Goals (I): Why you suck at setting goals

Goal setting

Have you set a goal for yourself this year? Something you really want to achieve in 2014? Well, I hate to break it to you, but statistics say you are not going to make it. Statistics actually say you have already given up within the first week. Hey, don’t hate me for raining on your parade, I’m just quoting studies here.

Now is there something wrong with you or maybe with our species as a whole? Possible. But that is beyond the scope of this post and it’s not why you have given up. The problem is more likely that you just suck at setting goals. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Most of us are. Me included. We like to set goals that are hard to impossible to achieve. How? By making one or more of the following mistakes:

  • Being imprecise
  • Formulating goals that are not actionable
  • Being overly ambitious
  • Failing to create a plan

Many New Year’s resolutions are made in this fashion: “This year I will lose weight.” – Ok, those sweat pants indeed look a little tight. How much weight are we talking about? – “As much as it takes so I feel better about myself.” – And how do you plan on doing that? – “I will eat healthier and exercise, duh!” – Like how? – “I’ll tell you how! Sweeping declaration everyone: from now on I will only eat salad and work out all the time! See you in six-pack land, suckers!” – *Facepalm*. (conversation slightly edited for entertainment purposes).

If that’s you, don’t worry it’s also me. For years I told myself, I would “earn more money”, “bulk up” or similar nebulous things. Unsurprisingly, not much ever came out of it except short bursts of motivated but aimless action until the initial momentum fizzled out and so did the goal. Afterward I did what most people do, I got frustrated, figured I just wasn’t “the type”, and slowly eroded my confidence in achieving what I want.

If you are in a position where you repeatedly made promises to yourself which you then didn’t keep, and by now have come to a point where you don’t trust yourself to go through with anything, keep one thing in mind: There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s your method that is flawed. And methods can be changed. (tweet this) Therefore in the following mini series, I will give you a blueprint you can use to set and achieve your goals. It is everything I have learned on the topic so far. To be among the first to hear when the new blog posts go online, subscribe to the newsletter in the upper right (it’s free, your email address is absolutely safe and I hate spam as much as you do)

What are you struggling with when pursuing goals? What barriers have you encountered? How have you addressed them? Share your experience in the comments.

image: flickr

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