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Why you are not achieving your goals

Because you are not setting the right goals! If you are not achieving your goals it might be time to assess your goal setting formula.

Goals. We’ve all heard of them and we all know that somewhere along the way we should be setting them for ourselves.

So begins the process of the goal setting treadmill….

The goal setting treadmill

  • I’m going to eat more healthily
  • I’m going to start saving money
  • I’m going to start a blog

We set a goal, spend a few minutes basking in the glow of having set a goal, imagine what our new life will be like post-achieving our goal and then…

Nothing much happens.

Sometimes we go the extra mile and buy some tools to help us on our goal journey-a book, a planner, an app. But, after a few cursory looks, these end up in our never ending pile of ‘stuff’ that we will definitely use someday.

A few days or weeks pass and we realise that we are no closer to achieving our goal. We may try to justify this with thoughts such as “I’ve had such a busy week this week-of course I couldn’t get it done.” We tell ourselves next week will be different.

But next week is the same

and the next week….

Eventually we consign that goal to the bin as simply ‘unachievable’ and choose a new goal for ourselves.

Then we repeat the goal setting treadmill, never getting anywhere and coming on and off again as we set new goals for ourselves.

A new goal setting formula

I have some good news for you. If the above sounds familiar then it’s no wonder you have not been able to achieve your goals.

The goal setting treadmill is akin to setting off to a new destination you have never been to before, with no map and no idea how you will get there. It’s no wonder you turn around and head back inside the safe, familiarity of your house.

So let’s ditch the goal setting treadmill. Sell it on eBAY and move on. You’re ready for a new goal setting formula.

You are going to learn about the difference between process goals and outcome goals

Outcome goals

If you have been following the goal setting treadmill up until now then you are more than likely setting yourself outcome goals.

  • I want to be more healthy
  • I want to have more money
  • I want to feel less stressed
  • etc

Your goal is basically the ultimate destination you want to arrive at someday.

It’s the same as saying ‘I want to go to Paris‘.

The problem with outcome goals, however, is that they are just one, small part of the overall problem.

  1. You have identified where you want to be (this is good by the way)
  2. You have not given any thought as to how you will get there

This is where process goals come into the formula.

Process Goals

A process goal is one that tells you how you will go about achieving your outcome goal.

It’s your SatNav that will ensure you do actually reach your destination without taking too many wrong turns.

Without incorporating process goals, your chance of achieving your outcome goal is very low.

Outcome goal + process goals = achieved goals

Let’s go through an example of how you can use both outcome goals and process goals for your goal setting.

A process goal is a specific goal that you have COMPLETE CONTROL OVER.

I don’t usually type in capitals but that point is so important it needed a lot of emphasising.

When it comes to achieving goals, not everything is going to be directly under our power. Take the outcome goal:

I’m going to save more money

There are lots of things in your power but there is also, your salary/changes to tax/inflation etc.

Process goals put the power back in your hands.

Some examples of process goals that you can set for the outcome goal of saving more money are:

  • I will sign-up to two money saving blogs
  • I will put all loose change into a change jar
  • I will open a high-interest savings account and put £5 in the account each week
  • I will keep a spreadsheet of all my incomings and outgoings
  • I will check my bank balance each evening

These are all goals that you can do and prove to yourself you have done. You will have evidence that your process goals are being achieved. As you achieve each process goal, you will be moving closer towards your outcome goal.

Setting your process goals

It’s important to consider what type of a person you are when you set up process goals for yourself.

Let’s take our travelling to Paris metaphor that we used earlier. There is little point in setting the process goal of ‘I will fly first class to Paris’ if you don’t have the money to afford the ticket. Similarly, there’s no point having ‘I will take a coach to Paris’ if you want to get there quickly.

Your process goals should be ones that:

  • You have the resources you need to be able to achieve them
  • You will enjoy doing them (or, at the very least, not find them too painful)
  • You have the time to achieve

This part involves being very honest with yourself!

I know, for example, that any process goal that involves using bits of paper will not work for me. I don’t enjoy it, will forget where I’ve left things, and will be more likely to give up than if I used electronic resources.

Be honest with your time. If you have two toddlers running around, a part time job, 3 dogs and a podcast on vegan cake baking, then setting yourself the goal of reading 3 books a week on frugal living is probably unrealistic.

When have I achieved my goal?

This will depend on how specific you want your outcome goal to be.

Some people prefer very specific goals. So, for, example, I will save up £5000.

This type of goal is obvious. When you have saved up £5000 you have achieved your goal. You can then consider a new goal or increase your target e.g. I will save up £10,000.

These types of outcome goal are useful because they have a very clear, provable, end-point.

Some goals, though, don’t always lend themselves well to this technique. These tend to be longer term, continuous goals.

For example I want to eat five pieces of fruit and vegetables each day.

The first day you eat five pieces of fruit and vegetables will technically be the day you achieve your goal!

But you likely want to keep eating five pieces of fruit and vegetables each day.

This is where process goals can help. By continuously tweaking them as you move through your goal journey you can keep these longer term goals in your mind.

You may find one day that you don’t feel the need to track this goal anymore because it has become such a habit. That would be the time to say you have achieved this goal and move onto another goal.

How many goals should I have at once?

Again, this is slightly down to personal preference and lifestyle but I would recommend not having more than two or three goals on the go at any one time. (It might be worth starting with just one, small goal to help you try the system and get used to this new way of goal setting).

I suggest that if you have more than one goal at a time, you try to place them all under a bigger ‘goal umbrella’, so you can see how they are working together to hep you achieve a key goal in life.

For example:

Goal Umbrella -Live a healthy life

Outcome goal 1: Eat five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day

Outcome goal 2: Exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes

Having goals that work together towards a big picture goal will help to keep your focus.

I hope you found this guide to why you are not achieving your goals useful! Share your tips and experiences with goal setting in the comments. Remember to share this post before you leave to help other people!

If you liked this post on why you are not achieving your goals then you might want to check out how to declutter when you love stuff!

planner and stationary on white background. caption reads why you are not achieving your goals

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