The top 10 reasons we don’t reach our goals (And how you can banish them!)

goals cauldronIt’s October, so it’s a good time to get a little witchy. Imagine we are under a clear and starry sky at night. Let’s add a cauldron into the picture.

Come circle around it with me.

Together we are going to cook up the foulest stew you have ever tasted. The ingredients will be all the reasons why people don’t reach their goals. We will throw them in one by one. Watch, as we do, how the brew starts to bubble and smoke.

What’s in the mix?

  1. Fear.
  2. Resistance.
  3. Distraction.
  4. Clutter.
  5. Confusion.
  6. Procrastination.
  7. Blame.
  8. Isolation.
  9. Inconsistency.
  10. Neglect.

That’s a pretty mean mixture. You’ve probably drunk some of it yourself. Sitting in front of your computer, maybe. Staring at your manuscript. Or tossing out another unfinished to-do list.

The thing about these 10 reasons, though, is that they are pretty easily banished. How? As the new-agers would say, “Bring it into the light.” This isn’t just metaphysical mumbo-jumbo. There’s actually a deep truth to it. The truth is that we spend a lot of energy hiding. We don’t want to admit to our fear. We close the door on the clutter. We pretend we aren’t inconsistent.

So here’s the easy fix: shed light on your reasons. First, choose the top reason that is haunting you right now. And then spend just 5 minutes answering the question below that corresponds to the number of your Poison Ingredient.

  1. Fear thrives on a lack of clear vision. What is one thing you would do differently tomorrow if you had courage?
  2. We often hold resistance when we have an emotion that has not been given attention. What feeling is bubbling up in you that needs your attention?
  3. Distraction stems from a lack of support, as we try to look outside ourselves for what we need. What is one thing you need to make your work easier? How can you give that to yourself?
  4. Clutter is created when we feel we don’t have time to take care of ourselves and wish someone else would do it for us. What is one small space in your life that you could clean in five minutes? Do it.
  5. Sometimes we are confused because we are actually pursuing goals that aren’t inherently stemming from what we really want. What do you want? Make a list of 25 things, feelings, results, and visions.
  6. We procrastinate because we are afraid of not being good enough. My spell for reversing this is “D.O.G.” It means “Done Over Good.” The next time you see a dog scratch himself, eat a treat, or catch a ball, remember this. It’s not about how good it is. Because something that’s not done is never good. What would it feel like to be done with your project?
  7. Blame can come from a chronic lack of support. But it’s not really addressing the issue; it’s just a kind of whiny way of expressing frustration. Finish this sentence 10 times in your journal: “I need support with…” And then choose one item to take action on today.
  8. We can dig very dark holes for ourselves when we are alone. Spend five minutes with your journal and write out what you wish you could tell a dear friend who would listen without judgment. Bonus points for picking up the phone and asking for five minutes of her time. All she has to do is listen.
  9. Think about the things you do the same way. Brushing your teeth. Driving to work. Filling the dishwasher. These are not stressful events because you do them consistently. Think of one task at work that you can do in this same consistent way. (Remember: Done Over Good.)
  10. A couple months ago, we discussed the need for self-care as academics. You may want to revisit that post. When we neglect our self-care, our work suffers because we feel an underlying lack of respect for who we are and what we are doing. Make a list of 5 things you do well and then write down one thing you can do today to show appreciation for yourself.

Cassie Premo SteeleCassie Premo Steele, Ph.D., is the author of 13 books of scholarship, poetry, fiction and non-fiction. She teaches The Feminar, an innovative course combining mindfulness and and feminist theory that inspires the work of academic women globally. You can sign up for her free 5-Day Clarity Writing Training at www.cassiepremosteele.com.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of the Text & Academic Authors Association. Read more about TAA guest posts here.