Achieve Goals ~ Why Do People Fail to Set and Achieve Goals?

Fail To Achieve Goals

Despite inspiring dreams, people can still fail to set and achieve goals despite energetic and motivating mission and vision statements.

But what causes this to happen?

And what remedies will overcome it?

Here are the most common reasons people fail to set goals and fail to achieve goals and their remedies:

No felt need.

Review “Your Current State of Affairs.” If you scored yourself 100 percent on all dimensions, there is no need for change. However, I have never met anyone who scored themselves 100 percent on all dimensions. So there must be room for improvement somewhere!

Not enough time.

When you are interested, you do what is convenient. When you are committed, you do whatever it takes.

Most people are only interested in dreaming of how life could be. They are not committed to doing whatever it takes to make those dreams a reality. Whether it is completing their planning, getting up early, or staying late, they are just not committed. If you choose to go about your daily business—not making the time to set goals and fulfill them—then tomorrow will bring you exactly the same as it brought you today. If you do not make time for a change, you are cheating yourself out of great opportunities.


In the short term, laziness can be considered an exaggeration of the natural instinct to get healthy rest and conserve precious energy. It is not something necessarily bad. But it is important to ask yourself if this state of mind and behavior will get you where you would like to be. Is the answer causing you pain or pleasure? Which do you prefer?

The illusion of busyness.

Too many interests and activities create a false impression of busyness but with no real focus or direction. Dare, to be honest. What is this busyness bringing you in respect to happiness, joy, excitement, pleasure? If you have no real focus or direction, you will be moving but getting nowhere.

Wanting to please others.

Wanting to please others and always do what you think others want you to do rather than choosing to do what you want to do will hinder goal-setting and achievement. There may also be an imbalance in your relationships with others and the outcome of these relationships. This wanting to please others will often lead to a lose/win situation, with you on the losing end. You might be on your way to losing your desires or even your own identity.

My advice is to take another look at “Your Current State of Affairs.” You may be living an unbalanced life. Ask yourself how this makes you feel. If it does not feel good, it might be time for you to make a change. If you have difficulty breaking this habit and it is causing you trouble, please consider obtaining professional help.

Do not believe in your own ability to design and propel your own life.

If this is the case, you might be suffering from a lack of self-confidence. Just about everybody will suffer from a lack of self-confidence sometimes. Having a set of simple exercises you can practice during these times is an invaluable aid to getting your confidence level back on track as quickly as possible.

Here are six actions you can take to boost or maintain your confidence:

  1. Don’t give yourself a hard time. Don’t be your own worst critic—be your own best friend. After all, if a friend of yours was going through a tough time, you would lift him up rather than tear him down. Positive self-talk can be one of your best tools for confidence-boosting, so make sure you cultivate the habit.
  2. Remember a time when you felt confident. Confidence is a feeling, and if you’ve felt it once, you can feel it again. Remembering a time when you felt confident and in control will enable you to re-experience that feeling and help put you in a confident frame of mind.
  3. Practice. Whatever it is you want to feel confident about, practice it as often as you can. When you work on something until you could do it in your sleep, you cannot fail to be confident in your ability to perform when it matters.
  4. Practice correct posture. This might not sound like it is obviously related to confidence, but how you sit and how you stand sends a message to those around you. If that message radiates confidence, you will get positive vibes back that will bolster your confidence. So learn to sit and stand like you have confidence.
  5. Surround yourself with confident and positive people. It may seem self-evident, but if you are consistently mixing with low self-esteem people, this will rub off on you. Conversely, if the people around you are upbeat and assured, this will create a positive atmosphere that you will benefit from.
  6. Think about all the qualities you like about yourself and your talents and abilities. If you have any trouble doing this, think about the compliments you get from people: what do they say you do well? It is a good idea to write these positive characteristics down so you’ll have them to refer to when your confidence is flagging, and you need some inspiration. Make sure you give yourself credit for these regularly—this will prove to be the best springboard for building unstoppable confidence.
Achieve Goals ~ Why Do People Fail to Set and Achieve Goals?

Achieve Goals ~ Why Do People Fail to Set and Achieve Goals?

Negative thinking.

Negative thinking includes any thoughts or forms of self-talk that include criticism, doubt, low expectations, and put-downs. These thoughts usually stem from our insecurities and are repeated automatically by our subconscious mind many times throughout the day. If left unchallenged, these negative thoughts can lead to a lack of motivation, below-average performance, self-doubt, and a tendency to fail.

If positive thinking motivates you to succeed, it is possible that negative thinking can encourage you to fail. If we can achieve anything that we believe, it stands to reason that if we believe we will fail, we can achieve that too.

So how do you beat negative thinking at its own game? The first step is to get to the source of the problem.

Negative thinking has two main origins: internal beliefs and external sources. The inner beliefs stem from any negative feelings that you may be harboring. The external sources can come from any person or event that caused you to become unsure of yourself or your abilities.

Most negative internal beliefs stem from insecurity. These insecurities can be based on events, honest mistakes, or, more often, misconceptions. If these events are left unchallenged, they can lead to low self-confidence, low self-esteem, and anxiety. The next time you experience an adverse event, your insecurities use that event as fuel to reinforce the negative thoughts and feed your negative self-talk.

So, how does internal negativity start? There are many causes, but they all share a general theme. Internal negativity stems from the way we react to any given situation.

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Why You Fail To Achieve Goals (& What to Do About It)

Internal forces of negative thinking: Fear of what lies beyond your comfort zone.

Think back to when you were a child. Most of us have limitations put upon our lives at a very early stage. We are taught how to think, which schools to attend, how to make a living, and finally, even how to plan our retirement. Many of us end up fearing anything different from what we were taught.

To change the things that we are unhappy with within our lives, we have to change the way we think and act. If we never change how we think and act, we will continue to get the same results.

About ninety percent of people live their lives and never become the person that they dream of becoming. This happens simply because they fail to take action. They fear what they do not understand. We have to look at fear as nothing more than a word or learning process. Mark Twain said it best with this quote: “Do the things that you fear most, and the death to fear is certain.” You owe it to yourself to overcome fear.

Begin with the small items that scare you. And gradually tackle the bigger issues. After doing so, you will look back and think how foolish it was to have been afraid in the first place.

Learn to leave your comfort zone. When we leave our comfort zone, we become more rounded individuals. When we do the things we fear and look back at them afterward, we see—to our surprise—that what we feared has now turned into part of our comfort zone. The next time similar situations arise, we will no longer stress over it. We will just do it.

We must set our minds always to conquer the unknown. Always think outside the box. Look fear in the eyes and just do the task. Every successful person has undoubtedly faced fear many times, yet they have succeeded in their endeavors. So can you.

Internal forces of negative thinking: Fear of not being good enough.

This negative thinking source usually stems from our misconceptions of how “good” others expect us to be. This misconception usually starts with a well-meaning parent or teacher who pushed you too hard when you were young. While they were most likely only trying to motivate you always to do your best, you may have been doing your best and came away from the experience feeling not good enough. It also comes from people who are judgmental or tear-you-downers. If we believe that others expect us to be perfect at all times, then even the most subtle failure could result in feelings of worthlessness, depression, and anxiety.

The main problem with this insecurity is that our belief keeps us from realizing that it is not others who are holding us to such high standards. This level of perfection is almost always self-imposed.

By harboring this misconception, you force yourself to perform in a constant state of overachievement. While the desire to overachieve can be great at times, it can also take away from your success. Why? Because perfection takes time. If you find yourself spending too much time on each and every decision or project, you could be robbing yourself of the chance to undertake or discover bigger and better opportunities. Also, perfectionists are unintentionally setting themselves up for a fall. No one can be perfect all the time. If you continuously hold yourself to this level of performance, you will eventually be disappointed. And, unfortunately, this disappointment can lead to an increase in negative thinking. So keep this in mind when you take action or plan goals. Often good is plenty good enough.

Internal forces of negative thinking: Fear of making a mistake.

The way we react to making a mistake can either strengthen our belief in our problem-solving skills or increase our negative views about ourselves. The difference comes from how we respond to those mistakes. If you make a mistake, do you admit to it, or do you run from it? Do you view it as a learning experience or as a reason to feel worthless? Do you see it as just another experience or as an unavoidable happening based on your lack of skills?

If your prior experience with mistakes resulted in shame, you would naturally harbor a fear of making mistakes. While you may use this fear as a way to protect yourself, it is a form of negative self-talk that can keep you from advancement and achievement. Think about that for a minute. If you are afraid to make a mistake, you will never try anything new, thus keeping yourself from discovering new opportunities and acting on great ideas.

Internal forces of negative thinking: Fear of failure.

But on some occasions, the fulfillment of purpose is halted by fear, the fear that the purpose one is trying to fulfill won’t be fulfilled due to personal failures. In other words, someone who feels that they have a purpose that they must fulfill might not attempt to do so because of fear due to lack of resources.

It is good to realize most successful people have failed miserably. That is right. They have flopped, fell short, missed the mark, struck out, or goofed up at one time or another. Just “Google” for ‘famous failures’ and you’ll notice I am not exaggerating. However, the difference between these people and the rest of the world is that they chose to use the experience to better themselves when they failed. They determined to become stronger and to reach their goals.

Are you determined to reach your goal? Do you believe you can achieve what you set out to accomplish? With determination and belief, you too can make the same choice to turn a failed situation into a winning one. How? By choosing to adopt a positive perspective and engage in edifying self-talk. Here are four phrases you can use to stay motivated when things don’t go as you planned or wished them to:

The only direction is up” or “It cannot get any worse.” Feel like you’ve hit rock bottom? Don’t beat up on yourself too badly. To experience disappointment, heartbreak, embarrassment, or self-doubt is to be human. However, to wallow in this state for too long is downright destructive. Tell yourself that it does not get much worse than this point, and let yourself know that the only place left to go is upward. Use failure as motivation to start climbing back up. When you do this, you will see that instead of running from failure, you will look it in the eye and overcome it.

“This is not the end of the line.” Know this: everyone fails from time to time, but failure is not the end of the line unless you allow it to be. You tried, you blundered, you failed, and it hurts. Allow yourself time to grieve it, but then let it go so that you can get back to the business of reaching your intended goal. Remind yourself that the only favorable option is to seek ways to turn the situation around. Then tell yourself that in the morning, you will begin again!

“Hmmm, I may need to change direction.” Does it seem like you’ve come to a roadblock? Then the solution may just be detouring and moving toward your goal differently. When something does not work out as planned, you may need to re-evaluate the route you are taking. So review the situation, regroup, and get on a track around that roadblock. The path may be a different one, but it may also be a more successful one.

“I’ll do better next time.” As long as you are breathing, there’s always room for improvement. Choose to use your failure as positive motivation to do better the next time around. When you remember your goal and envision reaching it, you will be super-charged to find ways to develop yourself. For example, if you need to do better in school, make (and follow) a consistent study schedule. If you are intent on a promotion at work, take classes to increase your skillset. No matter what the failed task consists of, you can use it to motivate yourself to get more done.

Internal forces of negative thinking: Fear of not being able to change.

A few lucky people do realize the reasons behind their negative thinking. However, they fail to recognize that these reasons can be changed. “I have never been any good at this thing.” “That is just the way I am.” “I cannot help how I think or feel.” Does any of these statements sound familiar? These self-limiting statements stem from a fear of being unable to change. The statements afford us an excuse for our behavior. After all, if it cannot be helped, then it cannot be our fault.

The problem with these statements is that they limit us from achieving our true potential. If we believe the ideas when we think them, then our reactions to them are almost always self-fulfilling. With these negative thoughts running through our minds, we cannot accomplish certain goals even if we want to.

Internal forces of negative thinking: Fear of success.

Fear of success may sound like a strange idea, but many people can identify with the feelings below:

  • Do you ever feel like something is holding you back?
  • Do you find that you “get in your own way”?
  • Do you feel real achievement is constantly just out of your grasp?

Now consider the positives and negatives you associate with being successful. For example, many people have the following associations to being successful:

  • “If I became financially successful, I might not be spiritual.”
  • “If I became successful, I might lose my family.”
  • “If I became successful, I might have a lot more pressure on me to perform, as well as a lot more pressure on my time, and I might not have time to do what I want to do.”

This fear of success can result in:

Losing the motivation or the desire to grow, achieve, and succeed

  • A lack of effort to achieve goals you have set for yourself in school, on the job, at home, in relationships or in your personal growth
  • Problems making decisions, being unable to solve problems
  • Chronic underachievement
  • Self-destructive behavior: tripping yourself up to make sure you do not keep a certain level of success or achievement you once had in school, on the job, at home, in relationships, or in your personal growth.
  • Feeling guilt, confusion, and anxiety when you do achieve success. This leads you to falter, waver, and eventually lose your momentum.

Fear of success is all about conflicting beliefs. In the event of contradictory beliefs, the stronger ones will always override the weaker ones.

Your dominant beliefs have the true authority over your reality creation.

We know that conflicting beliefs can be a source of self-sabotage. But conflicting beliefs may only slow you down and not entirely stop you from achieving success. Whether self-sabotage kills you or not depends on the collective strength of your empowering beliefs against that of your disempowering ones.

The more harmonious beliefs you have and the less conflicting ones, the faster you will achieve success in the area that those beliefs have relevance too.

External forces of negative thinking.

Now that we have identified the internal sources of negative thinking let’s examine the external sources. These sources can be easier to recognize but a little harder to control. Nevertheless, it is good to know what you may run into as you begin your goal-setting career.

External sources of negative thinking come from outside ourselves, but their real harm comes from how we react to these sources.

Think about this for a minute. We cannot always control what happens to us or the people we meet, but we can control how we react to each of these events.

For example, if you are thinking about introducing a new product to your business, but everyone you share the idea with has a negative opinion about it, your reaction may be to second-guess your idea.

Or, if you are about to undertake a new exercise program, but your spouse comments that you will never stick with it, your subconscious may believe him or her, and your reaction may be to lose your motivation.

While those examples show how another person’s comments can induce negative thinking, events can also have the same effect. Say, for instance, that you did introduce a new product, but it did not sell well. The event could play on your insecurities, and your reaction might be to think negatively about yourself and your business abilities.

If you started an exercise program but didn’t see the results you wanted, your reaction might be to fall into the trap of thinking it was your fault. Your insecurities could cause you to think, “I knew I could not do it” or “Nothing I ever do turns out right.”

Events that are even farther beyond your control can also be a source of negative thinking. For instance, if you were laid off from your job because of downsizing, negative thoughts can begin to form from that event. Although the layoff had nothing to do with you or your abilities personally, the event can still lead you to develop a negative opinion about yourself. One scenario would be to decide that you were cursed with bad luck. If you were to continue believing this, then you might shy away from new opportunities or automatically talk yourself into failing at your next job.

As you can see, each of these sources or insecurities can lead to negative thinking. The key is to learn to recognize these insecurities. Recognizing insecurities and knowing that they are prevalent makes it easier to cope with them before they stop you from achieving what you want.

Obstacles to “Why.”

Just as you considered the most important benefits you will receive by reaching your goal, you also need to consider the most important obstacles you could encounter in your goal completion journey.

It is not a question of whether you will have roadblocks; it is a question of what and when and whether or not you will prevail. That is why your “Why” must be strong—to take you through those challenges so you can reach your goals.

As we just learned, obstacles can be internal (coming from your limiting beliefs, doubts, or fears) or external (caused by events or people). Here’s how to make the distinction. Ask yourself:

  • “What past conditioning and old beliefs are standing in my way?”
  • “What am I saying to me that is standing in my way?”

If appropriate, you might benefit from consulting with a certified practitioner specializing in helping people clear old limiting beliefs, hurtful past events, and negative conditioning.

If you believe you are not successful in achieving a goal, list every obstacle you can think of that could stop you from achieving each goal. For example, no time to cook better food, too heavy of a schedule, drop-in visitors, procrastination, improper scheduling, lack of discipline, unexpected work requirements, friends expect me to drink with them, bad eating habits.

Now list insights you discovered in this article that might help you get around or overcome those obstacles. You no longer have to fail to achieve goals!