5 Ways to Fail at Goal Setting

This past week I planned on taking a complete break from all technology.  I was away with my family at a cottage and thought it was the perfect opportunity to simply relax with no distractions.

I failed.

In truth, I set myself up for failure.  My goal setting was rough and I made it easy for myself to not accomplish what I truly wanted to.

Disciplining yourself is hard.  One of the best ways to discipline yourself is through strategic goal setting.

Goal setting means you are pushing yourself, stretching yourself, and many times bringing yourself outside of your comfort zone.  I believe that our natural human tendencies are laziness, self-pleasure, and self-indulgence.  All of which take away from living purposeful days.

Goal setting is a way of disciplining yourself so that you CAN live days of purpose.  When I hear the term goal setting I don't get a warm, fuzzy feeling.  In fact instead I feel uncomfortable, uneasy, and even a bit anxious.  The reason for this has been simply my lack of trying, and my lack of achievable goal setting.

I wish I had taken the complete break I needed this past week.  I wish I had been more disciplined.  I do know why I didn't.

The following are four ways to fail at goal setting as well as four ways to correct this:

1.  Don't break down your goal properly. Setting an overall goal is great but to leave it at this is setting yourself up for failure.  By not breaking down your goal into tiny, every day pieces you will get lost in the overall goal.

My goal was simply this:  Don't use technology for the week at the cottage.  I didn't prepare how I was going to do that, I didn't break down the goal day by day, and I didn't count on temptations that might come up.  During the week, our hot water tank broke so someone needed to contact the owner of the cottage.  I offered, which meant my phone was out and there was my temptation to quickly check my messages, emails, etc.

Instead:  Write down your overall goal and then break it down day by day, or even hour by hour depending on the type of goal. Answer the following questions:

- How are you going to accomplish this goal?
- How will each day (or hour) look differently?
- What will you do when temptation arises?

2.  Leave temptations easily accessible. When making your goal, if you choose to ignore the obvious temptations that will arise, the likelihood of you not achieving your goal is high.

My phone was easily accessible anytime I wanted to use it.  I kept it on the entire week.  I then even used it for a sound machine for my baby girl.  This all shows that I was not committed to my goal.  I was allowing myself to mess up, easily.

Instead:  Consider the temptations that may arise.  Write them down and think of ways that you can eliminate them as much as possible.  If there are some temptations that are not possible to eliminate ask someone else to help you in those areas (which brings us to the next point...)

3.  Don't tell anyone.  Keeping your goal a secret will surely stop you from accomplishing it.  After all, if you don't follow through, no one will know anyways!  Who will you have to rely on when your facing temptations or when you feel like your goal is overwhelming?

While I mentioned to my followers that I would not be blogging this week,  I did not let anyone else know my plans of spending time off technology.  Therefore, when I did have the moment of weakness of checking my messages I felt guilty not responding.

Instead:  Being open with your goals is of utmost importance.  We cannot accomplish our goals in isolation as we need that accountability of others around us.  Whether you tell one person or five - telling SOMEONE is a must.  Tell one or more people who will be sure to keep you accountable, who you can tell how it is going, or who you can rely on during the harder days.

4.  Be unrealistic. Making an idealistic goal can feel good when you write it down, but it doesn't make sense if you know you will never be able to truly accomplish it.  I sometimes catch myself writing a goal or even a point on my to do list, while thinking 'I am never actually going to do this.'  I am working on catching myself in that and quickly reassessing how I can better plan my goals.

I was very unrealistic when it came to my goal of using absolutely no technology for the week.  We live in a constant connected world and it did not make sense to assume that I would not need my phone all week. In fact there was more than one scenario where contact was needed through a phone call.

Instead:  Make your goals achievable by truly assessing your time, money, or whatever else your goal will include.  Then, like number 1, break it down to make sense for your every day living.  Always ask yourself if the goal makes sense and if it is truly achievable.

5.  Don't Reassess.  Making a goal and then only looking back on it when the goal should be completed is another way to set yourself up for failure.  We often need to go back and reassess our plans or ideas because of daily changes, mistakes made, or ideas that were thought of that simply don't seem to be working.

Even though I did not follow through on my goal of taking time off technology, I could have reassessed my goal midway in the week to see how to better accomplish my goal.  While I made mistakes, I could have gone back and corrected it for the rest of the week.  Instead I focused on how I had failed and decided that the goal was not even worth it anymore.

Instead:  Take the time each week to reassess your goals. Ask yourself the following questions:

-  Are the goals being achieved?  Why or why not?
-  Is the goal too difficult?
-  Could I add more to my goal?
-  Is there anything preventing me from accomplishing my goal?

Remind yourself that giving up is not an option.


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