Another year has passed and 2021 is upon us. Many of us had a stellar 2020. We got knocked down when quarantine first hit in March, but we bounced back with a quickness! But some of us got knocked down, stayed on the ground, and let ourselves get run over by the twists and turns of every obstacle that came our way. So, what gives? What is the difference between those who bounced back and those who were steamrolled? We can spend the whole day listing the various external causes of failure to reach your goals. But there are (at least) four intrinsic reasons why you (or someone you know) fail to achieve your goals.
You can’t articulate your core values.
List your top three values. Can you do it? If not, this may explain why you are struggling to execute your vision. Our core values help us understand where we are headed, which makes it easier to make decisions about what to do next. Being able to clearly articulate your core values also helps you decide between conflicting opportunities, desires and obligations.
Here’s an example from my own life. A friend asked me whether I wanted to attend a game night. I knew from past experience that these game nights tend to run pretty late. I also knew that, if I went, I would have a hard time leaving at the time I committed to if I was having too much fun. But at the same time, I was kind of lonely and needed social interaction.
Essentially, this came down to a conflict between my values of health (i.e., getting adequate sleep by staying home) and friendship (i.e., bonding and building new friendships). While I value both of these, health is a core value for me. With this in mind, I was able to turn my friend down, assuring her that I would consider hosting the next one. Not only was I able to get the 7+ hours of sleep that my body needs, but I also felt good knowing that I acted in alignment with what’s most important to me.
You’re too in your feelings.
Your feelings may contribute to failure to reach your goals. Some of us know what to do, when to do it, and even how to do it. But the moment we “don’t feel like it,” we fail to follow through. Fear is a feeling that I have seen paralyze a lot of people. Just the thought of failing will stop the most prepared person in her tracks. She will literally have a detailed business plan, money saved, a marketing plan, and supporters–yet, she still has not started the business. Or even worse, she has not even started the planning stages because fear has paralyzed her. Is this you?
Feelings are awesome. But you’re in charge. Stop letting your feelings dictate your every move. Being scared sucks. I get it. But you know what sucks even more? Living a life of regret because you failed to reach your potential.
Your discipline skills suck.
This is related to being in your feelings. Discipline allows you to feel all the feels, but then act anyway. Every weekday morning when my alarm goes off at 5am, I never feel like getting up. Never. But I do it anyway because my feelings do not matter in that instance. At a point in time when I was in my right mind, I made a conscious choice to wake up at 5am and participate in my morning routine. Just because I’m feeling some type of way the morning of does not change the plan or make it any less important. Thus, I get up. This is discipline.
Your ability to exercise discipline improves the more you practice. What does this look like? Example 1: You committed to filling half of your plate with vegetables at each meal. But after a stressful day at work, you decide that a burger and fries would make you feel better. No discipline. Example 2: You said you were going to make your new love interest wait three months before getting physical. But while y’all are Netflix and chillin’ on a cold and rainy night, you decide it’s okay to do a little somethin somethin. No discipline.
The point is, do what you said you were going to do, even when you don’t feel like it. It might help to surround yourself with a community of people who excel in this area.
You lack goal-directed persistence.
While failure to reach your goals may be related to the way you set goals, it is likely because of what happens after the goal is set. Goal-directed persistence is one of the many executive functioning skills. It is the ability to set a goal and work towards completion of it. This involves not getting distracted by other goals that may pop up along the way. Social media and the way we were socialized in this country is part of the problem. But, truly, you are the bulk of the problem.
In terms of your personal goals, you are in control of what you do, how you do it and when you do it. When you decide with conviction that you are going to do something, be impeccable with your word and see it through. It can be so easy to get derailed by new ideas and thoughts. One strategy for this is to keep a journal or notebook so you don’t lose those precious ideas. But until you finish with the first project, do not move on to another one.
Did any of these resonate with you? If so, hone in on the one that stood out to you the most (or perhaps the one you were most defensive about). Choose to take a step today to be better in that area. If you need help, consider hiring a life coach or feel free to reach out to me via email. There are plenty of resources out there to help you be a better you.