Why you aren’t achieving your goals

How many goals have you set for yourself at the one time? How many did you achieve? All of them, thus giving you a massive sense of accomplishment and the head size to match? Or none of them, resulting in an entire weekend on the sofa, sulking, with reality TV and a bucket of ice cream while you wish you never set goals in the first place.

The most I’ve ever set at once was about nine and I can’t recall whether I achieved any of them. But I never stop setting goals, because some I do manage to achieve and that feels pretty good. So why do some work and some fail?

After some experimentation of methods for maintaining motivation towards a goal, these are the two things most likely to throw me off track: the process isn’t fun or the goal isn’t a priority.

Identify why you’re losing motivation towards you goal: either the process isn’t fun or the goal isn’t a priority

Exercise isn’t fun, I have more important things to do than finish that project, learning a language is frustrating. Some goals might fall into both categories. No wonder we keep failing at them!

How to find the fun when working towards a goal

It’s about the journey, not the destination, yada yada yada. How do we actually do that?

Try taking a step back from the goal. What are some activities that you do that make you feel good? What activities do you enjoy freely, without any thought to achievement? Can you combine one of these activities with a goal?

Thinking of two of the most commonly broken New Year’s Resolutions, losing weight and saving money, how could we combine fun with these?

Exercise equipment in front of the TV is a popular idea, but what else? There are all sorts of developments in the exercise-powered electronics range, but for something more simple, how about a Walking Book Club?

Saving isn’t a fun process, but instead of focusing on how to spend less (boring!), thinkabout how to have more fun at home (yay!). Learn some new recipes, binge-watch some quality shows online, fall back in love with actually calling friends on the phone and having a good, long chat! Actually, invite them over to enjoy your cooking! Spending less and saving more will become a side-effect of your in-house entertainment.

How to prioritise your goals

In order to be motivated enough to achieve a goal, there has to be a good reason for having it in the first place.

Ask yourself “Why do I want this?”. If the answer is along the lines of “because it would be cool”, this is not your goal. You’ve set it for people other than yourself.

Ask “Why do I want this?” – If the answer is “because it would be cool”, it’s not your goal. You’ve set it for people other than yourself.

Let that goal go, it’s not yours.

If your answer relates to self-ownership and personal growth and satisfaction, that’s great! You just need to work out why you’re not prioritising it. Why are you undervaluing something that is important to you?

I set a goal to read more. I used to read novels but I haven’t done in years. I would see sites like GoodReads or hear friends talking about what great books they’ve read lately and I would feel like I’m missing out or being left behind. I was adding a strange competitiveness to reading, which I knew was ridiculous. It meant that reading wasn’t my goal and that it was a frivolous activity that wasn’t worth prioritising. I had to rethink why I wanted to read more. The real reason was that I wanted to write a novel.

Completing even just a first draft would be a great personal accomplishment and also be a gift to those around me who have inspired it. I am more inspired to write when I’m reading. I want to read more to fuel my writing. I realised that reading wasn’t frivolous, it was a fun way to inspire my writing. That made the goal mine, and a higher priority, and a lot more fun!

So really think about your goals. What’s getting in the way of accomplishing them: are they not fun, not yours or not a priority?

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