Setting goals is common in the New Year, when starting a new fitness program or working on your personal development. We all have heard that it is important to do. I remember the younger version of myself thinking that the New Year’s resolutions and goal setting seemed silly. I watched as people set goals but didn’t really follow through and I thought, “why bother?” Then, over time, I tried it out myself and I felt like I had no clue what I was doing. I don’t really remember what my first goal was, but I know now that most of us do it all wrong which is why most of us fail with our goals.
I recently heard that many people who decided to give up alcohol in the new year, were drinking again by January 15. I also read another article that stated that most people give up their New Year’s resolutions by February 1. I think many give up before they even really begin.
So, what are we doing wrong?
Here are a few mistakes we are making when it comes to goal setting.
The first mistake is minimizing the importance of goal setting or not setting a goal in the first place. Even the people who are “perfectly happy” with their life and have everything exactly as they would want things to be can always challenge themselves. But I don’t know very many people who feel like every aspect of their life is perfect. Life is a journey of growth and learning. When we stay stagnant, we can feel disappointed in life and in ourselves. It is important to continue to challenge ourselves and work on our inner self, spirituality, career, relationships, hobbies, finances, travelling, health, etc. The list is endless for opportunities for us to explore. Getting excited about a new goal and challenging ourselves to level up is important part of life happiness. If you feel bored with life, set a new goal and you will open a new door to exciting opportunities and experiences.
Another mistake is thinking that we only set goals in the New Year. Ideally, we should be checking in with our goals daily, weekly, monthly. Checking in daily helps keep us focused and is a reminder of what it is we truly want and need in this life. Otherwise, we go back to our old routines and habits and forget to do the things we need to do to make our goals a priority in our daily life. Every week we should be planning ways to incorporate the tasks needed to start headed towards our goals. We should be checking in monthly to see if we have reached our goals or if adjustments to the goal needs to be made.
Sometimes when we start working towards something, we decide to change directions or that the original goal is no longer something you want to do or not good timing and that’s ok! Pivoting and adjusting is a part of the journey and a part of life. Goals aren’t set in stone. Sometimes life happens and it’s just not a realistic goal for that moment. Goals may have to be put on the back burner while addressing a new goal or new life circumstance. We may have to pause at times, but we should never give up!
One of the biggest mistakes we can make is setting an unrealistic goal or too many goals for ourselves. This just sets us up for failure. For example, many people try to completely overhaul their entire diet and start a brand-new exercise program all at once. This can work occasionally, but most people crash and burn. It’s just too many changes all at once and unrealistic. It’s better to start small and specific.
Goals that are specific and detailed with exact dates are helpful. Have you ever noticed that it is easier to lose weight for a specific trip or event rather than just randomly wanting to lose weight? This is not just because we want to impress everyone at the next reunion. (Although, this does play a factor as well.) But, when we give ourselves a timeline and are more specific with the amount of weight we want to lose, we are more likely to be successful. This is an important thing to remember when it comes to goals.
Give yourself a timeline and a specific goal you want to achieve during that timeline and make sure you are doing daily and weekly action steps to help you meet that deadline. When we are vague or there is no deadline, it becomes less of a priority. We can make excuses to not do it. And, then we just forget about it all together and go back to old routines.
It is important to not only stay focused on what we specifically want, but we also must know WHY we want it. Why are you so passionate about this specific goal? Why does it matter to you? What would it mean to you if you were able to do it? How would that feel? What would other people think of you? Would the way you feel about yourself change?
When we can have a strong understanding of why something is so important to us, we can find the motivation to keep going even on the days we don’t feel like doing the work. If you truly want to reach your goal, you must take the time to reflect and understand why you want it.
The next mistake so many of us make after determining our goals is not changing anything or not taking any actions towards our goals. We continue to live our life the way we always have. We go through the motions of our day wanting and wishing and hoping for the new goal to happen, but not willing to do the work or make the sacrifices to reach what we want and desire. There is the old saying “nothing changes if nothing changes” and this unfortunately is true. It does us no good to set a goal if we aren’t willing to do the things to make it happen. We must be realistic about what we are capable of and what we are able to do or adjust or give up and start there.
I always hated when people told me “Well, maybe you don’t want it bad enough” when I failed a goal, or I wasn’t making my goals a priority. It frustrated me to hear those words because I DID want it. I just didn’t understand why I couldn’t get myself to follow through or to make it happen. And this leads me to my last mistake that people make about goals which is not working on their mindset.
We are creatures of habit including our daily living, our choices, our actions, and our THOUGHTS. If we continue all these things as we are doing now, it doesn’t matter how bad we want something, it will not happen. For our actions to change for the long term and to get the success and achieve the goals we want in our life, we must change the way we think. We must look at our previous thought patterns and ways we have viewed things and ask ourselves if these thoughts and beliefs are holding us back. Believe it or not your thoughts will impact your actions and ultimately whether or you fail or succeed.
For example, if someone has tried to lose weight multiple times and failed, we often look outward for help including different programs or diets or pills. We fail to look within and understand our mindset. If we are being honest with ourselves, we are setting ourselves up for failure and it really doesn’t matter what program you pick, you will likely get the same result you did from the last one. The reason why is because we didn’t work on the way we think about our goal. Many of us don’t even believe we can do it anyway or we have beliefs or thought patterns that are self-limiting that sabotage our success. We develop mindset patterns and thoughts that include negative self-talk that do not support success.
Until we can recognize this, the result will continue to be the same outcome every time. You must learn to change the way you think. Believe in yourself and know that you are capable of anything you put your mind to. Be realistic and understanding of yourself when you aren’t perfect, or you make bad choices. Be ready to pick yourself up and be your biggest cheerleader instead of tearing yourself down. Tell yourself “You got this!” instead of “You suck, you are never going to get what you want!”.
Goal setting is a journey self-reflection, discovery, and growth. I think that’s why so many people avoid it. It forces us to look at where we are now in our life and what is missing and be realistic with ourselves. It is taking a close look in the mirror and pointing out our “flaws” instead of hiding away and just avoiding it all together. It’s being honest about our life and admitting that we have work to do. We can’t blame someone else or point the finger. It’s no one else’s fault or responsibility that we don’t have what we want in life. We must own up to what we feel is lacking within us or our life. We also must step up and get out of our comfort zones. We must make new choices. We must do things differently. We can’t continue to settle in and coast through life with no accountability. Because if we do, we will live a life of regrets. Life will pass us by, and we will no longer have time. Time goes by so fast. We must decide if we are living the life we want and need to feel happy. We must decide what needs to change and what we want.
Goal setting is one of the most powerful and beautiful gifts you can give to yourself. Goals should be unique to you and your life. Goals should incorporate your passions, personality, gifts, and talents. Goals should make you feel excited and give you hope for the future. Goals should light a fire in your soul. Goals bring new adventures and experiences and people into your life. Goals bring new knowledge and abilities. Goals take you places you didn’t know were possible. Goals show you what you are capable of. Goals challenge you and push you and force you to do what is necessary to be the best version of you.
You deserve to set goals for yourself. It’s time for you to become the person you want to be and live the life you want to have!