3 Most Common Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Not Working For Most People

goal setting not working

Do you set goals but fail to achieve them? A study from Scranton University has shown that 92% people who set their New Year resolutions fail to achieve them. You are not alone, and majority people get it wrong when it comes to setting goals.

Well, goal setting works, but you have to do it in the right way to make it work for you. Unfortunately, most people thought that setting goal is as simple as writing down what they want to accomplish, and that’s all they do.

Goal setting is more than just writing down what you want. It is not a one-time work and you will have to do it right to make it work.

Here are 3 simple reasons why goal setting is not working for most people and how you can use the principles to achieve your goals.

1. The Lead VS Lag Measures

When it comes to setting goals, most people will just write down what they want to achieve. This is true, but it is certainly not the best way to do it.

Most people used to set lag measures as their goals. They set goals such as they want to earn a million dollar. If they are building an online business, they set their goal to drive more visitors to their website.

These are classic examples of lag measure goals. They are the targets where you cannot act upon. They are something that you cannot perform. How do you drive visitors to your website? And how are you going to make a million dollar? They lack the actionable factors.

Instead of setting lag measure goals, try to set lead measure goals. These are the goals that you can act upon or something you can actually do.

For instance, if you want to generate more visitors to your website, one of the ways is to publish guest articles on other people’s blogs.

And you should set that as a goal. Your goal can be something like, “To write and submit 3 guest articles to X, Y and Z websites.”

Writing an article and submitting them to other websites for consideration are what you can do and control. On the other hand, you cannot control the visitors you generate to your website.

Here is another example. If you are in sales and you set your goal to make 10 sales by the end of this month, do you know that this is a lag measure goal? You cannot control the sales that you are going to make.

Instead, set lead measure goals such as making X number of calls or visit X number of clients to present your products. These are the goals that you can control and do.

And when you can control and act on your goal, you can predict the result you are going to get. This is the difference between a lag and lead measure goal.

So ask yourself right now, are you setting lead measure goals or lag measure goals?

Action Steps: Make sure you set your goals in lead measure term. You want to set a goal that you can control and perform. You want a concrete goal and not something vague that you have no control over.

If you want to learn more on this, I strongly recommend you to read this book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution. It is one of the most powerful books that can guide you in achieving your goals in life and at work.

2. Schedule VS Outcome

Another reason most people fail to reach their goals is that they focus on the outcome and the deadline rather than on the progress and creating the schedule.

If you set your goal to earn $10,000 this month and you fail to accomplish it, how would you feel? You will feel frustrated. You lost the confidence. And you start to doubt yourself.

When you focus too much on the deadline and the outcome, you will become dejected and felt like a failure when you did not reach your goal.

Therefore, stop focusing on the outcome and the deadline. Choose to focus on the progress and building the schedule.

If your goal is to generate 10,000 visitors to your blog, focus on the progress. Focus on what you can do.

For instance, you should create a schedule to publish fresh and quality content regularly. You can choose to stick to a schedule to publish new content three times a week. After a few months, the visitors will automatically come.

Conversely, if you focus on driving 10,000 visitors and when you don’t see the result from your work, you will feel lousy and started to doubt yourself.

This is where most people started to give up and quit. They lost the confidence and thought that things are not working for them.

Take losing weight as an example. When you say you want to lose 10 pounds and you go to the gym for an intense workout session, and you don’t see any result after a few sessions, how would you feel?

Most people will feel lousy and they start to lose hope and most likely, slow down their progress. They will procrastinate and delay their workout sessions. And eventually, they give up going to the gym altogether.

Don’t ever let this happen to you. This is why you should focus on the schedule and not the outcome.

When it is time for the workout session, just hit the gym and get sweat. After that, celebrate because you have done it. Just keep doing and follow through your schedule. You will see the result coming slowly.

It is your schedule and what you do that give you the result.

Action Steps: Create the routine, make it into your habit and focus on making progress. The results will come.

3. The Scoreboard

Goal setting is not a one-time work. It is not something that you write down and forget. Goal setting is more than that.

It is something that you need to do consistently. Practice daily goal setting and create a scoreboard to measure your result. When you are keeping score, you know your progress, and you can improve the results you get.

Imagine what would happen if there is no scoring system in a basketball match? The players will never know their score; they cannot tell who is winning, and they have no idea how much time left.

Do you think they will strive and play the game seriously? When you keep score, it means that you are serious about it and it gives you an idea whether you are winning or left behind.

You can tell right away whether a group of kids is keeping score when they are playing basketball in the park. When the scoring is on, they will be more committed and play the game seriously. And when there is no keeping score, they will play casually and take the game as training and for fun.

This is what you should do for all your goals. Create a scoreboard to track and measure the results you get and progress you make. When you can keep score, you can win.

People fail to hit their targets because they lose track of their goals and their progress. Whatever it out of your sight, will be out of your mind.

Action Steps: So practice daily goal setting. Write down your goals each day. And more importantly, create a scoreboard to track your goals. Know if you are making progress and if you are winning.


Goal setting works if you do it correctly and are willing to work on it. Remember, you have to focus on the lead measure, create goals that you can perform and take action. Build the habit and routine, and then create a scoreboard to measure the results.


Shawn Lim

Love what you read? Let's share it:
This article may contain affiliate links. meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. As always, we only recommend products and services we trust.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.