Goal Gotchas

5 Common Goal Gotchas

Because goal setting is powerful, I have some common goal gotchas to help keep you going when it gets tough. Not reviewing your goals, making them too numerous or too easy, or getting down on yourself for not getting them done can cause you to give up on goal setting.

Last week I covered the SMART Goals Framework, and rather then just defining what that was, I ran a goal through it in a stream-of-consciousness format. Setting goals for the next year are vitally important, but you should also be aware of things that can get in your way.

Did you create 3 goals for 2016 last week? What? You missed last week’s post? Go back and check it out, then meet me back here.

1. Not reviewing goals to ensure they’re still relevant

It’s just a fact of life- as you go on, you will change, and so will your goals. Your goal worksheet needs a periodic review to make sure your stated goals and corresponding plan reflect who you really are.

To do this review, just take out your goal sheet (or Google Docs, Evernote, etc) and ask yourself these questions on each goal:

  • Does this goal adhere to the SMART goal principles?
  • Have I made any progress on this goal?
  • If I achieve this goal, will it move me closer to my stated vision?
  • Has this goal been superseded by another goal?

If you answer “No” to any of these, it’s time to either change or ax that goal altogether. Don’t forget: changing a goal that no longer suits you is OK.

2. Not reviewing goals period

I think everyone has done this one.

Goal setting is not one-and-done. It’s something that you have to review periodically constantly. To make sure you can review them, put them in front of you, in a place you’ll see them all the time. This is probably the one tip that I failed biggest on this year. How else will you remember 1) what they are and 2) to take steps on them.

It’s really as simple us putting your goal sheet up some place where you’ll see it every day. Some good spots include on your bathroom mirror, on the wall beside your bed or behind your computer monitor (in a place you can see). I personally use Evernote to put my goals into. I just have the goal and the next step.

Take some time each day to look at your goals and your next steps. Can you do something today to move one of those down the field?

3. Making them too easy

Goals should stretch and challenge you. It’s not really a goal if it’s too easy.

For instance, don’t set goals that you can achieve in a few days with little effort. Calling your brother is not a goal- but it can be part of a goal to call your brother at least once a month to improve your relationship with him.

I, for instance, have a goal to buy a brand-new MacBook Pro, in cash, for myself by the end of 2016 using only proceeds from the blog. It meets the SMART criteria in every way, and is certainly a stretch considering the amount of money I’ve made so far.

Maybe that goal of yours is actually just a step in a larger goal.

4. Having too many goals

This is an area that we as a society have gone absolutely mad about.

Think about the definition of the word- focus:

something that is more important than other things and that needs to be done or dealt with first

It’s one thing that you work on. We can truly only concentrate on one thing at a given instant. Somehow, someone decided that we need to have multiple priorities. How is that supposed to work exactly if a priority can only be one thing?

A real life example for me:

  • Build this server that “X team” needs today.
  • Send in purchase receipts
  • Plan installation of the new datacenter
  • Create a case with VMware for that broken thing
  • Put in 2 study hours for that certification

Yet I somehow want these all to be priority #1. Nonsense.

What normally happens is that we try to make major changes in multiple areas, and only move the needle a tiny bit in each. At that point, many just give up because they can’t see any real progress. You just can’t have 30 goals.

In the context of goals, you can have 5- maybe 7- concurrently, but you can’t really work on any more than 1 at a given moment. I wouldn’t recommend trying to tackle any more than 1 at time to get the most traction.

One note- remember to make goals for all the areas of your life. It’s tempting to just set up career goals, but there’s more to you that just your work. You also want to strive in your health, relationships, spiritual, and other areas.

5. Beating yourself up for not achieving

Everyone misses goals. Sometimes we set them too high. Others times, we just set too many, and end up with some undone. Sometimes we just put it on a piece of paper and it goes into a desk drawer and we forget.

We all want to achieve, and should strive for excellence. On the rare occasion that you don’t hit a stated goal, just know that it’s OK. Refine your what you’re aiming at, avoid the goal gotchas, and don’t give up! You will make progress.

Did you create 3 goals for 2016 last week? If not, go ahead and do it now.

Thanks as always for reading! If you haven’t yet, go to the top of the page and subscribe to my email list. I’ll let you know when new posts are up. And don’t forget to share if you know someone this can help!



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