The 3 Biggest Mistakes I Made That Kept Me From Accomplishing My Goals

Dont Make These Mistakes

I failed.


I had set a goal. I was excited and had such enthusiasm and motivation when I started. It was important. Yet here I was, days or weeks after all of my good intentions, and I had failed my goals.

And by “fail” I mean I had quit. I had stopped – and didn’t keep going.

Now there are multiple reasons I messed up, but looking back, there are three major mistakes that I made that led to me failing my goals, not once – but multiple times.

They were:  

1.      I tried to do too much 

“Go big or go home.”

Now, while I didn’t quote that saying in my head, I often seemed to live it. I’m generally one of those people who when I do something, I’m going to go all out. I’m going to go big.

So really, there are two ways I tried to do too much.

The first was that I tried to do too many goals, or pursuits, at once. There was one time I was trying to work on language learning, practice my speech and speaking, work on my speed reading and memory, and there was likely some other things I was trying to do at the same time.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to pursue multiple things, but often, when starting new, it’s wise to get one going and going well then add another.

That’s not what I did.

My “routine” ended up being close to two hours. It worked the first day or two, but then life happened.

Maybe I had to take a sick kid to the doctor. Maybe something else came up during my day.

Then suddenly, here I am with this two-hour routine I’m trying to do on top of already feeling behind on my work and everything else I was needing to do.

Needless to say, that two-hour routine didn’t last very long.

The second way I tried to do too much was that I felt like I had to put X amount of time into a specific goal, otherwise, I failed.

If I didn’t do 30 minutes or an hour, then I got frustrated and upset, or if I didn’t have the 30 minutes to do it, I didn’t do it at all.

Because of that, I got frustrated, defeated, and stopped altogether.

Both of these mentalities were completely wrong.

First, it’s not all or nothing. What’s most important, especially when you are starting toward your goals, is not trying to do some set block of time, but just doing it. Even if it’s two minutes or five minutes, just getting into the routine of showing up and doing something is valuable. Just doing something toward it is a win.

You may not be able to run your two-mile jog, but if you just have time for one lap, that’s good. You may not feel like running today, but if you walk instead, that’s good.

Don’t make the mistake of feeling like you have to X amount of time every day or you fail. Just show up, even if it’s a little bit.

And be careful about doing too many goals at once like me. It’s great to have that desire, but if you can, pick one. Pick the one that you think will have the biggest impact on your life, and then work toward that one. Make it part of your routine, part of your normal life, and then add another one.

Doing that can help keep you from getting overwhelmed from trying to do too much, like me, and quitting.

2.      I didn’t make it part of my everyday routine

Great intentions are great – except for the fact that intentions mean nothing unless you act on them.

Sometimes I would have the desire to learn a language or to exercise, but I didn’t decide when. I would wake up, but because the start of it, or even doing it, can be uncomfortable (the start is often the hardest part – whether exercising, writing a book, or just about anything), I would put it off till later.

“I’ll do it later today” I would tell myself.

Then, suddenly, it’s 9 or 10 at night, I still haven’t done my goal, and at that point, I’m tired and need to go to sleep.

Ever been there?

My problem was that I didn’t make it part of my routine.

Throughout the day, you have certain routines you do. You may get up, take a shower, get some coffee, get dressed, and go to work. You then may come home, sit on the couch, watch television or play on your phone, eat something, watch a specific show, brush your teeth, then go to bed.

The problem wasn’t that I didn’t do it in the morning; it was that I didn’t decide where in my routine to put my goal.

For example, if exercising is part of your goal, you may want to do it when you get up or on your way home from work.

If your goal is to write a novel, then you may decide that right after you get your morning coffee, you will sit at your computer and work on that goal.

If you can attach the actions of your goal with a routine you already have (right after I get home, I go exercise or when I get my coffee, I sit at the computer and type), it can help you accomplish your goal.

The more you take action and do it then, the more it becomes normal and part of your everyday routine, and the easier it will become.

Now, if your goal is something like eating more healthily, there isn’t necessarily a specific time you attach to that.

However, you can also think of your habits.

If for example, you find that you eat unhealthily when something stressful happens, you can recognize that habit, that routine, and then work to replace it.

For example, instead of eating the unhealthy food, you create a plan to call a friend or take a walk or whatever it may be.

You are still using routines/habits to your advantage, but in a different way.

3.      I wasn’t willing to pay the price

When I was in high school, my friends and I loved Kung Fu movies. We would watch them, and we wanted to be able to do what they did. I especially wanted to be good at martial arts.

Or so I said.

A man in our church who had been in the military and had studied multiple martial arts offered to teach us, and we had a class every Saturday.

It was fun. We learned different punches and kicks. We would spar. We even learned how to do one of the spinning kicks that you see in the movies.

However, I never really became good at martial arts.


Because I wasn’t willing to pay the price to make it happen.

Working out on Saturdays is great – but that wouldn’t make me a good martial artist. It’s something I would have to practice consistently – daily.

There were a few times I would be at home and practice for 30 minutes or so – but those times were rare.

The truth was, I wasn’t willing to work out daily and to practice the basics over and over till they became natural.

I wasn’t willing to pay the cost. I said I wanted to be good, but I didn’t really look at the price to see if I was willing to pay it.

It was easier wishing it than making it happen, and, sadly, I didn’t make it happen.

Whatever your goal is, whatever direction or change you want to make in your life, it will have a cost. It could be time, money, a change in situation or friendships or relationships. It could be a change in what you do with your time.

Whatever it may be, any change, any growth, any goal is going to have a cost. You need to look at the cost of your goal and ask yourself if you are willing to pay that price.

You may want to have the perfect beach body for when the summer comes – but are you willing to pay the price to make it happen?

You may want to learn another language – are you willing to pay the price of time and effort?

Whatever your goal is, know what the cost is and decide if you are willing to pay the cost. And if you are, then do it. If not, then don’t keep lying to yourself about it.

Two more reasons

I believe those were three of the biggest reasons why I failed in the past, but there are two more that also affected me, probably to equal degree, so I thought I would share them as well in case they can be a help to you.

First reason? I had the wrong mindset.

Part of my wrong mindset was what I mentioned above – I thought all or nothing. I felt like if I didn’t do all 100% then it’s a failure, so I didn’t do it at all.

Another part was that I had the wrong identity in my mind (James Clear talks about this in his book Atomic Habits). If I see myself as a failure, then it doesn’t matter if my goal is to succeed, my identity doesn’t match, so there’s a good chance I won’t succeed. If you are trying to quit smoking, but you still see yourself as a smoker, then you likely will keep smoking. Whatever your goal is, you need to see yourself as that person that you are becoming, not what you were. It may seem simple or arbitrary, but it matters.

Also, with your mindset is belief. If you don’t think you will succeed, then you probably won’t. Sometimes you will hear someone say “I knew it wouldn’t happen.” Well guess what? That’s probably why it didn’t happen.

You must believe it’s possible and believe that you can and will succeed.

I also, at times, didn’t have a growth mindset. I saw a mistake or mess up or failure as ME being a failure instead of just what it was: part of the process and an opportunity to learn and do better next time. And when I saw myself as a failure (and the mental beating I gave myself because of it), it demotivated me and led me to quitting.

Don’t do that.

Second reason? I didn’t have accountability.

When I lived at an apartment complex a few years ago, I used to get up at 4:30-5:00 in the morning to run.

One of the major reasons I got up each morning, even when I didn’t feel like it, was because I ran with a friend who also lived in that complex.

Having that accountability, not wanting to let that person down, got me up on those cold early mornings.

But that’s not the only time it’s helped me. I meet regularly with a friend for breakfast. I share about what’s going on with my business and life, and he shares about his. I was telling him about a project I was working on, and he mentioned that he looked forward to hearing about me finishing this certain part by the time we met next week.

Guess what? I worked my tail off to make sure I had finished that part so that I wouldn’t have to tell him, “No, I didn’t do it”. I wanted to share that I did.

The goals that I’ve failed? I didn’t have accountability. I did them on my own by myself. I didn’t have anyone check up on me to see how I was doing.

In fact, I can’t think of a goal that I failed where I had someone holding me accountable. Accountability is that huge.

I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I made

I am not where I could be because of my mistakes, and I hope that me sharing my mistakes keeps you from making the same ones.

Please, learn from them so that you can avoid them.

And if you want learn more about making your goals happen, read: 7 Simple But Powerful Steps to Achieve Your Awesome Goals.

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