I had coffee yesterday with a friend that I hadn’t seen since before March. We were discussing the progress each had made toward his goals when the question came up:

“Why do you think most people don’t reach their goals?”

It was a valid question. I mean, I did just write a book that strongly emphasizes the importance of a strong, consistent work ethic over talent.

I sat back and thought about it for a second and then said.

“That’s easy. The biggest reasons people don’t reach their goal is that they:

  • Love the sound of their own excuses
  • Lack taking personal responsibility for all of their actions
  • Fail to create a daily process they can consistently stick to.”

If we were just talking about a singular goal, I might argue that lack of clarity for the goal would be added to that list, but overall?

Those three are the three most important things someone has to take care of in order to succeed.

At anything.

Here’s why:

1. Clinging to Excuses

We all have an excuse we hang onto. I call this the “just in case” excuse that we keep tucked away. We only use it if we fall short – or fail to launch after something new altogether.

Many times, the reason we use this excuse is that we’re afraid.

We’re terrified of going all-in on that goal because what happens if we fall short of reaching it? Who do we become if we don’t reach the goal we’ve set?

We’re afraid that any shortcoming related to our goals directly impacts our self-worth. In order to combat any potential loss of how we see ourselves (or worse, how others see us), we cling to these safety net excuses so that we have an “out” if things don’t work out.

We fail to make any meaningful progress because we allow this fear to hold us back. If you’ve got an excuse in your back pocket, why give your best efforts? Why should we even risk failing? Just play the excuse card.

But you have to choose to cut loose your excuses in order to succeed because clinging to excuses keep you from getting better.

Using an excuse is a cop-out to avoid taking responsibility for your actions. To rise higher, we have to cut our excuses so we can own the responsibility of our controllables – our actions, attitudes, and efforts.

2. Lack of Responsibility

Speaking of controlling your controllables….

One of the biggest challenges in society today I believe is a general lack of personal responsibility. We leave our weights lying on the ground because “it’s not our job.” We don’t clean up the mess we made because it’s just “a little trash.” And we believe ourselves to be victims of fate.

It’s hard to move forward if you’re constantly stuck in the negative cycle of being the victim. Nothing is your fault, and therefore, you are the victim of your circumstances.

Yes, things happen that are outside of your control, but what that victim mindset fails to take into consideration is your actions leading up to or during that situation. Nothing is your fault, it’s always “someone else’s.”

You see yourself as perfect and blameless when nothing is your fault, thus removing any room to grow and get better.

We all have blind spots.

We all have room for growth.

There may be a limit on your physical gains & capacity, but there is no limit to your mental ones. 

Once you learn to own the responsibility for your actions, attitude, and efforts every day, you can begin to grow toward the success you crave.

And finally, just like every great team, you still need a gameplan to win.

3. Lack of Daily Process

The final piece to why most people fail to succeed is that they never intentionally review & modify their daily habits. 

Most of us live a real-life version of Groundhog Day. Wake up. Work. Workout (maybe if we’re motivated). Dinner. Netflix. Bed.

Repeat. Day after day after day.

And one day, we look up and wonder why we still aren’t any closer to the goals we talked about ten years ago.

We wanted those goals.

We had a clear picture in our mind of those goals.

We dreamed about those goals.

But we will fail every time to reach those goals unless we are intentional and modify our daily habits.

James Clear dives into the importance of small, subtle tweaks in our lives and how those adjustments can create gigantic impacts over time (Atomic Habits).

I dive into creating a winning process with The Competitor Scorecard in my book (you can grab one here!) and how by mapping out your daily “targets” and making a game of it can help you reach them.

Talking about your goals won’t help you.

Working on your goals when you feel motivated won’t either.

Intentionally creating a daily plan to get 1% closer will.

If you’re still reading, I’m curious which of these has been the biggest challenge for you to overcome to get where you want to go?

Let me actually rephrase that, which of these is the biggest opportunity for you to overcome – so that you can then show others to do the same?

Lead those closest to you by showing them how to overcome these challenges and seize your success.

I’m cheering for you, Competitor.