5 reasons you’re not achieving your goals (and what you can do instead)

Setting goals is a great way to set ideas in motion, get things done, and move closer to your bigger picture. But it doesn’t always work out that easily, does it?

Sometimes we struggle to achieve our goals, and it can get frustrating if it happens often. We feel we’re not getting anywhere or that we get stuck putting out spot-fires rather than keeping up momentum.

We aren’t born knowing how to set goals, but the good thing is that goal-setting is a skill that can be learned. 

Let’s start our learning journey by highlighting some of the reasons we don’t achieve our goals. I want to help you set goals that you can achieve so you can start moving forward in your business again. Without the overwhelm.

I work with my members and clients to create goals every month and I see patterns arising from times when goals aren’t achieved. Let’s look into the common reasons I see (and experience myself) that stop us achieving our business goals:

Reason 1 - You're setting too many goals

Often we underestimate how much we can do in a month. Life happens, the kids get sent home from school unwell, client work can come in unexpectedly, we have new ideas that we want to play with… not to mention the laundry, cleaning, etc. (Is there any room for me-time in there?)

We have the very best of intentions when setting our goals. But we need to put the brakes on sometimes. 

If you’re setting too many goals then you’ll find yourself halfway through the month with only one or two goals achieved. You’ll feel a bit crummy because you didn’t get what you wanted done.

What to do instead: Limit yourself to 3 goals. It may not seem like many, but it really is a magic number when it comes to goal-setting. 

If you get part way through the month and you’ve smashed your 3 goals already, go ahead and set a new one. But start with no more than 3 otherwise it splits your focus.

Example: You’re feeling particularly energetic at the start of the month and ambitiously set 5 goals. But you realise that it’s school holidays coming up or you’ve got lots of client work so your capacity is reduced. Identify which 3 you’d like to reach first, and let the other 2 carry over into the next month.

Reason 2 - You haven't established a clear plan

They say a goal without a plan is just a wish. And it’s true. 

The process of goal-setting must always include a clear plan of action. Not having a plan is kind of like having a destination to go on holiday but not thinking about the details like flights, packing your bags and accommodation. 

We don’t want you wandering around aimlessly, do we?

What to do instead: When you establish your goal, make a habit of following it with that all-important plan of action. Spend some time brainstorming all the things that need to be done to achieve that goal.

Example: Imagine you’re trying to set up your website. It’s partly done, you just need to finish it. So what do you need to do to launch the website?

  • Write copy for home, about, contact and services pages
  • Curate suitable images and store together in a folder
  • Proofread all copy
  • Create website pages on platform and upload copy
  • Send to 2 associates for feedback
  • Update website with required changes
  • Publish website
  • Promote website to followers
  • Update links on Google My Business
  • And so on...

Reason 3 - Your goal is too big

You may hear the opposite of this quite often. Our goals “should” be big, inspiring and life changing.

Yes, they can be. But perhaps not when we’re getting the hang of achieving our goals.

We want to feel like we’re achieving big things. But if we set our sights too high then we may look up and feel like we’ll never get there, and perhaps not even try. 

This considers our capacity to achieve our goals. If we simply can’t achieve it realistically then we need to revisit our goals.

What to do instead: I’m not saying you can’t have big goals. What I am recommending is that you break them down. 

If it’s too big and overwhelming, break it down into a series of smaller sub-goals that’ll help you get there while staying motivated.

Example: Imagine you’re working towards a profit goal that feels a bit out of reach (but you’re determined!). Let’s break it down into a few smaller goals: 

  1. To audit my expenses and reduce spending from $1,500 to $1,200 per month.
  2. To increase my prices by 5% on all services.
  3. To gain one new client on X package.

Can you see how breaking the big, overwhelming goal into 3 sub goals helps? If you achieve the smaller goals, you’ll already be taking steps towards your bigger goal.

Reason 4 - You haven't created a way to measure your achievement

If you don’t have a way to measure your goal, how will you know you’ve made progress?

If you can’t figure out when you’re halfway, or nearly done then you’ll have no way to gauge when you’ve actually achieved your goal. The result? Goal abandonment or no acknowledgement the goal was reached.

Let’s say your goal is to get new subscribers on your email list. When have you reached the goal? 10 subscribers? 50? 1000? Be clear on how many subscribers are needed to reach your goal and celebrate some milestones along the way to keep you motivated.

What to do instead: Identify a way of measuring your goal progress. It’s helpful to attach a numeric value, even with goals that aren’t easily measurable. 

Example: Using the goal of gaining more subscribers, let’s break it down. The primary goal is to get new subscribers onto your mailing list. Firstly, be clear on where the finish line is. New goal: To gain 500 new subscribers onto your mailing list within the next 3 months.

How can we measure progress? Let’s set some checkpoints; every 100 subscribers earns you a little reward! Block of choc, or wine anyone? Celebrate your check points and watch your “progress bar” go!

Reason 5 - Your fears are standing in your way

I saved this one for last because it's a biggie.

So many goals are left unreached because our fears and doubts are holding us back. You may not feel like fears are standing in your way, but you’d be surprised. 

Have you ever procrastinated on a goal, but not known why?

Ever felt the perfectionist in you wave it’s magic dust all over your goal?

Do you keep adding more and more steps to your goal?

That’s your subconscious stopping you from reaching the finish line. What’s at the finish line? Fear of judgement. Fear of failure. And even fear of succeeding.

What to do instead: Acknowledge that some invisible fears are likely to hold you back sometimes. Be open to learning what they are so you can overcome them and achieve your goal. Brainstorm your fears, journal them out or talk to an entrepreneurial friend about what you’re worried about.

Example: Imagine your goal is to launch a course to implement additional revenue streams into your business. You’ve made the course plan, recorded the lessons, registered for the course software, and the landing page is looking beautiful. But you hate the audio quality. You feel like you need to re-record it so it’s perfect. 

Well, hello perfectionism. Why are you here? 

Are you afraid that people will judge your course? What if they laugh? What if no one buys it? What if someone does buy it but then asks for a refund?

Acknowledging these fears is an important first step. Overcoming them can be as simple as figuring out what you’ll do if the fear does come true. Or examining the likelihood it’ll happen. Some deeper fears need more professional support to overcome. But step one is always acknowledging them.