Personal goal setting

“I’ve always been excited by personal goals – but too often people miss the mark,” says EVE ASH. “Here are my five most common mistakes people make.”

By Eve AshEve Ash

I am always excited by personal goals – discussing them, planning them, striving towards them and most of all achieving them. My problem is I usually set too many, and so it can cause me to get overloaded.

So I thought today it would be good to look at the five most common mistakes people make in setting goals and how to overcome them to achieve success.

Mistake #1 – Unclear and vague goals

Goals need to be clear and specific – not just a whim or an exciting idea blurted out at a party, or even something vague you have never verbalised. The best goals are specific, have been voiced to at least one other person, and best of all written down. If they are measurable and objective – all the better.

You need to clearly specify the starting point and identify the steps. So each goal might be the longer term or main goal, with short term goals, within definite timeframes.

Mistake #2 – Unrealistic goals

I know it is great to think of goals that are a stretch for you – yes that is important, but it’s no good setting an impossible goal, something that cannot reasonably be achieved. Or don’t do what I tend to do – set too many concurrent goals – that puts you under too much pressure and you are always focused on what you still have left to do rather than enjoying what you have achieved.

For some goals you may first need to acquire specific skills – whether they are certain IT/computer skills, or maybe sports skills, or even public speaking skills.

These skills would become a first step and maybe you need to really carefully allow that time in your planning.

Mistake #3 – Conflicting goals

Many of us in business set goals in various parts of our life, but when stacked up together seem to conflict. So suddenly to achieve certain things in work or projects takes more time away from family, yet a New Year’s resolution may have been to spend more time with family.

You need to ensure a balanced mix of goals – personal, work/life, career, family,
friends, health, sport, community, philanthropic, leisure etc. A good way to work this all out is to focus on your values – and then set priorities, and these will change.

Having just had a grandson last week, the desire to spend more time with him and my daughter are high in my priorities. Priorities change all the time!

Mistake #4 – Not learning from experience

It’s important to take time out to reflect on previous goals and outcomes and look at what went wrong/right and why. For example, if you know you always end up with unused gym memberships, then look at why. Don’t just leap into a new membership without knowing why you have failed to make it work in the past.

If your staff are often annoyed by your new plans and projects, find out why before you launch enthusiastically into the next project. Don’t repeat the same mistakes.
The other thing we can learn from experience is to ensure the goals are not too easy – “flatline” goals, which are really not helping us move forward, and have no challenge or possibly even risk.

A great way to make goals work is to share them with a “goal buddy” – team up with someone who also shares the same goal.

Mistake #5 – Not celebrating goal achievements

I am often so overloaded by my large number of goals I don’t stop to celebrate those I achieve. So my focus is too often on the path ahead and what I have not done rather than enjoying what I have done. You need a clearly defined point of achievement, and build in some personal rewards. Stop to enjoy and celebrate. Share your success with others close to you. It makes others enthusiastic too.

The thing that can really help you achieve goals is to visualise your success – how will it look and feel?

This can be very helpful in bringing you closer to success. But you also need to be realistic and expect setbacks. It might be hard, so be prepared to stick at it.

Having said that I know for me one of the hardest things is to LET GO of a goal – put aside, or end an incomplete project when other factors mount up and it becomes untenable to continue. It’s OK to not succeed every time! But remember – this is where we learn more about ourselves and we become more realistic with a similar goal in the future.


Play See the video Personal Goal Setting

By Eve Ash, psychologist and Managing Director, Seven Dimensions, and co-producer with Peter Quarry of the Ash.Quarry production – Personal Goal Setting from the TAKE AWAY TRAINING SERIES

For more Eve Ash blogs, click here.



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