Primary Blog/6 Reasons Why Setting Goals Isn’t Working

6 Reasons Why Setting Goals Isn’t Working

Originally Posted January 22nd, 2023 on previous website

If you prefer audio books, here is a recording of the blog post.

January is that time of year where people set out to keep their New Year’s Resolutions or set their goals for the year. And without fail, the majority of people drop off by February 1st, if not sooner. Why is that?

1. The Gregorian Calendar is NOT in Alignment.

The way our current calendar is set up, it doesn’t align with the stars, the universe, and the energy required to set you up for success. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the ideal time to set new goals and start the “New Year New Me” would be around the Spring Equinox, which is March 19th, 20th or 21st depending on the year.

Think about how the energy of Spring makes you feel. Often people do spring cleaning right before the equinox. That’s not a coincidence. People are purging and making room for what is to come.

So don’t fret if you didn’t set your goals yet in January. There’s a reason your whole being is resisting it! Winter is time for hibernation and internal reflection. Forcing the “New Year New Me” vibe is just not gonna flow right now.

2. People Suck at Setting Expectations for Themselves

Time and time again, I see clients, friends, and people in general set themselves up for failure because of the ridiculous expectations they have for themselves.

“I’m gonna get in shape and lose 50 pounds!”

“I’m gonna write a book!”

While there is NOTHING wrong with wanting to do these things and setting these goals, there’s a lot of nuance on how to go about setting them. You have to think about your time, how your brain works, how your energy fluctuates from day to day, what you can and can’t control, etc.

Taking the first example, lots of people decide they want to get their body right for summer. So that means they have 5 months to lose that 50 pounds. They start to go to the gym because they finally purchased that membership they have been promising themselves.

Then what happens?

The weather is bad, and they just can’t get to the gym that day.

They get to the gym but start the comparison game and feel like they don’t belong.

They start weighing themselves to keep track and go into an emotional spiral the day the scale reads that they weigh MORE than the day before.

Any “mess up” leads to a downward spiral, eventually leading to… “Well, I already failed, what’s the point of continuing?”

The perfectionism that often accompanies ones own expectations is a motivation killer.

Setting expectations for yourself that actually leads to success is a little bit art and a little bit science. It takes nuance and practice to test, tweak and polish the expectations you have for yourself to find ways that work for you.

Here are a few tips when creating those expectations:

Start with your WHY - Why do you want to lose 50 pounds? Do you want to be more toned? Do you want to slim down? Do you want to be more active? Do you want to have amazing sex? What is the real reason.

Focus on what you can control - You can’t control the ups and downs that come with your body changing from day to day. When you’re clear on your WHY, then you can focus on what parts of that you can control. If you’re wanting to be more active, then the thing you can control is choosing to move your body more.

Start small - Rather then saying, “I’m gonna work out 6 days a week for 45 minutes”, maybe start with moving your body 3-4 times a week for at least 10 minutes.

Define what success is - When you say “work out” what does that mean? Too often people will actually do the 45 minute workout and still not feel like it’s enough or that they succeeded with their goal because it wasn’t clearly defined. What does 10 minutes of body movement mean for you? Is it doing whatever you want? Is it following a YouTube video? Is it Yoga? Is it stretching? Is it running? Is it a combination? Do you have a list of things you can choose from?

3. You Would NEVER Talk to Another Person the Way you Talk to Yourself

Be honest. How do you talk to you on the daily?

This isn’t to bring shame or judgement. It’s to make a clear observation that you probably aren’t super kind to yourself. And, in fact, sometimes you’re just down right mean.

You would NEVER talk to anyone else that way, why are you the exception?

The truth is, you’re not. You’re not super extra special that you get to be super mean to yourself while calling that behavior atrocious when seen done to others.

And when you demean yourself, it is difficult to succeed at the goals that you have.

The antidote is CELEBRATION.

Practicing celebrating yourself from the smallest things like actually remembering to put the clothes in the washer to the dryer before they smell bad to the biggest things like writing that book is key to your success.

And I know people talk about fake it to you make it. Sometimes that’s a good place to start. Some people really struggle with celebrating themselves. So pretending to at first can be a good start.

But what really solidifies the celebration is when you allow yourself to actually get into the energy of celebration.

So think about your kiddo, niece or nephew, or best friend. When you are genuinely proud of them and celebrating them, how does it feel in your body?

That’s the energy you get to bring to the table when you are celebrating yourself.

It will spur on success. Try it!

4. Consistency is Overrated

This one has puzzles people. “What the fuck do you mean, ‘consistency is overrated’?!?!”

When most people talk about consistency, they allude to doing the same thing over and over again for…eternity.

When you say on January 1st, “I’m gonna work out every single day this year!” You’re setting yourself up for failure. While this can be an awesome goal for SOME people, for most it’s just not how it’s gonna go. The first day you miss because you feel sick, or you can’t get to the gym, or some other life thing happens, you’re gonna consider yourself a failure and stop continuing with the rest of the year. “Well I missed one day already so now I can’t get my goal or I have to start over.”

That’s exhausting!!!

Our bodies REQUIRE REST. It’s probably not a good goal to work out every single day.

“Okay Jess, but I didn’t say every day. I said 4-5 times a week.”

But what happens when you miss a week or maybe one week you only do 3 days instead of 4, are you still successful?

Plus, doing the same thing everyday forever is fucking boring to be honest.

We get to be in seasons of things.

Something that works really great for me is setting up challenges. Once I did a 90 day writing challenge. Another time I did a 60 day sit up challenge.

I was very specific about what those things meant and I totally crushed it!

The last 90 day challenge, I ended early. It was no longer serving me after 63 ish days. So I came back to my why, and realized I didn’t need to do the full 90 days to be successful. So I stopped.

So consistency for every single day forever and ever is overrated.

But, consistency short term, or zoomed out can be really powerful.

When I say zoomed out, maybe the goal isn’t to work out for 45 minutes a day forever and ever, the zoomed out goal is to move my body consistently. And then I get to zoom in and create goals that I can actually do in small chunks. And then change them as I evolve.

5. Most People Don’t Do Accountability Right

So if you follow me and my philosophies, you know that I actually don’t believe in right or wrong. So saying, “Most people don’t do accountability right,” is a bold statement.

And I don’t subscribe to the idea that there is a one right way to do accountability.

But there are lots of ways I see people do it that doesn’t serve them.

Some ask for their friend to be their accountability partner but then aren’t clear about what that means. So either the friend stops asking or you start to avoid them because you didn’t do the thing you said you were gonna do.

Getting really clear about what accountability means is helpful to both parties. Then the friend can actually agree or say they don’t have the capacity to be an accountability partner at this time.

Some people intend to use apps for accountability but then forget to put the information in or swipe away the reminders when they didn’t do the thing in avoidance or even thinking they will remember to get back to it and then don’t.

Apps can be helpful. But you have to know yourself and set it up in a way that’s gonna work for you.

For me, just saying it out loud to one or more of my close friends is a powerful motivator. I strive to be a person of my word. And because I live by that through and through, saying it to someone means I’m gonna do it.

But that method doesn’t work for everyone.

So while there’s no right or wrong way to incorporate accountability, there will be ways that are effective for you and ineffective for you. Testing them out is essential. And pivoting when it’s not working and trying something else key.

6. Most People Don’t Actually Trust Themselves

There are SO MANY ways in which we are taught NOT to trust ourselves. We are inundated with advertisements telling us to do certain things, be a certain way, and have these particular things.

We are often taught how to think and feel about certain things as well, whether from family, religion, school, the government, social media, etc.

And then we do it to ourselves.

When I say to myself I’m gonna do a thing and then I don’t…I betray myself, taking away trust.

Brené Brown does an excellent job of explaining trust in relation to other people in her book Daring Greatly:

"I told Ellen (3rd grade daughter at the time) to think about her friendships as marble jars. Whenever someone supports you, or is kind to you, or sticks up for you, or honors what you share with them as private, you put marbles in the jar. When people are mean, or disrespectful, or share your secrets, marbles come out."

"Trust is built one marble at a time."

And the same is true with our relationship to the self.

When we are mean, disrespectful and don’t do the thing we said we were gonna do, marbles come out.

When we are kind, stick up for ourselves, and follow through with our commitments to ourselves, marbles go in.

Often times, people don’t even trust themselves to follow through with the goals they set from the get go. And because there’s little to no trust there, it is easy to fail.

By following some of the things written above, you can start to build trust with yourself. And overtime, you will KNOW that you can and will accomplish and complete your goals.

If you would like some support in your journey of goal setting, please reach out.

To your amazing, successful year! You got this!

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Hi, I am Jess DuBose

Author of The ADHD Advocate Blog

I love to hear from my readers. Please feel free to email me or message me on Instagram.

IG @coachingwithjess

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