Why don’t more people set goals? What are the psychological blocks that trick most people into just winging it through life?
If your objective is to develop and maximize your virtues, or your successful qualities, it is very important that you understand your vices, or the areas that may be holding you back.
The number one reason people don’t set goals is that they have not yet accepted personal responsibility for their lives. Until you have claimed total and unconditional responsibility for everything that happens in your life, you will never be serious about goal setting. As Emerson put it, “No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself.”
Another reason people don’t set goals is fear of criticism, which often develops during childhood. Parents, teachers, and other adults often discourage us inadvertently by pointing out all the reasons why we can’t achieve a particular goal. Their intentions are usually good. They don’t want us to get our hopes up and then be disappointed. But the end result is that we stop creating compelling goals and dreams for our futures because we don’t want to experience the pain of having them not work out. By the time we become adults, the hesitancy to desire something has become a reluctance to set goals.
A third reason is that people simply don’t know how. This is a serious void because goal setting is the master subject, the skill that makes all other subjects useful and practical.
A fourth reason is that they don’t realize the importance of goals. If you grew up in a home where goal setting and success were not topics of conversation around the dinner table, then simple ignorance may be holding you back. If your network of friends and acquaintances do not have clearly written goals, then it will be natural for you to ignore yours as well.
A fifth reason is what I call the curse of early success. Many individuals experience success early in their lives, then become smug and stop growing and improving. Their early success gives them a false sense of security. They are often pointed in the right direction but never do anything other than coast.
A sixth reason people fail to set goals is fear of failure. They fear that by setting a goal, they and others will be able to determine whether or not they have succeeded. They harbor the subconscious thought, “If I don’t try, I can’t fail.” The only true failure is failing to try.
And finally, a seventh reason people don’t set goals is fear of success. They are raised with the belief that it is somehow wrong or sinful to pursue our desires or to exceed average performance. Therefore, many people strive to be just like everyone else. Don’t we have enough of the average already? The Bible teaches that God loves excellence. Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (NIV). Paul writes in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (NIV).