woman's hands writing goals, stop setting goals with these tips

Why Setting Goals Doesn’t Work (and what to do instead)

Don't let 2019 become like every other year. Instead, create habits that will result in lasting change. Ideas and activities to help you reach your dreams (and goals too!). Daily habits, free printable, motivation to follow a plan that actually works. Create your own planner or bullet journal and track your way to success!

Do you ever find yourself setting goals that are well-intentioned and high-achieving, but then never achieve them?

It’s a good thing to strive for better, right? We all want to be healthier, wealthier, and wiser; so what’s the problem?

The problem with goals is that we are all human.

Why goals don’t work

It’s not an easy feat to turn around the Titanic, plus it’s not going to happen very fast either. The same is true with our lives. We have been going in a certain direction for a number of years.

It can be hard to break your bad habits over night. You won’t immediately start waking up early to go to the gym and workout. You know that you need to start creating the habit of going to bed earlier.

Sure, we might be able to push ourselves, and get through a few early mornings based on true adrenaline and drive to reach our goals. Unfortunately, though that willpower will run out.

And we will be back to sleeping in and grabbing a muffin and coffee on the way into work each morning.

It’s so hard to figure out why we can’t ever seem to reach our goals. After all, we do what all the productivity gurus say to do: we make sure they are S.M.A.R.T. or even S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals.

We make our vision boards. Heck, we even say our positive affirmations, putting out all sorts of good energy into the world. But all the good energy and all the good intentions in the world are not enough to develop lasting and life-long changes.

Create habits instead

This is why I have sworn off goals and have started working on focusing on my habits instead.

Habits are the building blocks that make up our days, weeks, years, and lives. Some of them are good (we get plenty of water each day), while other daily habits not so healthy (staying up late binge-watching Netflix). However, good or bad, they are the foundation on which we build our lives.

The small choices we make each day are what decide the big results of our year, and eventually lives. Therefore, this is where we should start in making lasting changes and development.

We might not be able to turn around the Titanic in a day, but we can start to take baby steps towards getting the ship steered back on course.

I first read about habits in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg but I wasn’t in a place at that time in my life to really grasp the meaning. Later when I read “The How and Now of Habits” I was in a much better mental space to really understand how important habits are (plus it is a much easier read, you can see my review of it here).

Routines are key

I also learned about creating daily routines from reading FlyLady. Her daily emails have really helped me to see how important it is to create small baby steps each day. This is much more effective than trying to make giant sweeping changes all at once.

Your daily routines matter

This is also where I realized how important a solid evening routine is, and why it is so imperative to having a good morning. We all need 7-8 hours of sleep each night, however most of us are not getting anywhere near this amount.

So basically, if you are already sleep-deprived – and then you set a goal to get up earlier in order to go workout – you are just setting yourself up for failure.

Instead, figure out what time you would like to get up in the morning, then work backwards from there. You will soon see what time you need to get to bed. Then set the intention to start your bedtime routine one hour before that. Really focus on your bedtime routine – and bed time (I know we are not 8 anymore, but sometimes we need to remember what our mothers told us… and realize they might have been on to something!).

Stop setting goals that you aren’t going to reach anyway. Instead, start focusing on building small daily habits that will become the building blocks of an intentional life. Remember, it’s all about the journey, don’t get so caught up focusing on the end that you forget to enjoy the every day.

Tools to succeed when setting goals

As you can see, regardless of how good our intentions are, we will likely not succeed at reaching our lofty goals. So, instead of setting goals, I like to focus on building habits and creating routines that can set me up for success.

If you’re ready to start using these tools to help you succeed in reaching your goals, you can check out my free routine worksheet. It will show you how you can use this amazing tip to stop relying on willpower and start relying on routines.

Why setting goals doesn't work (and what to do instead)