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Where do most people fail in achieving their goals?


Most people think they fail in the execution. They think they failed to accomplish their goal because they are simply not good enough, or that they are the kind of person who can never realize that goal. They form all sorts of excuses, such as:

  • “My genetics simply do not allow me to reach that fitness level.”
  • “I was born this way and there is nothing I can do to change that.”
  • “I’m too busy. I don’t have time to keep working towards that goal.”
  • “There is way too much I have to do in order to get to where I want to be.”


Have you ever given yourself or others any of these excuses? I know I have. In college, I was constantly trying to get more fit and reach the same level as the “fit” kids running around campus. So often, I failed because I would have one set back and thought, “I can never be like them. My body is predisposed to be out of shape.” These thoughts would put me right back where I started and I would make NO progress.


Where did I go wrong?


It All Starts With Planning

I have since realized that I failed in planning. Sure, it is all well and good to make these pie-in-the-sky objectives, but back then, I had no plan to get there. I have since learned that planning and setting goals is the most important step of accomplishing objectives. Everything stems from planning, and this is where most people fail. Once I realized this after graduation, and instituted a strong plan, I began to realize my goals. Of course, I did not get everything I wanted at once, but with planning, I got it done!


So, what are the actionable steps you can take to realize your goals? Like I said, it all begins with a plan, and the first step is to create realistic, yet stretch goals. Create goals that will stretch you out of your comfort zone, yet are not so far-fetched that you give up. The acronym “SMART” sums it up. Make your goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.


Making your goals specific involves picking out what exactly you want to do. For instance, instead of saying, “I want to improve my health and lose weight,” you would say, “I want to improve my health by eating half a plate of vegetables per meal, and only eating carbs at night, to lose 10 lbs. by March 1st.” This goal fits all of the SMART objectives. You have specifically picked out something you want (to improve health). It is measurable, since you will know if you have lost 10 lbs. or not. The goal is also achievable since it is realistic, yet challenging. It is also relevant, since it fits into your overall health strategy. Finally, it is time-constrained, since you have set a date of March 1st.


Setting SMART Goals for the Win

These steps lay out a bare-bones plan that is much easier to follow than just saying, “I want to lose weight.” The SMART system allows you to set achievable goals where you can gauge your progress. Be sure to make these goals small at first, and work up to larger ones. This creates incremental process and momentum.




What does this have to do with training and travel? Well, it has everything to do with it. As busy people, we often do not have a lot of free time to dedicate to extraneous activities. You really have to ask yourself, “What is important to me? What are my priorities?” You should have a set of core activities and changes you want to make that are important to you right now! When people say they are too busy, they are really saying they have not made that activity a priority. You need to figure out what is a priority for you. Developing attainable, realistic goals is important when you have a busy lifestyle. If training and health is important to you, then it should be something you are setting goals for!


So, where do we start with all of this? Like I mentioned, most people fail in the planning stage since they do not implement milestones (measurable and attainable) or final goals that are relevant and realistic. Start with this planning sheet to create goals for a certain time period (Free with email list signup) I recommend no more than 3 months to start. Set small wins to keep you motivated and take imperfect actions to keep you going. I say “imperfect” because most of the time, good is better than perfect.


Motivation Is Power

The next step is finding your motivation. People are motivated differently, and it has a lot to do with your personality. This quiz is amazing at picking out what motivates you. Personally, I am a Questioner, so I do not need much motivation, but Obligers need more outside motivation. Regardless of what type of person you are, setting stakes can help you realize tough goals. The site stickk can help you set a goal, set stakes, pick an accountability buddy, and find support. It has been found that setting stakes and having an accountability partner can really motivate people. Just think about the times you had to do something (as in, you had no choice). I bet you got it done. Do the same with your goals!




But what do you do when you have a setback? I used to give up when I had a setback, but now I realize that setbacks are building opportunities. Don’t let a small setback hang over your head; keep driving towards that milestone or goal. Use your motivators (and people) to keep you going. If we let all setbacks stop us, we would never get anything done. Everyone has setbacks, since we can never be perfect. Finally, realize that not accomplishing a goal can be a win. After all, you are better off now than when you started. Set a new goal (maybe a more reasonable one) and continue!


Summing it up

I know this is a lot to take in, so let’s sum it up:

  1.      Set SMART goals that build upon one another.
  2.      Find your motivation (person, stakes, or otherwise).
  3.      Set milestones and reach them.
  4.      Brush off setbacks.
  5.      Learn from mistakes and failures.


Don’t make the mistake of forgoing planning, because it is where goals are really reached. Actions stem from proper planning and preparation. The saying “Practice makes progress (not perfect!)” sums it up. Through preparation and planning, we can practice what we don’t know, and make incremental progress until we realize our goals. Goals are never reached by an overnight transformation, so make your plans today!


What trouble do you have with setting goals? What are your biggest distractions? How do you stay motivated? Let me know if you have any questions!



  1. JC

    Good points all. What’s the tipping point between planning and overplaning for most people? I often find it hard to take action when planning because I feel like I might have missed something.

    • Joe

      That’s a really good question. I think there is definitely a balance. It starts with knowing what type of person you are. If you know you typically over plan so that you do not take action, it would be advisable to plan less and just do it! I personally have had trouble making goals and planning sometimes. So, I know its important for me to do. I think it is really a case by case basis.

      It also goes back to not trying to be perfect. You have to start somewhere. Nobody starts out knowing everything.

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