Top Five Reasons Why People Fail to Achieve Their Goals

08 Apr
by Bridget DiCello

When you realize it’s April, the first quarter of the 2013 calendar year is over, and you look at your goals for the year, are you:

  • Energized by your progress?
  • Depressed by the lack of achievement year to date?
  • Frustrated by what took you off track?
  • Unsure of how exactly you are progressing because you haven’t looked at your metrics yet?

Top 5 reasons why people fail to achieve their goals:

1 – Never wrote goals in the first place. If you never committed to paper, you didn’t see the value in spending that time, were unsure of exactly what your goals were, were never committed enough to put them on paper – lest you fail, or believe things change so quickly that you were going to go with the flow. The commitment from goals in your head, to goals written on paper by your hand, and shared with others – is a big commitment. And it’s a leap for most people. If you have never written your goals, jump that hurdle and put them on paper. Then share them with someone. And, if you have a team who is responsible to achieve these goals with you, by all means, share the written goals with them!

2 – Goals were way too ambitious. Have you ever made a list in your head of what you want to accomplish on your day off, or on a weekend – and never made it even half-way through? Excited by the prospect of a day off, or some ‘free’ time on the weekend, we quite rightly, think of all the things we want, need and would like to accomplish, including some time lounging at the pool. In business, it can be the same way. If you are excited about your job or your business, you will have high hopes and ambitions. Don’t let them get away. Just make sure when you write your goals list, you pinpoint realistic goals, corresponding strategies and reasonable action items, so you and your team can make progress, and can celebrate those achievements at month or quarter-end. Then, also keep a list of your hopes and dreams, ambitious goals and ‘to do someday’ items, and consistently chip away at that list.

3 – Never created a detailed plan. Being able to execute on a project or initiative is a lot harder than it may appear, and the skill is not in everyone’s toolbox. Even the most diligent of people cannot always get things done on time without a solid plan in place that clarifies objectives, creates the roadmap, identifies milestones, pinpoints key action items, assigns responsibility, allows for obstacles that will inevitably occur, and monitors progress on execution of that plan. This is not a lengthy paper document, but it is a plan on paper, with the ‘how’ we are going to get this done (in relatively small bites), ‘who’ is going to do it, by ‘when’, and ‘what we will do when things don’t go as planned.’

4 – Failure to measure progress. It takes some work to identify metrics to measure performance upfront when goals are written, and then to take a moment to check on those metrics throughout the quarter. However, it is more effective to spend this time upfront than to get to the end of the time period and find out you missed your goal. Enormous Accounts Receivable balances don’t occur in 90+ days without first occurring in 30 and 60 days. Closed sales don’t plummet without first seeing a drop in calls and appointments.   Whatever you are concerned about should have a measurement associated with it, not only so you can measure your success, but also your progress. Some measurements are more subjective, and based on manager or owner evaluation. These can be just as effective, when the criteria are spelled out up front.

5 – You moved the finish line. If you work with or for someone who might be called an “Achiever” or even an “Over-Achiever,” you’ve learned that no matter how much success is experienced, it’s never enough – and they are quick to celebrate and move on to the next challenge. Written goals help with this challenge as well, because while you are excited about achieving a goal and setting the next one, you can’t continually move the finish line and not frustrate the team. However, the team can move the finish line as long as the success is acknowledged and don’t burn themselves out working overtime.

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