Thursday, 11 December 2014 00:00

The 10 Biggest Mistake People Make in Setting Goals (and how to fix them)

Written by

We are rapidly approaching the end of 2014! Can you believe it?

I have a few interesting statistics for you. First of all, 25 percent of people abandon their New Years resolutions after one week. That's one in every four who make a New Years resolution.

Sixty percent of those who make New Years resolutions abandon them within six months, so now we're in the majority of those who make them.

Resolutions don't really work.

The average person makes the same New Years resolution 10 separate times without success.

Sobering, isn't it?

Five percent of those who lose weight on a diet keep it of. Five percent. Discouraging! Ninety-five percent regain it, and a significant percentage gain back more than they originally lost. I can already hear some people saying, "Oh, there you go! I don't need to have a diet this year, because that just proves that it's not going to work."

Of course, the first of the year is prime time for people, who want to lose weight, probably because of the guilt of overeating during the holidays. It's the fresh start, "This year is going to be different," and all of that, but it is sobering to think that 95 percent regain it, and a significant portion gain more than they lost. So we don't want to be that person. When we set goals, when we have something we want to achieve and shot for, we want to be the kind of people who actually follow through on it.

We don't want to be the people who abandon ship after a week or after six months or who, heaven forbid, achieve the opposite of what we set out to do, where we gain weight rather than losing weight. So how do we avoid that?

There is a different way of doing resolutions, and one of the things to get started is to engage in a very deliberate, very thoughtful process of goal setting.  I really believe that goal setting done right works.

Let's get started and review goal setting pitfalls.

journalThe very first mistake that people make in setting goals is that they don't write their goals down. This is huge. A lot of times, people just say them out loud or tell a friend, but they’re not really something they write down.  There is a study that was done at Dominican University of California by a psychologist by the name of Dr. Gail Mathews. She did this study on about 267 participants. One of the things she discovered (this is important and powerful) is that you're 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.

The second mistake is that they create too many goals. There's an old Chinese proverb that says, "Man who chases two rabbits catches neither." Generally you need to set five to seven goals.

It’s difficult for our minds to focus on more than seven, but it definitely needs to be no more than 10, so this forces you to chose and prioritize. You only have a certain amount of attention. You only have a certain amount of resources, and if you divide them between to many goals, you really kind of build in your own failure.

The third mistake is that they only focus on one area of their lives. It's very common for people to have goals as they relate to their carers.

If you're going to be fully expressed as a human being, if you're going to become all that you were created to be, you have to set goals in the other areas of your life. Your health, for example, your spiritual life, your marriage, your involvement in the community, and yes, career goals… All of those different slices of the pie have to be addressed if you're going to experience happiness and meaning as a human being.

The fourth mistake is that people don't make their goals specific. People say, "I want to lose weight," or, "I want a better marriage," or, "I want a promotion." That's not specific. The reason you want it to be specific is that you want o know when you've achieved it. For example, if you say, "I want to lose weight," well, how much? Five pounds? Ten pounds? Thirty pounds? You want o be able to cross the finish line, check it of, and have the satisfaction that you've achieved the goal.

The fifth mistake is that they don't make them measurable. What gets measured gets improved, and to be able to measure it is partly an aspect of specificity, but let me give you an example. If I say, "I want to lose weight…" We already said that doesn't have the specificity, but if I say, "I want to lose 35 pounds," I'm going to know when I've accomplished that. Another example: "I want to earn more money." Well, how much more money? If you said, "I want to convince my boss to give me a 10 percent raise," that would have been a measurable goal. So you want it to be something you can measure, something that's quantifiable, and something that makes you able to know when you've crossed the finish line.

The sixth mistake is people don't assign a due date. You have to have a date by which you're going to accomplish that goal. "I'm going to lose 35 pounds by April 1 [or June 2 or whatever it is]." There are a lot of benefits of deadlines. If we put a deadline on something then suddenly we're accountable for it.

The seventh mistake in goal setting is that people don't keep them visible. They create the goals, they lose them in their computers, they lose them in their desk drawers, and they just don't keep them visible. If you don't keep them visible, you're going to forget about them because life has a way of coming at you faster than you can process, and you get sidetracked.

The eight mistake made is that people don't stretch outside of their comfort zones. The reason why this is important is that very rarely will a goal be compelling enough to you to get you to do anything unless it's outside of your comfort zone. Let's say I have a goal, and I'm going to lose three pounds in the next three months. There's just no jazz in that. That's not compelling.

Look for three kinds of negative emotions that indicate you’re on the right path. This is a reframing of these emotions. One of these struggles with some of these emotions is fear. I know I'm outside of my comfort zone when I feel that little ping in my heart that says I'm afraid. It's that little bit of, "I might not be able to do this. It might not work out." That's an indication to me that I'm on the right path. Another one is uncertainty. "Well, I don't know how I would accomplish that." In goal setting, identifying the what is way more important than identifying the how.

The how will show up once you get clarity about the what, so if you have uncertainty about the goal, that's actually a very good thing because something is going to have to show up in you, in your way of thinking about something, to accomplish it that you're not clear on now. That's an indication that the goal is outside of the comfort zone.

Another emotion I look for is doubt. Maybe I don't have the resources. Maybe I'm not sure that I have what it takes. That's an indication that you're onto a goal that you're going to find compelling enough to follow through. I'm not talking about getting psychotic or crazy about it, but it has to be something that is a little bit outside of your reach.

The ninth pitfall is that people don't make the goals compelling. This is important because if the goal doesn't compel you, you're not going to put the effort in to accomplish it. Compelling goals, I think, are spiritually meaningful, intellectually stimulating, emotionally energizing, or physically challenging. It's a little bit like being outside of your comfort zone.

Goals that don't motivate you, that are just set out of a sense of duty… I promise you that you're not going to follow through on those. That's why you have to focus on the benefits of achieving a goal. For example, if it doesn't sound that compelling to spend a date night with your spouse, you're not going to follow through. But if you say, "What would it be like if I had a deeper, more meaningful relationship with my spouse, where I am understood, I can say anything freely, and we have this level of intimacy between us?" Then all of a sudden you’ll think, "Okay, that's compelling to me."

And the last one is people don't identify the next action. Identify the next step. It’s so important that we don't just have these big, nebulous dreams out there but we actually translate that into tangible goals that we write down. It gives us kind of a plan for where we're going. It helps us to focus and live intentionally.

Happiness really isn't in getting more stuff or necessarily in achieving things. It's really in making meaningful progress toward the goals that matter. If we have a sense of progress, that's what brings happiness to our lives.

Adapted from Michael Hyatt, This is Your Life Podcast - 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever 

Read 3741 times Last modified on Thursday, 18 December 2014 19:47
Login to post comments