Have you ever wondered what differentiates people who reach most of their goals from those who fail?
A study of Harvard MBA graduates showed that the 3 percent who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent.
Let’s face it. Life is different as an adult. Back in the days when you were younger, you only had yourself to worry about and free-time actually existed, leaving plenty of opportunities to dream up and accomplish any goal that you wanted. But after life started getting crazy, you may have realized that goal accomplishments are few and far between.
It is not that you have stopped setting goals or stopped trying to achieve great things. Unfortunately, as you start having less and less free-time to focus on goals, you likely have made a few mistakes that have been killing your goals. And perhaps you forgot a few essential components that are required for establishing those goals.
1. Setting vague goals
The most obvious mistake that most people make with goals is that they are too vague. The clearest example of how people make this mistake is when they set a goal to reduce debt. This is a great goal for everyone to have but many fail to accomplish it. In fact, they often end up inadvertently increasing debt because of not being specific enough when making the goal.
Reducing debt is great, but most people never specify what debt they want to reduce. They don’t design a plan on how to do it. They never set a timeline and they never give themselves a measureable way to determine success.
“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.” – Louis Pasteur
Making these mistakes not only kills your goals, but it can kill your wallet. Instead of making these mistakes when you establish your goals, be sure to be more clear about what you plan to do. Specify a plan of attack and prioritize small individual goals rather than one single, large one.
Give yourself a time by which your goal needs to be completed. This will provide a clearly defined approach to meeting whichever goal you desire. In the example of a goal to reduce debt, establishing a specific debt that needs to be paid and being able to measure success by the completion of one outstanding balance at a time allows you to systematically progress until all balances of the final goal have been reached.
In order to be certain that you are not setting goals that are too vague, you should answer the following questions about your goals to be certain you have a plan that can be followed and successfully achieved:
- What specific component of my overall goal am I trying to achieve next?
- How am I going to achieve this goal, meaning, what is my plan?
- When should my goal be achieved?
- How will I know when my goal has been achieved?
2. Not having accountability
Another goal killing mistake that a lot of people make is that they are not holding themselves accountable for their goals. For a lot of people, the goals that are easiest to achieve all have one thing in common – friends and family know about them. As an example, if you plan to return to school to complete a degree, your friends and family members are likely to know about this. Returning to school as an adult can be extremely stressful and may result in frequent thoughts of giving up. But if your friends and family know that you are trying to accomplish something to better yourself, you will likely have extra support to complete that goal successfully.
Going back to the debt reduction example, if this is not something that you are willing to share with your friends and family, you must make sure that you keep yourself accountable. You can do this by maintaining a spreadsheet on your desktop that can track payment progress and serve as daily motivation and a friendly reminder.
3. Setting unrealistic goals
Another huge goal killing mistake that people make is setting goals that are too ambitious and unrealistic. It’s great to dream big, but unrealistic goals could set you up for failure.
Goals that seem like they will be too difficult often never get started because of lack of enthusiasm or desire. These goals keep getting pushed back until they eventually are forgotten. Nevertheless, goals that are too easy are not the better alternative. These types of goals also remain incomplete because of a lack of enthusiasm to begin. If you know you can do something with ease, there will be no surprise or sense of accomplishment as a reward. Therefore, there is no incentive to begin.
Many times people will set one huge goal and get frustrated that they have not achieved it in the timeline in which they had hoped. In order to avoid getting caught in this goal-making trap, you should make smaller, precise goals rather than one large one that will encompass many components. This allows for more careful planning and more opportunities to track your progress.
As an example, imagine you set a goal to thoroughly clean your entire house and you want to have it done in one weekend. While this is an excellent goal, you should not just leave your goal planning in this stage because you may become very disappointed when you cannot achieve this timeline. Instead, you should set a number of mini goals that you know can be completed in a set amount of time. After careful planning, you may realize that you can only complete 1 or 2 rooms per day. As a result, you may need more than one weekend to accomplish your goal. However, as each weekend passes, you will be able to track your progress toward the completion of the overall goal with each mini accomplishment.
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins
If you have been having trouble accomplishing your goals, be sure to always consider the common mistakes that kill your goals and do your best to avoid making them.
- Don’t forget to write down your goals.
- Do not set vague goals. It is always best to be as specific as possible.
- Do not forget about keeping yourself accountable.
- Make sure you have friends and family members who will support you in your goals.
- If you prefer keeping your goals quiet, set up a daily reminder and self-motivation plan.
- Do not set unrealistic goals. Goals that are too unreasonable will certainly never be met while goals that are too easy are likely to be forgotten.