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There’s nothing more disappointing than having goals that never see the light of day. You work tirelessly to improve yourself and harder still trying to grow your business. But somehow, despite your best efforts, your goals always seem to escape you.
Don’t worry — you’re not alone. Statistics show that only 8 percent of people accomplish things they commit to at the beginning of the year. When it comes to goal setting, failure isn’t the exception, it’s a prevailing feature of life.
But people don’t fail because their goals are unrealistic. They fail because their approach to goal-setting is unstructured, unfocused or rooted in an obsolete undertraining of how the brain thinks about objectives.
Here are five reasons why you aren’t achieving your goals — and what you can do to fix it.
1. You set too many goals.
Setting too many goals inevitably means you’ll fail to achieve some of them. Yes, you’re ambitious, and there are lots of things you want to accomplish. But that doesn’t mean you should manage your time unrealistically.
There are only so many hours in the day, and you need to use them wisely. Instead of splitting your attention between countless tasks and accomplishing none of them, focus on a select few goals and try achieving them all.
2. You don’t write your goals down.
Life has a way of overwhelming you in your busiest moments. You’re preoccupied with a dozen responsibilities at any given time, and if you haven’t taken time to record the things you need to do, it’s easy to forget about them. The same holds true for your goals.
Writing down your goals helps you visualize them more clearly. It helps organize your thinking by reminding you of exactly what you need to, time and time again. And most importantly, it forces you to make a commitment towards a specific path of action. Writing down your goals is essential for anybody who wants to work persistently towards them, so don’t forget to do it.
3. You don’t prioritize your goals.
While some goals are easier to achieve than others, not all of them have the same impact on your life or business. Oftentimes people pursue things that promise immediate satisfaction. But they fail to prioritize tasks that actually get them closer to their overarching vision.
There is no set format for prioritizing your life’s goals. But it’s important to be mindful of the tangible impact tasks have on your trajectory. If you’re able to identify things that bring you closer to where you want to be, prioritize them and structure your actions accordingly. Failing to do so early on will only result in wasted time and a false sense of accomplishment.
4. You set goals you don’t actually care about.
Have you ever taken on a goal because it feels like the right thing to do? Others tell you that it’s important to keep fit, be well read, and generally informed about your industry. So you endeavor to exercise more, read more books, and brush up on your facts and statistics.
But despite your best efforts to see things through, you eventually give up because each activity feels like a chore. Sure, the goals themselves seem like worthy pursuits, but they didn’t align with your personal ambition. The key to following through with your goals is to pick ones that actually matter to you. Forget about what other people say you should be doing, and focus instead on things that actually have personal significance.
5. You obsess over results.
A goal-oriented mindset can help you achieve tremendous success, but it can also blind you to a wide array of possibilities. Research suggests that people who engage with the creative process of coming up with new solutions are actually better problem solvers than those who only obsess over getting results. That’s because flexibility is an essential part of the problem-solving process. Sometimes you need to take a few constructive detours or take a step back before you arrive at your destination — and that’s not possible if your stubborn gaze is fixed solely on a target. Stop focusing only on where you are going, and enjoy the moments that get you there. It’s more fulfilling and proven to be more successful.
You’ll continue to set goals for yourself long into the future. Sometimes you’ll accomplish them; oftentimes you won’t. But if you change the way you think about goals and how to set them, you’ll build a rewarding life full of growth, promise and momentum.
Make your goals clear by writing them down, narrow your focus towards things that actually matter to you, and stop obsessing over objectives. Sometimes small conceptual changes can have the biggest impact on your ability to set targets and ensure that you follow through.