Home / Blog / The Obstacles Preventing You From Achieving Your Goals And How To Overcome Them

The Obstacles Preventing You From Achieving Your Goals And How To Overcome Them


Perhaps it's fair to say, some of us find ourselves stuck in a rut. Oracle found that while 80% of people are ready for a career change, 75% of people feel stuck professionally and 27% said they were trapped in their routine. So what's preventing people from making changes? 

Below, I've outlined all the major ways people fail when it comes to setting and smashing their goals.

Informed by academic research and my own learnings as Co-founder of Evolve Journey, with experience guiding thousands of journalers through their own goal-setting journey. 

How To Fail Your Goals 

Take On Too Many At Once

The classic January 1st overwhelm.

You go from three mince pies a day to trying to run three miles a day, only eating chicken and broccoli whilst aiming for the most successful quarter of your career.

All at once. 

An absolute overload of priorities creates a lack of focus, making it harder to achieve any of them.

Habits and routines take time to change.

So, whether your goal is to introduce a positive habit or cut a negative one, taking on too much at once makes all goals less likely to be achieved.

Once one falls by the wayside we often see a drop in motivation. As what could have been fades into a distant memory that maybe, just maybe, we’ll pick up next year.

Research by Locke and Latham (2002, 2006) showed that setting high and specific goals can improve performance whilst taking on too many can lead to a lack of focus and overwhelm, making it difficult to achieve any of them. 

Actionable Takeaway:

1. Write down everything you want.
2. Pick ONE top priority and focus on this, and this alone to increase the chance of success. But remember, success at the expense of a healthy balanced life, is not sustainable. 


Quit When It Gets Hard

Take signs of frustration, anxiety and fear as a signal to quit instead of progress in achieving the goal. 

Generally speaking, where there is fear there is personal growth.

The very fact that you doubt you can do something means you are about to stretch yourself and do something that before you didn’t know you could.

Self-confidence builds over repetitions of your inner bitch telling you to quit because it's too hard, because in the moment it seems impossible. But, by powering through regardless you build an undeniable stack of evidence that proves you can improve and grow. 

Reframe setbacks as learning opportunities. Facing challenges and pushing through them can enhance self-belief and motivation, as discussed by Seo and Ilies (2009). Reflect on your progress, you’ll be surprised how much you’ve improved since you started.


Set Goals That Are Too Big Or Too Small

When a goal is too small the brain isn’t motivated enough. It simply doesn’t turn us on, so we lack the motivation to make it happen. 

The more challenging a goal, the more it arouses the brain. But there is a limit, if something is completely and utterly unrealistic then it will end in demotivation. 

Pick something just outside of reach that you are excited to achieve. This will give you the fire to stretch yourself and give you a nice sense of accomplishment. Look for the goldilocks of goals, just the right amount of attanaibiltiy and challenge to optimise your performance and motivations.


Be Unspecific

Without specificity, it’s difficult to know when you have or haven’t achieved anything. 

‘Be proficient in Spanish’ is not good enough. 

If the end goal is hard to quantify make sure the actions are quantified. 

Example Goal: To attain B1 Spanish level I am going to complete 2 hours of lessons, 3 hours of private study and reading per week for the next 3 months. 


Don't Write Your Goals Down

Writing down your goals daily makes you 42% more likely to achieve them.

Not putting pen to paper leaves you open to a lack of accountability. It makes it too flexible, it can change at will in your head. 

Marcus Aurelius — 'If you don't have a consistent goal in life, you can't live it in a consistent way.'


In the Evolve Journal we have a daily prompt where you write your goal (or Domino as we call it). The one goal that, when knocked down, creates a ripple effect of positive outcomes. 

Tell The World And Not Yourself

A common pitfall I see is when people look for accountability and reward from others. They try to shortcut straight to reward by looking for social kudos and validation of the goal, when at that moment in time, it's just an aspiration. 

Finding intrinsic motivation and keeping a goal close to your chest is a much cleaner source of fuel than looking externally.

While it’s important to maintain a clear personal vision, it’s also wise to have an easily explainable, non-threatening goal to share with others.

For instance, if you’re working at a corporate company, you might not want to broadcast your dream of setting up your own business or becoming an artist and leaving the corporate world behind. 

Instead, share a simpler, more relatable goal that allows you to chip away in peace at your own pace. The master plan can be just for you, something special and personal.

Visualising Only Success And Not Failure

You may have heard of positive visualisation, the act of visualising completing a successful action with the aim of making it more likely to actually happen. 

Martin et al. (1993) suggests that anticipating potential obstacles and planning for them can be even more effective in ensuring goal completion. 

The research shows that thinking more about how you would feel failing the goal and predicting some of the ways you may go wrong is a wholistic tactic to ensure goal completion. 


If you’ve been disappointed with your progress and feel your dream life is getting further away by the day, changing the way you do things to get different results is actually the only way to break through.

So, we have put together a FREE Goal Setting Guide to help you pinpoint a specific goal and provided you with a blueprint to help you achieve it. 

Where could you be in the next 6 months?


Previous post

Empty content. Please select category to preview