5 Reasons Why You're Standing in Your Own Way of Achieving Your Goals

"I couldn't go to the gym because it was raining." "I deserve a break from studying for my exam tomorrow, I will finish later." "I'll start tomorrow."

We've all heard of these excuses before, whether it's from someone else saying it or we tell ourselves. It is easy to recognize these phrases or similar ones as excuses when we hear someone else say them, but what about when we tell ourselves? When we say, "I'll start going to the gym tomorrow," who is there to make sure we actually go tomorrow as we said? Unless you have an accountability buddy, no one is going to force you to get up, and no one is going to check back in to see if you achieved your goals and followed up. From working out to feel comfortable on the beach during Spring Break or studying hard for that A on your chemistry exam, we set goals for ourselves and understand that work is required to achieve them. Although we all want to go to sleep and wake up with a toned stomach or all the knowledge of Organic Chemistry, it doesn't work like that, but that doesn't mean the goals are unachievable. Most of the time we are the ones standing in the way of our own goals by making excuses, setting unmeasurable goals, procrastinating, and comparing ourselves to others rather than focusing on our tasks and getting things done. It all starts with looking in the mirror and inside ourselves to understand the causes of our lack of motivation and figure out a game plan to smash those goals. 

  1. 1. You Don't Set Specific Dates to Get Things Done

    "I'm taking a break," "I'll start my homework tomorrow," "I'll go to the gym next week," or "I'll __________ (insert some task) ___________ (insert some arbitrary time)." Sound familiar? We've all been there! Usually, we have a reason for doing a task as it is a stepping stone for us to achieve some larger goal. For example, we do our homework to better understand a concept or to boost our grade in a course. Or we go to the gym because we just bought this really cute dress on sale and we want to be able to feel comfortable wearing it on the cruise we are taking this summer. The goals are pretty solid, and they are achievable. However, it is hard to achieve the goals without doing the steps that lead up to the goals. If you don't exercise or watch what you eat, it is hard to shed the pounds that you say you want to lose. When we put things off until tomorrow or next week, we are essentially putting the task on the back burner until we ultimately forget about it. What time tomorrow are we doing that workout? Next week? When? These aren't set in stone and are barely set at all. A goal or task without a set time to do them is just a mere thought because there is no way to measure or enforce the goals. If you started saying "I'm going to do ________ at 3:30PM tomorrow after my last class," you are more likely to keep that task at the front of your mind and are more likely to do it. At 3:30PM tomorrow, you will know whether you are doing the task or not. Simple as that. Check out this article for how to set SMART goals.

  2. 2. You Don't Prioritize What You Want and "Run Out" of Time

    There are only 24 hours in a day, and we sleep for around 8 of those hours. If you work or go to class, you can cut out another chunk of your day. Glancing at your daily schedule, it can be hard to see where you can find time to work out, put in that extra study time, practice playing guitar, or whatever goal you have. These tasks can take 30 minutes. Maybe waking up 30 minutes earlier, walking to class, or reading your textbook while you put in work on the elliptical is how you can get what you need to do as well as work toward achieving your goals. If there is something you want to do or have a desire to achieve, you will prioritize and make time for it because it is important to you. 

  3. 3. You Procrastinate and You Push Back Results

    Procrastination sometimes seems like it is wound in our DNA. Even activities that take five minutes can be pushed back tremendously until the task becomes stressful. When we do this with steps that will help us achieve the goals we set for ourselves, we are only hurting ourselves. You want to lose 5 pounds by Spring Break, but you pushed back your workout for 3 weeks? You are going to have to work twice as hard in the gym to achieve your goals in the time frame that you established. This makes the task stressful and daunting when you realize this all could have been avoided if you started earlier. If you don't have a time frame, you are still elongating the time it takes to make a change just because you didn't want to start. 

  4. 4. You Compare Your Progress to Others and Don't See the Struggle

    When you don't put in the work to learn a new concept in class or practice a skill, you will look at others who have mastered the thing you want to master and only see their success. "I wish I could have a toned stomach like her! She looks so good" is the thought rather than "I wonder how much she worked out and changed her lifestyle to get that body." Each person has their path, struggles, and progress to achieve what they want, and the steps taken are unique to each person. Comparing yourself to others can pose a greater obstacle because you will want to see quick results.

  5. 5. You Don't Want It as Badly as You Think

    Lastly, you will make time and put in the work for the things you truly care about. According to Investopedia, "Opportunity costs represent the benefits an individual, investor or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another." By spending 30 minutes at the gym, you are taking 30 minutes of extra sleep or 30 minutes of watching Netflix. You give up time, money, resources, or energy that could be put towards something else because you found that going to the gym, studying, improving a skill, is worth more to you than that Netflix episode or sleep. You want to achieve this goal badly enough that you will make short-term sacrifices for long-term gain. 

We all make excuses, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. However, if we have been having trouble understanding why we are not achieving our goals, we must look internally and see if we are to blame. The best part about being your own obstacle is that you have the power to make a change. Look at your life and ask yourself, "am I standing in my way?"