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Personal goal setting

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17 / Mar / 2008

I am always excited by personal goals – discussing them, planning them, striving towards them and most of all achieving them.
So, I thought it would be good to look at the five most common mistakes people make in setting goals and how to overcome them to achieve success.

Mistake #1 – Unclear and vague goals

Goals need to be clear and specific – not just a whim or an exciting idea blurted out at a party, or even something vague you have never verbalised. The best goals are specific, have been voiced to at least one other person, and best of all written down. If they are measurable and objective – all the better.
You need to clearly specify the starting point and identify the steps. So each goal might be the longer term or main goal, with short term goals, within definite timeframes.

Mistake #2 – Unrealistic goals

I know it is great to think of goals that are a stretch for you – yes that is important, but it’s no good setting an impossible goal, something that cannot reasonably be achieved. Don’t set too many concurrent goals, that puts you under too much pressure and you are always focused on what you still have left to do rather than enjoying what you have achieved.
For some goals you may first need to acquire specific skills – whether they are certain IT/computer skills, or maybe sports skills, or even public speaking skills.
These skills would become a first step and maybe you need to really carefully allow that time in your planning.

Mistake #3 – Conflicting goals

Many of us in business set goals in various parts of our life, but when stacked up together seem to conflict. So suddenly to achieve certain things in work or projects takes more time away from family, yet a New Year’s resolution may have been to spend more time with family.
You need to ensure a balanced mix of goals – personal, work/life, career, family,
friends, health, sport, community, philanthropic, leisure etc. A good way to work this all out is to focus on your values – and then set priorities, and these will change.

Mistake #4 – Not learning from experience

It’s important to take time out to reflect on previous goals and outcomes and look at what went wrong/right and why. For example, if you know you always end up with unused gym memberships, then look at why. Don’t just leap into a new membership without knowing why you have failed to make it work in the past.
If your staff are often annoyed by your new plans and projects, find out why before you launch enthusiastically into the next project. Don’t repeat the same mistakes.
The other thing we can learn from experience is to ensure the goals are not too easy – “flatline” goals, which are really not helping us move forward, and have no challenge or possibly even risk.
A great way to make goals work is to share them with a “goal buddy” – team up with someone who also shares the same goal.

Mistake #5 – Not celebrating goal achievements

Don’t get so overloaded by a large number of goals that you don’t stop to celebrate those you achieve. Your focus can too often be on the path ahead and what you have not done rather than enjoying what you have done. You need a clearly defined point of achievement, and build in some personal rewards. Stop to enjoy and celebrate. Share your success with others close to you. It makes others enthusiastic too.

The thing that can really help you achieve goals is to visualise your success – how will it look and feel?
This can be very helpful in bringing you closer to success. You also need to be realistic and expect setbacks. It might be hard, so be prepared to stick at it.
Having said that, one of the hardest things is to LET GO of a goal – put aside, or end an incomplete project when other factors mount up and it becomes untenable to continue. It’s OK to not succeed every time! Remember – this is where we learn more about ourselves and we become more realistic with a similar goal in the future.

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