4 Reasons Why Setting Goals Doesn’t Work

I know the idea that you should not set goals goes against what you have been taught. Over the years, we have been conditioned to link goal setting and success together. For most entrepreneurs, goals can make the difference between mediocre and high performance; but that doesn’t hold true for everyone and not all the time. If you always fail to achieve your new year resolutions, don’t worry—you’re not alone.

The majority of young leaders think that goal setting is as simple as writing them down. This is unquestionably not the best way to do it. Goal setting is not a one-time action; you have to do it right to make it work.

Mistake 1. Vague goals

Wanting to earn a million dollars is the most classic example of a “lag measure goal”—a target you cannot act upon or you cannot perform. How are you going to make a million dollars? Here, the lack the actionable steps can be too overwhelming.

Solution: In place of setting lag measure goals, try “lead measure goals”—goals tied to actions you can take or tasks you can complete. Simply put, you want to act on a concrete goal, not something vague that you have no control over. Rather than focusing on making your business earn a million dollars, set lead measure goals such as making X number of calls in a certain time period to pitch your products or services to prospective clients.

Mistake 2. Too much focus on the outcome

Most young leaders fail to meet their goals because they focus too much on the outcome rather than on the progress. If you set your goal to achieve $10,000 human capital ROI per quarter and you fail to achieve that, how would you feel? Perhaps frustrated or starting to doubt yourself.

Solution: Do not focus too much on the outcome and the deadline. Pay attention to progress and building the schedule. So, rather than focusing on driving 10,000 visitors to your website, focus on creating a schedule to publish fresh and quality content three times a week. Just keep following through on your schedule and you will see the results coming slowly but surely.

Mistake 3. Overlooking small wins

When you are obsessed with your long-term goal, you often forget to celebrate small successes along the way. The result? The lack of motivation makes you give up. Take losing weight as an example. When you go to the gym for an intense workout session to lose 10 pounds, you don’t always see any result after the first few sessions. Rather than considering “sweating hard” as a daily reward, many of us start feeling lousy, procrastinate and eventually stop going to the gym altogether.

Solution: If you identify yourself as an overachiever, it’s time to focus on your next goal. Taking a break from goal setting and celebrating your last win can also be a great motivator. It can be a simple way to achieve more balance in your life.

Mistake 4. Not tracking your goals

Imagine what would happen if there was no scoring system in a baseball match. The players wouldn’t know who is winning or losing, or how much time is left to win the game. Now, imagine the whole scenario with regards to your goal. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, goal-setting is not a one-time task. It’s not something that you write down and forget.

Solution: Practice daily goal setting, which literally means writing down your goals each day. Create a scoreboard to track these lead measure goals. When you keep score, you know if you are losing progress/winning the game of goals.

Final Thought: There are times when setting goals can waste your time and even decrease your motivation. Goal setting works if you focus on the lead measure goal and then create a scoreboard to keep the results.