You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.
― C.G. Jung
How many goals have you set before and how many of those have you actually achieved?
Often the number achieved is much, much smaller than the number set.
If you find you set goals and don’t achieve them, read through the list of reasons why and you’ll find the solution you can take to help you in the pursuit of your goal.
1. You don’t want it enough:
Let’s face it, the things we want, our goals, take work. That work may be hard or may take us out of our comfort zone. After all, if it was easy, everyone would do it.
Successful people are 100% committed toward their dreams and their goals. They will do whatever it takes to reach their dreams. On the other hand, unsuccessful people will do what is convenient because they are not committed to their dreams.
People say they want to lose weight but rather than exercise they hit snooze and sleep in.
Maybe you want to start a business but that show on TV tonight is your favourite. So, you sit in front of the TV for 3hours and complain you don’t have enough time to work on your business.
Guess what, the people that lose weight, get up when the alarm goes off. They exercise when they say they will. They don’t hit snooze or make an excuse that the weather is bad.
The people that start a business aren’t watching 3 hours of TV a night, they are working on their business.
You may think you want your goal, but until you are willing to do the hard work it is all talk. You really don’t want it that much.
Ask yourself – what is not having my goal costing me? Is it your health, your financial freedom or your happiness? How does it feel when you think of this?
Now imagine you’ve achieved your goal. What type of person are you? How do you feel about yourself? What is your life like? Put yourself in this position – really feel it and believe it as true.
Now you’ve done that, do the easiest thing you can to move closer towards your goal. Maybe it’s just going for a 5-minute walk. Maybe it’s reading one page of a business book. Whatever it is just do something but don’t make it so big that it’s daunting. Then each day just do something towards that goal. Action creates results and momentum. Results and momentum create motivation.
2. People around you aren’t supportive:
For the most part, we act in accordance with the people around us. You are who you associate with.
This comes from the strong and natural desire to belong and to be accepted. It was crucial for our survival in cave man days. To be excluded from the tribe could mean death. Who do you surround yourself with? Are they do’ers or are they gunnas? Do they support your goals and pursuits or are they ney-sayers?
Social norms are a powerful driver of our everyday behaviour.
Working towards your goals or changing your habits is easier when the people around you support your goals and have good habits as well.
If you find yourself in a social situation where your goals and actions go against the grain of the group, then it will be hard to stick with it because doing so seems unattractive.
The best option is to surround yourself with people or join groups where (1) your desired behaviour is the normal behaviour and (2) you already have something in common with the group.
If you want to be fitter, surround yourself with people with the same goal. If it’s not your current friends or family join an exercise group.
If you want to set up a business or write a book, join a networking group. If you have a friend or acquaintance already doing what you want, ask if you can be each other’s accountability buddies.
Join a goals group where likeminded people are supporting you in your pursuit of your goal and you can support others. Watching others achieve their goals can be enough to motivate you towards achieving yours. They are proof that you can be more.
3. Your goals are too vague:
People set themselves up for failure when they set goals that are unclear. “I want to lose weight”. This sounds like a great goal but people who set a goal this vague rarely reach it.
It’s too vague, it can’t be measured, and it doesn’t have a timeframe. Do you want to lose weight this year or next year? How much weight do you want to lose? What are your plans for losing weight.
The more specific you are when you set your goals, the easier it is for you to know the actions you need to take in order to start working towards that goal. You need to ensure you can measure you goal – in the short term and in the long term. Ensure you goal can be measured, ensure you have a timeframe and ensure your goal is specific so you can start planning and then taking the actions you need to take in order to achieve that goal.
4. Your goals aren’t aligned to your identity of yourself:
Our identity drives who we are. Unconsciously, the decisions we make are based on how we identify ourselves. We may identify ourselves as hard-working, or active, or kind, or someone who is organised. We will unconsciously take actions that then align with this belief.
If you are trying to achieve a goal that requires actions that are NOT aligned to your current identity, you will find it very hard to maintain those actions. This is because of the theory of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change. Psychologist Leon Festinger first proposed a theory of cognitive dissonance centred on how people try to reach internal consistency. He suggested that people have an inner need to ensure that their beliefs and behaviours are consistent. Inconsistent or conflicting beliefs lead to disharmony, which people strive to avoid. Therefore, if your belief about yourself is not consistent with the behaviours you need to take for your goal, you will struggle to keep up the actions.
A simple way to explain this is if you view yourself as fat and lazy and your goal is to lose weight, you may exercise or eat well for a few days but soon enough you’ll fall back into old habits because they support your view of yourself.
The only way to overcome cognitive dissonance is to decide the type of person you need to be to reach your goal and prove to yourself you are that person with small wins.
Using the above example, who do you need to be to lose weight. Perhaps that is someone that exercises each day.
What’s a small win you could take that would help you form the identify of someone who exercises everyday – maybe it’s just by moving a bit. Go for a 5 minute walk every day for the first week. The next week make it 10 minutes every day. These are small, inconsequential things you can do but they will help you form the identity of someone that exercises every day.
If you want to achieve your goal, you will need to take actions that bring you closer to that goal. It’s easier to take those actions if you can prove to yourself that is who you are rather than focusing purely on the outcome of the goal.
5. You don’t anticipate obstacles beforehand and plan for them:
Things don’t always go smoothly or to plan. Obstacles may be thrown at you and they can be unpredictable. They can come suddenly or build up over time. They can be big or small. But one thing is for sure: They will show up. If you want to succeed at your goal you must overcome them – don’t let the obstacles or roadblocks derail you completely.
Anticipate the obstacles and roadblocks as soon as you set your goal and list them out. Once you have done that, make a note of the things you will do to overcome that obstacle, should it arise. That way, if you do come across that road block, you already know what you need to do in order to keep moving forward.
6. Not taking full responsibility:
There are some people who achieve their goals, work hard and keep moving forward, while others give excuses and blame their lack of results on anything but themselves.
It is not the weather’s fault that you didn’t exercise today. It was how you chose to respond to the weather.
It is not your bosses’ fault for making you work late so you didn’t get time to work on your own business.
When you give too many excuses, you will eventually buy into them and this will limit and stop you from moving forward.
You can’t change many things that are external to you – the weather, the economy, your boss. You can only change how you respond to them.
If you are truly committed to making change, you need to take responsibility for the actions you need to take in order for that change to come about. Don’t blame the weather, the traffic, your children, your boss, etc.
If you find you are making excuses for things that are external or out of your control go through the following reflection:
– What part of this do I control?
– What would someone who has achieved this goal do in my situation?
– If I was taking 100% responsibility for my results, what would I do now?