So why doesn’t Goal Setting work for many people?

How many people do you hear saying that goals are a waste of time? Plenty! And that response usually comes from experiences where those people have made goals, and then failed to achieve them.

Some of the main reasons why Goals are unsuccessful are:

  • The way we language them. That is, we mostly tend to talk about what we don’t want when setting a Goal. We tend to make Goals in response to a negative situation or habit, and talk about moving away from that, like “quit smoking” , “spend less” or “lose weight”. Yet it is far easier to move towards what we do want, rather than away from what we don’t want.
  • We tend to be too vague in our thinking and our expressing of our Goals. We may think to ourselves “I want to earn more”. Yet what are we referring to? Would you like to earn more money? More respect? Or more time? And if it is money, for example, how much money? By when? In what way will you earn more money?
  • Goals are usually not part of a plan, and have no actions and deadlines attached to them. This usually results in no follow through on achieving our Goals, and that includes not bringing any accountability into the process.
  • We may have some self limiting beliefs or frames of mind. If we believe, even subconsciously, that we don’t deserve to be successful, or loose weight, or be wealthy, etc, we can block ourselves from our own magnificence. Even a mindset in which we fear failure (or fear success itself) can lead to Goals being ineffective.

How to make them more effective

So if those are some of the reasons why Goals don’t usually work, then what steps can we take to set a Goal that will be effective and successful?

Step one: Change the name and define the Goal

Sometimes just by changing a name of something, we can change our attitude and approach to that matter. And so it can be with Goals. Try it out! Try setting a BHAG- a Big Hairy Audacious Goal! If the phrase “Goal” has a lot of negative connotations to it, and when you think of “goals” you get an uneasy, gloomy feeling in your body from your past goals that failed, then it’s time to call them something else. For example, try setting a “Well Formed Outcome” this time.

When you start to think about what you want to achieve, make sure you word it in the positive, that is, something you are moving towards. Be as specific as possible. If you keep coming up with a negative, or an away-from phrase, ask yourself “If that’s what I don’t want, then what do I want instead?”

Another point to consider is keeping your Goal in tangible terms. Describe what you want in sensory based terms using what you will see, hear, feel or know, and any behaviours or events that will be part of reaching your Goal.

Identifying the contexts of your desired Goal is also important. Where, when, how and with whom do you want this Goal, and where, when, how and with whom do you not want this Goal? It is a known fact that most successful individuals have a well-outlined direction for their life, and they know what they want when, and where. They also set a number of smaller goals, which take them towards their bigger goals in life. Is your Well formed Outcome going to take you towards where you want to go long term?

Step two: Define stages and steps with deadlines

Once you know what it is you want to achieve, you need to break your Goal into bite-sized chunks. What are the steps or stages involved in reaching this Goal? By making do-able steps clear to yourself, you can make what seems to be an overwhelming goal into an achievable one.

Also, once you’ve identified the steps, you can then timeline them. This allows you to look at your current schedule, and any future plans you may have, and then make time in your diary to work on your Goal. By setting deadlines to each stage of your Goal, you not only set up a motivation mechanism, you also ensure that your Goal will be achieved in a realistic time frame. Deadlines also have a way of making us commit to our objective, and they can be used to measure how far we have come, and still have to go, towards reaching our Goal.

I’d like to invite you to take a few minutes to apply these first 2 steps to your Goal, and then in our next post, you will be ready to apply some more pointers to your Goal to make it really well formed and easier to achieve.

To you achieving your goals,