Goal-setting is a very popular topic. With each new month, or quarter, or year, there is an opportunity to initiate change, raise the bar, create new challenges, make things happen.
You get the idea.
Then again, we should always be setting goals – right? Goal setting is a proven, time-tested method for accomplishing amazing things.
But there are five pitfalls we need to carefully avoid in the goal setting process. Clearing these barriers will dramatically increase the chances of reaching our goals.
1. The “What” Pitfall
Too many people focus on the “what” in the goal setting process, without sufficiently clarifying the “why.”
- You want to lose ten pounds… Why?
- You want to take a college course… Why?
- You want to be the number one salesperson… Why?
Try this: add the words “so that” to your goal.
- “I want to lose ten pounds so that I will have more energy when I’m playing with my kids.”
- “I want to take a college course so that I can improve my chance of a promotion.”
- “I want to be the number one salesperson so that I can buy the home I have always wanted.”
Adding “so that” to a goal gives you a defined purpose for reaching it. Now your intent is to go “from here… to there.” You have a specific end in mind – and that’s powerful!
2. The Clarity Pitfall
The second pitfall is the lack of a crystal clear picture of the finished objective. That lack of clarity makes it very difficult to determine the appropriate actions.
- “I want to be a better person.” Well, that’s nice and all, but what does that mean exactly?
- “I want to be more patient.” Great thought, but you need to define “patient.”
- “I want to start exercising.” It will take a lot more than a “want to.”
Question: When you reach your goal, what will your future state look like? Picture yourself at the finish line of your goal and write down, in specific detail, what your life looks like. That’s creating clarity!
3. The Paradigm Pitfall
Understand this important truth: your actions and behaviors are always consistent with the way you see yourself. (Re-read that please!)
I might set a goal to join Toastmasters and become a better public speaker. But if I see myself as a poor speaker, my mindset will sabotage my goal. My actions will inevitably follow my state of mind.
I might want to join a gym and get in shape, but if I see myself as inactive and undisciplined my actions will eventually follow suit. (Ever notice that gym memberships soar in January but those same gyms are empty in March? That’s why.)
You need to program your mind to get comfortable with the person you want to become. This is why writing down your goal and reviewing it again and again (and again and again…) is so important. It gives you time to normalize the objective in your mind.
4. The “Set and Forget” Pitfall
Also known as the New Year’s Resolution Problem. We set a goal and are totally gung-ho at that time; but we typically fail to write it down (an important commitment step) and eventually we forget it.
I think we can all agree that setting goals is easier than keeping goals. But you will dramatically increase your chances if you write them down and review them every single day.
Make it part of your daily ritual. Post your goals in an obvious place where you’ll see them every day – the mirror where you brush your teeth is a good choice.
Remember… Repetition is a goal-achiever’s best friend!
5. The “Big Bites” Pitfall
Finally, we get bogged down with achieving our goals when we fail to break them down into manageable steps – or “bites.”
Suppose you want to get your home organized. Great goal… but start by thinking about the steps involved to achieve that goal. Then break those steps down into a series of mini-goals.
Finally, break those mini-goals down into specific actions. You’ll discover that you can accomplish amazing goals by tackling them “bite-by-bite.”