10 Reasons You Are Failing At Your Goals — And How to Change Them

Are you frustrated because you’ve got goals, but your business is stagnant and you can’t figure out why?

As Master Chair of Vistage NYC, I’ve seen it all. Leaders and CEOs are so preoccupied with moving forward that they neglect to implement real action that will propel their businesses and futures in the right direction.

Luckily, through my years of experience, I have found multiple contributing factors that affect the future of a business and the goals of its CEO. It’s because of my time spent in working with over 100 CEOs and my experience in the industry that I know about the ten common reasons why you are failing at your goals.

Reason One: Lack of a Noble Cause

Now, you might be asking yourself, “What is a noble cause?”

A noble cause is defined as a “pronouncement of a future state that will bring about through its coordinated action. It is bigger than what one person can do alone, no matter how many people are offering support; it requires people’s best efforts and passions.”

A noble cause can be thought about as what you are trying to shoot for. In other words, where do you see your business down the line, in five, ten, fifteen years? Identifying your noble cause is how you narrow down the scope of your business, ensuring that you focus on only what’s important, or what’s relevant, to the success of the future.

Reason Two: Measure Activity Instead of Performance

Have you ever been in a workplace situation in which managers and higher-ups only focused on the profits, even if morale was notably low?

Assuming that high revenue alone equals success is dangerous for a Vistage leader. For this reason, you need to be able to measure performance beyond simply revenue. Measuring individual performance is key. A company with high profitability might still have low morale, or a lack of a noble cause. It’s important for an entrepreneur or CEO to recognize these pitfalls of business and make the necessary changes.

Reason Three: Vague Goals

If you want to be successful, you have to be specific. Making vague goals with unclear or unspecific characteristics makes them harder to obtain. Successful, achievable goals are those that have been established, elaborated and fleshed out in multiple ways.

In other words, what do you want to achieve, and how are you going to achieve it? Be specific.

Reason Four: Arbitrary or Unmeasurable Goals

Now that you have your idea of what you want to achieve, and how you’re going to do it, you need to think about how you are going to measure the results. Too often, small business CEOs and leaders create goals without thinking about the time frame, or how long it will take them to get where they want to be.

What’s the scale of your success? How prominent do you expect the results to be? How much time do you expect will pass before you are able to see these results? It’s important to ask questions that have measurable answers.

Reason Five: Uncertainty Regarding How Goals are Measured

Picture this — you’ve got your goals. You’ve thought of how you’re going to achieve them, you’re able to measure them, but…you don’t communicate with others about how their performance relates to the goals of the company.

If your employees don’t understand how their performance is being measured, then having a system in place to measure them at all will not achieve anything. There needs to be consistent communication, and a clear explanation of how each and every employee fits into the goals of the company and its future successes.

Reason Six: Unrelated or Unnecessary Goals

One of the worst mistakes I see all the time is that CEOs and entrepreneurs establish a clear system for their goals, and everything is in place, but they find that their company is still not where they want it to be. Why is this?

It’s because the goals are unnecessary or irrelevant in regards to the overall bottom line of the company. It might be because they don’t enhance the performance of the organization. In other words, they might be good goals to have, but they’re either too general, or they’re unrelated to the underlying purpose of the company. As a leader, you want to have clear, purposeful, and related goals with which your employees can connect and identify.

Reason Seven: Inconsistent Measurements

One of the biggest mistakes a CEO can make is neglecting to consistently measure their company’s goals. It is crucial to have accurate data. For this reason, we at Mark Taylor’s Vistage group suggest business leaders measure their goals weekly, through meetings or an ongoing progress report.

Whether it’s a matter of finances, people, quality, service, or community, successful CEOs know that there is no goal too small. Constantly measuring aspects of your business is how you will be able to compare it to where it used to be, in order to propel it forward.

Reason Eight: Fear of Discussing Goals

If, for some reason, you find through these weekly meetings or progress reports that your employees are performing poorly, you must not be afraid to speak with them about it. Attainable goals, and those which fall under a noble cause, require the involvement of every employee.

If the performance of your employees is less than what it would take for your corporation to achieve its goals, there needs to be an educational conversation between all parties involved. The goals of the company must be explained to the employees as clearly and directly as possible. Miscommunication and goal-achieving do not go well together, and it is the role of the business leader to make clear to their workers not only what is expected of them, but why it is important.

Reason Nine: Inability to Inspire

Because this industry involves a lot of numbers and figures, I think people forget sometimes that real people are involved. Real people are heading companies, setting goals, and working to achieve success. It is for this reason that, in order to succeed at your goals, you must be more than a figurehead.

As a successful CEO and someone who has worked in this industry for decades, I know that a business is nothing without the support of the people who make things happen. If your company and your employees are not behind you, because they either don’t believe in the goals or they don’t believe in the means to achieve them, you need to be able to change their minds. The ability to inspire and motivate others is crucial in the journey to success.

Reason Ten: Inability to Implement Change

Failing at your goals may slow you down, but a successful CEO knows how to step back, pinpoint the problem, and get back on track.

If you’re not achieving your goals, as a business leader, you need to be able to look at each aspect of your company and figure out where the problem lies. A true leader isn’t afraid of change, because they know that success can’t happen without it.

Bottom Line:

There are many reasons why you may be currently failing at your goals. However, as someone who knows this industry inside and out, I can assure you that nothing is beyond repair.

If you lack a noble cause, measure activity instead of performance, have vague, unmeasurable, unrelated, or uncertain goals, utilize inconsistent measurements, are afraid of discussing goals with your employees, are unable to inspire others, or are unable to implement changes within your business, you may find yourself failing at achieving what you want. However, through these tips and Mark Taylor’s Vistage group, you can learn how to achieve your goals and set both you and your company up for success.