12 Common Obstacles in Achieving Goals and How to Overcome


Why is it so hard to complete a goal? The desire and the need for change is there, but once we put it on paper, it gets lost, and we forget. Then we get upset and frustrated with ourselves and then the whole cycle starts again, and we convince ourselves every time that this time will be different, but it’s not. Sound familiar?

Setting a goal and completing it is not easy, in fact, it’s going to be the hardest thing you ever set up for yourself. If you expect the process to be streamlined, then you will be disappointed.

Goals are challenges, their job is to challenge you, so you come out a better version of yourself. So yes, it will be a bumpy road, but once you get there, you will reap the rewards.

How do you overcome obstacles in achieving goals?

The key to overcoming obstacles in achieving any goal is identifying the problem. Know exactly what it is that is stopping you from succeeding so you can make a plan to overcome the problem.

The challenge is being completely open and honest with yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone to make those changes.

Below are the most common challenges you may face when pursuing your goals, read on to see if you are facing any of them right now and what you can do to solve them.

What are the challenges that come with pursuing goals?

There are many challenges that come with pursuing your goals, but the most important challenge that is the root of the problem, is yourself, your mindset. You are your biggest obstacle. If you can learn to set your mind to something, then you can do anything.

1. The “Someday” Mindset With No Action

You are unhappy with where you are and are constantly daydreaming and coming up with great ideas, but you never take any action. You convince yourself that right now is not the right time because of the situation you are in. Does this sound like you? Has more time gone by and you realize you are still exactly where you started?

The path to success is to take massive, determined actions

Tony Robbins

The danger of the “someday” mindset and procrastinating is that it can turn into forever. Anyone can have a good idea, and anyone can make wishes and dream of what it would be like, but the only people that are succeeding are the people that are taking action today.

Solution: Someday is today. Write down your goals, what you want to achieve, and by when. Then TAKE ACTION. Figure out what is the first step you need to take and do it. Start small, write down as many steps as you can think of, and every day hold yourself accountable for doing one thing. Give yourself deadlines and stick to them.

2. Relying On Motivation

If you are only waiting until you “feel like it” then the truth is, it will never happen. Motivation doesn’t exist in the beginning, yes you will feel inspired and have that urge to start, but your motivation will quickly run out.

Motivation comes when you start seeing progress, not a feeling to rely on to keep you going. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, you are not going to feel the energy to workout every day, but once you start seeing the changes to your body or the scale going down, that’s when the motivation will hit.

Solution: Use a habit tracker. Motivation is going to come in waves, when the waves are high you ride it, but when the waves are low you find a way to push through and still do it. On the days where you don’t feel like it, just do one thing, you will feel a whole lot better than if nothing was done at all.

3. Goals Are Not Specific

Simply writing down, “I want to lose weight” is a good initiative but it’s not enough detail to hold you accountable or motivate you to keep up with it. The most popular and effective template to follow is SMART goals:

S – Specific – What is your goal? “I want to lose 15 pounds”

M – Measurable – How will you track your progress? “I will track my progress by logging my food and exercise every day and only doing weekly weigh-ins”

A – Achievable – What will you do to achieve this goal? “I will meal plan every Sunday, and set an alarm to wake up early and workout”

R – Relevant – Why is this goal important? “I want to pursue this goal because I want to feel confident with my body”

T – Time-based – When will this be done by? “I will complete this goal by November 1st”

Solution: Take the time and go through the questions yourself and apply it to your goals. Keep it somewhere easily accessible and visit it daily.

4. Your Why

Having a very strong and detailed reason for your goal is the motivation that will keep you going.

People that hate their job still find it in them to get to work every day because if they don’t then they can’t pay their bills. Unknowingly, it’s a strong reason and you do it without question because of the consequences.

Solution: Write down your why and visit it EVERY DAY. The more detailed the better. Write down what would happen if you did achieve it versus if you didn’t. What would your life look like if you did achieve it? What would it look like if you didn’t? How would you feel about yourself?

5. Expecting A Linear Progression

Just like motivation being inconsistent, your results will be inconsistent as well. Take losing weight as an example, if you are doing everything right and you weigh yourself every day, your weight will fluctuate up and down and it won’t feel like you’re making any progress, but over a period of time, you see the average weight actually decreasing from your start.

Setbacks and inconsistent results are normal, and they are part of the process. Develop good habits and commit to the daily tasks and overtime, you will see progress. Zoom out, and take a look at where you started to where you are now.

Solution: Anticipate challenges, write down what you think might stop you from achieving the goal, then make a plan to overcome them and get back on track.

6. Viewing Mistakes As Failure

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

Maya Angelou

The word failure has such a negative connotation and for bad reasons. Failure is actually mandatory for going after your dreams. Failing at something means you are trying, you learn that one way doesn’t work so now you know not to make that mistake again and you try another way, that’s how you improve and get better.

The only way you can truly fail is if you give up.

Solution: This one might take a little time to get used to, it requires thinking differently and rewiring your brain. Anticipate failure, get excited when you fail at something because you just learned something new. Write down what you felt you have failed at, what you learned from it, and how you are going to move on from it.

7. Not Being Consistent

Consistency is the way to succeed in anything in life. If you work on something every single day, no matter what the weather is, no matter what you are going through, how you’re feeling…you will succeed.

Your goals have to turn into your habits, your habits define who you are. Look at your daily schedule, where are you putting your time and attention to every day?

You don’t lose weight with one workout, you don’t lose weight eating one salad, you can’t be a blogger with one post, you can’t be a YouTuber with one video.

Solution: Use a habit tracker or time block. Use a habit tracker and make sure you are doing SOMETHING every day towards your goal, or use the time-block method and block out the same time every day doing what you need to do.

8. Quitting Too Early Because of Unrealistic Expectations And No Instant Results

Your expectations are too high, especially in the beginning when you’re excited to embark on the goal, you’ve been at it for one week, but you don’t see any results. Look at the bigger picture, you’ve only been at it for one week!

We live in this fast moving world where watching one minute videos gives us instant gratification, and we scroll for hours, which is hundreds and hundreds of videos right at our fingertips entertaining us. So when you do one thing in our day, it doesn’t satisfy us quickly enough.

We’re a lot more impatient now, so when we pursue these goals, we want to give up because the reward is not instant.

Solution: Set smaller goals or milestones to reach that help you get to the bigger goal, and most importantly, celebrate every win, no matter how big or small. Rewarding yourself will make the process a lot more fun and enjoyable.

9. Not Having a Good Support System

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with

Jim Rohn

Hang out less with people that put you down or don’t support you. Do your friends inspire you to be better?

Surround yourself with like-minded people. If you don’t have anyone around you, look up mentors on social media, YouTube, TikTok, etc. The more you listen to the people you want to be, the more you will be like them.

Don’t take advice from anyone you wouldn’t want to trade places with.

Find the most trusted person in your life and have them check on your progress regularly to hold you accountable.

Solution: Evaluate who you surround yourself with, fill your life with mentors and people that will lift you up and help you succeed.

10. Self-Sabotaging

This is the most unexpected and confusing obstacle that can show up right before you’re about to complete your goal, and will leave you frustrated with yourself and constantly asking WHY. Why did I do that? What is wrong with me?

This is a mindset issue than can stem from our upbringing or our self-beliefs. You get scared of the success because you feel like you never deserved it. You start feeling like an imposter embarking on this “ridiculous” goal because it’s changing who you were.

Solution: Be aware of these feelings when they arise. Daily affirmations can help change your mindset overtime. Review where you started and what you are going after, review your why. If these don’t help, its best to seek professional help.

11. Not Anticipating Any Hardship

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Neale Donald Walsch

You’re setting a goal for yourself because you desire better, this is going to require change and determination. You’re going to be in new uncomfortable territory that you haven’t experienced before, and that’s a good thing, it’s part of the process.

When you realize that success happens outside of your comfort zone, the process will be a lot easier. Be aware of those feelings when those moments happen, let yourself be uncomfortable and push through.

Remember, if it was easy, everyone could do it.

Solution: Write down what you anticipate will be hard, and then make a plan to overcome them. Acknowledge them when they come up, so the process can get easier. How have you gotten over something uncomfortable in the past?

12. Not Believing In Yourself

This is arguably the single most important piece in achieving any goal; believing in yourself that you can do it. The only person that stops you from getting what you want is yourself, you’re the one convincing yourself you can’t do it, or talking yourself out of doing something, it’s all in your head.

The way you talk to yourself is what you become. Practice eliminating negative talk, from here on out, you’re not allowed to talk bad about yourself anymore. When you catch yourself doing it, or know you’re about to do it, say something positive instead. Remind yourself constantly that it is okay, be kinder to yourself.

It’s easy to blame our situation or our environment, and it’s easy to make excuses, but those don’t change anything. You’re still going to be exactly where you are, with unfinished goals. You set out a goal for change, and the only thing stopping you, is you.

Solution: Mediation and affirmations can help, but it will take practice. Start a journal to get all your thoughts out. Respecting yourself, be kind to yourself, and believe in yourself. Self-validation will get you farther than waiting on other people for validation.

Hong Singer

I'm the creator of Ambition Forward. I keep things simple by focusing on the goal and being consistent in my actions to get the results I want, and I'm here to help you do the same. I encourage you to look for the things that bring you joy and go for it!

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