Most of us know that setting goals is critical to achieving what we want in life. But what a lot of us don’t understand is how to set goals…and to stick with them!
Here are the top 5 mistakes most of us make when we set goals…and how to avoid them.
1. The goals are too broad or vague – really big goals are more like “dreams.” Actual goals are much smaller and they are baby steps to be taken to achieve something much bigger (the dream). And that’s where most of us go wrong. We know what we want the end result to be (start a business) but we don’t build each step into our daily lives. So, life goes on and months or years go by and we still haven’t started our business. Once we know the desired end result, we should begin to break that down into actionable steps and then take those actions. Next, we can do something every week (or even every day) to take a little step toward the dream. Momentum comes from taking small, frequent actions.
2. Deadlines are unrealistic – we may have big dreams and want to be really aggressive to achieve them. This might work for some people but, for others, it will just overwhelm them and cause the budding entrepreneur to jump ship. It’s important to set realistic deadlines that can be met under almost any circumstance. We must take into account our other commitments and responsibilities when setting deadlines. We’ll see more achievement with steady (or even slow) progression than if we get overwhelmed and don’t take action at all.
3. We don’t change our thinking – When we’re trying to accomplish goals, we must change our mindset to picture what life will be like when we reach the goal and achieve the dream. If we only look at the way things are now, we aren’t inspired to continue. We’ll get dragged down and give up on the end prize. In order to change our thinking, we must find people and things that inspire us. We must surround ourselves with those people and things that offer us encouragement so we can have enough fuel to endure the trip. Keeping a “dream board” where we have our big goals posted in words or pictures is a great way to keep our eyes looking forward. Building a strong network of like-minded people that can provide support is critical to keep us motivated.
4. We listen to “nay-sayers” – Not everyone will be as enthusiastic about our new ventures as we are. Some people will try to sabotage us and get us to stop thinking big. We must stop listening to these negative people and sometimes this means limiting our interaction with them about our new business plans. This doesn’t mean we can’t love them and spend time with them (they might be good friends or even family members) but it does mean that we not let their negativity cloud our vision. It may not be that they want us to fail, they may just fear change. It’s up to us to shut out the negativity and continue on our path. This is another reason why it is crucial that we surround ourselves with a team of positive supporters that want nothing more than to see us succeed on our journey.
5. We don’t have a plan – Without a plan, we will most certainly never reach our goals or our dreams. We will continue to let life happen rather than making life happen. When we have a solid plan of action, we are way more likely to take the steps toward achievement. Many goal-setting gurus will tell you to write your goals down every single day, by hand. This is a great way for you to start the day thinking about the bigger picture. You can then define the actionable steps you can take TODAY to move toward the goal. Some days that step might be to make a couple of phone calls or listen to a CD program…other days it may mean something much bigger.
Set the goal, make the plan, get to work, stick to it, and you will reach the goal.