Why You’re Not Achieving Your Goals + How To Change That

Imagine for a moment that you and your best friend are Zooming in your Comfy Pants, talking about how you’re going to spend the rest of this, uh, VERY CHALLENGING year.

You’ve shared your goals and your friend has nodded along politely and made all the obligatory supportive noises. Now they launch into their aims for the rest of year.

“I think my biggest goal for the rest of 2020 is to change the color of the sky. I’m thinking ….yellow. Like, a smokey, muted sort of look? I just think that would work really well for me.”

And you’d laaaaaaugh because that is ridiculous. NOBODY would make a goal based on something they have no control over, right?

And yet so many of us do this!

We set goals about things that are largely beyond our control. We set goals like “get a book deal,” “buy a house,” or “have a kid.”

Are you directly responsible for the ups and downs of the publishing industry? Do you set the mortgage rates? Can you will yourself and your partner into fertility?

No? Me neither! So let’s stop setting goals we can’t control.

Here’s the thing: You can't guarantee a win, but you can guarantee a good fight. Share on X

? Choose a goal you can actually control ?

You can’t control the caliber of the dating pool, but you can control how many emails you send to prospective dates.

You can’t control the housing market, but you can control your discretionary spending and which real estate agent you hire.

You can’t control your professional industry, but you can control how many resumes you send out and how many networking events you attend.


No: I will end the year in a committed relationship
Yes: I’m going to join a new dating platform and send at least two emails each week

No: I’m going to save $10,000
Yes: I’m going to set up auto-transfers into my savings account + pitch freelance work so I’ll bring in more money

No: I’m going to get a promotion
Yes: I’m going to volunteer to lead two projects, have monthly networking Zoom calls, and find a professional mentor

No: I’m going to buy a house
Yes: I’m going to apply for a mortgage, find the right real estate agent, and go to at least two showings each month

When we set goals we can control, we take the stress and guesswork out of getting what we want

We’re not throwing ourselves on the mercy of a volatile housing market, a moody boss, or whoever happens to be in the dating pool at the moment.

We’re taking ownership of what we can do and taking small, repeated steps towards what we want.

Which is a million times easier than trying to change the color of the sky. 😉

I want to hear from you! Have you ever found yourself setting goals you don’t have control over? If you’re setting controllable goals, tell me about them so I can high five you!

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  1. Heidi

    It’s important to keep both the “uncontrollable” end goal and achievable goals in mind, for max motivation. For example, imagining oneself in a happy committed relationship can provide motivation to enroll on the dating website and keep up with it.

  2. MissyD

    These are really good examples of how to change your thinking. I’ve started setting more goals like that this year, rather than saying ‘I will save $10,000’ I’ve rewritten it to say ‘I will be the top of person who brings lunch to work everyday’.

  3. Alexa

    This is perfect! I have so many pie in the sky goals and this makes sure I break them up into something reasonable.

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