7 Reasons Why People Are Resistant to Goal Setting

Have you ever had a new idea or want to implement something and you face resistance? Do you ever feel that you’re defending yourself or your ideas? Do you sometimes feel that you’re lowering your standards because you can’t get others to buy in? Facing resistance can be very challenging when you’re goal setting. Resistance can also work in your favour if you know how to leverage it. When you are faced with resistance, I want you to challenge your assumptions and ask more questions to identify, “Where this resistance is coming from?” Is this resistance coming from yourself and your own beliefs or is this resistance being placed on you do to another person’s belief?

“Resistance is a powerful motivator precisely because it enables us to fulfill our longing to achieve our goals while letting us boldly recognize and name the obstacles to those achievements.”
― Derrick A. Bell

Many people attribute their success to goal-setting. There are other individuals who do not see the reason or the importance of setting goals. They are what we will call the “resistors”. These are the people that no matter how much you are going to try and convince them; they are just not going to buy in. According to the online Oxford dictionary, resistance is “the refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument.”

Resistors are the ones who will see the world through a different lens than you. Instead of fueling the resistance, it can be helpful to gain an understanding of their perspective. It has been my learning through appreciative inquiry that when faced with resistance or someone providing negative feedback it is important to gain an appreciation of that person’s viewpoint. There may be nuggets of information that can be considered valuable to a project or to the goals set themselves.

There may be several reasons behind they are resisting setting goals or following through on them even though many people have proved to be successful goal setting.

#1 Afraid Of Commitment By “Inking” The Goal. For some people, writing out a goal on paper means that they’re making a declaration or a commitment to what they are doing. Suddenly they go from talking a good talk to actually walking the talk in doing what they say they want to do. This can be frightening and at the same time so powerful. When a person sets the goal and writes it down, the mere writing it down in ink suddenly makes it seem more real. This is when all the doubts, self-limiting beliefs, and all the internal chatter comes up.

What to Do: Tap into the “why”. What makes this goal so exciting? What is holding the resistor back from inking the goal? What is their true fear? What will it feel like to achieve the outcome that is desired? What impact will it make? How will they be part of making a difference?

# 2 Different View of How Things Should Be Done. Similar to the sales process or a person’s view of change, you may be faced with objections or resistance. There are many ways to get to the same outcome. Sometimes when we face resistance we feel challenged and get frustrated.

What to Do: Ask insightful questions to learn more about the other person’s perspective and share your perspective. Are there any similarities? What can you learn from the other person’s viewpoint? Is it possible that there could be more efficient and effective way of getting to the same outcome?

#3 Different Vision of the Outcome. People may become disinterested in supporting a project or goal because they have a different vision of what the outcome could be. Resistance may show up because the resistor doesn’t have enough information or has not been influenced to believe that this vision is compelling.

What to Do: You may consider saying the following:

“It sounds like you have a different view of how things should be. What vision do you see? What approach do you believe we should be taking? Tell me more…”

#4 Fear Sets In. There may be many fears that creep up when setting goals. There is the fear of rejection and not being accepted. You may believe that people will laugh at your goals or the ideas you present. Remember is that your goal is your goal and it needs to be important to you. People will always have their opinions. It is important not to take them personally. People often fear change due to uncertainty. The fear of success may also challenge you. Your imagination starts to take over and you think about all the things that could happen should your project or goal be achieved. Many of the things that you think of may or may not even happen and you may even feel that there’s a loss of control. The fear of failing may come up for you and this will prevent you from taking action steps required to go to war the goal. You become fearful of making mistakes and sometimes will not even try.

What to Do: Withholding your ideas does not serve anyone. Your idea could be the game changer that helps you reach the next level or transform approach if you might be working on. Whether it be that you have a fear of success, change, uncertainty, loss of control, or failure, know that you can take 100% responsibility for the choices that you make. Seek to gain more information and ask questions. Remember indecision is a decision. When you’re setting goals, evaluate the risks and be prepared for obstacles that don’t focus on. Focus on what you have control over and the actions steps that you can do. If mistakes occur, learn from them and move forward. Dwelling on them steals your energy and joy in moving toward the destination.

# 5 The Belief That Goal-Setting Stifles Creativity. For the creatives out there, you may see goal-setting is suffocating with tight deadlines and the need to multitask. The structure of goal setting can actually be beneficial to you so that you’re not distracted by all the other ideas that are streaming through your mind at any point in time.

“Every creative person, and I think probably every other person, faces resistance when they are trying to create something good…The harder the resistance, the more important the task must be.”
― Donald Miller

What to Do: Be open and present to new opportunities while pursuing a goal. Look for ways that a can in rich and allow for creativity along your journey. Know that there will be adjustments along the way. As you adjust be aware of your distractions, stay focused on the direction that you want to go. When creative people become resistant, it important to engage them in brainstorming and coming up with solutions. This is where they shine.

#6 Self-Limiting Beliefs Can Sabotage Goal-Setting. A person’s belief in their own ability to perform or deliver on tight deadlines can hold them back from achieving the goal or delivering the final product. Often these individuals lacked confidence in their abilities and sometimes believe that others are better than themselves. This comparison can hold them back from sharing their talents and abilities even if you see that they are capable and competent.

What to Do: Identify your strengths and acknowledge that we all have some limitations. Know what you’re good at and delegate what you do not believe you’re strong at. If you’re managing a team, let these individuals know the value that they bring to the project and that you acknowledge their knowledge, skills, and abilities. People can work harder when they know that someone has taken an interest in who they are and what they have to offer. Don’t just focus on people for the task by what they bring to the table and who they are.

#7 Personal Habits Can Get In The Way. Habits are often underestimated is the reason people resist setting a goal. Some people resist setting the goal because they’re procrastinating. They avoid goal setting versus setting up a strategic approach to conquering the goal. For some, they may believe that it will take up too much time, too much money, or it’s going to take away from their lives in some way. There are times when I believed people avoid setting goals because they know that setting a goal requires hard work and they just don’t want to put that work in. Some of these people do just enough to get by. Other habits that get in the way of goal achievement and goal setting are perfection, lack of attention to detail, distractions, and being overscheduled. Don’t forget a person’s attitude can forecast their altitude!

What to Do: Examine your habits and determine if they are serving you are holding you back. Ask yourself or the resistor if they may be procrastinating or what they may be trying to avoid. Learn how much time, money, and effort is required for each milestone dedicated toward the goal. Along the way, put out the following questions:

What is working?

What is not working?

What do I need to stop doing?

What needs to be improved?

What can I be doing differently?

No matter if you are managing your own resistance or the resistance of another person, there are ways to motivate and encourage individuals to raise their standards while also holding them accountable for their actions. Self-reflection is an important part of a person’s growth. It allows for self-awareness, self-management, and self-development. People cannot improve what they’re not aware of.

My challenge for anyone facing resistance is that you challenge your assumptions and assumptions of others. Resistance means that you must be curious and gain an understanding of what is being resisted. Discover new perspectives and realize that there are more ways to achieving the desired outcome. Trust your people and trust the process along the way.

DEBRA KASOWSKI, BScN CEC is an award-winning best-selling author, transformational speaker, blogger, and Certified Executive Coach. Debra is the host of The Millionaire Woman Show podcast helping people live rich from the inside out through leadership, business, and human potential. She has a heart of a teacher and is certified in Appreciative Inquiry and Emotional Intelligence. Her writing has been published in a variety of print and online magazines. Debra Kasowski International helps executives, entrepreneurs, and organizations boost their productivity, performance, and profits. It all starts with people and passion. Sign up the Success Secrets Newsletter and get your free mp3 download today! www.debrakasowski.com

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