by Angie Miller, LPC
Here is a goal setting contract because contracts are a great way to stay on track and keep us motivated. That said, before we sign a contract it’s important to consider potential pitfalls when setting goals, aka mistakes in that stand in the way of our success.
Here are Five Potential Pitfalls to avoid and a contract to keep us accountable:
Potential Pitfalls When Setting Goals:
1. Setting Gargantuan Goals- Goals are like stairs, the best way to go up is to take it one step at a time. If you try to skip a step it makes the journey more difficult and less enjoyable. Goals should be challenging enough to keep you interested, but not so difficult that you become frustrated and lose hope.
2. Fearing Failure- Sometimes we’re afraid to set goals because we’re afraid we won’t succeed. When fear gets in the way, we tend to take the path of least resistance and set no goal at all. That way, we can avoid the risk of failure. In truth, though, we know that failure is only in our lack of willingness to try. Even when we don’t achieve our goal we learn something in the process, and knowledge is power. We can apply what we learned to our next goal.
3. Forgetting the Power of Words- If your goal starts with the word stop, it’s grounded in negativity. Words are powerful, and the words we use matter to our mental mindset. If we want our goals to motivate us, it’s best to see them as something positive that we’re striving toward rather than something negative we’re trying to escape. Take a look these goals and see how they sound with a negative connotation vs. a more positive spin:
- Stop eating late at night (vs.) Start eating a healthy dinner that will help prevent late night cravings
- Stop skipping workouts (vs.) Establish a workout routine that I enjoy so I look forward to working out
4. Setting Too Many Goals with Too Little Time- One or two goals is achievable, five or six goals are overwhelming, especially if we allow too little time for completion. Sometimes we get so excited to change something, like our exercise diet and exercise habits, that we decide to go all in. That said, if you’re not currently exercising and you decide to workout everyday for the next six months, you’re setting yourself up for frustration. There’s also a higher likelihood that you’ll abandon your goals due to burnout or injury.
If you’re new to goal setting or you’ve been discouraged in the past, here are two suggestions for success:
A. Set 1 or 2 goals maximum
B. Make the goals short term, achievable within two to four weeks rather than two to four months. The longer it takes to achieve a goal the more daunting it can become to get started, let alone see it to the finish.
Example: For exercise, an achievable goal would be to workout for thirty minutes, two days a week, for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks if you’ve succeeded you could increase it to three days a week, or increase your time to 45 minutes per workout. Proceed in that fashion and though it may take longer to reach your goal, there’s a far greater likelihood that it will become part of your daily routine and a lifetime habit.
5. Forgetting to Follow Up and Adjust if Necessary: A daily follow up is a great way to stay inspired and keep you focused. Goals take a lot of work and we’re more likely to succeed if we check in and take note of our progress. A calendar is a very effective way to do this. Each night, take a few minutes and record how you felt about your goals for that day, what obstacles your encountered, and some encouraging words to keep you motivated. At the end of the week, reflect on what’s working and what’s not.
Above all, give yourself the option to adjust your goal/s if need be. Adjusting your goals doesn’t mean you’re settling for less, it means that you’re smart enough to recognize when you need to rethink your strategies so you can set yourself up for success. Remember, goals are impactful; they give us direction and help us stay motivated. They lead us to accomplishments we might never have thought possible, and they help us begin each day with intention.