Why You’re Not Reaching Your Goals

By Katie, 5:35 am

Or, more accurately, why I’m not reaching my goals, and perhaps you can relate.

I’ve mentioned on the blog before that I have dreams of busting out of my current writing britches and turning my words into a full-time gig. And while it would be nice for someone to drop out of the sky and say they want to pay me to write, I’m not counting on that happening anytime soon.

But that doesn’t mean my dreams can’t become reality. It just means I’ve really got to work on it.


As of late, however, I’ve totally been spinning my wheels in this department. I haven’t been putting my time or energy into creating the life I really want.

My goals are stalled.

Recently I’ve been feeling very frustrated and discouraged about this state of affairs, like I’ve been doing no more than uselessly grabbing at the wind. Why the heck am I not reaching my darn goals???

I came up with two possible answers.

I’m Not Reaching My Goals Because…

1. They’re the wrong goals in the first place.

Remember the experience I had writing my e-book? It started out as a full book proposal, and I just couldn’t get anywhere. When I decided to switch gears and instead shoot for a self-published e-book, it suddenly felt almost effortless. It felt right.

When we keep missing a goal over and over again, sometimes it’s worth it to turn inward and ask ourselves if it’s really the right goal in the first place. We may think we know the path we’re meant to be on, but fate could have other ideas.


If the goal feels right (and in this case for me it does), then often the barrier is that annoying little bugger called fear. It could be…

…fear of what will happen if I “fail.”

Goals are powerful things because they help us deal with any dissatisfaction we have with our current situation. They allow us to dream of a better time and place for ourselves. And that’s all well and good, but in a way pursuing our goals can be scary because if we don’t reach them, where does that leave us? Right where we are, except without the hope the dreams brought us.

Except that’s not really true. That mindset puts the focus entirely on the end result while completely ignoring the process. As cliche as it sounds, just because we don’t end up where we planned doesn’t mean the journey wasn’t worthwhile.

…fear of what will happen if I succeed.

That sounds a little funny, no? If you’ve created a goal for yourself, why wouldn’t you want to succeed?

Well, perhaps because that means journeying into uncharted territory. It means our lives could change in ways we can’t anticipate or prepare for. It means we’d have to break out of the comfort of our current routines.

Yep, that can be scary. In which case it’s wise to carefully consider whether or not you think your goals are worth it. Are they worth the fear, the unknown? In many cases, including mine, the answer is yes.


What about you? Have you ever gotten frustrated because you weren’t reaching a goal you’d set for yourself? What ended up happening?

22 Responses to “Why You’re Not Reaching Your Goals”

  1. Oh my goodness…thank you thank you THANK YOU for this post!! As you may or may not know I’ve had a life-long issue with goals. I’ve explored the issue on and off on my blog several times. I think about it often. And I wonder, what is it about the word “goal” that sends shivers down my spine. When I hear the word, it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard!

    I can definitely relate to both reasons, but more so the first than the second. I recognize that I used to very often set goals that weren’t really what I wanted…and fear stems from that. But the ah-ha moment that I am having right this very second (and you can be sure I will blog about it) is that I associate the very word with something that I can’t have or won’t be able to achieve!!

    But when I am actually doing something I love…when I am in the moment of whatever it is, I don’t associate it with a “goal.” Does this make any sense at all??

    • Katie says:

      It does make sense! And it makes me realize that in the post I use the words “goals” and “dreams” interchangably, but in reality I think there are very important differences. I wonder about your visceral reaction to the word “dreams.” Same? Different?

  2. *blink blink*

    Its like you are in my head (in a good way). I’m stressing about this all week.

    I often make outlandish goals when times are stressful, and I have a hard time separating out what could possibly work and what I’m just thinking about to make a (what I feel) intolerable situation better. But if i just sit down and do something i enjoy, i often dont need goals to get it done.

    • Katie says:

      I’m the same way! Goals don’t seem to be helpful or necessary when I’m in a good place, but they inevitably crop up – and unrealistically – when I’m totally stessed out about where I am.

  3. Yan says:

    I am not a goal person. I get distracted by goals. Also, as when I have a specific place I’m trying to reach by driving, I tend to get lost when I only know my destination.

    Mostly, now, I’m a directions person. I know what direction feels right. My issue is often how to keep motivating myself in that direction without an actual goal.

    • Katie says:

      Interesting! I really like your emphasis on direction because that again puts the focus on the journey itself. I’m going to give more thought to your motivation issue.

  4. Wow do I relate to this post today. My goals are definitely stalled because life is comfortable in my current circumstance. But I am after more…I want to make something of myself and that means taking a leap of faith. That fear of the unknown has been holding me back for at least 6 months but I have to go for it.

    • Katie says:

      If I were in your shoes, I’d be asking myself, “will I regret not going for it?” If the answer is yes, then it may very well be time to take the leap! :)

      • I totally agree. I just hit publish on my post for today and it was inspired by yours. I linked back to this post, so as soon as it goes up you should receive a trackback notification. Really great post today, I can’t emphasize that enough.

  5. [...] morning Katie published a post titled “Why You’re Not Reaching Your Goals” and man, oh man, could I relate. Every point she made struck a chord with me. The things [...]

  6. Stephanie says:

    Wow! Thanks Katie!

    I’m in the middle of trying to decide if I should make a drastic career change and I’m terrified. All this time though, I thought I was terrified of the financial committment of going back to school or of failing at my new career.

    Your post has made me realise that actually, I’m just afraid of the unknown! Of not knowing what my life will be like if I make a change. But since I hate what I have now, why should I be afraid of something different?

    Thank you so much for helping me realise this!

    • Katie says:

      I’m glad you found the post helpful, Stephanie! The fear of the unknown is a powerful thing. But you’re right; if you’re truly unhappy in your current situation, it can’t get much worse! Best of luck to you! :)

  7. Bubu says:

    Very intriguing post. I find sometimes life gets so busy that my goals just fall off my radar, and things need to quiet down for me to even remember them, why I wanted to achieve them, and how to get there. I also think that when I come up with a goal, one of the best ways for me to know if its a goal I really do want to pursue is to try to write down the goal and then what steps are necessary to get there. If I can think it through that far that tells me a couple of things. 1) whether the goal is achievable and 2) is it really worth it to me to follow those steps to get there. If I don’t like what it takes to get there, then it’s not the right goal for me! (Also -didn’t you just build and move into a house? That sounds like a huge goal achieved! Give yourself credit for the ones you DO achieve to – otherwise what’s the point? Maybe now time and inclination for the writing goal will open up).

    • Katie says:

      Thank you for saying that! I did indeed just move into my new house, and I think part of my frustration with my writing goals is that I’m just so overwhelmed with everything else! I do think I need to cut myself some slack – one thing at a time, you know? And I love your concrete approach to figuring out whether a goal is a good fit.

  8. This gives me lots to think about! I set goals but don’t reach them, as i don’t succeed and let myself down.

    • Katie says:

      That feeling of disappointment is just rotten, isn’t it? I hope you are able to reflect on your goals and perhaps even alter them so that they build you up! You deserve it!

  9. Alisuchi says:

    Or in my case:
    3. Not trusting myself
    I often am unsure of my decision making abilities and talk myself out of doing the very thing I thought I wanted…particularly as I’ve made some decisions in the past that didn’t involve an honest assessment of the motivations behind said decision. That, and I change my mind like it’s my job :( Wait, can I make that my job?? ;)
    Thanks for such a wise and insightful post, Katie!

  10. One thing that I cam to realize – it wasn’t just that I was afraid of failing, I was afraid of SUCCEEDING. Because if you succeed… your life is going to be different. Change is scary, even good change (like moving.)

  11. Alexis says:

    Yeah, it’s all about attitude. For me, the headaches of striving aren’t worth “maybe” getting what I want. For years I beat my head against a wall trying to get the life I wanted in the movie industry. It beyond burnt me out. After 15 years I gave up on it, and all goals and striving. And surprisingly after I did I got more of what I wanted. Peace, creative expression, an inner calm. I boxed myself into a corner with my goal of Hollywood. Now I’m free to be a being. That’s a new age expression. A human be-ing, not a human doing. Eastern philosophy has tons of wisdom about constant striving with it’s inevitable anxiety and stress basically constipating your mind, and your life. I totally get it now.

  12. I have experienced this a lot lately too. I think it is so important to believe in ourselves…but also not hold too firmly to specific beliefs/goals that might not be right. Great post!

  13. [...] are one in the same). Last week Katie (Health For The Whole Self) wrote a post in which she asked, “Why are you not reaching your goals?” As she put it, they’re either the wrong goals OR you’re afraid you won’t be able to reach [...]

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