5 Real Reasons You Aren’t Reaching Your Goals

You’ve been setting goals for years. In fact, you’re a damn good goal setter. You write SMART goals, lay out the activities, action plans, deadlines and measurements. You put your goals in a place where you could see them every damn day!

Problem is you rarely meet your goals. I get it. I was there. In fact, the process would go something like this:

  • I really want to make some changes. I set goals based on what changes I think I need to make. Goals are soon forgotten.
  • I really want to make some changes. I set goals based on what changes I think I need to make. Goals are soon forgotten.
  • I really want to make some changes…

So what’s the problem? With all your kick-ass goal setting skills why in the world are you failing to meet your goals? Perhaps it’s because most of us are just taught the process of goal setting. If you were to research goals you will find numerous writings on “how-to” set goals. Blog, lessons and videos only focus on the mechanics of setting goals.  That’s the easy part.

Goals can give your life structure, but they won’t give your life purpose.

Here are five rarely addressed reasons you aren’t reaching your goals:

  1. You don’t understand what you really want for your life. “I didn’t stand for anything so I fell for everything.”
  2. You have too many short-term, “let’s get this done in three months,” goals, only looking at tomorrow and not long term.
  3. You believe self-improvement is trying to fix yourself. You don’t understand that self-improvement is about fully accepting and expressing yourself.
  4. Your self-control is non-existent. You can’t handle the big emotions or employ any self-motivation.
  5. Your goals were based on what others said you should be experiencing, like losing weight. Instead of creating your goals on something you are truly passionate about.

Many women I have spoken to and know, me included, grew up with expectations placed on us by others. It’s a familiar tune, we hear it said over and over. We experience it ourselves.  By the time you are 50 and even 40, these expectations we’ve taken on are so ingrained in us, we are not even aware these weren’t ours in the first place. We forget or we don’t even know what we wanted.

To add an additional layer, we’ve lived a life of many varied experiences.  Some disappointing, some truly wonderful, yet these experiences have placed us right where we are today. All the baggage we’ve packed over the decades is right beside us.

Goals are an important piece of change. They give you laser focus, hold you accountable, help you achieve your highest potential. Goals will also help you reign in behaviors such as procrastination.  So, yes, set goals, however, there are five important pieces to have in place before you set goals:

  • Make a commitment to your goals. When you get married you don’t declare that you will make it a habit to be faithful to your partner. It’s a commitment you make. You believe in the greater purpose of the relationship so therefore you don’t have to develop a habit to stay faithful.
  • Become more self-aware. Step outside yourself to see what is really going on. Gather as much data about yourself as you can. How do you handle the big emotions? What are your go-to stress relievers? Do you have your unwavering core values in place? Are your goals set to make sure your strengths are best utilized?

         When setting goals it’s important to know what YOU want your life to look like, and feel like in the future.

  • Place your focus on your day to day activities. Don’t make the goal the end      result. When we plan a vacation we have an end destination in mind right? Our day to day activities of reaching that goal are what will get us to our vacation. So that when the goal of planning our vacation is over we go on vacation.
  •  Employ less willpower and more I Want Power. Is your why strong enough? Do you even have a why? Why is this goal important? Why are you even putting yourself through this hard work? Your why is the strength you need when the going gets tough.
  •  Do you know what habits are holding you back? Our “bad” habits can really derail any goals and good intentions. However, habit breaking is not as black and white as some would lead you to believe. Some habits are easier to ‘break”. We can replace sitting on the couch eating ice cream after dinner with a 30 minute walk. Pretty soon the 30 minute walk replaces the ice cream and walking becomes the habit.

However, other habits such as procrastination, hanging on to outcomes and less tangible habits are extremely difficult to break. These are not habits, they are behaviors produced by our bad habits.

Seems like a lot right? Just a personal thought about me for a second. I spent many years just playing at my life. Most of the reasons I was not able to achieve what I wanted for my life are listed here in this article. I also wanted to take the quick and easy way. Unfortunately the quick and easy way produced half-assed results.  I also didn’t truly know who I was and what I wanted.

What about you? Where are you in the whole process of goal setting?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Shelly is a personal development strategist and founder of The Rescue Yourself Project helping women over 40 step into their unique selves so they can create a life they love!  A few years ago, she found herself living a life that wasn’t of her making. Deciding that wasn’t what she wanted she ran away from home and spent eight months “re-branding” herself. Today Shelly helps women find their unique selves by becoming experts about their values, strengths, passions, goals and purpose so they can design a life they love.  



Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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