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Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Reach Their Goals

Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Reach Their Goals


    With everything that happens around us, it is sometimes difficult to reach our goals. This is compounded if you have any of the reasons on the list below.

    Luckily, in addition to the top 10 reasons why people don’t reach their goals, I’ve included a quick fix for each of them. So let’s get to it.

    1. Creating Vague Goals

    When you don’t know where you are going, it is really hard to get there. Many people set themselves up for failure when they set goals that are unclear. “I want to lose weight” sounds like a great goal but the people who set this kind of goal will never reach it. It is not because the people are not motivated or disciplined but because the goal is too general. Do you want to lose 5 lbs or 50 lbs?

    Quick Fix:  Set SMART goals by being Specific, making sure they are Measurable, Achievable and Realistic, and last but not least — give yourself a Time deadline. If you want to go one step further, you may want to read The Missing Letter in Your Smart Goals.

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    2. Lacking a Higher Purpose

    Goals can be set on any topic imaginable but if you don’t have a higher purpose, it makes it is easy to give up once the initial motivation and excitement wears off. Understanding how your goal is relevant to you allows you to persevere even when the going gets tough.

    Quick Fix: When setting your SMART goal, ask yourself how the goal is relevant to your life and what you want to achieve.

    3. Procrastinating

    Even when you have SMART goals that are relevant to your purpose, if you don’t get started, you’ll never achieve your goal. One of the most dangerous phrases is “I’ll do it later.”

    Quick Fix: Make sure the goal has been broken down into manageable pieces and then start right away. Here are 11 Practical Ways to Stop Procrastination.

    4. Not Taking Responsibility

    Things will go wrong. That’s a fact of life. When something comes up and you don’t achieve your goal, who do you blame? Your boss who kept you at work late so you couldn’t work on your book or maybe the horrible weather that stopped you from going to the gym. If it’s not your fault, there is nothing you can do, right?

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    Quick Fix: Own up to not reaching your goals. When you take responsibility, you’ll become resourceful knowing that you have control over the attainment of your goals.

    5. Listening to People Who Discourage You

    When you go for your goals, especially the big ones that really count and fit in with your purpose in life, it is inevitable that people will discourage you. There are many reasons for this: concern, jealousy, ignorance, etc. How many goals have already been given up on because other people decided they were not worth pursuing?

    Quick Fix: This one is easy. As long as you know the purpose for your goal, ignore the naysayers. You can take what they are saying into consideration but make sure you make the final choice.

    6. Starting Too Many Projects

    I’m a starter. That sounds like a good thing but not when you start too many things, you don’t end up finishing many of them. This usually stems from the fear of missing out (FOMO) or being someone who has many ideas.

    Quick Fix: Understand that you have a limited amount of time and that you can’t do everything. To deal with FOMO, realize that by not finishing, you are missing out on all the opportunities that open up when you finish the projects you are working on.

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    7. Being Negative

    If you think you’re not going to make it, then you’re probably not going to make it. If you don’t believe you’re going to reach your goal, then when you fail, it is expected which makes it easy to stop trying. When you are optimistic and a setback occurs, you focus your energy on finding solutions because you truly believe there is one. If you believe that you suffer from bad luck, check out this article.

    Quick Fix: Consider the idea that optimism and pessimism are both expectations of the future. Each are equally likely to be true but which belief will help you lead a happier more fulfilled life? Instead of wasting your energy on complaining, spend that energy on learning.

    8. Being Selfish

    There are people out there that think it is silly to help others. They believe in taking and not giving. They are misers with their time, money and knowledge and are only interested in opportunities where they stand to benefit. Most big goals require the help of others and it is very difficult to help people who only care about taking.

    Quick Fix: Serve others first. Always look for ways to add value to other people.

    9. Surrounding Yourself with People Who Don’t Reach Their Goals

    You are who you associate with. This may be hard to swallow for some people and there are always exceptions to the rule but for the most part, we act in accordance with the people around us. This comes from the strong ad natural desire to belong and to be accepted (think of all the dumb things you did in high school just to fit in).

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    Quick Fix: Associate with people who always reach their goals.

    10. Watching Too Much TV

    Not all TV is bad but if you are watching TV then most likely you are not doing anything to move one step closer to your goal. The problem with TV these days is that it is captivating. There are programs for all interests and hobbies and the shows keep getting better and better. Those who watch alot of TV usually don’t reach their goals and perhaps people watch TV because they don’t have any goals.

    Quick Fix: Shut off the TV. Cancel the cable. Pick up a book that will help you move one step closer to your goal. Here are 6 Steps to Remove TV from your Life.

    Do you have anything to add? What do you think are the reasons why people don’t reach their goals and what are your thought about the 10 reasons we have listed here. Feel free to give your own effective quick fixes for the different reasons in the comments section below.

    (Photo credit: Golf Ball Falling Over Edge via Shutterstock)

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    Robert Chen

    Executive Coach

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    Last Updated on February 25, 2020

    How to Create a To-Do List that Super Boosts Your Productivity

    How to Create a To-Do List that Super Boosts Your Productivity

    It’s 6:00 am. You have just woken up and are ready to take a shower. After the showering, it’s time to eat breakfast, catch the news by reading the morning paper, and then start your work.

    You are feeling wonderful, relaxed, and happy. You have very high expectations for the day and you want to be as productive as possible.

    Fast forward to 2 pm the same day. You are working in a rush and you barely had a chance to take a lunch break.

    You start to feel a bit stressed and tired because of the busy schedule. Besides, it seems that you have to go back to certain tasks and fix them, because you didn’t have time to focus on them properly.

    The day which started so fine has turned into a stressful one. You just jump from one task to another – as quickly as possible – without doing anything properly.

    You wish you’d find a reset button, so that you could start your day from all over – with a different strategy.

    What you probably experienced was this: you planned your day the night before and you felt you were on top of your tasks.

    However, things started to go wrong when you kept adding tasks after each other to your list and finally your task list was many miles long. Your to do list also contained tasks which were pretty much impossible to get done in one day.

    The other point which contributed to your hectic and stressful day was not understanding how much time completing a particular task would take and when to execute the task. If you had this information, it would have been easier to figure out the right timing for executing the task.

    Finally, there really wasn’t any flexibility in your plans. You forgot to add a buffer between tasks and understand that certain tasks are much larger than what they seem outside.

    But you know what – these reasons alone weren’t the main reason for your stress and busyness …

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    What People Are Wrong About a To-Do List

    Do you really know what you are supposed to do?

    How much time did you actually spent on planning your day – was it just 5 minutes while the television set was distracting you?

    If so, then this was probably the biggest reason why your day became so stressful.

    When you plan your days, you should truly understand the tasks you are about to do – and what it takes to accomplish them. This is necessary especially with important tasks, because you are able to make progress with the tasks that matter the most.

    The lack of time spent on planning will also be shown as too many big tasks stuffed to your daily list. If you haven’t broken down the task into smaller pieces, it’s probable that you are not going to get them done during the day. This in turn makes you to beat yourself for not completing your task list.

    Finally, don’t treat creating a task list just like some secondary thing that you try to do as quickly as possible. In fact, when you pay more attention to your next day’s task list, the more likely is the list going to be realistic and less stressful for you.

    Components of a Good To-Do List

    When I talk about a good task list, I consider these characteristics to be part of it:

    Balanced

    The task list contains both important and less important tasks. Let’s face it: although we all would like to work on just important tasks ( e.g. goal related ones), we have to take care of the less important tasks as well (like running errands, taking care of your household or other everyday stuff).

    Enough Flexibility

    What happens when you have planned a task, but you are unable to take care of it? Do you have a plan B in place? If not, try to figure out the alternative action you can take in these scenarios.

    Time for Transitions

    Understand that transition times also eat your time. Make sure that when you plan your task list, this time is also included in your plans. Adding some extra buffer between tasks will make your list more flexible and realistic.

    Not Too Many Tasks for One Day

    Giving you an exact figure on how many tasks you should have on your daily list is difficult. It depends on your situation. But I’m willing to say that anything between 5-10 tasks should be enough for a day.

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    Understand that certain tasks are very quick to take care of, so it’s easier to include more tasks on certain days. Just make sure that there are also important tasks on the list so that you are able to move on with your bigger projects.

    Shield of Protection

    Build a shield of protection around your task list, so that as few tasks as possible can land to your list and that the number of items on your list won’t increase during the day.

    In the first case, try to eliminate the sources for your tasks. This is done by reducing your commitments and limiting the projects you have. The fact is that the more commitments (or projects) you have, the more likely they are going to end up as tasks for your daily list.

    In the second case, make your list a closed one. I learned this concept by reading Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management by Mark Forster. In order to create a closed task list, all you have to do is to draw a line under the last task on the list. When you have done this, you are not allowed to add any new tasks to your list during the day. This ensures that the number of tasks is actually decreasing as the day goes on.

    How to Create a To-Do List That Boosts Your Productivity

    To make a list that you can actually accomplish the next day, do the following:

    1. Eliminate the Tasks

    Go through your commitments and decide if you really need each one.

    For instance, I was an active member of our local computer club in my hometown, but then I realized that I don’t have enough time for that activity anymore. Although I’m still a member of the club, I don’t participate in its activities anymore. This has eliminated the tasks related to that commitment.

    2. Take Your Time to Plan the List

    Don’t rush creating your task list – spend some time on the planning phase. If required, “isolate yourself” for the planning part by going to a separate room in your home (or even going outside your home). This way, you can actually think the tasks thorough before you enter them onto your list.

    Try to spend at least 15 minutes with your list when you plan it.

    3. Move Important Tasks to the Beginning

    When planning your day, make sure that the important tasks are at the beginning of your list. This ensures that you get those tasks done as quickly as possible.

    For instance, as a blogger, I make sure I have the content creation tasks at the beginning of my list. As soon as I wake up, I attack those tasks immediately and they get done before I go to work.

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    4. Track the Recurring Tasks

    You might have recurring tasks on your list, but do you know how much time they take to accomplish?

    If you don’t, make sure you do some time tracking to figure it out. This helps you to plan your day better, as you know how much time a task takes and if there is a certain time slot in your daily schedule, when the task could be executed.

    5. Batch Similar Tasks

    Look at your list and find out if there are similar tasks that you can batch-process. This way, you can get certain tasks off your list faster and easier.

    6. Define the Tasks in More Detail

    Don’t just include a task like “build a website” on your list; make sure you have broken the task to smaller pieces. The smaller the tasks are, the easier it is to take accomplish them.

    7. Do Some Prep Work in Advance

    Make sure that you prepare for certain tasks in advance.

    For instance, I write the outlines for my guests post on Sundays, so that it’s easier (and faster) for me to start writing the actual posts when I wake up. With a little bit of prep work, I speed things up and make sure tasks get done when the right day comes.

    8. Automate the Maintenance

    Naturally, you could use a pen and paper approach to your task list, but try to take advantage of technology too. In fact, try to find a tool that takes care of the maintenance of your task list for you. My preferred tool is Nozbe, but there are other task management applications that you can try too.

    9. Know Your Task Types and Your Schedule

    Finally, when you plan your day, ask yourself these questions:

    What else do I have on the schedule?

    This question refers to your personal schedule. For instance, if you are traveling, make sure that your list reflects to this fact. Don’t try to “overstuff” your list with too many tasks, since it’s more likely you get only a fraction of them done.

    Is the task a gatekeeper?

    This question asks if the task is blocking other tasks to be executed.

    Every once in a while, we might have a task, which has to be taken care of first. After you have done that, only then you can take care of the sequential tasks.

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    When you focus on creating your task list in a focused manner, you’ll be able to spot the gatekeepers easily.

    Do I have icebergs on my list?

    This question asks if your task is actually much bigger than what it seems. Sometimes when you start working on a task, you’ll soon realize that it’s much bigger than what you initially thought (compare them to icebergs, where only the tip of the iceberg is above the sea level, but the majority of the ice is below the water).

    Once again, when you focus enough on your task list during the creation phase, it’s easier to spot these “icebergs” and split the tasks into smaller, much more manageable chunks.

    Is the task distraction-proof?

    This final question asks if the task is distraction-proof. Not all the tasks are created equal: some tolerate more distraction, while others require your full attention.

    For instance, I can check my Twitter stream or do simple blog maintenance even when I’m around my family. These tasks are distraction-proof and I can take care of them – even if I don’t have my full attention on them.

    The Bottom Line

    If you still have a hard time of achieving your daily tasks, make sure that you analyze the reasons why this happened. If anything, do not beat yourself up for not finishing your task list.

    No one is perfect and we can learn from our mistakes.

    It takes a bit practice to create a “smiling” task list. However, once you learn to put all the pieces together, things are going to look much better!

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    Featured photo credit: Jacqueline Kelly via unsplash.com

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