Reasons why you don’t achieve your goals

Words: Andrea Kellerman, Educational and Sport Psychologist

Have you set goals in your life and not achieved them? Do you then berate yourself for not having enough will power to achieve them? If your answer is yes, then you are not alone because this happens to a lot of people. But before you give up on your goals and promise yourself that you'll never set another one, did you know that you could be setting yourself up for failure without being aware of it?

It is important to understand why you are not meeting certain goals. If you understand how your brain works, what your negative behaviors are, and how to combat those downfalls, you will be able to achieve your realistic goals a lot faster and easier.

Following an exercise plan, a diet, being disciplined, or changing a behavior is not easy for many people. You will need to repeat what you are doing to create a routine for you and your brain. This will allow your brain to build new pathways, which allow automatic, new, and desirable behaviors to set in.

Over-visualization can keep you from actively achieving your goals. Sometimes we tend to fantasize too much about our goals and remain in the 'dreamy' mode. This means that we are not changing over to action and therefore cannot achieve our goals. Although it is good to have a positive outlook and believe that we can achieve our aims, too much of this dreamy mode can also hinder us from going out there and achieving our dreams. Research shows that if we just fantasize and see our positive outcomes without being actively involved in making them happen, our brain thinks that those outcomes have happened already.

This can make us feel less motivated to be actively involved in our achievements, and could also undermine the work that needs to be put into those goals. What this proves is that our brain can be the victim of itself. Positive visualization is very important, however, over fantasizing can be detrimental.

To stay focused and avoid unnecessary fantasizing, make a list of things you want to achieve every day and have checkpoints to see if you have achieved them. Your brain will give in easily if you feel you aren't on track. If you are following a certain diet or workout plan, as a result of eating too much or because you've stopped exercising, our brains tells us that if we have fallen off the wagon before, we might as well do it properly. This leads to even more negative behavior, such as continuing to over eat or not exercising for the entire day or week.

To combat this, you need to have a plan B that will help you to get back on track. If you have eaten too much, for example, make sure you know that you will have to exercise more the next day, to burn away those extra calories. If you do not meet your target in your training programme, you then need to ensure that you train correctly the next day, or use your rest day to catch up. If you do this, it will stop you from going overboard again, make you feel that you are able to go back to your original plan quicker, and put you back in control.

Remember, be flexible and have a plan of action if you are failing. Don't stop believing that you will make it. And always make sure that you get back on track by taking the necessary actions.

Did you know:

*Approximately 80 percent of people never set goals for themselves. Of the 20 percent of the population that does set goals, roughly 70 percent fail to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. Source:


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