Celebrate at lighthouse at sunset after successful accomplishment of goal

Setting goals is one thing, but accomplishing them is another.

Each year, on December 31st, I reflect on my goals, dreams and plans for the upcoming twelve months. It’s an inspiring time and I look forward to …

I tend to get super excited … grab a notepad and my shiny fountain pen, and write out my plans for the next 365 days.

I started this habit when I was around 14, and since then, I’ve vowed to become the best version of myself at the start of every new year.

I’d fill at least a page with my lofty ambitions, and all the things I would finally do that year:

  • Start my own business
  • Write more blog posts
  • Exercise every day
  • Quit eating junk food
  • Travel to Spain
  • Improve my Portuguese

But for most goals on that list, I never followed through. I recently came across my notepad from 2014, and I was shocked to see that I’d been putting off starting a blog for a whole 6 years, let alone all the goals I still haven’t accomplished today.

I’ve spent some time thinking about what exactly tripped me up for each of these goals, and today I want to look at the most common blockers, and how they stop us from making our dreams come true.

Mistake 1: You give up too soon

It’s easy to get super excited about a goal, stick to it for a few weeks, and then give up when we don’t see immediate results.

Just look at most people’s New Resolution’s about fitness. We vow to go to the gym twice a week and we get the annual plan for our gym membership. We start out super motivated, and in January and February, all is well.

But as the first few weeks go by, and other commitments keep piling up, that annual subscription of ours gets used less and less, until eventually, around May or June, we don’t go to the gym at all.

One of the reasons why this happens is that we underestimate the time and effort needed to see results. For a lot of us, it would take around 3-5 months to see our bodies changing long-term from a new fitness routine. But we never get to that point.

It’s the same with launching a blog. Most people who start a blog dream about getting Everest-level growth and traffic in the first few months.

I mean, who doesn’t want to see their subscriber levels soar?

But blogging is a long-term game.

And being new to the blogging scene doesn’t help. Most of us waste our first 3 months creating random social media logins, passwords and procrastinating our first few posts.

And when we don’t see immediate results (think: 100 visitors in a week), we give up.

Most of us give up on our goals shortly before we start seeing results

Turns out: we’re not alone. A stunning 80% of blogs fail in the first few months after launch.

All because of human psychology.

The more time we spend working on something without a reward, the harder it is to continue doing it.

Our brain prefers short-term results over long-term positive change.  So doing things that give us an immediate reward are much more attractive than waiting a long time for a larger, more distant reward.

That’s why it feels so much better to eat a whole bag of Doritos after an exhausting work week than to sweat it at the rowing machine. Or why lots of kids choose to eat one marshmallow right away instead of getting two marshmallows after waiting for 15 minutes – as the famous Stanford marshmallow experiment shows. 

The researchers also found that children who waited for a second marshmallow tended to have better life outcomes, especially around educational attainment, overall health and professional success.

This is because just like interest rates compound over time, so does the product of our habits and routines. If we always choose that bag of Doritos, while our friends hit the rowing machine – guess who will be in better shape?

Or if we stopped watching random cat videos on YouTube, and took a leadership course instead, that course, though requiring more input from us, would probably help develop our managerial skills.

Resisting instant gratification

But the main challenge with all these healthy and productive habits is that they take a lot of effort from us and it can take ages for results to show. 

When we start small, it can seem like nothing is happening, and any effort we put in is wasted. But over time, things just seem to fall into place, and after a few months, the results will start to show.

A cool example from my life is this geography website.

I started that site in the Autumn of 2015 and created around 80% of the content in the first two years.

But if you look at the stats, you’ll see that 90% of the traction and views came after those years.

Visitor statistics for igcsegeography.com

Now, the site pretty much runs itself. It continues to grow, even though all I’m doing is updating its contents, maintaining the site and responding to user comments.

Of course, this rule is not just true for websites. For almost any meaningful project you start, you will see your results improve exponentially the longer you work on it. Whether you’re planning to start your own business, save for a quirky house in the countryside, get promoted at work, all of these things can be challenging because they require long-term commitment.

What can you do to make committing long-term more attractive?

Think about this: if you need to choose between something instantly gratifying (like watching TV) and something that will push you closer towards your goals (like studying for your degree), one of the reasons you might choose the TV is because it is more pleasant in the short-term.

But with a few adjustments, you could probably make studying more attractive to tip that balance in your favour.

Especially if you dislike studying, you might wonder how that’s possible. But apart from finding ways to enjoy the actual work more, you can also make something more attractive using milestones, habits and external rewards.  

Set milestones and reward yourself throughout

For example, if you would like to make revision notes on three biology chapters, don’t feel like you are up against an insurmountable task. Instead, split the work into smaller chunks, and reward yourself for finishing a single chapter. That reward can make it more exciting to continue studying, and help you move closer towards your end goal.

Let’s look at another example: what if you want to make a habit of running for 30 minutes after work every day? (And maybe you’ve even told yourself you’re a couch potato that’ll never get in shape).

First, keep things simple. Focus on the day ahead. For now, don’t worry about sticking to your new running habits days or weeks ahead. You know that, usually, when you come home from work, you walk into the living room and turn on the TV.

But this time, what you’re going to do is to break your TV habit and hide that remote control in a hard-to-reach cupboard. Instead, you’ll place your running shoes right across the living room from when you walk in. That way, the shoes will be one of the first things you see. They’ll be your cue to change into your running clothes.

Then, when you’re all set, you’ll have no reason not to start your routine. After all, it would be awkward to go find that remote control and sit on the sofa watching TV in your gym wear. So you might as well just go for a run.

When you get home, you can reward yourself with a piece of chocolate. Repeat this several times and the cue to change into your running clothes, and the reward after the run become neurologically connected. After a while, the routine becomes a habit, and you don’t need the reward to motivate you anymore.

You can use this same sequence to build any habit you like. Just remember to think of:

  • A cue: something that will prompt you to engage in your desired behaviour
  • A routine: the activity you want to do regularly
  • A reward: something that makes doing the routine attractive, and will keep you motivated even when things seem tough

This cue – routine – reward cycle was first discussed by Charles Duhigg in his book: “The Power of Habit”, and I’ve found it very effective for building habits that serve me in my life so far.

Reduce the value of instant gratification

Remember how we said it was important to tip the balance between the instantly gratifying choice and the long-term value choice in your favour. As we’ve just seen, one way we could do this is by making our long-term value option more appealing with a reward, and building habits that can sustain this choice in the long run.

The second option we have is to make our instantly gratifying choice LESS attractive.

Suppose you were trying to get in shape and had to decide between indulging in a bowl of ice cream and going for a hike in the countryside.

Or imagine you had to choose between working out and eating crisps

For now, the ice creams might seem more attractive to you – but what if you agreed to pay your friend 5€ every time you ate some of the ice cream? How about 20€? Or 50€?

Now, every time you think about what to do, you have to weigh up not just the ice cream against the hike, but also take into account the ‘penalty fee’ that you will pay your friend for indulging. And all of a sudden, that hike might be much more attractive.

Using disincentives, you can tip the balance in your favour 🙂

Mistake 2: You aren’t willing to sacrifice to achieve your goal

The second mistake we can make when working towards is goals is underestimating the sacrifices needed to achieve what we want.

Each decision that we make involves a trade-off, where we choose one option over many others. This means that with each dream or wish that we pursue, we forego a range of other (potentially attractive) alternatives.

When we dream of success, fame and glory, we only see the flashy, appealing side of achieving our goals.

We see the impressive results people get from working out at the gym or starting their own side business. We see how they have amazing abs and luxurious lives without needing to rely on their day job for an income.

But we don’t often look at the challenges that they’ve faced – the 60-hour workweek, or the determination they needed to push through at the gym when they weren’t feeling it.

We rarely see the hours of training that go into having a body like this

And it doesn’t help that we live in a society that celebrates achievements on social media, but wants to make everything look easy. Just think of the models on magazine covers, the skinny girls on Instagram who say they ‘just watch what they eat, and work out regularly.’

Very few of these girls will tell you that they:

  • Cut out all processed sugar and sweets from their diet
  • Follow a strict nutrition and exercise plan that sees them spending up to 6 hours a day improving the way they look
  • Have a professional team to help them look good on photoshoots
  • …and so much more.

As a result, we often delude ourselves about what we want to accomplish. We just look at an opportunity and see all the amazing benefits. But we don’t realise how much we will need to forego to achieve them. We simply forget about the opportunity cost.

For example, Eve Bennett mentioned once that her choice to do videos on YouTube meant she would never be able to work for the secret service. I think this is an opportunity cost few of us would even consider, but it is those unconsidered opportunity costs that can interfere with our goals.

These opportunity costs can make our goal either seem unattractive. For example, if you are told you can retire on an island in the Caribbean Ocean, but would need to work 80 hours/week for the next 20 years. If we discover that we aren’t willing to make such sacrifices, it’s smarter to give up on the goal altogether – instead of deluding ourselves for months on end.

Sometimes though, the opportunity cost is just a big enough barrier to throw us off track momentarily – and then give up on our goal because we don’t see results (see I what wrote in Mistake 1).

Let’s say you are cruising along feeling good about losing weight, and someone offers you dessert. Are you ready to say no?

Or do you give in … only to feel guilty hours later? And then sit around crying because you’ve failed at your goal, and you keep telling yourself it’s impossible to achieve?

With a bit of forethought, you can avoid situations like these. Before you even set a goal, think through the sacrifices you are willing to make – and the areas you are unwilling to compromise on.

To let anything new into your life, let go of something old

Letting go can feel like jumping into the deep end

With any new goal you start, you will need to:

  • Let go of old habits. You can’t stay in your sitting chair all day if your goal is to become a good athlete. You can’t sit around and whine about the world if your goal is to be a more optimistic person/develop an opportunity mindset.
  • Change up your time and money budget. There’s a reason why Chase Darvis says: ‘Show me a man’s calendar & spending, and I’ll show you what he values.’ A new habit or goal challenges you to rethink your priorities and adjust how you spend your time and money. So, think about when you will work towards your goal, how much cash you are willing to invest, and what other aspects of your life will need to take the back seat.
  • Embrace discomfort. When you start something new it can be quite uncomfortable. Just think about how intimidating it can be to go to the gym for the first time when you see all these fit guys around you. But after going for a few months, you become more fit yourself and you don’t even pay attention to the people there as much as you used to.

Before you set your next goal, make a list of things you are willing to say ‘no’ to.

For example, I am considering dropping out of university and taking up a full-time job instead. But before I commit and fill in the deregistration form, I need to think about the impact this has on my career. If I decide to spend the next few years working, I can’t be learning and getting my degree.

Yes, I will gain a lot – I’ll improve my marketing skillset, make decent money and get a huge sense of accomplishment from the feeling that I’m contributing something meaningful to society. But I also know that not having a degree can make it hard to get my foot in the door at other companies later in my career.

How about you? What would you need to say ‘no’ to, to accomplish your goals?

Mistake 3: You choose what’s comfortable, not what works

Apart from not making the necessary sacrifices to achieve our goal, many of us like to take ‘shortcuts’. These things are more comfortable than relentlessly pursuing our goals, but ultimately don’t deliver the promised results.

For example, many college students engage in what I call pseudo-studying. They sit in the library and spend hours reading, or rereading their textbooks. Every once in a while, they grab a highlight and mark up a passage that seems important, but more often than not they find themselves interrupted or chatting to their friends, rather than getting their university work done.

Instead, they’d have much faster results and more free time if they used revision techniques that actually work. Two of the most effective revision techniques that I’ve used and were recommended to me by Ali Abdaal include:

  • Active recall: where you test yourself against the material you are studying
  • Spaced repetition: spacing out revision over longer time periods – to improve your long-term memory

While you might have already finished university, we can see this theme of doing what’s easy instead of what matters in almost any part of our lives. Take starting our own business.

We prefer spending years reading blogs online, instead of speaking to potential customers to validate our business idea. And then, we wonder why nothing ever happens … and why we still dream of starting a side hustle 5 years down the line.

The thing is:

Most of us simply follow the crowd.

99% of people don’t choose the smartest way to do something, but the most comfortable one.

It’s not comfortable to:

  • Introduce ourselves to strangers at a networking event
  • Send an email asking for help to someone we admire
  • or get feedback from our professor on a bad writing assignment.

For each of these activities, we need the courage to look at our failures and shortcomings. And to try a path outside of our comfort zones.

Very few people are willing to take this route.

Just get on the bus on a Monday morning and look at all the unhappy faces of people on their way to work. You rarely have the impression that people are doing something they are passionate about. Instead, it seems like they are inwardly complaining about their job.

Of course…they could just quit, find a different company to work for, or start their own business. But that’s scary, so most of us don’t do it.

Yet, often that’s the only way stuff works – risking a radically different approach.

Rather than simply reading up on how to negotiate a raise in our current job, we can practice with friends.

Instead of telling ourselves that a good social life is simply down to sheer luck, we can make an effort to meet one new person each week.

And we can stop feeling shy and awkward by signing up for a weekly improv class.

Learn from the best

Getting a good mentor can go a long way

If you don’t know what the best approach is, learn from people who have gone before you.

Ask someone who has accomplished what you want:

  • What were the exact steps you took to get where you are today?
  • Which barriers did you face – that you think I should be aware of?
  • What techniques have you tried, where noticed that you DIDN’T get any good results?

Simply send them an email, or reach out with a script like this:

Hi [name of successful person],

My name is [your name], and I’m [an avid reader of your blog/big fan of yours].

I’ve been following you for [time], and I really enjoy what you say about X.

The other day, I saw that you [accomplished X]. I’m totally new to [goal X], but I would like to do the same.

Can you share what exactly you did to [get from A to B], and if you have any tips or things I should be aware of?

Thanks a lot in advance,

Best wishes,

[your name]

Let me know what you asked and what response you got in the comments!

Mistake 4: You wait ‘till the time is right’ to get started

The surest way to failing to accomplish our goals is not getting started.

But many of us hesitate when it comes to taking action.

We tell ourselves that we don’t have time. That we need to wait just a little while. That we need to figure it out first and think things through.

And yes, having a well-thought plan before we start is important – but we don’t need to keep obsessing about decisions for years and years.

We just do it because we’re scared to change. But in the end, we wait forever and nothing gets done.

With each week that goes by, each month of inaction, we become more and more disappointed in ourselves. Until one day, we lose faith that we can even accomplish our goal at all.

Don’t let it get that far – and remember: the occasion is never right.

There isn’t a perfect time to start your own business, switch jobs, or find a summer internship.

Sure, some starting times may be easier than others – but your success rarely depends on timing alone. Take working out: summer could well be too hot; winter might be too cold. In autumn, you’ve got storms, and in spring mosquitoes might haunt you. Looks like working out isn’t that great at any part of the year.

But if it’s one of your goals, you need to make a choice: Either you exercise despite the unfavourable weather conditions and timing, or you let years go by without doing a single workout.

It’s up to you to call the shots.

Cut the excuses and the B.S.

The words ‘I’m too busy’ have become universally accepted in response to demands for our time.

Want to grab lunch with a co-worker? Sorry, I’m swamped with work.

Sit down and write for an hour? Nah, you have a doctor’s appointment scheduled, and besides you need at least 3 hours of uninterrupted “me-time” before you can start planning out that essay.

Start thinking about your business idea. Can’t – too busy.

People might not call you out on your busy-ness. Yes, commitments and obligations can keep your schedule tied up –but are truly too busy to spare an hour to hang out with your friends, go to the gym or start that creative writing project?

Or is it simply not a priority?

By the way, that’s totally fine as well. But a tiny bit of honesty can help you decide whether and how you want to move forward.

So don’t trick yourself by saying that you would do X, Y and Z if you had more time, but be crystal clear about what matters most to you right now. And if it’s one specific goal that matters most – you need to find a way to free up time to chase it.

Let your calendar reflect your true priorities

Woman looking at calendar reflecting her goals
Make time in your calendar for your goals

Take a look at what you do every day, and consider which activities you can cut back on. Maybe you can:

  • Spend only 30 minutes instead of 1 hour a day on social media
  • Negotiate a 36-hour workweek with your buss
  • Pay a friend to do bothersome chores like washing laundry for you

…the list of things you could do to free up time is almost endless. You just need to be willing to let go of your limiting beliefs, rewrite the stories you tell yourself and make the necessary sacrifices.

Mistake 5: You only rely on willpower to get you through

Chances are, at some point in your life, you tried to change your behaviour through sheer willpower. And chances are, you also failed miserably.

But don’t worry, this is what happens to most people when we set a goal. We start super motivated, get up at 5 AM every morning, eat some avocado-grapefruit yoghurt, and hit the treadmill for an hour before work.

After a few days, we’re exhausted and we have lie-in to recover. Now, everything seems like a struggle and we need to force ourselves to stay strong and keep smacking the roadblocks that life puts in our way.

We keep pushing our emotions aside until eventually, we end up torturing ourselves or feeling deeply ashamed and hateful when we finally give in to how we feel. But self-discipline based on self-denial does not work in the long run. It just leads to a whole lot of shame, guilt and disappointment.

Sometimes that shows in numbing behaviours and coping mechanisms like drinking alcohol or distracting ourselves. Other people find outlets that seem more productive on the surface – like slaving away at their desk for 100 hours/week (a consultant’s favourite), or holding concerts in a different city each night.

Deep down though, these people still feel worthless – and their outward success will one day backfire. They see their relationships shattered as release one hit single after the other, not even pausing for a second to sort out the mess in their personal lives. They’re terrified of relinquishing control, and feel like a total failure if they don’t keep up the same, unhealthy work ethic that they’ve had for years.

But if you look at anyone who wildly successful – you can also get a different picture. Some people ACTUALLY enjoy an intense, yet outwardly perfect, lifestyle. Even if it means getting up at 5 AM, sweating tirelessly at the gym, or cold-calling the world’s most famous CEOs. Or not having more than a few hours to hang out with friends and family every week.

These people love what they do.

Now, of course, the question is how can you enjoy what you do, and chase your goals without becoming an uncompromised robot?

Find joy in every part of your life

First, develop a sense of appreciation for yourself and the way you’ve been living so far. Your current lifestyle is part of your journey and for the past months or even years, it has served you well.

So quit the negative thinking, stop telling yourself that you’re ‘not good enough’, and start seeing yourself in a more positive light.

Make the decision to love yourself, and practice finding joy and meaning in everything you do – whether that is your work, spending time with your family, or playing board games with your best friend.

Even as you work towards your goal, develop a deep satisfaction for how your life is currently. Don’t let dissatisfaction, self-hate, or shame drive you towards achieving your goal, but instead chase any accomplishments with a sense of joy and love for yourself. 

Plan for contingencies with the If-then technique

Apart from being optimistic about yourself and believing that you can succeed, it helps to have a contingency plan in place. This will allow you to stick to a set of principles when following through on your new routine seems tough. 

Using the If-then technique you can plan what you’ll do when things aren’t ‘perfect’ or seem to be going terribly wrong. That way you can get back on track without a ride on the emotional rollercoaster, and take away feelings like a fear of failure.

The If-then technique is easy to use: Just think of your goal and make a list of everything that could potentially go wrong. Then, make a note of the strategies you could use to get back on track.

For example, if your goal is to ‘work out 5 times a week for 30 minutes’:

  • What will you do if you get sick?
  • What will you do if one week you are swamped with work and don’t hit your goal?
  • How will you get back on track if you miss a day?
  • What alternative will you for the days when you hate the workouts you do?
  • How will you motivate yourself if you’re not seeing the results you hoped for?

Mistake 6: You don’t have a clear goal & roadmap

Most of us take a haphazard approach to pursuing our goals. This means when we do end up accomplishing something, we often have no clue how we got there, and we put our success down to luck.

It would be much easier to achieve our goals if we had some cornerstone habits mapped out for us

In fact, it’s super easy to overlook the cornerstone habits that help us accomplish something until we make a deliberate effort to compare the actions taken by someone who did succeed and someone who didn’t succeed.

Take three guys who dream of getting six-pack abs. The first guy simply sits around and waits for the perfect body to fall from the sky. He doesn’t change up his diet or workouts but is surprised to see minor results after 4 weeks.

The second guy goes to the gym and trains real hard on the treadmill each day, and also forces himself to do a few push-ups in his lunch break. After a month, this guy hasn’t seen any results at all.

Meanwhile, the third guy has decided to go running for 15 minutes each day and cut out all sugary, processed foods from his diet to get six-pack abs in 2 months. He weighs himself every day to track his progress and gets feedback from a fitter friend once a week. Two more weeks of following his routine, and this guy will have the six-pack abs he always dreamt of.

What can we learn from this? What sets the third guy apart from guys 1 and 2?

Well, the third guy has been much more strategic about setting a good goal and keeping himself accountable.

Like the second guy, most of us go about setting vague goals in our lives.

We say things like:

  • ‘I want to lose weight’
  • ‘I need to get better with money’
  • or ‘I want to improve my social skills’

While these are good ambitions to have, I’d like to challenge you to transform these high-level visions into a SMART goal. A SMART goal tells you exactly what you need to do, and will make it so much easier for you to accomplish your dreams.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific: Decide on an action step you can take to work towards your goal. If you were hoping for six-pack abs (like the third guy in the example above), you could go for a 15-minute run and do 100 push-ups every day.
  • Measurable: How will you know if you are making progress or whether you have accomplished your goal? Sticking with the example above, the third guy weighed himself daily and got feedback from a friend to measure whether he was moving towards his desired goal.
  • Attainable: Are there any constraints you need to consider or are you being too ambitious with the goal you’ve set out? This depends a lot on personal circumstances. For one person putting aside 200€/month for an emergency fund is easy, for another who is barely scraping by, it might be more realistic to start saving just 20€/month.
  • Relevant: It’s easy to put goals on our to-do list simply because we think we should do them. But before you commit, ask yourself whether you really want to achieve them. This can save you a lot of trouble and frustration later down the line – as well as freeing up time to focus on the goals you DO want to achieve.
  • Time-bound: Have you set a deadline for yourself? Did you put your goal on your calendar? Having a clear cut-off date keeps you accountable and helps you stay on track – it stops you from pursuing your goals just half-heartedly by forcing you to get results within a certain time period.

Now it’s your turn: Take your high-level goal and turn it into a SMART goal – and share your before and after in the comments.

Mistake 7: You put too much pressure on yourself

When something is important to you, it’s natural to tighten up and try hard.

But sometimes all the effort you put in comes from a feeling of deep uncertainty about whether you can accomplish your goal.

When we feel anxious and worry that we may not achieve our goal, we can then overcompensate and push our anxiety aside by trying even harder.

For example, when I first moved to the UK for my undergrad, I would force myself to exercise because I wanted to lose the weight that I’d gained. I would do okay for a few days, but then I’d miss a day because I was so stressed. Tomorrow will be different, I kept telling myself. But I put so much pressure on myself to succeed, that I would not manage to exercise on the second day either. First, I’d miss two, then three, and eventually four or more days in a row. Until I was back to square one.

I would try over and over again, but the harder I tried, the harder I failed.

Nothing changed … until I lowered the bar and told myself that it was okay if I missed a day here and there. Until I developed the confidence that would succeed eventually.  

As you can see, the more you beat yourself up for a failure, and the more you fear failing, the harder it becomes to deal with setbacks. If you put so much pressure on yourself to NOT fail, you always have the image of failure looming at the back of your mind.

And when that image becomes reality, your self-esteem can take a massive hit.

So, what can you do about this?

Ditch the doubt

It’s simple: stop worrying about failure and start believing that you can accomplish your goal.

You can only do what you believe is possible, so if you’re sure you can’t run a marathon, you never will. (At least until you change your limiting belief).

The hard part about this is that even when you know that your goal is feasible and you should be able to achieve it easily, the doubts can creep up on you.

Maybe you think you’re not smart enough, not dedicated enough … or whatever. But the only way, you can succeed is by silencing that voice in your head, by shutting up your inner critic and firmly challenging any limiting beliefs your mind can think of.

Have a mental image of what success looks like and imagine how you get there with ease. Take the pressure off, and trust yourself to make things happen.

It was only once I developed the confidence that I could build a regular exercise habit and once I started enjoying working out, that I began to see the results I craved.

So be gentle, believe in yourself, and know that you can succeed. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet your own expectations, but do your best and watch over your journey to success with kindness and compassion. Rewrite any limiting beliefs into invisible scripts that serve you.

Mistake 8: You chase the wrong goal

Lots of outstanding students go to elite institutions simply because people expect them to

Sometimes we chase goals that are alluring at first sight, but when we take a closer look, it turns out they don’t really fit with our life plans.

Just look at the number of young people who:

  • Go to college because their parents make them
  • Need to be in a relationship so their friends will think they are cool
  • Work in a boring corporate job because it pays well

All of these societal expectations can make us chase goals or dreams that aren’t actually ours. It just looks like they’re what we want because we’re being bombarded with messages that we should achieve them.

Especially with teens, you see this a lot. If smoking and taking drugs is cool in their social circle, 13 to 15 year-olds are much more likely to try things like alcohol and weed because they want to ‘fit in’ with the rest of their gang.

But ultimately, they end up feeling disappointed, stressed and unhappy if they go against what they want in their life.

That’s why it’s so important to be brutally honest with ourselves and evaluate whether we actually want to achieve a goal, or whether we’re just striving for it because we feel pressured to achieve it by the people around us.

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell the two apart. So here are few tips you can use to figure out what you want vs. what you just feel pressured to do:

Tip 1: Write down what other people expect from you

Make a list of all the expectations people around you have for your life. This could be expectations from your parents, partner, friends, family members, co-workers, managers and any other influential people in your life.

Then, figure out which of these expectations are stressing you. (Note: these are usually the ones that don’t fit with your values).

Tip 2: Imagine your life in a perfect world

What would your life look like if you never had to worry about money again? And if you knew that people would love and appreciate you regardless of how you lived your life? What if you could live a life without fear?

What changes would you make – and how would you spend your time?

Once you’ve written down what your perfect life looks like, compare it to the goals you are setting for yourself. Where do they align? And more importantly, where don’t they? (This is where you need to look at why you’ve set these goals for yourself in the first place).

Mistake 9: You become complacent and lazy when you see the first results

Often, when we’ve set a good goal for ourselves, we start well. We’re making steady progress and everything seems perfect.

As we see the first results take shape, we are overjoyed.  But instead of continuing with the same vigour and dedication, we become satisfied and comfortable with ourselves.

It’s human nature.

We stop pushing as hard as we did at the start, and no longer put in the effort to keep the momentum going. We think everything will take care of itself, and rest on our laurels so long that everything starts to slip up.

Yes, we should celebrate our successes and it’s perfectly fine to take a break from time to time. But if we resign ourselves to passivity and expect things to fall into place in an instant, we’ll soon find ourselves back in the exact same place where we started.

We need to avoid falling into this trap.


By keeping on top of our work, holding ourselves accountable, and pushing through until the end.

Dream of your perfect world until becomes true

Instead of becoming complacent, imagine what life would be like if you didn’t just see the successes of today. But if you went the extra mile. Remind yourself what your perfect life looks like, and yearn to accomplish it.

Keep pushing yourself to not just accept the first results as ‘much better than where you were before’ but instead ‘go all in’.

Be careful if your mind tells yourself that ‘it’s good enough already’ – this is just your brain trying to trick you.

Spring into action

After accomplishing an important milestone or working through a tough task, it’s human nature to want to sit back and take a breather. You do deserve a little downtime after all. But once you’ve celebrated and taken a few deep breaths, just keep going and continue working on your goals.

You can also plan your goal-free times in advance, to avoid resting on your laurels for too long. When you think of how you will reward yourself for the first success, also visualise yourself getting back to action right after. This can keep you going and push you to strive beyond what you just accomplished – to greater and greater heights.


You’ve seen the major barriers when working towards a goal – and what you can do about them. Now, it’s time to put that newfound knowledge into action.

Pick one goal that you’ve been struggling to achieve for years, and see which of these mistakes has been holding you back. Then, come up with a plan to fix it, and once you’ve eliminated all the barriers, you’ll soon find yourself achieving your goal.

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