Why You’re At Risk Of Failure: Top 10 Reasons

epic fail

If you’re like most people, you want to be more successful in 2014 than you were in 2013… or previously in your life, for that matter.  But unfortunately…you’re at risk of failure.  Let me explain why, and what to do about it.

While you haven’t reached your full potential yet, that’s hopefully going to change one day.  Right?   With 2014 just around the corner, it’s great to be excited about what lies ahead.  But let’s get realistic first.  After all, what percent of New Year’s Resolutions will fail in 2014?   90% maybe?  Actually, that’s a trick question…  The answer is none.  Resolutions don’t fail.  People fail.  It is true though; most people fail to achieve their resolutions and goals each year.  And the reasons are penty.

The Top 10 Reasons You’re At Risk Of Failure

While the list below might appear glass-half-empty-ish, it’s not.  It’s realistic.  If you are to move from wanting to be successful in 2014, to actually being successful in 2014, you are going to have to deal with the brutal reality that:

  1. You are a creature of habit,
  2. You are going to have to change what you’ve been doing and break habits, and
  3. It’s going to be hard and you’re going to feel like quitting.

Here are the top 10 reasons you are at risk of failure–and what to do about it.

#10: No Urgency

PROBLEM: You don’t have to do anything meaningful or hard in 2014 really.  There’s no true deadline for self improvement…until you’re food for the worms.  The truth is you will be exhausted tonight and will rather watch TV or do something easy.

SOLUTION: Set hard deadlines that have real meaning.  Want to write a book in your life?  You need a date for when the outline is due.  That creates urgency. You need to set real deadlines to create real urgency.  Real deadline come with real and unpleasant consequences that you’ll want to avoid.

#9: No Clarity

PROBLEM: When you set your goals or resolutions, they are likely to be too vague.   Unconsciously, you’re just giving yourself plenty of wiggle room.  And you’re kidding yourself about how clear you are about your goals.  Later, you might wiggle to say “yes, I’ve achieved my goal, I think”,  if you set your goals in a vague way.  You’ll be able to let yourself off the hook due to a lack of goal clarity.

SOLUTION:  Make sure that you can’t later say “What was I supposed to do again?”  Err on the side of super-specific language, like “I will have lunch with two influential venture capitalists each month and share with them my specific goals and ambitions.”

#8: No Public Disclosure

PROBLEM: When you set your goals or resolutions, who did you tell?  Or did you just keep keep goals in your head?   If you didn’t share your goals, they didn’t become socialized.  But we’re social beings after all.  Relationships are critical to behavior change and achieving success.  Social rewards are the most powerful.

SOLUTION:  Tell people about your goals.  The more people you tell the better.  Make sure goals are crystal clear too.  Don’t allow them the wiggle-room to help you wiggle out later.

#7: No Metrics

PROBLEM:  What gets measured gets done, as they say.  So “Get healthy in 2014” is weak.  It has no identified metrics other than a vague end date.

SOLUTION:  And don’t just be specific.  Think about the best way to quantify success.  For example, change “Get healthy in 2014” to “Run at least 2 half marathons, with a time of less than 10 minutes 30 seconds per mile on average in each in 2014, and run a total of 500 miles, 10 miles per week on average, in 2014. ” Now that’s a smart metrics-focused goal.

#6: No Integration

PROBLEM:  If you have not integrated your goals into your current “real” life, you’re at risk of failure.  It’s relatively easy to say, “start writing my book in 2014,” but if that goal isn’t integrated into your daily life, your free time, your family members’ activities, your work responsibilities, etc., good luck!

SOLUTION:  You’re going to have to change your schedule.  Your schedule is your life.  The solution is to figure out what you are currently doing that you have to stop doing.  You’re going to have to make room for these new goals and ambitions, and your plate already seems full.  When exactly are you going to write your book?  If you don’t want to fail, be specific about how to integrate the goal into your life, like “I will write, distraction-free, on Saturdays between 7:30 and 11:30 AM, from January 4, 2014 to the end of August, 2014.”

#5: No Reps

PROBLEM: They say “practice makes perfect”, which we know isn’t quite right. “Perfect practice makes perfect” is more accurate.  But for adults, the key is getting in the reps. Repetition is critical for changing behavior because you’re changing habits, and the neural structures in your brain.  For adults to really learn, they need a lot more repetitions.

SOLUTION: For any goal, you’ve got to stick with it until it becomes natural.  If one of your leadership development goals is to be skilled at giving feedback to your direct reports, you’ve got to do it a little bit every day.  After several months, you’ll have the reps and you will be a feedback master.

#4: Not Having a “Relapse Prevention Mindset”

PROBLEM: Research on successful quitters of cigarettes has shown that you have to have a plan for dealing with failures.  That is, we’re all at risk for failure, so you better plan for it.  This might sound like pessimism, but it’s not.

SOLUTION: One slip up doesn’t mean you’re “back to square one,” or does it?  Nope.  To succeed, you have to constantly get back on the routine you fell off of.  Don’t make mini-failures into a big fat failure.  Get a game plan for handling failure.  For example, it’s helpful to plan to respond with positive thoughts: “I’m not letting this set back get in the way of my ultimate goal.” rather than, “That was a stupid goal.  What was I thinking?  I’ll have to get around to setting new goals next year.”

#3: Nobody Cares

PROBLEM: If nobody cares about your success or failure, why should you?

SOLUTION: In addition to “public disclosure” (#8 above) of what you’re working on, you’ve got to make sure the people you share your goals with actually care about you and your success.   If you have a small group of 3 to 5 dedicated friends, each committed to one others’ success — who fully accept their role as an “accountability partner” and truly care about your success– your chances of success will skyrocket.

#2: No Success Mindset

PROBLEM: Many people really don’t believe deep down they can be more successful.  They might even think that they don’t deserve success.   They subconsciously find little ways to create failure, or just avoid success.  They slowly let in little obstacles and embrace lame reasons for failure.

SOLUTION:  Do you truly, deep down, want to succeed?  If not, why?  If you really do want to succeed, you must believe in yourself and the value you bring to the world as a unique person with a unique set of gifts.  You do deserve to be mega-successful.

#1: No Genuine Intrinsic Motivation

PROBLEM: If you’re waiting until Jan 1 to start improving yourself, you’re essentially saying that you want to get ready, or keep enjoy the time you have before you start.  But if that’s the case, you may not yet have the genuine motivation for change.  You may view the change in your life as an unwelcome burden. You’re not ready to change for good, for real, if you’re picking any date in the future. Genuine motivation needs to be there now already.

SOLUTION: First, get honest with yourself.  Do you really want to be successful?  How bad do you want it?  Prove it by getting started in the next 30 minutes.

“What you think, is what you become. Guard your thoughts because they become your words. Guard your words because they become your actions. Guard your actions because they become your character. Guard your character because in the end, it will become your destiny.”  — Margarette Thatcher


About Curt Buermeyer

I am the founder and president of LeadPeople. I hope you enjoyed this post and encourage you to subscribe to receive these in your inbox. Thanks for visiting!

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