Why Don’t We Set Goals?

If goal setting is so important to success, why do so few people do it?

Over the last several weeks, I’ve read and listened to lots of opinions on this subject.

Here are two of the more interesting reasons I found:

  • Lack of Belief & Skepticism

Despite many scholarly reports to the contrary, most people think that setting goals will not work. Let’s think about this one for a minute. When some fool on late night TV tells us he can show us the “secret” of the stock market, we want to believe but when we hear that consistent, focused effort over time works, we’re skeptical.

Despite how silly that sounds, I do believe this affects most of us at least some of the time. If you feel this way, here’s our fix: Suspend your belief for the duration of our challenge. If you can say, “I am not sure this is going to work but I am willing to put it to the test”, you can get past this obstacle.

  • Not willing to pay the cost

I found this interesting article by Stuart Goldsmith. Goldsmith thinks that it is laziness or inertia that keeps us from setting goals. He contends that while we want the goal we aren’t willing commit to doing the work necessary to achieve it. If that’s the case it’s really a wish and not a goal.

Selecting the right goals is critical to overcoming this obstacle. Certainly, there are things we would love to do, be or have but we are not willing to pay the price. When we select our goals we will guard against choosing wishes.

So when all you friends rattle off their New Year’s Resolutions, let your resolutions be: I will learn to mindfully set and achieve goals in 2012.

Among the most commonly cited reasons that people don’t set goals:

  • Fear of Failure

I believe this may be that thing that stops most of us. If you can’t see this in yourself, certainly you’ve seen it in a kid. When a kid refuses to try out for a sport team (that you know they want to play on) by saying the team is stupid or the coach is no good – most of the time it is this FEAR of FAILURE that is driving their behavior. If we do not commit, we cannot fail.

I am sure this is the one that gets me most often. If I don’t write down clear objectives, then any progress no matter how slight or even any lack of backsliding can be labeled a success. What I will need to do throughout our challenge is to be aware of my fear and search for ways to overcome it.

  • Fear of Success

People tell me this exists but it is much harder for me to see than Fear of Failure. The theory is we are all afraid of change and it does not matter if change is brought on by success or failure. I think for the purposes of our challenge we’ll lump these together and just call it FEAR.

  • Don’t Know How/Past Failures with Goals

I hope this is your sticking point because this is easy-peasy to fix. Most of us think we have tried to set and achieve goals in the past but were they really goals or were they wishes? Did we really apply consistent effort towards achieving the goal?

Here’s what I know to be true and you’ll find it on page one of your Pick Four Workbook.

Small Steps Work.

Consistent Effort Works.

Group Support Works.

If you are ready to learn how to set and achieve goals, join me for the  Be, Do and Have MORE (of what you want) in 2012 Goals Challenge.

Beginning January 2,  I’ll  write every Monday as I work my way through the Pick Four workbook choosing and setting four real goals for myself . You can follow along (and hopefully participate through comments, email and meetups) and choose four of your own. This is NOT just for financial goals.

Here’s how to join in:

1) Get your workbook, either from Amazon or ask me for one (as of this minute I’m out but I have more on the way)

2) If you are not already a subscriber to BeyondDave, become one by entering your email above the ” Subscribe me!” box  halfway down the right column.

That’s it. If you can keep your fear under control long enough to accomplish those two little steps, you will be well on the way to Be, Do and Have MORE (of what you want) in 2012.

Previous Posts in the Series


Be, Do and Have MORE (of what you want) in 2012

The Holiday Be, Do and Have More (of what you want) Game


The Holiday Be, Do and Have More (of what you want) Game

As we continue our countdown to the start of the Be, Do and Have More (of what you want) in 2012 series, I have a fun Holiday Game for you.

When you gather with your family and friends over the next several days try this:

Pass out a pen and paper to your holiday guests and ask them to list as many of their dreams as they can in 5 minutes.

Instruct them not to worry if their dreams sound outlandish or unobtainable.

To help get them started, ask them:

Have you ever dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trial (me) or riding your bike cross-country (me too) or writing the Great American Novel (not me) or working at Google? Do you want to drive a Ferrari, learn to fly, or adopt? Write it down.

Now give anyone a chance to share some of the dreams they have listed. Who had the most ambitious, the most surprising or the most realistic goals?

Have fun with it but DO NOT allow anyone to criticize anyone else’s dream.

Is there a better gift to share with the people you love than your dreams and aspirations?

Pre Series Posts:


Be, Do and Have MORE (of what you want) in 2012

Be, Do and Have MORE (of what you want) in 2012

We are counting down to the start of our free Be, Do and Have More (of what you want) Goals Series.

Here is how it is going to work:

Get yourself a copy of the workbook, Pick Four here. They are 4 for $20; so find three friends.

Or, send me an email with your physical address and tell me you want to join up and if you promise to use it, I’ll probably mail you a copy at no cost.

I’ll write about my goals every Monday, starting with “How to Set a Meaningful and Reasonable Goal”.

You can lurk and write in your workbook; or you can participate through the comments (better!) and write in your workbook; or you can come to a meetup and write in your workbook. As you are probably already sensing no matter how you relate to the series, you MUST write in your workbook.

We will each pick 4 goals and spend 12 weeks holding each other accountable to them.

Who should do this?

Everybody! Goals work! And you and everyone you care about should have some goals. Not in your head things that you want to do some day, but real concrete objectives that you are currently working on. These goals can be almost anything and you don’t need to pick them now; we’ll do that together.

Get Started!

1) Get your workbook, either from Amazon or me, Casssie@FeatherstonCoaching.com

2) If you are not already a subscriber to BeyondDave, become one by entering your email above the ” Subscribe me!” box  halfway down the left column.

That’s it. Two steps and you are on the road to Being More, Doing More and Having More in 2012.


Previous Post in the series Busted  Next Post in the Series The Holiday Be, do and have More (of what you want) Game


Don’t you hate it when you get called out for failing to walk the walk? It happened to me again last week.  Jim and I sat down with our Wealth Manager (I wish we needed a Wealth Manager), I think we are really more in the category of needing a Savings Adequate for a Simple Life Manager. Anyway, it was an interesting sit down.

I was ready for the regular risk tolerance questions, I had a handle on what investments we have and where they are but I totally failed every goal question.

Really? I spend all week helping people get to where they want to be. We talk a lot about goals and setting them S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted), writing them down and really using them as a way of taking control of your life and your future.

And, there I sat and could not answer a simple “What’s your income goal for next year?” question – let alone all those 5 year and beyond questions.

We have done really well with our financial goals for last several years, we got out of debt, completely and totally including the house, changed our (well mostly me, Jim never did spend) spending habits and have become very intentional with our money. And then, I think I felt done.

The best I could come up with was my financial goal for this past year was not to spend any of our savings. Wow, that is bold. That is like having a goal of not getting arrested, not going hungry, not getting fired, not gaining another 20 lbs. Lame, lame, lame.

So thanks for the wake-up call. It’s time for “back to basics”.

Zig Zilger has always been one of my favorite guys to listen to and he knows a thing or two about goal setting. Seth Godin’s Domino Project has republished Zig’s The Performance Planner as a cool little workbook that Amazon sells in a four pack for $20. So get three of your friends and spend $5 a piece and let’s accomplish 4 big goals together next year.

Maybe you don’t need to read it but I need to write it; so starting January 2, every Monday for twelve weeks will be “Goal Monday”.

I have three workbooks that I would love give to three friends who agree to help hold me accountable for those 12 weeks. Just ask.

NEXT POST IN THE SERIES Be, Do and Have MORE(of what you want) in 2012

Wild Idea #342

OK, here’s the great idea in a nutshell for my friends that won’t read 300 words.

Sell the house. Buy THREE energy efficient, low property tax, little houses in interesting places, find two other couples that think this is a cool idea and play musical houses every couple of months.

House #1: Close to the Appalachian Trail in a small urban community where we could live almost car free.  See listing here


House #2 Tiny, very private waterfront cottage off the grid way up north on Prince Edward Island See listing here

Finally, House #3 off the grid and off the beaten path in Hawaii. See listing here

I wouldn’t want to spend all winter on Prince Edward Island but how cool to spend part of the winter there, I bet you would feel like you were the last people on earth some days. And wouldn’t it be great to be out in the tropical rainforest in Hawaii while they are shoveling snow in the east.  Or, riding your bike along the Blue Ridge parkway in October?

I found all these places on GreenHomesforsale.com because utilities costs are one of the things I hate paying. We’ll spend an average of $330 a month for electric, water and trash while in some of these green homes those expenses are more like $400 a year.

Another expense I hate paying is property tax. We pay about 2.5 times the combined property tax for all three of these houses.

I have no information on what these homes cost to insure but I’m fairly certain I could insure all three for significantly less than we pay in our hurricane prone state to insure our one home.

I’d happily trade the saving in taxes, insurance and utilities for the additional travel costs involved with a roving lifestyle.

So what do you think? Is this a cool idea?