The 3 Common Mistakes With Goal Setting


Most people don’t seem to have a problem dreaming up goals… but so many people never follow through and reach their goals because they are making either 1, or all, of these mistakes:

  1. Setting goals that aren’t in alignment with who they are and what they want.
  2. Setting goals that are misaligned with each other and therefore splitting focus.
  3. Not breaking goals down and planning in the actions required to attain them as well as taking any possible conflict and resistance into consideration.

I have made all 3 of these mistakes.


Year in, year out.

I’ve tried many a goal setting workshop, or vision board session, and I have spent days trying to map out how to get from point A to point B and reverse-engineer my goals.

But it never got me very far.

Sometimes I’d start off well with a clear vision and direction, but it was never too long before I got distracted and suddenly found myself in December, quickly wracking a half-arsed list of goals together for the next year – usually with a glass (bottle) of wine in hand.

I’d get all fired up planning again in January (high from the fumes of alcohol vacating my body during my new year detox I presume) and then I’d wind up 11 months later, back in December, asking myself  “What have I achieved this year that I truly wanted to?”

If the question was on achievement alone then the answer would have been quite a lot actually, I’m a do-er after all.  But was any of it what I truly wanted?

The answer would always be “I’m not sure.”

It was always that because I never took the time to find what I wanted, what I TRULY wanted. Believe me, I tried, I tried very hard, but I could never break through the surface.

I put things on my goal setting list or vision board that I didn’t actually care for; nice cars, impressive multi-million-pound houses, exotic beaches – I even put a family on there. I’d fluff it out with other stuff like inspirational quotes and pictures of buddhas and crystals in the hope it would bring peace, calm and clarity to my life while I awaited my knight in shining armour to appear on his private jet.

As the rise in materialism and fickleness became more prominent in the world (on social media in particular) I was coerced into believing that these are what goals are, and this is what I should be striving for, as everybody else seemed to be striving for them.

In business, people kept talking about finding “your why” – they still do, and even to this day I shudder at the term.  That, and ‘client avatar’ – I’m rubbish at those too, but that’s a separate matter.

I honestly struggled to find my “why.”

I just didn’t have one.

I had absolutely no idea what my purpose was, why I was on this planet, or why any of us were on the planet really.

I’m still not entirely sure of the answer to the last one.

But I came to the conclusion that it was pretty pointless just wandering around with no purpose, and feeling like a character in a Samuel Beckett play.

I essentially therapised myself (I do that a lot) as I seemed to have an aversion to outright stating what I want and so this way I was able to sidestep my barriers, and go through the backdoor so to speak, to uncover this elusive why that everyone talks of, or what I prefer to call My North Star.

So instead of just thinking up a bunch of goals for the sake of it, dumping them on a piece of paper with a number beside them in relation to how many years I should complete them in, and attempting to crack on with it. Or instead of projecting my imagination so far forward into the future and then freaking out when I come back to the present day with a bump, feeling nothing but lack and paralysis as to how on earth I could ever make that future a reality, or just outright delusional about possibilities.

l got a bit more practical, realistic, and intentional with this goal-setting project of mine. And here’s how:

  1. I put 4 columns side by side and titled them 1-year, 3-year, 5-year, and 10-year. I started with what I could see realistically happening in 1 year because 10 years just sends me into freakout.
  2. I then moved onto 3 years because 5 years is still too much of a jump too soon. And once I filled column 3 out I was then able to move on to the 5-year column.
  3. And once that was done, then I felt confident for the big leap to the 10-year column. I needed to ease myself in slowly, let natural progression and logic lead, and build momentum that way.
  4. I then used what I had in the 3-year column and put whatever was there into either the 1-year or 5-year column.
  5. I then cross-referenced the 3 columns looking for patterns.  But I was really after one thing; a very clear alignment across all 3 columns. What was the one thing that connected each column?

I obsessed over it for days, revisiting it after I’d had time to think and process possibilities.

And eventually there, staring me right in the face, was My North Star! And I couldn’t argue with it because I had 3 columns of data to back it up.

I was able to clearly identify the fluff or the “nice to haves” against the burning desires that were repeated and were also prominent in all 3 columns. And because I had gone back and forth over these columns, and been studying them so intently, I had also created quite a clear vision in my head that had a logical progression that then felt achievable and attainable to me.

And with the natural progression nice and clear, and each year feeding into one another, I was able to put years 5 and 10 away knowing that if I focus on just what my goals of year 1 require of me I will get to where I want to go in 5 and 10 years time.

I wrote on another sheet of paper “What do I need to get me there?”

and I wrote a list of the activities I needed to do, skills I need to gain, people I needed to meet, things I needed to book in…

And then I began hatching my plan!

I moved to another sheet of paper and broke each of those things down even further into specifics with dates and time frames.

I could then see clearly what needed to go where and I booked into my calendar the things that I needed to do in the future. I then mapped out a ‘perfect repeatable week’ that incorporated everything on that list that I needed to do, week in, week out. As long as I continued with these specific things then I knew for certain it would lead to the achievement of my year 1 goals… which is part 1 of 10 to my big dreams of the future. Anything that did not contribute to my goal for that year was not allowed in my calendar.

There was also a tonne of work during this goal setting exercise that went into preempting things that could possibly veer me off track, based on my past track record!

And so an entirely new routine was set to house my new goal thrashing activities.

I think one of the key things that I did was give myself more time than I thought I needed so as not to overwhelm myself, as with learning new things we often underestimate the time in which we can do them.  I assess my weekly plan every 7-14 days to ascertain what is or isn’t working and see where I need more or less time.

If goals need to be pushed back then so be it.

Life is a marathon and not a sprint.

I used to thrive on the hustle, but it didn’t serve me well, not in health nor in real productivity or achievement. It’s a game I no longer wish, nor need to play. None of us do.

With the world moving at such a fast pace nowadays I think we all need to have agile and adaptable plans. We need to be well versed in moving things around without sending our lives into chaos and keeping our health and happiness intact – That’s the real skill that needs to mastered.

Now if you reckon that you could benefit from some guidance with your goal setting, figuring out your true North Star,  as well as support in creating a ‘perfect repeatable week’ with a goal smashing routine and set of habits to sustain it, then pop your details below to hear when the next FREE Self-Mastery challenge is!



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