5 Common Mistakes People Make when Goal Setting

How to Get Started with Goal Setting: Part of the Goal Setting Series

When I try to get started with goal setting, I over-think and over-plan.

I make lists, set schedules, and extensively research exactly what I need to buy in order to accomplish this goal. If I am aiming to run more often, I can spend hours comparing user reviews of sneakers, running shorts, sports bras, and eve hair elastics before I log a mile. I mull my schedule thinking about when I can squeeze in time to go to the gym and work out, instead of getting up, putting my sneakers on and... running.

T...MOREhat’s why I decided to start researching goal setting and the common pitfalls people face when they get started. Here are the 5 most common mistakes (I am totally # 2). 

  • 01 of 05

    Rush in with no plan.

    Common mistakes to avoid when goal setting
    Common mistakes to avoid when goal setting. Getty

    Who are the types of people who jump in with no plan? They're the kind of people who want to lose wieght and jump into a starvation diet, the type who starts applying for new jobs before they’ve even looked at their resume, or goes out and kills themselves at the gym for the first time in 5 years once they decide to "get in shape".

    This isn't going to work. First, ​you need to figure out where you are now, chart where you want to be and then plan how you will get there.  If you...MORE don't plan and measure, how will you know when you've met your goal?

    People that rush in with no plan are very susceptible to burn out. 

  • 02 of 05

    Don't set themselves up for success.


    You need to spot the roadblocks and then maneuver around them--up front. Now you know if you decide to lose weight by eating less sugar and you have a birthday coming up in a week, you're going to need a plan for when your coworkers bring in doughnuts to the office.

    I'm going to use a fitness goal again because they are just so relatable. If your plan is to start a running program, and you don't currently run, then you need to make it exceedingly easy for yourself. That means packing...MORE a gym bag the night before you hit the gym, or laying out your running clothes the night before you intend to run.  

    If you intend to go to a 6 a.m. yoga class, make sure you have a bottle of water and a small snack to bring with you to the studio, and gas in your car. Remove the roadblocks!

  • 03 of 05

    Plan to start... next week.


    They think a lot about the goal and plan to start it "next week," "next month," "after vacation."

    1. They want to go to the gym, but only after they know they can run a mile without sweating.
    2. They want a new job, but only after they work another month at their job so they can put on their resume they worked a year instead of 12 months.
    3. They want to quit smoking, but next week may the stressful so it is better to wait. Often times goal setting is scary because it means changing...MORE yourself. In reality though, goal setting mostly involves changing your habits and routines (I'll discuss this more in How to Use Routines to Meet Goals).
  • 04 of 05

    Get stuck in planning mode.


    This is me! They think about the goal, research it extensively, reading theories as to why some other people succeed at this goal and other do not. They carefully research and purchase all the gear needed, taking ​the time to compare different brands.

    They feel very accomplished because they have planned, but they have not really done anything.

    None of these strategies will work too well. In the first, you will burn out quickly, in the second, you’ll never get started, and in the third, you will...MORE feel a sense of accomplishment before you have actually begun.

    You need to find your goal-setting motivation and get started. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Don't incorporate it into their routine.

    Why you need a weekly organizing routine
    Photo / Getty

    If a goal is really important to you, you need to work on it everyday.  Seriously, every day. It just makes it so much easier to stay on task when you work a goal into your daily routine

    Working towards the goal of losing weight won't work if you only do it one day a week. Going to the gym once a months isn't going to get you to your goal of running a 5K. Make it a part of your routine and you'll be amazed at how much more quickly you can start to see results.