More Goal setting tips: Where goal setting can go wrong

Goal setting sounds simple right? Well it is, but it can go wrong, so check out these goal setting tips to keep you on the right path.

There are two main reasons you’ll fail at goal setting:

1. You just won’t follow the process through, because:

  • You just can't think of a good reason to set goals.
  • You don't see how goal setting can help you.
  • You haven't got time.
  • You think it's too hard.
  • You are afraid of failure, or afraid you won't achieve your goals.
  • You just don't take it seriously enough to commit to your goals.

If ANY of these sound like YOU, please read below to find out why you're wrong!

2. You’ll commit one of the seven deadly sins of goal setting, which are:

  • You don't put your goals in writing.
  • You're unrealistic.
  • Your motivations are unclear.
  • You don't prepare a plan.
  • You don't take action.
  • You lose focus.
  • Your goals and action plans aren't flexible.

Are YOU at risk from falling into any of these traps? Keep reading to find out more goal setting tips.

Read this article on why traditional goal setting doesn’t work for more information…

Why people don't follow through

Most people never even start the goal setting process, so you’ve got a head start already – so the first of the goal setting tips is "keep it up!"

But many people still fail to get anywhere because:

1. They can’t think of a good reason to set goals: Perhaps they haven’t figured out what they really want or maybe they just aren’t convinced that goal setting is important. This is your future we are talking about here – goal setting establishes the destination and how to get there, so that one day the future you dream of becomes your reality.

You are in control of your own destiny – you are where you are now because of the action [or inaction] you have taken in the past, and where you’ll be in 10 years time is a direct result of the action you take over the next 10 years. What better reason is there to start setting goals and have some control over your future?

2. They don’t see how goal setting will help them: Perhaps they haven’t realised how effective goal setting can be for ensuring success, or maybe they just haven’t figured out how it works. Maps help get you where you want, right? Well that’s all goal setting and action planning really is – your map to your future, so of course it will help.

3. They haven’t got time: Goal setting is about working smarter, not harder. Yes, it will take some of your time and energy, you may even have to make some sacrifices, but the end results are truly worth the effort. Surely you can take 1-2 hours a day to plan your life’s direction and take the action necessary to get there?

We’ve all procrastinated though and put off important tasks – I’ll start my diet tomorrow, I’ll change my life with new years resolutions, I just want to wait until the kids are older. The sad reality is that some people procrastinate all their life and never achieve what they really want to achieve.

Don’t be one of those people. Visualise what life will be like when you achieve your goals and use this vision to give you the motivation and drive to get there.

4. They find it too hard: Goal setting is not hard. Yes, it takes some time and you need to do some deep soul searching to determine your inner most needs, desires and motivations – but it is not hard.

I can understand though if you find this all a bit overwhelming. But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It’s the same with goal setting.

The other thing to remember is that goal setting is a skill, and like all skills it takes time to learn and gain experience. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and start you on a few ‘easy’ goals and build up from there – before too long, you’ll be an expert goal setter!

5. They are afraid they won’t achieve their goals: What is fear? False Expectations Appearing Real. This means that what you are really afraid of, probably isn’t real anyway. What will happen if you don’t lose those 10 kg’s overnight? You may still lose 0.5 kg, but you won’t get struck by lightning, no-one will laugh at you, you won’t be considered a ‘failure’ – so what is the real problem?

Fear of failure is real, but the 'outcome' if you do fail is often overrated. It is really important though to come to terms with this as fear of failure can result in in-action and therefore failure to achieve. Learn to grow from failure, rather than fear it.

6. They don’t take it seriously: You need to take goal setting seriously if it is going to work for you. I’m sure you’ve tried new years resolutions before – did you take it seriously? Did you succeed?

Feel the fear and do it anyway

Feel the Fear and do it Anyway is a book of advice on how to cope with fear of various kinds of experience, such as public speaking, self-assertion, decision-making, intimacy, being alone, ageing, losing a loved one, and ending a relationship. Also available as an 8 CD set – just search through Amazon!

Personal Strategic Plan

The Personal Strategic Plan offered by GoalsGuy is a step-by–step program that leads you through the goal setting process, and delivers a strategic plan of attack for your to achieve YOUR goals. It is based on the premise that life will not go according to plan, if you do not have a plan to begin with. The Personal Strategic Plan also helps you identify what’s really important to YOU – and that’s what’s REALLY important.

More goal setting tips: the Seven Deadly Sins!

So, you’ve committed to seeing the goal-setting journey through (or at least finding out some more about it), but there are still some pitfalls to watch out for. I am sure there are more than 7, but these goal setting tips cover the biggies:

1. Not putting goals in writing

“Out of sight, out of mind” is the best way to explain why goals and the supporting action plans need to be put in writing. The best way to reinforce key concepts and your commitment to your goals is to have them written down where you can read them regularly [daily!]. This is also the reason that new-years resolutions don’t work – they are rarely written down. Out of sight, out of mind!

2. Being unrealistic

Just because you’ve written down a goal doesn’t mean it is just going to magically happen. You need to take action to achieve your goals, and the only way you’ll be able to get there is if the goals are reasonable and realistic in the first place. If you set unrealistic goals, you are just setting yourself up for failure.

The biggest culprit here is setting unrealistic deadlines for achieving goals. We all know for example that you can’t lose 10 kg (20 pounds) overnight [unless you get liposuction], but most people are really optimistic about achieving other goals.

How long do you think it takes to learn a new skill? Develop a new habit? Quit an old one? [Really want to know? The 'How to Set Goals' tab on the NavBar steps through the goal setting process, including how to estimate 'how long'].

The other culprit here is taking on too much at a time – remember how to eat that elephant?

And finally, there are just some things that we really can’t do – not everyone can be a prima ballerina or world-class athlete. We are all limited by our own predispositions and natural abilities.

The key is to focus on your natural abilities and motivations, and use this to drive your success. This is fundamental to the goal setting process and is discussed under the 'About YOU' tab on the NavBar.

3. Motivations are unclear

Goals must be personal and meaningful, otherwise you’ll have no reason to achieve them. In other words, the “Why” is more important than the “What”.

Just think about the popular goal of “making more money”. This goal is baseless and meaningless unless you have a reason driven by your inner-most desires and needs. You need to ask yourself “Why do I want to earn more money?” – to keep up with the Brown’s is not a meaningful reason. To pay for private education for your kids, or to live in a safer suburb, or to buy a new car because the old one is on its death-bed – they are all meaningful reasons, because they are personal to you.

4. Not having a plan

Having a meaningful goal in writing is only half the story – you need an action plan to tell you how to get there. Back to the analogy of the map – the goal is the destination, the map is how to get there. All successful missions have had a plan or strategy, so be patient and don’t just rush in, but take the time to plan the journey so you take the best route.

5. Not taking action

Having a flawless plan aimed at getting you to that dream destination is not worth the paper its written on if it just sits in your draw – you must ACT on your plan! The plan will guide you and tell you what to do, but you still need to get off the couch and, in the words of Nike…Just Do It!

Of course, the action plan (and your goals) will be dynamic – they will change as you progress through life either as you come across road blocks and detours, or as your life changes course. This is all OK and perfectly normal, so don’t be concerned if you do make changes or even throw out your plan and start again.

6. Losing Focus

Success at achieving your goals requires focus, commitment and persistence. Sometimes your energy may be low and you’ll lose this focus, but it’s important not to give up – get back up on that horse, visualize the outcome of that dream goal and continue on your way.

To help keep you focused, try enlisting the help of a close friend or loved one or even a personal mentor to confide in through the process. You can share you successes [and failures] with them to help you grow from these experiences.

7. No Flexibility

Goal setting is an on-going process and needs to be flexible enough to allow for interesting detour and opportunities discovered along the way.

Your priorities and therefore your goals may also change from time to time (for example if you start a family) and if this is the case, its important to sit down and go through the goal setting process again to make sure your goals still have that personal meaning to make you WANT to achieve them.

So keep these goal setting tips handy so you don't fall into the same pitfalls as so many other goal setters.

Find out more:

And don’t forget to check out the quick goal setting tips for success.

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