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4 reasons why you’re not achieving your goals

Feel like you’re not reaching your full potential? Craig Jackson, Professor of Occupational Health Psychology at Birmingham City University (BCU), offers some insight into what might be holding you back.



4 reasons why you’re not achieving your goals

Feel like you’re not reaching your full potential? Craig Jackson, Professor of Occupational Health Psychology at Birmingham City University (BCU), offers some insight into what might be holding you back.

Struggling to achieve your goals is nothing new. A recent survey revealed that 92 percent of people who set New Year’s goals never actually achieve them.

These goals usually revolve around spending more time in the gym or taking up new hobbies.

However, in the world of work, it’s a similar trend – people occasionally find themselves lacking in ambition and struggling to overcome obstacles.

So, what reasons could there be for people not achieving their goals in the workplace?

1). IOU Syndrome

In my experience as an occupational psychologist, I encounter many people who have great talent and potential. However, they haven’t been recognised or seen by leadership within their organisation.

I find that often people struggle in achieving their goals is because of ‘IOU Syndrome’ – Invisible, Overlooked and Undervalued.

The solution to this tends to be looking for a new opportunity rather than waiting around looking to be discovered in an organisation where you are overlooked.

2). Excessive self-criticism 

Being self-critical is a natural part of professional and career development. We sometimes develop excessive levels of self-criticism, as well as negative attitudes towards what we are capable of.

Workers need to remind themselves that excessive self-criticism helps nobody and won’t help them reach their full potential.

I remember leaders often telling me they like to see how people ‘bounce back from adversity’ and ‘cope with tough times.’

This is great if you’re a leader, but not so great if you’re the worker. Workers don’t want to tolerate these kinds of tests anymore – they want to be hired to do a job and have a reasonable chance of development and promotion.

In a recent BCU Advantage blog, my colleague Professor Alexandros Psychogios outlined the importance of maintaining a positive attitude.

“Attitudes in the way you do business, approach your colleagues and set out your goals and vision for the future are all really important, particularly in challenging times for your business,” he says.

3). Sticking too rigidly to goals

Believe it or not, being too rigid in your goals may result in not achieving your goals.

Of the 20 percent of people that set goals for themselves, 70 percent fail to achieve them. This is often because they follow them so rigidly it becomes a grind and they lose sight of the purpose of the goal.

Goal setting is important, and it can work for some people in the workplace. However, some people prefer to be more responsive and flexible.

Having goals can be good as long as they don’t lead to overly rigid thinking or people missing out on valuable opportunities and experiences.

Many organisations operate in ways that are spontaneous and require flexible workers that can work within that framework.

Being flexible in your goals may allow you to showcase your talents and enhance the ones you already have.

4). You’re too busy being busy

Find yourself filling your days with menial tasks or comforting routines? This could be a big reason why you’re not reaching your full potential.

For some people, busyness (or at least looking busy) is an avoidance technique and is a common problem.

It can be tempting to become part of the process and to be seen to ‘keep the shop running’ in order to be viewed as useful.

However, this can come at the expense of career development and skills acquisition.

Periodic review and reflection of responsibilities can help and there isn’t any harm in seeing such performance as a transaction that could be rewarded later on.

Be useful, but don’t become useful in the sense that you become invisible.

One-to-one support to reach your potential

Sometimes, it is healthy to step back and reassess things, something I highlighted in a recent podcast.

If you’re looking for help in achieving your goals, the Enterprise for Success programme can provide one-to-one consultancies that can assess where your business is at.

It can help you discover the potential of you and your business, as well as identify growth risks and opportunities.

BCU’s business growth advisors can provide key guidance, as well as access to funding, events, workshop opportunities, and more.



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