12 Typical Goal-Setting Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Make sure your goals support a fulfilling life. Do you limit yourself because you don't dream big enough?
Ambition And Goal Setting. 12 typical goal setting mistakes. Make sure your goals support a fulfilling life

Common goal-setting mistake


Some goal-setting mistakes can get in the way of achieving your biggest dreams. Learn how to set better goals by overcoming common goal-setting mistakes.


The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.


Think big, avoid goal-setting mistakes


Many of us limit ourselves to small dreams. One reason may be that we believe that bigger dreams are beyond our range. And – because our subconscious takes that as a mandate – what we get isn’t the most fulfilling result.




12 typical goals setting mistakes



1. Setting unrealistically high objectives


A complete lack of realism is not helpful. Yes, make it big. But also make sure that your ambitious goals are achievable. Do you know the qualities of smart goals? I want to remind you.


To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be smart. Here are the questions to do that.:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
    • What do I want to accomplish?
      Think about exactly what you are trying to accomplish and don’t be afraid to get very detailed.
    • Why is this goal important?
    • Who is involved?
      Consider who needs to be involved to achieve the goal.
    • Where is it located?
    • Which resources or limits are involved?
      Determine any related obstacles or requirements. This question can also be beneficial in deciding if your goal is realistic.
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
    • How much?
    • How many?
    • How will I know when it is accomplished?
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
    • How can I accomplish this goal?
    • How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
    • Does this seem worthwhile?
    • Is this the right time?
    • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
    • Am I the right person to reach this goal?
    • Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?
  • Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time and cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
    • When?
    • What can I do six months from now?
    • What can I do six weeks from now?
    • What can I do today?




2. Too many goals


As long as you are not omnipotent, you have limited time and energy at your disposal. That is the case with us humans. Too many goals tend to reduce good results. If you try to focus on too many goals at the same time, you cannot give individual goals the attention they deserve. Focus on quality, not quantity. Set priorities: By focusing on a few important goals, you will use your resources more efficiently.




3. Focusing on too few areas


Many areas are important for a fulfilling life. Focusing only on your career isn’t enough. Too many people focus solely on their work when they set goals. However, activities that give pleasure should not be neglected. When you set your goals, make sure you find the right balance between the areas of your life.




4. Underestimating the time of completion


If you don’t give yourself enough time to achieve your goals, you may end up frustrated and give up. make sure your goal has a chance of succeeding in the planned period.




5. Not appreciating temporary failure as feedback


Failure, like success, can motivate us to continue and act if we value it as feedback and continue.




6. Following a path that isn’t ours


Other people like family, friends or even your boss may want to influence the goals you set. Maybe they think they know what’s best for you, or maybe they want you to go a certain way or do certain things for other reasons. Your goals must be your own – not those of anyone else.




7. Being too vague


Vague goals do little to inspire or motivate. They must be specific to provide orientation and motivate us.




8. Setting goals beyond your influence


You are responsible for your life and your actions. That is what lies within your control. Setting goals which depend on others put your success in the hands of others. Your goals should focus on what you can control.




9. Only knowing what we don’t want


It isn’t enough to know what we don’t want. Make your goals sound positive and attractive. Negative goals are emotionally unattractive, which makes it hard to focus on them. Realign any negative goal to sound positive. You will be surprised at the difference that makes.




10. Not reviewing the process


It takes time to achieve goals. And sometimes it can feel like you’re not making much progress. Don’t be afraid to change your goals when your priorities change.




11. Conflict with our identity and purpose


Our goals must match the individual we want to be, our values and the way we want to serve the world. Your values are the most important factors in your life that mean something to you. Knowing your values allows you to think clearly about your choices and what matters.




12. The goals are too small


There are often a lot of single goals that lead to a big goal. But some goals are too careful. It requires goals that lead to results that lead to a fulfilled life.


Just ask me personally

Let's get into a conversation. Please post any questions that may interest other readers in the comments. If you are interested in coaching or training, for personal questions about that and appointments you can reach me by e-mail (mail@karstennoack.com), phone +49(0)30 864 213 68 and mobile phone +49(0)1577 704 53 56. You can also use this contact form. Please read the information about the privacy policy.


Karsten Noack

I have read and accept the privacy policy.


In the address bar of your browser, the URL should begin with "https://www.karstennoack.com/...". This indicates a secure connection (SSL). Whether you enter your real name is up to you.



How do you avoid common goal-setting mistakes?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

When you submit this form, it will save the used name, email address, and content. Find out more in the privacy policy.

This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in a group or individual training or coaching.

Published: June 21, 2001
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: August 12, 2019
Translation: August 12, 2019
German version: