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Last Updated on January 19, 2021

7 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want To Achieve Your Goals In Life

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7 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want To Achieve Your Goals In Life

No matter what goals, dreams or personal changes you want to achieve in your life, the reality for you and everyone else, is that it requires commitment, focus, hard work, courage and the determination to succeed. There is no way that you can hope to create change in your life or achieve your goals and dreams without these key elements.

Even when we  all know this, when it comes to us achieving our goals and dreams  many of us will start and then stop, then start again and then stop and then finally give up because it is all too hard.

Last year I identified three short term goals that I wanted to achieve by the end of the year.  To date I have only completed one goal.  The other two goals I have started, stopped, started and then stopped. Now this scares me because time is flying by so fast that before I know it, it will be December again and I haven’t achieved either goal.

What is also annoying me is that these two goals are realistic and totally achievable. I just can’t seem to get on top of them.

Recently I read this quote from Randy Pausch in The Last Lecture

“The brick walls are there for  a reason. The brick walls are not  there to keep us out. The brick  walls are there to give us a chance to  show how badly we want  something. Because the brick walls are there to  stop the people who  don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop  the other people.”

When I read this I realised I needed to figure out how to get over or around the brick walls that were stopping me from achieving my two goals.

What I eventually discovered was,  that when we set our goals and our dreams and begin our journey of transformation, we fail to consider these 7 factors. The result of this, is that many of us fail to achieve what we so badly wanted and we end up giving up on our goals and dreams in life.

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When embarking on your journey of personal change avoid these 7 common mistakes and you will enhance your chances of achieving any dream and goal you set in life by 200 percent.

1. Expect Fast Results

This mistake can have a significant impact on your belief and motivation to succeed. If you expect fast results and you don’t get them, what happens is you lose your belief of your goal or your dream being possible to achieve. Never underestimate the power of patience when it comes to setting and working towards a goal or your dream.

It is your patience that will keep you on your journey to achieving success.

2. See Failure As A Sign To Give Up

I have failed many times in my life and it is tough but not impossible to pick yourself up and start all over again.

The point in life when you have most control of your life, is when you are facing failure or you have failed. It is only you that has the power to choose how you want failure to impact on your life. You can choose to see it as a sign (the easy option) to give up or you can choose to pick yourself up and start again.  It is all down to you.

Here are 3 important questions that you could ask yourself to help you keep moving past your failures toward your goals or dreams.

  1. What was the reason for my failure – what can I learn from this and how can I improve?
  2. Why did I want to pursue this goal or dream to begin with – and has anything changed?
  3. What would I tell someone else if they were in my shoes?

3. Fail To Expect Or Plan For The Unexpected

With your life goals expect the unexpected – it will happen. When we are not prepared for the unexpected and it happens, we let these events bring our world to a crashing halt.

Preparing for the unexpected is the best we can manage when it comes to life goals and any other goals we set for ourselves.

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The key steps to preparing for the unexpected are to:

1. Acknowledge the Unexpected

2. Prepare for the Unexpected by having an Action Plan that considers the following 2 questions

a. How would you deal with this obstacle when it comes up?

b. What steps would you put in action to overcome this hurdle?

3. Commit to keep moving forward toward your goal or your dream

4. Get Bored With The Daily Grind

To achieve what you want in life requires you have to change, to do things differently, to create new habits, new thoughts and new behaviours. All of these aspects do not appear over night. They come as a result of you repeating on a daily basis the actions that you need to do over and over again to take you closer to you achieving your goal or your dream.

Successful athletes will train and practice  one technique or one drill for many hours just to get that one thing right. That is the difference between being great or being ordinary.

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Be prepared for boredom as there will be times when you just have to keep going and keep doing the same thing day in and day out.

5. Never Visualise What Is Possible

If you want to increase your chances of achieving your goals and dreams then, visualisation is where it all begins.

It one of the most powerful mind exercises you can do to achieve specific goals and make important changes in your life. Visualisation works because your mind can’t tell the difference between visualisation and an actual event. It helps your brain to recognise what resources you will need to achieve your dreams and goals.

A vision board is a way for you to bring your thoughts, dreams and desires to life. When you are visualising you are doing two important things,

  1. You are creating a visual space of possibility which is your inner fuel (motivation) for you to draw from on your journey to achieving your goals and dreams.
  2. With possibility comes hope and optimism and it is these positive thoughts and feelings that help you stay on track to success.

Visualising what is possible helps you to keep your eye on the big picture. When you take your eye of the big picture you slowly lose your desire, your faith and your belief in you.

6. Easily Distracted By Others & Life Events

I have found that when I am feeling unhappy, have low self confidence or feel frustrated with myself it is usually as a result of me spending a lot of unnecessary time comparing myself to other people and their success in life.

This action of comparing my life to others does not serve me well. I have learnt to recognise when I am doing it and how to quickly shut that behaviour down.

One of these techniques I use to keep me on track is that I keep a Gratitude Journal. In here I write down all the the great things that have happened or are happening in my life that I am grateful for. Helps me to keep things in perspective.

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When you start to use excuses such as “this not the right time,” or “I am not quite ready or too many of my friends think that it is not a great idea,” or “there are too many others have the same idea and they failed,” you are moving further away from achieving your dreams and goals in life.

Know that when you do this you are at risk of accepting the short term comforts of life over the long term benefits of achieving your goal or dream in life.

7. Set Unrealistic Steps To Achieving Your Goals

If you are setting goals that you have never achieved before then it is expected that part of you is not going to believe it is possible. Too often when we set our goals we focus on the future of achieving the goal – not the everyday steps we need to take to get us started and to keep us on track.

Losing weight is a goal many of us have tried to do but not always achieved. One of the reasons why we start, stop and then give up is because we focus on the total amount of 10kg or 20kg that we have to lose – not the 100 or 200 grams we could lose every week. It is much easier to focus on losing 100 to 200 grams than it is to focus on 10 or 20kg.

So take action and identify the obstacles that will block you from achieving your goals. Once you have identified these obstacles then:

  1.  Look for proof that your goals are realistic and achievable
  2.  Argue with Your Negative Self –tell it to take a hike!
  3.  Find a supporter to share your feelings, your dreams
  4. Acknowledge your past successes – CELEBRATE YOU

By avoiding these 7 common mistakes you will find that focus, discipline, commitment, courage, self belief, and determination will flourish with in you and you can not help but succeed in all the things that you want to achieve in your life.

I have now taken up the challenge and I am on my way to achieving my two goals by the end of this year – to lose 8kg and to grow my coaching business by 30%. Watch this space.

Featured photo credit: Evie S. via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Published on September 16, 2021

What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

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What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

Ready. Set. Go. For years, this was my three-step mindset when it came to goals. I would reach for the moon and hope to land among the stars without feeling the pain of the fall. This approach was all or nothing, and as a result, I experienced loads of burnout and almost zero productivity. In short, my task list was filled with high-level intentions, but I hadn’t taken the time to create a map to reach the destinations. I was lost in the planning stages because I didn’t understand process goals or have any examples to follow.

Since then, I’ve learned how to embrace the journey and break my outcome goals into smaller and more manageable process goals. This approach has improved my focus and reduced frustration because I’m now working towards a surefire strategy that will take me where I want to go––I’m creating a plan of action with achievable daily targets (a process goal).

What Is a Process Goal?

A process goal is not a destination, it’s the path you plan on taking to get there. For example, if you want to become better at writing, your process goal would be to post one blog article per week and learn from the feedback you receive. The destination is a monthly goal of 12 articles.

This distinction is important because it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that these types of goals are not all or nothing. Think about it. You’ve heard it said: it’s not about working hard but working smart.

Well, a process goal is an actionable target with what we call SMART criteria:

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  • Specific – The more detailed your goal, the better. For example, instead of “I want to be fit,” you would say, “I want to lose five pounds.” Make sure your goal is crystal clear.
  • Measurable – You need a way to measure progress and success, so it needs to be quantifiable. This is where you decide what “fit” actually means for you (more on this later).
  • Achievable – If your goal isn’t challenging, then it’s not going to be motivating. On the other hand, there must be a steeper mountain to climb if you want substantial results.
  • Realistic – “I want to run a marathon” is not practical for most people. Ensure you have the time, energy, and resources (e.g., training program) required to achieve your goal.
  • Time-Bound – Your goal needs an assigned deadline or it’s just a pipe dream. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, but what happens when the fantasy ends?

To summarize, these are the essential components of any process goal: specific, measurable, achievable within a certain time frame, and realistic.

What Is a Destination Goal?

A destination goal is a point in time when you plan to be at a particular destination. For example, if your goal is to get to represent your country at the 2025 Summer Olympics, you right need to focus on smaller increments to attain that success. On your way to that goal, you need to focus on smaller destinations. First, make the national team. Then, compete in a few events and so forth.

If you try to make it to the Olympics from the very start without any milestones along the way, it would be too daunting. On the other hand, if you focus on each milestone as a destination goal, it will all seem possible and achievable.

Process Goal Template

Let’s say you want to become a better cook. Here is one way of writing the process goal: “I will save $100 per week by cooking all my meals at home for 12 weeks.” This would be your destination (monthly), and the steps required to achieve this goal (weekly) would be:

  1. Spend one hour on Sunday planning my meals for the week.
  2. Shop for groceries after work on Monday and Tuesday nights.
  3. Cook all meals at home on Wednesdays through Sundays.
  4. Pack my lunch for work on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  5. Save $100 per week in cash by cooking at home.

This process goal will help you become a better cook by teaching you to save money through planning, shopping, cooking, packing your own lunch, and trying new recipes. It also includes a weekly reward (saving $100 in cash) that will help you stay motivated.

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Process goals encourage you to reach your ultimate goals. When you feel like you can accomplish smaller goals along the way, you gain sustainability and confidence to move forward.

In many ways, process goals are a lot like faith. Each accomplishment brings you closer to seeing the fullness of the life that you desire––it breaks through the fog and makes things clearer.

What Questions Helped Me Find My Process Goals?

After several years of setting lofty goals and becoming increasingly frustrated when I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, I decided to take a closer look at my approach.

Now, there are many ways you can do this, but here’s how I went about it. Last year, I asked myself the following questions:

  • What am I doing right now?
  • How can I get better at this?
  • Is this process goal leading me closer to my ultimate goals?

The choices I made from the answers to these questions became my process goals. They were the driving force that kept me motivated and moving forward when I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. Since then, I’ve been able to accomplish lifelong goals that I had given up on years ago. For example, I’ve been able to obtain a publishing contract, create more digital products for my business, and enjoy the moment.

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Before I broke down my goals into smaller ones, I was struggling to just get out of bed. The thought of my endless list kept me stagnant. Now, I look forward to each morning and taking on smaller projects to reach profitable outcomes.

What Are Some Process Goals You Can Try?

So, now that you understand the importance of process goals, let’s get you started with some examples that you can utilize this week:

  • Sign up for a new class.
  • Complete one portion of your project by Thursday.
  • Start walking around the block instead of running a mile.
  • Improve your writing by spending 30 minutes everyday journaling.
  • Practice your interview skills.
  • Read at least one book from the library this week.
  • Do ten push-ups each day before you leave for work.

You get the idea. These process goals don’t have to be complicated. If anything, you want to break down your plans to the point of them feeling easy or at least doable without needing a week’s vacation. By breaking your goals down into smaller pieces, you can accomplish a lot more in a shorter period. You’ll also feel more confident that you’re able to accomplish something within the moment.

It isn’t easy to continue towards your goal if achievement feels too far away. You need to celebrate the small things and embrace the process.

What Do You Need for Process Goals?

Think about how much time and money you’ve spent on new clothes, books, technology, etc. Many of us want to keep up with the latest trends and purchase the best gadgets from Apple or Microsoft. But all of these extra investments come at a steep price.

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To find your process goals, you may have to face some difficult emotions or situations bravely and confront them head-on. You might need to forgo the new outfit or the latest Mac book to meet your overall objectives.[1] Remember, process goals not only protect you from feeling overwhelmed, but they also keep you from being distracted.

Final Thoughts

You may feel overwhelmed at first when trying to set a process goal. Sometimes, just thinking about change triggers stress hormones, which only leads to more worries and anxious feelings. However, if you keep yourself focused and take small steps in the right direction, you’ll soon realize that goals don’t have to be complicated.

You can achieve your process goals one day at a time, and you can start today by breaking down your larger goal into smaller steps. It doesn’t matter if the process takes a week or six months, what matters most is that you’re moving forward and doing something to make yourself better.

Now, go on out there and achieve one of your process goals!

Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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