5 Clues that You Set the Wrong Goals

Setting a goal is one of the most powerful ways to change your life.  Why?  Because goals help direct your actions toward a desired target.


Goals create a gap between who you are and who you want to be.  A goal to which you are committed will motivate you to close that gap and inspire you to work at your peak.


But not always.


Most New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned before President’s Day.  Some goals that are achieved don’t have quite the intended impact.


In short, goal setting can go wrong.


Below are some tell-tale signs that your goals need to be revised or even abandoned.


You know you set the wrong goal when…


  1. You achieved it too quickly. If your goal was met in record time and required minimal effort, then it may not have been sufficiently challenging.  Do you need to set a new goal that will stretch you more?
  2. You have no idea whether you achieved it or not. Time has passed and you think you are making progress but can’t say for sure.  Perhaps you should revise the goal by adding some metrics or anticipated outcomes.
  3. You didn’t really care about it in the first place. Commitment to your goal is essential to achieving it.  Set goals that you have a burning need to achieve.  Share your goals with others.  There’s no ability like accountability.
  4. Your goal was overwhelming. Feelings of overwhelm can be due to two things. On one hand, you may have set a goal that was completely out of your reach in the first place.  Or, you may need to break a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) down into smaller steps.
  5. There were unintended, negative consequences. Did the cost (in time and money) to achieve the goal exceed its benefits?  Did your pursuit of the goal cause significant pain to you or those important to you?  You need to consider abandoning the goal.


Goals are uncomfortable.  Creating a psychological gap between your current and future self isn’t for wimps.  So, don’t expect it to be easy.


Work hard to achieve your goals; you set them for a reason.  However, remember that mindless pursuit of a goal is not always in your best interest.  Periodically stop and evaluate your progress.  Make revisions where needed and ask yourself if you need to abandon a goal.


Goal setting is a great weapon in your professional development arsenal.


Use it wisely.



This article originally appeared on workWELL, presented by Unum.


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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 getproductive@melissagratias.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


1 Comment


    Well written! This is so direct and clear, yet not dry and boring. This is a very important topic. The author is more likely to help people if they will read the information. Far too many articles are a burdensome load of extra words, unnecessary information and murkiness that makes me feel like I wasted my time or causes me to stop reading.


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