Over more than 15 years of training and coaching people, I have encountered many people who don’t set goals. Naturally, I would ask them why. Their answers varies but they all boiled down to couples that I will discuss below. On the other hand, these same groups of people would set goals or targets for their companies but they don’t set it for themselves.
Why do you think big corporations set goals or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)? Simply because it works.
So why is it then that so many people don’t set goals when they know that they should?
Well it is definitely not that they don’t know how to set because most of them heard about goal settings in motivation talks or books. Perhaps they don’t have the time to do it. That’s a good excuse.
But then again, perhaps not! Statistics shows that the average person in the US watches 28 hours of television every week and 32 hours in UK. So what about you? How many hours you spend watching TV or today, videos on your computer or iPads/ Tablets? So definitely it’s not lack of time then.
So what is the real reason that prevents people from setting goals? The truth is that there are probably many, many reasons but here some of the top 3 reasons:
REASON #1 Past Failures
Honestly, we don’t like failures. We try something once and if we fail, we refuse to do it again for fear of failing again. When we are young, it’s different. We leap up from our failures and try again and again. Just like when we learn to walk, we are not afraid of falling and when we fall, we stand up and try walking again.
However, when we grow older, reality sets in. We are trained by people surrounds us that mediocre is best and don’t go towards the edge. They trained us to be like this, our parents, teachers and our childhood “mentors”. You said you wanted to become a singer for a living, they told you to be realistic. They didn’t want you to be disappointed. You said you wanted to be a lawyer, they said you’re not clever enough, set yourself a target you can achieve.
We learn the pain of disappointment and we start to settle. We settle for second best. We think, “Well, if I don’t set my sights to high I can’t feel too disappointed.” So, better still, why set goals and just flow with life.
REASON #2 Fear to get out of their comfort zone
Fear paralyzes many people into inaction. Fear paralyzes many people so that they just keep on doing the same old things that they’ve always done. Fear holds you inside your comfort zone and stops you setting big goals.
Setting goals will get you outside of your comfort zone. Setting big goals may take you a long way outside of your comfort zone. Setting goals and chasing your dreams could take you on a journey that you could never imagine. For many people, getting outside of their comfort zone is really uncomfortable.
In many of my training workshops, when we discuss how to get outstanding results, we come up with many, many new proposals and action items that would greatly change their performance. Some of them are excited while a lot of the “reality” folks would feel challenged by thinking that they have to change their way of doing things and they feel uncomfortable. Most of them give up before even trying.
Fear. Fear to get out of their comfort zone. Fear they cannot do it. Fear it’ll hurt if they fail. Fear others will laugh at them.
REASON #3. NOW Syndrome
In today’s society, we want everything NOW. We are living in an instant gratification, no patience culture. If we want something, we want it now. People are really focused on now… Live now, pay later. Live now, worry about it later.
Goal setting requires you to think about your future such as saving for your retirement rather than throwing your spare cash on parties and other “nice-to-have” luxuries, going on a crash diet but not thinking about the exercise necessary to be a healthy person.
I want it now is not the best way to set goals. I want it now doesn’t worry about goals.
Now that you know about the Top 3 Reasons of not setting goals, I’m going to share with you my goal setting strategies that works.
1. Find the Reasons to Your Goals
Don’t just simply set a goal. Don’t set a goal like you are setting a new year resolution and have no intention of achieving it. You just set for the sake of setting because it is time of the year to set a resolution.
Think of the WHY behind your goals. Tony Robbins, one of the top success coach, said that the WHY behind your goals is more important than the HOW.
2. Understand Your Strength and Weakness
Identify your strength and weakness will greatly help you understand which actions better suit you which will propel you towards your goals. For example, you want to be healthier but you don’t like to go to gym. However, you love outdoors so biking or hiking to the hills are most probably a better options. So, now you can set a goal to hike or bike with friends every weekend.
I have a friend who hates exercise in the gym but he has a passion of biking and he set a goal to bike with some local groups to nearby hills and now he is hooked. Now, he bikes almost every day. Waking up early morning to bike up a nearby hills to enjoy the sunrise and then to work and since then, he has lost almost 20kg in 2 months time.
Remember, play it to your strength.
3. Chunk it Down and Track it.
“How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time.
We all know the saying, but we often fail to apply this lesson in our lives. If you view the elephant as one giant goal that your whole life depends on, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Why not enjoy the bites along the way?
It’s not just about big goals
Long term goals are great, because aiming high lets us strive to be the best we can be. But for every long term goal you have, you need to have many short term or smaller goals.
If being a best-selling novelist is your long term goal, what smaller goals can you come up with that you should achieve along the way? Maybe for now, you’d be happy to come up with an idea for a character you want to include in your first novel.
The beauty of small goals
When you set small goals, you will have a small goal that help you to focus and not overwhelming.
If you want to lose 20kg, how will you make that happen? You can easily be overwhelmed by such a challenge. If you don’t know specifically what to do, you’re only going to get frustrated. But it’s a lot easier to come up with a plan to shed 1kg or you can set a goal of joining a biking group, or learn a healthy diet. A series of small accomplishments will keep you on track and make you feel good about your life. At the same time, these small achieved goals will make you feel good and confidence so you are much more likely to take more inspired actions.
Life is a journey, not a destination
Your goal settings effort will probably more enjoyable if you view your life as a series of many small milestones, instead of one huge milestone.
Finally, setting goals has no use if you don’t put it into action. Stop reading now, go set your goals with these strategies and start taking actions.
Happy Achieving your goals.