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5 Goal Setting Mistakes to Avoid

The beginning of a new year is rife with people making new starts and setting goals. However, lately, I’ve noticed people staying away from that one word that they feel will jinx their New Year commitment: resolution.

The word has fallen out of favor as some think the “R” word is the path to failure, and more obscurely, said three times, can conjure up a demonic entity, not unlike Beetlejuice. Well, I may have just made that last part up, but you get the idea. Hence, I shall refrain from using the “R” word from now on.

Call it what you like, but the real problem with those New Year goals is follow-through. At the beginning of the year, everything is shiny and new, but within a few weeks, sometimes days, it can all become drudgery and disappointing.

As a result, commitment fades into oblivion, taking space next to last year's failed quest for that new rank, or a gold medal at a competition. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Avoid the five common goal-setting mistakes, and you can make this new year the best one yet. Ready? Read on.

Be Bold One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting goals is by making them too small. I’ve heard people say they are keeping it “realistic” when coming up with their goals. Does that sound exciting to you? Probably not. And if you’re not excited about it, you’ll probably lose interest and then…Well, we know what happens next. Going for what you think you can achieve, and not what you want, is not really a goal. It’s a safe way to mediocrity. If a goal doesn’t make you excited about attaining it, or scare you a little, it probably needs to be bigger. It's been said by some in the space program, that if President Kennedy hadn’t thrown down the challenge of landing on the moon by the end of the decade, we would probably still be trying to do it (See Yoda about “trying”). Be bold.

The Same Old Thing If you are going to crush these goals you’ve set, you’re not going to do it by doing the same old thing, or you would have attained it already. You have to ask yourself: what are you going to do differently? If you want to get on the podium at your next competition, how are you planning to get there? Maybe you need to spar more or do strength training. Are you gassing out early? Maybe you need more conditioning. Ask yourself what needs to change and then change it. Honestly assess where you are now, and contrast it with where you want to be, and the answer should reveal itself.

Head Trash What is the tape that plays in your head saying? We all have one. They are those consistent thoughts that tell us we’re not good enough, or that the success we want is not deserved, or unattainable, or any number of negative thoughts. Clear them out. Get rid of limiting beliefs. Where did they come from anyway? It may have been something you heard at a young age or something a friend experienced. Sadly, it could be something a teacher said. Regardless, jettison those thoughts, and slay that dragon of doubt by asking yourself: “why do I believe this?” It is a powerful question. In addition to attaining your goals, you just might change your life.

Thinking of All the Ways You Can Fail I write down my goals, but I have friends that won’t, because they tell me, “If I don’t achieve them I’ll feel worse.” While I understand the sentiment, that thought is really just a kind of protection from failure. It is the difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. If you have watched any competition when a competitor plays not to lose, you know it usually doesn’t end well. It is true, you can write down your goals, and do all the things that you should and still not attain them, but that is why it is called a goal and not a guarantee. A goal has some risk involved. You have to put yourself out of your comfort zone and say, “This is what I am going to do.” That said, you don’t have to tell anyone but yourself what you are doing. You don’t have to post it on social media or tell all your friends. I believe your energies will have more power if you don’t tell a soul and just do it. Self-help guru, Napoleon Hill had a great quote for this very thing: “Tell the world what you intend to do. But first, show it.”

Quitting The granddaddy of all self-sabotage is quitting, plain and simple. However, quitting shouldn’t be lumped next to those times when life throws us a curve ball. Reaching your goals is rarely a linear path. It should be acknowledged that there can be injuries, financial issues, professional commitments that have to be met, and any number of things we have to contend with to live as responsible adults. It would be unrealistic to think that there won’t be unforeseen obstacles that we need to overcome. When you find yourself in one of life’s temporary stalls, remember that you can still make progress. The lockdown taught us many ways to work on our own. We can do solo training, conditioning at home, and more. We can make the most of the time when we have to be on the sidelines. Always be preparing. Acknowledge that delays are short-term and don’t make them permanent. Don’t quit. You can do whatever you set your mind to as long you’re committed, disciplined, tenacious, and all those other adjectives that get an instant “like” on social media. Regardless of the past, this time you will be unwavering in your quest to achieve. And though it will be difficult, you’ll see it through. Write down your goals. See yourself attaining them daily. Do the work to achieve it, and this time it will be different.

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