Are You Failing at Goal-Setting Because of These 5 Common Mistakes?

Our goals are like targets we’re aiming at. They define our destination and give us direction. We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of having goals, as they help us focus and move in our desired direction.

Although many people understand the importance of goal-setting, they often fail because of one or more of the following 5 common mistakes:

  1. Setting no goals. A sure way to fail an exam is not to write the exam at all. Similarly, a sure way to fail at goal-setting is not to set any goals at all. If you have a sense of purpose and want to ensure you move in a specific direction, you’ll need to set goals. Otherwise, you may end up stranded, far from your desired destination. The lesson: Reflect on what you want in life and set goals that move you closer to your desired destination.
  2. Setting too many competing goals. Sometimes we get so excited about goal-setting that we try to tackle too many goals at once. By trying to get to Boston, Dallas and Sacramento at the same time, we end up in Salt Lake City (nothing wrong with Salt Lake City, but that’s not where we wanted to go). Simply setting a goal won’t make it happen; achieving any goal requires work. Therefore, when setting a goal, consider the time and energy required to reach it. The lesson: Focus on a few major goals (I recommend no more than five).
  3. Establishing no deadline. When it comes to goal-setting, there’s life in deadlines. Most people get more done at the last minute; seeing the deadline approach pushes them to focused action. For example, many students, even when allotted months, will write their term paper during the last week. Similarly, many of us wait for the deadline before sending our income tax returns. A deadline has this ability to make us productive. The lesson: Give yourself a deadline.
  4. Having no plan. Your plan outlines how you intend to get from point A to point B. It’s a list of tasks you’ll need to do in order to achieve a goal. With no plan, you risk getting lost on your way to your destination. With no plan, you’re as good as a mailman randomly distributing mail: he is certain to come back to the same street many times over! The lesson: Develop a concrete plan for your goals.
  5. Being vague. Setting a goal such as “This year I want to be happier” is broad and vague. This goal should be made clearer and more specific. What would make you happier? Making more money? If so, how much money? Losing weight? If so, how many pounds? Reading more? If so, how many books? The lesson: Make your goals as clear and specific as possible.

Question: Have you set any goals for yourself this year? You can leave a comment below.