locked door - pitfalls to achieving goals

As 2017 begins, many well-meaning people set goals, or resolutions, that they plan to work towards throughout the coming year and beyond. Yet only a tiny fraction of them stick with their goals. Why is that? It is one thing to set a personal goal, and another entirely to achieve it. Here are two very common mistakes people make that can lead to frustration and failure and how they can easily be avoided.

    • The goal is too vague or overwhelming. A goal that hasn’t been properly defined can seem so ominous that we can easily become discouraged. If you have a goal that is too large or vague (i.e. “reaching for the moon”), you will quickly lose the personal incentive and motivation to achieve it.


  • Failure to set long-term and short-term goals. People often begin by writing down a long-term goal without considering how they will ever get there. Without short-term goals, or steps, it is almost impossible to get to the desired outcome.

The Necessity of Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

Think about how a runner prepares for a marathon. He can’t decide the day before the event that he will complete the race. There is a painstaking amount of preparation involved in order for the runner to be successful.  First, the athlete must become informed about strategy and mental preparation needed to complete such a grueling task. Then, physical benchmarks have to be achieved over time so that the runner can slowly work his way up to the endurance and stamina he needs to finish the race. Then, after all of those steps have been followed and the runner has completed his benchmarks, he is ready to achieve his final goal of successfully completing a marathon.

We should use the same approach when creating our lifelong goals. It isn’t enough to make a list of goals; eventually you may subliminally convince yourself that the goals are unachievable. To be successful, those goals must be dissected to create short-term goals that lead to the successful attainment of your long-term goals.

Prioritize and Write Down Your Goals

As you begin to define your goals, be sure to commit them to writing. Otherwise, they are essentially “cloud talk.” As you think about these goals, consider whether or not they align with your personal mission statement. Visualize how it will feel to achieve this goal for additional motivation.

Write down your goals in order of priority. Your first goal should be your most important long-term goal. Below it, list the short-term goals needed to accomplish it. Next, write down your second most important long-term goal and the short-term goals necessary to achieve it. Try to come up with three or four major goals. Don’t make your goals too long or elaborate. One paragraph that is focused on what you truly desire will be enough.

Don’t Be Discouraged by Change

Our lives are a process of change, and it is not uncommon that as we mature, our goals may change or need to be modified. That goal you had in your twenties to own a European sports car may now be replaced with the goal to own the biggest, most tricked out minivan you can find to keep your kids occupied on long trips.

Periodically Review Goals

Take some time each year to review your goals. Do they have the same importance they did when they were established?  Are you focused on the right goals? Do some need to be eliminated or modified? You will find that occasionally you will need to get rid of a goal completely, either because it is no longer relevant or because it has been achieved. Use this opportunity to pat yourself on the back for any short-term goals that have been achieved! The need to change a goal is a normal, healthy part of the process due to life experiences and increased wisdom.  Don’t become discouraged by change; take a hold of it and use it to your advantage.

Do you need help setting and achieving your personal or professional goals? Leadership Excellence offers life coaching and personal leadership development training to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, change destructive attitudes and habits, and develop a personal plan of action to set you up for success.

As a leader in personal development and management development in Medina & Cleveland, Ohio, our organization is deeply committed to setting individuals and businesses up for success. Contact us to find out more about the professional services we can tailor to your specific needs.

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