10 Reasons Why You Don’t Achieve Your Goals

“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal.” — Elbert Hubbard

Most people struggle with personal change and self-mastery.

We have high hopes and enthusiasm at the beginning of the year, but as midyear rolls around our motivation dwindles, old habits slowly creep in, and before we know it momentum is halted.

Why do some people achieve their goals while others stay in the cycle of taking one step forward and two steps back?

One of the big differences is that they have self-awareness. They can acknowledge and accept their poor habits, their weaknesses, and how to create goals to counter these challenges.

If you’re ready stop following the same unsuccessful path toward your goals, you need to know what’s getting in the way.

As you consider the important changes you want to make this year, be aware of these 10 reasons you don’t achieve your goals.

1. When you mess-up you give-up

Let’s start at the source. One of the main reasons we don’t reach our goals is because we don’t allow ourselves to make mistakes or mess-up. No one wants to get off track and lose momentum toward their goals, but making mistakes and having unexpected challenges are normal.

The problem occurs when we make the attribution that since we messed up our diet or didn’t meet our deadline that we failed and can’t get back on track. This isn’t the case. If you have a bad day, shake it off, and realize tomorrow is a new day to start fresh and be at your best.

“Life’s problems wouldn’t be called “hurdles” if there wasn’t a way to get over them.” — Author Unknown

2. Too many competing commitments

Another reason people don’t reach their goals is they have numerous competing commitments that steal their attention. We end up getting distracted by less important things and wavering on our commitment to our goals.

There are a lot of easier things to do than get healthy, grow our business, and improve relationships. If you’re not 100% committed and aware of distractions, you’ll avoid the hard work when resistance shows up.  What competing commitments are getting in the way of your goals?

3. Your goals are too vague

If goals are too vague and undefined we’ll never gain traction. It’s too confusing for us to take action and stay focused without a clear and specific direction. A general goal like “get in shape” will leave you without awareness of what to do and when to do it. Make sure you have clear action steps and an identifiable target to shoot for.

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” — Andrew Carnegie

4. You feel like a slave to your goals

When we’re doing something out of obligation instead of inspiration and desire, our goals can feel like an unwelcome burden. This is a sign you didn’t set goals that are really meaningful and important to you.

Your goals should be in service of an inspiring vision for your life. If you feel like a slave to your goals, reevaluate why you want to achieve them. Your goals won’t be easy to achieve, but they should be fulfilling and gratifying.

5. You’re trying to do it all

It would be great to immediately change all of our faults and weaknesses but that’s not reality. We’re always going to be on the potter’s wheel. Change takes serious time and energy, which is why we need to be aware when we’re taking on too much. When we try to alter our entire life all at once we end up stuck and completely overwhelmed.

With goals it’s quality over quantity. If you’re overwhelmed and stretched thin you won’t make serious progress on anything. Instead of setting goals in every area of life just focus on a couple of priorities to start with.

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” ― Jordan Belfort

6. Self-doubt and lack of confidence

We have to believe we can achieve our goal if it’s going to happen. Many people make surface level change and can alter behavior in the short-term, but they ultimately end up back where they started.

The reason change doesn’t stick for a person is because they don’t change on the level of self-identity. The results they want don’t match how they see themselves and who they believe they are. When this is the case, we end up sabotaging progress and making excuses.

7. Your environment doesn’t support your goals

How often are you in situations that support your goals? If you’re surrounded by negative people who dismiss your goals and encourage poor habits it’s going to be hard to stay disciplined.

Do your best to avoid situations that contradict how you want to behave in order to conserve and maintain willpower. If you’re trying to eat healthier but have a bunker filled with sugary sweet snacks, you’re going to strain your limited capacity of willpower, and ultimately run out!

“When you know what you want and you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to get it.” — Jim Rohn

8. You write goals using negative language

A lot of times we frame our goals around what we don’t want to do or what we want to change. We create goals like, “stop hanging out with idiot friends” or “stop eating so much sugar.” This isn’t inspiring and can actually have the opposite effect on our discipline and motivation.

Focus on the behavior you want to create instead of what you want to avoid. Write affirmative and positive goals like, “Hang out with inspiring, supportive, and uplifting people,” or “eat a more well-balanced diet with fruits for natural sugars.”

9. You lack accountability

Many people don’t take full responsibility for their results. They blame other people for their circumstances. The fact is, your current reality is primarily because of you. You are where you are because of your choices, your attitude, and what you believe is possible.

If you’re not owning your current reality and taking responsibility for it, its unlikely things will change. Take ownership of your habits and the mistakes you make, and then be accountable to manage your thoughts, feelings, and actions to support change.

“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.” — Earl Nightingale

10. You minimize progress and small wins

Anyone can get discouraged and deflated if they neglect to congratulate themselves and celebrate their progress. It’s tough to keep working hard when we disregard the good stuff. If we’re always on to the next thing and don’t take time to praise and congratulate ourselves we’re more likely to have a negative attitude and be impatient.

Take it easy on yourself and appreciate the progress you make along the way. Don’t worry about being perfect. Focus on taking steps in the right direction and continuing to grow.

There is no such thing as over-night success; diligence, dedication and discipline are required if we want to meet our goals or change our lives.

Photo credit: Ed Escueta

  • Chris Kenber Business Coach

    I find many people that come to me simply lack confidence. They do not believe in themselves enough to set and achieve goals.

    • Hi Chris! Thanks for commenting. We’ve all struggled to achieve our goals from time to time, and this can shatter our confidence. I think a lot of people get into a bad cycle with this. This is an even more important reason to learn how to effectively set goals with achievable milestones along the way.