11 Common Goal-Setting Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

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Are you setting goals but constantly failing to reach them? Here are some common mistakes people make when setting goals.

It’s no secret that setting goals are difficult. But instead of looking at how to set goals, let’s talk about the common goal-setting mistakes that I often see when people are struggling with hitting their goals.

Since sometimes, it’s more productive to analyze how we can improve things, right? 

If we know what we’re doing wrong, we can pivot and go towards the path that is actually going to help us reach our goals.

Without further ado, let’s explore 11 common goal-setting mistakes people make when setting personal goals, why this happens so often, and what you can do about it in order to successfully reach your goals.

1. Setting Unrealistic Goals

a woman looking at her phone and notebook. Her computer is open with a map of the world on it. Other items in the background such as a camera, globe, hat and sunglasses. One of the most common goal-setting mistakes is setting an unrealistic goal. In this picture, she could be making an unrealistic goal of travelling to every country this year.

One of the most common mistakes people make when setting goals is having unrealistic ones. This could be anything from wanting to lose a drastic amount of weight in a short period of time, to wanting to make six figures within the next year.

For example, losing 30 pounds in a month is not going to happen unless you make some drastic unhealthy choices. Which kinda defeats the purpose, right?

When your goal is impossible, it becomes much more difficult to actually achieve it. (Sorry for stating the obvious).

I’m a strong believer in setting goals that are out of our comfort zones but you have to be realistic and try to come up with a goal that is attainable. It should take some effort but not enough effort where you’re literally killing yourself over it.

2. Making Goals based on Society’s Standard or What you Think others want

Do you sometimes make a goal and a few months, or even years, down the line, you realize your mother wanted you to do that or that’s what all your friends were doing?

But it isn’t really aligned with your core values?

For example, if you are in school and your family wants you to become a doctor when you grow up, that could be one of the reasons why it might seem like an unattainable goal for you.

Since at the end of the day, you aren’t going to have the passion or the drive to keep going when things get hard. 

If you don’t want it, how are you ever going to convince yourself to say no to a night out on the town because you have to study?

This mistake can be prevented if you take the time to find a goal that is unique and special to you, instead of trying to please everyone else around you.

3. Not Making a realistic Timeline

setting an unrealistic timeline is one of the most common goal-setting mistakes. In this image, a women is writing things down on a calendar. There's a computer in the background

This one kinda goes hand in hand with goal-setting mistake #1 but when setting goals you have to set a realistic timeline. 

Unrealistic timelines include wanting to lose 30 pounds in one month or trying to do ten pull-ups by the end of the year when you can’t do one at the moment. 

Which is just not possible. These things take time and consistency. 

On top of that, you’re making these goals because you want your life to change in some way. To make this change an everlasting one, you need to make lifestyle and mindset changes. 

You need to become the person that is 30 pounds lighter or has enough muscle mass to pull yourself up.

The journey is as important as the destination.

When it comes down to it, the majority of your time should always be spent on achieving smaller milestones before moving on to bigger ones. This way, you won’t be as overwhelmed and stressed out when trying to reach your goal.

4. Not Checking In with yourself

It's important to check-in with yourself and evaluate how much progress you make. a common mistake people make when setting goals is setting them and forgetting about them.

A lot of people often forget to check in with themselves when it comes down to their goals. This means that they are not taking the time to reflect on their progress, what is working and what isn’t, and how they can improve.

This mistake can often lead to discouragement if you’re not seeing any progress, and can ultimately lead to you giving up on your goals.

Many times, you aren’t going to know how you’re going to reach that goal in the beginning. That’s perfectly normal! 

But give yourself the grace to pivot when you need to and to change course. It’s going to take some trial and error if you’ve never achieved this goal before. 

To avoid this, make sure that you take some time out every week or month to reflect on your progress, and how you can improve, and what needs to change. Maybe you have to try a new strategy to see if that one works. 

5. Not accepting failure or realigning 

When on this journey to reach your goal, you are going to fail. And that’s okay, we’re humans! We make mistakes. If you don’t fail, the goal wasn’t hard enough! 

If you are not okay with making mistakes you will give up at the slightest obstacle.

In order to be successful, you have to be able to learn from your failures and keep going. Failing is a part of life, and it’s how we grow and become better individuals.

If you find yourself failing at your goals often, don’t get discouraged! Just realign yourself and figure out what needs to change in order for you to succeed this time around.

6. Spreading yourself too thin

Don't set too much goals. Setting goals mistakes

If you’re an ambitious woman like me, you probably make this mistake far too often. You try to do too many things at once. 

This could be anything from wanting to work out every day, learn a new language, and start a new job within the next month.

This can ultimately lead to you not succeeding at any of your goals because you’re spreading yourself too thin! Not only this, but it can also be very overwhelming and stressful.

You know the feeling, you get all motivated on the weekend, tell yourself that your healthy lifestyle starts Monday, you basically change your whole schedule … and Monday rolls around and works gets in the way, plans get in the way, something gets in the way.

And before you know it, you’re thinking, maybe next week

To avoid this, try focusing on one goal at a time. Trust me, this method does wonder. You don’t have to change your whole routine all at once. Make small changes and you’ll find it much more manageable. 

Once you’ve achieved that goal, then move on to the next one.

7. Your goal is too vague

On the other hand, sometimes people make the mistake of having goals that are too vague. This means that they don’t have a specific plan on how to achieve it, and can often be unmeasurable.

For example, if your goal is to “be happy” this could be difficult to measure and track progress. What does this even mean? This is different for everyone. 

To avoid this, try coming up with measurable goals instead. How are you going to be happier? This could be starting a gratitude journal to focus on the good things in your life or tracking your mood every day in order to identify triggers.

I like using the SMART goal method when setting goals. It helps me create a clear, actionable plan that I can periodically check back on to track my progress. 

8. Setting negative goals

Mindset is everything when setting goals. With the wrong mindset, you are making a huge goal-setting mistake

This goal-setting mistake is all about mindset. A common mistake that people make when it comes to setting goals is setting negative goals. This means that your goal is to stop doing something, or not to do something.

For example, if your goal is to “stop eating junk food” this could be difficult to achieve and often leads to feelings of deprivation. After all, no one likes being told what they can’t do or have. 

Alternatively, try setting positive goals instead which focus on adding something into your life, such as wanting to “start eating healthy foods”.

Doesn’t that sound better? 

9. Too much time planning and not a lot of time doing

Sometimes people spend too much time planning and not enough time doing the thing. You know how it is, you have all these great plans and ideas, but never take any action towards achieving them.

Some could call this procrastination. It’s easy to put it off if we’re afraid of failing. 

In order to be successful, you need to find a good balance between planning and doing. Going into a goal with a plan is a great way to start off on the right foot but if you never take action, you aren’t going to reach that goal.

For example, you could read all the books and watch all the YouTube videos on how to drive a car but once you get behind the wheel, it’s a whole different ballpark. 

 You need to put this plan into action and be willing to change the plan if needed. It’s going to take some trial and error to reach your goal. 

Goals aren’t supposed to be easy to reach after all! Part of life is becoming a better version of ourselves. Otherwise, we become stagnant, and if you’re reading this blog post, I know you’re a woman that wants to keep up-leveling! 

If you find yourself stuck in this trap of planning and not doing, try setting a deadline for yourself so that you’re forced to take action.

Or check out Mel Robbins’ book called the 5-second rule. It’s super easy… count backward starting at 5 and once you hit 0, you have to get up and take action.

10. You never identified your ‘why’

a common goal-setting mistake is not determining your why. Why did you set this goal in the first place?

Knowing your ‘why’ when setting a goal is super important. I cannot stress this enough. 

You need to have a clear reason or motivation for wanting to achieve your goal.

Because times will get tough, you will hit some bumps in the road. It’s not always going to be rainbows and butterflies.

If you know why you want to reach that goal and it resonates with a core value of yours, you’re much more likely to keep trudging along.

For example, if your goal is to “save money” but you don’t know why you want to save money, then this could be difficult to stick to. 

However, If you want to “save money” so you can go on your dream vacation to Australia or buy your dream home, then you are much more likely to keep going when times get tough. 

Spend some time coming up with a clear and concise reason why you want to achieve your goal. This could be anything as long as it speaks to you. Your ‘why’ doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but you.

11. Not trusting the process

The final mistake that people make when it comes to goal setting is not trusting the process. If you are constantly doubting yourself and questioning whether or not achieving your goals is possible, it is going to be hard to keep trekking along.

After all, the journey should be fun too! Think of your goals as a road trip. Sure, you’ll have an awesome time once you get to where you wanna go but shouldn’t the drive be fun as well?

Life is short so we shouldn’t waste energy wishing time away. We should have some fun becoming the women we wanna become. Because one day, you’ll look back and be like,

Wow, look how far I’ve come 

Or

I did that

Another important thing to remember is that we aren’t the women that can do that goal yet. We have to put in the reps. If you were able to make a wish and be 30 pounds lighter, you’d eventually gain it all back because you didn’t take the steps to learn how to eat healthier or to be more active.

So trust the process. Put in the reps and become the woman that can be that person you want to become.

When it comes down to it, if you set clear and concise goals and enjoy the process, you are much more likely to reach your goals. Set goals for yourself and what will make YOU happy. 

And don’t be afraid to change your mind! As ever-evolving women, we’re going to change our minds and that’s okay. If a goal doesn’t align with your values anyone, take some time to reflect and make a new goal!

Let me know in the comments below, what mistakes are you making when setting goals? What’s your plan to change it?

Until next time,

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11 Common Goal-Setting Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

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