Goal setting is rather simple. A goal is simply a dream written down. If you take this written dream and break it down into action steps, you have an achievable goal. Do one action step at a time and before you know it your goal will become a reality. You can use this plan with almost anything… weight loss, writing a book, running a marathon. As you can see, goal setting is easy.
However… if goal setting is so easy, why don’t we all have buff bodies, books on the bestseller list, and ribbons from the Boston Marathon?
Why can’t we stick to our goals once we set them?
The shocking truth is we give up way too soon.
At the slightest bit of trouble we bail
We can’t stick with it
We give up
Why do we stop?
Why can’t we keep going?
Why do we stop when we’ve just got started?
Why does it feel impossible to complete the task?
I’ve pondered this topic for years. It seems like such a simple problem, but it isn’t. In talking with others it is a rampant problem. It’s widespread. It affects professional people and lay people alike. While there are many factors at play, I’ve found three that will really trip you up. Here they are…
The Truth About Goal Setting
1. Broadcasting To The World That You Set A Goal. I used to think this was a smart thing to do. Why not have all your friends hold you accountable for that goal that you set? But from experience, I’ve found that two things happen.
- Your friends or co-workers will tell you a thousand reasons why you will fail. You’ll get a barrage of negative messages. Some of your friends may be jealous that you are attempting something new. Others may have had a bad experience in the past. You’ll hear things like… Diets always fail, Running will blow out your knees, Nobody will want to read what you write… I’m sure you’ve heard many things like this. Negative messages can stop you cold.
- You’ll get the same emotional boost from telling everyone what you are going to do as you will from actually doing it. So when the first day of the goal comes, you may find yourself dreading it. Instead of wanting to accomplish the goal, now you have to do it. Having to do something becomes a chore quickly. The joy disappears and you end up hating yourself for taking on the goal. You look for excuses or just hope everyone forgets about it.
Solution: While it’s great to have someone hold you accountable, it’s best to confide in only a few people and these people need to be positive motivators. This is where a good coach or mentor comes in. Positive people will help you move forward. Negative people will tear you down.
2. Focus on the future instead of the task at hand. While a goal is just a dream written down, many people continue in the dream stage way too long. To actually accomplish the goal, you need to write it down, break it into action steps, and focus on the action steps , one at a time.
Focusing on the finished goal can stop you dead in your tracks. While it’s good to focus on your progress from time to time, to get the job done, you need to break tasks down into small actionable steps. Things you can actually do. Then schedule time to do them.
For example. Lets say you want to do a weight training regime to get six pack abs. Focusing on the six pack abs will give you an initial motivation, but you need to focus on the individual exercises to move forward. Focusing on the 50 pushups at hand or the 12 rep bicycle crunch will move you along. Creating a schedule and a checklist will keep you on track. The six pack abs will come with time, if you perform each exercise in your plan over time.
3. Trying To Accomplish a Goal All By Yourself. The hardest person to motivate is yourself. While you may have great intentions, your internal voice can constantly find excuses and diversions to knock you off track. Procrastination will raise its ugly head. Finding a good coach or mentor is key. They will help you create a strong personal discipline and be there to monitor your progress.
Look at any championship football or baseball team and you will find a great coach. While the individual players need talent, a great coach will add motivation, drive, and determination. If you truly want to experience greatness, find a great mentor or coach with your best interests at heart.
Overall: Speaker Myles Munroe said it best, When you announce to the world you are going to do something, it is obliged to test you. The criticism and challenges will come fast and hard. If you are not prepared, it will knock you down cold.
Why not give yourself an advantage. Keep your goals close to your vest. Announce them after you have accomplished them, not before. Find a trusted coach or mentor to help you get there. Focus on the individual steps and your goal will take care of itself. The truth about goal setting is this; we can easily be our own worst enemy.
Question: Have you experienced challenges and criticism after announcing your goals?