Preventing Goal Setting Fails

By Paul R. Scheele Ph.D. | Articles

Approaching year-end is the ideal time to create your goal priorities for the upcoming year. Getting your goals on paper has long been promoted key to long-term success in life. That’s well documented. But not all goal setting activities are effective at producing effective goals that lead to achievement.

Three Biggest Fails

Fail #1: Set an outcome and visualize having accomplished it.

Yes, do that AND, having a clear outcome does not automatically translate into action. Beware that visualization may give you the feeling of accomplishment without achieving anything.

Goal achievement requires turning good intentions into consistent, persistent behaviors. Think about your goals as helping give attention to 3 categories of achievement.

  • Process goals which involve forming habits of executing your plans. For example, keeping a weekly routine of going to the gym or a daily habit of meditation or eating salads for lunch.
  • Performance goals which help track progress and motivate the hard work required to get to your outcome. For example, writing six days a week for 30 minutes to finish your book, or weekly tactical sessions with the sales group to track contact quotas and sales campaigns.
  • Outcome goals which maintain the big picture and high-level perspective for which your process and performance goals are implemented successfully. Examples include a health goal to reverse the onset of diabetes or beat a cancer diagnosis, or the goal of winning the annual “best company award” for your group.

Bonus note: Accountability creates follow-through. When you have processes and desired performance specified, set up an accountability partnership that can help you track what you are doing or not doing to achieve your goals.

Fail #2: Getting your goals on paper will lead to success

Yes, get your goals on paper AND, goal achievement requires more than filing them in a drawer. They require your attention and action.

You must also get out of the comfort zone you are currently living in. Even if you are living in tough circumstances, a familiar problem is more comfortable than an unfamiliar and difficult solution.

The status quo has a powerful gravity to it. Breaking free requires momentum, energy directed to confront your biggest barriers to change. For example, you may have habits of avoiding what needs to be done, or fears that cause you to hesitate. Common fears include anxiety about an insufficiency of knowledge, money, energy, or time. Any one of those fears will quickly derail a good intention.

Successful goals, in addition to being written down, need to be ABC= Achievable, Believable, and Committed.

  • Is it achievable by you with the resources available to you? If not, do you have ways to gain access to the resources you’ll need?
  • Do you believe that you can do it? If not, why bother!?
  • Are you all-in, fully committed, and willing to do whatever it takes to achieve your success?

If not, it isn’t a true want or a real goal. It is a wish. You must turn that wish into a deeply desired plan of action.

Bonus note: Think of the formula—Intention, Attention, No-Tension. Write down your goals to have a clear intention. Given them your attention every week. Work today in a state of relaxed awareness, free from the limitations of fear or tension.

Fail #3: Small achievable steps will get me to my outcome

Yes, tiny habits and small steps will be taken, AND high-hard goals with a massively transformative purpose have been shown to be more motivating of action than easily accomplished steps.

Start with the big picture before you get granular. The more significant the big picture, the more motivating the goal. Hard goals inspire powerful action. Humans perform at their best in an optimal zone between boredom and anxiety. Too small and easy?

Boring. Too hard and unbelievable? Overwhelming.

When setting goals for the year, find the deeply held values from which your life purpose and goals are emerging. Take a stand on creating what matters most to you. Committing to a goal is an invitation for a possibility to emerge. Playing small on less significant goals can diminish the importance of your time and creates an attitude of “I can take it or leave it.”

Bonus note: A successful year is a series of successful months. A successful month is a series of successful weeks, days, hours, moments…

Make each precious moment of the New Year matter. Live wholeheartedly into the magnificence you bring to the world.

Join me at the Clear Mind--Bright Future goal setting workshop and let’s create your Happy New Year together!

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