People miss their goals all of the time. Right now, someone, somewhere is missing a goal. Maybe that person is you. That’s a problem, because setting goals and meeting them is an essential component in driving your personal success. When you set goals, even small ones, and achieve them, you are getting closer to your end goal and your heart’s desires. Setting goals and not meeting them however, is a big waste of time. But we all do it, and all the time. So what are the main reasons for this problem occurring?
One of the main reasons that people miss their goals, believe it or not, is that they do not write them down. It is hard to keep track of goals in your head. Goals may easily get forgotten when they only exist in our minds. Writing them down goes a long way towards getting them achieved. For some reason, putting pen to paper, or even typing goals up on a computer makes people more likely to achieve their goals. When goals are not written down and detailed out it becomes all too easy to get into procrastination mode. After all there are many things that “need” to be done first… the cleaning, a little snack, checking what’s happening on social media websites… and endless other distractions.
People also miss their goals because those goals are insufficiently SMART. SMART is an acronym you may have heard of and should be using for goal setting. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and are linked to a Timeframe. That means that instead of saying your goal is “to lose weight”, your goal needs to say something like “to lose 30 pounds in weight through running and dieting by January 30th”. Or whatever your specific goal is. Of course if January 30th is at the end of this month, your goal is not achievable, so it would not be considered SMART. Few people can lose 30 pounds of weight in a month and it is not very healthy for most to do so. The goal is very clear about what you are going to do, how you are going to do it and by when you are going to do it. This simple tool helps to ensure goals are met because it brings them into reality and focuses on the detail. That’s where many people go wrong. Linked to this, in a recent commentary on Forbes George Bradt (2014) explains that all too often people remain in denial about the fact that they haven’t achieved their goals, so they do not reset them. When people are not realistic and keep ploughing away at the same goals even though it is quite apparent they will not be met, this is not only pointless but also delusional.
Motivation may also wane during the process of working towards achieving a goal. Writing for Business Insider, Max Nisan (2012) says:
“Getting halfway through something — a book, workout program, or project at work — and losing motivation is an experience everybody can identify with”.
If you’re not sure about that just look at New Year’s resolutions for a moment. New Year’s resolutions are goals. Very commonly indeed they are goals that are never met. People start working at them with much gusto at the start of January every New Year, but then they quickly fall by the wayside, and life takes over. Reviewing research from the Kellogg School of Management by Andrea Bonezzi and Matteo De Angelis, Max Nisen explains why this happens. Basically, people start towards a goal with lots of energy and they have high motivation. However, somewhere in the middle people seem to get stuck. That’s because they realise that even though they have done a lot towards their goal already they still have a very long way to go. This becomes de-motivating for them and they may give up. It is shown diagrammatically as a U-shaped curve of motivation. Of course, knowing this goes a long way toward preventing it from happening. You can decide to celebrate successes along the way to keep yourself motivated, or promise yourself incrementally more exciting treats as a reward each time you achieve a significant new step towards your goal.
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.