10 Goal Setting Mistakes You Should Never Make

Sharing is caring!

goal setting mistakes

Many people have started setting goals, but they are making some goal-setting mistakes that are ruining their efforts. And the harsh reality is that setting goals wrongly is even worse than not having any goals.

When you don’t set goals, you don’t have anything you are working towards and don’t spend time, energy and resources.

But when you make goal-setting mistakes, you end up having a goal, chasing it and spending time, energy and resources, only to see all that effort fall flat and crumble.

To avoid this, you must make the extra effort and be more serious about ensuring you correctly set the right goals. Below are some common goal-setting mistakes; you will do well to avoid them.


10 Goal-Setting Mistakes To Avoid

1.  Setting Goals Based On Someone Else’s Dreams

Many people are victims of someone else’s dreams. They are pursuing goals that are not theirs, goals that others have forced on them.

For example, you see a young child struggling to make it through med school even though nothing about medicine comes naturally to him. And yet they are there, pursuing a medical career just because their father wants them to be doctors.

Perhaps the father wanted to be a doctor, too but did not have the opportunity to go to school or was not smart enough to pass the entrance exams.

And so, when his child was born, he poured this dream into that child—drumming it into them to become doctors. The child has not sat down to think about what they want for themselves. Instead, they become an embodiment of their father’s dreams.

In this case, they go about thinking it is their dream when it is their father’s. Unfortunately, this is one of the goal-setting mistakes many people in different paths of life are making.

They live the dream of fathers, mentors, mothers and religious leaders. When you set your goals based on someone else’s dream, you will eventually discover that you will feel empty even if you achieve the goal.

You will feel robbed of your time, life, energy and resources. So, while setting that goal, it is essential to ask yourself if that is what you want for yourself.

In addition, you must ask yourself if this is your dream. Do not be the one living someone else’s dream while yours perish.


2.  Paying No Attention To Previous Goal-Setting Mistakes

Here is one of the most common goal-setting mistakes. Many people make this mistake, not just in setting goals but in many other aspects of life. Mistakes are bound to happen. You are a human being and are liable to make mistakes.

But it is expected that you correct yourself when you make a mistake. You learn from the previous mistakes and adjust. When you do not do this, you stand a chance of repeating that mistake, thereby setting yourself back.

And this impacts not just you but others around you. So if you realize you made a mistake on a particular goal you set, don’t just start afresh.

First, you should get an honest assessment of your error. What did you do wrong? Where did it go wrong? What are the places where you should improve? This assessment needs to be done before you set off to set another goal.

Now that you have figured out when, where and how it all went wrong, you can start doing things differently. If you do something that didn’t work out, doing it again would be wasting time and resources.

So, start by switching up things. Did your previous error come because your habits negated your goals? Then you must cultivate habits that will help you achieve your goal.

Did you fail because you did not ask for advice from people who were already pros in the field you set the goal in? Then seek advice and know when to apply those. Finally, know the history of your mistake and don’t repeat it.


3.  Setting An Unclear Goal

goal setting mistakes

This is arguably the chief of goal-setting mistakes. And this is because many people who make goal-setting mistakes are at fault here.

Let us imagine for a second that you are using a GPS-assisted car and set out from your specific address in Utah to go to a place in Colorado. For that GPS to guide you correctly, you must put in a specific address in Colorado.

If you do not know where exactly in Colorado you are going, you end up wasting time and achieving nothing. This analogy may sound funny because it has to do with a location, but this is precisely what many people do with their goals.

They are not specific with their goals. And it is just pointless working on goals without the specifics. And one of the disadvantages of setting an unclear goal is that you end up failing.

And this should not come as a surprise, as an unspecific goal is not a goal. All you just did was clearly and carefully plan how to fail. For example, instead of saying you want to lose weight, why not say you want to lose a specific weight? Say 50 or 70 pounds.

When you do this, you have set and clearly defined your goal. Setting a goal with such specifics is like marking a target and then shooting towards that target. If you don’t have a focus and a target, you will waste arrows shooting in vain.

To learn how to set clear goals for better implementation and increase you success rate, read the post here.


4.  Setting Too Many Goals

goal setting mistakes

We have been taught many things that are inconsistent with how our mind works. One of them is that multitasking is such a great idea. But the truth is that humans don’t do well when multitasking.

Sometimes even computers we rely on to multitask find it difficult too. They crash or have glitches because they are dealing with too much.

Even when it looks like we are multitasking, we are giving attention to one thing and neglecting the other. One of the most common goal-setting mistakes is setting too many goals. When you set too many goals, you chase after the wind.

You do things shabbily, leaving you in a worse place than before you started planning or working on your goal. Sometimes, people set multiple goals because they try to catch up with others who they think are seemingly ahead of them.

But things don’t work that way. Your goals are yours; you should not set those goals with respect to the goals of others. That is erroneous, and you pull your attention into too many things and end up doing nothing well.

You become the Jack of all trades who is a master of none. Now, evaluate your goals. Are they too many? Leave some for a while. Then, tackle the goals one at a time with laser-sharp focus.


5.  No Constant Review Of Goals

Think about this: why do you think there are tests, assignments, projects, home works, class works, review writings, seminars and project defenses and exams in school?

Do you think those are done because teachers don’t have better things to do with their time? Why do your teachers stress themselves about doing assignments and carrying out reviews and practice?

This is because they are trying to review goals. For example, when a teacher gives you an assignment or classwork, they are effectively trying to check and find out if you learnt what they have been teaching.

They are trying to assess how much you have learnt. They are trying to measure how well they are doing their jobs. The school gives you exams because they want to ensure you have achieved your learning goal.

When you pass your exams, it is proof that you have learned something. So, apply this reasoning in setting goals. Setting goals without reviewing them periodically to know if you are on track is an error.

One reason why this review is vital is to understand what is working and what isn’t. Then you can adjust where you should and work harder with what is giving you results.

So, if you want to lose 50 pounds in three months, review your workout and the effectiveness of your meal plan once every two weeks. To know if you are losing enough weight in two weeks to hit the 50-pound mark in three months.


6.  Setting Goals That Are Too Small Or Too Big

goal setting mistakes

One goal-setting mistake people make is setting goals that are either too small or too big. You have to be realistic with your goals. Look at where you are now; look at your goals. Can you reach that height within a specific time frame?

Sometimes your goals fail because you are trying to fit a big dream into a small time frame. When you do this, the first thing that takes a hit is your brain.

You may not know it, but your brain shuts down when you burden it with a goal that is too high and unachievable within a given time. For example, you are a paid employee with just about three thousand dollars in salary per month and before tax.

You have no business or any savings or trust fund that you can use to set up a business. Yet you are drawing up a business plan to start raking in five thousand dollar profit every month in six months.

How is that possible? When will you save enough money to start that kind of business? What time will your business grow to the point of bringing in that amount? People who are millionaires now did not start like that.

And setting that kind of goal is simply unrealistic. On the flip side, some people set a goal that is too small to make any change. So your goals must be realistic and also challenging.


7.  Ignoring The Part Habit Plays

When you get a computer, there is something you want that computer to do for you. For example, you may want to use the computer to achieve your goal: type or analyze data using Microsoft Excel.

When you boot your computer, you go to Word or Excel to do what you want. But there is inner work that makes this possible. There are software or programs running in the backend that helps you type or analyze data.

You cannot meet your goals if something is wrong with this backend. This is precisely the way habits and goals work. Habits are software and programs behind the scenes working hard to help you achieve your goals.

You may make many mistakes if you do not recognize the power of habits in goal setting. This is because habit is what powers your goals. For example, imagine that your goal is to read 50 books in a year.

Ask yourself, what habits will you take up or drop for that to come to pass? You must decrease the amount of time you spend on social media. You have to stop watching too much TV.

You also have to start reading a number of pages per day to meet that goal. When you set your goals, consider the habit that can power you into meeting that goal.

If you don’t do that, you will find that some of your habits are inconsistent with your goals. And this will lead to not meeting your goal.


8.  You Don’t Write The Goals Down

goal setting mistakes

One goal-setting mistake you may be making right now is that you are not writing your goals down. When you don’t write your goals down, you lose focus.

If you write down your goals and get to look at them every morning when you wake up, and every night before you sleep, you will be motivated and encouraged. It will stick in your mind.

If you don’t do this, it becomes easier for you to forget or ignore your goals. When you write the goals down, you get a visual reminder of things you are meant to do.

If you have a savings goal for the week, create a sticky note on the screen of your phone so that whenever you want to make a purchase that is not necessary, you have an easy reminder that you should not. This will help keep you in check.


9.  Setting Immeasurable Goals

goal setting mistakes

Another example of the most typical goal-setting mistake is setting goals that cannot be measured. The measurement can be quantitative or qualitative. Whichever one it is, there has to be a way to measure them.

How do you know the goal has been achieved if it cannot be measured? For example, if you are the head of a team in charge of treating customer transfers in a bank and you set a goal like ensuring customer satisfaction. Now, this is good.

But the problem is that it is not measurable. So how do you ensure that customers are satisfied? What are the metrics for judging their satisfaction?

Instead of just leaving it to ensure customer satisfaction, you can go further and make the goal measurable. First, take note of your response time. Is your current response time 10 minutes? Then set a goal to reduce response time to 5 minutes.

When you do this, it becomes measurable. You now know the goal was not met once the response time exceeds five minutes. But when it is 5 minutes or below, you know you are on the right track.

When you reduce response time in treating customers’ transactions, such a customer would be happy and satisfied with the service.

Nobody likes spending long hours in the bank, so if you can reduce how much time customers stay there, you have successfully satisfied that customer.


10.  You Don’t Anticipate The Challenges You May Face

One of the many goal-setting mistakes people make is that they think the pathway to their goals is just a smooth and straight line without hiccups. So you plan, and everything goes as planned. But this is wrong.

The pathway to your goal is not a straight line. You will encounter a lot of obstacles on the way. In fact, sometimes, you can even be the obstacle to achieving your own goal.

For example, the goal is to lose 50 pounds in three months and then to do that; you have to exercise every day. You realize that some days you won’t feel like exercising.

Some days you wouldn’t leave the house because of mental and physical fatigue. The problem is that people who do not anticipate these challenges often fall from their goal of this setback.

You see that you enter the second and third days by not exercising for one day. And before you know it, you have stopped chasing that goal. But when you anticipate these challenges, it helps you realize that one setback is not the end.

It is still along the path of achieving your goal. It helps you not to lose heart. You must expect and anticipate challenges when you set these goals, as they help you handle them better when they eventually come.


What Are Some Of The Problems With Setting Goals?

goal setting mistakes

So, what are some of the problems with setting goals? Here are some of them below:

1.  Setting Goals With The Wrong Motive

You must have a reason for setting a goal. The ‘why’ of your goal is essential and should not be overlooked. So, why are you setting that goal? To impress someone?

To show someone that you can do what they did? When your reason for setting a goal isn’t based on what you want, you are making a mistake.


2.  Thinking You Don’t Need Help

Point me to someone who did not need anyone’s help on their way up, and I will show you a man that never existed.

Every person on earth had someone who helped them in one way or another to become what they are today.

Do not underestimate the power of community, mentorship and assistance. Make room for people to help you on your way up. You will get to your destination faster.


3.  Impatience

Rome was not built in a day. You have to give your goals time to mature and materialize. You set your goals based on a particular time frame. So, wait for your time.

Of course, you can be a billionaire if you work hard enough. But you cannot build that kind of wealth overnight. Success takes time.



Now that you have seen some of the goal-setting mistakes we pointed out, which one will you change from doing? You must realize that for your goals to be valid, they must have a reason why it is a goal.

That reason must be your own, based on your dreams and not anyone else’s. Next is to be sure your goal is realistic and achievable within the time frame you are working with. Then ensure your goals are specific and measurable.

If you can’t measure your progress, there is no way you will know whether you have met your goal or not. Finally, write those goals down. The more you see visual reminders of your goal, the more you get encouraged to follow them.

Save this for later!


Sharing is caring!

Author: Afam Uche

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *