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11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Results

11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Results

    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.

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    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.

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    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:

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.

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    Celestine Chua

    Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away 5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life 42 Practical Ways To Improve Yourself How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2019

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More About Note-Taking

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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