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3 Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Goals

How to Get Started with Goal Setting: Part of the Goal Setting Series


When I try to get started with goal setting, I over-think and over-plan. I make lists, set schedules, and extensively research exactly what I need to buy in order to accomplish this goal. If I am aiming to run more often, I can spend hours comparing user reviews of sneakers, running shorts, sports bras, and eve hair elastics before I log a mile. I mull my schedule thinking about when I can squeeze in time to go to the gym and work out, instead of getting up, putting my sneakers on and running.

That’s why I decided to start researching goal setting and the common pitfalls people face when they get started. Most people, when they decide they want to accomplish a goal, do one of three things:

1. Rush in with no plan.

Daily System from Pottery Barn
Photo / Pottery Barn
They jump into a starvation diet, try to will themselves to get more sleep, start applying for new jobs before they’ve looked at their resume, or kill themselves at the gym for the first time in 5 years.

2. Get stuck in planning mode.

Darby Entryway Bench from Pottery Barn
Photo / Pottery Barn

This is me! They think about the goal, research it extensively, reading theories as to why some other people succeed at this goal and other do not. They carefully research and purchase all the gear needed, taking time to compare different brands.

They feel very accomplished because they have planned, but they have not really done anything.

None of these strategies will work too well. In the first, you will burn out quickly, in the second, you’ll never get started, and in the third, you will feel a sense of accomplishment before you have actually begun.

3. Plan to start... next week.

Keri Russell's kitchen in Elle Decor Magazine
Photo / Elle Decor

They think a lot about the goal and plan to start it "next week," "next month," "after vacation."

  1. They want to go to the gym, but only after they know they can run a mile without sweating.
  2. They want a new job, but only after they work another month at their job so they can put on their resume they worked a year instead of 12 months.
  3. They want to quit smoking, but next week may the stressful so it is better to wait. Often times goal setting is scary because it means changing yourself. In reality though, goal setting mostly involves changing your habits and routines (I'll discuss this more in How to Use Routines to Meet Goals).

Read more form the Goal Setting Series:

Goal Setting 101
Absolutely everything you need to know about goals and goal setting:

What is Goal Setting?
How to Get Started with Goal Setting
How to Achieve Goals
How to Set Goals
How to Use Routines to Achieve Goals 
Set the Goal: Get Better Sleep

You may also like:

Be Productive Every Day: The Daily Routine Series
Absolutely everything you ever wanted to know about how to create and follow your own customized daily routine to get more done.

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