10 Reasons Why You're Not Reaching Your Goals (and How to Change That)


Whether you make goals when you crack open a new calendar or at times of self-reflection, why does achieving them often seem elusive? Here are 10 reasons why you may not be reaching your goals — and how you can overcome these obstacles, turning your goals into realities. (See also: 6 Steps to Achieving Your Goals)

1. Lack of Clarity

"I want to lose weight," "I want to make more money," and "I want to learn how to cook" are all too vague. How will you know what steps to take to reach those goals — or when you've achieved them?

The concept of creating SMART goals was first introduced by George T. Duran and his co-authors in the early 1980s, but the acronym has gained steam, popularity and creative license through the years — especially for the ART part, which has several variations. Everybody seems to agree about the start, though: "S," the first letter in the acronym stipulates that the goal be specific. The "M" stands for measurable, which makes the goal objective, whether a number on a scale or your paycheck, or a marathon finish line. Clear goals are both specific and measurable.

2. Winging It Without a Plan

The quest to reach a goal is a journey. How will you get from Point A (here and now) to Point B (where you want to be). Let's say your goal is to be debt-free by the end of the year. What will you have to pay to each of your creditors each month in order to make that happen? Are you going to use the Snowball Method or a detailed payment plan of your own? A plan should be as specific as the goal itself, listing concrete action steps and a timeline to keep you on course.

3. You Don't Want It Badly Enough

What? Of course you want it, or it wouldn't be a goal, right? Not necessarily. There is a difference between wanting something ("Gee, it would be nice to lose a few pounds in time for the reunion") and wanting it badly enough to give up things that crop up in its path as obstacles. Do you want to lose the weight badly enough to give up savoring one of those donuts your boss brings in every Friday? Or does the donut temptation win? The strength of your commitment to the goal will be parallel to your conviction.

4. Weak Time Management

There never seem to be enough hours in the day to work, take care of the kids, run errands, read professional journals (or People Magazine), make it to the gym, get ready for the party, and attend that night course you enrolled in, does there? Here's a fact: Everyone starts out on equal footing, with the same 24 hours in every day. Getting a decent night's sleep is key to both physical health and mental wellbeing, so there goes seven (or more) of those hours right off the bat. Then there are the "have-to's" — work, tending to the kids, attending committee meetings. But you may have more control than you realize. How you prioritize all the things in your "want-to" basket will determine when and how you fit them into your busy schedule.

5. Sabotage

Sometimes we hate to admit it, but peer pressure, even from well-meaning (or sometimes just plain ignorant) friends and family members can be tough — even for us as adults. "Oh come on, you have to buy those Jimmy Choo's," your friend tells you … "They make you look so tall and skinny!" Hard to pass that one up, even though designer shoes are nowhere in or near your budget. (See also: Is Peer Pressure Keeping You Poor?)

Be true to yourself. You know your goals, when you can afford to be flexible, and when to stick to your convictions. Don't be bullied into doing or buying something that you wouldn't do or buy if you were alone. Let the voice of reason inside your head speak louder than outside influences. Sometimes, it helps to enlist the help of trusted friends or relatives. Be honest: "I'm trying to watch my weight/budget." And ask for help: "Don't let me order dessert!!"

6. Self-Sabotage

Putting the needs and wants of others higher on the priority list than our own is sometimes warranted — but sometimes an old pattern that needs a bit of "tweaking." We sometimes engage in negative self-talk, convincing ourselves that we are failures, incompetent, or incapable. Those are distorted messages. Replace them with empowering words of encouragement. There are plenty of motivational bulletin boards to follow on Pinterest and other social media. Surround yourself with positivity, and turn the "I can't" thoughts into "I will" statements.

7. Too Much Research

That's right; stop reading. Let's face it: In today's day and age, we can spend hour after hour researching the best way to get out of debt, become a master chef, search for a better job, lose weight, or learn how to snowboard. But at a certain point, the research becomes useless if not put into action. Research prepares you, but action leads to results.

8. Inflexibility

Your goal is to run in the San Francisco Marathon this July; it's your first marathon, and you've come up with a rigorous training plan. But you've had this nagging pain in your heel, and X-rays reveal a heel spur. Do you stay on that intense training course so you don't get behind in your training schedule? NO! You don't want to aggravate the problem. Instead, while the heel spur heals (no pun intended), work on your endurance by riding a stationary bike, if the doc gives you permission. Stay off the running paths until you're given the green light by the doctor. Then start back slowly. With the goal still in place, you may need to be flexible in your means to achieve it.

9. Procrastination

Change is hard. And there's always a reason to "start tomorrow." But the accumulation of tomorrows puts your goal further into the future than if you start today. Pick a start date that fits into your schedule, psych yourself up for it, and — barring emergencies — stick to it! (See also: 9 Ways to Stop Procrastination — NOW!)

10. Reality

Sometimes a goal is unattainable for reasons that are legitimate. Weather, illnesses, and our bosses' moods are simply beyond our control. If you lose your job, it may not be the right time to start an ambitious savings plan. Regroup and revise. Put that goal on the back burner — for now.

How do you stay on track to reaching your goals? Please share in comments!

Like this article? Pin it!

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Think is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.