The Biggest Mistakes of Goal Setting and How to Overcome Them

Things aren’t working out the way you’d like. 

You are earning far less than you need to pay your bills each month. Your career aspirations aren’t panning out. You’re experiencing some serious health challenges. And your relationships with family, friends, and even colleagues at work are far from satisfactory.

Worse still, you feel depressed about the whole thing. Your joie de vie has taken a pummeling, and now you’re wondering about the purpose and meaning of your life. When you compare yourself to others, you find yourself getting morose.

It’s not a good situation. But over the years you’ve learned that when things aren’t going your way, you can change them. You’re not helpless. 

You’ve not only learned about the power of goal setting, but you’ve also seen the dramatic changes in people who set goals, made plans, created schedules, and taken massive action to change their desperate situation.

As a result of this logical process of evaluating your situation and finding a good strategy to overcome it that has worked for countless people over the years, you decide to set goals.

Yet, despite your best efforts, including buying the right goal setting software and following a goal-setting program, perhaps even getting a life coach, you find that you did not achieve your goals after three, six, nine or even 12 months.

3 Ways to Win

Did your goals fail to work? Or did you fail to work your goals?

What you may not realize is that this is a common experience. While you often hear stories about people who overcame great odds to get exactly what they desired, you rarely hear about what they did to correct course when their ship was sailing in the wrong direction.

With that in mind, here are three ways to correct course and achieve your dreams:

1. Scale down your vision and set realistic goals.

When you listen to audio on goal setting, you’re often inspired by motivational speakers who point out that anything is possible and that your only limits are the limits of your imagination. 

As a result, you may have set goals far outside your resources to achieve them. You may not have had the time, the energy, the money, the right contacts, or the best information to achieve your lofty goals. 

It’s not that your goals aren’t possible—they just aren’t possible for you just yet.

Setting realistic goals is not about lacking ambition. It’s about scaling back your goals to meet your current resources. Naturally, when your resources increase, then you can set the next round of goals. Over time, you might acquire all the resources you need to achieve your biggest goals.

2. Don’t focus on too few or too many things.

Many times, your focus can be either too narrow or too broad. 

If it’s too narrow, you focus on things that may not be stimulating enough for you to stay engaged. When you encounter difficulties, you become overwhelmed. Some complementary or supportive goals might have changed your results. For instance, if you only focus on earning as much money as you can, you might exhaust yourself from too much work. A supportive goal would be to develop a health goal to help keep a sense of balance and perspective. After all, the healthier you are, the harder you can work without exhaustion. 

If it’s too broad, then you have the opposite problem. You are spreading your attention too wide and scattering your energy in too many directions. What’s more, you’re making only a small difference in everything you do. You’re not getting as far as you’d like to go. You’re navigating an aircraft carrier instead of a battlecruiser.

3. Learn from failure and review progress.

Whenever you start something new, expect a learning curve. You have to make mistakes to learn how to do things right. 

It’s difficult to feel good when you’re fumbling and difficult to look good when you’re stumbling, but you have to fumble and stumble before you learn how to coordinate and balance. 

In this process of growing from learning, attitude is important. If you have a growth mindset, you see every setback as an opportunity to learn. If, however, you have a fixed mindset, you are reluctant to lose your imaginary status as a highly intelligent, adroit, and competent person. Learning requires humility. It requires a willingness to accept advice and learn from mistakes.

Besides learning through activity, you can also learn from periodic reviews. These reviews help you notice what you did right and what you didn’t manage to get right. Weekly and monthly reviews give you perspective. 

Rebooting Your Goals

These three mistakes are easy to make. Chances are that you didn’t fail completely. You just didn’t get the results you desired—but you did increase your knowledge and experience. If you try your goals again, you will be much more likely to achieve the results you desire.

Remember to set realistic goals—those within your current resources. Remember to choose the right amount of goals—not too few and not too many. And remember to learn from your experiences—during the activity and reflecting on it afterward.

With these three adjustments to your goal-setting process, you will achieve your goals and fulfill your desires.