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Stop Setting the Wrong Goals

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I’ve made a lot of stupid misguided goals in recent years.

Some notable highlights:

❏ “Make $100K in my business” (…without even really liking the work I was doing)

❏ “Grow a following as a professional artist” (…even though I rarely did art in my free time)

❏ “Get conversational in Japanese in time to visit in autumn of 2020” (HA.)

In hindsight, it’s painfully obvious why those goals didn’t work out.

But in the moment, it all seemed so right. I did what I thought I was supposed to do: I set habits. I made sure my goals were S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). Yada yada.

So what do you do when you follow all the steps, but your big goal still falls through?

(Or worse, you achieve your dream—only to find that the outcome isn’t actually what you wanted? We never talk about how the wrong goals can really screw things up.)

After some serious investigation, I realized that there were 3 big reasons why my goals kept going awry.

The fact is, I was setting the wrong goals to begin with.

And I’m no unicorn. Chances are, these things are messing up your goals, too.

👉 So I made a video about these 3 goal killers—and how to set goals that actually have a chance of succeeding.

The three ways you might be setting the wrong goals

(The video goes into these more in-depth, but here’s a taste of what’s covered.)

1. Setting goals you can’t control

This is a subtle mindset shift, but a powerful one…

Other people can’t fulfill your goals. Only you can.

So stop setting goals based on other people!

“Get three clients this month” might sound good at first glance. But that’s an outcome you have no control over. You can only control your actions leading up to it.

Instead, focus on goals that you can fulfill yourself, like “Attend two networking events every week” or “Send an email to a contact every day.”

2. Forgetting to add the small print

It’s lovely to dream big. But don’t forget the details.

Think of goal setting like a trickster genie. Imagine your goal will come true—but he’s going to make it come true in the worst way possible.

So, what clauses or requirements would you put in place to make sure there aren’t any loopholes?

Instead of “I want to lose 10 pounds by summer,” you might set a goal of “I want to lose 10 pounds by summer… in a healthy, sustainable way… that allows me to eat nourishing food… and without doing workouts I hate.”

With the small print in place, you’re going to get much closer to an outcome that you actually want.

3. Getting lost in the dream

As Austin Kleon, author of Keep Going, says: “Forget the noun. Do the verb.”

Daydreaming about how your life will be after you’ve met your goal is considered normal—even celebrated. Dream big! we say.

But you’re here, right now, doing the work of reaching the goal. In most cases, you’re going to spend the vast majority of your time on the journey toward that goal, and relatively little time enjoying it at the end.

Shouldn’t that journey be something you enjoy, too?

Or if not something you enjoy, at least something you’re prepared for. Instead of focusing entirely on the dreamy outcome, take some time to consider the sacrifices that the goal will come along with. (Because there are always sacrifices.) Then, you can walk in fully aware and ready to conquer those hurdles.


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