Reaching Higher: 3 Reasons We Don’t Reach Our Goals and What to Do About It
You’re looking at setting a new goal; maybe it’s losing weight, getting a new job, starting a new hobby, learning a new skill, or getting out of debt. Whatever the goal is, it is all part of the personal growth journey. Often, when we are setting new goals, we go into it with a lot of motivation and energy, only to see that disappear as time goes on. What happens? Why do we lose our zest? That’s what this post is all about!
We know that goals can help us get where we want to be in life. Reaching the goal comes with energy, positivity, and the feeling of triumph. As we set our goals, we picture in our minds what will happen when we reach the top and how much different things will be. With this energy, we set up our plans and start to get to work. Here are three common pitfalls that come to reaching our goals and what to do about them to help keep the momentum rolling.
Reason #1: The Goal is Too Big
This one might seem a little bit obvious at first, but it is still a common pitfall amongst goal setters. When we create too big of a goal, we are more likely to lose motivation to keep working on it. Progress comes slow, the endpoint seems too far away, and the fear and doubt begin to creep in. While the picture at the end seems nice, it starts to feel impossible and more of a dream than a goal.
What to Do:
Break your goal down into separate components. A simple metaphor to think about is a bicycle wheel. If you have a big goal in mind, picture it as the entire bicycle wheel. With the full image of your goal in mind, it’s time to break it down into components. These are the spokes on the wheel, which are crucial to the wheel's integrity as a whole. Breaking it down will help keep things going because your steps will become more manageable and feel attainable. You’ll see progress quicker, which increases the motivation to keep going.
Take the goal of being healthier, which is a big one when you truly look at it. That might come with starting to exercise more, eat healthier, get more sleep, change your grocery shopping habits, cut out things like stress-eating, lose weight, and treating yourself better. Those are big things! Working on all of that at once will be overwhelming, and you’re likely to fall back into old ways.
The trick is to break it down into manageable components, or smaller goals. Maybe the first step is losing 5 pounds. How will you approach it? You might start with one or two components, such as exercising 30 minutes a day or eating a 500-calorie deficit. Either way, these are smaller chunks that make the larger goal of being healthier not seem as daunting.
Reason #2: Not Enough Clarity
Have you ever driven to a new place without a GPS or map? You have a general idea of where the location is, but not the specifics? Ever had to do that on a foggy day? This can be a nerve-wracking experience, and the more the insecurity builds, the more you will be tempted to give up. We like clarity and specificity, not just in our driving directions but also in our goals.
If you have just an idea of what you want to do without fully picturing it, chances are you will get lost in what you are trying to do. This will decrease your follow-through and increase your chances of not finishing. Not having a clear picture of your goal is like driving to a new place without a GPS and on a foggy day.
What to Do:
Before you set your goal, you need to create a clear picture of the goal and what it will take to reach it. Being specific will be your ally here. The more you know what your goal is and what it will take, the more you can build this into your plan. It can help you break it down into manageable components, outline the actions you need to take, and give you a clear idea of when you have reached your goal.
Let’s go back to the example of being healthier. The concept of “being healthier” is quite vague when you think about it. To set a goal related to being healthier, you need to define what that means to you, what it will look like, and what it will take to reach it. It means looking at what you are doing now that is working towards your definition of being healthier and what habits need to change. The more you have a clear picture of what you are going after, the better chances you have of reaching it!
Reason #3: The Approach is Too Rigid
You’ve got a clear picture in your head of what you want to achieve with your goal, and you have your plan of how you will reach it. The action steps are listed out, and you know when different parts of the goal will be completed so you can move to the next objective. Each action you’ll take naturally flows into the next one, and you are prepped and ready to go, and then life hits.
Obstacles you didn’t account for start to get in your way. Suddenly you can’t go from Step B to Step C the way you wanted, or the unexpected has presented a detail you didn’t know or consider. Your plan begins to crumble as the path gets curvier and wilder. This is a common point where people start to fall away from their goal and move back to old habits.
What to Do:
Having a structure to your goal is essential as it helps outline your path and where you are going. However, the danger of having too much structure is not adapting to life and the curveballs it throws. When you are working towards a goal, flexibility must be built into the process. You might think Step B leads to Step C, only to find out there are a couple of steps in-between those two. If you are not ready to adapt, you will not do what needs to be done.
To build in flexibility, have regular times of reassessing your goal, the steps you’ve taken, the progress you’ve made, and what the next steps look like. Take what you have learned moving forward to see if you are on the right course or not. The path to reaching your goal will not be a straight line unless that straight line was drawn by a two-year-old and a crayon. Be open to adding detail to the picture of your goal and what it will take to get there!
Goals are a powerful way to start taking meaningful action in your life. Any personal growth and development will require goals. The more prepared you are for common pitfalls, the higher chance you have of navigating them successfully. If you’re ready for the next step, get your free download below of a helpful action planner on how to REACH your goals!