Ultimate Guide To Goal Setting

Successful people know that success does not come by accident. They plan their success by setting goals which inspire and motivate them to achieve more with their life. This course shows you how they set effective goals and how you can too.


8 Goal setting mistakes which you must avoid

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8 Goal setting mistakes you must avoid

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Goals can be a wonderful tool for inspiring and motivating you. They give you a clear sense of direction and help you to prioritise your tasks in the most effective manner. Setting effective goals is one of the most important steps for improving your effectiveness; your happiness, and your health. In order to set effective goals, there are some common goal setting mistakes which you must void. When you make these goal setting mistakes, your goals serve to hinder you rather than inspire you.

Setting goals may seem like the easiest thing to do and, if done right, it is relatively easy but if you fail to get it right, it can be one of the biggest sources of stress and time wasting in your life. Effective goals are the key to making intelligent decisions. When you make goal setting mistakes, you make those decisions based on poor goals, therefore, the quality of your decision making will suffer.  Poor decision making leads to poor results so, taking the time to set effective goals and eliminate goal setting mistakes, will radically improve your quality of life.

Common goal setting mistakes

The following list identifies the most common goal setting mistakes which you need to avoid:

1. Conflict with your identity and purpose

Your goals must be consistent with the person you wish to be; your values, and the way in which you want to serve the world.  For example, if you value honesty, your goals should not encourage you to be dishonest.

 2. Setting tasks rather than goals

Effective goals challenge you and require you to grow as person in order to achieve them. If you are capable of achieving the goal without any great effort or personal growth; you have not set a goal, you have set a task.

 3. Setting goals which you do not control

You are responsible for your life and your actions. That is what lies within your control. Setting goals which are dependent on others puts your success in the hands of others. Your goals should focus on what you can control.

 4. Setting goals for others

Requiring others to change is not an effective goal. You have no control over the goal but more importantly, you have no right to determine how others should live their life. It’s ok to state your opinion or preference e.g. ‘I would prefer if you stopped smoking’ but you do not have the right to insist on that change.

 5. Focusing on what you do not want

It is too simplistic to say that you do not want to be poor, unhappy, unhealthy etc. You need to know what action to take and to know that, you have to know what you are trying to achieve. You can start by focusing on the positive of each e.g. richer, happier, healthier. Then you need to get more specific.

 6. Being too general

Goals which are general do little to inspire or motivate. You may say that you want to be richer, happier, healthier etc. but what does that really mean? If I give you 1 cent, you will be richer but will that really make a difference to your life? Of course not, so you need to be specific. How much money do you want? What does a happier or healthier you look like?

 7. Seeking perfection

Wanting to be perfect at everything you do is making a rod for your own back. You are a fallible human being. You will make poor decisions and mistakes. Any goal which requires absolute perfection is doomed to failure.

 8. Lacking of realism

Your goals must be achievable. While you can achieve almost anything you set your mind to, some things can take a long time. If the goal is achievable, you still need to allow sufficient time to achieve it. You are not going to go from couch potato to marathon runner in one week. Set realistic objectives by starting small and working up to the bigger goals.

Learn to set goals that inspire and motivate you. Check out the Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting.

Goal setting mistakes can seriously hamper your progress. In some cases, you can become stressed, trying to achieve goals which are unrealistic or which conflict with your beliefs and values. Goal setting is a powerful process for motivating and inspiring you. When you set effective goals, you take a giant step towards the life you desire. However, if you make any of the goal setting mistakes, outlined above, you are merely wasting your time. Familiarising yourself with the common goal setting mistakes will help you to ensure that you set the most effective goals. Once you do, your progress will rapidly accelerate.

Are there any goal setting mistakes which you would like to highlight? Feel free to add them in the comments section.

Image credit: Dreamstime Stock Photos

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  • https://www.facebook.com/WoysterMedia Denver M. Lane

    Thanks for the post Carthage. These are very common mistakes that many personal development and success “Guru’s” like to omit in their coaching. Especially number 8. It’s far more common to hear the quote about shooting for the stars instead of being realistic. I agreed one should aim high by creating goals designed to make you stretch but thinking TOO big just sets us up for failure and weakens our future goals’ motivating power.

    I also like number 5. Focusing on what you don’t want insures you’ll get it. Focus on what you DO want. As a matter of fact, I don’t normally set “goals” as the word itself implies the possibility of failure. Instead I map out my “future achievements.” The process is identical but the language helps keep you aligned toward what you DO want.

    Thanks again.

    • http://coachingpositiveperformance.com Carthage Buckley


      Thank you very much for your comment and your feedback. Using the term ‘Future Achievements’ is a good tip. While I do generally use the term goals, I tend to leave it up to my clients to choose the appropriate term. I will offer this as a suggestion in future. Whatever the term used, I certainly agree that we most see goals as something which we are in the process of doing rather than something we would like.

  • http://brolax.wordpress.com Joe

    I like that you’ve written “if you fail to get it right, it can be one of the biggest sources of stress and time wasting in your life”. However I do think this can be true of all goals and sometimes it is better to focus on getting things ‘generally right’ in the here and now rather than focussing on some ideal of the future which leaves us feeling inadequate until we eventually achieve it.

    Still if goals are what motivates an individual then your advice of what not to is very useful.

    Joe – brolax.wordpress.com

    • http://coachingpositiveperformance.com Carthage Buckley

      Thank you for your thoughts, Joe.