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Goal Setting for 2022: Where Goal Setting Goes Wrong

This is the first in a series of posts about goal setting that are tailor-made for 2022, the first year in the pandemic when we can really plan and set goals without being completely sideswiped by the mysteries and surprises of the pandemic.

If you, like me, have taken a break from goal setting the last couple of years, now is a great time to get back to it. If you, also like me, don't particularly like setting goals, this series is for you.

Let's take a quick look at where goal-setting goes wrong, so we can avoid these mistakes as we move forward:

Being unrealistic Setting a goal to ice skate competitively when you haven't been on skates since high school isn't particularly realistic. Exhaustive world travel in the middle of a pandemic isn't particularly realistic -- you can plan for it and even possibly execute it, but it's a goal you'll need to keep a close eye and lots of flexibility with. You don't have to keep your dreams small, but you do have to take your reality and your starting point into consideration.

Unclear motivations Goals must be personal and meaningful or you’ll have no reason to achieve them. And they must be yours – not your partner’s, parents’, roommate's, kids' or manager’s. Why you are going after something is as important as what you're going after.

As an example, when I was living with an old roommate, she set a goal that we were going to mop the floor at least twice a month. Except I was the only one who did the mopping. You get my point.

No plan Having a meaningful goal in writing is only half the story – you need an action plan to tell you how to get there. All successful missions have had a plan or strategy, so be patient and don’t just rush in, take time to plan the journey so you take the best route. (Which is to say, stick with me, kid. I'll give you what you need.)

Not taking action Will Rogers once said, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." Goals don't achieve themselves.

Losing focus Achieving your goals requires focus, commitment, and persistence. Sometimes your energy will flag and you’ll feel more like watching Netflix than strapping on your running shoes, but it’s important not to give up. To help keep you focused, try enlisting the help of a friend, loved one, or coach -- I know a good one.

No time This is the real kicker. For those of us working billion-hour weeks in our home offices, the key to achieving goals is making time, not finding it. And for those of us with kids, it can feel like we live with small time-vacuums. Make use of your external supports, whether that's a calendar, a partner, a schedule, or paid help. Goals are rarely achieved because of solo efforts.

Too hard Goal setting is a skill, and like all skills, it takes time to learn and gain experience. Start with a few ‘easy’ goals and build up from there – before too long, you’ll be an expert goal setter!

Fear of failure Fear of failure is real, but there’s a difference between failing at an attempt and “being a failure.” If this is a big stumbling block for you, try to see failure from a different perspective – Edison “failed” to make a light bulb thousands of times before he succeeded.

Not putting goals in writing When goals are written down, it means you've invested time and energy in defining them, that you can refer back to them and see what your original plan was, and you can post them around your house or world to make it easier to remember what you're aiming for. I can't remember what I had for breakfast, so expecting myself to remember in December what I was aiming for in January isn't going to work for me.

Relying on someone else Partners, managers, coaches, best friends, and therapists are great, but they don’t have all the answers. If you wait for someone else to come up with goals for you, it might be too late (and you might end up mopping the floor a lot more than you want to).

Tune in for more, including the different types of goals you can set, and tricks for identifying them.

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