Five Ways Goal Setting Can Go Wrong

by Goodwin, Tai Wednesday, December 02, 2009
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One of they keys to being successful in making over your career is to set realistic goals. Many people use the acronym SMART to remember the criteria for goals. According to the acronym goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Playing by the rules and creating smart goals however, doesn’t make goal setting problem free.

Goal setting can go wrong for a number of reasons. When it does, it can be devastating to the self esteem and can make the idea of setting any new goals daunting.

1. Setting goals based on outcome instead of performance. Focusing on outcome forces you to look for a quick way to get to the end result instead of taking your time to go through the appropriate steps of goals setting. When you set goals properly you will be doing it in a step by step manner. Furthermore, failing to achieve an outcome based goal for reasons outside your control can lead to a loss of enthusiasm and feelings of failure. Always set performance goals instead as this will give you a higher chance of succeeding.

2. Setting unrealistically high goals. This is a set up for failure: When a goal is perceived to be unreachable, no effort will be made to achieve it. Before you even get started, you have set your self at a disadvantage. Set realistic goals so that you can best decide how to go about achieving them. In retrospect to the above, goals can be set so low that you feel no benefit in achieving the goal. Always set goals that are challenging enough to be worth the effort, but not out of reach.

3. Setting vague and ambiguous goals. Goals that are not specific enough to lead to action are useless. How can you tell whether these types of goals have been achieved? If achievement can’t be measured against your expectations, you cannot observe progress towards a greater goal. And without being able to measure progress, goal setting becomes pointless. Key: Set precise and quantitative goals.

4. Not having an organized approach for setting and measuring goals. This leads to certain goals being forgotten, any achievement of goals will not be measured, and there will be no feedback for shaping new goals. Goals should be organized and attempted in a systematic approach. This will help you identify what does and doesn’t work.

5. Setting too many goals. With too many goals it will be hard to prioritize. This can lead to a feeling overwhelmed. If working towards your goals becomes too taxing, it will be easy to put off the smallest of task required as the next step. The key here is to have balance and harmony. Working towards your goals is just a part of your life. And your goals will best be achieved when they are in harmony and not conflict with the rest of your life. Remember that you deserve time to relax and enjoy being alive and not solely focused on your goals and achievements.

When goal setting does go wrong, not only are the benefits of goal setting lost, but the whole process of goal setting will seem useless, like a waste of time. You can avoid this and set goals effectively by being mindful of the 5 pitfalls listed above.