Why do people fall short of their goals? Is it their inability to overcome obstacles and bounce back from failure? Or is it something more basic? One telltale sign of trouble is how a person reacts to disappointment. Do they claim the setback is out of their control or do they accept responsibility for the mishap?
When you blame external forces for your circumstances, you imply that you don’t have influence over the outcome. Therefore, you can’t be blamed. Conversely, when you accept responsibility for a defeat, you learn from the experience and apply those lessons in the future.
If you believe you can affect the outcome,
you’ll be motivated to do something about it.
16 Reasons People Fall Short of Their Goals
A master craftsman has tools for every kind of job. You won’t acquire the tools to prosper by defending your actions, casting blame, and sidestepping responsibility. You gain wisdom by learning from every experience and applying those lessons to your next pursuit. Conversely, failing to accept accountability for your actions is self-defeating.
There are many reasons why people fall short of their goals. Here are 16 causes worthy of your consideration:
Undefined goals. Some people fail to clarify what they want to achieve. That makes it impossible to attain their goals. As Yogi Berra said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”
Afraid of trying. Some folks are so afraid of failing that they don’t try — and forfeit the opportunity as a result.
Unwilling to make the commitment. Some folks refuse to put their heart into things, due to fear of disappointment.
Afraid of leaving your comfort zone. Some people seek safety and security above all else. If you hadn’t tried to walk, you’d still be crawling.
Analysis paralysis. Some people require every piece of information before they decide. That’s an excuse not to begin.
Fail to master the basics. Some folks don’t believe in continuous improvement and let mistakes return for an encore. Practice doesn’t make perfect if you’re doing it wrong.
Unwilling to pay the price. Some people refuse to make the investment — even though everything worthwhile in life requires an element of sacrifice.
Set unrealistic goals and expectations. Some folks set unrealistic goals and then get discouraged.
Unwilling to work hard. Some people are always on the hunt for shortcuts. That’s hard work.
Obsessed with money. Some folks will do anything for money. That mindset usually comes back to bite them. Do things for the right reasons and the money will follow.
Fail to maintain focus. Some people refuse to make hard choices — and claim to do everything well. Trying to be all things to all people is a guaranteed recipe for mediocrity.
Unable to recover from failure. Some folks don’t bounce back from disappointment. Mistakes don’t make you a failure but beating yourself up makes you feel like one.
Lack determination. Some people quit at the first sign of adversity. The fact is that most things fail on the first try.
Create mismatched priorities and goals. Some folks confuse being busy with being productive. Your actions must be consistent with your goals, or you’re working against yourself.
Focus on rewards. Some people spend more time thinking about the spoils than their day-to-day performance. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Success Comes at a Price
The main reason people fall short of their goals is their unwillingness to accept personal responsibility for their behavior. They want to get ahead but refuse to make the investment; they want to achieve their goals but are unwilling to make the sacrifice; they want the good things in life but are unwilling to work for them. If you expect others to do the heavy lifting for you while you benefit from their hard work, you’re dreaming.
Last-minute effort does not make up for years of neglect.
If you believe anything is possible, you’ll pursue your goals with confidence and vigor. You’ll invest in your personal growth, make an unwavering commitment, and carry out your activities with strength and confidence. Moreover, you’ll remain steadfast and determined until you reach your final goal. On the other hand, if you believe that folks like you don’t stand a chance, you’ll quit before you start. In other words, others can stop you for a moment. Only you can stop yourself for good. You have what it takes to achieve greatness. It’s your choice whether to try.
Check out Frank’s new book, The Path to a Meaningful Life.
Are You Falling Short of Your Goals?
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Jessan Dunn Otis says
Good morning Frank,
Thanks, again and as always, for sharing your insights into another life long and, often, dibilitating condition – failing!
Thing is – all of us have failed at something somewhere in our lives. Personally, I’ve bumped into many walls. I’ve tried to ignore them, justify them, explain them away, etc.
I’ve come to understand that a clear focus, established goals, lots of sticky notes, and a high degree of stick-to-i-tive-ness is required to move along and take two steps forward, even if there’s a little slippage now and again.
Finally, I know that the only time I, truly, fail is if I’ve not learned the lesson based on what I wanted to achieve, as opposed to the apparent results. If another lesson is learned, there’s no failure.
Frank Sonnenberg says
You have a wonderful philosophy, Jessan
Failing can be a blessing or a curse. It can be a great teacher, make you stronger, and keep you grounded, or it can be the cause of your demise. It’s your choice. Your view of failure determines your reality. As Zig Ziglar said, “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.” You’re not a failure unless you make yourself one.
Thanks for taking the time to write.
Bob Vanourek says
I agree, Frank. The prime reason is the unwillingness of people to accept personal responsibility for their behavior. Well done, sir.
Frank Sonnenberg says
Your life will be determined by the choices that you make. You set your course, make the difficult choices, determine what you’re willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals, and act accordingly.
Own your life! After all, personal responsibility can’t be delegated.
Thanks for taking the time to write.