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7 ways goal-setting goes wrong

5 May, 2022

What I see as a coach is that when goal setting goes wrong, it’s not the person failing; it’s the process failing them. 

I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel here. Although I’ve seen many goals go wrong as a coach, the easiest way to prevent your goals from going wrong is to learn from others’ mistakes!

Here are 7 goal setting mistakes you can learn from:

  1. Starting in your ‘panic zone.’ 

We have 3 zones of comfort; 

Comfort zone: stress-free, “doing OK,” no dramas, happy, content

Stretch zone: pushing performance, high effort, improving, excitement, adrenaline, growth

Panic zone: Anxiety, worry, bad decisions, irritability, concern, poor performance

Goal setting goes wrong when: 

You set a goal and the action plan that places you into the panic zone from day one. So often, we have overly high expectations of ourselves, which sets us back when we don’t meet those expectations; procrastination, not knowing where to start, and fear of failing. 

We want to sit within the stretch zone and keep a realistic perspective on what we can start on and move towards achieving. 

2. Not honouring your priorities and other commitments.  

Goal setting goes wrong when:

You put to one side or stop altogether honouring your personal and professional priorities and get swept away at the moment by doing something new and exciting. 

It’s not always the ideal time to start a new goal. Therefore, it’s essential to check in with what is a priority in your life now and ask yourself, “do I have the time and resources to add this goal into my life alongside honouring these commitments?” Also, starting a new goal will impact the lives of others. Consider how starting this goal affects their lives and if it’s the right time for them to provide you the support you will need to complete the goal. 

3. Not aligning your goal with your values. 

Goal setting goes wrong when:

You choose to do things based on other people’s version of success rather than your own. By putting FOMO over your core values. 

In a society where we can sit back and watch what everyone else is doing in their lives over social media, we can cultivate a lack mentality; that we’re not doing enough and should be doing more. So before setting any goals, check in with your values – does the goal support them or take you off track? 

4. Waiting for the outcome to define you and your life 

Goal setting goes wrong when: 

You focus solely on the outcome and expect life or yourself to change only on that result. I hear it a lot from women I work with; “I’ll be happy when… I’ve lost 5kg, I’ve changed my job, I’ve bought my house…” however it’s the process of reaching these desired results that is going to define you and how you choose to live your life. So focus on the process – especially building strategies that work to achieve the results you want. 

5. Going all in 

Goal setting goes wrong when: 

You change everything all at once with the expectation that you will be able to keep it up! ‘Going all in” is the most common pitfall when starting a goal or wanting to create a lifestyle transformation. The “I’m all in, or all-out” attitude will stop you every time. Unfortunately, as I coach, I see this happen all of the time. 

Learning to break down the steps you will need to take towards your goal is essential, alongside allowing yourself the time and consistency to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t – without giving up on your goal and starting from scratch. 

6. Having a vague goal 

Goal setting goes wrong when you haven’t taken the time to specifically write down what you want to achieve. You have a vague idea of what you want to change or achieve but can never figure out where to start, what to do, or if the effort is worth it. 

Vague goal: To be healthier, be fitter, save my money, change careers 

Good goal: To eat three whole food meals a day, run five times a week, save 5% of my monthly salary, to explore three career options I can potentially work in

7. Waiting to feel motivated 

Goal setting goes wrong when:

You expect to wake up each day motivated to work on your goal. Just because you want to do something or achieve something, it doesn’t mean you will always want to go out and work. We’re human, and we have good days, bad days, distractions in life, and challenges to overcome. Action cultivates motivation; it’s vital to build the foundations to take consistent action rather than rely on feeling motivated to start. 

Coaching facilitates clients to learn how to change in ways that improve their quality of living, and learning how to set and plan to achieve a goal is one of those things that can literally change your life for the better. 

Do you have a goal to achieve or a change you want to create in your personal or professional life? Please reach out for a discovery call and learn how coaching can help you get the results you want faster, easier, and enjoy the process! 

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