11 Reasons Why We Fail to Achieve Our Goals (2023)

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Thinking up a goal is the easy part. Pinpointing the specifics of a goal, developing a plan of action, and then following through with that plan of action and pushing past the inevitable obstacles that will arise is a different story altogether. As you can see, there are many reasons why we fail to achieve our goals.

Former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt is famous for having said:

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.”

It would be easy to blame people’s avoidance of pain and difficulty for the fact that a great majority of goals fail to be met, but there has to be more to it than that, right? Well, there most certainly is.

Here are the reasons why we fail to achieve our goals and a few helpful tips to help you reach the goals on your own list.

(Video) 11 Reasons Why We Fail to Achieve Our Goals

1. Shifting Focus From Reward to Effort

Thinking about the end result and achieving the victory of reaching a goal is exciting: “Man, I can’t wait until I get that new job title” or “I’m going to look so good at the beach this summer” can be great motivators. It’s easy to start out full of energy and motivation at the beginning because our focus is on the end result.

However, there’s a disconnect with our brain’s focus before we start our goals and after we actually begin. Before we start putting the work in, we’re focused on the reward. Then, slowly but surely, we begin to focus more on the effort (i.e. hard work) it takes to get that reward. The key is to redirect our focus back to the reward as often as it takes to push through.

2. Goals Are Undefined or Unrealistic

Perhaps you want to write a bestselling novel or become the next viral YouTube star. Well, that’s great, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but how do you plan to make any of this happen? Without a clear definition of your goals, they’re just wishy-washy fantasies.

If you’ve never read a book or written anything longer than a tweet, writing a bestselling novel is unrealistic. Likewise, simply saying you want to be a viral YouTube star is too vague without putting some specifications in place.

Give some definition to those goals by setting smaller goals along the way, like “join a writers group” or “make one new video a week.” This will help give you some focus while you work towards those loftier goals.

3. There Are Too Many Things on Your Plate

Having multiple goals at the same time is not a bad thing. However, having so many goals that nothing ever takes a priority will yield poor results all around. If you feel like you’re never fully accomplishing one task or can’t seem to recognize which things are a top priority, there’s a good chance you have set too many goals at once.

A lot of us like to think we’re masters of multitasking, but science says otherwise. Be careful not to overload yourself, learn to prioritize, and you’ll reach your goals faster.


4. Poor Planning Derails All Efforts

Just about every goal is going to require at least some planning, and others are, of course, going to need extensive planning. If you neglect to work out the steps for how to actually get from point A to point B, well, you very likely will never make it to point B.

Maybe you want to increase your business’s customer base by 30 percent in the next year. Will you need to hire more staff to make this happen? What new strategies can be put in place? Do old marketing efforts need to be reworked or discarded? Asking/answering these sorts of questions in the beginning and along the way is crucial.

5. Losing Sight of the “Why” Factor

Let’s say that you must uproot your family and move to a new town for a job. If you have teenagers, they’re almost certainly going to put up some fuss. When the inevitable “why?” comes up, it might be easy to say they have to move because mom or dad has a new job and leave it at that. That’s the reason, but it’s not the why.

Perhaps the move means a higher income for a more comfortable lifestyle or the security of living in a safer environment. It’s easy to lose focus of the why factor when it comes to working towards a goal, and this can hinder progress. Make sure you periodically reexamine why you have that goal in the first place.

6. Excuses, Excuses, and More Excuses

Everybody makes excuses from time to time. Rattling off excuses on why a goal isn’t worth pursuing or didn’t work out is often easier than pushing forward. While some excuses may very well be valid, others are just total cop-outs.

Excuses are a convenience when it comes to abandoning a goal, but they’re also paralyzing. If not kept in check, excuses can derail every goal you attempt. If you feel yourself in danger of hitting the brakes on a goal, take a good look and ask yourself if the reason is valid or just a flimsy excuse.

7. Fear of Failure

Not reaching a goal because of the fear of failure is crippling and an insecurity that can seriously hold you back in life. Nobody wants to fail, and a fear of failure often stems from a need for perfectionism.

(Video) Top 11 Reasons Why We Fail to Achieve Our Goals ( Why Some People Fail To Reach Their Goals) #Shorts

The avoidance of taking risks, however, is no way to go through life. The good thing is that by looking at why you may have a fear of failing, you can learn to overcome it and avoid letting it sabotage your goals.

8. Failing to Anticipate Obstacles

Guess what? That fantastic, shiny goal of yours with the too-good-to-fail plan is almost certainly not going to go perfectly to plan. Problems arise, and obstacles get in the way—that’s just how the universe works. If you fail to plan for some of these problems ahead of time, they may just prevent you from reaching your goal altogether.

Try building in strategies and incentives for when you may feel yourself losing focus or run into problems. Having a rock-solid plan A is always a good thing, but a pretty good plan B isn’t a bad idea either.

9. There Is No Set Deadline

Whether it’s trying to learn a new skill or becoming a tycoon of industry, set a deadline for yourself, and write it down! You’re 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down((Inc.: This Is the Way You Need to Write Down Your Goals for Faster Success)), and if you don’t put a deadline on them, they’re not going to happen.

So why is a deadline so important for accomplishing a goal? It holds you accountable for your time. Let’s say you want to lose 20 pounds. Okay, when? If you set a deadline of June 1st, you’ll either meet it or you won’t, and a deadline puts the pressure on you to get up and get to work!

10. Allowing Naysayers to Doubt the Goal

The bigger the goal, the more people you may have doubting that you can accomplish it. It’s easy to listen to the naysayers and allow their doubt to sidetrack and even derail your goals, and this can be why we fail to achieve our goals. There are always going to be critics and haters, and a lot of that negativity is rooted in jealousy.

Don’t allow their doubt to get the best of you, and, instead, use it as fuel for the fire to buckle down on your focus and forge ahead.

(Video) 5 Reasons Why We Fail To Achieve Our Goals

11. Procrastination Delays Goals

Abraham Lincoln reportedly once said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” Out of all the reasons why we fail to achieve our goals, none are as deadly as procrastination.

It’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll start tomorrow or reach an obstacle in your plan and decide to handle it later. Too many times though, later never comes, and motivation dies out.

According to the Harvard Business Review, one of the best ways to beat procrastination is to publicly commit((Harvard Business Review: Make Your Work Resolutions Stick)). Most people want to avoid looking lazy or like a failure, and telling others we’re going to do something reinforces our brain’s focus on the reward.

The Bottom Line

Accomplishing goals is seldom easy and can often take a long time and a lot of mental and physical sweat. Now that you know some of the reasons why people don’t reach their goals, you can improve your chances of crossing the finish line to victory.

More Tips on Completing Goals

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What are 5 things that can stop you from achieving your goals? ›

Here is a list of 7 habits you need to eliminate that stop you from achieving your goals:
  • Perfectionism. A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. ...
  • Failure. ...
  • Focusing on the result. ...
  • Excuses. ...
  • Procrastination. ...
  • Distractions. ...
  • Lack of consistency.
Mar 2, 2021

Why don't people achieve their dreams? ›

A lack of money. A lack of social support. A lack of confidence. These may just be three reasons why people stop pursuing their dreams.

Why can't I achieve success? ›

If you're a negative thinker, or just a pessimist, then you're going to put-up roadblocks to success - before you even try. In other words, you're setting yourself up for failure. Work on a becoming a positive thinker by surrounding yourself with positive people and becoming more aware of your surroundings.

Why am I so unsuccessful in life? ›

Unsuccessful people tend to remain unhappy and unsuccessful because they spend too much time enviously focusing on the accomplishments of others. They refuse to take responsibility for their own lack of achievement, and jealously obsess about those who actually put the work in, take smart risks, and hit their goals.

What are six common problems with goal setting? ›

8 Common Goal-Setting Mistakes Video
  • Your Goal is Unrealistic. When brainstorming goals, it's great to dream big. ...
  • Your Goal Doesn't Focus on the Right Things. ...
  • Your Goal Takes Too Long. ...
  • You Don't Learn From Mistakes. ...
  • You're Influenced by Others. ...
  • You Don't Track Your Progress. ...
  • You Set "Negative" Goals. ...
  • You Set Too Many Goals.

What is the biggest danger to your goals? ›

The real danger you face is that you don't do what you need to do when you need to do it. The danger to reaching your goals is that you allow small things to take your time and attention away for the few, critical, big things you need to do. The real danger is not putting outsized effort into your real priorities.

What are the things that destroy you to achieve your goals? ›

Here are seven things that destroy motivation and prevent you from reaching your full potential.
  • Self-limiting Beliefs. ...
  • Setbacks and Failures. ...
  • Setting unrealistic goals and expectations. ...
  • Fear. ...
  • Having No Strategy or Plan. ...
  • Comparing Yourself To Others. ...
  • Not getting the support you need.

What are the five 5 barriers to achieve goals? ›

Five Barriers to Success and Motivation
  • Time. Often we say we do not have time, but in most cases, we are just not making the time. ...
  • Poor Communication Skills. Being able to write and speak clearly is important to success. ...
  • Availability of Resources and Opportunities. ...
  • Clarity and Uncertainty. ...
  • Finding Fault in Others.
Apr 16, 2018

What are the 2 barriers in achieving your goals? ›

Step 2: Overcoming Obstacles

Some of the most common obstacles include: Low motivation. Laziness.

What obstacles would prevent you from being successful? ›

Here are nine of the biggest obstacles people put in their own path:
  • Envy. Sometimes described as the art of counting another's blessings instead of your own, envy destroys success. ...
  • Perfectionism. ...
  • Comparison. ...
  • Blame. ...
  • Self-Doubt. ...
  • Fear. ...
  • Distraction. ...
  • Safety.

What makes people give up? ›

Lack of self-belief and poor self-perception is what causes many people to give up on their goals. The best way to deal with a lack of self-belief is to stop judging yourself and stop being overly critical of your actions. Increase your self-awareness and become mindful of your positives.

What are the consequences of not achieving goals? ›

The consequences for not achieving your goals are the missed opportunities to learn and grow. It also calls into question your integrity; namely, doing what you said you were going to do. Not going forward forces you to remain stagnant.

Why do most people give up on their dreams? ›

People give up because they themselves don't believe in themselves anymore. Now, this is incurable. You can't pursue anything without self-belief. People give up on their dreams because if they face constant failure, they can't find a way to change the outcome.

What are the 30 major causes of failure? ›

The 30 Causes of Failure
  • Unfavourable Hereditary Background. ...
  • Lack of a Well Defined Purpose in Life. ...
  • Lack of Ambition to Aim Above Mediocrity. ...
  • Insufficient Education. ...
  • Lack of Self-Discipline. ...
  • Ill Health. ...
  • Unfavourable Environmental Influences During Childhood. ...
  • Procrastination.

What are the 3 types of failure? ›

Edmondson talks in the book about the three types of failure you can experience in a team:
  • Preventable failure: a failure caused by deviating from a known process. ...
  • Complex failure: a failure caused by a system breakdown. ...
  • Intelligent failure: a failure caused by an unsuccessful trial.
Nov 4, 2019

What are examples of failures? ›

Examples of failures
  • Receiving poor or failing test grades.
  • Not getting accepted into a degree or certification program.
  • Interviewing for a position but not securing a job offer.
  • Getting a bad performance review.
  • Missing a deadline.
  • Not making a team.
  • Losing a client, sale, project or money.
Feb 3, 2023

What five ways could lead to unsuccessful life? ›

These are a few of the many habits that could guarantee your failure -- and what you can do about them.
  • Failing to plan. You have a better chance to succeed in life if you have a plan. ...
  • The fear to even try. ...
  • Giving up too soon. ...
  • Disbelief. ...
  • Making excuses.
Dec 28, 2015

What are the 4 biggest mistakes people make when setting goals 10x rule? ›

Common mistake 1: setting your sights too low. Common mistake 2: underestimating how much action is required. Common mistake 3: spending too much time competing and not enough time dominating their sector. Common mistake 4: underestimating the amount of adversity they will have to overcome.

What is a common mistake when setting goals? ›

Setting vague goals. If you want to achieve your goals it's important to set goals that are measurable. A common mistake people make in goal setting is having goals that are too vague. When you set vague goals you have no clear destination and nothing to review your goal progress against.

What is the hardest part of goal setting? ›

An Hour a Day - the most challenging thing about achieving your goal is to prioritize it over all else. Once we commit to spending one hour a day for our goals no matter what, we are able to make consistent progress. It's even better if it's the same time and the same place every day, to form a concrete routine.

What holds people back from achieving goals? ›

Self-sabotaging activities – such as procrastination, negative self-talk, and fearing what the success will bring – may hold us back from achieving our goals and dreams. If you think that you have a fear of success, identify why you're afraid of accomplishing your goals.

What are the 3 most important goals in life? ›

Why Do You Want to Achieve Your Goals? The second types of goals you need are your personal, family, and health goals. In reality, these are the most important goals of all in determining your happiness and well-being.

What is an example of a bad goal? ›

Bad goal: “I want to make more time each morning to work on my most important task.” Unclear goal: “I want to spend 2 hours each morning working on my most important task.” SMART goal: “Every day this week, I will work on our new marketing site redesign from 8:30 – 10:30 am without interruption.”

What are 5 habits that can destroy my life? ›

You can stop the negative cycle and begin taking back your happiness by quashing these 10 horrible habits.
  • Constantly comparing yourself with others. ...
  • Not appreciating what you have. ...
  • Letting fear or hate control you. ...
  • Focusing on the past or the future. ...
  • Trying to control what you can't. ...
  • Getting caught in the blame game.
May 26, 2017

What are the 7 barriers to effective? ›

The Seven Barriers to Communication
  • Physical Barriers. ...
  • Perceptual Barriers. ...
  • Emotional Barriers. ...
  • Cultural Barriers. ...
  • Language Barriers. ...
  • Gender Barriers. ...
  • Interpersonal Barriers. ...
  • Break Through The Barriers.

What are the six common barriers? ›

Instead, they are symptoms of more serious barriers that may be affecting your entire organization:
  • Language barriers.
  • Cultural barriers.
  • Physical barriers.
  • Psychological barriers.
  • Technological barriers.
  • Organizational barriers.
Dec 7, 2021

What are the 3 main barriers? ›

Although the barriers to effective communication may be different for different situations, the following are some of the main barriers: Linguistic Barriers. Psychological Barriers. Emotional Barriers.

What are the 4 barriers? ›

Let's explore four categories of barriers to effective communication in the workplace (language barriers, inclusion barriers, cultural barriers, and environmental barriers).

What are the biggest barriers to success? ›

There are many potential factors that can prevent people from reaching their goals and becoming successful in their pursuits. According to Brian Moran and Michael Lennigton, the most universally common barriers to success are resistance, instant gratification, old habits, and too many goals.

What are three common challenges for SEtting effective goals? ›

Common Challenges for SEtting Effective Fitness Goals
  • Lack of time (not having enough time between work, family, and social obligations)
  • Lack of energy (due to busy schedules and not getting proper rest)
  • Lack of motivation (difficulty prioritizing physical training above other leisure time activities)

What stops people from success? ›

10 Things That Prevent Your Success
  • Overlook your goals and visions or not have them at all. ...
  • Have no confidence in yourself. ...
  • Not learning new knowledge or skills. ...
  • Think that you can achieve success without any effort or investment. ...
  • Fear of failure. ...
  • Procrastination. ...
  • Lack of focus. ...
  • Be easily discouraged.
Mar 20, 2022

Why do I give up before I even try? ›

Anxiety can be a common cause as well,” Catchings notes. “The fear of doing something, and what can happen if we do it, makes some people want to give up before even trying.” Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also make one want to give up.

How do you know when its time to give up? ›

11 Signs You Should Quit What You're Doing Right Now
  • It's taking too much energy for the reward. ...
  • You don't feel excited about the project. ...
  • It darkens your mood. ...
  • Nobody else seems to care. ...
  • It doesn't make you a better person. ...
  • No one supports your decision to continue. ...
  • Your health is suffering. ...
  • Your sanity is suffering.
Nov 23, 2015

What motivates people to give? ›

Let's explore those motivations:
  • Doing good makes sense. People give because of their sense of belonging to a social community.
  • Doing good is God's will. ...
  • Doing good is fun. ...
  • Doing good feels right. ...
  • Doing good is good business. ...
  • Doing good in return. ...
  • Doing good is a family tradition.
Jul 8, 2014

At what age do you give up on your dreams? ›

HAPPINESS plummets when we reach the age of 30 as the average adult begins to realise that their dreams may not be fulfilled, according to a new report yesterday.

Why do dreams drain your energy? ›

As the proportion of dream sleep rises, then we naturally have less of that restorative sleep that we need. As we have said, dreaming uses more energy than being awake, and if you dream too much, you will find that you wake frequently. Your brain will rouse you from sleep if your energy levels are dropping.

Do people dream at end of life? ›

Also known as end-of-life experiences (ELEs), visions and dreams before death are common among patients. In fact, a recent study found that 63.3 percent of patients reported an ELE, and 78.9 percent were able to recall these experiences “vividly and in detail.”

Why do people give up on goals? ›

Most of the time, people give up on their goals simply because they lack discipline. They can't get themselves to see something through to the end, regardless of how small the project.

What were the biggest obstacles in achieving our goal? ›

Fear of failure

Lacking confidence can kill your goal progress. Past failures can make us feel discouraged and unmotivated. This stems from the notion that failure is a completely negative experience and a waste of time. Failure is actually the best lesson we can receive on the path to achievement and development.

Why do people set unattainable goals? ›

But another big reason is that, in our quest to lead better lives, we often set unattainable goals — ones that are too difficult for us to meet because we don't have the energy, skills, or resources required to bring them to fruition.

Why do my life goals keep changing? ›

Your goals and dreams reflect your values and what you think you are capable of achieving. That's why it's natural that they change over time. It's always good to ask yourself if your old plans are still valid, so that you are motivated and that you know your hard work matters.

What are the 3 obstacles? ›

The three obstacles are: (1) the obstacle of earthly desires; (2) the obstacle of karma (the negative actions or offenses we commit in this life); and (3) the obstacle of retribution (the negative effects of our actions in past lives, or karma).

What is the greatest obstacle to our success? ›

The biggest obstacle to personal and team success is the ego. It can lull us into thinking we are better than we are, it can block us from accepting better ideas, and it can turn away the very people who could help us succeed.

What are examples of unachievable goals? ›

Trying to learn a new language in a couple of months is an unrealistic goal. Planning to run a marathon with no previous experience in a few weeks is also anything but realistic. Increasing customer acquisition by 100 percent in a month is another example of an unrealistic goal.

Why do people work hard to achieve their goals? ›

Hard work helps you earn resources to fulfil your dreams. Society benefits from your hard work. Working hard ensures that you make the best use of your time, which would pass anyway, even if you were to sit idle. Working hard prevents you from being engaged in useless, trivial things.

What are examples of unattainable goals? ›

Here are examples of an unattainable and attainable goal: An unattainable way of stating an exercise goal might be “I want to complete the heaviest weight circuit right away.” That is probably not attainable because it's very unrealistic to assume you will be able to lift the heaviest weights right off the bat.


1. Big reasons you fail to achieve your Goals
2. The global goals we've made progress on -- and the ones we haven't | Michael Green
3. Why We Fail To Achieve Our Goals
(Srini Saripalli)
(Alyssa Germaine)
5. OLYMPIQUE DE MARSEILLE - RC STRASBOURG ALSACE (2 - 2) - Highlights - (OM - RCSA) / 2022-2023
(Ligue 1 Uber Eats Official)
6. Why the secret to success is setting the right goals | John Doerr | TED


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