David Foster Wallace once said, “The most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.” That’s the first mistake most of us make with life goals: we don’t talk about them. That’s not to say you don’t have a general idea or even a grand vision for how you see your life unfolding. But so many of us tend to get lost in the daily shuffle of life and wait and hope that things will get better. We choose to rest on our laurels instead of taking action to identify and learn from our missteps.
Here are 7 common mistakes that may be stopping you from reaching your life goals. And more importantly, how to fix it if you find yourself making any of these mistakes.
You pursue too many goals at once.
Setting your sights high is a good thing in most cases. But when it comes to setting life goals, there is such a thing as “too much.” Having too many life goals can muddle your focus and prevent you from accomplishing what you want to achieve. So here’s some advice. Keep it simple. Create one or two life goals for each area of your life that’s important to you (family, health, career, etc.).
You set unachievable, unrealistic life goals.
Here’s another common mistake people make: setting goals that are completely unrealistic. That’s not to say you shouldn’t set lofty, ambitious goals. But do it within reason. Saying “I want to be a billionaire” will probably result in disappointment down the road. Set goals that you honestly believe you can achieve in your lifetime. And don’t focus so much on material things. What would you rather have: a spouse who is your best friend and children who grow up and make the world a better place… or to be a multi-millionaire with no friends and family? Set your goals based on the people and things you value most in life.
You only dream about the outcome.
If you only focus on what’s at the end of the road, you’re likely to miss all the amazing things that happen on the way there. In other words, along the path toward achieving each of your goals is a magnificent journey. And it’s often the journey that’s the most fulfilling part. Blink, and you may miss it. So don’t be so focused on the end result. Instead, be consciously aware of those little moments along the way that make you laugh and smile.
You focus too much on the past.
We often get mentally stuck on things and events that happened in the past. But here’s the thing: life becomes infinitely more enjoyable when you realize you have the ability to dream, wonder, create, build, transform and love… right now at this very instant. Leave the past behind you and focus on the present. The fact that you’re alive and breathing is a miracle in itself. So embrace the here and now, and leave yesterday behind. You don’t need it.
You cultivate negative thoughts instead of positive ones.
Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice. Every achievement and every failure in your life is the direct result of your thoughts. Belief in yourself is the single most important factor in reaching your life goals and achieving true happiness. So look up at the stars instead of down at your feet.
You keep doing the same things over and over.
Change is the ONLY thing that’s constant in life. If you’re stuck in a rut, it may be because you keep trying things that aren’t working. Yes, you’re probably working hard as hell. But ask yourself the tough question: is this producing the results I’m looking for? If not, it may be time to go in another direction. Reaching your life goals is about constantly testing, adapting, and changing until you find the best way to make your life better.
You don’t create an action plan to achieve your goals.
Too many of us focus on tactics and tips rather than creating a specific action plan. The truth is, I can give you a list of mistakes and tips, but unless you create an action plan to get you where you want to be, you will find yourself in the same situation time and time again. Here’s how you do it: break down each of your life goals into manageable milestones that you’d like to accomplish each year, each month, and each week. If this sounds like it’s a lot of work, you’re right, it is. But in the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” So set your goals today and start working on your action plan for how you’re going to get there. Then sit back and enjoy the ride.
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