2 Reasons We Give Up On Goals (And How to Overcome Them)

Longing for self-improvement or achievement is an all too familiar feeling we seem to get around this time of year. We look forward to what’s to come and think that something magical will happen on January 1st to boost us up with energy to hit new milestones. These goals we set for ourselves can be sourced from all aspects of life. We want to eat healthier and exercise more. We want to be more present with our families and less connected to our smart phones. We want to achieve more at work and secure that promotion. It’s natural to want to get better and the marking of a new year feels like a natural time to set those goals.

However, we’ve also all likely felt the devastation of realizing we made nearly zero progress towards a goal once we’re about six or so weeks into the new year. The novelty of a new routine has worn off or the challenge of trying something different has just become really hard, so we cut ourselves some slack on the goal. We lower what we’re reaching for, push out the timeline we set, or we just give up entirely.

Why is this? You start to wonder. I’m capable, I have the desire, why do I stall out when the work to get there feels mundane or difficult?

There are a ton of reasons why achieving our goals is hard, but there are a couple in particular that have to do with our spouse. We’d like to think our spouse is our number one supporter, and in many cases that is true. It’s just that things get in the way of allowing them to help you reach your goals, and vice versa. Here’s why: 

  1. Lack of awareness
    Not your own awareness, but the awareness of your support system. We’re talking your spouse, your kids, your inner circle of relationships. We get it, some goals are really personal, so we’re not suggesting you post each goal out on social media just for the sake of accountability. But sharing your personal goals with at least your spouse gives them insight into what you’re working on and the awareness they need to support your efforts and encourage you along the way. The accountability of saying the goal out loud doesn’t hurt your progress either!

  2. Goal misalignment
    If your personal goal is in direct conflict with one of your partner’s goals, this will inevitably make it a struggle for either of you to succeed. For example, one of you may set a financial savings goal for the year that is beyond what you normally do, while the other may have a goal to finally take the family on a luxurious vacation. See how those goals would compete and cause stress? The personal goals you each set for yourselves don’t necessarily need to build off one another, but they need to not be in direct conflict or contradiction of each other. Aligning your goals has the potential to create the synergistic effect of momentum through solidarity.

When it comes to your personal goals, you may be thinking, well they are personal, why do I even need to involve my partner? It’s a valid question. But why wouldn’t you want all of the support and encouragement you could get? If your goal is conflicting with their goal, that’s going to get you both nowhere fast, so it seems silly to even try to reach it at that point.

By not letting your partner in on your goals, you’re missing an opportunity for both of you to grow closer and work together. There’s a quote from Betty Ford that captures this thought well, “You can make it, but it’s easier if you don’t have to do it alone.”

So yes, make those personal goals for 2021, but just because they are personal, don’t forget to utilize your spouse as your co-pilot while navigating to your destination.

5 thoughts to “2 Reasons We Give Up On Goals (And How to Overcome Them)”

  1. 2. Goal misalignment: In addition to quantifiable goals (like saving money) it’s important for husband and wife to be aligned on the core values that inform our goals.

  2. I like this a lot. I’d also add that how you (or I) share your goals matters. If you simply happily share your goal or the positive outcomes that will happen with achievement, your brain processes the positive feedback about your goal as though you completed your goal, which leads, strangely, to lower achievement of goals. It’s like when we set out to be healthy at a fast food place and feel so good about our decision and we feel so good about our decision, that we reward ourselves with a large fries and super-sized Coke when we finally order. if however, you share your goal along with the challenges ahead or share your goal and ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable or to support you in a specific way, your brain processes the information as incomplete, leading to a heightened chance of success. Thanks!

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