Even before we set out to achieve our goals, what is important is that we set goals the right away. And for setting goals the right way, the thing of greatest importance is to avoid certain goal setting mistakes.
In the beginning of a new year or when we decide to first start something we are all very determined, but as the time goes by, our enthusiasm starts to wane out, our determination fails and there are hardly a few who really go on to achieve the goals that they had set.
The problem lies not in your determination, motivation or your will power but in how you set goals and in the common goal setting mistakes we end up making.
In the past year, I had set many goals for myself out of which only a few could get accomplished. I realised that it was because the way I had been setting my goals was wrong. Because for the ones that I did accomplish, I realised that I had done it right.
This year, I don’t want to make these goal setting mistakes anymore.
So this article is not about how to set goals, but about how not to set goals so that you avoid the common goal setting mistakes and actually achieve your goals.
So let’s start.
5 common goal setting mistakes to avoid
Table of Contents
1. Setting too many goals:
Often our own commitments to our various different goals are our biggest distraction to achieving our goals.
We have high hopes and we wish to do this and do that, and we think we can do them all, only to find that none of it is actually achieved.
What we need to go is narrow down your goals and focus.
What is the one goal that you really want to achieve this year? Focus on that first and sacrifice the rest.
Is it not better that you focus on just one goal and have it accomplished than having set too many goals but having none of them really accomplished?
Write down a list of all your goals and then eliminate it to keep just one or two.
Just focus on one goal or at most three at a time. Never more than that.
One way to see if you are doing it right is by asking yourself, ‘What is my goal?’
If you are able to immediately remember your goals then you are doing it right, or else you need to cut down on your goals.
2. Setting dreams instead of setting goals:
We have dreams and that is why we need to set goals. But we confuse dreams with goals too much.
Goals are the first step towards your dreams.
But most often, when we set goals, we set dreams. And that is where the problem happens.
For example. You dream of being a writer. So you write down your goal to have your book finished and ready this year or to be published this year.
You dream of being an officer and set a goal to become an officer by clearing the exam this year.
You dream of being a successful YouTuber and you set a goal to become a successful youtuber and get thousands of views and subscribers.
You dream of being fit and healthy so you set the goal to be healthy by losing weight this year.
This is how most of us usually sets our goals. And it is the reason why it hardly gets accomplished.
This is because Dreams are vague, it is not definite, whereas your goals should be definite and objective. Be very clear about what you want and what you have to do.
3. Not setting active goals
The main goal setting mistake we all do is that we only set long term goals- goals that are in the end result.
- to have your book finished this year or to be published this year. (End result)
- to become an officer by clearing the exam this year. (End result)
- to become a successful youtuber and get thousands of views and subscribers (end result)
- to be fit and healthy and lose weight this year. (End result)
All the typical goals that we set are always focused on the end result. These bigger goals may be called long-term goals and they are indeed your main goals.
However, the best way to set a goal in order to achieve them is to set short term goals or what I would call active goals.
I would define active goals as goals that are set around a particular task or activity that is doable.
A good way to find out your active goals is by asking the question,
‘What do I need to do about it?’
Active Goals are goals that are set arund the ‘Practice’. Once you set active goals, you are much more clear on how you will be able to achieve your end result.
Also you will feel more in control of your goals and how you plan on achieving them.
So set active goals instead of just long-term goals.
Infact you must set active goals in order to achieve your long term goals. For example,
- write 1000 words or write for one hour every single day (practice)
- to study and solve past papers everyday to clear the exam (practice)
- workout at least 20 minutes everyday no matter what. (Practice)
- publish once every week or twice every week on youtube. (Practice)
You can’t really control the end-result and it might dishearten you, but you can definitely control the process, the practice.
Keep focusing on the active goal and your long term goals will take care of its own.
I used to be extremely thin, skinny and weak. When I first started to exercise many years back, my goal was to gain weight and become strong but I did not focus on that end result. Had I been, I would have given up too early.
Instead I simply focused on the practice of exercising and moving my body for at least 10-15 minutes everyday. I did not set a deadline to it and through the years, I have been able to increase my workout time and my strength.
By simply focusing on exercising every day I have been able to gain weight and improve how my body is. Now to exercise and be fit is not even a goal for me, it has already become a habit.
So forget your end result and set your goal around the practice. You will see a vast difference in your moves.
4. Not being specific with your goals
Often our goals tend to be very vague. They are just like,
- To write every day
- To read every day
- To exercise every day
- To grow blog traffic this year etc.
This is one of the main goal setting mistakes we make- setting vague goals and not being specific about what exactly we want to achieve.
When setting goals try to be as much specific as you can.
To be specific- your goals should have two things:
- What (you have to do)
- When (you plan to do it)
- By when you want your goal to be done
A good way to find out whether your goals are specific or not is to see if your goals can be measured or can be broken down into any specific numbers.
If it is not then you need to specify. For example,
- Write 1000 words every day at 7 am.
- Read 10 pages every morning
- Do 10 pushups everyday at 6pm.
- Grow 50k pageviews this month
All good goals are measurable and anything that can be measured can be improved.
5. Not setting a schedule
Lastly, another goal setting mistake to avoid is to set a deadline to your goal. Let your dreams be reached at its own pace and you simply focus on the practice.
People say that you need to attach a deadline to your goals. But that rarely works. What works is to set a schedule for your goals.
Setting a schedule for your goals helps you to be even more specific with your goals.
All your goals need to have a schedule. That is, being clear on
- When you will do it?
- What time will you do it?
In the beginning of last year when I started my blog I had only a vague idea about what I would write about.
I had just set a goal to write 4 articles every month and nothing more. It certainly did not work. I was very inconsistent and there was nothing to push me. I thought I was not ready to publish an article every week. I thought it would be too much.
But once I set my goal to publish one article every week and became more specific about when I would publish (that is on Sundays), it has been working for me.
There was no additional motivation, determination or anything added in me. I simply set a schedule towards my goal to publish one article every Sunday and till now it’s been more than 12 weeks I haven’t missed even one sunday.
So this year, whatever your goals are, don’t make this goal setting mistake of not setting up a schedule for your goals. I definitely won’t do this for my goals this year.
Repeating once again, set just one or two goals, at most three. You need not be too focused on perfection. Simply be focused on your practice. Set a schedule and your goals are good to go!
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