Avoid making ‘Goal Setting’ mistakes…

In this day and age of ‘too much to do’, how often do we set off with the best intentions only to find time flies past. We start off well with apparent progress. We feel good about the progress and what lies ahead but then…

We neglect to look back at previous successes. Motivation wains and before we know it, we convince ourselves that it probably will not work anyway!

Don’t worry if this sounds all too familiar, I too used to fall foul to procrastination or setting unrealistic goals. Having learned by my own mistakes and concentrating on what obstacles are in the way of us achieving our end objective, I felt this was too important to keep to myself so happily share some of the findings with you now.

Error 1: Unrealistic Goals

Having worked in sales and being set unrealistic targets, I can really relate to this. The acronym SMART(ER) Goal Setting should never be underestimated.

Let your imagination go and allow doubt to have a say but not to rule! Once you have set a goal, step back, assess the facts to check that it is achievable and in the set time frame. Remember, “A dream is but a dream but a goal is a dream with a deadline!”.

For example, my wife decided to Walk-the-Walk (26ml through London at night in aid of breast cancer research). She did not wake up on the morning of the event and think to herself “I’ll do that”. It took months of training to obtain the right level and as a result she achieved it within her time frame.

SMART(ER) goal settings focus on being Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound and recent additions include Evaluate and Re-adjust.

Error 2: Underestimating Time

Time and valuation seem to constantly occur as being underestimated. Looking at time, think back on previous projects. How many were rushed at the end or not completed within the time frame at all?

This is one of the killers to motivation.

Look to use tools such as ‘scheduled’ to-do lists. Allocating time for the goal or parts therein. Consider project planning tools such as ‘Tasks’ in Outlook or search the web for ‘Top 10 best project management software’ to see what is appropriate.

And always, ALWAYS allow extra time in your estimate to allow for unknowns and/or setbacks.

Error 3: Not reviewing

Unless the goal is so simplistic that it does not require breaking into segments, ‘Evaluate’ where you are along the given path and then making relevant ‘Readjustments’ (See ER above in SMARTER) is tantamount to signing off failure.

If still on target, celebrate the success. The reward does not need to be high (I like to treat myself to a decent coffee and half hour break to enjoy it once these blogs have been completed) but treat yourself, acknowledge yours or the team’s success.

If not, re-adjust so the end can still be met.

Error 4: Too many goals

Once we start it is so easy to keep going with the ideas and goals but there are still only 25 hours in a day (or, so one of my ex-bosses used to believe!). Time-Management is a misdemeanour as you can’t manage time (unless you are Dr.Who) but manage what you have to do, in the time before you.

If there are many aspects to the overall goal, I use the Wheel of Progress which is a great tool to compartmentalise each section. Contact me if you wish to talk about this.

Simply, consider the ‘R’ in SMART and be realistic in what you can achieve. Success relies on quality not quantity and achievement of a few things at a time.

Error 5: Too few areas

In as much as it is important not to set too many goals, it is equally important to make sure there is a range of goals.

Doing ‘fun’ objectives that bring you joy are important to offset those ‘tasks’ that are necessary within your work goals that may not be that interesting or enjoyable.

This can be important elements to the Wheel of Progress mentioned earlier.

Error 6: Setting Negative goals

No one does this intentionally but all too often we set negative goals that affect our belief in our abilities to achieve them.

For example, to improve work life balance, refrain from setting “stop staying behind at work” as the goal but rework to “leave work by XXX and spend more time with YYY)

Negative goals suggest we have to give something up. Look to reframe them with a ‘Positive’ outcome which becomes a more desirable objective.

Error 7: Depreciating failures

Really? I need to look and appreciate my failings?

No matter how focused you are on the outcome, reaching every goal is not always possible. With the confidence to accept this, it becomes possible to learn from them.

Each of the above areas need to be considered and worked on when setting goals/objectives.

It is not easy to give honest views of what we can achieve in the time we have due to other influencing pressures but to achieve them, all too often you need to find that strength to be truthful not only to yourself but the task ahead and the realistic time frame.

At Coaching to Success, Neil specialises in helping individuals or teams to set realistic goals and then support them through the challenges ahead to insure they are met. If you or those around you could benefit from a one-to-one with Neil to see how he can help, contact him by emailing neil.nutburn@coachingtosuccess.co.uk or 07761 187238 to discuss how Coaching to Success can help you.

And why not get a feel for the person by checking out our short ‘interview’ video at https://youtu.be/RvCwOL4hPco

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