different method. Our methods are the habits we develop to get to our goals. If the method you’re using doesn’t work, don’t give up, just change it up and keep trying.
I want you to remember DONT' GIVE UP and KEEP TRYING. You've got this and I'm in your corner to help you along.
Here the bonus! I created a very simple and effective goal tracker and action plan. You can print out a copy for each month and start planning your goals. After you've written your goals and action plan down. Share it with someone or me to keep you accountable.
Now over to you. Have you ever wondered why you didn’t reach your goal? What habits do you think you need to change to be successful at reaching your goals the next time you try?