“Why Can’t I Meet My Goals?”

We talked a bit earlier about wild goals, but here, I want to discuss the goals that drive your business. You do have a set of those, right? (I smell another post coming! Well, that might be the dog, actually … still.)

I don’t know about you, but often I find myself struggling when it comes time to actually implementing the programs and procedures that will get me to the successful side of my goals.  I can set the goals, define them, quantify success for them, and figure out exactly what I need to do to get there. But for some reason, when it comes time to actually do something to meet them, I start to falter. Or I might start strong but then waver and suddenly, I wake one day, and realize I haven’t done anything lately to meet that goal. Not a nice feeling, that.

Here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way to help you troubleshoot your goals projects – see if anything here jumpstarts you again on the road to success:

  1. Strong, clear reasons. You need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. “To make more money” won’t cut it. Try, “if I don’t do this, I will starve.” Now that’s a reason I could get behind! And don’t stop at one or two. Write down as many as you can possibly think of. This part’s crucial: write it down.
  2. Don’t miss a step. When you’re looking at a goal that’s a project – more than one step – in the GTD terminology, you want to make sure you understand fully each and every step. Write them down in a planner or journal so you can have a step-by-step guide to refer to regularly. When we’re stuck, sometimes it’s a question of having missed a preliminary step, or glossing over it. In those instances, it pays to go back to an earlier step and give yourself a “do-over.”
  3. Forgive yourself, frequently and with abandon. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “musts” of goals. “I must change. I must exercise daily. I must sign these clients.” That’s good for motivation but what happens when you don’t succeed, or when it takes longer than you thought it would? Frequently, it results in self-blame, which produces guilt and embarrassment, two of the most useless emotions ever. Seriously – what do they produce? Nothing. They don’t motivate – not really. They don’t teach us anything. Useless. So when you find yourself getting angry with yourself, take a breather and forgive yourself – actively. Repeat as often as necessary. Say it aloud if it helps. Just shove that guilt away and don’t accept it.
  4. Keep a written record. Sometimes with goals we’re not really honest with ourselves about our efforts. Writing down every single thing you did to support that goal (and every single thing you did that didn’t support the goal!) is a great way to gain some clarity.
  5. Think of decisions, not willpower. If we’re talking about behavioral changes – say, to become more assertive in negotiations – we may think of it in terms of willpower. “I lack the willpower to drop my doormat ways and become assertive.” In reality, what drives personal growth and change isn’t willpower at all – it’s decisions. Daily decisions that, when added together, begin to accumulate into a new habit. Stop thinking about motivation and willpower. Start seeing every opportunity to exercise your new habit as just that – an opportunity to make the right decision. And treat every decision with importance.
  6. Reevaluate your desire. It happens – we sometimes lose our passion for a particular goal. Or, perhaps, we didn’t identify it correctly in the first place. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your passion for your goal if you’re having a really hard time staying on track. Maybe it’s not the goal for you at all. Maybe it’s “close but no cigar” – in which case, spending some time thinking about what you’re really in search of will assist you in identifying the real issue.

I hope these tips help you meet your goals. Please share your own ideas in the comments section! How do you stay on track with difficult goals?

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