7 Reasons You’re Not Reaching Your Goals

Great goals make great people. People cannot hit what they do not aim for.

― Roy Bennett

If goals were easy to reach we’d all be rock stars, billionaires, and rocket scientists. But having dreams isn’t enough; to make them come true, you’ve got to walk the walk. And that walk can be real tough.

That’s why 92% of Americans fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions. They know what to do – the popular resolutions are all straightforward – but something holds them back from succeeding.

You’ve probably experienced the same problem. You had a goal, you knew what had to be done but you couldn’t manage to do it.

Don’t worry; you’re not alone.

In fact, a few common slip-ups keep most people from reaching their goals. Make them and you’ll sabotage your progress time and time again. Get a handle on them and achieve anything you set your sights on.

Here’s how to understand – and deal with – the seven reasons you’re not reaching your goals.

#1 – You Expect Too Much, Too Soon

As a generation used to instant gratification, we want it all and we want it now. There’s a reason marketers promise a flat belly in six weeks; a better life in 15 minutes; easy money in a few hours. They cash in on our laziness.

But the truth is, anything worth having takes time and effort. Whether you want to run a marathon or make a million dollars, think long-term. Be prepared for good days, bad days and a million setbacks on the long ride to success.

#2 – You Burn Yourself Out

Every January, gyms fill up with New Year’s Resolutioners who want to get fit “this year.” They train for hours, use every machine and work themselves to half-death. No wonder they burn out in a few weeks and never go to the gym again.

Don’t make the same mistake. A moderate, sustained effort is better than an intense burst that leaves you exhausted. Pacing yourself is crucial to achieving your goals.

#3 – You’re A Perfectionist

We often wait for the perfect moment, feeling or opportunity to take action. “I’m sleepy; if I start my essay now, it’ll probably be bad. Maybe tomorrow.”

But since life is inherently imperfect, waiting often turns into procrastination.

The right time might never come, but that’s no reason to do nothing. If there’s a goal to be achieved, don’t wait: the best time for action is always now.

#4 – You Punish Yourself

What happens when we do the “wrong thing”? Drunk-dial an ex; eat 12 muffins three days into a diet; buy a pink flamingo with our rent money?

We punish ourselves. “Why did I do that? I’m an idiot. I’ll never amount to anything; I’m destined to fail.” And once you start thinking this way, it’s easy to make more bad decisions. “I’ll be fat forever; may as well eat 20 more muffins.”

Instead of punishing yourself for bad choices, remember that you’re only human. Everyone makes mistakes; successful people just don’t think about theirs too much. Never let a few screw-ups drive you into negative thinking.

#5 – You Relax Too Early

When you start making progress, it’s tempting to let go and relax. “I worked hard to get here; I should stop and enjoy the fruits of my labor for a bit.”

The problem is, thinking this way gives you an excuse to slack off. Your mind always wants you to make as little effort as necessary. Once you have a sense of accomplishment, there’s little motivation to keep going.

So don’t relax.

Always commit to keep going until you reach success – and make an effort to maintain it when you have it. This will help you stay on your toes, build positive momentum through repeated effort and keep old habits away.

#6 – You Need Approval From Other People

Humans are social beings; we want to be liked and accepted. That’s why being admired for your achievements is such a great feeling. But relying on the approval of others for motivation and direction is dangerous.

Other people might want you to do things that make you unhappy; they might disagree with your goals or methods. When that happens, it’s easy to doubt yourself and consider changing course.

But do you really want to let other people control your life?

No matter what your goals are, the only approval you ever need is your own. Enjoy compliments when you get them, but put your own wants first.

#7 – Resistance

No matter how motivated and disciplined you are, you’ll have off days. When they come, the temptation is to stress out. “Why do I feel so tired today? I need to feel energetic right now. Man oh man, what do I do? This sucks!”

That’s how resistance works: by refusing to accept events and situations, we make them worse. Before you know it, you’ve made yourself feel bad over nothing.

The solution is acceptance. No matter what happens, simply make the best of it. The next time you feel down, try saying: “Well, I feel tired today. I guess I’ll just do what I can and see what happens.”

Now that you know the seven reasons you haven’t reached your goals in the past, you can stop making them. Apply this post to your life and nothing will stop you from succeeding, no matter how wild and extravagant your dreams are.

Have you made any of these mistakes in the past? Did you make any that aren’t on the list? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Photo by Mizrak

32 thoughts on “7 Reasons You’re Not Reaching Your Goals”

  1. George P.H.-
    I can totally relate to this well thought out list of stumbling blocks…
    I have been told that being A perfectionist is not necessarily A good thing…I went through life thinking it was, but I know now that it only gets in the way of true progress and A productive life…I can remember going into many A rage over being wrong and failure, and I now realize that it was the perfectionist dilemma…I guess that’s o.k. if you are A Swiss watch maker but I am not…
    I thank you for this stellar list of hope that may well help deliver me from the rut I have carved out in my life…

    1. Thank you so much, Stuart. In my own life, perfectionism has been a huge handicap. I now realize that it’s better to do something now and get 80% of the results than procrastinate forever and get 100% of the results. Well, at least that’s true for me – as you said, some people somehow manage to do better ;).

  2. Rosario Pérez

    I think the third point is the one I have the most problems with. I’m always idealizing the future times, in which I’ll be able to do everything in time and won’t be sick or tired. Then I face the reality of the present and decide to wait, not noticing that the perfect time most likely won’t ever come.
    Thank you for writing this article and helping me realize my mistakes. I might actually get better at this things haha :)

    1. I appreciate the read and the compliment. The funny thing is, we all idealize the future times when everything will be easy and good.. But the only way to get to those great times is by putting the work in today.

      I’ve been discovering this more and more lately and I’m glad I’m not the only one!

  3. Hi George, I can definately identify with this.

    I was the kind of person who would try to do everything at once and beat myself up at every little mistake. But i’ve learnt to work on developing the habit instead and in the area of my eating to work on making it something I naturally do instead of a temporary thing. I am doing this by working on my subconscious programming.

    And the other thing, as strange as it sounds, when I make mistakes or have a bad day or night, i’ve found it’s much more effective to give myself approval no matter what, this lets me recover quicker. I just need to learn to do it more. :)


    1. Wow, that’s actually a great idea (giving yourself approval). I have the same tendency to beat myself up, I’m definitely gonna try that tip in the upcoming weeks.

  4. I have made most of them, but it seems like #4 and #5 are my speciality, and it is great to have them highlighted… So I can recognise them, and make sure that they don’t distract me from achieving my goal…

  5. Can’t argue with any of that. Changing our mindset is key to achieving our goals. If we think we can just get up one day (with the same kind of thoughts and beliefs rattling around in our heads) and expect to behave differently for a continued period of time we will come unstuck. Change your mindset, then, change your life!

  6. Great post George. I think we’ve all experienced most of these. I know I’ve done them all at various points in my life. It’s also important to remember to set goals that are achievable. There are some things that become impossible as we get older or simply based on talent. To become the best dancer you can be is a great goal. To set out to the the a principal with a world-renowned company at 50 is just setting yourself up to crash.

    1. I see what you mean. The laws of nature and physics still apply. I’ll probably never be the best football player in the world because I’d be past my physical prime by the time I have the necessary skills.

      Having said that…

      Sam Walton opened the first Walmart when he was 44 – just a big younger than 50 – and did pretty well for himself ;). Colonel Sanders was 65 when he opened the first KFC and sold the US franchise for 2$ million (14,000,000$ today when adjusted for inflation) a decade later.

      Most people underestimate what’s possible when you want to win bad enough!

  7. 2 of them really resonate with me.

    – expecting too much too soon – I always want to be living an experiencing my goals now (I don’t have a lot of patience as I know life is passing me by)

    – Burning myself out – I often go after something so hard in the beginning that I burn myself out. Again it is a lack of patience I think

  8. Rhazal Djandal

    at this very early stage, it all happens on me.I EXPECT TOO MUCH, TOO SOON.. i expect much for everything..until i found out its not happening anymore… I AM PERFECTIONIST, i want everything to fall into places, in my own sketch, in my own world even if it often gives me imperfect answers and result, then i am upset disapointed and leave. I PUNISH MY SELF, i get drunk and think its the best way to escape, i put stone on my heart thinking it will help me forget and be strong, but i am left alone and sad.. i dont think of the result. just the temporary feeling of being strong.. =(
    I RELAX TO EARLY..i am often tired and relax whenever i sit on a ”soft chair” thinking everything will be ok for me cause theres someone who had almost everything.not thinking what would be the consequence of it all. then i just leave when everything are shit.. and again, im lost.. finding it hard to start all over again.. =(
    I NEED APPROVAL FROM OTHER PEOPLE.. yes i do..i alwasy use my physical outlook to feel that i belong and people accept me..but as time goes by i realized everything will fade.and it all make me sad..
    RESISTANCE- i often resist to things my body doesnt want….my life is like going nowhere now.and i sont know where, how and when to start but the eager and crave for change is in my veins..im drown..im learning but i am weak.. i lost my job for almost a year i always run, i dont know what to do =(
    i am just 23.. thanks for this site

    1. Hey, man. I think you’ll really enjoy the other articles on The Change Blog, and also benefit from my website (The Man-Up Blog). I write specifically for guys like you because I used to feel exactly the same way. Check my blog out and tell me if that helps you move in the right direction ;).

  9. #2 – You Burn Yourself Out – this is where I used to get it wrong. Until I learnt the following:

    “the smaller you start, the further you’ll get”

    In other words: start with a very small action. For example, running for 5 minutes in the morning. The week after make it 10. The following week 15. Until you get to the time that feels right for you.

    Try it. It works.

    1. Absolutely :). It’s better to do something for 5 minutes every day than start with 1 hour a day and burn out 3 days later. Continuous progress is key, thanks for sharing!

  10. This is true and enlightful. In my nursery school rhyme I was thought;
    ‘tick tick says the clock,
    tick tick
    what you have to do
    do quick’
    This post has been a remembrance that the best time for action is NOW.
    I must stop procrastination.

  11. I would say the resistance is one of the most important aspects. If you feel as if your day is going down or you’re tired just let it flow and accept it. Don’t be that hard on yourself.

  12. Guilty of #1 and #6. I have a tendency to believe that whatever I want will come to me quickly, and when it doesn’t, I easily give up and block it out from my life.

    This is my first time on this website and the first article I’ve read. VERY impressed and thrilled. Look forward to spending more time on here and bettering myself.

  13. I’m 17 and I totally agree with this article, there are things I am guilty of and I’m sure everybody else is guilty of, I’m probably most guilty of waiting “on the approval of others” there has been times in my life, where I felt I need to prove myself too other people just too get their acceptance, but I later realized it was a waste of time becuase you can’t impress people all the time, and no one is really gonna understand, and sometimes it’s not even that complicated. This article though, I’m keeping it in my favorites

  14. Thanks for your article George!
    You’re right: it’s quite simple to know WHAT to do. Much more difficult to create the habit to do it regularly! What really changed my ability to reach my goals is to have an accountability partner and a personal coach. I cannot recommend this enough! Having to report to someone regularly really forced me to grab hold of my thoughts and do what I promised I would do! I’m amazed to see the effects of the power of decision as well. After watching countless hours of Bob Proctor videos, I think his lessons on decision sunk into my subconscious mind. I now realize that when you take the firm decision to go running every other day, and don’t let the rain or the “I’m not feeling it” deter you, then you’re in business and you can accomplish anything you want!
    Keep up the good work!

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