[By: Martin Grunburg]
Goal achievement is difficult all by itself. The funny thing is, we tend to make it even more difficult. After 25-plus years of personal experience and helping others achieve their goals, here are what you might call “The Dirty Dozen” — 12 of the most common goal-setting mistakes.
1) Too Big/Too Many
Much like the Three Little Bears, there is the “right-size” goal as well as the “right-size” bed or right-temperature porridge. Not too hot or cold, big or small, etc. You get the picture!
So the natural question is, how do know the “right” size? Well, the rule of thumb (at least for initial goals and newbies) just might be this: Set the goal just outside your reach — just outside the comfort zone. Now that may sound cliché, but here’s an example: If you’ve never run a marathon, then a half-marathon is a better intermediary goal along the way. If you’ve never reached $100,000 in sales, then aiming for $250,000 versus a target of $1,000,000 is much wiser.
2) Your Focusing on a To-Do List vs Core, Recurring Behaviors (Habits)
This is one just one of the reasons WHY The Habit Factor was born and has become such a popular goal methodology. Rather than following a process, such as SMART goals, which just leaves a user (you) with a To-Do List — a list of next action “steps” — The Habit Factor is different. What will really propel you faster toward your goal is focusing on the core, recurring behaviors — the habits — that must be instituted along the way. For instance, if the goal is running a half-marathon, focusing more on developing the running habit (following the PARR Method) vs. a one-off to-do task list is far more important!
For instance, which will get you closer to your goal: Focusing on developing the running habit by tracking (again PARR)? Or, buying that new pair of running shorts (a one-off task)?
3) You Don’t Write Down Your Goals
There is tremendous power in the act of crystallizing — giving life to your thoughts (invisible) and moving them to the visible realm. That is precisely what happens when you write down your goals!
4) You Don’t Revisit Them Often — Ideally, Daily!
Once they are written down and crystallized, it’s important to keep your goals top of mind, part of your daily consciousness. This reinforces the desire and brings attention and focus to the moment.
5) No Due Date! You Don’t Set an End Date
What’s the desired end date? Due dates create pressure and, contrary to popular opinion, pressure can be a very positive force.
6) The Due Date Is NOT Realistic!
There are two important considerations when it comes to the due date. The first is to take your due dates very seriously. The second is to not take them too seriously.
You want to be hell-bent on making it happen, short of hurting yourself or anyone else. Yet you want to be flexible enough (much like NASA) to reset the due date/launch date if things don’t fall into place. Most people beat themselves up, thinking a missed deadline is the end of the world and proof that goal-setting doesn’t work. The truth is, in even the best cases we reach our goals by the original deadline only 50 percent of the time and that may be high! (And yes, that’s just a guess!) The point is, a missed deadline isn’t a reason to quit. It’s a reason to strengthen your resolve and reset, re-calibrate and reload! (thanks @jocko)
7) More Focused on the Result Than the Process
Too many times to count, I’ve seen people give up because they continue to think their GOAL is out there somewhere, when it’s actually in them. They are already in the process and it’s just a matter of time until it matures. This is much like watching grass grow: From one day to the next there is really zero-perceptible growth to the eye. However, after 6 months or a year the growth is unmistakable! Trust the process, and the process is PARR and Habit Alignment.
8) Related to #7: The Daily Grind Overwhelms You!
We get sidetracked. A kid gets ill, you get in an accident, your spouse loses a job — on and on. LIFE Happens. People then begin to think, “No way is my goal happening this year.” There is no doubt, life does happen. BUT when you hit a life setback, it’s actually an opportunity to strengthen your resolve! Meaning: Get back on the tracking sheet or app and TRACK! Reset, reload and recalibrate! (same as #6).
Yes, the answer to what you do and how you respond is the same: PARR and Habit Alignment — TRACKING!
9) You Don’t Anticipate Setbacks
By managing the easy, you anticipate the difficult. Nothing is “easier” to manage than just tracking core, recurring behaviors — the important habits that will carry you toward your goal achievement. Having said that, we must be mentally prepared for setbacks and know that even as we move closer to our goal’s achievement, we will face great challenges.
Here’s a quick, personal example. After arriving for the VineMan Ironman-distance triathlon in Napa Valley, I realized that my bike’s back rim and pedal had been destroyed on the flight. The local repair shop was adamant they could not fix it. They didn’t have the right parts AND they could not offer me a loaner bike. After six-plus months of training — with the race the next day — I was being forced to give up. I refused and remained resourceful. When it was absolutely darkest before the dawn, with persistence and multiple bike shop visits, we found not a fix, but a workaround that made my bike barely manageable to ride. To my surprise it was able to get me across all 112 miles!
The bonus was that this was my third full Ironman race and I was mentally prepared the entire time — almost waiting and asking what might the next setback be. Each successive event brought similar almost fatal (to my goal) consequences, and I was ready to persevere.
10) You Talk Too Much (SHUT your pie-hole, pls)
Do NOT talk about your goals. That’s right, you heard me and you may have read the in-depth article and reasons why (recent post) you should shut your trap! Just know this: Even “science” backs the idea that you should shut your pie-hole when it comes to your most important goals!
11) You’re Too Impatient
We want our goals to happen quickly; impatience “is the height of ignorance” according to Robert Greene. Goal achievement takes time and GRIT! And, if GRIT is the key to success, what is the key to GRIT!? What habits constitute the development of GRIT.
12) You’re Not Committed
This should probably be #1! It is not enough to be interested in your goal; you must fully commit. For a great story about the difference between commitment and being interested, check out my interview with John Assaraf!
Well, there you have it! The Dirty Dozen common goal-achievement mistakes. Which ones might you be guilty of?