We are all motivated to set goals for our lives, especially as the first of January appears on the horizon. I don’t think there’s a person on the Earth who doesn’t have goals! So, why do we struggle to achieve goals if we are all so able and willing to set them? Here are five reasons why we fail and advice on how to fix them:
1. Our goals are not connected to our vision.
When we are not connected to the bigger picture of our lives, our goals can seem aimless. I often say that having a compelling vision makes small goals meaningful. Imagine if we agreed to climb Mount Everest this time next year; we’d be very clear about each and every activity regarding the ascent, anything not connected to this would be disregarded as clutter and noise. Once we focus on a greater goal or vision, it becomes easy to connect our goals and daily detail to the bigger picture
2. We drown in the details.
We live in a world of detail. Thinks about it, we live with diaries and lists every day. We micro manage our lives and those around us. How often do we take time to helicopter up a bit and review our goals for our lives. If we lose sight of our goals we will drown in the details
3. Tomorrow is another day.
Someone has said that procrastination is the thief of time. There are two ways of dealing with tasks we’d rather not do. Firstly, do it immediately! The Nike slogan says, ‘Just do it!’ Make the decision to list those things which we are putting off and then take action now. We tend to elevate things we don’t like to do to a crisis. And when we complete the task we realise it wasn’t so bad and feel a great sense of relief. Secondly, if a task is a big one, rather than putting it off, use the Swiss cheese approach: punch it full of holes. Break it up into small pieces and allocate time each day to do all of the mini-tasks that will ensure completion.
4. We stop persevering.
When we set goals, we are full of enthusiasm to achieve them, then the tough part starts: we realise that the goal is harder to achieve than we expected. Those three kilograms just won’t go; our gym routine isn’t as easy to set as we expected and kicking that habit is not working. So, stopping becomes an option. I am convinced that most people fail in life, not because of a lack of talent but because of a lack of perseverance. A way to combat this obstacle is to write down what to want to achieve and then hold yourself accountable to someone who loves you enough to check up on you. I was challenged to make some changes in my life recently and was asked to work on it for 30 days. The fact that I knew someone was checking up on me helped me to persevere all the way through
5. We get distracted and make excuses.
When other goals which seem easier or more attractive to us, we are tempted to abandon the original ones. When this happens to me, I remind myself that the initial goal is still important and that it’s worth fighting for. I set a goal to lose weight this year and have found that this winter has been difficult for me to exercise as much as I do in summer. I mainly exercise by paddling in the ocean so colds and flu stop me dead in my tracks plus I fell off a wall last month and damaged both of my hands and my son plays rugby on Saturdays when we usually train. This makes for a great excuse to become distracted from my original goal. Instead, I have redoubled my efforts to get back on track and so I’m paddling tomorrow morning at 8am.
I am sure that there are more than five excuses but these are the key areas I have had to face on my journey to my vision. Whichever they are, redouble your efforts to set goals and keep them on track regardless. The reward is far greater that you think.