“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
It’s hard to achieve our goals. More often than not, we fail to follow through. Either we lose focus, change our minds, or simply give up. For one reason or another, things get in the way, and our mentality shifts. We fail to achieve our goals because we either decided it was going to be too difficult to attain, or we didn’t want to suffer through another moment of pain.
You know the feeling, don’t you? We’ve all failed to achieve one goal or another at some point in our lives. I know I’ve been there more times than I’d like to admit. But the thing that interests me most isn’t whether or not we’ve failed, it’s why we’ve failed. Why did we throw in that proverbial towel? What helped us reach our breaking point?
Clearly, achieving any major goal is difficult. For the most part, it takes all of our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual energy. It involves countless decisions that we conduct on a daily basis. Every thought, resultant emotion, and behavior plays some role in that failure.
Often, we start out with gusto towards our goals. In the beginning, we’re excited about the change and doing something new, potentially making revolutionary advancements in our lives. But over time, that gusto waxes and wanes when we realize the seemingly-insurmountable difficulties that lie ahead in the wake of our biggest dreams.
Over time, we give up. We cave and call it quits. We fail to achieve our goals, not for lack of wanting or trying, but lack of not wanting or trying hard enough. Whenever we want to achieve a goal as badly as we want to breathe the air in order to stay alive, that’s when we see things through.
Why Do We Fail To Achieve Our Goals?
Any goal that’s monumental enough to want to achieve, is going to be difficult. Often, it involves changing a drastic change to the way we live our lives. It involves a modification of our habits and behavior on a daily basis. Not only do we need better habits to support us, but we need to quit the bad habits that tend to hold us back.
Since so much of our behavior on a daily basis is habit-driven, this makes sense. It’s also easy to understand why we revert back to our old ways. For example, if we try to lose weight, we might give it all we think we’ve got for a number of weeks. But, then we hit that brick wall. We get frustrated and disappointed when things don’t happen right away.
The problem with reverting back to our old ways is that it consumes us. We lose sight of what we want due to the basal urges and needs that have become pre-conditioned and pre-programmed into our minds and bodies. We crave and yearn for things, wanting them more when we know we can’t have them. Moderation takes a backseat to those urges and we relent to our innermost desires.
It’s hard to achieve any goal when you’re at the mercy of years and decades of pre-conditioned behavior. Our bad habits can completely ruin us. They deplete us of any level of enthusiasm or zeal by essentially shackling us to a life of complacency, creating a defeated sense of spirit.
So how do we fight back? How do we push through the pain to reach our goals when they seem so far away? How do we extricate ourselves from the instant-gratification mindset and move towards the long-term benefits of our behavior today, right now? It’s not easy.And I likely don’t need to tell you that. But it is possible.
#1 — Loss of Focus
One of the reasons why we fail to achieve our goals is due to an overall loss of focus. It’s hard to stay laser-focused for an elongated period of time. Even for people that are highly driven to succeed, losing focus is commonplace. There are all sorts of interruptions in life that can aid in a loss of focus. Clearly, problems can and do arise often.
How are people supposed to stay focused on achieving their goals when they’re dealing with a major calamity in their lives? What happens if they lose their job, or lose a loved one, or lose a relationship, deal with problems with their children, battle financial issues, and so on?
Life can be disheartening at even the best of times. When something really bad happens in life, it’s easy to see why we might fail to achieve our goals. We lose that internal fire within that guides and pushes us towards something. Getting over a major loss or calamity in life can be difficult. Once we lose that momentum, it’s hard to start it back up again.
#2 — Absence of Strong-Enough Reasons
One major way we fail to achieve our goals is because we start out on the wrong foot. When you set goals the wrong way, in that you don’t have strong-enough reasons for wanting to achieve them, it’s easier to lose sight of your hopes and dreams. This is part of setting goals the right way.
But this isn’t about superficial reasons. You can’t just say you want to succeed for want of money or a better car or a bigger house. Those are superficial reasons. You need a reason that goes deeper than that. Whenever you have a reason that’s as important as the air that you breathe, you’ll do what it takes to achieve your goals.
For example, things like love, family, country, freedom and security are compelling reasons. But you have to state just what those reasons mean to you if you don’t want to fail to achieve your goals. When you state what it means to you, and it’s deep-rooted enough into who you are, your determination won’t waver, and you’ll end up seeing things through.
#3 — Lack of Planning
When an airplane takes off from one city to the next, it has a goal. It has a goal to land at a specific destination on a specific day and at a specific time. But it doesn’t just have that goal. It can’t achieve the goal without planning towards it. How will it take off and land? How much fuel will it need? What direction will it travel? What happens when there is air-traffic congestion or turbulence?
You see, the plane has to plan every last detail to achieve its goal. And, it has to analyze with excruciating detail every second of the way. Now, you don’t need to do all that, but you do need to plan. If you don’t plan, you’ll fail to achieve your goals. How can you expect to get from one point to the next if you don’t create a detailed and intricate plan? You can’t.
Create a massive-action plan towards achieving your goals. But don’t just create that plan and forget it. Plan every single day, week and month out towards your long-term goals. What will you do to tackle your most important tasks for the day? How will you manage your time effectively so you don’t get distracted? There is so much to consider, so be sure to plan, plan and plan some more.
#4 — The Inability to Act
Another reason we fail to achieve our goals is the simply inability to act. Our progress is stifled by procrastination. Dubbed the silent killer, procrastination can all-but kill off your hopes and your dreams by moving you further and further away from them. The longer we wait to act, the harder it is to break the cycle of inaction.
Momentum clearly isn’t on our side when we procrastinate. It’s next-to impossible to achieve any goal, big or small, when we fail to act. So, how are we supposed to take massive amounts of action and to actually see things through? How can we stay persistent, even through the most difficult times in life?
While pushing past the obstacles we face in life is hard, to say the least, it’s overcoming procrastination that’s even harder. But there’s a simple hack that you can use to help get momentum back on your side. It’s called the 15-minute rule. Set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes and commit to doing the one task that you’ve been putting off for exactly that amount of time.
Why only 15 minutes? What you’ll find is that once the 15 minutes are up, you’ll keep going. But even if you don’t, you just broke the cycle of inaction. Now, momentum isn’t against you any longer. It’s that initial inability to act that tends to hold us back. All you have to do is break that pattern.
#5 — Bad Habits that Hold us Back
Last, but certainly not the least reason why we fail to achieve our goals, are due to the bad habits that hold us back. How can we expect to achieve monumental results when those pesky bad habits keep getting in the way? Did you know, according to one study, that habits comprise 45% of human behavior?
For example, we might fail to achieve our weight-loss goals because of the bad habit of eating fast food, or of driving instead of walking, and so on. We revert to our default behavior. It’s ingrained into our minds as a way of creating more efficiency in our behavior. It helps to automate the mundane tasks, but can also significantly hold us back from achieving our dreams.
If you don’t want your bad habits to stand in the way of you and your goals, you need to find ways to overcome them. It happens slowly over time. Don’t try to go from zero to hero overnight. When you try to create or break a habit too fast, it can snap and unravel. When that happens, you revert back in a more vehement way.
While trying to lose weight, if you starve yourself, you end up caving in and going right back to eating poorly but with much more ferocity. Thus, you gain more weight than where you started. Studies have confirmed this very fact. So you should start slowly. Commit to 5 pushups per day or just a simple walk around the block. But be sure you do it every single day.
This is what I like to call the micro-changes approach. It works for forming good habits just as well as it does for breaking bad habits. For example, if you smoke too much, begin cutting down gradually. Instead of 20 cigarettes per day, do only 15 for the first week, then 10 then next week, then 5 the following week, and so on, until you’re smoke free.
The problem with some habits is that they can also create a change in our physiology, making us dependent upon them. This goes for cigarettes and alcohol as much as it does for sugar and fatty foods. It’s difficult to overcome physiological dependencies. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.