Why Goals are So Hard to Reach?

by Angie Miller

Part II of Resolve to Set Goals, not Resolutions for the Year Ahead

Last week I wrote a blog about the importance of setting goals vs. New Year’s Resolutions, and the power of goals in helping us to achieve our greatest potential. I shared a Six Step Guide to Goal Setting Success and promised that this week I would share a goal setting contract as well as some common pitfalls when setting goals. Lets start with the pitfalls because the key to goal setting success is to set realistic goals. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.


Potential Pitfalls When Setting Goals:

  1. Setting Gargantuan Goals- Goals are like stairs, the best way to go up is to take it one step at a time. If you try to skip a step it makes the journey more difficult and less enjoyable. Goals should be challenging enough to keep you interested, but not so difficult that you become frustrated and lose hope.

Remember the S.M.A.R.T. goals I shared in last week’s blog:

Specific= Goals should be as specific as possible. Broad, general goals like, “I want to get fit” aren’t recommended.

Measurable= Goals should be measurable. You should be able to calculate your progress. (You can measure weight, inches, distance, and even load (such as 10 lb. dumbbells vs. 8 lb.).

Achievable= Goals should be attainable. You should be able to reach the goals you set.

Realistic= Achievable and realistic go hand in hand. You want to set goals that make sense, that are realistic given your level of motivation, history, time frame, and physical abilities and limitations. Ideally, your goals should be moderately difficult: Enough to challenge you, but not too difficult where you’re set up to fail, and not so easy that little effort is required.

Time Oriented= Goals should have a definitive start and end point. They should be attainable within that time frame.

  1. Fearing Failure- Sometimes we’re afraid to set goals because we’re afraid we won’t succeed. When fear gets in the way, we tend to take the path of least resistance and set no goal at all. That way, we can avoid the risk of failure. In truth, though, we know that failure is only in our lack of willingness to try. Even when we don’t achieve our goal we learn something in the process, and knowledge is power. We can apply what we learned to our next goal.
  1. Forgetting the Power of Words- If your goal starts with the word stop, it’s grounded in negativity. Words are powerful, and the words we use matter to our mental mindset. If we want our goals to motivate us, it’s best to see them as something positive that we’re striving toward rather than something negative we’re trying to escape. Take a look these goals and see how they sound with a negative connotation vs. a more positive spin:
  • Stop eating late at night (vs.) Start eating a healthy dinner that will help prevent late night cravings
  • Stop skipping workouts (vs.) Establish a workout routine that I enjoy so I look forward to working out
  1. Setting Too Many Goals with Too Little Time- One or two goals is achievable, five or six goals are overwhelming, especially if we allow too little time for completion. Sometimes we get so excited to change something, like our exercise diet and exercise habits, that we decide to go all in. That said, if you’re not currently exercising and you decide to workout everyday for the next six months, you’re setting yourself up for frustration. There’s also a higher likelihood that you’ll abandon your goals due to burnout or injury.

If you’re new to goal setting or you’ve been discouraged in the past, here are two suggestions for success:

  1. Set 1 or 2 goals maximum
  2. Make the goals short term, achievable within two to four weeks rather than two to four months. The longer it takes to achieve a goal the more daunting it can become to get started, let alone see it to the finish.

Example: For exercise, an achievable goal would be to workout for thirty minutes, two days a week, for two weeks.

At the end of the two weeks if you’ve succeeded you could increase it to three days a week, or increase your time to 45 minutes per workout.

Proceed in that fashion and though it may take longer to reach your goal, there’s a far greater likelihood that it will become part of your daily routine and a lifetime habit.

  1. Forgetting to Follow Up and Adjust if Necessary: A daily follow up is a great way to stay inspired and keep you focused. Goals take a lot of work and we’re more likely to succeed if we check in and take note of our progress. A calendar is a very effective way to do this. Each night, take a few minutes and record how you felt about your goals for that day, what obstacles your encountered, and some encouraging words to keep you motivated.

At the end of the week, reflect on what’s working and what’s not. Above all, give yourself the option to adjust your goal/s if need be. Adjusting your goals doesn’t mean you’re settling for less, it means that you’re smart enough to recognize when you need to rethink your strategies so you can set yourself up for success. 

Remember, goals are impactful; they give us direction and help us stay motivated. They lead us to accomplishments we might never have thought possible, and they help us begin each day with intention.

Goal Setting Contract

S.M.A.R.T. Goal: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Short-Term Goals: Long-term goals give us direction and guide our future. Short-term goals give us measureable objectives we can work on in the here and now. Short-term goals lead us step by step to our long-term goals.

Short-Term Goal #1: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Short-Term Goal #2: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Reward for achieving my SMART goal: For many of us the reward is in the achievement, but there’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself with a new outfit or a new pair of running shoes to keep you motivated.


Barriers: We all have obstacles/barriers that get in the way: I’m too tired, I don’t have enough time, my job is demanding. Write out your barriers, those things that pull you away and challenge your motivation.

                Three Barriers:

  1. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  3. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Strategies for Success: These are ways you will overcome those barriers.

                Three Strategies:

  1. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  3. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Support in Achieving your Goal/s: Enlisting in the help and support of your significant other, friends, children, co-workers, or anyone else who might be of assistance is very impactful. List your support system, or resources you will use to help you achieve your goal/s.

  1. ___________________________________________________________________________
  2. ___________________________________________________________________________

I sign this contract as a commitment to achieve my goal/s:


Signature:  _____________________________________________________ Date: ______________

May your goals guide to success throughout the year and throughout life.

Best in Health~ Angie

- Angie

Angie MillerAngie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at:http://www.angiemillerfitness.com



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