Why You Didn’t Achieve Your Goals This Year (And What to Do About It)

by Scott on December 20, 2013

my goals list on blackboardHappy Holidays!  I hope life is treating you well.  This is my favorite time of the year.  I love the Christmas traditions and spending time with my family.  I also enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  It’s the time of the year when I do a lot of thinking and soul-searching.  I think about the previous year.  What went well?  What didn’t go well?  I think about next year.  What do I want to accomplish?

Then I sent my goals.

Today, I’m going to share my process for goal-setting.  Hopefully, there will be a something in here that will help you achieve your goals in 2014.

A Time of Reflection

Before I set my goals, I reflect on the previous year.  I review my goals to see what went well and what didn’t go well.  If you like sports, it’s kind of like watching “the tape” after a game.  It helps clarify what happened so you can adjust course as needed.

If I accomplished a goal, I think about what made it possible. Was it hard work?  Was it luck?  If I didn’t accomplish a goal, I find out why.  Was it unrealistic?  Did I try hard enough?  Wasn’t it important to me?

After reflecting on last year’s goals, I found that I accomplished about 50% of them.  Ughhh!!  There’s nothing I hate more than putting a big “X” next to a goal I didn’t accomplish.  Overall, I’m grateful for what I did accomplish and I’ll talk more about it in my Progress Report in January.  However, why didn’t I achieve half my goals?

After reviewing the goals I didn’t achieve, I found two reasons why I didn’t achieve them.

1)      The goal was unrealistic.  My expectations for the desired outcome within the specified timeframe exceeded what was actually possible.

2)      The goal wasn’t important to me.  I lost motivation to pursue the goal because it wasn’t meaningful enough.

I’m somewhat-OK with the “unrealistic” factor.  Although it’s disappointing to fall short on a goal, at least I know I’m pushing myself.  I probably just need more time to accomplish the goal.  I’ll just extend the deadline.  Problem solved!

The “importance” factor is what bothers me.  I set my goals at the beginning of the year with good intent (like we all do).  However, some hung over my head all year because I wasn’t motivated enough to achieve them.  I didn’t have a strong enough “why.”  As a result, I felt a constant feeling of discontent when reviewing these goals throughout the year.  Looking back, I realize I shouldn’t have set them in the first place.

How do I avoid this going forward?

The Two Questions

Before I set a goal for next year, I’m going to ask myself these two questions:

1)      What is the purpose of this goal?

2)      Why is this important to me?

This will help me “buy-in” to the goal.  It will also filter out the goals that don’t carry much weight with me.  This will ensure the goals I set are meaningful enough to pursue. In the end, it will save me a lot of time and frustration.  It will also help clarify my direction and purpose.

One fascinating thing I discovered throughout this process was that work ethic was never a factor for not achieving a goal.  If I wanted something bad enough – I got it – as long as I had a realistic deadline.  Achieving the goal was entirely up to me.

How about you?  How’s goal-setting going for you?  I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

Have a wonderful holiday!  Cheers!


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Update:  In January, I’ll be launching the Life Planning Kit: Build, Believe, Become to help you live with more passion and purpose.  Subscribe for updates below and stay tuned.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian Stephens December 27, 2013 at 9:10 am

I set both realistic and unrealistic goals, but I always struggle with it. The unrealistic goals are the “perfect world” set of goals, while the realistic goals make me cringe because I feel like I’m settling.

I have a new idea this year…setting a realistic goal, but bigger than last year, and then setting a stretch goal for the same thing. For example, if I rode 2,000 miles on my bike this year, my new goals will be 2,200 miles and 3,000 miles for the new year.


Scott December 29, 2013 at 8:12 am

Hey Brian, nice to hear from you. I like the idea of the stretch goal. That way you’re aiming high but don’t feel too bad if you only meet the “more realistic” goal. I’ll give it a try in 2014. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas.


Rita Peters January 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Even though I never have a problem coming up with many areas where I can and should make improvements and the goals broken down into smaller objectives, I rarely complete any of them. I’ve identified my biggest challenge as not having a “goal-buddy,” being accountable to only mesely isn’t enough. I need to have someone I can compare progress notes with, maybe even work together and provide motivation for each other.


Scott January 4, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Hey Rita! Thanks for stopping by. If you’re looking for a “goal-buddy” you came to the right place. Let me know how I can help.


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