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