Why We Don’t Achieve: On the Course, In the Boardroom or at Home

We’re starting the New Year and this is the time that many people are confronting the resolutions they have claimed.  Most of these resolutions are supposed to last for the rest of their lives.  Things like quitting smoking, eating healthy, losing weight are some of the pretty common resolutions for their personal lives.  There are usually others that impact their financial lives such as spending less, saving more or saving any.  Then there are many resolutions that impact the business aspect of life, be more time focused, make more money, convert more clients, etc.

Here’s the thing:  We all know that most resolutions don’t “take”; we usually aren’t successful at maintaining them.  The main question is ‘why’?

Well, whether we call them resolutions or another term often used is goals; they are really the same thing but resolutions tend to connote giving up something or stopping some behavior and goals tend to refer more toward attaining or obtaining something.  In either circumstance, the aspects that impact success are much the same.

In fact – no matter what is claimed, all true achievements, successes and reached goals (as a result of effort) are impacted by only three things:  Aptitude, Ability and Attitude.  And the bulk of the reasons have really nothing to with ability (capability) or aptitude (having the knowledge of how to do it) – they have to do with attitude.

You see, aptitude and ability are usually not the impactful players in this equation because people seldom set as a goal, that which they do not have either the ability or aptitude to accomplish.  I mean, I can wish all day long to be the center of the LA Lakers but my 6’0” height (in socks) is really going to prevent this ‘plan’ from occurring, under most circumstances.  I could have Kobe Bryant’s ball handling skills but still lacking the need of height.  The same case could be made for other aspects when aptitude or ability is lacking.

Also, lacking ability or aptitude is usually pretty quickly determined by the individual because they are almost always measureable and quantifiable.   But Attitude is not measurable or quantifiable – it’s either present or it’s not.  And ironically, we as human beings have the innate ability to convince ourselves that we have it when we don’t.

I was recently speaking with a very competitive golfer who began having problems putting; he’s changed putters, he’s changed grips and has even tried putting left-handed instead of his normal right-handed method.  No matter what he has done, he’s not obtained the results he’s desired.  I asked him how the rest of his game was – he explained that he’s an excellent ‘long putter’.  For those of you who do not play golf, to be a good long-putter it requires great internal reliance to the sense of touch and feel.

Another client, a business executive in sales, recently changed companies and her new line of products to sell were similar but different enough that she had to learn many new aspects of use and advantage over her new competition.  She was having a very difficult time making the transition to the levels of success at her new company that she had previously.

They both had the absolute belief that they knew what the issue was – the golfer needed to change his approach to putting – even though he remained a great ‘long putter’ with any putter he employed.  The business executive was sure that it was her that had changed; that she’d lost her skill or that maybe she was never as good as she thought she was in her position at her previous company and that the stars had been aligned to allow her to be successful – yeah, that was it, it was all her fault.

The interesting thing (at least to me) is that they both were experiencing problems in entirely different realms but their issues were exactly the same.  They shared one of the top ten reasons that are really behind why people don’t achieve their desired goals.  These 10 reasons account for the vast majority of the real “why’s”.   Nearly every human being has experienced at least one of these, once in their lives – except they usually don’t ever truly discover it.

Sadly, for some – it becomes the tradition of their lives.

Report: Top Ten Reasons of Why We Don’t Achieve and the Ten Questions that Discover Yours (subscribe to blog and receive free report)

What the golfer and the executive both ended up discovering was that they weren’t confronting the real issue, which is what most of us do and have done for the majority of our lives.  Furthermore, they had little chance of discovering the real underlying issue without outside assistance.  We seldom discover what our limiting factors are without help, why?  Because we have the innate ability to hide it from ourselves – in fact, our emotional mind considers the ‘hiding’ of it to be one of its core responsibilities.

I talk a lot about the separate and distinct powers of the intellectual brain and the emotional mind.  In workshops I describe the roles of each and how they impact us on a daily basis; how the synchronization of the two empowers us to achieve any goal (as long as we have aptitude and ability) and how the conflict that results when these two are not in synch creates the impossibility of fully meeting our full potential.  This usually results in not achieving our goals or not exceeding them to the level that we have ability.

And this issue impacts every segment of our lives.  It impacts the level of fulfillment of potential in everything:  Business Management, Sales, Executive Leadership, Professional Sport Performance, Relationships, Parenting – you name it and it impacts it.

We’ve all been hearing about attitude for years – Positive Mental Attitude was all the rage in the 70’s and it has become the focus a number of times since; though it existed long before the 70’s.  Then there was the beginning of ‘believing in receiving’ philosophies.  There have been other trends that have addressed the subject in a tangential manner, referencing a more ‘cosmic’ perspective on attitude – such as The Secret, which seems to have fallen somewhat out of favor with many.

As a Master Trainer in the APACHE method of achievement coaching, I deal with the aspect of attitude the majority of time, when working with individual clients or in workshops – because this aspect is absolutely the greatest factor that impacts our likelihood to achieve – in anything.  But here’s the crazy thing – nearly everyone has heard that attitude makes all the difference but few truly understand why and how to make it our ally rather than our enemy.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a big proponent of Positive Mental Attitude and know that one’s spirituality can have tremendous impact on one’s belief system.  But this is not the attitude to which I refer.

The underlying aspect of the Attitude we’re discussing is very complex in depth; but very simple in concept.  The concept is best explained by asking one’s self this:

“What is/are the limiting factors that I have inside me that prevent me from accomplishing the things I want to accomplish, knowing I have the aptitude and the ability?”

The complexity of the issue comes into play when we discover the answer to this question.  Because while we all can ask ourselves this question, 99.9% of us will not be able to answer the question accurately – and thus the complexity begins.  You see, because most of us can provide an answer to this question – it’s usually one of the “reasons” (pronounced ex’-kuses) of why we don’t succeed in whatever endeavor we are attempting.

The complexity of this arena gets very thick when we begin to delve into the unconscious and sub-conscious of an individual to discover these limitations because they are very similar to the motivations by which we live every day.

The attitude we want our executives to have, our children to have, our parents to have and what athletes want to have is this:  “I have the ability and the aptitude needed to accomplish this mission or task, thereby I merely need the additional piece of belief that I:  will accomplish, desire to accomplish and truly seek all of the consequences that will result from the achievement.  Furthermore, I entirely and completely believe I deserve those results and consequences.”

This is the Attitude which we are discussing – and it is the attitude that is missing with every “failed” resolution, every missed mission and lack of accomplishment that is achievable based on having the aptitude and ability to do so.

Some will refer to the aspect of Attitude as motivation but that also has different connotations to different people.  Motivating factors or ‘motivators’ are a little closer to the description – but still not truly accurate.  Because motivators are the things that can incent someone to want to attain or achieve but what we are discussing are the unconscious limiting factors that prevent us from achieving that which we seem motivated to achieve.

An example:  Moe Norman is considered by most to be one of the best ball strikers in the history of golf, if not the best.  He had tremendous motivation and motivators to use his skills to become world-famous, rich and possibly re-write all records.  Most golfers would love that opportunity.  It is presumed that he had a disorder that accelerated his fears but his limiting factors that existed within himself prevented him from achieving all he could, based on his level of aptitude and ability.  Regardless of how great the motivators may be, the motivation will nearly always succumb to the will of the limiting factors and beliefs – that we usually don’t even know exist.

Therefore, motivators can be the incentive to achieve but the “failure” to continue a resolution or reach a goal is the result of not having the properly associated Attitude.  Thus, if we obtain the Attitude anything is achievable as long as having the aptitude and ability.  We can accomplish this by discovering, addressing and eliminating the impact of the limiting factors.  And nearly every limiting factor or belief is ultimately based on fear.  The secret is discovering it.  It may sound tough but it’s not – if you have the right Achievement Coach.

I’ve used the term “failure” several times; “failure” is a paradox of sorts – much like the term of fear (the emotional type) because once the true elements of either are discovered, they both truly cease to exist.  Each and every time I work with a client that discovers the true elements of what has kept them from achieving, they always discover one of two things:

  1. The elements of which they thought contributed to the “failure” (their “reasons”) were incorrect; discovering this allows us to develop a path toward success without those elements being an obstacle anymore OR
  2. They discover that they never really wanted to achieve it in the first place thus they had no real motivation to accomplish or achieve.

Therefore, in my opinion, there is no such thing as “failure”; it is merely the symptom that communicates our need to discover more.  The List of Top 10 reasons derive from questions we can ask ourselves and the only reason the goal isn’t achieved is because of the answers to these questions and the path of discovery made from them.  That path of discovery will always bring you to a point of discovering the underlying and previously un-addressed fear or fears upon which they are based.

By the way, I use quotes for “failure” – because I absolutely detest the word, the concept and the damage the word does internally to the Human Being.  It connotes such disregard, such dismal consideration toward oneself that one often cannot escape the label; whether it’s placed upon by themselves or by others.

Remember – for yourself, your kids, your staff or your team, if aptitude and ability exist – fear is always the underlying reason; find the fear that’s hiding and you are on your way to success or discovery of what you really want to do in the first place.

* If you or someone you know want more from your efforts and your want achievement, fulfillment or success in whatever you do – let me know.  I guarantee my coachingwill help you discover your limiting factors in Sport, Business or Relationships – what you decide to do with the information is up to you.

David A. Jones, President and Founder of Captive Coaching & Consulting, LLC

So, back to the original question – Why Do Most Resolutions Fail?  Below is #9 on the list and it addresses why most resolutions just don’t make it.  Please be sure to subscribe to my blog to receive the complete list of Top 10 as I’ve written them and if you gained any benefit from this, please share with others.

Top 10 Reasons Resolutions, Goals or Achievements aren’t Realized

9.            Resolutions:   Am I trying to obtain something as the accomplishment or is my goal based on the denial of something?

This is the classic conundrum of the New Year’s Resolution fiasco that occurs every year.  Most people who set a resolution fail to uphold it.  This question addresses the majority of those resolutions placed at the beginning of each year.  Traditionally, people want to start the New Year out right – they want to change their eating habits from more to less or from unhealthy to healthy; they want to quit smoking or spending money; they want to save more of their money, etc, etc, etc.  There are millions of these made.

The first reason resolutions “fail” is they are based on something humans truly can’t comprehend – the future.  We imagine it, we plan for it and hope for it but really don’t comprehend it.  This is because our ability to judge time is based on the memories we have created, we truly can’t comprehend future.  We can comprehend neither the time nor the existence of it since we have no future memories.  So how can we envision having succeeded at quitting anything when we can’t imagine how long we’ll have needed to be successful – we can’t do it.  We can only imagine how quitting will be and with most resolutions, we also imagine the pain in the inconvenience.  It may sound weird but we can’t truly comprehend succeeding at quitting.  This concept is the basis of why addiction programs focus only on controlling our addiction today – because the future is too difficult to really comprehend for such things.

Think about it, if you deny yourself something – say you are going to quit smoking, how will you ever know you fully accomplished it?  If you succeed for a month, a year, a decade?  And what would the motivation be?  To live longer?  To not die an agonizing smoking induced death?  Sure, those things seem like they should be enough but in reality the smoker will never know and truly internally envision success until they die, without ever having smoked another cigarette – that is truly the point a smoker knows he’s succeeded, right?

Intellectually and emotionally, we cannot truly comprehend success at quitting anything so let’s focus on stopping.  Quitting is a process, stopping is a point of finality and our brains view it the same way.  A friend of mine quit smoking 20 years ago, was he technically successful?  Or has he remained a quitter for 20 years?  Do you see the point?  Don’t focus on quitting or consider yourself a quitter, just focus on that you stopped.  The finality is very measureable and finite.

The other aspect we must consider to have resolutions work best is to not consider them resolutions.  Don’t “resolve” to do anything – decide.  This may sound silly and merely semantical but the mind is a very powerful tool; we control decisions by making them, while we merely seek to maintain a resolution.  Control in our lives is extremely important to the emotional mind of a human being, if we don’t have control then our emotional mind believes we are at risk of emotional death because the control is in the hands of another; even if that is a cigarette, chocolate or caffeine.

Believe it or not, our emotional mind has the ability to make our intellect believe that we actually enjoy ingesting toxins into our lungs.  Thereby we have the belief that we can control the cigarette but simply choose not to.  It’s quite an interesting phenomenon that occurs.  So decide to stop; don’t resolve to quit.

The last and biggest aspect of making resolutions work is to understand that our entire emotional existence is based on the avoidance of pain and the seeking of pleasure.  Anytime we set a goal or resolution that is based on the continued inconvenience of quitting anything we believe we enjoy we begin to anticipate additional pain.  If you’ve ever quit something like something like smoking you’ll understand this perspective – the dread of quitting begins before the last cigarette has been smoked which is well before any withdrawal from nicotine begins.

Another friend of mine quit smoking with her husband, how did they do it?  They decided to have sex with each other every time they wanted a cigarette.  It was a heck of a distraction I imagine but the key to successful resolutions lies within.

If you want your resolutions to have the best chance at success, you must not consider quitting anything or resolving.  Instead, decide to stop and then begin or become.  Determine what you are going to be able to do when you stop your behavior and do it.  So in the example of smoking, instead of “I’m quitting smoking” consider “I have decided to stop smoking and have become a non-smoker”.  If it’s healthy eating you desire, don’t quit eating junk food, become a healthy eater.  

I know it sounds corny – but it truly tricks your mind into the state of empowering you to begin something new instead of maintaining the strength needed to continue to deny yourself something forever.

The next step is that you must associate pleasure with the beginning or becoming – or a greater pain as the punishment of sorts, if you don’t begin.  If you save $200 a month by quitting smoking then hire a cleaning company to clean your house once a month for $100 if you hate cleaning – this is your reward for becoming a non-smoker.  Or join a country club as the reward.  Whatever it is, it must be associated with the becoming something new, not merely as a reward for quitting.  Each circumstance is different and you should have help to determine what the true motivation and limiting factor exists for you, before being able to determine truly what will work.

I once had a client who continually shopped for clothes.  She would use this as an outlet for the loss of control she felt in her life – shopping, she enjoyed.  Ironically, when the stress of having little money affected her mood she would shop more, getting more in debt and thus a vicious cycle began.  The ironic part was that she would feel so guilty that she spent money that she didn’t really have, she wouldn’t allow herself to even wear the clothes she had purchased.

The solution we discovered was that I gave her a weekly assignment to go and shop, purchasing the outfits that she loved, she would bring them home and on the following weekend she had to return them to the store, with tags on.  She absolutely hated returning things to a store.  After 4 trips she realized her compulsion to buy was gone because the joy she had felt when purchasing was now associated with the anticipated “pain” of returning the clothes.

Every circumstance is different and dependent on whether a behavior is actually merely a habit or whether there is a deeper “need” fulfilled by it.  Determining which is applicable will start you on the right path to determine the proper method by which to associate the “reward” or “pain” we need to apply to alter our behavior or to search deeper to find the underlying “need”.

So remember – don’t resolve to quit; decide to stop.  Then associate pleasure with your new beginning.  And give yourself a break – no matter what, it’s tough to do.  Some behaviors are tougher than others because they are both emotional and physiological, like smoking.  But it is always the emotional connection that far exceeds the physical dependency.

Good Luck!

About captivecoaching

David Jones is the founder of Captive Coaching and Consulting, LLC. Captive was founded to serve two aspects: 1) To assist with the growth of individuals in their personal and business lives as well as their relationships 2) To improve the employee production, employee retention and profitability of businesses by applying the principles of APACHE theory.
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