Why people fail to meet their targets and goals (it’s not what you think)

Have you ever wondered why your targets and goals aren’t met? Have you ever questioned how you never seem to meet your targets?

Sales figures, email list growth, lead capture, revenue, profit, missing deadlines…the list goes on.

Whenever we have goals or targets, there seems to be an ugly habit of missing them. No matter what we’re told by motivational speakers, lifestyle gurus or whoever. We seem to miss goals and targets.

Have you ever felt “hmmm…I’m not going to make this” when you have a target in front of you? When you set it, 1000 people on your email list in 3 months sounds easy.

But two months in, it seems less and less likely you’re going to hit the target.

So if you’ve ever felt that you’re going to miss your goals, or if missing targets is a regular habit, you need to read this post.

I’m going to explain why time management, budget, lofty goals, lack of experience, no skills, poor materials and confidence are NOT the reasons you’re not reaching your goals. It’s something MUCH more simple than that.


Why this is important

Goals and targets start from a small scale, up to large world-changing visions.

“I’m going to write my vision and mission statement today” and “I’m going to get this app into the phones of 100 million people” might sound totally different. But the reason they’re not achieved are exactly the same.

Sure, we can blame a lack of budget or a lack of skill. Maybe you say you don’t have the right experience or your team aren’t as good as you think.

Those are excuses. They’re NOT the reason you aren’t achieving your goals.

The steps taken and tasks needed to reach the goal of “I’m going to write my vision and mission statement today” and “I’m going to get this app into the phones of 100 million people” are different. But the reason they fail are the same. The reason that someone doesn’t reach their goals is the same no matter what.

What if I told you that whatever your goal is, we can reach those goals by understanding one very important principle?

Oh yeah, it’s got NOTHING to do with S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, time-bound) either.

SMART goals work to set a goal. But they have nothing to do with achieving the goal.


Where people go wrong

So here’s what usually happens. We set a goal and a time. We do the whole SMART thing and have a few things written down.

For example-

  • Reach 1000 email subscribers in 3 months
  • Sell 5 marketing funnels to customers in month one
  • Write blog content every week
  • Write out our mission statement and vision
  • Generate $100 000 revenue in year one
  • Open 15 new branches across 10 locations
  • App installed user base of 150 million users

Obviously, some of these goals are “bigger” than others. They’re clearly not from the same organisation. At least not at the same time.

Now for some businesses, the idea of writing down their mission and vision might as well be asking for a userbase of 150 million users.

They feel that they don’t have the knowledge or skills to do either of those things. But they know they need to do it. It’s daunting when you’ve got a new goal in front of you, that you don’t know immediately how to achieve.

But I’ll let you in on a secret. You can fail to reach goals that you DO know how to achieve. I can assure you that pro-athletes know how to run a marathon. Doesn’t always mean they do it.

Goals don’t always have to be professional or business orientated either. Personal goals suffer from a lack of execution too.

  • Run 3 times a week
  • Eat healthier
  • Cook at home 4 times a week
  • Wake up earlier
  • Spend less money
  • Save more money
  • Go to bed earlier
  • See the kids more often
  • Quit smoking

We can fail to reach personal goals just as we fail to reach professional goals. Again, lack of experience, skills, budget and all the other excuses are not the real reason we fail to get where we want to be.

What tends to happen, is we move the goal.

When something isn’t going our way, we move the goal posts. We lower the target or settle for what we’ve done.

We lower our expectations and find excuses for why our first goal wasn’t achievable.

“I had it all wrong!” we say. “I should have only aimed for $50 000 in revenue” or “I don’t need 1000 subscribers yet”.

I’ve seen it in meetings, mastermind sessions, online forums, catchup talks, coaching calls. The list goes on.

“Well, we don’t think we’re going to hit our target of 100 new customer sales this month” I hear. At this point, I’m already walking over to the whiteboard of the meeting room.

“Our guys are making calls, but we just can’t see it happening in the next week. We’ve already got 40 customers on board. It’s not going to happen. 50 is a more realistic target.”

My eyes roll into the back of my head. Someone close to me once told me they see this happen before I make a killing move. A bit like a shark, I roll my eyes back into my head before I bite.

In truth, I’m doing it because I’ve heard this over and over, a hundred times before.

The sales manager continues, “So we’re going to ramp down our activity and lower the target and forecast.”

“This way, we’ll hit our goal and our board will be happy”

By the end of his sentence. I’ve re-written the goal on the whiteboard. People are watching me, not the manager now. I was brought in to scale up the sales process for a cloud application business in the UK. It was a relatively cheap product, £300 a year.

I’ve re-written ‘We need 100 sales this month at £300 per year, all sold to new customers, generating revenue of £30 000 for this month’ on the whiteboard.

“Why is this our goal?” I asked.

“Because we want a user base of 1000 users and £300 000 a year” one of the sales guys replies. He’s absolutely right. The idea is to generate £300 000 a year for the first year, for this product and continue to move that number up year on year.

HOWEVER. They knew that for every 10 people who bought the £300 a year product, 6 would by a £2500 a year software version within 4 weeks. Moving their revenue projections from £300 000 a year to over £2 million.

100 customers a month @ £300 = £30 000. The product was a yearly subscription of £300.

£30 000 x 12 months a year = £360 000. That’s £60 000 more than their goal of £300 000 a year.

Of those 1200 new customers (100 customers month over 12 months in a year), 60% were expected to by a £2500 product.

That’s 720 customers spending £2500.

That’s £1.8 million. One point eight million pounds a year.

Over £2 million a year if they included the original £360 000 revenue. Plus it was a subscription model, so assuming they had a low churn rate, the company was on a winning formula.

At the moment, it was looking like they were happy to settle for 50 new users this month. Assuming they kept that number the same, that lowers their revenue to £15000 for the first month.

£75000 in upsells if 60% still buy the product.

Over 12 months, that’s £900 000. Less than £1 million from a realistic goal of £1.8 million+

They were literally happy to settle for less. They were actually telling me that they were happy to slow down their growth.

“Why aren’t we making the sales?” I asked. “What’s hard about the original goal? Why isn’t it working?” I made it clear that this wasn’t a witch hunt. I wanted to know why.

  • The leads are no good
  • Not enough time
  • The price is too high
  • The market isn’t big enough
  • I’m not paid enough
  • The goal was too big
  • I’m new
  • I’ve been selling the old stuff too long

What a random, varied assortment of reasons! There was nothing consistent, nothing that everyone was experiencing. And they were all excuses to allow moving the goal.

These were all reasons people were happy to lower the goal. They could scale down their activities and stop working as hard.

“And you think that by LOWERING your action and input, that’s going to get you closer to the goal?” I asked the sales manager.

“So we’re expected to catch up to our goal by going SLOWER than we had initially thought?” I continued.

A lot of the sales team shifted in their seats. I could see that I was about to receive a lot of “feedback” from the team. Frankly, I wasn’t interested. New motivations, new competitions and rewards, scripts, sales processes…none of it mattered.

The entire business wasn’t willing to change or do what was needed.

4 months after I left, the company folded due to lack of sales.

The business that bought their software made £2.5 million in their first year, selling the exact same product. The REASON they did better, is because they executed what I’m sharing with you below.

What you’re going to do instead

I’ll assume you’ve got a goal. Something written down that you want to achieve. If you haven’t head over here to our 12-week shake-up and understand what you want to achieve.

Increase the action needed

Here’s the #1 reason people aren’t reaching the goals they want.


Grant Cardone calls it 10x. Hal Newport calls it Deep Work. Daniel Priestly calls it Oversubscribed. Brian P. Moran calls it a 12 Week Year.

If you want massive results, you need to input massive action. It’s that simple.

You can’t 10x your results, or even 2x your results if you’re not willing to 2x your input.

You have to understand that you are going to have to overestimate your actions by at least 4 times (Grant reckons 10x to be sure). That sounds like a lot. It is.

Here’s the deal. All the time, we’re told: “go where your competition aren’t”.

That is NOT a secret niche or location. It’s not a secret traffic source or content type. It’s about doing what and going where your competition don’t want to be.

Your biggest competitors aren’t huge businesses. It’s mediocre businesses. People and businesses willing to do the minimum level to succeed.

You have to decide to do and be better than that. Be more and do more. Consistently and every time.

When you’ve written your goal down. Think about the action needed to achieve it. The tasks, input, time, scale, repetition. All that.

Now times it by ten. 10x the action input. 1 hour becomes 10. 1 day becomes 10. 1 year becomes 10.

1 time becomes 10 times.

1 post becomes 10 posts.

1 follower becomes 10.

It moves to money too. The amount of money you need to spend on your marketing moves from £10 000. To £100 00.

Terrifying I know. My stomach flips when I look at this projections. But it does two very important things.

First, I look at my goal and think “can I put in my new 10x levels of action? How am I going to make this happen?”

Second, it forces me to prioritise my actions. If I really do need to produce 10 times the level of actions and input needed. Do I have time for the other stuff?

By this point, I’ll have a list of actions for my goals. But first, I need to align my vision.

Align your commitments to your vision

I have absolutely, zero interest in running an audio visual based company. None whatsoever.

And yet, a lot of my first leads came from businesses looking for audio visual presentations and media work.

No matter how hard I worked, I never felt that I was achieving anything.

And the reason is because I just wasn’t into it. I just wasn’t motivated by the goal. I didn’t WANT to grow an audio visual company.

As soon as I looked at what I did want to do. I wanted to focus on that more than anything.

All I want to do now, is help businesses sell marketing funnels. To help people attract an income and lifestyle they want, by expanding the number of digital products and services they offer.


You need to find a goal that you’re so passionate about, that you’ll work through the pain, tough times, rejection and others lack of faith.

True conviction that what you’re doing is important.

Without goals that align with your vision and passion, you’ll never want to input massive action.

Parents all over the world live without sleep, food, going out and other stuff. Because their true conviction is to give their children the best life possible. You need to have parental levels of conviction for your goals.

Hard I know and maybe you need to rethink your initial goal and vision first, before you commit.

List the actions needed

Next, we’re going to list the actions needed. Don’t worry about how much or how often, just list the broad steps needed to reach your goal.

First, note down the broad milestones needed to reach your goal.

Let’s say you want 1000 subscribers. On your email list, you need 1000 people on your list.

The broad milestones might be-

  1. Install optin forms on your page
  2. Produce a lead magnet
  3. Write content
  4. Share content on social and email
  5. Pay for traffic

Seems easy enough. I know the steps. Even if you don’t you can have a guess (more on that later).

Now for each milstone, lets look at the actions needed.

For number 1, install an optin. You might be tempted to start thinking “well do I need 10 optins?”. That’s not a smart idea for a bunch of reasons.

Massive action, 10x, deep work etc. What they mean is think about the time, effort, sweat and money needed before you see results. Installing an optin might be easy. But it might be months before you see a serious result from it.

Let’s take number 3, write content, as an example.

The actions needed are (in no particular order).

  • Write one post a week
  • Write a content schedule
  • Write a content plan
  • List 10 ideas.

Again, seems easy enough. But you can see where I’m going.

You assume that one post a week, is going to get you to 1000 subscribers. Why? Because that’s the average? That’s the standard response? Average and standard are CANCER to your goals.

I want you to write down the time, input or actions needed per action and see what you think it’ll take.

For example, writing a content schedule might take you 1 hour every month.

Increase the action needed AGAIN (time and input)

4 x EVERYTHING on your list. Right now. Times all the input (time, effort, money) by 4. Minimum.

You need 4 posts a week. You need 4 hours every WEEK (not month, because 4 times a month is now 1 time a week) to plan your content schedule.

All of a sudden, your time and resources are getting sucked up. But I guarantee you, this is where most people go wrong.

They’re not willing to put massive action in. This is NOT overestimating. It’s not about creating a safety net or easier work.

It’s about knowing you have to give tremendous amounts of energy to get the traction you want. Simple as that.

Get expert help

Who else out there, knows how to achieve what you want? Who’s done it before? Who’s teaching it?

The weirdest excuse I ever hear, to people failing to meet their goals, is “I don’t know what to do”.

There are probably HUNDREDS of people who have achieved what you want to do. This is where we get into MORE massive action.

Are you willing to call up and speak to the people, who have done what you want to do? Are you willing to learn and speak to them and be coached by them?

I don’t have the money. It’s too expensive. It’ll take too long.

Fine, if you’ve got a reason for not doing it. Stop reading here. Nothing else I can do.

You need help, it’s out there. NO ONE is stopping you. But if you don’t think the investment is worth it, then no motivation blog post, book, seminar, coaching or drug can help you move further.

Those who DO want to invest and move on, can find that help.

I’m not even pitching. If you want to quit smoking, talk to people who can help. If you want to talk at Ted, talk to people who have done it.

This is what I mean by massive action. Doing what others won’t. Being where others aren’t. Committing to what others can’t.

Ramp UP the action needed every day

Are you up at 6am? 5am? Are you sleeping in? Are you committing to the massive actions you need to take?

Look, I get that some of this sounds like macho bullshit. But speak to anyone, female, male, young, old. The key is commitment, consistency and energy.

To all pursuits. Commitment, consistency and energy. Without those every day, you’re not going to move the needle.

“Wow Mike, 6000 words is a lot for a blog post”. Well it’s 10x more than the 600 recommended minimum. I’m motivated to work at 6 am or 5 am or 1 am because I’m committed to my goal.

I WANT to do this. So I want to do more. Plane flights? Time to educate myself and read expert books. 1 hour spare in the day? Time to sit down and plan my next actions or write.

It’s not about doing stuff and being physical all the time. It’s about using the time we have and investing it into something that we KNOW will move the needle. Which brings me onto my next point.

Remove distractions

YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, TV, Reddit, long meetings, friends who don’t shut up.

“Yeah but you need friends Mike, you have family to look after”. I absolutely do. And I dedicate MASSIVE ACTION to them too.

They’ve helped me with illness, depression, debt, motivation and more. But I commit to spending time with them.

But low-value people? Time wasters, negative people, gossips, nosey people. I do not have time for them.

Maybe that’s harsh. But if I told my 5 closest friends and family, that for the next year I’ll be locked in a room to work on something massive. The ones I hold dear to me will tell me “can I keep the door locked for you? Can I protect the door and stop people coming in?”

Low-value friends and family will ask “when do I get something from it?” or “you don’t want to do that, it’s too much work”.

No time.

Same goes for “sugar water” activities. Relaxing in front of the TV is one of life’s few pleasures. But I’m astonished how many people tell me they don’t have time or money when they’ll happily watch 4 hours of Netflix a night and continue paying for satellite TV and smoking.

Remove distractions. Be honest with people. If you want the big result, you have to put in the big actions and all that other shit is taking time away from you.

Increase the action need AGAIN AGAIN (dedication and commitment)

At some point, none of this is going to seem worth it. It’ll be cold when you get up, dark when you start to work.

You’ll be in debt, paying off tax bills, being told by customers that they’re leaving.

Your job, is to look at your list of actions and input and INCREASE it again. Re-dedicate yourself to the goal. Commit again to your actions.

It’s one battle you lost. Not the war. Get back up and continue the struggle. It gets easier. I’m telling you.

Commitment becomes habit. Massive action becomes routine.

The consistent approach to developing results WILL become your strength.

Not skill, not experience, not budget, not time. Commitment and dedication. Massive action and massive input.

NEVER EVER lower the goal

You have to get comfortable with failing. Fail with massive action, rather than move the goal posts.

Completing a race in last place, is better than only doing half the race.

“That sounds a bit harsh Mike, I know people who have pulled out of marathons, races and stuff because of injury or because they couldn’t finish it”.

Maybe it is a little harsh. But they didn’t finish the marathon, did they? The reality is that if you quit, you quit.

You’re absolutely right that sometimes, you have to quit in order to go again another day. But no person, who wants to run a marathon in HISTORY has ever said halfway through a race “I’ll quit at the 12-mile mark and say I only wanted to run half a marathon”.

Wrap up

This is often a tough pill to swallow. It can be hard work and maybe that’s not for you.

My favourite approach is removing distractions. No YouTube and blocking out time work wonders for my action levels.

If it’s in the diary, it gets done. Simple.

What do you think? What are some of the times you’ve under-estimated the action needed? Are you rethinking your goals to help motivate you?

Check out our free coaching below. It’s a 12-week shake-up designed to realign what you REALLY want with what you can do.

Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.