Have you set goals but are frustrated as to why you have not achieved them? Or, perhaps, you do not know where to start. Every year many people set vague goals but fail to achieve them. If this is you, the good news is you are not alone. I too was an idealist with vague unattainable goals. Everything changed for me one day when I decided I was tired of working hard but never really achieving anything meaningful. On my quest, I discovered why we fail to achieve our goals, how to achieve them and how to overcome my biggest obstacles. What techniques do I use to achieve my goals? 

Why do we fail to achieve our goals?

The most common reason why people seek out the services of a life coach is because they have set both short and long-term goals but are failing to achieve them. Before, a life coach can guide their clients to success, it’s important to understand the reasons behind why people fail to achieve their goals. There are four main reasons why we fail to take action.

1. Pleasure and Pain

Pleasure and pain are one of the biggest driving forces, which shape the lives of every human. We either avoid something out of a perceived fear of pain or we seek out something out of perception of certainty, that an event or action will bring greater pleasure into our lives. Ask yourself, what pain am I linking to taking this action? What pleasure will you receive by taking this action now? What will inaction cost you in both the short and long-term? The key to mastering this driving force is to start linking pleasure to the actions or goals you would like to pursue and pain to things you would like to change.

2. We Doubt Our Own abilities and Fail to Take Immediate Action

An immediate action leaves very little room for self-doubt and fear; by the time you experience self-doubt or fear, it’s immediately overridden by your commitment to action and evidence of small success. When you fail to take immediate action you put a stop to the natural momentum that can override fear. We look ahead at the daunting task looming ahead and as you become paralysed with self-doubt, you put of the task to a later date and the vicious cycle continues. The only way to avoid the never-ending cycle of putting it off is to take immediate action. Ask yourself, what can I do right now to make this happen?

3. We Become Paralysed with Fear

Fear has the ability to paralyse people; it has the ability to prevent you from achieving your goals. How? Fear immobilises action. The majority of people live ordinary lives as a result of avoiding fear, but to live an extraordinary life it makes sense to go beyond what the majority of people are doing. Learn to break through fear. Every time you try something new, fear will creep in, instead turn fear into excitement. Get excited about the opportunity to talk to someone or an action you are about to take. Feel the excitement and follow through and take action, because taking action in an area where you are fearful leads to a greater level of self-confidence.

4. Expectations

In a previous article, The Ultimate Life Tension, I discussed the pressure that comes with the expectations of others. Unfortunately, expectations are inevitable, however most of fail to set our own boundaries and bow to the expectations of others and as a result become trapped into making goals to achieve the thing that are expected of us. Very rarely does someone follow through on a suggestion or a goal that is not their own. Ask yourself, why do I want to achieve this goal?

How to Set Goals

The key to setting obtainable and realistic goals is to use the S.M.A.R.T principle, you’re goals should be Specific, Measurable, Action Orientated, Relevant and Timely.


Ask yourself, what do I want to accomplish? Every goal you set needs to answer the what, why and how you will reach your desired outcome. By setting a specific goal, you are setting an intention in place. Instead of saying I want to find a job, a specific goal should sound like this, I want to secure a role as an Assistant Editor in one of the top five publishing houses in the United Kingdom, in a company where I can work towards becoming a Senior Editor. This goal sets the parameters for your job search as well as highlighting both short and long-term intentions.


If your goal is to be a successful blogger: what does being successful mean? Are you successful with an annual audience of 25 thousand, 50 thousand, 100 thousand or a million? It is crucial to be able to reliably measure your success overtime. If you goal is not measurable, how will you know when you achieve it? Every goal you set will have short-term goals attached to it as well; make these short-term goals measurable.

Action Orientated

Does your goal require you to take action? I know this seems obvious, however, it’s extremely important that your goal must require you to take action. Taking action is the only difference between a someday dream and your dream becoming a reality.


Is the goal relevant to your long-term vision? It’s important that your short-term goals support and are relevant to your long-term goal. Perhaps, your goal is to be the author of a best-selling contemporary fiction book by 30 June 2016, but you have a short-term goal to complete a screenwriting course by 30 June 2014. Completing a short course on character development would be more relevant and would enable you to achieve your long-term goal.


Ask yourself, when do I want to achieve this goal? Be realistic, more often than not we over-estimate what we can achieve in a short amount of time. Create a time line with your long-term goal at the end, draft in your short-term goals by month or week. Look at this constantly; use the time line as a gauge to measure whether you are on track. This exercise will eliminate your desire to put things off until tomorrow because you have a dead line looming.

How to Achieve Your Goals

1. Break your goals down

Ask yourself, what do I need to do in order to achieve this goal? Create a list of all the steps required to achieve your goals. Break your goal down into manageable tasks with realistic deadlines. Focus upon the first five tasks, if you still feel overwhelmed, only focus on achieving the task ahead of you. The key is to continually chip away at the list of tasks until you achieve your goal.

2. Do something daily towards achieving your goals

How do you spend the last 5 minutes of your day? One of the reasons why we do not achieve our goals is we do not take control, we put things off or we adopt a c’est la vie attitude.  Some of my most productive clients spend their last 5 minutes planning for tomorrow.  Instead of spending 30 minutes every morning, trying to figure out what you need to get done, spend five minutes the evening before. Start by creating a rough schedule for what you are going to get done, tomorrow. Ask yourself, what are your five biggest priorities for tomorrow? Write these down. Next to each of your priorities write down one action for each.

By completing this task every night you are making sure that your biggest priorities are getting at look in and this means, you are no longer at the mercy of everyone’s last minute demands. This task putts you back in the driver’s seat and with more time on your hands.

3. Create sub-goals

The easiest way to measure your progress is to set monthly goals. If your goal is to lose 30 pounds in 6 months, start with a goal of losing 5 pounds a month. Now ask yourself, how am I going to achieve this? Your answers to this question become your weekly strategies. Use these monthly goals as targets to strive towards. The key to success is focus and in the detail you set when you create your goals.

4. Visualise

One of the biggest and most underrated keys to success is visualisation. It takes us from where we are right now to focusing upon the end result. The Key to visualisation is to focus upon the end result and how amazing it will feel.  It is extremely important to visualise with feeling, because visualisation without feeling is just daydreaming.

What Are Your Biggest Obstacles?

No matter who you are or how much experience you have you will face obstacles along the way; obstacles don’t discriminate. They key to overcoming obstacles that can often block or paralyse you from achieving your goals, is to know what they are and to create a plan to tackle them.

Write down your three biggest obstacles that you believe will block your success. Create a list for each of these three obstacles, illustrating how you can begin to overcome these hurdles. The key is to not give up and keep trying new strategies, if you are having trouble, talk to someone who has faced similar obstacles in their life.

What goals are you striving for and how do you plan on achieving them? Let me know by using the comments box below. I’d love to hear from you.

With love,

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Photo Credit: marekuliasz

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Amelia Hay

Author + Coach at Amelia Hay International
I help multi-passionate women just like you to package, brand and market your passions so that you can create your dream business and life, find clarity, confidence, and clients, and make a difference in your world.
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