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Published on August 12, 2019

Having Trouble Reaching Goals? This Could Be Why

Having Trouble Reaching Goals? This Could Be Why

Goals, goals, goals… we all have them. But, only a select few seem good at consistently achieving and exceeding their goals.

Would you like to join this select group?

If yes, then read on to discover some little-known wisdom about goal setting and goal achievement. 

How Goal Setting Impacts Our Lives

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” — Zig Ziglar

According to Psychology Today, goal setting is linked to higher achievement.[1]

This is due to several factors, including the ability of goal setting to:

  • Help us become more resourceful
  • Help us work better in a team
  • Help us shape the future

Author Rick McDaniel stated:

“Goal setters see future possibilities and the big picture.”

And he was right. Having definite goals means the difference between knowing your destination port — or just drifting aimlessly upon the sea.

In my experience, I’ve seen a clear pattern: People who regularly set goals regularly achieve success.

I believe their mindset plays a big part in this. Which, in most cases, is usually energized by change and innovation, as well as being comfortable with risk-taking. 

Just think for a moment about some famous, successful people such as Richard Branson, Roger Federer and Dwayne Johnson. These high-achievers all used goal-setting to help them realize their dreams.

And, you can do the same.

One of the best ways of goal setting, is to always write down your goals — either in your journal, on a card that you can keep in your wallet or purse, or within a digital notepad. When you do this, you immediately transform your ideas from just being wishful thinking, into concrete first steps.

And, the effectiveness of writing down goals is actually backed by research. In 2015, psychologist Gail Matthews showed that people who wrote down their goals, were 33% more successful in achieving them, versus those who just kept ideas in their heads.[2]

So do you want to improve your chances of realizing your goals by 33%? 

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Then write them down!

What Defines Us?

Have you thought about this before? What exactly defines who you are? And how do your goals fit into this picture?

To help you answer these questions, I’ve put together five key points:

  1. Goals should be based on your core principles and values — For example, if you care deeply about the planet, then your goals should be aligned to sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices.
  2. Values are your own personal ethical and moral beliefs — However, be aware that some of these beliefs may change over time, while others will stay steadfast throughout your life.
  3. Values represent what we stand for and believe in, how we want to relate to others, and the legacy we would like to leave behind — This means that they should be one of the first sources of reference for the goals that we set.
  4. Values-based goals guide us towards what is important versus unimportant — In other words, when our goals are aligned with our values; we can immediately decide which of them really matter, and which of them don’t.
  5. Values-based goals will provide endless motivation, because we believe in them and want to see them play out — Have you experienced this in your life? Perhaps when you were a captain of your local basketball team or the singer in a band.
  6. When your goals match your beliefs and values, you’ll find it much easier (and much more enjoyable) to attain them. In fact, in most cases, you won’t even feel like you have to work towards these goals — they’ll just be part of what you love doing.

Why We Sometimes Fail

Let’s now talk about why you might not be currently reaching your goals, and some of the best ways to change this.

First — and this relates to what I talked about above — if your goals don’t honor your values, then this will make it much harder for you to achieve them. This might happen if you’re pursuing goals on behalf of someone else, such as a teacher, parent or partner. Or perhaps it’s a goal that society deems worthwhile and noble, but one that you personally disagree with.

Another issue that might be causing you to fail to reach your goals is this: you’re more interested in your wants than your needs. For instance, you WANT to save up to buy a shiny, new sports car, but… you also NEED to pay off your student loans. 

Does this sound familiar? Things we want usually trump what we need; but this can play havoc with your goal setting. To remedy this, spend time observing yourself and your life to clearly identify your needs. Then, prioritize these over your wants.

How about the size of your goal? Is it too big? If it is, then it may be difficult — or even impossible — to reach. Now, don’t get me wrong, ambition is good. But at the same time, you shouldn’t set unrealistic goals. 

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For example, if you want to become a best-selling author, you can’t just write a book and submit it — there needs to be lots of mini goals that get checked off before that, such as honing your writing, researching how to get published, outlining your story… the list goes on!

The last factor I want to talk about in this section is time management. If your time is not well-organized, then it will be next to impossible to reach your goals.

If you don’t think time management is an issue for you, then let me ask you this: How much time do you spend each day on social media? If it’s more than you’d like, then you’ll need to make some changes to your daily routine if you’re serious about ramping up your success.

The following article is a great place to start: 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Visualize Your Goals

An article about visualization on the HuffPost website states the following:[3]

“When we visualize our desired outcome, we begin to “see” the possibility of achieving it. Through visualization, we catch a glimpse of what is, in the words of one writer, our “preferred future.” When this happens, we are motivated and prepared to pursue our goal.”

While I agree 100% with the above, I want to make it clear to you that visualization should not be confused with the “think it and have it” mentality. This is just wishful thinking. 

Genuine visualization recognizes the need for action on your part. But yes, it’s certainly true that — before you can believe in a goal, you must see it before you can believe in it.

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To give you an example of this, think about the last time you had a craving for a hot apple pie with custard or a delicious ice cream waffle. When the craving came… you didn’t only recall the taste and texture of the food, but you would have also seen a vivid image of the food in your mind — possibly even an image of you wolfing down the food!

In other words, before you could choose, find and eat the food, you would have had to see it first on your mind’s movie screen.

When it comes to bigger goals (although you may argue there’s nothing more important than a tasty dessert!), I recommend following a technique called Vision Goal Setting (VGS for short). The way this works is that you search for a dream based on your passions and inspirations. 

Once you’ve decided on the dream you want to follow, then you would build a crystal clear vision of where and what you would be doing in 5, 10, 15, and even 20 years into the future.

By spending time to create these images, you’ll give yourself deliberate steps to take towards achieving your ultimate career goal. VGS will increase your motivation and commitment to your goal, as well as streamlining the necessary planning, preparation and action. 

How does it do this? By giving you a definite image of your end destination, as well as the major stations along the way.

I used to have trouble reaching my goals, but when I adopted just some of the suggestions that I’ve included in this article, I was eventually able to turn my life around. 

Now, imagine if you adopted ALL the suggestions in this article. You’d be well on your way to making goal setting and goal achievement a natural part of your life.

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Featured photo credit: Marten Bjork via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you wish you could procrastinate less? We all know how debilitating procrastination can make us feel, and it seems to be a challenge we all share. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving forward and doing the things that we want to in life.

There are many reasons why you might be procrastinating, and sometimes, it is really difficult to pinpoint why. You might be procrastinating because of something related to the past, present, or future (they are all intertwined), or it could be as simple as biological factors. Whatever the reason, most of us follow a cycle when we procrastinate, from the moment we decide to do something to actually getting it done, or in this case, not getting it done.

The Vicious Procrastination Cycle

For some reason, it helps to understand that we all go through the same thing, even though we often feel like the only person in the world who struggles with this. Do you resonate with the cycle below?

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it!

2. Apprehension Starts to Come Up

The beginning stages of optimism are starting to fade. There is still time, but you haven’t done anything yet, and you start to feel uneasy. You realize that you actually have to do something to get it done, and that good intentions are not enough.

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3. Still No Action

More time has passed. You still haven’t taken any action and probably have a lot of excuses why. You start to panic a little and wish you had started sooner. Your panic starts to turn into frustration and perhaps even irritability.

4. Flicker of Hope Left

You can still make it; there is a little time left and you ponder how you are going to get it done. The rush you get from leaving your task until the last minute gives you a flicker of hope. There is still time; you can do this!

5. Fading Quickly

Your hope starts to quickly fade as you try desperately to understand why you just can’t do this. You may feel desperate and have thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why do I ALWAYS do this?” You feel discouraged, or perhaps angry and resentful at yourself.

6. Vow to Yourself

Once the feeling of anger or disappointment disappears, you most likely swear to yourself that this will never happen again; that this was the last time and next time will be different.

Does this sound like you? Is the next time different? I understand the devastating effect that procrastination has on many lives, and for some, it is a really serious problem. You also have, on the other hand, those who procrastinate but it doesn’t affect them in any way. You know whether it is affecting you or not and whether it undermines your results.

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How to Break the Procrastination Cycle

Unless you break the cycle, you will keep reinforcing it!

To break the cycle, you need to change the sequence of events. Here is my suggestion on how you can effectively break the vicious cycle you are in!

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it! The first stage is always the same.

2. Plan

Thinking alone will not help; you need to plan your actions. I always put my deadlines one or two days in advance because you know Murphy’s Law! Take into consideration everything that you need to do, how long it will take you, and what you will need to get it done, then plan the individual steps.

3. Resistance

Just because you planned doesn’t mean that this time is guaranteed to be different. You will most likely still feel the resistance so expect this. This stage is key to identifying why you are procrastinating, so when you feel the resistance, try to identify it immediately.

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What is causing you to hesitate in this moment? What do you feel?  Write them down if it helps.

4. Confront Those Feelings

Once you have identified what could possibly be holding you back, for example, fear of failure, lack of motivation, etc. You need to work on lessening the resistance.

Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move forward? What would make it easier?” If you find that you fear something, overcoming that fear is not something that will happen overnight — keep this in mind.

5. Put Results Before Comfort

You need to keep moving forward and put results before comfort. Take action, even if it is only for 10 minutes. The key is to break the cycle and not reinforce it. You have more control that you think.

6. Repeat

Repeat steps 3-5 until you achieve what you first set out to do.

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Final Thoughts

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you have some deeper underlying reasons why you procrastinate, it may take longer to finally break the cycle.

If procrastination is holding you back in life, it is better to deal with it now than to deal with the negative consequences later on. It is not a question of comfort anymore; it is a question of results. What is more important to you?

Learn more about how to stop procrastinating here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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