“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.” – Michelangelo

How easy is it for you to achieve the goals you’ve set?

If you’re like many people, achieving goals is not easy and by the end of the year, you have a list of goals not achieved or New Year resolutions that are still pending.

If you haven’t been able to set and achieve goals easily, then one or more of the following goal setting mistakes are to blame.

#1: Setting unclear and vague goals

The first rule of goal setting is to make your goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). This will help you have a clear idea of the end-result you’re seeking.

For example, “Lose weight this year” is not a clear goal, but “I will slim down to 60kg by 31st December 2015” is a SMARTer goal.

Goals that are not SMART are simply dreams; and dreams that are SMART are goals.

#2: Having unrealistic expectations

Sometimes we set goals that are too ambitious for our current situation, aim too high, or set too many goals at once. While a goal should stretch you out of your comfort zone, it should not push you right off the cliff.

Going back to the weight loss example above, if you weigh 95kg and intend to shed off 35kg in one year, this goal is not realistic unless you’ve signed up for a program like Slimpossible where your weight loss will be closely monitored and controlled by experts.

A more realistic goal for the 95kg person would be “I will slim down to 71kg by 31st December 2015” because shedding off 2kg a month is possible.

Also remember to work on one main goal at a time until you become an expert goal achiever, after which you can start working on multiple goals at the same time.

#3: Not writing your goals down

If you’ve thought out your goal and maybe even made it SMART, but it’s all in your brain, then your chances of achieving it are almost nil.

Follow the advice of Brian Tracy, a leading goal setting expert, and always think on paper. Take time to work out your goals and put them in writing.

#4: Being too rigid

While it’s OK to have SMART goals, you need to have some level of flexibility when working on them.

When you’re rigid, you miss out on opportunities that come your way, opportunities that you had not thought of.

For example, my client set a goal to open a workshop for her interior design business. In the course of the year, she found someone making one of the core products she was going to produce in the workshop. This supplier does a great job so my client opted to use the supplier instead of opening a workshop. It saved her money, time and the headache of managing staff.

#5: Lack of action

You have set your goal, created a plan to achieve it and done nothing about it. Without action, nothing will happen.

And sometimes, we get too focused on creating the perfect plan that we end up with ‘analysis paralysis’ which leads to lack of action.

As the saying goes, a half-baked plan that’s implemented has a bigger impact than a well-baked plan that’s not implemented. Take action on your goals and don’t wait for the perfect time.

#6: Focusing on the wrong things

A lot of people spend their time working on goals that either belong to someone else, or will not make a difference in their lives in the long-term.

Women are especially good at working on things that their husbands or families think would be great for them.

A good question to ask yourself before you set your goals is, “What would make the most positive difference in my life if I were to achieve it within the next 12 months?” Ask yourself this question over and over again until you have a list of 10-20 items.

Prioritize the list, make goal #1 your main focus for the next year, and start working on it now instead of waiting for January 1st.

#7: Not keeping track of your goals

Setting your goals doesn’t mean that you will achieve them fast. It takes time and the larger the goal, the more time it will take to achieve.

Just as organisations conduct yearly employee performance reviews, you too should take time to review your goals regularly.

Do the review yearly for mid and long-term goals (2-5 year goals) and monthly for your yearly goals.

To make the reviews easier, break your main goal into weekly goals and daily tasks so that you’re able to keep track and make changes fast if need be.

Would you like to join me and set your goals early?

I’m happy that I have already taken my advice, created my SMART goals for next year, and written them down in order of priority.

By setting my goals in November, I have avoided the New Year hype and reflected on what’s already achieved this year before setting my goals for next year.

It’s a great feeling to know that I don’t have to wait until January to start working on my goals, so I can take advantage of any opportunities that arise as we close this year.

Over to you now. What would it take for you to make your most desired goals a reality? Are there other goal setting mistakes you have encountered in your life? Please share your experience in the Comments.

(Image credit: zirconicusso via www.freedigitalphotos.net)

This article was previously posted on the Better Life and Love blog.


Caroline Gikonyo
Caroline Gikonyo

Caroline Gikonyo created her dream business and ran it as a solopreneur for 6 years. She then teamed up with 2 other coaches and formed Biashara 360 where she is now the Head of Coaching. As a Business Coach, she's been helping professionals start and grow successful businesses while reducing the time they spend working. You can find out more about her work at www.biasharathreesixty.com.