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4 Things that Keep You from Your Goals

We’re getting dangerously close to the end of 2011. If you made any New Years resolutions this year (and if you read this blog, I’d wager there’s a pretty good chance you did), how are those coming along?

If you’re like a lot of people out there, you might find that those hopeful thoughts in January are starting to get replaced by excuses or maybe even a sense of defeat or futility.

But why is is that people don’t achieve their goals? What keeps them stuck, unable to lose that weight, make more money, find the love they really want, or do the countless other things to make themselves happy?

Here are the 4 things that keep most people from reaching their goals.

They Don’t Have Clarity About What They Want

Maybe you know that you want more friends, you want to make more money, or you want to start a business. You probably have at least a vague idea about what you want, but have you ever sat down and painstakingly thought about exactly what you want down to the last detail?

One exercise I like to do is to take several hours (yes, several hours–not just a few minutes!) and actually write down exactly what I want my daily life to be like. To help you as you do this, consider answering questions like:

  • What do you do?
  • Who do you do it with?
  • What do you talk about?
  • What do you eat for breakfast?
  • When do you wake up?
  • What do you dream about?
  • What are you most proud of?

When you can put yourself in the ‘future you’ shoes and start to imagine life from that point of view, you’ll have a real and concrete idea about what you’re working toward. Your goals will be clear and you’ll know exactly what you want.

They Don’t Have the Right Plan

Maybe you know what you want extremely well. However if you don’t have the right plan, you’ll likely never be able to achieve it.

Taking action is great, but if you’re just taking any old action, you won’t be making consistent and steady progress toward your goal. Somethings might take you a step closer to what you want, while the next things moves you away from it.

A common example of this is when someone tries to learn how to start an online business. Many beginners (like myself, not too long ago) end up getting seduced by the latest ‘shiny new thing’ and keep jumping from one program or course to the next, never really making any progress.

The solution to this is to study someone who is successful at what you want to achieve and follow the same plan that they used to get there. Success leaves clues, so follow those and use them as your plan to guide the way.

They Are Not in the Right Environment

Are you around negative people most of the time? Is your life just too hectic to give you a moment’s peace to get clear thinking? Maybe your workspace is too cluttered to focus on what needs to get done.

I’ll be honest, not everyone is gifted with being in the right situation, especially when they are just getting started reaching their goal.

If you don’t feel like you are in the right environment to support you, you may need to take some actions to fix the situation. Make the effort to create a tidy space to keep your creativity flowing, block off time away from cynical people to do the things you want to do without guilt or judgment, take some personal time to just hear yourself think once in a while, or do whatever it takes to get yourself into a situation that maximizes your chances of success.

They Don’t Have the Right Mindset

The last big thing that keeps many people from finding the success they want is a proper mindset. If you’re reaching for something that’s just outside your comfort zone, it’s not uncommon to go up against your limiting beliefs.

Fears that you’re not good enough, doubts that you don’t have what it takes, or even hesitations and second-guesses that what you want is really even possible are common.

Many years ago, I learned that the best way to overcome a limiting belief is to try your hardest to prove it true. Commit to giving it your best shot and move forward anyway despite the fear.

If you have a belief that you are too shy to ask someone out, then prove it! Go and force yourself to ask out ten people. If you think you just can’t lose weight, then prove it! Improve your diet and exercise routine and see if those pounds don’t budge.

This will likely make all of your fears go from a quiet whisper in the back of your mind, to screaming at you at maximum volume, but keep pushing through it. The point isn’t to back down when your limiting beliefs come up, it’s to get in the habit of barreling through that fear and taking action anyway.

Before you know it, you’ll embrace the fear and, although you may still feel afraid, you won’t use that as an excuse to not take action.

Do any of these sound familiar to you? If you’re anything like me, you can probably relate a little bit to each of them. But if you recognize any of these roadblocks, you shouldn’t feel bad.

Accept that they are keeping you from success, and work on overcoming the specific obstacles that are holding you back rather than feeling stuck by vague limitations. Getting clear and identifying exactly what’s in your way is the first step to moving past the roadblocks that keep you from where you want to go.

Clay Andrews has a lot of personal, first-hand experience with dealing with obstacles. Although, he hasn’t got it all figured out yet, he likes to think he’s made some good progress. He also writes a blog on relationship advice and another on lifestyle design. Go visit one of them and say he (he doesn’t bite, and he loves meeting new people!).

19 Responses to 4 Things that Keep You from Your Goals

  1. We have family goal-setting parties once or twice a year. We lay out a nice spread of food, put on some background music, and write up our goals. While the girls haven’t quite mastered the details yet, I hope it’s helping them to develop a habit of writing down goals and planning to achieve them. At our next party, I’ll be sure to emphasize the need for a supportive environment. That factor can be easy to forget.

  2. Clint Cora says:

    Kind of the opposite of being around negative people all the time, I find that in many instances, folks too often try to attempt challenging goals on their own when they could have been much more successful by spending more time around like minded people who can help them.  Knowledge, motivation and peer pressure are elements that we can get if we are around the right people to help us with our goals rather than making everything solo efforts.

  3. Justin says:

    From my perspective Clay, people who don’t reach their goals aren’t 100% committed and/ or they haven’t found a way to reach their goals in a practical, easy way.

    Let’s face it, if reaching a goal causes too much internal distress then they will drop that goal like a bad habit.

  4. The Vizier says:

    Hi Clay,

    Clarity, the right plan, the right environment and the right mindset are all crucial factors that help us to achieve our goals.  If there is a lack in any of these areas, it can derail us from reaching our intended destination.  

    I particularly think that clarity is important.  Without being absolutely clear and sure about what we want to achieve and how to get there, it is not possible to reach our goals.  This is not only the first step, but one of the most crucial steps and it is important to devote the necessary amount of time to it even if it is hours or days.  

    But once we have clarity, it is easier for the rest of the steps to fall into place naturally.  It becomes clear what we should and should not do.  This is certainly so for having the right plans.  After all, different goals require different approaches.  

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

    Irving the Vizier

  5. In my experience, when you are not clear enough about your goals, you will indeed get vague results. It also means putting priority in reaching the goal.

    Thanks for sharing

  6. Martin K. says:

    I would say that the number one thing that keeps people from achieving their goals is simply laziness and/or complacency. It’s so easy to mindlessly surf the net, watch movies or party. It’s much harder to actually do some work. Moreover, nowadays it’s extremely hard to focus on just one thing. There are too many distractions. If you don’t know how to focus, you’ll have a very hard time achieving your goals.

  7. Mika Maddela says:

    I completely agree. Complacency is a slow suicide and detrimental to achieving any goal. I also think focusing is a huge factor. I think a lot of people who fail, have a really hard time focusing on getting the results they want. Instead, they may focus on how hard, how long and all the little obstacles that gets in the way from achieving what they want. That’s when they allow distractions like the latest technology or what have you to settle in. Complacency is definitely a slow suicide.

  8. Peter says:

    For me the environment has always been a major factor in my success. I think above all else, if you don’t put yourself in the proper environment for success. You will never get there.

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  10. Leginuoh says:

  11. Yeah you sure are right now it’s the end of 2011 and I am feeling bit down since I couldn’t achieve what I thought I will achieve. But hey I didn’t know what to achieve in the start of this year. It’s like I expect my life to be better but didn’t know how and what part my life require improvements. 

    So I will follow your advice of sitting down for couple of hours and spend time finding out what my future life should be like before I start expecting things from me. Great post… I loved it

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  14. farouk says:

    so right especially number 4, it made a lot of sense to me
    thanks Clay for the post 

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  18. To be successful we should have
    strong vision, know what we want very clearly and have to set very specific
    goals and work on to achieve what we want.

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