Why Do Most People Fail to Accomplish Their Goals?


Pushing toward your goalsSometimes, it is very difficult to complete goals.

I’ve always been an athlete. I love training hard. But I’m not a huge fan of distance running. I’m not even a little fan of it.

Despite this, once in a blue moon, I’ll get the idea in my head that I need to go for a run. So, I set a modest goal to run for a specific distance. Say three miles.

That’s easy. That’s the distance “fun runs” are made of.

In most instances, about two minutes into the run, I start to engage in serious self-negotiations.

The three-mile goal starts to feel wildly unrealistic. I start to wonder, when, in all of my life, have I ever needed the ability to run for three miles? Never. Perhaps a good half-mile run is all I need.

I start to wonder if walking is probably better for me anyways. Maybe instead of running, I could do some pushups. Actually, I’ve been working out hard all week. Maybe today should be a rest day?

Somewhere, in the very deep far back part of my mind, I know I can and should push through these thoughts. Even though I’ve never come to love running, I know I can complete the run. I know I’ll feel good once I warm up. I know I’ll feel great having completed my goal.

The biggest battle isn’t with my body. It’s with my mind.

Persistent Pursuit of Goals

Almost exactly two years ago, I published an article called How I Found Success by Avoiding Perfection.

In that article, I made an announcement that I had set a goal to commercially publish a book. I made the announcement because I knew that I was going to want to quit. I wanted the public accountability.

I had no idea how hard or involved and often time, discouraging, that process would be.

I had no idea who had read the article. But just the fact that I had put it out there helped motivate me and propel me forward.

In March of this year, I finally signed a contract with a publisher. I’ve been busy writing the book for the last seven months. The manuscript is currently going through its third edit. It has been tough work.

The working title: Leadership & Conflict: How to Harness Conflict to Build Better Leaders and Thriving Teams.

A release date hasn’t been set but it should be available early 2018. Stay tuned!

It feels great to be at this point. However, there is a lot of work left to do.

I intend to see it through to the end.

Setting Goals Is Easy. Implementation Is Hard.

The effort, the time, the investment required can turn out to be more than what we expected. It’s often easiest to just shrug our shoulders and just stop the pursuit. It’s often easier to allow ourselves to negotiate ourselves down.

This is the time of year where I start to get frequent requests for coaching or strategic planning. Perhaps it has to do with school starting or the weather cooling.

But it always seems like around now, there is a burst of desire to get clarity on direction and set good goals.

As it turns out, goal setting is the easy part. Implementation and follow through is hard.

While this is a good time of year to start setting goals, it’s also a great time of year to reflect on what it is needed to make progress on goals already set.

What Did You Intend to Accomplish This Year?

What did you intend to accomplish this year? How are you doing in making progress toward those goals?

If you aren’t making the kind of progress you originally intended, do you know why? Do you know what you want to do with those goals?

It isn’t uncommon to find that unknown, unanticipated events make it difficult to pursue the goals.

It isn’t uncommon that past practices and habits make it hard to want to continue.

It isn’t uncommon that we don’t find the support we anticipated– or we may even encounter active resistance.

However, looking back, are there goals that you set that you would still really like to accomplish or make meaningful progress towards this year?

If so, here are some ideas that help:

How to Persevere to The End

  • Clear Picture of My Goals: I find it enormously helpful to have a clear image in my mind of what the goal looks like. I write it down. I replay it in my mind. I talk to people about it. The clearer my picture is – the easier it is to stay on target.
  • Clear Sense of “Why?”: Why am I pursuing this goal? If I decide to go for a run, I know I need to know, “Why am I doing this?” Because I don’t like the process of running enough for that to carry me through. If I’m pursuing a business goal, there will always be a point (or many points) where the work doesn’t feel fun. Knowing “Why?” makes it easier for me to keep pursuing it.
  • Accountability: I always work out better when I’m with other people. Between encouragement and ego – I’m able to complete the workouts and at a higher intensity then if I’m by myself. It’s the same with business goals. Keeping myself accountable to others makes it far easier to stay on target and persist when the “fun” appears to be gone.
  • Prioritize & Invest: New goals aren’t achieved by doing what we were already doing. Or investing what we’re already investing. I watch many people set new goals but don’t consider that they’ll also need to do new things to accomplish those goals. Sometimes, they also need to stop doing old things. I watch people or organizations who want to accomplish more but don’t want to give or invest anymore. These people don’t follow through.
  • Progress over Perfection: I tend towards perfectionism. I’ve discovered that this is a massive handicap. While writing this book, I was reminded of something an art teacher used to tell me: “Artists never finish, they only abandon their work.” A mentor of mine has frequently advised, “Get to 80% quality and then stop.” I have often found that the need for perfection is one of the biggest enemies of completion.

One of the best ways you can end 2017 strong is by pushing forward on one goal that you or your team set aside due to distractions or effort or lack of focus.

What is one of those goals? What is one thing that you’d like to accomplish, or at least, make significant progress towards this year?

Looking at the five tips above, what needs to change so that you can move toward that goal?

Finish this year well. Persevere in your efforts until you’ve benefitted from the rewards.

Take good care,


P.S. Would you like to talk to me, one-on-one, about how you can rapidly increase your ability to accomplish your priorities, decrease your unwanted workload, boost your profits or do more of what you love?

95% of my clients report positive results within the first 90 days of working together. Additionally, they report adding between $120K and $1M in new, annual revenue or savings.  Contact me to learn more: christian@vantageconsulting.org or 907 522-7200.




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