3 Reasons Why You’re Not Sticking to Your Goals

Why it is that we get stuck on our goals? You might be a goal-setter or vision board creator with dreams of all you want to achieve and complete. Yet you still find yourself six or 12 months down the track beating yourself up saying, “I haven’t even started. Why haven’t I achieved this?” This can make you stressed, depressed and generally feel like a failure because you haven’t achieved the goals you set.

1. A goal the size of a Mountain You’ll Never Scale

Sometimes goals can be this big, bright, beautiful thing, and in some ways, it can be a goal that’s the size of an elephant. When I’m talking to people about time management, I talk about consuming an elephant, imagine you are sitting down for a meal, and the meal is the size of an elephant, and you say, “I can’t eat that. There’s no way I can possibly consume all of that.” But if I broke off a small piece and handed that to you, you’d be able to eat it. The saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One mouthful at a time.” Our goals can often be grandiose like the elephant and consequently what happens is that we can’t achieve them because they’re too big. We haven’t broken it down into bite-size, consumable pieces that we can actually start and do right now.

2. Goals that Don’t Align with Our Values

There’s another reason that we get stuck with our goals, and that’s because we focus on things that don’t align with who we truly are. We’re not thinking about what it is that’s important to us or what interests us. What are our personality traits? What things are attracted to us, or attractive to us? They’re the things where we need to focus our attention on and too often, we set goals based on what we think we should be doing, or even based on what our friends or family have influenced us to believe is a worthy and valid goal. However sometimes you need to stop, take stock, and think, “What creates a passion in me? Where am I excited? Where do I find joy?”

The trick is to actually stop and look and what it is that you place value on, and I’m not talking values such as honesty or integrity, but what is it that really floats your boat? What is it that you actually find interesting? Think about where you get distracted in social media, that’s a tell-tale sign of what piques our interest. Where can you lose yourself on YouTube or Facebook or Instagram, and go down that rabbit warren, coming out a couple of hours later going, “Whoa, did I waste that much time?” That’s a tell-tale sign in terms of where your interests truly lie, and there’s no shame in that. You’ve got to embrace that, because that’s at the core of who you are, what makes up the DNA of your personality. And that will help you align goals to your values and your core beliefs, and when you do that then your goals are more achievable.

3. You Don’t Truly Know Your Purpose (Why), Vision (What) or Mission (How)

The other exercise that I do with people to help them make decisions and achieve goals is use questioning techniques to uncover the answers to three fundamental questions: purpose, vision, and mission. For example, looking at your purpose, I’ll ask questions such as, “Why are you here, what gives you significance? When do you feel really important? When do you feel valued? When do you feel like you’re actively contributing and feel really good about that? When do you care whether you are giving value, or are validated or acknowledged or recognised? When is that important to you in your world, whether it would be work, family life, personal life?” The answers to these questions is where the true meaning to your purpose lies.

The second one is vision. Where do you see yourself going? Once you’ve done some work around your values, core beliefs and purpose, this becomes clearer. You start to get a picture of where it is you’re going. Where do you want to end up? Where do you want to see yourself in five, 10, 15 years’ time, or even when you’re at the end of your life looking backwards? What are the milestones you want to be proud of?

And the third one is mission. Think of it in terms of the movie Mission Impossible. “Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is X.” So, how are you going to do that? How are you accomplishing that vision? What is the work, or the activity that you’re doing? How are you fulfilling your vision and your purpose in life by the things that you’re actually doing? This is where you will discover your mission statement, it is the tasks you are undertaking to achieve your vision and purpose that form your mission statement.

Once you get clarity on your values, purpose, vision, and mission, they become the affirmations that you live by. You say, “This is who I am, this is where I’m going, this is what is important to me.” And then, when you’re faced with really difficult decisions, you go, “It’s a no-brainer. I know who I am and where I’m going and what’s important to me, and that’s the path that I choose.”

What I’ve found when I’ve done these exercises with people is that their decisions become so clear, there’s no self-doubt, and people have been able to change career paths, or they’ve got promotions, or they’ve been able to stand up for themselves. They are able to focus on where their strong points are within their work environment and feel good about that, and not beat themselves up about their weaknesses. They use their strengths to support their weaknesses to get things done and to achieve their goals.

I’ve even found sometimes when I’ve done this work with people that the big lofty goals they may have had, change. When we’ve worked through the process they realise that goal isn’t really them. For example, writing a book is a classic one, “Ah, yes, I want to write a book someday,” when we actually worked backwards and looked at what’s involved, and what are the processes, and whether it aligns with who they are, where they want to go and who they believe they are, they realise the goal’s not what they thought it would be, and it’s not going to achieve for them what they hoped it would. Quite often we find another path that is more aligned and more attuned to that person.

So, if you’re getting stuck in your goals, ask yourself, “Am I aligning it to what’s important to me, or is it an image I’m imposing on myself that’s influenced by others? Why am I here, and what’s really important to me? Where do I feel validated? Where do I feel good, and what makes me feel good? What’ the big picture of where I’m going, and how am I doing it?”


  • Have small bite sized goals
  • Determine your goals by thinking about what distracts you the most
  • Discover your purpose, vision and mission


  • Have a goal the size of a mountain (or elephant)
  • Feel shame in being distracted by social media
  • Let others determine your goals

If you would like some advice on how to stick to your goals (and achieve them) book a time for a chat  click here.

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About the Author:

Barbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a Time Management Strategist & Stress Management Practitioner based in Alice Springs, Australia. She has spent over 20 years working in time precious and stressful industries such as film, hospitality and marketing. She has always had a burning passion for creating order and making sense of things. She is sought after like a beacon in a sea of chaos to provide professional development in the business environment through workshop training, coaching, mentoring, online training programs, webinars and as a guest speaker around Australia. Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships.