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Last Updated on May 5, 2021

Having Trouble Reaching Goals? This Could Be Why

Having Trouble Reaching Goals? This Could Be Why

Goals are something we all have, but only a select few seem good at consistently achieving them. Most people seem to have a great deal of trouble reaching goals, even when they start the journey feeling excited and motivated. 

If you’re able to push through to the end to reach your big and small goals, it’s time to change up your strategy. Below, we’ll discuss some little-known wisdom about goal setting and goal achievement to get you back on track and accomplish any goal on your list.

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

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
  • Work better in a team
  • Shape the future

Having definite goals means the difference between knowing your destination or just drifting aimlessly over 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. In most cases, this is usually energized by change and innovation, as well as being comfortable with risk-taking while reaching goals. 

Just think for a moment about some successful people, such as Kamala Harris, Roger Federer, and Oprah Winfrey. These high-achievers all used goal-setting to help them realize their dreams.

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One of the best ways to set goals is to always write them down — 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.

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]

What Defines Us?

What exactly defines who you are, and how do your goals fit into this picture?

To help you answer these questions and start reaching goals, it’s important to have a basic understanding of values. 

To start, 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.

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.

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.

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 really matter. Goals that are based in our values will provide endless motivation, because we believe in them and want to see them play out.

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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 goals on your list and some of the best ways to change this.

Goals and Values Don’t Align

First, 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.

Wants Vs. Needs

Another issue that might be causing you to fail to reach your goals is that 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. 

Things we want usually trump what we need, and 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.

Unrealistic Goals

Think about the size of your goals. If they’re too big, then it may be difficult, or even impossible, to start reaching goals consistently. Ambition is good, but at the same time, you shouldn’t set unrealistic goals. 

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, contacting publishers, etc.

If your goals are unrealistic, it can push you to procrastinate on them. If you find procrastination is already plaguing your plans, check out Lifehack’s Fast Track Class – No More Procrastination.

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Poor Time Management

If your time is not well-organized, then it will be next to impossible to reach your big 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

How to Visualize Your Goals

An article about visualization on HuffPost 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 and won’t help you on your path to reaching goals. 

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

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.

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

Vision Goal Setting

When it comes to bigger goals, 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 or goal you want to follow, you 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 creating 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 streamline the necessary planning, preparation, and action. 

The Bottom Line

If you find that you have trouble reaching goals and staying motivated, the above suggestions can help. When it comes down to it, it’s about creating a goal you care about and laying out a plan to get it done.

Start with just one of the tips above, and you’ll be well on your way to making goal setting and goal achievement a natural part of your life. Start with just one of the tips above, and you’ll be well on your way to making goal setting and goal achievement a natural part of your life. Set your sights on short term and long term personal goals, and get started with an action plan today.

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Featured photo credit: Marten Bjork via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

How to Achieve Goals and Increase Your Chance of Success how to start over How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide) Do You Know Your Motivation Style? How to Move Forward After Achieving Goal Success

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Last Updated on June 16, 2021

What to Do If You Find Yourself Making Slow Progress Towards Your Goal

What to Do If You Find Yourself Making Slow Progress Towards Your Goal

If you are making slow progress on a goal you’ve set, maybe it is the wrong goal in the first place. Perhaps factors, including your attitude or environment, do not allow you to make your desired progress. However, it is easy to blame timing and luck; if you set a goal, you and only you are accountable for achieving it (read the achieve my goals guide). The question is, how?

Start With Why

On my career path, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to explore and learn things practically. After a successful corporate career, I spent two years trying to establish an entrepreneurial consultancy, only to realize marginal success.

The consultancy formed based on my core values, candor, curiosity, and collaboration, but unfortunately, my customer base and projects were seemingly random and disjointed. While I understood I needed to establish a consistent and repeatable approach to content marketing to drive my clients’ results, that approach was not apparent in the brand I had built. Things got so rough that I had to resort to collecting unemployment at the onset of the pandemic.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I delivered a webinar called earning trust in uncertain times: coronavirus edition. Afterward, I received an email from a participant. He shared some thoughts on a campaign for his jewelry company and asked for feedback. When I read his email, I realized I could quickly help him to gain clarity, so I sent him a note with an offer to get his message on track. He offered to pay me for my time, and I said to myself,

“I am adding value, and I can charge for this!”

This first client needed to shift my offerings from general marketing consulting to a more diversified career that focuses on personal brand building.

It took a global pandemic to realize I needed to shift my goals to align with the change I was trying to make in the world, to a new business, coaching that applies my skills in an authentic way to me and valuable to prospects and customers.

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Start With Your Identity

James Clear discusses identity-based habits as deeply rooted in a person’s outlook toward life.[1] As a businessperson, identity-based practices are what impact business goals and your approaches towards achieving them. Identity is what you believe in, and outcomes determine what you seek to achieve. A permanent change comes from transforming the who part of behavior—the character.

Whether it is a coaching program I develop, a class I teach, or a marketing campaign I create, I always start identity. According to The Brookings Institute:[2]

Identity is a unique, inherited collection of assets, history, traits, and culture that distinguishes it internally and externally and can unite people and places.

But this logic also applies to personal goals. If losing weight is your goal, your focus is on an outcome rather than an identity-based plan, and you may lose motivation. Think, “Why am I trying to lose weight?”

  • Is it to be more healthy?
  • Did you get some lousy test results at the doctor?
  • Are you at risk of severe health problems?

It may help reframe your goal around a positive statement like, I am working to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Motivation has to come from a place of confidence and belief in yourself. You know what they say about the air mask on the airplane – put it on yourself first.

It is ok to set goals for others; for example, “I am losing weight so I can live for my kids;” however, if you don’t set goals around themes that you can own, and you don’t do it for yourself first, then the people in your life will not receive any benefit.

Think about what you achieve from your efforts — the outcomes. The reality that you are looking at right now must also allude to the fact you promise to create for your clientele, and that is not possible unless you believe in it and make it believable for others.

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Be Specific About What, How, and When

Your values need to align with other people and systems to engage in meeting your desired outcome, so make sure to put in place a process that accounts for what motivates you, that you can reliably complete until you achieve your goal.

If you are not specific and clear about how many pounds you are trying to lose and when you will lose then, then how will you know if you met your goal in the first place?

BJ FOGG, the author of Tiny Habits, suggests that you start small. In the Tiny Habits method, you always start with a tiny behavior. Some examples:

  • Floss one tooth
  • Read one sentence in a book.
  • Take one deep breath.

According to Fogg, an excellent tiny behavior has these qualities:

  • takes less than 30 seconds (even better: just 5 seconds)
  • requires no real effort
  • doesn’t create pain or destructive emotions

Make sure it’s a habit you want to have in your life. Don’t pick something that’s a “should,” choose new behaviors you wish to.

The next thing to learn is where to place the further tiny action in your life. Just like planting a seed, you want the right spot for it, a place where it fits naturally and where it can thrive.

Be flexible and adaptable. We are in a complicated and volatile world, and things change on a dime, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you need to change how you go about achieving your goal or even what goals you are trying to accomplish first place.

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Be aware of bias. As you set out to achieve your goals, it is critical to be aware of the bias that can sneak in and sabotage your thinking. Yes, it is essential to collaborate with others to achieve your goals, but you need to understand yourself and make sure you are not getting in your way before doing that. Here are some common forms of bias.

  • Confirmation bias: People tend to listen more often to information that confirms the beliefs they already have.
  • Selection bias: Selecting individuals, groups that do not provide diverse perspectives for you to consider.
  • Self-serving bias: People tend to give themselves credit for successes but blame failures on external causes.

What about serendipity? Many of us believe that the great turning points and opportunities in our lives happen by chance, that they’re out of our control.

Dr. Christian Busch, author of The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck, spent a decade exploring how, if acted upon, unexpected encounters can expand our random social encounters can enhance our worldview, expand our social circles, and create new professional opportunities.

Serendipity is usually about connecting dots that have previously remained elusive. Busch’s findings suggest that Good luck isn’t just chance—it can be learned and leveraged. When you are perceptive, curious, open-minded, and eager to see opportunities, others might see only negatively. If you notice something unusual but can connect that bit of information with something else, you are in the right mindset for achieving serendipity.

Motivation and a Realistic Plan

Only you can choose the goals you set. Motivation is critical in meeting your goals. But choosing goals is not enough; you need to select the right goals and define a plan that keeps you accountable for meeting your goals.

Author Gabriele Oettingen defined a methodology you can use to get better at achieving your hopes and dreams. It’s called WOOMP![3]

WOOP stands for:

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  • W = Wish
  • O = Outcome
  • O = Obstacle
  • P = Plan

WOOMP, there it is! WOOMP will force you to be hyper-realistic about your goals and be action-minded in your approach to achieving them.

Show up Consistently

In order to turn your vision into reality, you will have to regularly show up by consistently organizing, leading, and building to get to your goals.

“Some people show up when they need something. Some people show up before they need something, knowing that it will pay off later when they need something. And some people merely show up. Not needing anything, not in anticipation of needing something, but merely because they can.” — Seth Godin

Final Thoughts

While I would be happy to be your trusted advisor and coach, the answer has to start with you. My process will help you to define and document an ownable set of values and marketing frameworks that will make you more appealing to clients/ employers, especially on LinkedIn. These values will translate beyond work, as well.

More on Making Progress

Featured photo credit: Aj Alao via unsplash.com

Reference

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