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Faulty Goal Setting

from Tero's Time Management Through Goal Setting participant manual

"If you're not sure where you are going, you're liable to end up someplace else."

-Roger F. Mager

A characteristic that all successful, high performing people possess is that they are end-results oriented. They have goals for the future.

This is not new information. We have all heard the importance of setting goals. Unfortunately, there are several common mistakes people make when setting goals that limit their ultimate achievement of them.

Someone Else's Goals

The goals you set must be your own. Just as you can't change others, others can't set goals for you. You must sincerely want the goal for yourself. Many people allow their spouses, friends, employers, etc. set their goals for them.

Up To and Not Through

It is not enough to just set a goal to reach a destination we must set goals through. Watch Olympic athletes who have worked extremely hard to realize their goal of making it to the Olympics. Once they arrive at the Olympics (goal achieved) they lose the creative drive and energy necessary to win the medal. Simple maneuvers they have done thousands of times in practice become mistakes in competition because they have already reached the goal they set. The mistake was in faulty goal setting. Set the goal to win the medal, not just to get to the Olympics.

Other examples include:

Conflicting Goals

We set goals in many different areas of our lives. It is critical that the goals we set do not conflict with one another. If your goal is to dedicate yourself to your career which requires enormous travel; a second goal is to spend more time with your family; and a third goal is to play more golf, you can quickly see that the goals will cause a conflict with your time and you are unlikely to achieve any of them. While all three goals are good goals, they are conflicting with one another. You must make choices.


Your growth should only be measured against your own performance, not against others. Your success should only be measured against your potential, not the potential of others. Otherwise you'll be very frustrated. When you compare yourself with someone else, you are comparing your inside self with their outside self. You'll never measure up! They may look like they have it all together but since you can't see inside of them; you don't know what is really going on with that person.

No Goals

Failing to set goals is a quick recipe for disaster in personal effectiveness. It is through our desire to achieve goals that we find creative drive and energy and our own individual genius. Failing to set goals means that we just drift through life with no specific destination in mind.

We live in three zones. The first is a comfort zone. We are not very creative or productive here. Although comfortable, it is easy to become bored. This is the zone you enter when you don't have a goal or when you achieve a goal and don't set another.

The second zone is the problem zone. This is where we are at our creative and inventive best. Setting goals is essentially giving us problems to solve. Our brains thrive best when they are engaged in problem-solving activities. Your problem is that you must bridge the gap between where you currently are and the goal you intend to achieve.

The final zone is the stress zone. Too many problems cause stress that makes it difficult for us to work at our best.

Your goal should be to always have a few problems/goals you are working on. If you feel over-stressed, identify what is causing your stress and set goals to overcome it.

Without thinking too deeply, take a few minutes to write down as many answers to the following questions as come to mind. The more spontaneous, the better.

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