We Often Fail Guiding Students to Achieve Their Goals

Have you ever been asked, “what is your goal for your grades/fitness/weight… etc this semester/year/quarter”? If so, then you’ve been put through a goal setting exercise.

At first, you feel serious about the goal. And you feel conscious about it for a week or two, then other priorities set in, and then before the end of the first month, you’ve forgotten about it. It’s as if the goal was not set in the first place. So the, goal-setting exercise became meaningless. And it happened a couple of times, because you were asked by different people. You had to give answer, so you did. And then the same thing happened…

So, What Had Gone Wrong?

I know all this because I’ve been through it too. Many times. I don’t think it’s my fault, or the fault of the person who asked me to set goals. There are simply things that I need to learn about in goal setting. So, after much failure and reflection, these are some of the issues on why the goal setting and achievement fades away …

1) Something You Desire

And I mean, TRULY desire. No one will not want good grades. But not everyone wants it hard enough to want to put in effort to do it. Even fewer would give themselves no other option than to achieve that goal, and would do whatever it takes to get there. If you find it hard to muster the will to persist in your efforts, then you might have a desire problem.

2) A Goal Must Be A Stretch

“Huh, set goals? Ok ok, my goal this year will be to maintain the last grade that I used to get”. Unless you’re already #1 in the while world, then perhaps you’re still at point 1 – you’re not really serious about it. “No Mr Haiwei, I want to play it safe, so I set a goal that I can achieve”. The purpose of goal setting is to get to further than you could have gone without the vision. So if you’re not pushing yourself to do better, maybe this goal setting exercise is done because your teacher/boss/mum said so? Yup, so you’re back to point 1. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

3) Translate To Action

The road to the achievement of the goal is a long one. You will need to work on it in a persistent manner, over time. If the goal does not translate to an action plan, where you work on it every day, week or month, then nothing is going to happen. You would also want to set milestones for yourself, so that it’s not just about clocking the hours, but you will make sure what you do get you to where you want to be.

4) Stay Accountable

Back when I found it hard to go do workouts myself, I signed up for Muay Thai classes, where if the instructor asked for 200 crunches, and I cheated, I’d still have done 80, much more than what I’d have done on my own. It’s going to be challenging carrying out your plan. Get yourself accountable to someone, to give yourself that push. Again, if you still don’t see yourself following the plan time after time, even when you have to sheepishly tell that to the person you’re accountable to, Then you’re back to point 1 again – you don’t desire this goal enough.


  • The goal must be something you desire
  • The goal must be a stretch, so that you must do things differently to achieve it.
  • The goal must translate to actions, written down, and given a schedule
  • You must be held accountable to the plan

In Conclusion

So, it’s all back to whether you really want to achieve your goal. If you find yourself stuck at point 1 too many times, it doesn’t mean you are doomed to live with the situation forever. If, after some time, you feel like you want to have a go at it again, you should. Who knows, this time you might desire it enough. After all, you’re coming back even after a failure!