Ahhh, goal setting. January 1st rolls around and we are all gun-ho, let’s do it! By February 15, we are like, yeah, I’ve got all year, I’ll get back to that in May. If you are one of the millions of people who set goals only to set the same (or similar) goal the following year, you aren’t alone and this post is for you. While there is any number of reasons you aren’t accomplishing your goals, I’ve got five considerations for you. Don’t beat yourself up. Goal setting doesn’t have to start on Jan. 1, it can start and be accomplished at any time. Let’s get to what may have stopped you in the past you can be sure to have success with that next goal you set.
1. They Are Too Lofty
I’m the first to admit I have set goals that I don’t even expect to reach because they are damn near impossible. I figure the bigger the goal, the more likely I am to get closer to accomplishing it. And honestly, this has served me well at times in my life. Then again, some of those lofty goals have remained on my goals list for ten years.
Big goals can be both inspiring and overwhelming. For example, setting a goal to earn $5 million dollars can feel pretty unattainable when you are currently earning $50K per year. While it’s inspiring to think of the possibility, it’s difficult to know where to even start with that. I’m sure you’ve heard of SMART goals and the R = Realistic (see article below on SMART goals if interested). Whether it’s transforming your physical state, relationship status, financial situation, or making a big move to a new location, make sure your goals are realistic.
Related Article: How to Create a Life Plan: Start With a Bucket List
2. There is Too Much Time Available to Accomplish
One of the things that prevent us from accomplishing a New Year’s Resolution is the fact we have the entire year to accomplish. It’s so damn easy to procrastinate when you have an entire year! We have very much become an immediate gratification society and our goal-setting needs to adapt to this new reality. I call this setting “Micro goals” and it’s so much more effective! Instead of writing a big lofty annual goal, create goals for the next 30, 60, or 90 days. Here’s an example.
Instead of losing 30 lbs. this year, set a micro-goal to lose 10 lbs. in the next 60 days. After accomplishing that goal, set a new one that might be another 10 lbs. or it might be to “run a 5K” in the next 60 days. Making smaller goals that can be accomplished in a shorter amount of time makes it easier to maintain focus on the goal. I can miss a few meals for 60 days but the idea of doing it for the entire year?! No, thank you. I’ll put that off as long as possible.
Maybe you have a financial goal. Instead of paying off all credit cards this year, break that down to paying off one credit card in the next 60 days and keeping it paid off. Again, it’s much easier to sacrifice a few shopping trips or dining out with friends for 60 days.
Related Article: Shifting to Micro Goals
3. You Have Too Many Goals
One of the worst things we can do is set five goals to work on at the same time. With so many things to focus on, you end up not focusing on any of them. Narrow your goals to one or two goals for each 30, 60, or 90-day period and you’ll be much more successful. Maybe you want to set a physical goal this month and work on your financial goal next month. Juggling balls takes coordinated effort and intense focus on all the balls. The same goals for your goals.
4. You Don’t Have a System In Place To Maintain Focus
Some people put a great deal of energy into creating very well-crafted and SMART goals. They are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound. The goals are very well created but they lack a system in place to keep them focused on the goal(s).
Think of it this way, in a basketball game the goal is to score the most points in the allotted time. The system or process to accomplish this ranges from studying the opponents’ prior games, positioning the best players to guard team members, rotating players so they maintain strength and energy, etc. In our life, we set a goal and that’s it. We expect to remember we have set that goal and figure out a way to maintain focus on it with all the other mundane yet necessary tasks on our to-do list each day.
For me, having a system means having a daily planner where I dedicate at least 3 tasks per day to the accomplishment of the said goal. I had such a difficult time finding a system that works for me that I created my own. It’s important to find a system that works for you.
Some examples of systems might include:
- Financial Goal: Each Sunday afternoon you review your budget and finances to determine where you are and what you need to do for the upcoming week to accomplish your goals.
- Health Goal: You hire a trainer to meet you at the gym 3 days a week. Or you commit to entering your daily calories in a food tracker (and let someone hold you accountable to it).
- Business Goal: Each day you make X number of calls to potential clients.
Make sure you break down your goals into tasks and incorporate those tasks as a priority in your daily activities.
5. Your Why is Not Big Enough
The final reason, and maybe the most important, is you aren’t excited enough about accomplishing the goal. Call it what you want – excited, determined, focused, or interested but maybe the goal is something you know you should do but not really something you want to do. There are a couple of ways to handle this – you could find a way that would compel you or make you more excited, or just admit this isn’t something important to you right now and focus on something else. There is no shame in either approach. It’s your life – do what you want. Let’s talk about how to compel yourself to be more excited.
Getting healthy is a common goal people have. And there are lots of things wrong with this “goal” (i.e. it’s not specific or measurable to start) but let’s focus on why it may not be compelling. Depending on the state of your health today, there may not be a compelling reason to get healthy. Let’s say you are overweight but it hasn’t really impacted your health yet. Yeah, you weigh more than you’d like but it hasn’t stopped you. You don’t have as much energy as you used to but you could easily attribute that to aging. You aren’t on any medications, have no diseases, and basically live a pretty full life. Without the frame of reference or avoidance of a lack of health, it’s difficult to get excited about being healthier. This could be reframed in a way that was more compelling. Maybe you don’t have the energy to play with your kids. Maybe one of your parents died of heart disease. Maybe you are single and would like to go on a date. Or maybe there is an article of clothing that’s been in your closet for a decade that you’d like to wear again. Turning your goal into something more compelling like “Ride a bicycle five miles with the kids may be way more compelling than “Get healthy.”
If your goal is important to you but not compelling enough to get you excited about it, take some time to think about how to make it more compelling.
Like I said at the beginning, there could be lots of other reasons you haven’t been able to succeed with the goals you have set. I hope these tips help you to set and accomplish everything you want in life!
Related Article: Not Accomplishing the Goal Might be the Goal