Why you’re not achieving your goals

Why you’re not achieving your goals


How are you doing? Good? And how well are you progressing towards your goals right now? Not this quarter, or even this month, but right now, here, today.

If we’re not careful, all that planning (or daydreaming, or wishful thinking) we did way back when the year seemed all shiny and new will come to nought. Here’s my little theory as to why that is: we set goals and then do nothing to achieve them. Simple really.

The evidence of our tendency is everywhere: the dramatic January spike in gym memberships, followed by lapses and cancellations (some from joiners who never showed up once); the sad cycle of yo-yo dieting, going from weight loss to weight gain and back again, and again; and of course, the panic come appraisal time that we haven’t actually done what we signed up to get done over this year.

What’s to be done?  Inspiration from John Lennon: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  We create a parallel universe where our grand plans are over there… meanwhile, over here is the stuff that happens. Day in, year out.

It needn’t be that way, at least not all the time. Here’s a sanity check for your goals:

Are they motivating?  Do your goals appeal to a deep drive you have? Are they aligned with your idea of who you are?  If not, stop and check if they’re appropriate goals for you. If they’re work goals, think hard about how you can shape them to fit, or get help from people who lap up the kind of work involved.

Are they scary or stretching?  Some folks are motivated by scary goals; some aren’t. What works for you? There needs to be some stretch involved in the goals if we want to progress.

Are they achievable in the time we have available?  This is often the stumbling block. If this has been happening to you, then try these steps:

  1. Break the goal down into at least 5 chunks, steps or stages in a sequence.
  2. Taking the next stage, identify the immediate next action you need to take to move forward.
  3. Now identify how long that action will take.
  4. Open up your calendar or diary and make an appointment with yourself to do it.
  5. Even better, buddy up with a colleague and encourage each other to keep going.

Yes, I know this sounds ridiculously basic, yet it’s the basic things that so many of us don’t do, and it’s why so many people undershoot their goals. Bring your plans into your life on a day to day basis, in small steps – and you will make progress.

You may find these posts useful: 6 steps to silence your inner critic   ‘Tips to boost your confidence – stop dreaming and start doing’,  


Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ and ‘How to be Zoomly at work’



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