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Didn’t Achieve Your Goals? 9 Reasons Your Thoughts Stopped You

Woman in blue-gray sweater looking of into distance.

Some of us high achievers consistently set personal goals, career goals, financial goals, relationship goals, and much more. But we don’t always achieve them. Why so? There are three main categories of reasons why you didn’t achieve your goals.

Today I’ll focus on how your thoughts got in the way of your success. Nearly everything we do requires us to think — for better or for worse outcomes. Our thoughts are powerful. (Stay tuned for posts on how your feelings and your actions might derail you.)

1. You came up with good excuses

Let’s admit it. We all have an adult version of “the dog ate my homework.”

Quick fix: Be aware of when you start generating good excuses. If they sound good, they probably aren’t. Also, try setting goals that play to your strengths, rather than your weaknesses.

2. You knew there was no consequence for delaying

Ever notice how, the day before you go on vacation, you’re in perpetual motion and you get ten times more work done than usual? Uh-huh. Me, too.

Quick fix: Set a timer and force yourself to finish something within that block of time. Also, give yourself a consequence for not starting or not finishing.

3. You listened to the negative voices — yours and other peoples’

Have you ever heard yourself saying, “Oh, I can’t do that,” or “This is too hard.” Me, too! But that creates a giant barrier in your head.

Quick fix: Read Shad Helmstetter’s book, What to Say When You Talk to Yourself. Negative self-talk is destructive. Replacing those phases with positive affirmations and imagery will help if you didn’t achieve your goals.

4. You didn’t recognize distractions

Ever notice how that sock drawer starts calling your name when you have some important, painful task coming up? Yep. For sure, you start reorganizing that drawer.

Quick fix: First, become aware of it. Then, cut it out! Right now! Get back to work! You’re experiencing what Steven Pressfield calls “Resistance” in his inspiring book, The War of Art

5. You didn’t have a clear grip on your entire workload

By definition your big goals force you to work above the whirlwind of the day-to-day tasks. But those day-to-day tasks pay the bills. Try to get a grip on how much time they will consume.

Quick fix: Make a task list with priorities. Consider the amount of time you’ll need to dedicate to each task.

6. You underestimated how long it would take

Been there, done that. I think it’s a 2-hour task. It takes me 4-5 hours.

Quick fix: Try blocking a set number of minutes or hours to work on the task. I allot 75 minutes to write a blog post. I play “beat the clock” with myself. It’s hard at first. It gets easier after you get into the groove.

7. You didn’t get any feedback

When Edwin Locke developed a goal-setting theory in 1968, he called out 5 essential principles. One of those was feedback. When your deadline arrives and you didn’t achieve your goals, ask yourself if you had any feedback along the way. I’ll bet you haven’t.

Quick fix: Get an accountability partner! Get an accountability app! Join an accountability mastermind group! Get a coach! Or come up with another idea. It’s difficult, or perhaps impossible, to make progress unless you have feedback along the way.

8. You didn’t list smaller steps to the goal

Listing one big goal with no milestones and no steps whatsoever doesn’t work.

Quick fix: When you write the goal, write the first two or three steps to get to it. Later, break the goal down into even more manageable subtasks. This is like lifting weights. You can’t lift the heaviest barbell on the first day you walk into the gym. You must work up to it.

9. You got focused on the reward rather than effort

Consider the story of Adam and Eve. They were focused on getting the pleasure and avoiding the pain. That sounds like us, huh? We get focused on the reward, and then, when the going gets tough, we get wimpy.

Quick fix: If you didn’t achieve your goals, visualize Sisyphus and the rock. Just keep pushing that rock uphill. The rock won’t weigh any less after you push it. But you’ll get stronger as you focus on the effort.

You see, our thoughts are powerful! Rather than letting them get in our way, if we focus on using our thoughts in a positive way, we can go further in achieving our goals.

Make sure you stay tuned for upcoming posts on how your feelings and your actions might derail you from achieving your goals.

Have you experienced your thoughts as reasons you didn’t achieve your goals? How have you worked to get back on track? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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  1. Kimberly Olson

    Hi, I am a Registered RD and am interested in the full IBLCL course. My organization requires a start and stop date, as well as a structured online course. Do you have a suggested timeline for completing the course. i.e. Week #1 complete course ABC. Week #1 complete course DE. Week #3 complete course FGH, etc. I would need something like that, to show structure, and to be eligible. LMK if this is something that you could provide to me. Ideally, I’d like to complete this program in 10-12 weeks?

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Kimberly, great to hear from you. Thank you for asking. Yes, it’s a very structured course! Very! We can provide you with a list of all 100+ learning modules. We also have a suggested study plan for a 3-month hitch. Some people are faster or slower, but 3 months is realistic for most people. We have a 3-month plan that says on this week do Modules A, B, C and next week do Modules D, E, F and so forth. There are also some post-test items at the end of each unit. For your boss, I would recommend giving her the objectives to the course, which you’ll find on the website FAQ or seeing the PDF here. If that isn’t enough, we could probably print out a list of all of the learning modules. We don’t have that immediately available, but we could generate that with a small amount of effort. Thank you for asking!

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