We’ve all got goals, but we don’t always reach them. Here are 4 big reasons we fail to achieve our goals. And how to overcome them:

  • Focusing on material gains. Business expert Geoffrey James says that most people envision their goals as things that belong on a balance sheet, like a nice house. Or on their résumé, like publishing a book, or making vice president. But we’re not motivated by material things. What we crave are the positive emotions that come with reaching our goals. Which means, you’ll be less motivated to get a promotion by thinking about a bigger salary or a corner office – and more motivated by imagining how you’ll feel by having more control over your job – and the respect of your peers.

  • Fear of success. Psychologist Dr. Susanne Babbel says that’s because we worry that we won’t be able to live up to our own reputation – or that we’ll have to keep proving ourselves. So, it becomes a never-ending challenge to keep bettering your best. The fix? Be grateful for what you have today. Once you realize you can be happy no matter what, you’ll stop getting in your own way.

  • Unrealistic expectations. Cornell University researchers found that most of us tend to overestimate what we can do in a day – or even an hour. And when we try to cram too much into a too-short time-span, we wind up discouraged, and more likely to give up. The fix: Estimate how long you think it’ll take – and double it. That way, you’re less likely to run over your timeframe, and get discouraged.

  • They give up too soon. Gerontologist Dr. Karl Pillemer interviewed over 1,000 seniors for his book 30 Lessons for Living. And he found that nearly everyone agreed that they often achieved their best success at the end of a long, rough patch.