Either in our jobs, or in the industry where we work, or even just to where we think we’re going in life. We all have goals, and things we want to accomplish. But I asked 20 people if they’ve reached their personal goals they set for 2015, or made progress on them, and guess what the response was?

Only three people said that they achieved their goals. Several others said they have taken some steps, and seen some success, but not achieved their goals yet. (Apparently there’s a real thing called Achievement Anxiety). But every single one had lots of good reasons why they didn’t make progress. Reasons that sounded eerily familiar to me. Because I’ve heard myself give the same excuses.

Want to know why most people don’t achieve their goals?

1. Some of us don’t plan

What’s that phrase?  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. There’s some truth in that. Having a plan makes you force yourself to get practical. It makes you actually think about where you want to be in 6 months, or a year, or 5 years, and then spend some time considering how to get to that place. And picking a generic goal like “be healthier” or “have a better reputation at work” is almost worse than no goal, because you can’t really prove you’ve gotten there. You’ll want to invest thoughtful consideration into what you really want and come up with goals that you can actually measure — like “I’m going to go the gym 3 times a week,” or “run in a 5K,” or “get a positive review from my boss,” or “get invited to speak at a conference.” And don’t forget to visualize achieving your goal every now and then, just to keep your motivation in high gear.

2. Some of us don’t follow through

It can be tough to start, even after you’ve got a good plan. This is a tough one for me. You have to follow through. One person said that they felt they were better at achieving goals when they are big, high stakes changes, where “once you step on that roller coaster there’s no going back.” And that kind of step can be intimidating, but also exhilarating.

3. Some of us are missing a key ingredient

It takes stamina to keep going once you’ve begun.  And if you’re missing a key ingredient in moving forward, it can stop you in your tracks.

Entrepreneur and internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk says “What’s holding you back? Truly, what is it? Do you need to quit a job? Ask a relative for money? Hire someone to actually build the app for you? Whether it’s money or time, you just need to figure it out.”

That’s the trick, really —  you have to find out what that missing element might be for you. Is it just resources, or support, or the perspective of a coach?

4. Some of us aren’t realistic

Leo Burnett famously said that if you reach for the stars, you may not get one, but you won’t end up with a handful of mud either. And that’s good advice to encourage you to set stretch goals for yourself. But many of us don’t suffer from a lack of ambition, but rather we don’t break our goal into manageable chucks that are actually achievable. If you don’t know how you’re going to get what you want, i.e., you can’t set milestones along the way to your goal that you can reasonably reach, then you’re setting yourself up for failure and disappointment — you might not have picked a feasible goal. There’s the old saw that says your goals have to be S.M.A.R.T. (Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound). It’s good advice, and emphasizes not biting off more than you can chew.

5. Some of us don’t prioritize

People procrastinate, and don’t take the steps needed to get to what they want. Maybe they feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. It’s a truism that when presented with infinite choices, most people choose none. “Life gets in the way” is a common statement. But what this really means is that there are things we are doing that we think are more important than making progress to reaching our goals. And that means our goals are just not important enough to get us motivated to attack them.

But you know that your goals for building your personal brand are clearly important — so why would we not prioritize them higher? One person said to me that she thought she knew her brand was important to her, but she had to put some other people’s needs before her own, and that meant that she never got around to taking action. After thinking about it for a bit, she said “Come to think of it. That doesn’t make sense. I still have to have some time and energy put aside for me. I matter too!” And the simple fact is that you do matter. And your goals have to have priority in your daily life to enable you to succeed.

What do you think?  What advice would you offer for getting to where you want to be?

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Yooniko (a brand of Metamorph Corporation) is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.