You’ve probably been told a hundred times that making goals is crucial to success. But did you know that goals can also stop you from reaching success at all? In fact, if you’re facing a setback, you just can’t make heads or tails of, it’s likely that your lack of planning to blame.

Yes, it’s a bit of a confusing predicament. The problem with goal-setting is that if you don’t do it right, you’re forever doing much more harm than good to yourself and your progress. Instead of broadening your world and paving your path to your dream life, you may be building more stumbling blocks instead.

When you set goals in the right way, you don’t have much to worry about. But the art of doing so accurately is so complex that some experts even believe that it’s best not to set goals at all! With so much contradictory information, it’s understandable that you’d have difficulty figuring out what’s real.

So, what can we make of this? Is there a point to goal-setting? Should you abandon the practice altogether? Are your goals stopping you from getting where you want to be?

10 Ways Your Goals Can Prevent You From Achieving Success

1.    Lack Of Measurable Qualities

All goals need to have measurable indicators. If they don’t, you can’t keep track of them. Your point of view is highly subjective when you’re trying to see how much you’ve advanced in something. If you don’t have a clear and positive way of defining each outcome’s measurements, you will lose your drive to continue.

Here are some examples of measurable versus unmeasurable goals:

  • Unmeasurable: I’m going to exercise more often!
    • Measurable: I will get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
  • Unmeasurable: By this time next year, I’ll be good at badminton.
    • Measurable: I will dedicate myself to practicing badminton thrice weekly, so I’ll be improved by this time next year.
  • Unmeasurable: I will lose 50 lbs.
    • Measurable: I will lose 2lbs every week.
  • Unmeasurable: I want to improve my grades.
    • Measurable: I want to get a minimum of a B+ on all my exams.
  • Unmeasurable: I’m going to get back in touch with old friends.
    • Measurable: I’m going to contact an old friend tomorrow night and reconnect.

2.    There Is No Schedule

So, you’ve got great goals. Now, when are you going to work on them? If you don’t know the answer, then the chances are that your lack of goal-scheduling is sabotaging your chances of success. Here are some tips for effective scheduling:

  • Schedule all your goals way before you want them achieved
  • Create recurring routine schedules for working towards your goals
  • Pencil in time to work on your goals and do not cancel unless there is an emergency
  • Make use of a planner or electronic calendar
  • Limit your time spent on non-crucial things and events

Schedules can also work, in a way, like deadlines. Treat them strictly, as though they are serious rules (because they are) and get into the swing of finishing things by self-imposed deadlines. You can also ask someone you trust to make sure you’re following through.

3.    A Fixed Mindset

Many people view their objective as a fixed, immovable, be-all-and-end-all dream. But goals are malleable, and they aren’t meant to stay static.

Think about it. You’re learning and growing every single day. The chances are that you’re far from the person you were just a few months ago. That’s why fixed goals don’t work. You’re going to change as you grow, and eventually, some of your objectives just might not work for you anymore.

You should not go around changing your goals at every mild inconvenience, of course. But you should learn that there is just as much strength and wisdom in knowing when to walk away as there is in sticking with something through thick and thin. Learn the difference!

4.    Too Many At The Same Time

It’s best for you to focus on one big goal at a time. When you have a lot of different areas pulling at your focus, you have to multitask and divide your concentration. That can work for small or minor tasks, but for huge goals, it’s typically not feasible.

There is only so much energy that your body and mind can devote to self-improvement. If your entire life becomes focused on how you need to be better in literally every aspect of it, you’ll wind up feeling discouraged and inadequate.

5.    Bad Strategies

Good goals can be ruined by bad strategies. And when those bad strategies cause you to lose your progress and slip up, your positive thinking and motivation will go tumbling out the window with it.

For example, if you plan to read more books involves getting an extra job so you can afford more books, as opposed to checking out your local library, you’re going about goal-setting and planning very incorrectly. You’ll just wind up getting even further away from your desired outcome.

6.    Too Big of Goals

It’s admirable to have big goals, but that makes them seem and feel very lofty and far away, which makes it difficult to work towards. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dream big! Instead, take your large goals and break them down into smaller chunks.

Cutting down big tasks into small ones has been found to have a positive effect on productivity for years by countless different areas of research. Complex goals that feel overwhelming can hugely benefit from a better method of reducing them down to smaller ones.

When you are confronted with small steps, you can feel more confident working towards them, as they feel more “real” and current. The satisfaction of checking off multiple small goals can also help keep you motivated, as opposed to the years of delayed payoff for one single big goal.

7.    Unrealistic Goals and Expectations

There’s nothing wrong with positive thinking, but there’s such a thing as unintelligent optimism – or unrealistic optimism. If your goals are too lofty and unrealistic, you’re simply not going to achieve them. And when you realize you’re not getting closer to your dreams, you’ll be upset and give up on your goals altogether.

Remember, goals should be challenging, not impossible. They should push you to do your very best without expecting you to do the impossible. If you’ve set a too-high or too-low goal, you can always change it and adjust as you discover what really works for you; as we’ve already discussed, goals are malleable, not fixed! That is the key to success.

success stems from goalsetting
Lack Of Planning

Anyone can write down their goals and dream or muse about them. But knowing your goals isn’t enough. You need to plan them out. To come up with a positive plan for success, you can:

  • Make a list of your goals in order of priority, for both long-term and short-term goals
  • Impose an individual deadline for each
  • Determine how can achieve success and write that down in your plan
  • Commit to your plan!

Here’s an example of how you might plan for a goal to achieve a goal of losing 2 lbs per week for a total loss of 50 lbs:

  • I will sign up for a gym membership next Monday.
  • I will go to the gym before work four days a week.
  • I’ll go for a hike in a nearby park every Sunday.
  • I will look up healthy recipes online this weekend.
  • I will use those recipes to make a healthy shopping list.
  • I’ll go shopping for the ingredients for healthy meals every Saturday.

9.    Neglecting Preparation For Tough Times

Goals seem fun and fine when everything goes well. But this is life. Progress isn’t going to be linear. You will encounter setbacks and hard times, and if you aren’t prepared for them, it will completely mess up your goal-setting and lead to discouragement.

Research indicates that mental preparation can have significant effects on positive thinking, often improving performance by an impressive amount. All it really takes for your goals not to sabotage you is for you to factor in potential mishaps and bad times, too.

10. An Obsession With The End Result

Yes, we all know that we want to reach our goals. But when you become obsessed with the potential end result, you focus so much on the future that you forget to live in the present.

A lot of the process of working towards goals lies in focusing on what you can do now. Ask yourself:

  • Is what I’m doing currently in line with my success?
  • What can I do now that will help me later on?
  • Am I keeping my future in mind right now?
  • But more importantly, you should also ask yourself:
  • Does everything I do have to be in line with my goals?
  • Why am I not allowing myself to live in the present moment?
  • Can I accept that life is unpredictable, and the best strategy is to take things one step at a time?
  • In dreaming about my future, am I neglecting life now?

Not everything you do must be a definite step towards your goals. It’s okay to accept that you don’t know everything and that the universe may throw curveballs at you. Being able to live in the present can stop you from being derailed when things don’t go exactly to plan!

setting SMART goals
Read more about setting goals with the SMART method.

Final Thoughts On Some Ways Your Goals Can Prevent You From Achieving Success

So, what’s the take away from all of this? Should you never set goals again? No! Goals are still important, and they’re a great way to keep yourself motivated, on task, and heading in the right direction. Knowing where you’re going is often very helpful for those seeking to better themselves and their lives.

But how can you know for sure that you’re setting goals in the right way? What if your goals are dragging you down? Well, all you have to do is be aware of the factors we’ve talked about here while accepting that goals are not fixed, permanent objects. You can make changes and switch things around as needed.

If something about your goals isn’t working, then stop, figure out what the problem is, and change them for the better. Your goals were never meant to be rules. They were always meant to be guidelines. Think of them that way, and you’ll have no problem climbing the ladders to success!