Why Setting Goals and Achieving Them Isn’t Working for You


How many times in your life have you heard that you just need to “set a goal”, work at it, and you will achieve it! 

Need to lose weight? Set a goal.

Want to start a garden in your backyard? Set a goal.

Want to graduate from college? Set a goal.

No matter what it is you want to do, it seems like all you need to do is master goal setting, and you can do it!

If you’ve been taken in by the idea of goal setting and achievement, this article is for you. Read on to learn more.

Why Goals Don’t Work

The first question we have for you concerning goals is: “How’s it been going for you so far?”

That is, How many specific goals have you set and achieved so far in your life?

Not many, you say?


In fact, that isn’t very surprising. 

Now, this isn’t to say that if you haven’t been able to “set attainable goals and achieve them” you’re a failure. Not at all. In fact, what we are saying is that the way you were taught to go about improving your life (with goals) doesn’t work.

Why? Because goal setting doesn’t identify the messy stuff that’s required for change.. 

Learning anything new, developing any type of new habit … it’s messy. If you want to attain a new skill, stop yourself from repeating bad habits, or alter the physical world around you, you have to slow everything down and actually change the way you think and make decisions.

Goal setting only talks about the end result. 

For example, if you want to lose 50 pounds, the goal is a 50-pound weight loss. But what goes into that? 

This type of achievement is way more complicated than just stating that you want to lose 50 pounds.

If you want to lose 50 pounds, you’re going to have to change the way you eat. This will mean taking a multitude of extremely small, detailed, and well thought-out actions. 

For example, you may need to start taking your lunch to work, which will mean you’ll need to change your nighttime routine to incorporate lunch-making. You may need to start buying different foods at the grocery store, which will mean researching which foods you’ll need and which foods you shouldn’t get. You may need to stop going to Thursday Night Happy Hour with your coworkers, which will mean explaining to everyone why you aren’t going.

And what does all of this come down to: Problem solving

Problem Solving: Opening Up Space to Make Different Decisions

Instead of worrying about your goals and goal achievement, it’s time to start focusing on solving your problems. What are the problems that are continually keeping you away from progress and away from your “goals”?

Identifying and solving each of these issues — no matter how small — ultimately means pausing when you come up against one and deciding consciously to change your behaviors, thoughts, and actions.

The way to start is with a pause. From there, you can see what problem or issue lies before you. And after that, you can decide to either do the thing that will get you closer to your “goal” or do the other thing that will keep you further away from your “goal”. 

Slow down, pause, realize, and make a new decision. Then repeat. Your life will change for the better in ways you cannot even imagine.