Goals have propelled athletes to break new world records, they’ve inspired rags to riches, they’ve helped those who were told they’d never walk again or talk again to transcend the limitations of medical possibilities.
We’ve all set goals at some point in our lives and many of us set New Year’s Resolutions. We are inspired to visualize a better life for ourselves, one that offers promises to a better future. But when it comes to goal setting, we don’t really give it a lot of thought. We often think we know everything there is to know about it.
Did you know that only 8% of people who make New Year’s Resolution end up achieving them? That’s a terribly small number of people despite the tremendous potential that goals hold. Behind every progress, growth, and inspirational story there is a goal, but despite this tremendous power of goals, 92% of us are unable to unlock their potential.
There is no shortage of goals, but there is a lack of knowledge about how goal setting should be structured. It’s important to remember that goals are not desires. We can daydream about desires but we need concrete goals.
Here are three reasons why you are having trouble achieving your goals and what you can do to fix it.
Your goals are not clear enough.
Goals provide us with a destination we want to get to and that’s why they are so powerful. It’s not possible to reach a destination without knowing where it’s located. When it comes to goal setting we are often not clear about what it is exactly that we want to accomplish. Our goals look like “I want to get fit this year” or “I want to grow my business” but those are not specific enough. To set detailed goals you need to set SMART goals.
S = Specific
If your goal is not SMART it may not be specific. You may only have a vague idea of what you want but you haven’t thought about the destination fully.
M = Measurable
If your goal is not SMART it may not be measurable. How will you track your performance to see if you are making progress?
A = Achievable
If a goal is not SMART it may not be achievable. Based on your current skills, habits, and strategies, is your goal achievable?
R = Realistic
If a goal is not SMART it may not be realistic. Does the goal fit in with the big picture and with your other higher priorities?
T = Timely
If a goal is not SMART you do not have a clear idea if the goal is a short term goal or a long term goal.
Be sure to make use of SMART goals to pinpoint exactly where your destination is.
You do not have an accountability partner.
Usually the goals we set for ourselves are quite ambitious and we tend to be very optimistic about our ability to achieve them. This optimism is not bad but because you have set a high standard for yourself it’s natural you will face challenges and resistance. To avoid giving up on your goals, you need a mentor or an accountability partner who will help you get over the nonsense of overnight success. Achieving ambitious goals is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take time and it will require your commitment and dedication. Having the help of others can keep you on track when things get tough. An Accountability partner can be a trusted friend or someone you respect. Tell your accountability partner what your goal is and schedule to check in with them about your progress on a monthly basis. During your progress talk, focus on how much improvement you’ve made, however small and let them know what steps you plan to take for the upcoming month.
Your focus is too much on results.
The main reason many people quit their goals is that they didn’t see results fast enough. They were too focused on the outcome and when they didn’t see improvements quickly they became discouraged and gave up. With ambitious goals progress will be slow at first, many times painfully so. We are trying to achieve something great, to reach a very beautiful destination, but to get there, we need time and consistent effort. It won’t be an easy journey and continually focusing on the results will be discouraging. Building new habits, learning new strategies, and elevating our skills takes time but it requires that we show up day after day and work towards the goal we set for ourselves. Instead of focusing on results, pay attention to how much you are improving. This way, you will notice that change is definitely happening, it’s just not as big and not as fast. Focusing on improvement motivates you to keep going and continue your journey until you’ve reached your destination.