If goals were easy to reach we’d all be rockstars, billionaires and rocket scientists. But having dreams isn’t enough; to make them come true, you’ve got to walk the walk. And that walk can be real tough.

That’s why 92% of Americans fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions. They know what to do – the popular resolutions are all straightforward – but something holds them back from succeeding.

You’ve probably experienced the same problem. You had a goal, you knew what had to be done but you couldn’t manage to do it.

Don’t worry; you’re not alone.

In fact, a few common slip-ups keep most people from reaching their goals. Make them and you’ll sabotage your progress time and time again. Get a handle on them and achieve anything you set your sights on.

Here’s how to understand – and deal with – the 7 reasons you’re not reaching your goals.

#1 – You Expect Too Much, Too Soon

As a generation used to instant gratification, we want it all and we want it now. There’s a reason marketers promise a flat belly in 6 weeks; a better life in 15 minutes; easy money in a few hours. They cash in on our laziness.

But the truth is, anything worth having takes time and effort. Whether you want to run a marathon or make a million dollars, think long-term. Be prepared for good days, bad days and a million setbacks on the long ride to success.

#2 – You Burn Yourself Out

Every January, gyms fill up with New Year’s Resolutioners who want to get fit “this year.” They train for hours, use every machine and work themselves to half-death. No wonder they burn out in a few weeks and never go to the gym again.

Don’t make the same mistake. A moderate, sustained effort is better than an intense burst that leaves you exhausted. Pacing yourself is crucial to achieving your goals.

#3 – You’re A Perfectionist

We often wait for the perfect moment, feeling or opportunity to take action. “I’m sleepy; if I start my essay now, it’ll probably be bad. Maybe tomorrow.”

But since life is inherently imperfect, waiting often turns into procrastination.

The right time might never come, but that’s no reason to do nothing. If there’s a goal to be achieved, don’t wait: the best time for action is always now.

#4 – You Punish Yourself

What happens when we do the “wrong thing”? Drunk-dial an ex; eat 12 muffins three days into a diet; buy a pink flamingo with our rent money?

We punish ourselves. “Why did I do that? I’m an idiot. I’ll never amount to anything; I’m destined to fail.” And once you start thinking this way, it’s easy to make more bad decisions. “I’ll be fat forever; may as well eat 20 more muffins.”

Instead of punishing yourself for bad choices, remember that you’re only human. Everyone makes mistakes; successful people just don’t think about theirs too much. Never let a few screw-ups drive you into negative thinking.

#5 – You Relax Too Early

When you start making progress, it’s tempting to let go and relax. “I worked hard to get here; I should stop and enjoy the fruits of my labor for a bit.”

The problem is, thinking this way gives you an excuse to slack off. Your mind always wants you to make as little effort as necessary. Once you have a sense of accomplishment, there’s little motivation to keep going.

So don’t relax.

Always commit to keep going until you reach success – and make an effort to maintain it when you have it. This will help you stay on your toes, build positive momentum through repeated effort and keep old habits away.

#6 – You Need Approval From Other People

Humans are social beings; we want to be liked and accepted. That’s why being admired for your achievements is such a great feeling. But relying on the approval of others for motivation and direction is dangerous.

Other people might want you to do things that make you unhappy; they might disagree with your goals or methods. When that happens, it’s easy to doubt yourself and consider changing course.

But do you really want to let other people control your life?

No matter what your goals are, the only approval you ever need is your own. Enjoy compliments when you get them, but put your own wants first.

#7 – Resistance

No matter how motivated and disciplined you are, you’ll have off days. When they come, the temptation is to stress out. “Why do I feel so tired today? I need to feel energetic right now. Man oh man, what do I do? This sucks!”

That’s how resistance works: by refusing to accept events and situations, we make them worse. Before you know it, you’ve made yourself feel bad over nothing.

The solution is acceptance. No matter what happens, simply make the best of it. The next time you feel down, try saying: “Well, I feel tired today. I guess I’ll just do what I can and see what happens.”

Now that you know the 7 reasons you haven’t reached your goals in the past, you can stop making them. Apply this post to your life and nothing will stop you from succeeding, no matter how wild and extravagant your dreams are.

Have you made any of these mistakes in the past? Did you make any that aren’t on the list? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Photo by Mizrak

George P.H.

George P.H. helps people figure out relationships, find confidence and turbocharge their lives with awesomeness. If you liked this post, you can read more at The Man-Up Blog or tweet George anytime.

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