There’s a lot of ways that setting goals actually sets us up for failure. We set them too high, lose motivation and lose focus on what matters. Read on for what we’re doing wrong, and how to set goals the right way.
We’re looking too far ahead.
Goals are commonly described as an idea of the future. A popular way to start setting goals is to ask yourself, where do you want to be in 5 years?
This usually gets you thinking about where you want to see yourself in the distant future and what you want it to look like. But what about one year from now? Next month? Next week? Tomorrow? Today? In an hour?
We set ourselves up for failure the minute we think too far ahead. You can’t decide to exercise and expect to be an olympian the next day.
I once worked with a client who had anxiety about going places. Her goal was to walk to the store.
She couldn’t do it. She’d get to the door and realize how far away the store is, then she’d go right back to the couch.
We broke her goal of going to the store down even further. Instead of going to the store, we made the goal to go outside. Then once she went outside for a week, we changed the goal to walking to the mailbox. So she started walking to the mailbox every day.
Once she got used to that, we worked on walking to the end of her block.
Next thing you know, she’s walking to the store. She did it.
Most would say those smaller steps are considered objectives, but looking at a goal so far ahead (the store) made her defeat herself before she even started.
So we made her one goal into 4 smaller goals. Once she was able to take those small first steps, she had accomplished her first goal. Instead of beating herself up for not going to the store that day, she was able to celebrate just going outside. So on and so forth.
Solution: We’ve got to start where we are right now, and make our goals achievable for ourselves.
We’re not looking far enough ahead.
Yep, you read that right.
Now that we’ve covered reaching too far, we’ll cover not reaching far enough. There’s nothing wrong with setting an easy goal as a first step. But you need to make sure your next step challenges you a little bit more. Doing something with a little challenge will boost your self esteem and make it easier for you to accomplish the next thing.
Solution: We’ve got to make sure we’re challenging ourselves to be and do better everyday.
We aren’t organized.
Part of reaching a goal is having the right tools and having them in place.
There is a saying in cooking called ,”mise en place.” This is a system that streamlines cooking meals. The first step is to get the ingredients together. You prep everything and set it out. Then you start cooking.
We can’t cook a meal if we don’t have the ingredients. Nor can we cook a good meal if we’re all over the place. We need to gather our things, prep for the meal, and carry out our task.
Sometimes we don’t have everything we need to reach our original goal. This means we need to break it down even further.
For example, one of my personal goals is to be running this blog. I need several different things to do it successfully: a computer, domain name, different kinds of software and programs, lots of post ideas and a writing schedule to name a few.
I’ll let you in on a little secret about me: I don’t have a laptop. I’m blogging 99% off my phone and 1% off of computers I borrow from time to time.
So my goal of blogging is broken down into smaller goals: get a laptop. Upgrade my software. Write something every day. These will help me be a better blogger and send me further on my way to success.
Solution: We’ve got to make smaller goals to put everything in place.
We don’t have the proper motivation.
This video really spoke to me. Over the last couple years, I developed a habit of planning for things and never actually doing them. I think, “I’ll feel like it tomorrow,” or, “It will be easier tomorrow.” Tomorrow rolls around and nothing’s changed. Rinse and repeat.
As humans we tend to daydream. We sit down and think of a goal. Then we write it down, or resolve ourselves to “do it tomorrow,” and put the responsibility on the shoulders of our future selves.
Why? Because we want to be better. We want to get to that place. And we wait for our future selves to fix it. We expect them to be motivated for us. But we are our future selves, and we need to look for what motivates us right now.
We’ve got to find our motivation.
Stay focused on your goals
So far we’ve learned that we need
a) an achievable goal that
b) our current selves will accomplish with
c) the right tools in place.
Ask yourself 3 questions:
What do I want to accomplish?
What things do I need to accomplish it?
How will I use these things to carry out the task?
Once you have the answers to these, you can decide when you want to achieve your goal by.
Start with a goal you can accomplish in the next hour that will lead up to a goal for the day , then the week, then the month.
What is a goal you have for the new year? Can you break it down more? How much progress have you made?