Why don’t we achieve our goals? Because nobody cares.

You said you were going to lose 4 kilos before your holiday to Mykonos. You said you were going to start that side business and have a website ready by March. You said you were going to write your first novel by the end of last year.

So what happened exactly?

Life carried on, that’s what happened. There were no serious consequences to not doing what you said you would do, nothing really harmful. Nobody died. Your family and friends carried on loving you just the same… and so life goes on but with disappointment and frustration burning inside of you. And that’s the point. Nobody else but you has to bear that feeling.

In my case, it was learning Spanish. I’d set myself the goal of becoming ‘fluent’ by July. Which was not outrageously ambitious, considering I’d been dabbling in Spanish for two years, had spent 2 solid months in Spanish school, and now I was living in Spain with my Spanish partner. I was immersed and had Spanish conversation ‘on-tap’.

I thought I had it all worked out. After all, I’m a blinkin’ coach. I applied the SMART technique, creating a goal that was Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time based.

I thought my goal was pretty SMART. I had to be speaking Spanish 100% of the time (outside of work) by the first week in July and I’d set myself up to achieve it. The default language at home was set to Spanish and off I went.

It started off ok, I was handling the banal conversations reasonably well. But then things started to get in the way, like difficult life stuff which hurt my brain. I got a touch of the ‘mañanas’ and allowed things to drift. I only had myself to answer to, and found myself justifying my poor excuses in the most creative ways.

I slipped back to communicating in English more and more as I realised I didn’t have to speak Spanish at home at all. As if by magic, our default language switched back to English.

Phew! My July deadline came and went and nobody noticed that I’d failed. I’d got away with it!

So in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter. The sun was still shining and my life was intact. But golly, it felt bad. I do indeed feel the consequences – I know how much enjoyable life will be when I can speak freely in my future second language.

Stakeholder buy-in

The answer to this problem was staring me in the face all along. Coaching. The powerful thing about personal coaching is having another interested party keeping you on your toes and spurring you on. It’s in the coach’s interest to be 100% behind you, keeping your lame excuses in check and helping you overcome obstacles to success.

Other ways you can create accountability is to get family or friends on board with your goal, explaining why it’s important to you and how they can help you keep going. You could also create an accountability group, of people with a similar goal to yours – try meetup.com.

However, it’s a coach’s actual job to keep you motivated and accountable. Our nearest and dearest may not have the energy to do that, or the skills. And a coach is willing to say the things you don’t want to hear in order to keep you on track.

The other issue we have is not thinking our goal through properly (guilty Your Honour!). A life coach, or any kind of coach, can help you define your goal more specifically and with more rigor, not just a wave a finger in the air.

So, I made a decision to get myself a coach. I’ve reset my goal, now that I know what REALISTIC means. I’m on my way to Spanish fluency – well, my definition of it!

Photo by Mahrael Boutros

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Gabrielle Collard

Gabrielle is a certified coach and founder of The Coach Space. Read more about her coaching and book private online coaching sessions directly on her website.

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