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Four Goal Setting Mistakes

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"Without a vision, the people perish." —

I encourage you to get clear about your vision. Clarity is power.  How much clarity do you have about where you are headed in your work, finances, health, and relationships?

Personal resolutions have gotten a bad rap. Most folks set them out of wishful thinking, but don't have a clear vision or realistic plan to reach them. By the end of the month, they're long forgotten and the following year it is proclaimed that "resolutions don't work."  But resolutions – or goals, as I prefer to call them - do work. There are some rules you must not break, though, if you are to succeed. 

Breaking these rules means your vision is fuzzy:

Aiming at too much.

Sure, you may have a long list of bad habits you'd like to break, but if you resolve to break them all at once, you're likely to overwhelm yourself and give up. Instead, build your confidence by setting small goals that you can reach in the near term. Make your goals are small, specific, and attainable. 

For example, if your goal is to lose 40 pounds and you've identified 10 bad habits that have led to your weight gain, start by changing just one or two habits. Replace your afternoon visits to the vending machine with a healthy snack you keep in your desk, or replace 30 minutes of television viewing with a brisk walk with someone in your household.  Break your goals into bite-sized pieces. 

Not aiming at all.

Worse than aiming too high is having no vision for where you are headed. Goals contribute to happiness and well being. They don't have to be daunting or terribly serious. Create "fun goals," centered around activities that bring you joy and lots of positive emotion. Perhaps it's a hobby you commit to engaging in at least once a week or something you add to your schedule that you can look forward to daily.

Aiming at the past.

People often feel pressured to "catch up" on all the things they think they should have done last year or the year before, so they pile on resolutions out of anxiety over missed opportunities and procrastination. Can you relate? Forgive yourself for what you didn't do in the past and focus on the present. It's the only moment you can do anything about.

Keeping your goals to yourself.

Research shows that when you publicly declare a goal, you are more likely to achieve it.  It is an act of commitment that makes it more real. And the accountability of telling someone else your intentions is a motivator. When you keep your goals a secret, it's too easy to let yourself off the hook! So share your goals with those who will encourage you along the way and whose opinion you value.

My challenge to you:

Get clarity! Be specific about what you want. Declare it. Then take a step toward the vision.

Journaling assignment:

What is one thing you really want, but have not yet committed to pursuing? When will you make a decision to go for it?

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About The Author


A bestselling author and Certified Personal and Executive Coach who has served clients in over 40 states and eight countries, Valorie Burton has written nine books on personal development, including Successful Women Think Differently and Happy Women Live Better. She is the founder of The CaPP Institute, providing tools and training that build resilience, well-being, and productivity for life and work. She has been a regular contributor on CNN, HLN, and the Today show, where she gives practical career and life advice. She has also been featured in and on The 700 CLub, The Dr. Oz Show, NPR