The close of one year and the beginnings of another is a natural time to reflect and instigate change. We often associate a new year with a fresh start or new beginnings. This association often leads us to set goals or resolutions, which is a fantastic way to provide focus and development to our lives. But how often have you set goals for yourself at the beginning of the year that have never come to completion? (Come on, be honest!) Motivation waned, enthusiasm passed, reality hit, life distracted, progress dwindled, you realized that actually that wasn’t what you wanted at all. But here’s the thing, you are not alone. We are all in this boat at one time or another. So here are the top reasons why goals don’t work and what to do to ensure that any goal you set this year sets YOU up for success.
Why Goals Don’t Work (and how to fix them)
1. Your goals were too vague
How often have we heard goals along the lines of “I want to be happier/healthier/wealthier/fitter/[insert your desire here]“? These are wonderful things to aim for, but what does that mean? A vague goal leads us to a vague result, because if we don’t define where we want to end up, how can we ever get there? Take the time to define your end point – What will it look like? What will it feel like? How will you know when you have achieved it? When will you achieve it by? Answering these questions not only takes your goal from vague to specific, but it allows you to develop a clearer plan to get there and track your progress more effectively along the way.
2. You confused your tasks with your goals
Tasks are things that we might do in order to achieve our goals, but they do not make compelling goals in their own right. A goal should be something that drives us, that motivates us, that has the potential to benefit our lives in some way when achieved. To avoid making the mistake of confusing your tasks with your goals, simply start with the questions outlined above. Define your end point first, and then identify the tasks that will lead you there.
3. You didn’t connect with your why
Why have you set this particular goal? What do you want to achieve from it? How will it make your life better when you achieve it?
These are the questions you need to ask yourself when setting your goals. If you don’t know the reason behind the goal then it is hard to stick to it when things get tough. Things will happen that will set you back on your journey, that’s a fact. But the important thing is recovering and continuing forward. Your why will become your driving force. Understanding the real why behind your goal will prevent you from procrastinating, provide motivation when you hit a challenge, and help you take responsibility for seeing it through.
4. You didn’t review your goal
It is great to set a goal at the beginning of the year and begin working towards it. Most of the time, once the initial enthusiasm wears off, so does the progress. You need to review your goal at regular intervals throughout the year to remain on track. If you don’t regularly check in, you are likely to find yourself 2 weeks from the end of the year with an impossible task to complete. When you set your goal, take the time to plan key times that you will check in with your progress. If you find it easier, make a note in your diary each month to check on your goal progress. This will keep it fresh in your mind and keep you pushing forward.
Bonus tip: when you do review your progress it is easy to fall in to the (totally human) trap of focusing purely on where you could do better. Still do that, because it’s useful, but take the time to celebrate your progress too. We don’t do this often enough, but if you look at the most successful people with the most ambitious goals, they do. So celebrate. And you will gain a better perspective on your progress, momentum to keep going, and motivation to get you through any obstacles that come your way.
5. You set your goals too low… or too high
The best goals are the ones that make us feel at least a little scared to achieve. That makes us push ourselves to complete it. But the key point is to make it hard enough to strive for, but not so hard that it is impossible to achieve or leaves you crawling back to hide in your comfort zone with the blankets over your head. If it’s too easy then you won’t be interested enough to complete it. You’ll quickly get bored and move off in a different direction. If it’s too hard then you will feel drowning every time you think of the enormity of the task ahead. Push yourself to achieve, but don’t push too hard. When you look at your goal, you should feel both challenged, and excited!
6. You set your goal based on someone else
How often have you set a goal based on someone else? Because they thought that you should? Because a friend was? Because someone you admired experienced success with the same goal? Goals should be driven internally, rather than externally. Goals are personal. They need to be intimately tied to who you are, where you are at, the resources that you have available, and where you want to go. If you must base your goals on someone else, use them as inspiration – their success, their suggestions, their direction. Then use that inspiration to set goals that come from and are for no-one but yourself.
Bonus tip: if you find yourself in a situation where you feel you have no other option but to work with a goal that someone else has set (work is a classic example), here’s how to set yourself up for success. Find and connect with YOUR why, that aligns with THEIR goal. For example, if a goal is set for you to increase sales by a certain percentage, explore why YOU want to achieve this goal. What will you gain? How will this benefit you? Ground yourself in that. Whilst I would always recommend setting your own goals wherever possible, this will provide the motivation that you will need to work to someone else’s.
Set yourself up for success
Now that you know the top reasons why goals don’t work, you can set yourself up for success. This year is your year to achieve. Get excited, get motivated, and make whatever you want to happen, happen. I can’t wait to hear what you have achieved in one short year. Make this year your best one yet. For more on how to set effective goals, click here.
If you need some help defining the right goals for you, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. I offer 5x totally FREE zero obligation clarity chat sessions per month.
What is one of your goals for 2017? Let’s keep each other accountable and share in the comments below