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Jerry Lopper

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6 Critical Goal Setting Mistakes
by Jerry Lopper   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, January 07, 2008
Posted: Monday, January 07, 2008

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Jerry Lopper

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Six common goal setting mistakes and how to avoid them.

Do you usually achieve the goals you set? If you’re like many people, you probably fail to achieve the goals you set about as often as you succeed. One or more of these six common mistakes of goal setting may be the reason. 

  • Mistake: Your Goal is vague and general. A goal must be clear, specific, and unambiguous so that you can form a clear image of the end result you’re targeting.

    For example, a goal to get in shape is vague. What kind of shape are you targeting, a lower weight, six-pack abs, the ability to run a mile without fainting? Re-think your goal in terms of something very specific.

    Imagine someone will ask you, “How will you know when you achieve the goal?” If you can’t answer, your goal is probably too vague.
  • Mistake: The goal was given to you. There’s nothing wrong with this if you buy into the goal and embrace it as your own. But if you don’t passionately desire the goal because it’s something you really want, you won’t have the energy or staying power to achieve it.

    Example: Your spouse has been after you for a long time to lose weight and stop smoking. You finally agree to do something about both, but you enjoy smoking and depend on it to help you through the stressful days of your job. And you don’t think you’re seriously over weight–oh, a few pounds, sure, but isn’t everyone?

    Until you fully believe that your smoking and weight are serious problems, you won’t make progress toward this goal.
  • Mistake: You went public with your goal and now face ridicule and criticism for your lack of progress. It may seem wise to go public with a goal thinking that will keep you on target, but it can be very discouraging to have people second-guessing you and holding up your setbacks for all to see.

    Only share your goal with people you can trust to help you, people who will be unconditionaly supportive.
  • Mistake: Pursuing a goal that includes stopping a harmful behavior without providing another way to get the benefit the harmful behavior provided. Everything we do we do for a good reason; even self-defeating behaviors such as smoking, over-eating, over-spending, and being overly critical of others, bring us a benefit. That’s why we do it.

    For example, attempts to stop smoking without providing for another way to relax or de-stress will likely fail as soon as your self-discipline wanes. Exercise, meditation, or yoga might provide the relaxation that nicotine was providing.

    Reflect on the benefit(s) you’ll be losing if you achieve your goal and substitute another, healthier source for that benefit.
  • Mistake: Failing to come to terms with fears associated with achieving your goal. We often fail to take into account all the changes that will accompany a goal. When we change something about our lives, we tend to focus only upon that which we’re changing. But subconsciously we know that everything changes. Failing to take the totality of change into account may sabotage the goal.

    Example: Losing weight seems a harmless enough goal. Lose weight and improve health, look better, feel better; everything about losing weight seems positive. While you focus on the benefits of a slimmer body, your subconscious may see a negative side of your success; your friends who are overweight may feel jealousy and resentment, and may drift away.

    You must want the goal at all levels of your thinking, conscious and subconscious.
  • Mistake: Setting a goal that’s too challenging or too easy. The best goals are challenging enough to interest and energize us, but not so far out that we can’t see ourselves ever achieving them. Goals that are too easy are just as bad as those that are too difficult. Either way, we’re not motivated.

    Motivation is critical to goal attainment.

    If life purpose is among your goals for this year, investigate the Awakenings CD.

    Related Articles:

    Creative Goal Setting

    SMART Goal Setting

    Successful Goal Setting
    This article first appeared in the Personal Development Topic at

  • Web Site: Purposeful Growth

    Reader Reviews for "6 Critical Goal Setting Mistakes"

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    Reviewed by Linda Newton Perry
    Great advice. Happy writing.
    Reviewed by Robert Blackwell
    Excellent wisdom sharing, as usual.
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