Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes When Goal-Setting
Setting personal goals can help you improve and change, and achieve satisfaction, and feel like you are moving through your life and your career with direction. Yet too often, people set goals based on their thinking alone. You are much more likely to achieve your goals if they align with your values.
Setting goals isn’t easy. It takes time and commitment. Avoid these 3 common goal-setting mistakes to keep your career, and your life, on track:
- Your goal isn’t valued enough. If you haven’t committed your mind and heart to the goal, you are more likely to fail. Bring your heart into the goal-setting process and examine how your goals align with your values — the underlying life principles that you believe are important. Learn more about how to set goals that align with your values below.
- Your goal isn’t specific enough. Your goal may be too broad and overwhelming. Recast your aspirations into the form of a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed). Learn more about SMART goals below. After drafting your SMART goals, you can plan how you can break your larger goals into smaller, specific steps that will move you in the right direction.
- Your goal isn’t supported enough. You are more likely to succeed at your goals if you have someone serving as your coach, cheerleader, or mentor. Ask friends, family, and co-workers for their support and to hold you accountable as you work toward your goals. Revisit your goals at regular intervals to make sure you’re on track and to re-energize your efforts.
How to Set Goals That You’ll Achieve
Here’s how to avoid these common goal-busters and how to set goals that align with your values:
1. Reflect and take stock of exactly what your values are. There’s little motivation for success if your goals don’t connect to your values. Of course, to make this work you need to know exactly what your values are. We recommend looking at 5 areas of your life — career, self, family, community, and spirit — and consider how you are living out your values in each of those areas. Gaining this perspective will give you some ideas about what you might like to change or improve.
To do this, consider: How do you spend your time and energy? What are you passionate about? What do you need to do more of? What should you cut back on? What is missing?
Take time to process your thoughts and feelings and consider feedback you’ve been given. List 5 things you would like to change or do differently. Write them down as possible goals.
2. Focus. Select just one goal out of the 5 to focus on first, and add enough detail to turn it into a SMART goal:
- Specific: Write down your goal with as much detail as possible.
- Measurable: Identify quantitative targets for tracking your progress and results.
- Attainable: Make certain that it is possible to achieve the desired result.
- Realistic: Acknowledge the practical requirements necessary to accomplish the goal.
- Timed: Build in specific deadlines.
3. Plan. Break down your SMART goal into small, specific steps that will move you in the right direction. Begin by listing at least one action to take in the next week. Schedule a time to do it.
4. Enlist support. Think about family, friends, or co-workers whom you can inform of your new goal and ask for support. They can help hold you accountable for making progress. Carefully select whom you tell and when you tell them, so as not to undermine your motivation or progress.
5. Revisit. Each week, assess how you are doing against your goal. Keep a focus on your values. Decide what actions you will take that week toward achieving your goal. Set new milestones as needed.
Yes, this process takes time. Choosing and planning your goals and making sure your goals align with your values is hard work. The rewards, however, are priceless.
Ready to take the next step? Get more detail in our guidebook, Setting Your Development Goals: Start with Your Values.