6 Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Goals

With the majority of the holiday insanity behind us, it's time to shift focus to setting goals for the new year. The limbo time between Christmas and New Year's when you don't know what day it is or how many cookies you've eaten is the perfect time to sneak away for a couple hours and plan your best year.

Dr. Laurie Santos, a researcher at Yale University, found that setting goals is a proven way to boost well-being. It's good for your health to set goals!

Achieving goals is a great feeling too. You stand a better chance of achieving your goals when you really develop them effectively from the start. So let's take a look at common mistakes to avoid when setting goals so you can generate powerful goals for 2024. 

Avoid These 6 Mistakes When Setting Goals

  1. Not identifying why it's important to you. If you set goals based on what you think you "should" do, your goals are being dictated by societal expectations. They don't have deep meaning to you. So you likely won't be motivated to stick with it very long. To avoid this, after you write each goal ask yourself why is this important to me? You'll be more motivated when you're personally invested in the goal.
  2. Setting goals outside of your control. If you set a goal in which you can't control the outcome, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Making a specific amount of money and winning an award are examples of goals that are not within your control. Instead, focus on the controllables, like how much marketing you're doing. Being visible leads to making more money.
  3. Neglecting to create habits based on your goals. Writing a goal is simply putting a desire on paper. You often don't know HOW you will achieve a goal. Therefore, when you set a goal, you must create habits that support each goal. Habits are the process- the daily actions you take- that ultimately help you achieve your goal. Habits shape your identity. Ultimately, your habits help you become your future self.
    "Every action you take is a vote for the person you are becoming." ~Atomic Habits
  4. Equating happiness with achievement. If you think, when I reach this goal I will be happy, your tendency is to equate your happiness only when you achieve something. This restricts your happiness in the present moment. You believe happiness can only be attained in the future. Give yourself permission to feel satisfied with the process and celebrate the small wins along the way!
  5. Overlooking obstacles. If you set a goal and fail to consider obstacles that might pop up on the journey, you'll get frustrated when they slow you down. As you write your goals, also write what might get in the way: rejection, sickness, procrastination, limited knowledge, etc. So keep your timelines flexible because life happens.
  6. Neglecting to work on your mindset/limiting beliefs. Many times, your biggest obstacle is your mindset. We all have stories that limit our progress. We have habits that sabotage our goals. So when you notice a negative thought, pause and ask yourself is this really true? Get curious about your thoughts. Examine why they're there (likely trying to protect you), recognize the lesson, reassure yourself you are capable of handling the outcomes, and release the thought.

In summary, setting goals is more involved than identifying what you want. It's a process that takes time, thought, and effort. You might even spend more than one day developing your goals. I've been known to spend 2 hours on 2-3 days working on my goals.

Use these principles to set yourself up for success!

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