40 by 40: Goal review

A key element to reaching your goals is to review them regularly.  But it’s not just a case of seeing whether or not you are sticking to them.  It’s important to take time to understand why you have or haven’t reached your goals, and to use this information to plan your next steps.  This article looks at some of the common obstacles to achieving your goals, and suggests ideas to overcome these.

This article is the fifth in the 40 by 40 series – 40 goals for my 40th year. I’m blogging throughout my journey to help inspire and guide others to reach their goals.

Read the previous articles here:

40 by 40: Goal ideas
40 by 40: Setting SMART goals
40 by 40: What’s my why?
40 by 40: Break it down and make it happen

For a how-to on goals review, check out the previous article Best laid plans.

If you have goals that you could like to work towards, the GoalGetting workbook makes it easy.  This 60-page workbook takes the eight steps proven to increase your chance of success to up to 95%, and walks you through them step by step.  Grab yours today for just $10 NZD e-copy (approx $6 USD / £5 GBP).

Review your goals

If you’ve been following the series so far, you would have set your goals and written your plan.  This is important not only to help you focus, but also to provide the basis for your review.

To review your goals progress, check where you planned to be at this stage, and see whether you are there.

If you are – great!  What’s next?  Is this still taking you in the direction that you want to go?  Remember to take time to celebrate (more on this to follow).

If you haven’t made the progress that you’d wanted to, what’s holding you back?

Here are some of the common obstacles that we face when working towards our personal goals.

Common obstacles

Not enough time

This is probably the most common reason that we struggle to reach our goals – there are never enough hours in the day. 

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When you’re reviewing, make sure you check whether this is really the case, or whether there is time available that you are currently wasting.  This is completely your call – time spent chilling on Netflix could be valid de-stressing time.  Only you will know whether it feels necessary or wasteful.

Another reason that we feel that we don’t have enough time is because we have too many conflicting priorities.  Don’t beat yourself up over not achieving a goal if you were attending to a higher priority (don’t beat yourself up over not achieving a goal on any occasion – that’s not helpful!). 

Take time while reviewing to weigh up whether the conflicting demand is a higher priority, or whether it is driven by habit.  If it’s a lower priority, what can you do to stop it getting in the way of your goals?  For help on dealing with conflicting priorities, check out the 6 Ds in the article Make it Happen.

We often feel like we don’t have enough time if we have set too many goals.  This may be the case for me with my 40 by 40 goals.  Although, I do have a whole year.  When I do my regular review, I focus on which goals are relevant to now, and leave the rest for later.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of things that you’re working on, take time to prioritise which is the most important (to you and your fulfilment), and focus your attention there.

Lack of focus

This has been a key issue for me with my 40 by 40 goals – I haven’t taken the time to review these regularly and track my progress.  I don’t know whether I’m on track or not!  When I’m focussed, I try to take an hour a week to look over my goals.  I review the week that has passed, and plan the week ahead.  This allows me to track all the little wins I’ve made before I forget them.  I spend a little more time at the end of the month doing this for the whole month.

Lack of support / accountability

Often the goals that we set could mean a significant transformation in our life, or they may take a lot of time or focus.  This change can sometimes be unsettling for our loved ones.  You may face some resistance, or at the very least a lack of support.  Or they may be supportive, but really not understand your new found passion.  It’s important to find people who do understand and support your goals.  These people will help to inspire and advise you, and hold you accountable.

Goal changed (or it wasn’t the right goal anyway)

You may find that your goal just doesn’t feel that important any more.  Revisit your why.  If it doesn’t leave you inspired and motivated, is this still a goal for you?  Life changes and we evolve constantly – our priorities are constantly shifting too.  It’s okay to draw a line and move on. 


As mentioned above, it is important to celebrate your successes. This doesn’t just mean when you reach your goal, but also the little steps along the way. 

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Celebrating success is important for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, it gives you something to look forward to and motivates you to work towards your goals.  It also reinforces the idea to your brain that you are a successful person.  This, in turn, leads to more success.  Learn more about this phenomenon in Ian H. Robertson’s The Winner Effect: The Neuroscience of Success and Failure.

Don’t forget to plan next steps

Once you’ve completed your review, it’s important to incorporate this into your plans for your next steps.  I always do my goals review and planning within the same session. 

What are the next steps that you need to take towards your goal?  Has your goal changed at all?  If you didn’t achieve what you hoped to, why not? What can you do differently?  Is there anything that has gone well that you can apply to other areas?

Final thoughts

Reviewing your goals is an important step to towards success.  Taking the time to reflect upon what worked (and what didn’t) will give you important information to help you decide how to move forwards.

Life is always changing – don’t be afraid to let go of a goal if it is no longer important to you, or if something better has come along.  That said, if your goal is still important but you aren’t making any progress, take some time to really think about why that is, and what you can do differently.

Do you take time to regularly review your goals?  What are your key obstacles, and do you have any tips that might help other GoalGetters stay on track?  Leave a comment below and let us know.

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Leave a comment in the box at the bottom of the page to let me know what you enjoyed about the article. Do you regularly review your goals? What are your common obstacles? Do you have any tips to help others to stay on track?

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Check out the other articles

Take a look at the other articles on the site. You can access them all from the Articles page. 

You may be interested in:

40 by 40: Goal ideas
40 by 40: Setting SMART goals
40 by 40: What’s my why?
40 by 40: Break it down and make it happen
Best laid plans

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6 Replies to “40 by 40: Goal review”

  1. This is such an amazing and helpful post! Thanks so much for sharing. I couldn’t agree more, it’s so important to review your goals often and see where you are with them.

  2. I’m guilty of setting too many goals. I have all these ideas that seem wonderful and worthwhile at the time, but ultimately turn out to be less than useful. Also, with meeting goals, time is indeed an issue and it’s very true that some down time with the TV, a book or a walk outdoors is needed. It’s all about balance.
    Great read, certainly got me thinking.
    – Nes

    1. Thanks Nes. Yes, it’s a fine line between ambitious and burnout! One that I’m still working on. I think it does come down to constant review. Set your goals, and then see if it’s working. If it’s not, don’t be afraid to let something go.

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