How many times have we set behavioral goals that we’ve eventually lost interest or motivation in? Habits we want to break or create, but just can’t get them to stick? Our behavioral goal may have been unrealistic, nebulous, too long-term, or plenty of other reasons that doomed it to end in failure. While creating goals can be a fun and inspiring task, actually following through with them is a whole different story.
You may have a couple goals in mind that you either have created in the past, are working on now, or want to jumpstart. The amount of work that goes into goal setting and goal achieving is more than meets the eye. From conception to achievement, a number of factors could go wrong on your goal-achieving journey. Below are some of the top mistakes people make when setting long-term behavioral goals, and some suggestions to help steer you in the right direction.
Letting the Negative Control You
A common debate regarding goal setting is whether making your goal public or keeping it private is more effective. While allowing people to know your mission may seem like a smart way to hold you accountable, this plan could also backfire as you become motivated out of fear of public failure.
According to a Fast Company article, “One review of 129 studies found that the least effective behavior change strategies were consistently ones that focused on fear and regret.” Focusing on the negative consequences of failing won’t contribute to healthy, long-lasting behavioral changes. Instead, shift your mind to the positive outcomes of achieving your goal.
Creating One Big, Vague, Unmeasurable Goal
Getting a little carried away when setting goals is normal. We’re excited about the outcome, so we’re more likely to think big. But, keeping our goals very specific, realistic, and measurable is key. Rather than focusing on one huge, long-term goal, take time to celebrate each small victory along the way.
Fast Company gives the example of six-pack abs as a goal. Instead of concentrating on a big goal that can be difficult to measure in increments or at the end, try doing 5 sit-ups each day. Specific, realistic, and measurable—the perfect goal-setting recipe.
Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize
Being aware of our end goal is important. We need to know what we’re working everyday towards. However, becoming so focused on the outcome can also be discouraging when our day to day work isn’t looking like the prize just yet.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” Stay motivated by shifting your focus to incremental goals as you work toward your big goal. Smaller goals that come around more often will keep you feeling engaged in your progress.
Expecting Perfection Along the Way
We tend to fantasize about our goals, and perhaps to a fault. The outcome seems so great and idealistic that we’re only able to have tunnel vision for what’s hopefully to come. So, when failure or a setback happens, and it will happen, we become discouraged quickly.
Succeeding big requires failing big. According to an Inc. article, failure is a form of education. If we study the failure and understand why it happened, then we learn how to do better the next time around. Our failures become our lessons. Be ready for imperfect moments along the road to achieving your goal. Expect mistakes, learn from them, and allow yourself to be better because of them.
What kind of goals do you have for yourself? Behavior goals can be difficult because they take time, patience, and practice. But if you follow some of the tips listed above, you’re on the right track. For more information on how to set detailed goal plans and keep up with them, contact iGenCo and ask about our coaching services.