Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why We Fail to Accomplish Our Goals

After discovering my list of Lifetime Priorities and Goals, along with my specific objectives for the year 2000, and in considering my goals for this year, I have been doing a lot of thinking about what it takes to accomplish our goals.  Specifically, I've been trying to figure out what it is that keeps us from doing what we set out to do.  I thought I'd share some of the insights I've gleaned from all of this pondering (other than a headache!)  ;)

What hinders us from accomplishing our goals:
  1. Unrealistic goals.

    One problem is that our goals are unrealistic.  Anything that we commit to do every single day without fail is likely unrealistic.

    A goal may simply be so ambitious that it is impossible.  An example of an overly ambitious goal is, "I'm going to lose 100 pounds before my son's wedding in May!"  ;)  (As much as I wish I could do that, I decided to scale down that goal to a more realistic 30 pounds by May!)   

    An objective may be unrealistic because it is unattainable or it may be that we have simply neglected to break a larger goal down into smaller goals that we can realistically meet.  As everyone knows, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time!  :)

  2. Too many goals.

    Goals require focus and commitment.  If we list a gazillion goals under each priority, we will defeat ourselves before we even get started.  It is better to narrow our focus to a few well-defined goals.

    I know I'm often guilty of setting too many goals, but I'm afraid it comes with the territory.  As women we wear many hats.  Many of us are Christians, wives, mothers, (and perhaps grandmothers), home managers, home educators, business owners, daughters, friends, and individuals with unique and varied interests.  We are trying to juggle many things at the same time, and do them all well.  It is hard not to come up with a long list of goals!  However, I've realized that if my goal list is as long as my grocery store receipt, it's time to scale it back!  ;)

  3. Perfectionism.

    Being perfect is a goal that no one can achieve.  A desire for perfection often leads to an "all or nothing" mentality, which can prevent us from seeing success.  We must learn that something is better than nothing!  I love this mantra that I heard maybe twenty years ago and has stuck with me through the years -- "Use what you have.  Do what you can.  Trust God to perfect it!"

  4. Resolution Mentality.

    Unfortunately, resolutions have earned a bad reputation!  Many people make a long list of New Year's Resolutions that don't survive past January.  (Ever compared the crowd in a gym in January to the one in July??)  While New Year's Resolutions start on January 1st and are theoretically intended to apply to that calendar year, did you know that goals can be made at any time??  That's shocking, I know!  :)  Of course, the start of a new calendar year or school year is an excellent time for setting goals and making a fresh start, but we can make goals any time of year!  We can also "start over" at any time of the week, month or year!  (No, you don't have to wait until a Monday or until the first day of the next month to begin again!!)  ;)

  5. Lack of character. 

    Change is hard.  It requires an investment of physical and emotional energy.  We need determination, perseverance, self-control, diligence, and more in order to change bad habits and create new, healthier habits in any area of life.  Attempting to accomplish our goals will stretch us and reveal character deficiencies we didn't even know we had.

  6. Not a priority.

    Sometimes we fail to accomplish our goals because we fail to make them a priority.  My daughter, Tiffany, is a serious pianist.  She told me recently that she had failed to accomplish her weight loss and fitness goals because they weren't as important to her as her musical goals.  I think this is a very insightful statement.  Many times we do not accomplish our goals because they really aren't high enough on our priority list.  In some cases, we need to move them up the ladder to a higher priority (at least for a period of time), and other times, we just need to accept that a particular goal is not important enough to sacrifice other things in order to accomplish.

  7. Life happens. 

    Sometimes major upheavals get in the way.  There may be a job loss or move that interrupts our best laid plans and causes us to lose momentum.  Or it may be, that we break an ankle, or have to care for an aging parent who breaks a bone.  (Yes, I have first-hand experience with all of these scenarios!)

    Other times it is just daily life that gets in the way of our goals and plans.  I have the perfect example of this -- I had every intention of completing this post and putting it up on my blog on Monday morning . . . and here it is Wednesday night and I'm still trying to finish it up and get it posted!!

    A busy mom of a large family encounters many obstacles to her plans and goals each and every day!  However, many times these "obstacles" are actually higher on the priority list and take precedence (such as, the needs of my husband or children or a woman that is hurting and needs to experience God's love).  Other times, they are just those annoying interruptions that we all experience from day to day!!

  8. Not making room for new habits.

    A huge problem is that we often don't make room for new habits in our lives.  Unless we alter our daily schedules and routines to make a place for new habits, it is unlikely we will accomplish our goals!  Every goal that we identify has to be slipped into the nooks and crannies of our days.  Some goals will require major overhauls to our schedules!

    All of this takes time and some learning by trial and error, as we continually tweak our schedules to try to squeeze everything into the time we have.  We must ask ourselves the hard questions -- Will we wake up earlier?  Stay up later?  Start school at a different time? Work through lunch?  Eliminate something else to make room for something better?  

    The bottom line is, unless we make an action a habit (through repeating it often enough), and unless we make that habit part of our routine, and unless we make room for that routine in our daily schedules, we won't be able to sustain the new action for very long!!

  9. Trying to do it all in our own strength.

    I am guilty of thinking that failure comes from not trying hard enough.  Perhaps failure comes from not abiding enough.

    John chapter 15 teaches us that we must abide in the Vine if we hope to bear fruit in our lives.  Verse 5 makes it very clear that without Christ, we can do nothing!  However, when we abide in Christ, we can accomplish far more than we ever dreamed!

    Philippians 4:13 says,
     "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

  10. Lacking God's vision.

    It is so easy to get so pre-occupied with the good things we want to accomplish, even the things we want to accomplish for God, that we leave God out of our plans!  That's sad, isn't it?  The devotional, Jesus Calling, has helped me see how Jesus wants to be intimately involved in our lives.  He is calling us to be aware of His presence at all times, not just during our "Quiet Times."  He wants to be included in our goal setting sessions as well as the living out of our plans.  When we set goals according to His will, then we can be confident that He will help us accomplish them.

    Proverbs 16:3 says (in the Amplified version) -- "Roll your works upon the Lord (commit and trust them wholly to Him: He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will), and so shall your plans become established and succeed."

    Our goals, although well-intentioned, may not be God's goals for us at that time.  Dawn, of One Faithful Mama, recently blogged about this matter of replacing our goals with God's goals here.  She said, "His goals for me will change my life.  They won't make me skinnier, or healthier, or happier.  But they will make me holier and isn't that the main goal?"

What do you think?  In your experience, have any of these hindrances prevented you from accomplishing your goals?  If so, how have you overcome them??  I'm very interested in exploring ideas with you for overcoming these obstacles and achieving success!!  Please leave a comment sharing secrets you have discovered to accomplishing your goals.


Single and Loving it! said...

Great post, Mom! These are all valid reasons and things we struggle with not just in January but all year, every day! I like what you said about how it is never too late to start back over! I am actually about to make a post about that very thing!! Here's to a productive year for both of us!!

Dawn (Large Family Mom) said...

ROFLOL about joining a gym in July!! That's EXACTLY what I did last year!!!!!! Two and a half months later, I injured an already injured hip and had to stop.
But I am being very diligent to work out at home, and this morning I actually jogged for a WHOLE MILE!!! WOOHOO!!!!
I think that all your points are valid, but especially agree with the point that we try to set too many goals at once. Instead of changing one area of our life, we want to change it all and we want to see results yesterday!
Oh how I am learning...change takes time and WORK. Results come s-l-o-w-l-y.
I need to work on perseverance...gotta hang in there and wait for the breakthrough!!

Kendra Lynne said...

That's really true...great post!

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