3 Main Problems of Goal Setting and How to Fix them

I marked the beginning of the year 2017 (Lunar New Year) by writing down a whole bunch of goals for the year. Writing down with enthusiasm of growth as a human being and the hope to accomplish all those goals, I was extremely excited to witness these things to happen.

As a critical step in a series of reflective activities, I tried to see where I have been so far with these goals. Before, each month, I have done an excellent job to review each month activities. Therefore, it’s easier to just read all of those and summary in quantity and quality.

On the way evaluating, I realized something, which has been in my mind for all these time. I cannot push my performance to achieve that exactly goals, or in another way, I thought that the standards were set too high. Although I always got improvement through every month (the absolute growth percentage is approximately more than 150%), I always feel that these things are so hard to achieve.

But in fact, properly I was wrong.

The goals and all numeric standards, basically are all fine (sometimes I think that it’s not challenging enough). It’s strange when just a moment ago, I said its almost impossible to achieve. And the problems are the way to perceive and approach to all these goal without any simple strategies:

1. Lack of ability to cascade from year goals → month goals → week goals .Cannot visualize the whole process to accomplish

2. Doing just for the sake of completing, tend to make everything perfect when I cant focus on one single thing. Not for the joy of fulfillment, the desire to grow myself

3. There are no adjustment after monthly or quarterly review

And here are my solutions:

For the first problem:

(i) It’s quite easy when I first write down all goals in both terms of quality and quantity (remember what are measured, get done). I won’t be focus on quality neither quantity because if I focus more on the latter, it’s easy to fall into problem number 2. So I just write all down, as more specific and clear as possible

(ii) Start to allocate from year’s goals into months’ goals, and from months’ goals into weeks’ goals. It sounds pretty simple but I have to be extremely precise when breaking down these numbers and figures. It’s even harder when I have to consider lots more side-conditions during the time (cause I can’t expect all, just anticipate all risks and chances on the way). So try to list all of them out:

For example

+ In summer, I’m more free than fall and spring time due to school stuffs.

+ Everything hard need to take time to push the performance higher later, for example: I practice yoga 3 times a week at the first 3 months, it will be gradually increased and in the last 3 months, it properly 6 times a week.

For the second problem:

This is one of the hardest thing for me cause I always has the dilemma that I have to complete all of my personal tasks, as many as possible. At the same time, I really want to accomplish all of those just because I want to grow myself, enjoy and embrace every moments to come, but mostly, I forgot this critical thing. Therefore, the more I push myself to tick to-do checklist and the more likely I have mistakes from managing myself and being focus, the more I get stressful.

There was a long period of time that I didn’t know I caught myself in stress.Those were the days that I told myself that I was excellent when accomplish all tasks, without knowing that how important they are and how they could affect me mentally and spiritually. I was satisfied to answer the question “Are you happy when complete all these task?,” but not the question “Are you enjoy doing these task?”

Here are some suggestions I gave for myself:

  • Try to visualize your next day every nights, what will you do and how the things you do can bring you joy and fulfillment. All you need to do is not focus on the things you do themselves, but the emotions, how you actually feel when doing and completing these tasks. This does not just fix the problem above, but also gives you the motivation to be productive for the next day.
  • Try to be reflective throughout the day, pause and ask:

-Why I am doing this?

-How do I feel right now? Why?

-Do my emotions affect my work and other people around?

-If it sucks, how can I get my motivation back?

  • Be more flexible! Sometimes, sticking to a plan make us feel uncomfortable when trying to follow it along the way perfectly. I am the one who always be strict to myself, and therefore, to my plans as well. My working style requires everything must be perfectly done. When I go off the track, I blame on myself for being unproductive and lack of motivation. I got stress when everyday follow something planned. The solution is to loose yourself, do whatever that interest you in a day, as long as you still stick to the overall weekly and monthly goals. The order of tasks can be changed, but you still achieve the same result.
  • As Henry Ford said, “Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is process, working together is success.” Share everything with a friend. Find someone who may share the same goals or work with you. Ask him or her to check your emotions regularly, collaborate to be more efficient, remind you what to do or how meaningful your work can bring, have fun along the way, or even hold a competition between you and your friend.

For the third problem:

This is actually quite easy and take little time, but we forget it all the time: adjusting the goals monthly or quarterly. Goals mainly serves two purposes: strategically leading you to walk on the road and motivate to achieve something bigger than yourself. When you don’t adjust the goals along the way, although the motivation part is still there, it leads me to nowhere (or in the wrong way). Why is that? Because when you set these goals, I cannot know or imagine what actually happen in the future. Things can be literally changed every single day, and so are the goals. If you review and find out that you cannot achieve your goals in a month (or a quarter), it’s better when you fix something from the goals themselves, if you don’t want it happen for the entire year. So just simple like this:

  • Being reflective as best as you can to review whether you can achieve all of your goals in a month or a quarter or not. Try to think about changes that happen and stop you from achieving
  • If the problem is not from you as internal factors, check out criterias of goal setting (SMART) and see whether it fits with the new changes or not
  • Write down all new goals and how it can be allocated into daily or weekly tasks

This is what I realized during the whole process of reviewing and adjusting goals. One huge lesson I have learned is that “Being reflective and flexible to changes are one of the fastest ways to grow.”

These are something that I’ve gone through and wanna share to all of you. Hope you could fine something useful and apply these not only into self-goals monitoring, but also for team goals.