6 Reasons Why Setting Goals Doesn't Work

You're frustrated. You dutifully follow Goal Setting 101
advice, but it still seems that you lose sight of what you
want and how you'll get it. See if any of these common
goal setting mistakes - and how to correct them - are
behind your frustrations. Make the adjustment, and try

1 Hung-Up-On 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. Put things into a more
simplified version 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 a
Million Dollar house is about wanting freedom and
autonomy. Maybe the goal to write a NYT bestseller is
really about wanting recognition for your talents. Focus
on the feelings that you are after instead of the one-and-
only way to get it.

2. Transparent Goals: If you examine your goals you
may find that you have no *plan* associated with your
goal. Generally the mistake here is that 'goals' and
'actions' have become confused. Instead, think Goal,
Strategy, Action. The Goal is the objective, what you
want. The Strategy is the overall way in which you'll
accomplish it. And The Action is the specific activity
that is required to achieve it (how you'll do it). Example:
You might have big picture goal of a healthier lifestyle.
The strategy associated with that might be to eat less and
exercise more. The ACTIONS might be "don't eat after
6:00 pm", and "walk 30 minutes after the 6:00 news every

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 require a lot of face-time. Contradictory goals
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 your parents, that's a
false goal. If you want to be Super Mom just to please
your husband, that's a false goal. You may even succeed
at getting your degree, or being a Martha Steward
wannabe, but you'll never be happy with your decision.
It's not YOUR goal. "Shoulds" are usually someone
else's idea of a life for you. If you find that you can't
accomplish anything on your goal, 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. Floating Goals - These goals are floating around in
your head, usually masquerading as a wish list. I call
these floating goals, because they're not rooted in reality.
Writing down goals (and strategies and actions) takes
them out of the *wishing* category to the "real"
category. It's no longer just a pipe dream in your head.
It's a goal, with a strategy, and actions associated with
You know what you want, and you know how to get it. If
it's written down, you simply filter all decision (big and
small) through your goals.does it contribute to my goal,
or contaminate 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.

6. 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. Post them on the
'fridge, in the car, on the back door, on the bathroom
mirror.anywhere that you'll see them regularly.

About the Author

Kathy Gates, Professional Life Coach, helps people set
priorities and goals, take actions, make changes, and
reshape their lives. She is the author of an Ebook and
several Email Coaching Programs available at, call 480.998.5843

Kathy Gates