10 Goal Setting Mistakes You Are Making

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I love goal setting and I love love love reaching my goals. Of course, like every other person out there, I don’t always crush all of my goals. After years of setting goals, reaching some, failing at others, and reflecting on the results, I’ve come up with a list of common goal setting mistakes.

Goal Setting Mistakes

1| Not Writing Your Goals Down

This is a very common problem. Maybe you think you can remember them or you don’t want to take the time to actually write them down. As someone that tries not to waste time, I get it. But writing your goals down is super important.


Because writing your goals down in detail makes you more likely to achieve them. By writing down your goals you can refer back to them as needed but you are also more likely to remember them anyway because they are encoded in your brain.

Whether it’s on a post-it note on your refrigerator, a cute notepad on your desk, or in a journal you keep in your dresser, you need to be writing them down.

Personally I am all about writing things down. And if the planner is pretty that makes me feel better too.

Here are some of the things I use:

  • Blue Sky Planner to plan out my months and weeks.
  • OneNote for organizing my digital notes and to-do lists.
  • This notebook for brainstorming, list making, and the like.

You really don’t need anything too complicated or expensive. If you can’t afford a planner, that’s fine. Just find some paper, write your goals down, and keep the paper somewhere you can reference it often.

2| Not Creating An Action Plan

Last year, I wanted to be less Type A about things so I set a goal without an action plan. Guess what? I didn’t achieve it.

Not creating an action plan is like picking a destination for your road trip, but not planning a route. If you get in your car without any directions, how will you get there? The same thing applies to your goals.

If you need help creating an action plan for your goals, I suggest you check out my goal setting guide.

3| Not Setting A Deadline

This goes hand in hand with creating an action plan.

You know that road trip we talked about? What if you never set a date? How would you and your travel companions know when to start prepping and packing? How would they know when to show up?

You need to have a concrete deadline. Put it in your planner so you don’t forget.

4| Not Knowing Your Why

I know there is tons of pressure to come up with goals for the year. But I want to urge you not to set goals just for the sake of it.

When you set your goals there needs to be a reason for them. You need to know your why. Why are you setting this goal?

Your why is the deep motivator for your goals. Without a why your chances of success are much slimmer because you won’t have enough conviction behind your goals.

When things get tough, and they will, your why will pull you through.

5| Setting Too Many Goals

As someone that loves goals and achievement, I know how tempting it can be to set a ton of goals. But you only have so much time and energy, so make sure you don’t overload your goal list.

I only pick 2 large goals for the year, one personal goal and one professional goal. Then I break the larger yearly goals into smaller quarterly goals.

By setting fewer goals, you have more time to focus on each goal and are more likely to actually reach them.

6| Setting Goals That Are Not Specific

This is an unpopular opinion but I don’t think all of your goals need to be specific goals.

Wait, just hear me out.

Your large overarching personal goal for the year might not be specific. For example, this year I set a goal to be more intentional. That goal isn’t really specific. It’s rather vague. But I didn’t stop there.

Instead, I broke my goal down into smaller goals. Guess what! They are all specific. By setting the smaller specific goals, I am helping make the roadmap to my bigger goals.

7| Not Being Committed

Can I let you in on a secret? I have huge commitment issues. I personally don’t like being bound to anything. I also get bored really easily. Both of those things that make commitment really hard.

Despite the difficulty, I know commitment is super important to reaching goals.

Without committing to your goals, you are more likely to leave them behind when life gets busy or when you experience tough times.

When you feel like your commitment is wavering, revisit your goals and revisit your why. This will give you the boost you need to stick with it.

8| Not Reviewing and Revising Your Goals Regularly

A lot of things happen in a year, even a month. Some of those things may move you closer to your goals but more often you will face obstacles that delay you.

In order to stay on track and reach your goals by your deadline, you are going to need to review and revise your goals.

I always suggest going no longer than a quarter without reviewing your goals.

I have an entire post all about reevaluating and reviving your goals that you can check out.

9| You’re Seeking Perfection

Oh, perfection, it’s a real killer of productivity and achievement.

Let me tell you that I know this first hand. My desire for perfection has kept me from doing many things. I didn’t want to start YouTube unless I could produce perfect videos. I didn’t want to post to Instagram unless I had the perfect picture.

But the quest for perfection is futile when you think about it since nothing under the sun is perfect.

Of course, you do want to try your best. There is no fault in that. But you can’t let perfectionism paralyze you.

10| You’re Afraid of Failure

Fear of failure is a big reason people don’t set goals. And I get it. Failure hurts.

Failing at something you set your heart on and worked so hard toward is painful. You let yourself down and you feel like you probably let other’s down too.

Unfortunately, I can’t make that feeling go away. However, I can tell you to make the most out of failure. Use the experience as a lesson. Reflect on why you weren’t successful and use that information when you plan your new goals.

Final Thoughts on Goal Setting Mistakes

Life throws a ton of stuff at us that can make reaching our goals a challenge. But you can set yourself up for success by making sure you have a solid goal setting plan.

If you’ve found that you’ve made some of the goal setting mistakes, that’s okay. It happens. Guess what though? All of these mistakes are fixable!

All you need to do is sit down and take a moment to rework things out.

I want you to succeed in your goals. So if you need help with the goal setting process let me know. If you have a question about goal setting mistakes or just need encouragement, leave a comment.

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  1. 1.6.20
    Chinenye said:

    This is super helpful. I’m so guilty of some of the mistakes you’ve mentioned here, especially seeking perfection. Thanks for sharing this. I’m taking baby steps and getting better.

  2. 1.7.20

    I am so in love with creating goals every month and year. Writing goals down is so key for me. I love seeing my goals in print. I agree that it’s definitely more motivating. My favorite app is Evernote, but I also have a Happy Planner that I love!