The Brutal Reality of Setting Goals


The purpose of setting goals is to achieve them and usually realize an even greater end result.

However, obsessive pursuit of a goal to which you have committed your time and efforts in the past is not always the best plan going forward.

Below is a list of options to consider when you have not achieved your goals, or are not making the progress you think you “should.”


There are three choices:

  1. Revise the goal
  2. Abandon the goal
  3. Stay on course


Consider revising a goal when:

  • Your initial estimates of time and resources needed to achieve it are inconsistent with current realities
  • You set a goal to perform a skill you hadn’t yet learned and you need to change your target
  • Your measurements of success were initially set way too high or way too low


Consider abandoning a goal when:

  • The burning reason why you wanted to achieve the goal is now irrelevant
  • The cost of achieving it has, or will, far exceed the benefits
  • It has caused significant pain to you or those important to you

This is absolutely not to say that you should stop trying to achieve your goals because they are hard.


Stay the course when:

  • You can honestly say to yourself and others that the time and effort that the goal requires is something that will be available to you in the near future
  • You have analyzed the reasons for your lack of progress and have a clear plan in place to address the issues
  • You are still committed to the reason you wanted to achieve the goal


Goal setting is one of the most powerful self-directed motivators of human behavior, and according to both Voltaire and Spiderman, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” The most responsible (and effective) way to set goals is to ensure that they are both consistent with and directed toward your core values.

If you find that you are setting goals that are not related to your values at all, ask yourself why you set them in the first place. Goal setting directs your behavior and inspires achievement by creating gaps between your current and future self, like a thermostat. Aligning your goals with your values helps you make sure that the desired temperature will still be desirable when you reach it.

Have you set productivity-related goals that you haven’t met? I help people like you achieve those goals every day. Sometimes it is not a question of working harder, but smarter. Email me for a free initial assessment.

Look at your goals. What choices will you make?


Set Goals eBook

Are you ready to finally achieve what you set out to do?

Read my eBook Set Goals…even if you’re not convinced you’ll achieve them.

Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Like what you read?

Get new posts directly in your inbox!

You might also like these posts…

Enjoying these posts? Make sure you dont miss any!

If you enjoy my blog posts and want to make sure you never miss one - sign up for my newsletter! When you do, you'll also get instant access to my FREE webinar on interruptions in the workplace.

Interruptions can kill productivity. With one “Got a minute?” from a coworker or one stray thought swirling in your brain, the flow of your work can be completely disrupted.

The trouble is that few people have concrete strategies to get back on task quickly after an interruption. Some people completely lose focus…for hours! If you have tried reducing interruptions, but they still impact your ability to be effective at work, this free webinar is for you.