How Moving Goalposts Sabotages your Progress

Moving goalposts is like running a marathon with an ever-shifting finish line. You put in all the hard work, you sweat and bleed, but just when you think you’re getting close, the line moves again. It’s enough to drive anyone mad. In my experience, this phenomenon is not limited to any particular domain – it can happen in love, work, and all the spaces in between. Perhaps the most frustrating part of it all is that it seems to happen without rhyme or reason. But then again, what in life truly makes sense? All we can do is keep moving forward, keep trying our best, and hope that someday the goalposts will stay put.

From a logical perspective, this behavior is considered a type of fallacy called the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. This happens when someone modifies the definition of a term or concept to exclude certain cases that do not fit their argument. In the case of moving the goalposts, the original criterion for success is modified after the fact, making it impossible for someone to succeed based on the initial expectations.

Moving the goalposts can be unfair and can damage trust and communication in relationships, or hinder progress in academic or professional settings. It’s important to establish clear and specific goals, communicate them effectively, and avoid changing them arbitrarily to avoid negative effects on others.

Here are some ways that moving goalposts can sabotage your progress:

It makes it hard to measure progress:

When the criteria for success keeps changing, it can be difficult to measure progress accurately. It becomes challenging to know whether you are on track or not, which can lead to frustration and demotivation.

It erodes confidence:

Moving goalposts can lead to a sense of never being good enough. When you feel like you can never meet the expectations set for you, it can be demoralizing, and you may begin to question your abilities.

It leads to burnout:

If you keep working towards a goal that keeps moving, it can be exhausting. The constant sense of striving and never achieving can lead to burnout, which can be detrimental to your overall well-being.

It decreases motivation:

Moving goalposts can be demotivating. If you feel like you can never reach the finish line, why bother trying? This lack of motivation can lead to procrastination and a sense of apathy towards your goals.

It can damage relationships:

If you are constantly moving goalposts in a team environment, it can damage relationships with colleagues. It can be frustrating for others to keep up with the changes and may lead to resentment.

Moving goal posts can sometimes be a bit frustrating. It’s like trying to hit a moving target, and just when you think you’ve got it, the target moves again! It can be demotivating and make it challenging to achieve your goals. This can happen in different areas of life, like in personal relationships or academic or professional settings.

If you find yourself moving the goalposts or engaging in other behaviors that sabotage your progress, there are steps you can take to break the cycle and get back on track. Here are some tips:

Set realistic goals:

One of the main reasons people sabotage their progress is because they set unrealistic goals. When you set goals that are too difficult or unattainable, it’s easy to become discouraged and give up. Instead, set achievable goals that challenge you but are also realistic.

Hold yourself accountable:

Take responsibility for your own progress and hold yourself accountable. Don’t blame external factors or other people for your lack of progress. Instead, focus on what you can control and take action to move forward.

Practice self-compassion:

It’s easy to become self-critical and beat yourself up when you fall short of your goals. However, this can be counterproductive and demotivating. Instead, practice self-compassion and be kind to yourself when you make mistakes or encounter obstacles.

Get support:

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support from others. This can include friends, family, colleagues, or a coach or mentor. Having someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of can be incredibly helpful in keeping you motivated and on track.

Celebrate your successes:

It’s important to celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem. This can help you stay motivated and feel good about your progress, which can in turn fuel further success.

Remember, progress is not always a straight line and setbacks are a normal part of the process. By taking a positive and proactive approach to your goals, you can overcome obstacles and achieve success.

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑