Daniel is a aspiring young author. He has countless outlines and story ideas, but between his work obligations, and time with his family, he has little time to finish the novel he’s been working on. While making his list of goals for the New Year, he lightly scrawled down the words “finish novel.” He’s written down that same simple goal every year for the last 3 years. But, as each year has passed, he hasn’t found himself any closer to meeting it. “What am I doing wrong,” he complained to a friend, “there has to be a better way!”

As a matter of fact, there is! As it turns out, he’s not alone in his struggle either. Over 200 million Americans make New Year’s resolutions every year. At least 25% of those people break them in the first week. 33% don’t even make it to the end of January, and almost half don’t make it to the six month mark. To put it more succinctly – only 8% of people are successful in keeping their resolutions.

This is not unique to New Year’s resolutions – it applies to most goals in general. Why is this, though? Where is this disconnect between people’s desire to accomplish things, and their ability to carry it out? Before we get into the better way of achieving their goals, we’ll first look at the things people are doing that are blocking their success. New York Times best selling author Michael Hyatt has compiled a list of the things people do that leads to failed resolutions. We’ll use that list to examine Daniel as a case study:

  • Doubt success is possible. Daniel had failed in achieving the goal of “finishing his novel” so many times, that he went into the new year doubting that this time would be any different.
  • Learn nothing from the past. Daniel didn’t want to look back at what he’d done wrong because he was afraid it would be too painful to face his failure. Instead, he just buried his head in the sand resolving to “do better” the next time.
  • Establish conflicting goals. Daniel set a goal to finish his novel, but he was also working three part time jobs to meet certain financial goals. His refusal to be realistic in how much time he’d really have to dedicate to his novel only lead to more disappointment and failed goals.
  • Stay inside comfort zone. Daniel’s realization that “there has to be a better way” was his first step toward healthy behavior. He finally realized that his circumstances weren’t to blame – it his methodology. His current plan was well within his comfort zone.
  • Avoid deadlines. Daniel used to avoid deadlines because he couldn’t face his fear of failure. He didn’t see that deadlines drive action! You have to be willing to face failure to find success – including a failed deadline.
  • Set uninspiring goals. Daniel’s fear of failure caused him to set small and insignificant goals that resulted in little to no progress. When you don’t make seem any progress, it only discourages you further.
  • Stay squishy. Daniel’s goal “finish novel” was too squishy. It’s not measurable! Instead, he should have said, “get up at 5 AM on Mondays and write for 2 hours.”
  • Go broad. Daniel’s vague goal was a defense mechanism that kept him from feeling boxed in. Just like staying squishy – it kept him from measuring progress. Like the saying goes, “what gets measured gets managed” – if you don’t manage your goals, you’ll never achieve them.
  • Don’t worry about your motivation. Daniel hadn’t connected with the “why” behind what he wanted to do. Deep down he knew he wanted to write, but he hadn’t connected with what he would actually gain if he accomplished that goal, or what was at stake if he didn’t.
  • Stay satisfied with status quo. Daniel had gone so long without success because he was too comfortable with his coping mechanism. The status quo was comfortable, and kept him from facing his fears.

The next couple of posts will be about the steps that Daniel took to successfully achieve his goals. In the meantime, use the list above to take an inventory of how you might be standing in the way of your own success.

What goals do you have for 2017? Which of those 10 items get in your way? Please comment!