Where Goal Setting Can Go Wrong

Goal setting can go wrong for a number of reasons:
  • Outcome goals can be set instead of performance goals. Where an athlete using outcome goals fails to achieve the goal for reasons outside his or her control, this can be very dispiriting and can lead to loss of enthusiasm and feelings of failure. Always set performance goals.

  • Goals can be set unrealistically high. When a goal is perceived to be unreachable, no effort will be made to achieve it. Set realistic goals.

  • Conversely goals can be set so low that the athlete feels no challenge of benefit in achieving the goal. Setting goals has been a waste of time. Always set goals that are challenging.

  • Goals can be so vague that they are useless: it is difficult to know whether vague goals have been achieved. If achievement cannot be measured, then your self-confidence will not benefit from goal setting, nor can you observe progress towards a greater goal. Set precise, quantitative goals.

  • Goal setting can be unsystematic, sporadic and disorganised. Here goals will be forgotten, achievement of goals will not be measured, and feedback will not occur into new goals. The major benefits of goal setting have been lost. Be organised and regular in the way that you use goal setting.

  • Too many goals may be set, leading to a feeling of overload. Remember that you deserve time to relax and enjoy being human.

  • Where goal setting does go wrong, not only are the benefits of goal setting lost, but the whole process of goal setting can fall into disrepute.

  • By avoiding these problems, and setting goals effectively as described in the previous article, you can achieve and maintain strong forward momentum.

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