If thinking or talking about goals makes you cringe a little, know you're not alone.
I can't tell you how many times my stomach has dropped when people have asked me what my goals (or 5 year plan...yikes) are, what I'm doing to achieve them, etc.
I would feel defensive, like I was being attacked, judged, or criticized for what my goals were, whether or not I was actively working towards, and how successful I was based on them.
I dreaded these conversations for many years.
As I've worked on my personal growth - and being extremely objective with myself - I realized that this discomfort wasn't really from other peoples' judgments. It was my own.
I was the one judging myself, feeling insecure and unsuccessful, and criticizing myself for my progress.
In all honesty, most often no one else seemed to care that much and would say, "that's cool" to my aspirations while I struggled with existentialism and self-loathing for hours and hours thereafter.
Now, obviously A LOT of overcoming this pattern involved inner work; working through limiting beliefs, inner child healing, examining my self-worth, confronting my unhealthy patterns, you know how it is.
But that still didn't fully remove my disdain for having and navigating goals.
Inner work is fantastic. It's needed. It's transformational.
But there are times when we also need to do the outer work.
This wasn't all inner blocks. It was also combined with poor strategy, sabotaging habits, and misalignment setting me up for failure - fueling the inner blocks.
It was a cycle, and both components needed to be addressed and reworked.
This brings me to the TOP 3 reasons I see people not reaching their goals...
1. Having Too Vague of Goals
If I had to choose a #1 reason most goals aren't accomplished, it would be this one. The majority of goals people set are just much too vague to actually succeed at.
"I want to lose weight."
"I want to be less stressed."
"I want to be successful."
"I want to travel."
"I want to be rich and debt free."
"I want a house, spouse, and kids."
You get the picture.
Think about reaching goals as if you're crossing a lengthy bridge over a giant, foggy canyon. You decide you want to cross this bridge. You can see the few steps in front of you and it looks safe enough cross, but there's so much fog that you can't see where the bridge leads.
Now, you know where you're starting from - it's literally where you're at now - so you know you're safe currently. You're intrigued by what's on the other side, but you're not 100% confident you'll get there. What if you start crossing and bridge breaks, plummeting you to doom? What if you start crossing and it's not what you expected, do you go backwards or forwards? There's so much uncertainty in crossing, it may feel too risky to cross.
Also remember, you can't see to the other side. You can't get there without knowing where you're going and what that looks like. What if there's missing planks partway through? Maybe it's extremely longer than you thought it was? Or there's something undesirable on the other side, like a very hungry mountain lion? Or maybe the bridge doesn't lead to the cliff you thought it was?
This metaphor isn't to say not to work for your goals or to convince yourself out of them. But the simple fact is you can't know you've reached it unless you know what it looks like to reach them. How will you know you succeeded? How will you prepare and guarantee you'll get there? What will you do if/when challenges come your way?
Maybe instead of looking at the bridge from the entrance, you climb a tree to get a different perspective, consult someone who knows the area well, get yourself some supplies, find another way to cross that's quicker and safer, etc. and with having the knowledge, perspective, and preparedness you can more confidently cross, knowing it's what you want.
So, get specific!
How much weight do you want to lose? By when? Using what methods?
How less-stressed do you want to be compared to where you are now? (Quantify it) What does being less stressed look like to you? How does it feel? How will you know you've gotten to that point?
How often do you want to travel? Where do you want to travel? Is it realistic with your lifestyle and responsibilities? If not, what is or how can you make it so?
What level of income will make you feel rich? Is it a one-time sum, a monthly amount, or a certain lifestyle? Being debt free is a little more specific as you know the amount, but in what time frame do you want to be debt free? In what ways will you get there?
"I will be able to bench press my weight within 60 days." action steps - I will go to the gym 5x per week, starting with the minimum weight and increasing 10+ lbs every week to my comfort level
"I will move from feeling a 8-6 in stress in 3 months." action steps - I will meditate for 10 minutes every day, spend 30 minutes every day working on a hobby/passion project, and will not be available for any after-hour work requests after 6pm
Make sure your goals and action steps are as specific, measurable, and realistic as possible; including deadlines.
2. Balancing Too Many Goals At Once
The second common reason I see is people getting very inspired and motivated, setting multiple goals at once and biting off more than they can chew, then completely burning themselves out trying to follow through with them all and shutting down.
First of all, I love the enthusiasm and aspirations - keep your visions alive!
Second of all, remember that you're human. You gotta take care of yourself, and there are limitations to our efforts as human beings.
Don't get me wrong, you can have anything and everything you put your mind to. You can reach all of your goals, then some! You got this!
But they don't all need to be done today - or this week. And you're not a failure if you make mistakes, need to slow down, or change your goals (we'll get to this more in a a moment) - you're only human. It's important to find a balance between the goals you're working on, life's responsibilities, and living, and it's perfectly okay to pause on one or more if needed for your wellbeing.
If you're exhausting yourself daily trying to meet multiple goals, juggling everything and stressing yourself out in the process, you're not doing yourself any good. Because either you're not giving your best efforts to your goals (integrity is key for long-term success and happiness) or you're overworking yourself to where it's not enjoyable. Your goals are meant to reflect things you deeply desire, things that make you happy and fulfilled, things that make life enjoyable and worth living. And if you're too busy being overwhelmed and drained, you're pushing yourself further from reaching your goals on a mental/emotional level and causing yourself more harm than good. Is it really worth it to reach your goals if you're too burnt out to enjoy it when you get there? Plus once you reach a goal, usually more new goals follow. It's an ongoing process.
Learn to enjoy the process of reaching your goals, because our goals are not an ending point of success.
They're merely a stepping stone in our life's journey.