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Why don’t people reach their goals?

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One of the strongest desire we, human beings have is achieving our goals and dreams.  Well, sometimes we make all the efforts to achieve our parents’ or partners’ dreams, but if we want to be conscious about our life, we work on achieving our own dreams.

And what is a better way of achieving a dream than seeing it clearly in the mind and articulating it as a goal? Once we have our goals set, we are done, aren’t we?

Perhaps it is surprising but even though goal setting is a popular topic, various studies show that achieving goals is not a success story for all. Naturally, the number of people who achieve their goals is different in each study, but a recurring theme is that many of us abandon the goals within four weeks.

In the meantime, we hear stories of success almost every day and examples of high performers fill the pages of online and offline magazines. We all love to hear the success stories.

And we all would like to live the dream, the success story. But few of us do. What could be the reason?

As a starting point, we can talk about goal-setting. I know it is May already; we have almost reached the end of Q2. We shouldn’t talk about setting goals, right? Setting goals is part of the new year’s resolution.

Just stay with me. The way how you set your goals has a high impact on your success of achieving them.

Many like to set same or similar goals others set for themselves just to follow the “good” example. But will the same thing work well for everyone?
Others like to go for super ambitious goals just to lose the steam after hitting a barrier once or twice.
Not to mention those, who think about the first couple of steps but don’t take the time to see the challenges, the required change in context.

These are just a few examples. What we can learn from these is if we would like to see the results, we need to see where we are going and what path is going to take us there will help achieving our goals.

Think about it. It is May already. If we still didn’t achieve our goals or made visible progress, we’ll lose nothing by reviewing your goals.

Regardless of the progress they make, high performers take a look at their goals multiple times a year. This is part of their success formula.

What is the advice here?

  • Plan your six months or the year or two years with the end in mind. Think about the most important things that must happen for you to achieve your goal.
  • Think about your life and see what fits in there. You can go for ambitious goals and achieve them, if you can allocate the time and resources needed. If you cannot do that, you will struggle and eventually abandon the goal.

That links to a tricky part of goal achievement and success. Maintaining motivation so you stick with your goals.

We often use the expression losing motivation. Truth to be told, one cannot lose motivation. Although we can lose focus; or just to link back to the first aspect, goal setting, we can set unrealistic or uninteresting goals.

Let’s talk a bit more about motivation. What is motivation? What is the source of motivation? Is it within us or does it come from the environment?

Motivation is a combination of reasons why we act or behave in a certain way and a certain level of energy directed toward achieving our goals.
We may feel motivated because of an internal desire or because of external influences. Such external influence may be a reward. A reward can be material, or a recognition of our results voiced to us or shared in front of others.

When we abandon a goal, we no longer believe that achieving our goals is worth the effort. Either because we believe something else will bring about better results, or we experience problems in putting in the required effort.

So, you see. One cannot lose motivation. The motivation is there, but it is most likely redirected.

What can we learn from this?

  • Listen to the signs of your body and mind to recognise when you are about to re-prioritise. You may revise your goals intentionally, but sometimes our instant desires are stronger than us. High performers understand delayed gratification and to maintain high performance and repeated results, you need to be patient.
  • Be conscious of how you allocate your time and energy.
  • You may have more goals on your list all the time but that doesn’t mean you have to multitask. Be clear on what you need to do within a specified time period and maintain your focus. Once you are done and progressed with one topic or task as desired move to another task.
  • If you are stuck with a specific task, park it. Get on another task, so you don’t waste time. This practice will help you not only with improving your efficiency but your creativity and problem-solving, too.

Of course, success and high-performance are more complex and both depend on more than just goal-setting and motivation; and both goal-setting and motivation can be improved in many ways.

You can listen to the podcast version of this article on this link.

why dont people reach their goals
Click to the image to listen the podcast

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Ariana Mara

Ariana Mara

Ariana founded unleashr with the aim to help people not only understand but benefit from the changes in their professional environment.

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