Goal Setting Pitfalls
By Kathy Gates
Long term goal setting is the key that separates the winners
from the losers. If you don’t know where you’re headed, you’re likely to end up
somewhere you don’t want to be.
But since we can’t see around corners or predict the future, you also need to be
aware of the most common mistakes and pitfalls that can ruin your best-laid
plans. Check your goals, and see where you may have hit a roadblock.
This is a common mistake in goal setting--two or more goals with opposing
results. Marriage counselors see it a lot in people who want the benefits of
being married without giving up the single lifestyle. Or maybe you have a goal
to spend more time with your family, but you have a job you want to do well at
that requires a lot of face-time. Contradictory goals will frustrate you to no
end, because you’ve given yourself an impossible task. Evaluate your goals in
light of their relationship to each other.
These are goals that involve chasing money, approval of others, or even to be
able to exert power over others. If you want to become a doctor just to win the
approval of someone in your life, that’s a false goal. If you want to become a
doctor just because of the money you’ll earn, that too is a false goal. With
false goals, you’ll find yourself constantly looking for external motivation to
keep you moving forward. Or you’ll find that no matter what you say your goal
is, you just can’t move forward on it. False goals are not an expression of who
you really are. Find the courage to tell the truth about what you really want
in your life.
No matter how nicely laid out the goals, strategies, and actions are, if you
don’t SEE them, review them, protect them, and let them become part of who and
what you are and do on a daily basis, you’ll lose track of them. The job, the
errands, the latest TV show, worrying about money, worrying about kids, worrying
about the economy will all crowd out your time, thoughts, and energy. They may
remain in the back of your mind, but you won’t gear your life towards them.
Instead, write them out, blow them up to poster size, put a sticky on the
‘fridge, frame them for your office – anything, and anywhere that you’ll see
them regularly. Review them in the morning, Recite them at noon, Remember them
It’s easy to get plugged into a specific goal, and even though it’s not working,
you hang on to it out of sheer habit or willfulness. That sets you up for
procrastination and frustration. Instead, ask yourself what is serving as your
compass, what dictates the direction you want your life to go in. Maybe the
goal to weigh a certain weight is about feeling young and desirable again. Maybe
the goal to write a bestseller is really about wanting recognition and
appreciation for your talents. Focus on the feelings that you are after instead
of a one-and-only way to get it.
By being willing to manage the pitfalls and mistakes you discover in your
journey - instead of letting them derail you completely -- your long term plans
will work out easier, faster, better than even you imagined.
Kathy Gates is a Certified Emotional Intelligence Life Coach and Freelance
Writer living in Scottsdale AZ. She has published articles all over the world
and is currently part of a new book, “101 Great Ways To Improve Your Life”. You
can learn more at her website,