Destinations: Preventing A Wrong Turn – The Seven Sins of Goal Setting

January 9, 2012 — 2 Comments
Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; While others, on the contrary,obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before.

Goal setting sounds simple right? Well it is, but it can go downhill very quickly. You have committed to your personal goal-setting journey, but there are some roadblocks to watch out for. The first rule of the road is, “keep on moving!” Despite honoring this mantra, you may still fail to reach your desired destination because you (consciously or unconsciously) take some critical wrong turns that keep you off course:

1.    You just won’t follow the process through because:

  • You can’t think of a good reason to set goals: This is your future we are talking about here – goal setting defines your destination and how you will get there, so that one day your dreams becomes reality. Keep this in mind when you are deciding how to proceed…
  • You are in control of your own destiny: You are where you are now because of the action [or inaction] you have taken in the past. Where you’ll be in the future is determined by the actions you take today. Is there any better reason to start setting goals and having some control over your future?
  • You don’t see how goal setting will help you: Maps help you get where you want to go, right? That’s all goal setting and action planning really are – the roadmap to your future.  Of course it will help.
  • You haven’t got time: Goal setting is about working smarter, not harder. Yes, it will take some of your time and energy, you may even have to make some sacrifices. However, the end results are truly worth the effort. Surely you can set aside a small amount of time each day to move toward your life’s purpose and take the actions necessary to get there?  The sad reality is that many people procrastinate all their life and never achieve what they really want to achieve. Don’t be one of those people. Visualize what life will be like when you arrive at your desired destination and use this vision to give you the motivation and “drive” to get there.
  • You believe it is too hard: Goal setting is simple, but not easy. It takes some time and you need to do some soul searching to determine what it is that you really want out of life – but it is not hard. It may seem overwhelming, however by managing the process with relevant mile-markers, you can continually move in the right direction and ultimately achieve everything you want.  The other thing to remember is that goal setting is a skill. Like all skills, goal setting takes exposure and time to develop.
  • You are afraid of failure: What is fear? False Expectations Appearing Real.  You determine what you are capable of, and more than likely you are your biggest constraint. What is the worst case scenario of not achieving your goals? You may achieve some of your goals or, perhaps, a portion of a goal. You will know that you gave it your best effort and as a result achieved somethingNow, what is the most likely outcome of not setting any personal goals? Not going anywhere – far worse, by my estimation.  Fear of failure is real. It is critically important to come to terms with this, as fear of failure can result in a complete lack of action… resulting in failure to achieve anything meaningful. Learn to grow from failure, rather than fear it.
  • You don’t take your goals seriously enough to fully commit: You need to take goal setting seriously if it is going to work for you. You have probably tried New Years resolutions in the past – did you take them seriously? Did you succeed?

2.    You do not put your goals in writing

“Out of sight, out of mind” is the best way to explain why goals and the supporting action plans need to be put in writing. The best way to reinforce key concepts and your commitment to your goals is to have them written down where you can read them regularly (daily!).

3.    You may have been unrealistic in setting your goals

Just because you’ve written down a goal doesn’t mean it is just going to magically happen. You need to take action to achieve your goals, and the only way you’ll be able to get there is if the goals are reasonable and realistic in the first place. If you set unrealistic goals, you are just setting yourself up for failure. Be very conscientious of :

  • Setting unrealistic deadlines for achieving goals.
  • Understanding it takes time to learn a new skill, develop a new habit or quit an old one
  • Taking on too much at a time – do you remember how to eat an elephant?
  • Acknowledging your own limitations, predispositions and natural abilities. Focus on your natural abilities and motivations, and use this to drive your success.

4.    Your motivations are unclear

Goals must be personal and meaningful, otherwise you’ll have no reason to achieve them. In other words, the “Why” is more important than the “What”.

5.    You do not establish a roadmap

Establishing meaningful goals in writing is only a part of the journey – you need a roadmap (i.e., action plan) to guide you to your destination. The goal is the destination, the map will guide you in how to get there. All successful missions have had a plan or strategy. Be patient and don’t just rush in – take the time to plan the journey so you take the best route, prepare for detours and avoid obvious road closures.

6.    You do not take action

Having a flawless plan mapped out to get you to that dream destination is not worth the paper it’s written on if it just sits in your drawer – you must ACT on your plan! Your action plan (and your goals) should be dynamic – they will change as you progress through the journey. As you come across road blocks and detours, or as your life changes course.  Despite unscheduled roadwork, the map will continue to guide you and tell you what to do –  but you still need to get out from behind that desk and put that vehicle in drive!

7.    You Lose Focus

Success at achieving your goals requires focus, commitment and persistence. Sometimes your energy will be low and you will be tempted to lose focus, but it’s important not to give up – roll down the window for some fresh air, continue on down the road, visualize the outcome of your desired destination and continue on your journey. To help keep you focused, try enlisting the help of a personal mentor to confide in through the process. You can share you successes [and failures] with them, get their input and use it to help you grow from these experiences.

Realistically, your enthusiasm and concentration will probably last a couple of weeks, but then your every day routine will infiltrate and you will start switching from one lane to another – by the end of the year very little or nothing at all will have been achieved outside of your daily duties.  In order to stay true to the process,  you need a strong motivator. Something that will pull, push or drag you forward. There is only one thing powerful enough to do that – a VISION.  See yourself clearly after having achieved your goals. You need to become the person capable of arriving at that dream destination. At an even higher level you have to start thinking like that person, acting like that person. Create a vision so powerful, so compelling that it truly motivates you to drive forward. It has to become an obsession. You have to feel absolute excitement and complete determination. Then any form of traditional goal setting becomes possible.

These deadly sins of goal setting are dangerous  and need to be monitored at all times. If you are driving into uncharted territory, veering off course from your roadmap, you are unlikely to arrive at you dream destination.  Stay vigilant!

Are YOU at risk  for arriving at a self-imposed roadblock?

I hope this has provided some useful guidelines toward helping you to manage your journey toward your ultimate destination. Please engage the discussion and let us know what drives you. Always feel free to contact me or by visiting our website at Check back next week for the next installment of Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders.


Posts Twitter Facebook

Sheri is The Global Coach, founder of Luminosity Global Consulting Group, Global Executive Coach, Speaker, Writer and Global Business and Cultural Expert.

2 responses to Destinations: Preventing A Wrong Turn – The Seven Sins of Goal Setting

  1. Great post Sheri! Extremely insightful information that all of us, no matter how experienced or educated we are, can use. It always seems funny to me that the no matter how much we’ve experienced or read we can always continue to grow by reading good information.



    • Thanks so much Gil! For me, it’s all about continuous learning…It is so good to hear others realize how important it is to continue to grow – in both our personal and professional lives.

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>