Why haven’t you achieved your goals?

You’ve probably set a goal once or twice in your life.  Many of us tend to go on a goal setting spree at the start of a new year.  With each new year comes a new resolution. Yet inevitably, after a month or two (if we’re lucky) we fall off the bandwagon.  Our goals take a back seat. What things have you wanted to do in the past and failed to accomplish? Why haven’t you achieved your goals?


“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail”.

Whether it’s saving money, traveling a bit more, learning a language, or something else, most of us have something that we want to achieve.  In our minds we create a goal phrase. For example, you might say, “This year, I want to learn German”. Some of us might even write it down to remind ourselves of our goal. Then we haphazardly do some activities that are supposed to help us achieve our goals.  Our excitement begins to fizzle out after a short while and eventually our goal is forgotten about. Although people often fail to remain committed to their goals, this isn’t something that has to be inevitable. By making plans with clarity and direction, your ambitions can become a reality.  Two useful methods that can help you strategize more effectively are having SMART goals and making use of the GROW method.

SMART Goals.

Having a goal is one thing, but setting SMART goals can bring you closer to accomplishing what you want in life. What does SMART mean?

S- Specific. When setting your goals, they should be clear and specific. 

M- Measurable. The goal should be measurable, you should be able to count or measure your progress toward the goal that you’ve set for yourself.

A- Actionable. What steps (actions) are you going to take to reach your goal?

R- Relevant. Is your goal important to you? Does it have a place in your life? If the goal doesn’t have some kind of importance for you and no real value in your life, it’ll be harder for you to achieve. 

T- Time bound. Your goal has to be limited by a certain amount of time. If you leave your goal open-ended in terms of time, there’ll be no sense of urgency. By placing restraints on your goal, you’ll know that you have a limited amount of time to reach your goals. That can push you to work hard and steadily toward what you want to reach.

Let’s make an example goal using the SMART method. Earlier, I wrote the goal phrase “This year, I want to learn German”.  That is a goal, but it’s not specific enough. What does “learn German” mean? How will I know when I’ve “learned” German? How much German do I want to learn? To make a more specific goal, we might say something like “This year, I want to learn German and reach an intermediate level in the language within 6 months. I will spend an hour each day learning by working with a teacher, build my vocabulary through reading and Netflix, or doing an audio program”

GROW Model

Another option that can help you reach your goal is the GROW model. Similar to SMART, GROW is an acronym and stands for the following.

G- Goal. What’s your goal? What do you want to achieve (be sure it’s clear!)?

R- Reality. What’s your current reality? In relation to your goal, what is your situation here and now?

O- Options/Obstacles. What choices are available for you to meet your goal? What obstacles stand in your way and what could you do to overcome them? 

W- Way forward. What are you going to do and when will you do it?

Looking back at the example I gave earlier about learning German, let’s apply the GROW model to it. Goal: To learn German to an intermediate level. Reality: I am an absolute beginner in German and have no knowledge of the language. I’m also not in a German speaking country and I have no Germans around me. Options: I can look for a school that teaches German or find classes online. Obstacles: I may not have a lot of opportunities to practice speaking the language and it might be hard for me to find books in German.  Way forward: I’ll find some audio programs to start learning from and try to learn some new words next week. I’ll also look for easy articles online for learners of German. In a month, I’ll find a teacher online to begin working with.

The Take Away

Think about the goals that you’ve had in the past. Why haven’t you achieved your goals? Everyone can achieve a goal even though it sometimes seems like it’s impossible. Through being clear about your goal, careful planning, and being determined, you can accomplish the things that you want to. Next time you have a goal, try using the SMART method or the GROW model and see how that works for you.  When it’s all said and done, you might be pleasantly surprised. Good luck in reaching your goals!  

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