6 Reasons Why Setting Goals Doesn’t Work

You’re frustrated. You dutifully follow Goal Setting 101 advice, but it still seems that you lose sight of what you want and how you’ll get it. See if any of these common goal setting mistakes – and how to correct them – are
behind your frustrations. Make the adjustment, and try again.

1 Hung-Up-On Goals – It’s easy to get plugged into a

goal, and even though it’s not working, you hang on to it out of sheer habit or willfulness. That sets you up for procrastination and frustration. Put things into a more simplified version by concentrating on the big picture – the direction you want your life to go – instead of the specific way to get there. Maybe the goal to own a Million Dollar house is about wanting freedom and autonomy. Maybe the goal to write a NYT bestseller is really about wanting recognition for your talents. Focus on the feelings that you are after instead of the one-and-only way to get it.

2. Transparent Goals: If you examine your goals you may find that you have no *plan* associated with your goal. Generally the mistake here is that ‘goals’ and ‘actions’ have become confused. Instead, think Goal, Strategy, Action. The Goal is the objective, what you want. The Strategy is the overall way in which you’ll accomplish it. And The Action is the specific activity
that is required to achieve it (how you’ll do it). Example: You might have big picture goal of a healthier lifestyle. The strategy associated with that might be to eat less and exercise more. The ACTIONS might be “don’t eat after
6:00 pm”, and “walk 30 minutes after the 6:00 news every weekday”.

3. Contradictory Goals. This is a common mistake in goal setting–two or more goals with opposing results. Marriage counselors see it a lot in people who want the benefits of being married without giving up the single
lifestyle. Or maybe you have a goal to spend more time with your family, but you have a job you want to do well at that require a lot of face-time. Contradictory goals will frustrate you to no end, because you’ve given yourself an impossible task. Evaluate your goals in light of their relationship to each other.

4. False Goals: These are goals that involve chasing money, approval of others, etc. If you want to become a doctor just to win the approval of your parents, that’s a false goal. If you want to be Super Mom just to please
your husband, that’s a false goal. You may even succeed at getting your degree, or being a Martha Steward wannabe, but you’ll never be happy with your decision. It’s not YOUR goal. “Shoulds” are usually someone
else’s idea of a life for you. If you find that you can’t accomplish anything on your goal, it may be that it’s not an expression of the authentic you. Find the courage to tell the truth about what you really want in your life.

5. Floating Goals – These goals are floating around in your head, usually masquerading as a wish list. I call these floating goals, because they’re not rooted in reality. Writing down goals (and strategies and actions) takes
them out of the *wishing* category to the “real” category. It’s no longer just a pipe dream in your head. It’s a goal, with a strategy, and actions associated with it.  You know what you want, and you know how to get it. If it’s written down, you simply filter all decision (big and small) through your goals. Does it contribute to my goal, or contaminate it? Example: You have a goal to write a best selling romance novel, with a strategy of writing one chapter each week for 36 weeks, and your action is to spend 1 hour per day towards each chapter. If you don’t schedule – AND PROTECT – that 1 hour each day, it’s more than likely that you’ll get to the end of each week wondering why you didn’t get more done.

6. Blind Goals — No matter how nicely laid out the goals, strategies, and actions are. If you don’t SEE them and review them, and let them become part of who and what you are and do, on a daily basis, you’ll lose track of
them. The job, the errands, the latest TV show, worrying about money, worrying about kids, worrying about the economy will all crowd out your time, thoughts, and energy. They may remain in the back of your mind, but
you won’t gear your life towards them. Post them on the ‘fridge, in the car, on the back doorPsychology Articles, on the bathroom mirror or anywhere that you’ll see them regularly.

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