Why Do Goals Fail?
January 11, 2023 - 4 minutes read
Posted by Claire Parker
Go wild at Christmas and then knuckle down in the New Year… this is most people’s mentality; every year. We rinse and repeat, go all guns blazing in January (or February if you usually use January to “finish off the Christmas treats”) and then continually get on and off the proverbial hamster wheel throughout the year until the Christmas season comes around again and we repeat the sequence.
So how do we change this cycle once and for all? Guest post by Laura Betts of Nexus Online Coaching, our health & fitness partner.
When it comes to the actual goal-setting process the majority of us do 3 things wrong.
- We set unrealistic goals
- We base our goals on external factors
- We go too hard, too soon
So, when thinking of your New Year goals (or resolutions) ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my goal? Why?
- Why do I want to achieve this?
- Why does this matter to me?
- Why will this make a difference?
- Why does this matter?
Asking yourself “why” a minimum of 5 times will help you to ensure that your goal is a genuine priority, plus allow you to understand your true reason for having this goal; giving you your core motivation that will help you see the goal through. Without your true “why” you will keep “falling off the wagon” so to speak.
We also often take on the goals of other people/society, even when our current priorities lie elsewhere, as we are subconsciously influenced, feel pressured or place expectations on ourselves to conform.
So, if you are still unsure if your goal is truly your own, ask yourself:
- Do I feel pressured by others to have this goal?
- Where does this goal come from?
- Do others around me share this goal?
- Is this goal a current priority of mine?
- What would happen if I didn’t focus on this goal right now? Could I come back to it at a later date?
Goals in Practice
Now you know whether your goal is the right goal for you to be focusing on, you can create a plan to achieve it.
Similarly to goal setting, we tend to do a couple of things wrong when creating a plan:
- We over-promise
- We aren’t specific enough
- We have an all-or-nothing mindset
What do I mean by this?
Often the reason why so many of us never see our goals to the end and keep finding ourselves in the same cycle of “on the wagon-off the wagon” is because we are unrealistic with our current ability.
We all have lives outside of our goals, and these don’t pause whilst we focus on our set target. So we need to ensure our plans suit our individual lifestyles.
For instance; telling yourself you are going to go for a run each morning before work is great in theory but when you haven’t been running for a long time, if ever, and find it difficult to get up when your current alarm goes off, let alone an hour earlier, is just setting yourself up for failure. You have over-promised.
Instead, try to walk first. Ease yourself in and be realistic in your promises.
“I will get up 30 minutes earlier, 2 days a week for a run.” Then you can grow on this once you manage the 2 days consistently.
Furthermore, be as specific as you can be.
“I will get up 30 minutes earlier, on Tuesday and Thursday for a 3K run for the next 2 weeks, then I will increase to 4K”
The more specific we are with our plans the more likely we are to stick to them.
Yet, you should allow some flexibility in the plan, so you don’t sack the week off altogether if something goes wrong. But having a specific time, day, moment, or thing, to aim for will make the plan more solid and achievable.
If plans don’t work out, that’s ok; just gather the data, reassess and go again. Avoid an all-or-nothing mindset. Just because things aren’t perfect doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile. Small, consistent, imperfect actions will get you to your goal quicker than one big, inconsistent attempt to be perfect.
- What is my goal and why?
- Does this goal work for me right now?
- What is a realistic, sustainable, first step towards achieving my goal?
- Can I be even more specific with my plan?
- If things don’t go to plan, what is my contingency?
- Do I have an open mind to keep reassessing and evolving the plan as I go?
Remember your goals need to work for you. Don’t keep setting yourself up for failure because you see “being a failure” as part of your identity. You are not.
Believe in yourself. Be honest with yourself. And finally, be compassionately consistent with your actions.
You’ve got this!
We would like to express our sincere thanks to Laura and the team at Nexus Online Coaching for this helpful article. If you have health and fitness goals you’d like to achieve this year, get in touch with the Nexus team who will help you move forward.