Why you’re failing to achieve your goals
What to do and how to get back on track
Keeping on track with your goals can be one of the hardest things in life. Old habits die hard. Life gets in the way. Something comes up and shifts your focus. Every now and then, we fall wayside with our goals — if not off the wagon completely.
However, this doesn’t mean that it’s the end. If you think of the situation as a temporary stop light, or that you’ve just taken the wrong turn, your goals and journey towards achieving them are very much salvageable.
Recognize your errors
Before you start taking a U-turn back towards your goals, you need to recognize and accept that you’ve fallen wayside from what you’re trying to achieve. There’s nothing worse than self denial.
Error is not a fault of our knowledge, but a mistake of our judgement giving assent to that which is not true.
— John Locke
Chances are, we’ve fallen wayside because of the choices we’ve made. These choices culminated into the moment you suddenly realize that you’re as far away from your original goal as possible. You’ve broken whatever commitment you’ve made to yourself — to write everyday, to go the gym everyday, to eat healthy everyday.
The issue with the everyday kind of goals is that it’s so specific and unrelenting that you’re bound to mess up at some point. Every time you stop and start, you kill your streak — which in turn only reinforces your paths of least resistance. Your brain will always be looking for the easiest way out. To change a habit requires more than just telling yourself to do something everyday. At some point, your will power is going to blimp out and your old habits will re-emerge, if not stronger to entrench itself back into your old routines while you’re mentally fatigued.
Re-calibrate, re-adjust, have a vision and write a game plan
The tortoise wins the race because he is consistent. When we give ourselves goals, we often don’t bind it to a vision.
Your vision is a state of being that you want for yourself in the future. Your goals is how you will achieve your vision. Visions are grand and open ended. Becoming a millionaire is not a vision. Becoming a millionaire is a stepping stone goal that is not anchored to a grander reason for doing.
When a goal is not anchored, it means that you don’t have a reason for the goal to exist. It is lofty and lofty things often become unteathered and fly away into some strange direction.
Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. — Joel A. Barker
If you don’t have a vision, you need to stop what you’re doing and figure out your why — your reason for what your goals represents. To get rich is not a vision. Neither is to lose weight or to get 100k followers.
A personal vision is a long term state of being you want to achieve. It’s a personal statement that addresses your passions and your core values. Perhaps that vision is to be a writer or someone who lives a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps it is the vision of an adventurer, a person who makes a living outside the 9–5 paradigm or someone who isn’t time bound.
Your game plan is a series of goals that act as flexible stepping stones towards becoming that vision. If you’ve fallen wayside, perhaps it’s because your stepping stones are placed too far apart. You might just need to reduce your goals, cut it half or even quarters in order to help you see yourself move towards success in a steady manner.
There’s nothing more disheartening than realizing that you’ve failed at your goals. The bigger the goal, the bigger the possibility of failure, the higher the chances of you giving up because you simply don’t like the feeling of falling flat, face first against the concrete.
Be specific with your goals, but also be small enough that they’re achievable.
Find your tribe
Tribes are important. Tribes are your core group of people that keeps you accountable for your actions and failures. They’re more than just cheerleaders. They’re the people that give you advice when things go wrong, encourage you when things are not working and keep you on track to what you want to achieve.
Tribes are not to be trifled with. Your ability to thrive depends on the tribe. ― Scott Perry
Your tribe is your people group of people who are also trying to work towards a similar goal. You are not trying to lead the tribe, nor are they trying to lead you. The best tribes are self governed with each member working towards contributing to it for the exclusive benefit of mutual growth.
Being part of a tribe that you can identify with and contribute to can help prevent the isolation that comes with trying to work on your goals alone.
Set yourself a deadline
Goals without deadlines is an undefined goal that will never be achieved. Instead, you’re setting yourself up for failure because if there is no deadline to define a successful end.
Be precise and concise with your goals. It needs to be measurable and obtainable. Frame your goals in a positive manner and make an action plan that has room for mistakes.
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Telling yourself to stick to the goal is not going to help you much without an action plan. Action plans take the hard work that comes with thinking on the fly. It’s the thing that supplements will power when old habits flare back up, or when things don’t go as planned.
Badly defined goals with no achievable action plans or an anchoring vision is your quickest path towards not being able to achieve what you want.
You’re probably failing because your goal is probably too big or cuts at a long entrenched habit that you haven’t figured out how to destabilize and uproot yet. It’s easier to hook a new habit onto existing ones than to wipe one out completely and leave a large gaping hole in its place.
Review your journey often to prevent yourself from walking too far off the track. Keep a spreadsheet that is maintainable with values and metrics. It’s harder to lie to yourself if the numbers and visuals are right in front of you.
Always make sure that you have a vision and that your goals align with them. It’s easier to achieve your goals when they have a grander sense of purpose.