Goal Setting Mistakes to Avoid in the New Year

With the New Year around the corner, I thought I’d share my tips on goal setting. Towards the end of each year, I love to curl up by the fire with a notebook and day dream about how to make the next year the best year yet.  I think about the big and little goals and projects I’d like to accomplish. This brings up the notion of New Year’s Resolutions and goal setting.

Is it even a good idea to set goals or should you wing it and go goal-less and see what you attract? I do both. I have a list of specific goals I commit to accomplishing, and I have a wish list of things I’d like to attract effortlessly, including wonderful people and opportunities. Why not use all the tools in your toolkit?

With over 25 years of life coaching experience, I can say that most people could use a little help setting better goals. Many make the mistake of focusing on the end result—like lose 25 pounds or become a millionaire. However, most people don’t have a process or a well thought out plan to achieve the desired results. Nearly everyone makes the mistake of thinking that they can do it alone and neglect to set up a strong support system. Things usually start off great for a few weeks. Then when it gets hard or you get busy, you revert back to your old habits and nothing really changes. This pattern can repeat for years. 

You can reverse this dispiriting trend by setting one or two big and exciting goals. It’s important that the goals aren’t so huge as to be pie-in-the-sky and you never really take them seriously. They also shouldn’t be so boring (i.e., lose weight) that they don’t motivate you to act.

The first step is to toss the “dead goals.” 

Any goal you’ve had for more than a year that you’ve made no significant progress on is officially dead. You can safely toss that goal and pick a new goal that actually excites you. At this point, most of you will be tossing the goal, “Lose weight and get in shape!” Don’t panic, this doesn’t mean you won’t achieve the result you want. However, you can safely eliminate that goal given it has probably been on your list for years. The same might well apply to goals like learn French or write a novel. If you’ve made no significant progress toward that goal, then you can forget it and pick something different. For example, instead of get in shape, your new goal might be to find a great, inspiring personal trainer and commit to working with them weekly for the next year. 

The second step is to write your goal as a positive statement.

So, instead of writing, “Lose 25 pounds” you could write “Easily zip up my skinny jeans.” As an alternative, instead of writing, “Get out of debt,” you could transform that into “Become financially free.” That sounds much more fun and appealing. 

The third step is to think about the journey that will take you to your goal.

Let’s say you set a goal to learn to speak French fluently. That’s great. Now, what is the weekly or daily action that needs to happen to achieve that goal? Well, the first step is to sign up for a French class or language app or to hire a tutor. Then, you can add intermediate steps like watching TV and movies with French subtitles on, taking a language total immersion class, or living in Paris for a year. These are some steps that will eventually lead to fluently speaking French. Most of us need to spend more time sketching out the daily actions that will lead to the end result we want. 

Let’s say you want to become a millionaire. To start, you could play with a financial calculator to see how much you’d need to invest every month to reach $1 million in savings. Next, you might calculate your current net worth or take the FIRE course.  Other intermediate steps could be to increase your savings rate, learn about real estate and buy a rental property, or start a scalable side-line business. You get the idea. Numerous paths can lead to your goal.

So, what will you choose to start with this year? What will make the biggest difference to your daily happiness? Maybe start with the easiest goal to build some momentum. 

Make this coming year the best yet and register for my New Year’s Evolution Course!

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