Monkey Puzzle Blog

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When does goal setting actually set you up to fail?

How are those new year resolutions coming along? If you have abandoned your’s already there’s a chance there was something amiss in the goal itself. n our wish to be positive and forward looking, people often have an idea for a goal then set it without properly defining the problem it is supposed to resolve.

An ill-defined problem begets an ill-defined goal. If you have any kind of goal you are trying to achieve something you haven’t already done, ergo there is a gap, a problem of some kind. By ignoring the underlying problem we simply end up hoping that this new shiny goal will resolve everything.

Some examples:

You want to lose weight and have a target weight. This ‘target’ is usually a weight you were in the past (when you were younger and biologically very different) or even a weight you have never even been but are attached to it somehow. What is the problem here really? It could be that you want to fit into certain clothes, want more energy, want to be able to look in the mirror and smile. All of these are not about weight loss per se. They could be achieved by exercise, a personal stylist or some self development work to help with self image. Weight loss might be part of it but is rarely the ONLY problem.

You want a new job. The question to explore for yourself is ‘why?’ This will almost certainly not be the same answer that you give your boss when you leave or tell your friends but if you can’t be honest with yourself about your reasons for moving on you will only recreate the same issues in another position. It could be a combination of not enough freedom to make decisions, strained work relationships or not enough recognition. Once you have your personal ‘why’s’ you can start to explore ways to meet those, get some training or development to make sure you have the right skills for the future or even consider ways to get those needs met outside of work.

Before you start working on any goals this year ask yourself a few simple questions to make sure you are fixing the right problem:

  • Why do I really want to do this?
  • What problem(s) is this goal designed to solve?
  • Are there other ways I could resolve this problem? (This could lead to some brainstorming)
  • If I imagine myself achieving this, will I be satisfied? What could still be missing?

You may end up with fewer more multi level goals for 2018 but you could actually end up achieving them and feeling proud of your achievement - how about that eh?

Download our free guide to Goal Setting that Works for more hints and tips on effective goal setting and how you can adapt it to your business.

Join one of our free webinars on time management and NLP.

This short video will help you understand more about life’s quick fixes and why real happiness means having the discipline to not be tempted. [ View directly on You Tube ]


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