How to Avoid Goal Setting Pitfalls

Avoid Goal Setting Pitfalls
Kathy Gates, Professional Life Coach

In order to succeed with long term goal setting, then you need to be aware of the most common mistakes and pitfalls that can ruin your best-laid plans. Check your goals, and see where you may have hit a roadblock.

  1. . Sticky Goals: It’s easy to get plugged into a goal, and even though it’s not working, you hang on to it out of sheer habit or willfulness. That sets you up for procrastination and frustration. Rethink the goal by concentrating on the big picture – the direction you want your life to go – instead of the specific way to get there. Maybe the goal to own your own business is about wanting to spend more time with your kids, instead of more money. Maybe the goal to write a bestseller is really about wanting recognition for your talents, not fame. Focus on the feelings that you are after instead of the one-and-only way to get it.

  2. . Floating Goals: These goals are floating around in your head, usually masquerading as a wish list. Writing down goals (and strategies and actions) takes them out of the *wishing* category and gives them roots to grow. It’s no longer just a pipe dream in your head. Now you can simply filter all decisions (big and small) through your goals — does it contribute to my goal, or detract from it? Example: You have a goal to write a best selling romance novel, with a strategy of writing one chapter each week for 36 weeks, and your action is to spend 1 hour per day towards each chapter. If you don’t schedule – AND PROTECT – that 1 hour each day, it’s more than likely that you’ll get to the end of each week wondering why you didn’t get more done.

  3. . Contradictory Goals: This is a common mistake in goal setting–two or more goals with opposing results. Marriage counselors see it a lot in people who want the benefits of being married without giving up the single lifestyle. Or maybe you have a goal to spend more time with your family, but you have a job you want to do well at that requires a lot of face-time. Contradictory goals will frustrate you to no end, because you’ve given yourself an impossible task. Evaluate your goals in light of their relationship to each other.

  4. . False Goals: These are goals that involve chasing money, approval of others, etc. If you want to become a doctor just to win the approval of someone in your life, that’s a false goal. Or if you want to become a doctor just because of the money you’ll earn, that too is a False Goal. You’ll find yourself constantly looking for external motivation to keep you moving forward. Or you’ll find that no matter what you say your goal is, you just can’t move forward on it. It may be that it’s not an expression of the authentic you. Find the courage to tell the truth about what you really want in your life.

  5. Blind Goals: No matter how nicely laid out the goals, strategies, and actions are, if you don’t SEE them and review them, and let them become part of who and what you are and do, on a daily basis, you’ll lose track of them. The job, the errands, the latest TV show, worrying about money, worrying about kids, worrying about the economy will all crowd out your time, thoughts, and energy. They may remain in the back of your mind, but you won’t gear your life towards them. Instead, write them out, blow them up to poster size, put a sticky on the fridge, frame them for your office – anything, and anywhere that you’ll see them regularly.

Life Coach Kathy Gates specializes in helping people who are ready to create a simpler, less stressful, more meaningful lifestyle. Want to know how? Visit to learn more and sign up for her newsletter.

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